Monday’s Forum

Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. CSK says:

    My deep thanks to everyone yesterday who took the time and the expended the effort to explain to me the nature of “Christianity.” I do understand anti-Roman Catholicism on the part of Protestants and anti-Protestantism on the part of Roman Catholics; I’ve witnessed it.

    What I’m still not getting is what (and who) those who identify as “Christians” without affiliating with a Protestant denomination are. I’m assuming they’re all Protestants, since I’ve never known a Roman Catholic who didn’t identify as a Roman Catholic. But what kind of Protestants? Someone said Baptist, but is that always the case?

  2. Mikey says:

    As dysfunctional as the evacuation appeared early on, these #s are dramatic. One week into a contested NEO, with changing conditions & an enemy outside the airport.

    Latest Afghanistan evacuation numbers from the White House this morning: From 8/22 at 3a ET to 8/23 at 3a ET, 28 US military flights evacuated ~10,400 people from Kabul and 61 coalition aircraft evacuated ~5,900 people. That brings the total to ~37,000 ppl evacuated since 8/14.

  3. Kathy says:


    I’m not a Christian, praise the gods, but the faith is a crucial development of Rome’s latter history. you can see the cracks develop shortly after Constantine I legalized christianity and joined the faith himself.

    Just look up the first Council of Nicea for an early example of the divisions in belief.

  4. Kylopod says:


    What I’m still not getting is what (and who) those who identify as “Christians” without affiliating with a Protestant denomination are. I’m assuming they’re all Protestants, since I’ve never known a Roman Catholic who didn’t identify as a Roman Catholic.

    RC is a specific denomination, whereas “Protestant” isn’t–it’s an umbrella term for basically anyone who sees themselves as following a tradition stemming from the Protestant Reformation, which encompasses many denominations. The practice of identifying as a nondenominational Christian is something you often see among evangelicals, but it’s still very much the Protestant tradition, even if they don’t identify with a specific Protestant denomination or group–Southern Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, etc.

  5. charon says:


    There are a lot of nondenominal churches and megachurches that have no affiliation, including a lot of the ones with prominent right wing pastors.

  6. charon says:

    A thread. Sobering.

    I tested positive for COVID this week, along with 9 of 12 fully vaxxed friends (among others), days after we attended an outdoor wedding (that required proof of vaccination) in 1 of the lowest-risk states in the country.


    P.S. Very symptomatic. You don’t want it. Face with medical mask


  7. CSK says:

    Oh, I understand the historical developments, but I’m just wondering what the beliefs of present day “Christians”are.

    @Kylopod: @charon:
    Indeed. I was just wondering if these unaffiliated Christians shared a common set of beliefs.

  8. Sleeping Dog says:

    The NYT has an article up this morning on the variation of hospital pricing for the same procedure, but paid by differing insurance companies. I suspect that there are many CEO’s (since corporations and their employees are largely paying the bill) who are reading this and thinking, maybe M4A is a good thing.

    And for an M.R.I. scan, some are paying more than 10 times what the federal government is willing to pay.

    And it is not the individual paying cash that is being screwed, as often cash payers are getting low rates, but corporations who are buying coverage via insurance companies.

  9. Kathy says:

    I had a really odd dream last night, which blossomed into a story idea about Greek gods in the present day, along with Tartarus, the Elysian Fields, and a magic comic book from Hell.

    One problem is the dream came complete with DC superheroes (nothing to do with having watched so many DC animated movies and series the past month, I’m sure). The other is that part of the premise feels too close to that of The Good Place (nothing to do with having re-watched that whole series last month, I’m sure).

    I need to write the whole thing down soon, before I forget it.

  10. Teve says:

    We’re about to see a change from “I don’t want the vaccine because it’s not FDA approved” to some other dumb bullshit answer.

  11. JohnSF says:

    In England the traditional division was three way:

    Anglican: the Established Church aka the Church of England.
    Protestant(ish) by theology, but with bishops and claims to Apostolic Succession; asserts it is both Catholic and Reformed. Such a tease. And let’s not get into the Anglo-Catholics…

    Dissenters or Nonconformists; more politely, the Free Churches.
    All other Protestants, basically. Those that left the nati0nal church at various points from the 1600 onward, or just set up on their own. Loads of different denominations: Presbetyrian, Congregationalist, Baptist, Quakers, Methodists etc etc
    Initially illegal, tolerated after 1688 but subject to civil penalties until 1828.

    Roman Catholics: Roman pretty much always added, because, as per above, Anglicans asserted they were the genuine Catholics. Technically illegal until the late 18th century, and subject to civil restrictions till the later 19th century.

    And, of course, the UK being the UK, Scotland is completely different: the Church of Scotland is presbyterian Calvinist, and has no bishops.
    And Ireland is a whole book by itself…

  12. Kathy says:


    The best thing to do is still to get vaccinated, and to keep masking, maintaining distance, and observing good hygiene.

    The next best thing would be to confine the unvaccinated to their homes until they get vaccinated or the pandemic finally burns out.

  13. Kathy says:


    I’d quote Bart Simpson: the small stupid differences are nothing next to the big stupid similarities.

    Back to Nicaea, as well as subsequent councils, the Great Schism, the Reformation, etc., the upside is that an orthodoxy gets defined, therefore those outside it, or those who believe differently, are heretics.

    One big reason church split off from state, were the many religious wars between different Christian confessions over who said what in which church.

  14. JohnSF says:

    Also, in England a lot of things relating to differences in religion were, and to some extent still are, often far more about social distinctions than anything to do with belief.

  15. Mu Yixiao says:


    but I’m just wondering what the beliefs of present day “Christians” are.

    Across the board, Christians only have a few core beliefs.

    1) God created the world (in one way or another)
    2) There is Heaven and Hell (what those entail are up for debate)
    3) Jesus is the son of God
    4) Jesus died for our sins, was resurrected, and opened Heaven to us.

    And… then it gets all higgledy piggledy.

    Catholics (and there’s a wide range of them) believe in the intercession of the Saints (you can ask the saints to put in a good word for you with God), in confession & forgiveness, and in the role of the Holy Spirt (the last corner of the Holy Trinity). Beyond that, it’s a lot of tradition and politics.

    Old-school Protestants believe a lot of that, but without intercession and with varying degrees of emphasis on the Holy Spirit.

    More recent Protestants believe in a wide range of things, but often focus more on “grace” than on “earning a place in Heaven”. They tend to be more literal in their interpretations of the Bible (Catholics, for instance, view much of the Bible as alegory).

    Evangelicals are generally the most literal-minded, the most out-spoken, and devoted to converting or “saving” others. This often goes into the “fire and brimstone” approach to religion rather than the works of charity that Catholics and OG Protestants favor.

    These are, of course, very broad brush strokes.

  16. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @CSK: Basically the inerrancy of the Bible and Christ raised from the dead.

    That’s not enough for them to share a pew because of disagreement on a host of things… nature of God, Baptism, Rapture, etc

  17. Joe says:

    I was just wondering if these unaffiliated Christians shared a common set of beliefs.

    Whenever I stand in Roman Catholic Mass, CSK, I wonder how many people in the congregation share a common set of beliefs.

  18. CSK says:

    Quite. I understand all that. The divions are into denominations, which I grasp perfectly well. What I’m not getting is people in the U.S. who call themselves Christians, who seem to be Protestants of some sort, but who don’t belong to any recognizable denomination, such as Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, etc.
    I know. That’s interesting, but not what I mean.
    Indeed. The same is true here, particularly on the east coast. The Episcopal church is the church of bluebloods.

  19. JohnSF says:


    …those who identify as “Christians” without affiliating…

    In the US, probably vaguely Protestantish; but in Europe (particularly Ireland) there are quite a lot of people who a vaguely believers in Catholic sort-of way. Often what are called “cradle Catholics”
    Though communicant Catholics would likely deny they are any such thing even if baptised if not confirmed and communicant.
    Though modern formal Catholic rules are a lot stricter than pre-Reformation practice; occasional communion was pretty commonplace; just as concubinage rather than chastity was common for the secular clergy.

  20. Jax says:

    @Teve: I think I about have my sister convinced to get herself and her kids vaccinated. She didn’t know we had gotten ours, spent a lot of time quizzing me on side effects, especially on the kids. Now that Pfizer’s fully authorized, I have my fingers crossed!

    Now to work on my other sister, and my brother and his wife. 🙂

  21. CSK says:

    I think we call them “cultural Catholics” or “cafeteria Catholics” here, meaning they pick and choose what to believe and obey.

    But again, they’re Catholics.

  22. Teve says:


    Fox responded to FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine by asking if it was rushed

    “FDA just giving full approval to Pfizer’s COVID vaccine, it’s the first vaccine to get that full approval and in record time too, that has critics asking if the process was rushed. Was it?”

    Many years ago I said on this here blog, if i don’t know what the Republican position on a particular issue was, I just tried to imagine the stupidest asshole take on the matter, and that was usually it. Here we are.

