Fragging, Judicial Elections, and that Shining City on a Hill

Plus, Bill Kristol on fetishizing political violence.

Recently at The Bulwark:

JVL is always right:

Some bad actor acts badly in a bid for your attention. What he says is so vile that you react, thinking that it’s important to push back against it. And then you’re pulled into the hurricane.

Don’t do it.

You have a finite amount of energy. Don’t give any of it—not one damn joule—to the circus. Instead, give your energy to people you love. Give it to people who need help this week. Chances are that someone you know lost a loved one this year. Instead of hitting retweet or reply on something awful, text them to see how they’re doing. Or give them a call. Or pop over and knock on their door to check on them.

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KIMBERLY WEHLE has this important item today on electing judges in the wake of the Rittenhouse acquittal.

For practicing courtroom lawyers, such idiosyncrasies are hardly unique to Judge Schroeder. Nor are they unique to elected judges: federal judges—who are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate, and who serve for life absent impeachment for misconduct—can be similarly capricious. But most people don’t see this side of the judicial system.

The selection of state and local judges varies significantly by state, but scholars explain that, across the board, elected judges “face strong reelection incentives,” including fundraising pressures. By contrast, appointed judges tend to be selected with “homogeneous preferences” that reflect the diversity of the populace. This stands to reason: Elected judges must worry about how voters will perceive their rulings else they lose their jobs. The sober judicial role of calling balls and strikes based solely on the facts and the law is distorted by political bias and professional longevity.

The removal of a state-level judge is also extremely rare—so elections matter.

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We are in a dangerous moment when members of the political class celebrate violence and fetishize guns. Plus, contemplating an America if JFK had not been assassinated. Bill Kristol joins Charlie Sykes on today's podcast.


ALAN CROSS reminds us about the importance of keeping church and state separate.

You wouldn’t think we should need this reminder, but with crazy right wingers like Mike Flynn and Josh Mandel pushing the envelope towards state religion, I guess some people need a refresher course. Here’s Cross:

But, [Mike] Flynn gets this imagery wrong because he goes beyond what both [Puritan John] Winthrop and Reagan seem to allude to in his suggestion that God had America in mind as the last best hope for the world, the city on a hill. And, he calls upon the churches in America to come together to make that happen — to make America the city on the hill that Matthew wrote about when he quoted Jesus and that Winthrop spoke of in 1630 and that Reagan called us to in the 1980s. That is a Christian Nationalist view of a Divine purpose for America that is not at all what Jesus had in mind when he said that his followers, what would soon be the church, would be the city on a hill because they would reflect his light (the light of Jesus and the gospel) to a watching world in desperate need of that light everywhere.

You don’t have to be a Christian or believe in God at all to think it important to understand what this biblical imagery actually entails. But, I am a Christian and I think it inappropriate to co-opt words that were clearly meant for those who follow and believe in Jesus to then be applied to a nation-state 2000 years later made up of people from all religions or no religion at all. That isn’t what America is and it isn’t what Christianity teaches either. The church exists in society, but it isn’t the whole of society because there will always be people who do not believe in or follow Jesus, as much as I would like everyone to do so. And yet, we must all live peaceably together.

It isn’t a knock on America to say that it cannot be the biblical city on a hill. America can and should be a good country and an example to other nations, and that is what I believe Reagan meant by the term. But, America isn’t the church and the church isn’t America. If the church properly follows Jesus, the light that it reflects can help illuminate America and help it be a better country. But we shouldn’t get things confused about who is who.

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🚨OVERTIME🚨

This is what Chinese censorship looks like. In real time.

Daniel Inouye gets his boat. I’m sure most readers are familiar with the late Hawaii Senator and his heroism in WW2. But if you’re not, head over to Task & Purpose to read about him. Naming a war ship after a bad-ass American hero like him is well deserved.

At President Obama’s first inauguration, I escorted the living former Vice Presidents through the honor guard and to the podium. Our ante room in the Capitol was Inouye’s private “hideaway” office. And once the pleasantries were exchanged, pretty much everyone was looking at all of the neat items of history on the walls of his office. And of course, conversation was had among people about what a hero he was. Everyone, and I mean everyone respected the hell out of that guy, which is hard to do in Washington.

Joe Biden and the Big Squeeze… A must-read from Jonathan Chait at Intelligencer:

The grim irony is that, in attempting to court non-white voters, Democrats ended up turning them off. It was not only that they got the data wrong — they were also courting these “marginalized communities” in ways that didn’t appeal to them. For the reality is that the Democratic Party’s most moderate voters are disproportionately Latino and Black.

Greetings from 20,000 feet! Thankfully, our flight was on time and not disrupted. But the week is young. Your flight may (and I hope not!) suffer from delays or cancellation during this busy travel week. The Wall Street Journal studied one Southwest plane, and how weather and staff shortages can quickly cascade into delays or cancellations.

Packing this morning, I was frazzled because I had to get the dogs ready to go to our friend’s house, and I did something dumb. I put my Swiss Army Knife back in my book-bag. I have done this once before, when I was in college. (It got through TSA in St. Louis and Cleveland, but Portland caught it. I was able to mail that knife back to myself. It was my Cub Scout knife, first I ever got.)

This wasn’t a particularly impressive one, a Wenger Adventurer Eddie Bauer one with a corkscrew and scissors that I got bought in high school at a discount because I worked at Eddie Bauer in the gear department.

I was mad at myself. Not for losing what probably cost me $25 back in 2001, but because this knife had a little sentimentality. I have a scar from this knife on my pointer finger. Sadly, Reagan airport has no mail mechanism. I thought about going back to my car, stashing it somewhere outside, or something. I had the time! But I didn’t do it. I just parted with it and told TSA to take good care of it.

Maybe somebody will buy it at auction and it will live on with a new owner. Or maybe it’ll get turned into scrap, or end up in a landfill. If you love something, set it free, and all that. Farewell. And when I got to our destination, I found my other one in my checked luggage. I wasn’t crazy, I just didn’t clean out my backpack thoroughly. Oh well.

Speaking of airports… I was down in Richmond this weekend visiting family, and one of them told me about this completely fake airport Richmond had to fool the Nazis should they try and bomb the Richmond airport. The site later had some controversial history, but some of it is still there.

That’s it for me. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. For full credits, please consult the article.