The Winepress of God’s Wrath

February 1, 2017

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.

(Quick housekeeping note: I'm off for the next couple of days, so you'll have to scrape the web for news on your own 'til Monday.) 

Trump nominates Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. He seems like a very nice man who also seems to have a lot of bad ideas about religion and government and a philosophy in line with Scalia. So we're not feeling good about him (no surprise there). In our statement, we say:

We have grave doubts that Judge Gorsuch is someone who will weigh his duty to the Constitution over ideological loyalty to an administration that has already proven its hostility to secular government and tolerance of dissent. ... Judge Gorsuch’s prior rulings, along with his expressed philosophy, indicate a dangerous antipathy towards the protections of the First Amendment for nonreligious Americans and those of minority religious faiths.

Foreign Policy noted our concerns, in particular Gorsuch's dissent on a Ten Commandments monument on public land and on Roe v. Wade he's written that "no constitutional basis exists for preferring the mother’s liberty interests over the child’s life."

David Leonhardt says Democrats shouldn't even bother considering Gorsuch's nomination on his merits, but instead think of what brung 'im:

Democrats should not weigh this nomination the same way that they’ve weighed previous ones. This one is different. The presumption should be that Gorsuch does not deserve confirmation, because the process that led to his nomination was illegitimate. ...  the Democratic Party should begin planning its long-term strategy for the court, and that strategy needs to revolve around last year’s events. One option, for example, would be a plan first to deprive a Republican president of one nominee in coming years and second to offer a truce with Republicans.

Our legal guru Nick Little takes the wide view on the Muslim ban, and sees it as just one battle in the larger war with the judicial branch:

The goal is the cowing of a potential block to the Trump administration’s future plans – the Federal judiciary. By undermining public support for the rulings of the courts, the Trump administration can either bully the judiciary into silence, or set the stage for outright refusal to accept judicial decisions. 

Some people are grousing at the use of the term "Muslim ban," bt the Wall Street Journal isn't even going to refer to the blocked countries as "Muslim-majority." Why bother reporting anything?

Get your breath mints ready, because you're about to throw up in your mouth. Jerry Falwell Jr. says he's going to head an education task force for the Trump administration. 

Tom Brady, who I understand is a very good football player with some other stuff going on, apparently swears by a super-specific diet that is based on a lot of hooey. But he's my age (39) and looks about 1000 times better than me, so. 

Geologist Robert S. Young says the Scientists' March on Washington is a bad idea:

A march by scientists, while well intentioned, will serve only to trivialize and politicize the science we care so much about, turn scientists into another group caught up in the culture wars and further drive the wedge between scientists and a certain segment of the American electorate. 

Meanwhile, Kira Lerner rounds up several GOP efforts to outlaw peaceful protest. But hey we wouldn't want to see too partisan, right????

Rebecca Leber at Mother Jones previews the coming "inquisition" on science from the House Science Committee. 

Seems the CIA tried to use "psychoenergetics" (bringing on people who say they're psychics) to investigate the 1988 Lockerbie bombing:

The typed notes from the session retained by the CIA say: “The stuff inside it is light, smooth, stringy, air, and it is moving down, making a ‘whoosh’ sound. It is speeding up as it goes down and out. It makes me want to throw up.” Describing the cylindrical shape in a box, the account continues: “There is a bomb in the box and it explodes.” 

Well that solved that. 

Kenya's People Daily interviews the president of the Atheists in Kenya, Harrison Mumia, who says:

I realised that religion was conmanship and in fact the story of creation is a myth. The Bible itself is contradictory in so many instances. This is the part where I realised that there is no God. We are all driven to believe assumptions, which have no truths or evidence whatsoever. ... I am not giving up my quest to tell people that they live in a world of lies. Religion is used to divide us, which is unfortunate.

Bill and Buzz lookin' good. Shiny!

Because we're gonna need it, here's the announcement that Star Trek: Discovery is now finally in production

Gov. John Carney of Delaware declares the state's Darwin Day for February 12

This isn't necessarily in our wheelhouse, but it's fun to see David Brooks get riled up about something that isn't, like, lazy millennials or women with opinions:

The Trump administration is not a Republican administration; it is an ethnic nationalist administration. Trump insulted both parties equally in his Inaugural Address. ... if Reince Priebus has a pulse it is not externally evident. ... The recent executive orders were drafted and signed without any normal agency review or even semicoherent legal advice, filled with elemental errors that any nursery school student would have caught. ... it’s becoming increasingly clear that the aroma of bigotry infuses the whole operation, and anybody who aligns too closely will end up sharing in the stench. ... Other Republicans have gone far out of their way to make sure the war on terrorism is not a war on Islam or on Arabs, but Trump has gone out of his way to ensure the opposite. 

Quote of the Day:

This is...troubling. Nelle Smith at Religion Dispatches writes of the motivation behind much of the evangelical support of Trump:

A distinct subset of evangelical Christians know that Donald Trump is bad news for the entire world—and they’re really, really excited about it. ... 

...followers talk enthusiastically about events they clearly perceive as eventualities: signs in the heavens, the bloodshed of nations at Armageddon, the final destruction of non-believers in the winepress of God’s wrath. And here’s the thing: they’re excited about all this. Opinions on Trump’s purpose vary, but the overriding plot point is that Trump was ordained by God, and if he brings chaos, terrific! Bring on the end days! The tone is jovial, even smug, as if they’re discussing the plot of a popcorn flick that doesn’t affect them.

Because in their world, it doesn’t—they’re going to be raptured.

* * * 

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Comments:

#1 Randy (Guest) on Wednesday February 01, 2017 at 5:54pm

“elemental errors that any nursery school student would have caught”

I suppose this shouldn’t surprise me, given the con-man T has proven himself to be over and over again, but I really thought that at least he’d find competent advice.

But I really think given this shocking level of carelessness and incompetence, he’s out before summer.  Of course, was telling people he’d never be elected, so my predictive skills aren’t that great…

#2 Randy (Guest) on Wednesday February 01, 2017 at 6:00pm

“A march by scientists, while well intentioned, will serve only to trivialize and politicize the science we care so much about”

I tend to agree with the rest, but I don’t agree with this first part.  Scientists DO need to be showing how important their endeavor is to them, just as any other threatened group does.  It’s already politicized (in many, many ways).  It can only be trivialized by appearing apathetic.

#3 Randy (Guest) on Wednesday February 01, 2017 at 6:05pm

Tom Brady’s diet may be based on hooey, but it only has to include some real science (e.g. avoiding sugar, as it does) to be beneficial. Even if it’s placebo, it’s apparently working.

#4 Randy (Guest) on Wednesday February 01, 2017 at 6:22pm

“One option, for example, would be a plan first to deprive a Republican president of one nominee in coming years ...”

I read this as “limit the court to 8 members”.  Sounds like a plan.

But I would also accept two alternatives:

(a) block ALL Trump nominees, until a Democratic President gets a do-over on replacing Scalia

(b) let Trump re-nominate Garland, get him confirmed, and proceed from there as “normal”

#5 Randy (Guest) on Wednesday February 01, 2017 at 6:38pm

“I’m off for the next couple of days”

I’ll miss your curation of my morning (which I don’t often get to until evening… but still).

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