  23. CSK says:

    If you’re looking for “stupid asshole” takes on the Pfizer approval, look no further than

  24. Teve says:

    @Jax: good luck. I briefly tried with my 70-yro mom. She used to be smart. Then my idiot dad retired and started listening to talk radio all day and night and became a complete dipshit lunatic and took her with him. Vaccines are toxic, I never had the flu until i got a flu shot, Teve you shouldn’t work at the Mayo Clinic since they make you get the flu shot, they’re just generating more customers for themselves, here take these supplements they remove toxins….

  25. Teve says:

    @CSK: if this were 1860 in the Nevada territory I’d occasionally amble into the saloon and ask for a shot of whiskey with a dash of rattlesnake venom, for the bracing effects. But it’s 2021 and I go to Lucianne for 5 minutes instead.

  26. CSK says:

    Good luck! I’m just grateful that all in my family (and circle of friends) had the brains to get vaxxed as soon as they were eligible.

  27. Kathy says:


    The 2021 version seems more like a shot of venom with a dash of whiskey.

  28. Kathy says:

    Counterfactual: Had trump, gods forbid, won the election, would vaccination rates be lower or higher than they are now?

    I know I would have gotten vaccinated regardless.

  29. Teve says:

    My favorite thing at Lucianne right now

    None Dare Call It Conspiracy
    American Thinker, by Janet Levy Original Article
    Posted by DW626 — 8/23/2021 6:51:20 AM Post Reply

    Fifty years ago, journalist Gary Allen set out to write a book to prove conservative anti-communists wrong. But while researching, he realized he had not seen the “hidden picture.” There indeed was a conspiracy, shielded by a narrative advanced by liberal academia and the mainstream media, both actually in the service of an elite cabal that included Rockefeller, Ford, Morgan, Rothschild, Loeb, Kennedy, and Carnegie. No longer willing to dismiss “right-wing conspiracy theorists,” he titled his book, published in 1971, None Dare Call It Conspiracy.

    The ironically named American Thinker 😛

  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: I was just wondering if these unaffiliated Christians shared a common set of beliefs.

    They all believe they are better than anybody who isn’t them.

  31. CSK says:

    Five minutes there is about the most I can take at one go. But I have to say that a visit to LCom does keep one abreast of what the loonies are thinking.

  32. becca says:

    @CSK: In my very non- religious family, we all had bibles. We went to church on occasional holidays. Usually Presbyterian, whatever that meant. We thought of ourselves as Christian, but I don’t think my parents were actual believers. I wanted to believe because Jesus seemed like a good guy, but the whole Genesis and immaculate conception stuff wasn’t something I could convince myself to swallow. Never even bothered to try and figure out “died for our sins” thing. And since God knew all, then God would know I was lying about believing, so I kept my mouth shut about it. I really wanted to hedge my bet and besides, being known as an atheist was downright dangerous in some circles.

    We called ourselves Christian because it just seemed like the thing to do, no harm, no foul. I doubt we were unique.

  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jax: I’m in the same place with my step-daughter and SiL.

  34. Kylopod says:

    @Teve: On August 11, 2008, Steven M. Warshawsky wrote a piece for American Thinker in which he stated the following: “As I wrote last December, ‘[t]he pundits can talk until they are blue in the face about Obama’s charisma and eloquence and cross-racial appeal. The fact of the matter is that Obama has no chance of being elected president in 2008.’ I am more convinced of this conclusion than ever.”

    On October 9, shortly after the second presidential debate, Warshawsky wrote, “I have received numerous emails from Republicans and Democrats alike, asking whether I still think Obama will lose the election. Yes, I do. But what about the polls, they ask? The polls show that Obama is winning. No, they don’t, as I will explain.” And he did.

    Even by October 25, he did not back down: “In a few more weeks, the political environment in this country is likely to become a heckuva lot nastier. For there are real signs pointing to a McCain victory this year, whether or not the mainstream media wants to acknowledge them.”

    After Election Day, Warshawsky wrote: “I cannot understand how a man like Obama became president. It contradicts everything I know, or thought I knew, about American history, culture, and politics.”

  35. CSK says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    I know. And thanks. But again, you’re explaining the difference between denominations to me. I get that.
    They certainly do.
    “…I kept my mouth shut about it.” Well, there’s a HUGE difference between you and my “Christian” niece-in-law right there.:)

  36. JohnSF says:

    The sociology in England can be very complicated.
    Church of England is the “default” but also “respectable”; the church of the gentry, and the countryside.
    But some of the high aristocracy are and were Roman Catholic, remaining so discreetly despite the penal laws.
    The Howards, the Hereditary Earls Marshal of England, were always Catholic.

    And the “old Dissent” (Congregationalist, Baptist, Quaker, Unitarian) were often prosperous and respectable; they were prominent in the new industrial and commercial wealth, and often the most influential figures in the new industrial towns.

    The most working class denominations were the “new” Catholics, mainly Irish immigants, and Methodists (who did not break from Anglicanism for some time).
    But a lot of the English working class became “unchurched” during the growth of the industrial towns and cities.
    The C of E was organisationally based on the old rural parishes, and slow to adapt to the new urban areas. And it seems a lot of migrants from the country did not much miss the old church of the squire and the parson, the tithes and the vestrymen.
    They still got counted as C of E by default.

    IIRC from about mid-19th century the population roughly divided one third Anglican, one third other denominations, one third non-communicant.

    By 1980’s UK population identifying as Christian was about two-thirds (actual attendance considerably lower); today about a third do.

  37. JohnSF says:

    I’ve said before: in America, religion seems to be often about personal belief, and personal identity, and personally chosen social networks.
    In Europe, belief often had very little to do with it, outside of periods of “enthusiasm”.
    It’s more about tradition, communal identity, and expectations of social interaction.

  38. gVOR08 says:


    After Election Day, Warshawsky wrote: “I cannot understand how a man like Obama became president. It contradicts everything I know, or thought I knew, about American history, culture, and politics.”

    And I’d bet money Warshawsky didn’t learn one damned thing from the experience.

  39. Jen says:

    @charon: Seeing all of these anecdotal tales of breakthrough infections is freaking me out completely.

    I’m fairly high-strung by nature and am wondering what the end of all of this looks like–if there even is an end.

    We have a trip (to Europe) planned in Feb. 2022 that has been rescheduled 3 times already. I’m starting to wonder if we’ll ever travel overseas again, given the risk and hassle.

  40. gVOR08 says:

    @CSK: I fear you’re going to have to accept that, like “conservative”, “Christian” means everything and nothing. The only consistent meaning is that the individual wearer wishes to be identified as “Christian”. It says very little about what the individual might believe.

  41. Teve says:

    @Kylopod: that’s fantastic.

  42. CSK says:

    Yes. I think that’s probably the only answer possible. I will add that my thankfully very limited experience with those who loudly proclaim themselves to be “Christian” tells me that they range from the extremely annoying to the outright evil/psychotic.

  43. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @JohnSF: Just so. There is a saying, “The Church of England is the Tory Party at prayer.” Whereas in this country, Episcopalians (I’m one) are politically more diverse.

  44. Teve says:

    Anybody else remember the dude who “unskewed” the polls and showed that Romney was totes gonna win?

  45. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Our Labrador Billie Jean decided to have some face time with a copperhead last night. The end was not as she envisioned it. Looks just a wee bit the worse for wear. She is now on antibiotics, antihistamines, and steroids, and I am $175 poorer.

    The joys of country living.

  46. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: I’ll bet the same guy was unskewing the 2020 election.

  47. Jen says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I’m glad she is still with you. Copperheads are not to be messed with.

  48. Kylopod says:


    And I’d bet money Warshawsky didn’t learn one damned thing from the experience.

    I’d agree with you. In the same piece, he rattled off a string of confident predictions about all the radical things Obama would do as president. The title of his piece was “Boy, Was I Wrong, America Embraces Marxism.”

    But I have to give him credit for one thing: at least he owned up to his bad predictions about the election. That’s more than I can say about most right-wing pundits, who typically just never mention such predictions again and try to pretend they never said them.


    Anybody else remember the dude who “unskewed” the polls and showed that Romney was totes gonna win?

    Yes, that was Dean Chambers. The weirdest thing about the episode wasn’t the predictions themselves, it was his childish homophobic attack on Nate Silver.

    The difference between 2008 and 2012 in this regard is that in 2008 most Republicans seemed to accept that Obama was winning by the end, whereas in 2012 there was a lot of resistance to this idea–not just in the fever swamps such as American Thinker but among supposedly respectable conservative pundits like George Will and Peggy Noonan. And if the reports are to be believed, Romney himself bought into these arguments and didn’t even bother to write a concession speech. (Even Hillary didn’t make that mistake in 2016.)

    My favorite one was from Dick Morris (who of course has one of the longest track records of bad predictions of any pundit), who came up with a specific projection of Romney’s electoral count that ended up being a near-perfect mirror image of the actual result. He had Romney winning 326-212. Obama ended up winning 332-206. It’s why I’ve long called Morris the Dyslexic Prophet.

  49. JohnSF says:

    More recent saying:

    “The Liberal Democatic party is the Church of England at prayer.”


  50. Teve says:

    @Kylopod: IIRC Chambers at one point said that his numbers were actually right but Democrats committed SOOOOOO much Election Fraud that he just Looked Wrong.

  51. Sleeping Dog says:


    Glad the most likely snake that I or pets would run into around here are garter snakes.

  52. Kathy says:


    It will end. All pandemics do. Some take far longer than others.

    The problem is the virus is new to all humanity. No one had a priori protection until the vaccines came along. Between vaccination, and unvaccinated who recover from infection (especially if they then get vaccinated), the virus becomes less new. Now more people can fight it better, though it seems semi-anual boosters will be the norm for some years (I’m fine with that, BTW).

    Without vaccines, less effective masks, and far less effective treatments, the 1918 flu pandemic ended after about 2 years (absent WWI, it might have ended sooner and been less deadly). We’re already 19 months into the COVID pandemic (starting in December 2019). We have vaccines, much better masks, and much better treatments. If we had effective testing and tracing and isolation systems in place, we’d be out of it already.

    This will be a case study in how NOT to handle pandemics. The exceptions, Vietnam, South Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand and a few others, will be held as examples of what to do.

    I’d expected once vaccination started for the pandemic to burn out around the end of 2021. I’d assumed other containment and mitigation measures would continue for the duration, with fewer capacity restriction, and life getting close to normal except for masks. We were heading in that direction until 1) the CDC said it was ok for vaccinated people to stop wearing masks, even indoors, and 2) the rise of the Delta variant.

    The first was a mistake, because we knew the second was coming, having seen what it did to India earlier in the year. But apparently protection from a devastating illness, with a high potential for death and long-term consequences, ins’t enough reward for vaccination.

    Humanity was sick in the head before it caught the massive collective case of COVID.

  53. CSK says:

    Give her some scratches behind the ears from me.

  54. HarvardLaw92 says:

    For what it’s worth, we have the same divisions over here on the lox and bagels side of the fence, although they tend to be more oriented more around “Just how seriously do we really want to take 5,000 year old social / dietary laws?” (Simplification, but you get the point).

    One thing is certain, however – with respect to religion, when you have more than one person present, there will be a disagreement about it.

  55. Teve says:

    I ❤️ Wonkette

    Spit Out That Horse Dewormer, Papaw, The Pfizer Vaccine Is Fully FDA-Approved!

  56. JohnSF says:


    …when you have more than one person present, there will be a disagreement about it.

    Just ask the Unitarians about that…
    *exits, pursued by the Inquisition*

  57. charon says:


    Third Pfizer dose significantly lowers risk of infection in seniors, Israeli data shows

    Fresh data from Israel is providing encouraging news about the effectiveness of coronavirus vaccine boosters in seniors. A study by the Israeli Health Ministry found that a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine provided four times as much protection against infection as two doses in people 60 and older.

    The level of protection was five to six times higher against serious illness and hospitalization, according to the study published Sunday, which looked at protection provided 10 days after a third dose. Israel approved booster shots for people 60 and older late last month, and lowered the age of eligibility to 40 last week. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, 49, received his third Pfizer shot Friday.

  58. JohnSF says:

    It was technically a capital offence in Scotland to deny the Three Persons until 1813, IIRC

  59. Kylopod says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Bagel n lox Jew is pretty much the same idea as cafeteria Catholic. On the other hand, “Who is a Jew?” is somewhat more complicated than the question of what’s “real” Christianity, since it concerns ethnicity as much as it does religion.

  60. Michael Cain says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I was out on a paved suburban bicycle trail one morning a couple of weeks ago and came across a big rattlesnake stretched across the trail sunning. They’re no problem in that position. You lift your feet high and coast by in front of their head — they can’t strike without pulling back first, and generally can’t strike as high as your feet in that position. It’s much worse when you stop along the edge of the trail for a drink and hear them rattle in the grass.

  61. JohnSF says:

    That’s the modern, Western perspective. But in a lot of regions the “traditional” Christians are as much an ethnicity as a belief system. The two can be so blended as to be almost indistinguishable. And the “religion” side of the thing is itself as much customary sort-of-legal codes and folk tradition, as “belief”.
    See Copts in Egypt, Naxalites in India, Aramaics in Syria, Assyrians in Iraq/Iran, Phanariotes in Istanbul, in relatively recent times.
    In the past the Nestorian Mongol tribes, or the Monophysite Ghassanids.

    It is a common contention of historians that the bases of the schisms of the post-Constantine Church, or the resilience of Catholicism in Ireland, or heretical groups in Medieval Europe, had much more to do with ethnic identity and social ordering than theology.

  62. JohnSF says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    …the inerrancy of the Bible…

    Very arguable that this is general outside of the more “Evangelical” tendency.
    I’ve certainly come across self-identifying non-denominational Christians who view the Old Testament as mostly irrelevant; and even some who ask “what are St. Paul’s bona fides anyway, beyond the early Church Fathers say so?”or “Apocalypse? Whats up with that?”

  63. Kurtz says:


    My search for that blogpost also turned up this from Thomas Sowell:

    A supermarket can prosper with one cent of clear profit on each dollar of sales because that dollar comes back to be re-used again and again in the course of a year.

    If the inventory of a supermarket sells out in two weeks, that one cent comes back 26 times in the course of a year. This means that a penny of profit on a dollar from each sale becomes more than a quarter on a dollar annually.

  64. Mikey says:

    Word is with the full FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine, the military will soon add it to rhe mandatory vaccine list.

    Pentagon to mandate COVID-19 vaccine, as Pfizer is approved

  65. JohnSF says:

    Also, the good old Arian Germans.
    (Not Aryan as in Indo-European; Arian as in Arius of Cyrene)
    Major source of social division between eg Ostrogoths and Visigoths, and the conquered Romanesque populations in early Medieval Europe.

  66. Sleeping Dog says:

    I served in Afghanistan as a US Marine, twice. Here’s the truth in two sentences

    One: For 20 years, politicians, elites and D.C. military leaders lied to us about Afghanistan.

    Two: What happened last week was inevitable, and anyone saying differently is still lying to you.

    I know because I was there. Twice. On special operations task forces. I learned Pashto as a U.S. Marine captain and spoke to everyone I could there: everyday people, elites, allies and yes, even the Taliban.

    The truth is that the Afghan National Security Forces was a jobs program for Afghans, propped up by U.S. taxpayer dollars — a military jobs program populated by nonmilitary people or “paper” forces (that didn’t really exist) and a bevy of elites grabbing what they could when they could.

    That’s the gist of it. Anger

  67. Teve says:

    5 years from now we’ll be invading Myanmar or some shit and like 3 Democrats will remind us of Afghanistan and the media will frame them as moonbats.

  68. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    as often cash payers are getting low rates, but corporations who are buying coverage via insurance companies.

    Uh, not exactly. IF you have $$ and contact hospital, maybe. Uninsured pay full retail “rack rate”, usually 2-4x insurance rate (or more). Why most individual bankruptcies in US involve illness/injury.

  69. Kathy says:


    Mexico stands at just over 24% of the population with two doses, and it seems clear we won’t finish with everyone over 18 until late in the year. I don’t expect boosters at all.So, if the recommendation of a third shot 8 months after the second dose stands, I expect to travel to San Antonio or San Diego sometime in February for a booster.

  70. Kylopod says:


    But in a lot of regions the “traditional” Christians are as much an ethnicity as a belief system.

    Yes, I know. The difference is that it’s an attribute of certain Christian groups, rather than Christianity as a whole. And I’m not alone in thinking so: Wikipedia defines Jews as an ethno-religious group, whereas it doesn’t define Christians that way, although it does include certain Christian groups (e.g. Amish) within that category. But you’re right it’s generally a non-Western phenomenon.

  71. JohnSF says:

    Afghanistan and anger.

    Two independent sources say that last week a senior officer from the 2nd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment (2 Para) had a blazing row with the commanding officer from the American 82nd Airborne Division in front of other soldiers at Kabul airport.
    The exchange of views came after British special forces units made several forays into the city to rescue people who were in hiding and could not pass through Taliban checkpoints to get to the airport.
    Following this Maj.Gen. Christopher Donahue from the 82nd Airborne ordered the British officer to cease operations outside of the airport perimeter fence….

    The British officer reminded the Maj.Gen. that the UK operation was independent of the US. The conversation allegedly ended when the Maj. General was called a “bastard” by a British Major, and the senior British officer told the American to “f*** off!” Apparently the “most vocal” person in the room was a very senior officer from the SAS.

  72. Kurtz says:


    I’ve said before: in America, religion seems to be often about personal belief, and personal identity, and personally chosen social networks.
    In Europe, belief often had very little to do with it, outside of periods of “enthusiasm”.
    It’s more about tradition, communal identity, and expectations of social interaction.

    I recall you writing about this before.

    The way I’m reading this post seems like the differences are extremely fine, but still meaningful. Almost like reflections of each other. Is that fair, or am I misinterpreting.

  73. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jen: Copperhead bites are nasty, but very rarely fatal. As in hardly ever. I know 2 people who’ve been bit and one other dog*. Billie has a couple of long painful weeks ahead of her but should come out the other side not much the worse for wear but with a new found respect for our slithering friends.

    *not sure how I have managed to not get bitten considering the close encounters I have had over the years.

    @Michael Cain: We have copperheads, timber rattlers and cottonmouths, and I have had encounters with all 3. Cottonmouths are the most aggressive in my opinion, very territorial. I once had one swim to within 15 inches or so of my fast shrinking peepee while sitting naked at the edge of a Shannon Co gravel bar. Looked up and there he was. Not very big, less than 2′, but until he turned away I wasn’t at all sure who was going to win the staring contest.

  74. Kathy says:

    I heard a joke the other day.

    The GOP decides to hold its 2024 convention at sea on a luxury cruise ship. At one point the ship hits something and begins to sink very slowly. There are, of course, plenty of lifeboats. More, in fact, than are needed to get everyone off safely.

    About 70% of the passengers drowned. They wouldn’t get on the lifeboats, because they were only authorized for emergency use.

  75. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:

    Sometimes, the article gave prices for a few procedures where the private pay patient (say that 3x fast) was by far getting the best deal sometimes by thousands of dollars. I always believed that PPP got screwed, but it seems not always.

  76. Erik says:

    @Sleeping Dog: just like any business, hospitals will give a discount for cash up front. It saves them the effort of fighting with the insurance companies

  77. becca says:

    @becca: I want to add, for posterity’s sake, that my maternal grandmother was a devout Grace Gospel attendee and my paternal grandmother was born to pre-WW1 immigrant German Jewish parents, which was kept on the down/low. Never knew her to attend any place of worship other than that occasional Easter or Christmas service at the local Presbyterian church her husband’s family sporadically attended.

  78. JohnSF says:

    Yes, it’s one of those ideas bouncing around in the back of my head.

    The US not having an established church, or even one politically and socially dominant denomination, plus the disruptive effect of the large scale migration from the old colonies into the growing cities and the old trans-Appalachian frontier: the “Great Awakening” etc.

    That led to Americans both being unusually likely to choose their religion/denomination, rather than just following whatever they “inherited”. Not that a lot don’t just “inherit” but much higher levels of switching than is usual in other Western societies.
    So, more personal, and more about belief.

    At the same time, religion being very important to a lot of Americans as framework for sociability.

    I can’t help thinking (probably mistakenly, LOL) that this may relate to the “Conservatism as a subculture” pheomenon: again US “conservatives” are almost tribal in a way that is foreign to other Western societies IMO.

    And the corollary is, outside the US, theology is of much less importance in religions than tradition is.

  79. Mikey says:

    This was preventable, of course. DeSantis should be ridden out of Tallahassee on a rail, but the GOP will probably nominate him for President.

    Florida becomes first US state where the daily deaths in current wave have exceeded previous waves.

  80. Teve says:

    @Mikey: my county in Florida is heavily Trumper and like 40% of the residents are vaxxed. Out of 68,000 residents Johns Hopkins says 12,500 have been infected and over 1,000 died.

    And because I know local medical people I can tell you that early on there were Lots of deaths that weren’t tested.

  81. Jen says:

    Ugh. Matt Gaetz is visiting New Hampshire later this week and his event is allegedly sold out.


  82. Barry says:

    @Jen: ” Seeing all of these anecdotal tales of breakthrough infections is freaking me out completely. ”

    That’s because they are unexpected – man bites dog.
    If you go to the hospital data, it’s still 95-99% unvaxxed patients.

  83. dazedandconfused says:

    @JohnSF: No, theology is of little importance here too. ML King

  84. Teve says:

    My 74-yro neighbor died Friday night. The family, when I asked, said no it wasn’t covid he had fluid on his lungs. They’re Super Trumpers, so Imma assume it was covid.

  85. Kathy says:


    You’d think there’s a big, great prize for whichever country or state gets the most COVID cases and deaths. It seems that when India was close to surpassing the US in both measures, America just had to step up to remain Number One.

  86. dazedandconfused says:
  87. Mister Bluster says:

    Snakes by the Drain
    The most recent evidence of a serpent in my trailer house was the shed skin of what had to be at least a five foot likely Black Snake on the kitchen counter behind the sink caught in the faucet valve handles. That was a few months ago and was the second shed snake skin that I have found inside.
    I can’t remember when the first time was that I found a live snake inside but it has been several years. I was able to chase it out the door with a broom only because the snake was right next to the door and the broom was right there leaning against the wall. Some time later as I finished a shower there was another black snake slithering across the bathroom floor that I saw just as I was about to step out of the tub. This time I was able grab my backscratcher and guide Sammy to a hole in the floor underneath the bathroom sink where the waste plumbing exits to the outside. Goodbye.
    There have been others. One of them just wouldn’t be herded outside with the broom and got behind the stove. I was already on my way out the door when I discovered it and I was in no mood to pull the stove away from the wall just to have it slip behind the refrigerator.
    “It found it’s way in it can find it’s way out.” I said as I left for town.
    It was many months, maybe a year or so to discover the next one. It was in the extra bedroom and not only would not be prodded towards the outside door in the next room it got behind a bookcase.
    “Damn. I’m not moving the bookcase and I’m in for the night. Maybe the snake will catch a mouse and earn its keep. I’m turning in.”
    For all I know the snakes have the run of the place when I’m gone.
    Just for variety I came home one time and found a small toad sitting on the toilet lid.
    Oh yeah. Another time I opened the front door to leave and a bird flew in. Damn thing flew back and forth from one end of the trailer to the other before I could close off the bird in the north bedroom and rip out the window screen and swat him outside with the broom.
    Little fucker left a mess everywhere.

  88. Teve says:

    My epidemiologist friend tagged my Facebook page this morning. She had previously told me “these people are just making bullshit excuses. They’ll say they’re not taking it because it’s not fully approved. The moment it’s fully approved they’ll say ‘but what about when they approve a drug and then recall it when it starts killing people?’”

    Her tag was to a comment on her page. She announced on FB that it was fully approved and the first comment was “Doesn’t change a thing. They recall drugs all the time. This “approval” happened to make Nancy Pelosi some Blood Money”

  89. David S. says:

    @CSK: The summary history of Christianity is thus:

    – Sometime during the first century CE, a Jewish cult developed around a figure we today call Jesus. It was not unique nor notable for its beliefs, and is special mainly because it succeeded at being influential. This influence is probably because it was friendly to Hellenized Jews.
    – The “early church” period saw the usual fractalization of beliefs. The entire point of the Epistles is trying to corral this common impulse into something coherent. This period covers a lot more than just the Greek parts of the Mediterranean: it extended into Egypt and Asia Minor as well. This is roughly when we get what scholars call “Gnosticism” today: a set of highly disparate cults with a very mystic tradition.
    – Constantine allegedly conquers under the sign of this movement and converts. Some historians believe this is because it was an ascendant political movement and the goal was unity. This obviously doesn’t work because the movement isn’t unified, so Constantine demands unity of belief. The famous Council of Nicaea is one of these efforts. This is also roughly why the Roman Catholic Church is called as such.
    – The first major schism occurs between the West and East Roman Empires. The main point of difference was papal authority, which the East disagreed with.
    – In the Roman West, belief becomes folklore during the middle ages, but the papal Church remains the strongest force of European unity for centuries. Most significant belief fractalization is sequestered to very tiny geographies and monastic orders.
    – This ends with Martin Luther, a monk who kicks off the Protestant Reformation by disagreeing with central religious tenets that make up the RCC’s system of control. I.e., the RCC’s weird insistence on priestly interpretation allowed for strong control over doctrine across an impressively wide area.
    – Around the same time, Henry VIII did the much less academic throwing-off of RCC control by establishing Anglicanism as a splinter branch but state church. This is roughly where the Puritans come from: they’re people who had strong opinions about said Anglicanism.
    – The next significant event is the English colonization of America, which was spearheaded by a number of marginalized religious groups, notably the Puritans and the Quakers. America was therefore predisposed against state religion, since the main alternatives they knew were Anglicanism and the RCC.
    – In an effort to … something, Christianity was proselytized to Black slave populations. Between the Quaker-backed abolition movement and the Great Awakening, this provides political basis for many schisms in the southeast US.
    – Catholicism nevertheless makes it to America via immigration waves from the Italians and the Irish, but it happens too late to be a dominant political force as it was in medieval Europe. The Southern Baptist Convention is organized around this time, too, becoming one of the more stable American centers for coherency in belief.
    – I didn’t mention Baptists before. Baptists believe in Baptism, the belief that baptism is reserved for those who believe, rather than something you do to infants. It’s not really interesting, but

    That’s how belief fractalization works: someone disagrees with a small point of doctrine and a movement develops in agreement, whether it’s because they do agree, or because it justifies a political schism. And without a top-down authority, there’s basically no recourse for doctrinal correction. If enough people agree, then it can be picked up and named for marketing or taxonomic purposes. Something like the RCC, which provided a lodestone of stability throughout several centuries, is incredibly rare. Islam came close, but it was always tied to their governmental authority, which means it only lasted as long as their governors could hold onto unity and belief disagreement is the same as rebellion. Nothing else basically compares, which is why a lot of people end up feeling that the RCC is synonymous with organized religion.

    So, what does a non-denominational Christian believe?

    Anything they want.

    I can claim to be a Christian and say that Jesus never existed historically and no one can stop me. It wouldn’t fly in most existing churches, and most scholars would roll their eyes, but it wouldn’t stop me from starting my own church that otherwise agrees with Christianity. Or I could say that God doesn’t exist, like atheists. Or, like the Universal Unitarians, argue that there is no Hell.

    For a similarly enlightening story, look into how Shintoism became established as an official religion, and how it interacted with Buddhism before that.

    And that’s the short version.

  90. Kurtz says:


    And the corollary is, outside the US, theology is of much less importance in religions than tradition is.


    Sorry, I couldn’t resist. It’s a comment on the American Conservareligious subculture than religion broadly.

    Usual caveats here. My impression of the Biblical interpretation of the Christian Right is that it is less based on careful study of sacred texts than it is a political stance that deploys religious morality to strengthen its defenses against a changing world.

    I mean, it’s leaders seem much more focused on charisma with a veneer of piety rather than relying on action.

  91. grumpy realist says:

    @David S.: ….and of course, each tiny sect is absolutely convinced that it has The Whole Truth And Only The Truth and everyone else out there in Christianity is a heretic.

    One of the funnier examples I ran across was one of those Protestant sects which decided to Avoid The Evils of the World and scampered off to Canada, then had a screaming match with itself and split in half, each of which promptly excommunicated the other…

  92. CSK says:

    @David S.:
    Thanks. I knew all this. I really was just trying to get a definition of what present-day non-denominational Christians in the United States are, particularly those who, first and foremost, identify themselves, loudly and repeatedly, as “Christians.” Not as Episcopalians, Methodists, Lutherans, Baptists, or whatever, but as “Christians.”

  93. JohnSF says:

    The personal belief involved may have only a passing resemblance to nominal Christian theology.

    Christianity, like most religions, has an unfortunate capacity for allowing it’s adherents to proclaim that their self interests and prejudices are of course wholly in accord with the will of heaven.
    As Reverend King said:

    A broken church: quick to condemn, fear, and divide, and slow to love, seek justice, and unify.

    A question, which perhaps someone here can answer:
    I know the Southern Baptists were segregationists, and I suspect a lot are probably not very welcoming today.
    But were other mainstream denominations exclusionist towards African Americans as well?

  94. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:
    I understand sects. And again, sects are not what I’m speaking of, because generally they label themselves as something other than merely “Christian.”

  95. JohnSF says:

    And those Christians usually say they don’t believe in sects before marriage.

  96. CSK says:

    Will his blushing bride be in attendance?

  97. Gustopher says:


    5 years from now we’ll be invading Myanmar or some shit and like 3 Democrats will remind us of Afghanistan and the media will frame them as moonbats.

    An invasion to stop the genocide seems fine to me. Might be a quagmire, might end up with us doing a more gentle and less violent ethnic cleansing by resettling Rohingya before they get killed by their neighbors… but worth doing.

  98. CSK says:


  99. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: That depends on where they identify.

    If they mention Christmas once a year or so it’s an entirely different definition of “Christian” than someone who makes their Twitter bio “Husband. Father. Christian.”

    The former means they watched the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, the latter means they’re an asshole.

  100. JohnSF says:

    @David S.:
    The early history of Christianity is really convoluted and interesting (well, to me, anyhoo).
    The original Church of Jerusalem was arguably more a Jewish reform movement than anything else, until St Paul’s influence drove towards greater appeal to gentiles.

    And in the early expansion, it was predominantly a popular religion in Asia and North Africa. Of the early Patriarchates only Rome was in the West; the others were all in the East. Some historians think it’s popularity was perhaps related to popular ambivalence re. Hellenic culture, and a differentiator from the pagan Romans.

  101. CSK says:

    My niece-in-law identifies herself on her ghastly blog as “Christian, wife, mother.” Notice which comes first.

  102. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: it begins…

  103. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Arizona Republicans: Several of the Cyber Ninjas, including CEO Doug Logan, have Covid-19 and are “quite sick.” Fraudit report from cloud cuckoo land delayed.
    Karma; it’s pronounced, “HA”

  104. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: somebody on twitter, i think john fugelsang, when he gets really vicious hate tweets, like, idk, “i hope you have to watch your children burn to death” etc, he posts it with an image of the sender’s twitter bio saying Christian.

  105. gVOR08 says:

    @Mikey: I’m puzzled. I’ve been using Worldometers data. No good reason, I stumbled on them early and their format is convenient. But they show new deaths in FL at 40 on 8/20 and falling (7 day rolling avg). Your link is Johns Hopkins via the Financial Times. It shows over 200 on 8/20 and rising. Deaths seem to lag cases by about 4 weeks, and Worldometers shows cases rising fast four weeks ago, so the deaths make no sense. I saw that DeSantis changed from showing deaths on the day reported to the day it occurred. This would, I think, have moved some deaths earlier and brought down the current few days, and wouldn’t change the cumulative total. That would only work briefly, and wouldn’t account for such a glaring difference. I assume DeUseless is screwing with the data, but I don’t know how.

    I see cases are back around 20,000 per day. There’s a rule of thumb that the number of infected people is ten times the daily new cases. That means about 1% of the people I see are infected. Wonderful. Just effing wonderful.

  106. CSK says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    You’re in Connecticut, right? I take it Henri didn’t clobber you too badly. Hope not.

  107. Kurtz says:


    The personal belief involved may have only a passing resemblance to nominal Christian theology.

    Christianity, like most religions, has an unfortunate capacity for allowing it’s adherents to proclaim that their self interests and prejudices are of course wholly in accord with the will of heaven.

    Without absolving opposing views of the US Constitution, I see this as parallel to particular interpretations of that document, particularly among the group under discussion.

    This seems to be a running theme in old documents. I’ve made this point about originalism as a judicial philosophy in the past. But it applies even more so to texts that are extremely old–context gets list.

  108. Teve says:

    @gVOR08: i had the same prob and wound up at johns hopkins this morning

  109. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Around here it was a non-event, thanks for asking.
    Some parts of the state, and RI, got hit harder.
    Lucky…for a while the bullseye was on my roof!!!
    It shifted East and dropped to a Tropical Storm just before landfall.

  110. Kurtz says:

    I scanned and didn’t see anyone link to this story today. For those without an NYT sub, I used the archived version.

    Taliban fighters brandished Kalashnikovs and shook their fists in the air after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, defying American warnings that if they did not hand over Osama Bin Laden, their country would be bombed to smithereens.

    The bravado faded once American bombs began to fall. Within a few weeks, many of the Taliban had fled the Afghan capital, terrified by the low whine of approaching B-52 aircraft. Soon, they were a spent force, on the run across the arid mountain-scape of Afghanistan. As one of the journalists who covered them in the early days of the war, I saw their uncertainty and loss of control firsthand.

    It was in the waning days of November 2001 that Taliban leaders began to reach out to Hamid Karzai, who would soon become the interim president of Afghanistan: They wanted to make a deal.
    “The Taliban were completely defeated, they had no demands, except amnesty,” recalled Barnett Rubin, who worked with the United Nations’ political team in Afghanistan at the time.

    Messengers shuttled back and forth between Mr. Karzai and the headquarters of the Taliban leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, in Kandahar. Mr. Karzai envisioned a Taliban surrender that would keep the militants from playing any significant role in the country’s future.

    But Washington, confident that the Taliban would be wiped out forever, was in no mood for a deal.

    “The United States is not inclined to negotiate surrenders,” Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said in a news conference at the time, adding that the Americans had no interest in leaving Mullah Omar to live out his days anywhere in Afghanistan. The United States wanted him captured or dead.

    Almost 20 years later, the United States did negotiate a deal to end the Afghan war, but the balance of power was entirely different by then — it favored the Taliban.

    Much more at the link, including those expressing skepticism with which I approached the initial premise. But at the very least, this should have been explored rather than outright dismissed. There is another example from the piece of this attitude displayed by Richard Armitage:

    On Sept. 11, 2001, Richard Armitage, then the No. 2 person at the State Department, told the head of the Pakistani military’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency that Pakistan was either on America’s side or would be considered an enemy: “It’s black or white,” he said in an interview for PBS in which he recalled the conversation.

    Mr. Armitage said that Gen. Mahmood Ahmed, then the I.S.I. chief, had started to explain how the Taliban had come into existence, their history and relationships in Afghanistan — including many who had helped in the U.S.-aided resistance to the Soviet occupation. Mr. Armitage cut him off: “I said, ‘No, the history begins today.’”

    I’ve expressed that I don’t think GWB is a terrible person. But I do think he is a mediocre intelligence who was easily manipulated by men of high intelligence and sinister motives.

    In fact, I think it’s worthwhile to compare him to Reagan and Trump. The former was IMO, at best, of average intelligence. The latter is a blank slate in terms of worldview outside of his own neuroses. All three were susceptible to manipulation by their intellectual superiors.

  111. Monala says:

    Taylor W. McCray
    Aug 17
    sheep surround meWeary face

    4 y/o child “mommy why isnt everyone wearing a mask?”

    *mother glares at me*

    “Karen”in my boarding group
    “Aren’t you scared of getting sick?”

    Me “No. Virus has a 99% survival rate and ive researched for 2 years.”

    Random dude “it is what it is.”


    Five days later…

    Taylor W. McCray

    Texas Medical Hospital in Cleveland, TX is withholding treatment from covid patients. My sister is extremely sick. She was given a steroid shot after waiting hours for a CT scan. She needs monoclonal antibody infusion or HCQ, Ivermectin, Budesonide. Someone please help me

    8:17 PM · Aug 22, 2021·Twitter for iPhone

    Now that people are challenging her, given her previous Tweet…

    Taylor W. McCray

    Heartbroken reading awful comments wishing suffering on my sister & family. Vax status now determines how you are treated in society. Shame on all of you. Reversed hand with middle finger extended

    Mark Filley, MD “I can’t see in a crystal ball, not sure if you’ll get better or worse”


  112. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: In the interest of creating another level of confusion in your mind 😉 , allow me to elaborate on denominational vs. non-denominational groups.

    In addition to denominations, there are also, broadly speaking, liturgical worshipers and free worshipers. Liturgical churches follow a script that it, again broadly–and in this case loosely–based on the order of worship characterized by what some call “the mass.” Free worship is based on a script, too, but in the case of free worship “the script” varies from congregation to congregation and even Sunday to Sunday and is based on whatever the leaders are apt to decide that “worship” is. (This is where the “rolling on the floor” and the taking up snakes and other weird things come into the conversation of “what happens a church,” but I’ll move on.)

    One more issue comes into play in the current times–separatism. I was raised among separatists, and it has a long history in the church but really comes into its own in the late 19 and early 2oth Centuries in my not particularly humble opinion. Separatists hold that (and this is kind of important to your question) any major teachings or practices that depart from “scripture” (i.e. the Bible as it exists in my mind) are heretical and cause need to separate one’s group from groups that hold those teachings and perform those practices. That’s why it’s called “separatism.”

    The Free Church/Non-denominational Church movement has grown out of this separatist tradition, but before there were the non-denominationalist, there were the Baptists–who may well be the undisputed leaders of separating within the non-Orthodox (not Roman or Eastern) church groups. There are many stories celebrating the degree to which Baptists will separate–Northern (American in later years) and Southern Baptists being only the tip of the iceberg, if you will. Of the humorous stories that I can recall, my favorite ones are the joke about the wall in heaven behind which the Baptists live–believing that they are the only ones in heaven, and the joke about the no-ice Baptists. But I digress. The point about separatism and churches being essentially Baptist is that there are large numbers of people who perceive themselves as having “a calling from God,” and no particular church denomination they call home and these groups have tended to follow the Baptist free worship and open/populist governance to establish and run their congregations.

    Unfortunately, the separatist factor in independent church organization and history (and I’m getting back to your original question now) means that there are any number of individual groups who, for practical considerations, believe that they–and others like them–may well be the only Christians left. I grew up believing, because of belief that my parents and the leaders of the individual congregations we joined over the years, that Lutherans, Methodists, some Presbyterians, Anglicans/Episcopalians, and any number of Pentecostal groups “weren’t really Christians” because they differed from what I had been taught. It really is a mental disease–and I would say a spiritual one, too, but that depends on believing that humans have spirits–whatever they would be.

    ETA: I forgot about why I had distinguished between liturgical and non and failed to get back to that. Lots of free church groups believe that “the mass” is simply wrong in terms of a worship style. Perhaps because of the Catholic roots. In terms of separatist thinking, my experience is that the groups simultaneously admire and reject liturgical worship and the churches that do it are part of the “not really Christians” group. Maybe the main part.

  113. Teve says:

    @Monala: “Sobriety status affects how the cops treat drivers now i guess i thought this was America!”

  114. dazedandconfused says:


    I was responding to the comment the only in the US is theology more important than tradition within churches. Nope. It’s the same, tradition trumps theology in our churches too.

  115. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kylopod: But did he go the second mile as FG did and conclude that the Democrats must have stolen the election/cheated to win? That’s the new special ingredient in the current mix, in my opinion. Are the movements going on to alter voting laws merely what GQPers see as “fighting fire with fire?” (They’re cheating, so we’ll cheat better.)

  116. dazedandconfused says:


    We segregate ourselves. Exclusion is not the policy of either sort of Southern Baptist church, neither black nor white. And it’s certainly not limited to the South. Go into nearly any church anywhere in the country and you will see either all white or all black congregations.

  117. Kylopod says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    But did he go the second mile as FG did and conclude that the Democrats must have stolen the election/cheated to win?

    Not in the pieces I read by him. But alleging voter fraud is hardly something new; McCain himself was yammering about ACORN in 2008, though in the end he conceded graciously. I did occasionally run across right-wingers who flirted with the idea that the election was stolen, but it wasn’t a widespread claim. Usually they just went after McCain for being a RINO and not going hard enough after Obama. And while birtherism was certainly a form of questioning Obama’s legitimacy as president, it wasn’t tantamount to claiming his electoral victory was due to voter fraud.

    I do remember one of the righties here (the guy everyone calls bitcoin or something–I’m afraid of saying his name because in the past the hosts have created an algorithm where just mentioning these people’s screen handles has caused my comment to be tossed out) vaguely insinuating that the 2012 results were questionable, but again, I don’t believe this was a widespread claim in right-wing media at the time.

  118. Kurtz says:


    We segregate ourselves. Exclusion is not the policy of either sort of Southern Baptist church, neither black nor white. And it’s certainly not limited to the South. Go into nearly any church anywhere in the country and you will see either all white or all black congregations.

    It’s difficult for me to disentangle that from societal segregation due to history and economics.

  119. Roger says:


    Asking what people who use the unadorned term Christian to identify themselves believe is a lot like asking what people who call themselves Conservatives believe. It all depends on who you’re talking to. The most common varieties where I come from are:

    1. Members of the Church of Christ/Disciples of Christ. This is a denomination (or, more accurately, a group of denominations, because like any good group of believers they quickly identified doctrines that they disagreed on and split apart) that argues they are not a denomination because they insist they were simply returning to the beliefs of first century Christianity. Some allow only a cappella music because the New Testament doesn’t mention musical instruments as part of worship, while others allow musical instruments, to give you an idea of the kinds of things that people can find to argue about. They call themselves Christians in support of their general position that they are not a denomination. They reject a formal creed or hierarchy, so you can find wide ranges of beliefs among them. The theology of these groups ranges from very conservative/fundamentalist to relatively liberal, depending on which branch you meet up with.If you google Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, or Campbellite you’ll find info about their theological positions.

    2. Members of non-denominational churches. These are often megachurches, but don’t have to be. It’s not uncommon for them to have broken off from an established denomination when a preacher thought he was being reined in too much by the constraints of his (and it usually is a he) church’s hierarchical structure. The ones I’m familiar with tend to be evangelical/fundamentalist with an emphasis on the literal truth of the Bible, but I know of some that are relatively liberal, both politically and theologically.

    3. People who want to be inclusive and think denominational names exclude potential allies. They often belong to a particular denomination, but use the general term Christian to emphasize commonalities with other believers rather than differences.

    4. People who want to exclude others. I’m a Christian and you’re not, so I don’t have to listen to what you have to say. Where I’m from, these tend to be Baptists (though not exclusively so), and they’re likely to exclude anyone who doesn’t believe exactly what they believe. Catholics, in particular, are not Christians to these people.

    5. People who have no affiliation but grew up in a time or place where “good person” and Christian were synonymous. They range from Christian agnostics to fundamentalists who got mad at their preacher and quit going to church to people who will tell you they’re spiritual but not religious, to just about anything else you can imagine. Don’t ask too many questions about their theology. Many don’t know what they believe themselves, and making them think about it will make their head hurt. Others know very well, and won’t let you get away until they’ve unloaded their entire theology on you.

  120. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @gVOR08: Adding to your thought and connected to the independent/Baptist identity issue is that in the city I grew up in (Seattle) and the small town in which I live now (Longview, WA) denominational identification is being forsaken for what I think may well be advertising purposes. Several Baptist churches in Seattle changed their identity to “Community” from “Baptist.” In Longview, the Missionary Alliance Church goes by The Bridge, Northlake Baptist Church is now simply Northlake Church, and the Free Methodist church is now Exodus Fellowship. Nobody seems to want denominational labels anymore.

  121. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnSF: And this is where separatism comes in. For a person asking those questions, I might wonder why they want to identify as Christian if they don’t believe such things. But in terms of the core tenets, I think Mu hit them all. Don’t believe those, not Christian. (Although the neo-orthodox me that I sometimes channel will say that the creation story is about God and man, not process, so not believing in “Biblical creation” may not be a deal breaker.)

  122. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Well he might have had fluid on his lungs because of pneumonia, too, or cancer, but I can’t see why someone wouldn’t just say that. I suspect your guess is spot on.

  123. Jax says:

    I had to go to our local clinic today because I have a raging ear infuction. The room they put me in gave me a clear view of the back parking lot, which stayed full the entire two hours I was there with people lined up in their cars to take their turn in the ER ambulance bay for a rapid COVID test. They don’t let them come in the building, just stay in their cars and someone in full hazmat gear shows up, swabs them and sends them on their way to wait for a phone call.

    This weeks COVID numbers are gonna be lit. Next week’s are gonna be worse, school starts Wednesday. No masks required.

  124. Teve says:

    Sharing this both because I’m a DemonCrap partisan now and because I agree wholeheartedly.


    David Roberts

    OK, I will probably regret this, but I’m going to do a thread on Afghanistan, because something about the current discourse is baffling me. I’ll lay out the situation as I see it & then hopefully someone smart can answer my question.
    We’ve been in Afghanistan for 20 years. At first it was to diminish terrorist capacity, but that pretty quickly faded & the new mission was state-building: building a gov’t & a military that could prevent the Taliban from taking back over.
    Through all those 20 years, all the surges & drone strikes & wasted money & lost lives, we have failed utterly in that mission. The gov’t was weak & lacked support outside Kabul. The military was a shitshow (often responsible for its own atrocities).
    We’ve known for a while that the state-building is futile (Biden told Obama when he was VP), but in US politics, sticking w/ a disastrous military intervention is less politically risky than ending one, so no one actually did it until Biden.

    More or less everyone knew that, when the US finally left, the Taliban would take back over. Worth repeating: everyone knew this. No one knew or proposed any way of avoiding it, other than staying there forever. Some hawks would be fine w/ that, but the US people weren’t.
    Now, Biden — along with *everyone else*, including US intelligence agencies — believed that, while the gov’t & military were weak, they would, at least, fight off the Taliban for a few weeks or months. Everyone thought that Taliban takeover would take a while.
    It is obviously clear now that the Taliban was more prepared, and the gov’t & military even weaker, than anticipated. The takeover happened much faster than anyone (again: anyone) predicted. It made for some ugly imagery, though things have proceeded fairly well since.
    So, here are some possible criticisms of Biden:
    1. He should have prevented the Taliban takeover. But the only way he could have done that is by staying forever. Unless you support that, you’re acknowledging that the harms of Taliban takeover were inevitable.
    2. He should have evacuated Americans & allies before announcing the withdrawal. But as Biden has said, doing so would have been waving a giant red flag — an unmistakeable signal to everyone that the gov’t & military were going to collapse. He didn’t want to signal that. Now …
    … in retrospect, given how rapid the takeover was, it probably wouldn’t have made much difference. But again, no one knew it would be so fast. The admin wanted to give the gov’t & military a sporting chance. That made sense given the info they had at the time.

    3. Biden should have slowed down the Taliban takeover, to give more time for orderly withdrawal of Americans & allies. But the only way to do that would have been yet another “surge” of troops. As Biden asked, would you want your kid to be the last one to die in a futile war?
    4. Given how rapid the Taliban takeover turned out to be, Biden should have evacuated more … competently. But what does this mean? There have been comparatively few lost lives. People are getting out now. How, *specifically*, should Biden have evacuated differently?
    The characteristic feature of Afghanistan discourse among pundits & VSPs is that virtually no one grapples with these questions honestly. You’ve got pundits who haven’t said shit about a disastrous waste of money & lives for 20 years suddenly caring.
    You’ve got Republicans who wouldn’t piss on a refugee if they were on fire going on TV to weep crocodile tears about the Afghanis left behind. You’ve got people waving their hands around “competence” while refusing to say what could have been done differently.
    You’ve got people still putting “Biden’s catastrophe” in their headlines when, after one chaotic/ugly day, we’ve had five days of relatively orderly withdrawal, with very few casualties. You’ve got the Republican architects of this whole epic fuckup on TV backseat driving ()!
    Here’s what happened: we got hit on 9/11, it activated all our worst impulses, we lunged into an endless war with no chance of success, we predictably failed, and now an elite class with a lifetime of American-exceptionalism delusions just can’t fucking deal with it.

    It is tragic what’s happening in Afghanistan. It’s tragic what’s *going* to happen, especially to women & girls, especially to Afghanis who put their lives on the line to help us. It’s absolutely awful. But after 20 years, we have to accept: there’s not much we can do about it.
    Turns out we’re not the world’s Superman, just a blundering, violent oaf, stepping on rakes. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, especially for a relatively insular US population that has had nationalist mythology blown up its ass for as long as it’s been alive.
    But it is dysfunctional & dishonest to take all that negative feeling, all that humiliation & impotence & rage, & channel it into … bashing Joe Biden, the president who finally had the gonads to end this thing. Ending it was always going to be ugly. The choice …
    … was an ugly ending or staying there forever. Just once, I’d like to see this country grow the fuck up & take responsibility for its mistakes & acknowledge the limits of its power, to see itself from the outside rather than from within a haze of self-serving mythologies.
    As it is, looking around at the way US elites have responded to this, I have no faith that we won’t do something equally stupid in response to another attack. We refuse to learn.

    Anyway, that’s my Afghanistan take. Had to get it off my chest. You may yell at me now. /fin

  125. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: “…by resettling Rohingya…”

    I’ll bite: Resettle them where?

  126. Teve says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: a sentence or 2 later they said, “well he had fluid on his lungs and his kidneys gave out.” And I replied, “I’m sorry to hear that, fluid on the lungs and kidney problems…if he got an infection that would have been all it took.” And they were conspicuously silent.

  127. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Seeing your post just now reminded me of my teenage years and how in the groups away from my church that I sometimes hung out with, we’d sing a song where the chorus went “and they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

    Nobody sings that song any more; I wonder where it went. [deep in thought emoji]

  128. Kathy says:


    Hypothesis: Biden doesn’t plan to run in 2024, which lets him take the massive political hit of ending the war in Afghanistan.

    He hasn’t said he won’t, but that proves nothing. No one makes themselves a lame duck on purpose.

  129. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Roger: I’d be interested in knowing about non-denominational churches that are liberal theologically and politically. It’s not a thing where I live. Can you hook me up with some church or leadership names to search on the innertubes?

  130. Teve says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I’m an atheist but it’s a low-wattage atheism caused by two friends. When I was very young I was the stereotypical angry angry atheist, everybody who is religious is stupid, etc. As I got older I’ve chilled out, like you do, but I also got to know two great people.

    One is a Muslim engineer named Nabil, and when we get together he didn’t get all fired up about murdering the infidel, we hung out and smoked cigarettes and talked about how fucking stupid John Boehner and Paul Ryan and the Republicans are with regard to tax policy or science funding etc were (Few years ago obv)

    The other was a computational evolutionary biologist named Wesley who is very clearly way smarter than I am, and also a committed Christian. I’ve never known a single human being who spent more time fighting the creationists: he considered it bad science and also bad theology. Ever heard of Kitzmiller v Dover? He was one of the team preparing the plaintiffs’ lawyers. I can’t say ‘oh I am an atheist because I’m smarter than these religious idiots’, because Wesley is clearly way smarter than me. I’ve seen him demolish dumb creationist arguments using detailed genetic sequence data that I could barely comprehend. He just has a different dispositions in some way and that makes him a Christian and me an atheist. He doesn’t give a shit about me being an atheist and I don’t give a shit about him being a Christian and we get along and both help run his biology website.

    That all said, religion doesn’t seem to prevent horrible people from being horrible.

  131. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jax: I don’t envy your decision about your kids at all. Fortunately, my local district seems sane despite being in a red county. I got an email today bringing me up to date. I tried to copy it but failed, so I’ll just hit the high spots.

    Staff who intend to be unmasked in areas where students will not be must provide proof of vaccination. (I can’t actually imagine who these people would be, maybe administrators.)
    All staff in areas where students will be must wear masks at all times.
    No word yet on requirements to vaccinate or what exemptions will be permitted, but rules are pending.

    Good luck to you and your kids. (Maybe homeschooling is an option again? How did it work last year?)

  132. dazedandconfused says:


    Doesn’t have to be, that is, for the point I am making. If societal segregation is more important than theology than people are not placing theology at the top of the importance list.

  133. Roger says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Definitely a minority, but there are a few (understanding that liberal s a relative term). Here’s one in the town where I grew up.

  134. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @Teve: While I won’t be yelling at you or Roberts, I find myself frustrated that American commentary, as usual, devolves into a blame-shifting and responsibility-dodging game. Things have been handled with questionable (at best) competence since the invasion 20 years ago, and that includes all administrations including Biden’s. There’s plenty of blame to go around. Personally I put the biggest share on Bush and the neocons, whose arrogance is what really led to this. But it doesn’t really matter at this point.

    As for Biden? Well, he COULD have communicated with our allies and planned an evacuation (if this was the plan, the plan sucked). He COULD have decided not to leave Bagram in the middle of the night without telling anyone. He COULD have done more to slice through the bureaucratic red tape holding up visas. He could have been communicating (as clearly as he has on Covid) that the withdrawal was happening, everyone needed to be ready for it, here is what needs to happen to prevent disaster, here are the warnings about the Taliban coming back and what that means, etc etc etc. And yes, he COULD have surged for a fighting retreat/withdrawal and tried to get mass evacuations started before the only ground we still held was the airport. Would it have worked? Impossible to say–but we hardly could have done worse.

    Yes, he still would have been hammered and screamed at by our useless domestic opposition. Jesus Christ himself would be if he was President when the pullout occurred. But we might have doomed fewer Afghanis. Yes, people are leaving, but how many are NOT getting through the Taliban lines and checkpoints? If the Brits are leaving the base to get more people out, the logical conclusion is that others would make it if the US was similarly determined. We also might have avoided some of the international complications, anger, and embarrassment.

    He’s put pretty much all of his powers of the pulpit to work around Covid. Fair enough. But maybe, if he decided he wanted to keep messaging focused on Covid (I’m actually fine with that), it means holding off a withdrawal until there is room to communicate around that?

    I still far prefer him being in charge than TFG, and it’s not even close. But for someone whose main selling point was simple decency and competence…this has been neither. It was done arrogantly and high-handedly, and has repeated our shameful failures to treat Vietnamese (and Iraqi) allies with the respect their service to the US deserves.

  135. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: No it doesn’t. As I’ve noted here before, this whole “you’re the only Jesus most people will ever meet” thing doesn’t seem like that workable of a proposition to me these days. I’ve known people who seemed to make it work and I’ve had people tell me that it worked in relation to themselves with people I didn’t see the quality in, but at the moment…

  136. Jax says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: We’re in for the long haul with in-person school. The eldest teenager refuses to give up her Junior year, she’s vaccinated, she’s given me about all the leeway she’s gonna give me on my “fears” affecting her social life. 😛

    The youngest is also a no-go, at least not with the virtual school we tried last year. They were inundated with students, her grades and her mental health deteriorated so badly I sent her back to public school right after Christmas. I don’t know that her mental health is any better (middle school kids are sooooooo evil and gross and just MEAN), but her grades improved.

  137. Jax says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: The school district SWEARS their “virtual learning” has improved since the last time I saw it in March 2020, so I guess we’ll see what happens the next few weeks!

  138. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Roger: Thank you!

  139. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jax: As I said, I wish you and your kids well. It is what it is and for the younger one, if it didn’t work, it’s not a good idea. They’ll do what they’re going to to protect themselves and being vax’t will help. Good luck.

    (And from what I’ve seen in virtual learning systems, “improved” is not a high bar to jump. 🙁 Just sayin’.)

  140. JohnSF says:

    I’m probably being unclear.
    I don’t exactly think that only the US has theology as a dominant element of the churches.
    I’m thinking more in terms of the individual, and group, relationship to the church, rather than the doctrines of the church.

    What it is, is it seems that Americans as church participants are rather more likely to look around and choose a denomination or church. Whereas Europeans seem to far more often default to family and/or community traditions, and often only “belong” at a fairly superficial, social level.

    For instance a lot of “nominal Anglicans” aren’t confirmed or communicant (attend Holy Communion, that is) but are Anglicans for the purposes of “hatch, match and dispatch” as we say: baptism, weddings, funerals.
    And may attend e.g. evensong, carol services, Harvest Festival (a big thing in rural parishes), Easter parade and similar.
    Same thing happens with Catholicism in predominantly Catholic countries, Orthodoxy ditto; I suspect Lutheranism also, but not sure.

    As I say, its more a matter of community and custom than belief.
    Certainly in my family: we’re a bunch of agnostic Anglicans, LOL.

  141. Kurtz says:


    Fair enough. But I’m not sure that there is any reason for theology to trump the racial composition of individual congregations that likely resulted from a confluence of things outside Church.

    If congregations were built by community and maintained subsequently largely by tradition, a segregated society would likely lead to largely homogenous churches long after segregation ceased being official policy.

  142. Jax says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I’m kind of at my wit’s end with the youngest. I am not in a position where I can just….up and leave, to put her(cough)HIM(I have to keep reminding myself) into an environment that specially caters to LGBTQ+. Throughout the summer, because he’s fully come out as trans and his name is Luke, a lot of these middle school boys have….bad things on their mind.

    Keep in mind that I know EXACTLY what fucking happens to kids like that around here, in BFE Wyoming. The end result in my era was that they were both horribly raped in an effort to rape the “gay” out of them. Nobody every paid a price for that, either.

  143. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnSF: The relationship to the church (as in congregation) is much stronger in the US in my experience, too. It doesn’t necessarily make whatever the faith is better, more loving, or more durable, either. Merely different.

    @Jax: My thoughts are with you. It’s a tough situation at best. I wish I had more to offer. Keep loving him. That’s all you can do. One of my districts does try to make a place for LGBTQ+. Even so, it’s still… …problematical. We’re not a nation that does this well yet from what I can see.

  144. keef says:

    Trump: If you kill an American we track you down and kill you.

    Biden: Can you please use KY brand jelly?

  145. David S. says:

    @CSK: Ah, sorry. I misread your comment.

    You know you’re asking for something literally impossible to answer, right? Like, the people you describe are the people who will pivot on a dime if you try to pin them down on a profession of belief. You’d have more luck interviewing people they stopped being friends with ten years ago.

  146. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    First, the embassy focused for months on the Americans in Afghanistan. According to documents provided by the State Department, it sent increasingly ominous warnings (even with offers to pay for airfare out of the country) beginning on April 17 and following on May 15, May 17, June 8, June 28, July 15, July 20, Aug. 7 and Aug. 12. Despite all that, as many as 15,000 Americans remain across the country.

    I can see the response ” I’m a FREE American citizen, the embassy can’t make me leave”.

    I have limited sympathy here.

  147. Mister Bluster says:

    January 2020 “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. It’s going to be just fine.”
    February 2020 “The 15 (cases in the US) within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.”
    February 2020 “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”
    March 2020 “You have to be calm. It’ll go away.”
    March 2020 “No, I’m not concerned at all.”
    March 2020 “It goes away….It’s going away. We want it to go away with very, very few deaths.”
    March 2020 “I don’t take responsibility at all.”
    April 6, 2020 “LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL!”
    April 6, 2020 U.S. death toll passes 10,000
    April 9, 2020 “I couldn’t have done it any better,” [When asked if his coronavirus response could have been better]
    April 11, 2020 U.S. death toll passes 20,000
    April 13, 2020 “But I guess I’m doing OK, because, to the best of my knowledge, I’m the President of the United States, despite the things that are said.”
    April 15, 2020 U.S. death toll passes 30,000
    April 20, 2020 U.S. death toll passes 40,000
    April 23, 2020 “I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning? As you see, it gets in the lungs, it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”
    April 24, 2020 U.S. death toll passes 50,000
    April 26, 2020 “The people that know me and know the history of our Country say that I am the hardest working President in history.”
    April 29, 2020 U.S. death toll passes 60,000
    April 29, 2020 “It’s gonna go away, this is going to go away.”
    May 5, 2020 U.S. death toll passes 70,000
    October 30, 2020 “Our doctors get more money if someone dies from Covid,” and so “when in doubt choose Covid.”
    November 1, 2020 U.S. death toll passes 230,000
    November 3, 2020. Donald Trump is reelected in a landslide!
    Jesus returns!
    keef is made King of the Idiots!

  148. mister bluster says:


  149. Michael Reynolds says:


    5 years from now we’ll be invading Myanmar or some shit and like 3 Democrats will remind us of Afghanistan and the media will frame them as moonbats.

    Oh, I’d put money on that.

    Those fucking Myanmarese,

  150. Michael Reynolds says:

    Trump sucked Taliban dick and gave them 5,000 fighters who are now busy encircling the airport. He got nothing in return.

    Same as he got for licking Kim’s balls and tossing Putin’s salad.

    Nada. Zip. A loser. And loved by losers, eh, Drew?

  151. DrDaveT says:


    After Election Day, Warshawsky wrote: “I cannot understand how a man like Obama became president. It contradicts everything I know, or thought I knew, about American history, culture, and politics.”

    Three guesses whether Warshawsky decided that he had been wrong, and had fundamentally misunderstood reality…

  152. DrDaveT says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    in the groups away from my church that I sometimes hung out with, we’d sing a song where the chorus went “and they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

    Keep in mind that even then that was seen as aspirational. The complete lyric is “And we pray that our unity will one day be restored, and they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Not claiming that it’s the case today — hoping that it might someday.

  153. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jax: Jeebus. Good luck.

  154. dazedandconfused says:

    True, my only quibble is with the assertion it is not the same in the US. IMO there is no meaningful difference between the US and Europe in how people select the congregation they will participate in. An admittedly somewhat specious example of how little theology actually factors into American choices would be Trump being all but worshiped by the American evangelical community. Is there a single commandment he abides? No. It’s entirely about something else.