Laws and Limits

While there are supposed to be laws and limits on the presidency, Trump was unrestrained, exposing just how toothless those safeguards have become and just how urgently the nation needs to reform the office of the presidency itself.

– The Boston Globe “Future-proofing the Presidency

This week’s featured posts are “Critical Race Theory is the New Boogeyman” and “Cleaning Up After Trump“.

This week everybody was talking about Trump’s corruption

One featured post discussed this, beginning with The Boston Globe’s “Future-proofing the Presidency” series.


I missed this development back in November: In 2017, the German news magazine Der Spiegel had published a shocking cover of Trump decapitating the Statue of Liberty. But their post-election cover last fall showed Biden putting the head back on.

and Critical Race Theory

The other featured post examined how CRT is becoming just another content-free scare-label, in the tradition of cancel culture and political correctness.

and the G-7

With Biden replacing Trump, the G-7 meeting in Cornwall lacked the fireworks we’ve gotten used to. Trump had an attention-grabbing habit of insulting our democratic allies while fawning over our authoritarian enemies, but Biden has returned to more typically American behavior. It looks like we can trust him to go overseas without embarrassing us.

The seven nations all pledged to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030, and together they will donate a billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine to the developing world.

The group last met in 2018, with the 2020 meeting being canceled due to the pandemic. (If you remember, that was the meeting Trump initially awarded to his own company to host, before backing down from such a blatantly corrupt act.)

Biden is now heading to a NATO summit. From there he goes to a meeting with Vladimir Putin on Wednesday in Geneva. That’s unlikely to be the lovefest it was for Trump.


This socially distanced photo of the G-7 leaders (plus two guests I haven’t identified; I’m amazed at the news sites that will publish a nine-member G-7 photo without comment) has led to a lot of humorous response.

Steven Colbert tweeted:

Before I order these figures, does anyone know if you can take them out and play with them or are they glued to the display stand?

Some people noticed the resemblance to a Star Trek crew that has just beamed down (and expressed concern about Angela Merkel’s prospects for survival, given her red top). Others thought the diplomatic meeting was about to end with a song and dance. (Both Macron and Trudeau look ready for a solo.)

and you might also be interested in

Last week I quoted Seth Abramson’s point that Trump could stop talk of a coup with a short statement saying that he would not cooperate with an effort to reinstate him as president by force. Well, this week Reuters outlined the death threats Trump supporters have been making against election officials who refused to let Trump intimidate them into overturning a legal election. This is something else Trump could probably easily stop, but doesn’t. He’s complicit.


ProPublica published an expose of how little tax the super-rich pay.

In 2007, Jeff Bezos, then a multibillionaire and now the world’s richest man, did not pay a penny. He achieved the feat again in 2011. In 2018, Tesla founder Elon Musk, the second-richest person in the world, also paid no federal income taxes. Michael Bloomberg managed to do the same in recent years. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn did it twice. George Soros paid no federal income tax three years in a row.

As is so often the case, the scandal is not that they broke the law, but that they didn’t. The biggest loophole is that capital gains on stock aren’t taxed until the stock is sold. So as Amazon stock skyrockets, Jeff Bezos can become the world’s richest man without triggering a taxable event.

Middle-class people, whose wealth is mainly in their homes, can’t do that. Even if you don’t sell it, your home is subject to property tax. It may take a while for the assessor to catch up with the value a zooming house market puts on your home, but eventually it will happen.

This is why Elizabeth Warren’s wealth-tax proposal shouldn’t seem all that radical. The New Yorker elaborated on that idea.


Here’s an example of bipartisanship: The Oregon House voted 59-1 to oust Rep. Mike Nearman, with only Nearman himself voting in his favor.

Nearman was removed for the disorderly behavior of allowing rioters into the closed Capitol building during a special legislative session on Dec. 21, 2020. His actions led to dozens of people — some armed and wearing body armor — gaining access to the Capitol, thousands of dollars in damage and six injured Salem and Oregon State police officers. …

Republicans had stayed mostly silent on Nearman’s actions until the past week, after a video surfaced that showed Nearman suggesting to a crowd days before the riot that if demonstrators texted him he might let them into the Capitol.

This is one reason why it’s not unthinkable that Republican members of Congress might have collaborated in the January 6 riot. A bipartisan commission would have been a good way to look into such possibilities, if Republicans in the Senate hadn’t filibustered the proposal to create such a commission. Treason was in the air in late December and early January. It was being spread by the President of the United States, and some number of Republican officials were infected by it.


The upcoming national meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville is the latest battleground in the culture wars. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal both have good summaries. Southern Baptists may still seem quite conservative to non-evangelicals, but from the point of view of its own conservative wing, the denomination has been “drifting” to the left.

One faction argues the SBC should step back from its role in electoral politics in order to broaden its reach and reverse a 15-year decline in membership. Another faction says the denomination has been drifting to the left, and the way to retain and attract members is to recommit to its conservative roots and stay politically engaged. Each side accuses the other of straying from the SBC’s core mission.

What’s unusual about this conflict is that it seems to have little to do with theology. One side objects to “wokeness” and wants to denounce “critical race theory”, while the other wants to be more welcoming to non-whites, and to take sexual assault accusations more seriously.


So Netanyahu is finally out of power in Israel. Ben Rhodes comments:

One lesson from Israel: to defeat an autocrat who attacks democratic norms and institutions, oppositions need to unify under a big tent. In Israel’s case, that even led Lapid to compromise on who would start as PM, but he understood the imperative of getting Bibi out first.

This is an increasingly common and necessary strategy around the world. In Hungary, opposition parties have agreed to put aside differences and unify in next year’s election to oust Netanyahu’s good buddy and fellow corrupt, nationalist autocrat: Viktor Orban.

and let’s close with some maps that make an interesting point

Sometimes geology is destiny.

https://www.reddit.com/r/MapPorn/comments/nvgyu5/how_a_coastline_100_million_years_ago_influences/
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Comments

  • painedumonde  On June 14, 2021 at 12:43 pm

    The last image is eerie.

  • jmyii  On June 14, 2021 at 1:37 pm

    I’m glad someone else wondered about 9 people in a picture of the G7 leaders. They’re (back left) Charles Michel – Head of the EU Council, and (back right) Ursula von der Leyen – President of the European Commission.

  • JCB  On June 14, 2021 at 4:34 pm

    Geology is destiny; or in other words, Dinosaurs to Democrats!

  • thebhgg  On June 16, 2021 at 9:25 am

    It deeply surprises me for you to dismiss a church’s reaction to social justice (“wokeness”, CRT, racial diversity, sexual assualt) as non-theological differences.

    [I mean, I know that *I* believe theology doesn’t help people be more ethical, any more than traditional journalism makes people better informed and engaged citizens. (Which is why you started The Sift?)]

    But I am surprised *you* would pass up an opportunity to argue that good theology ought to be immediately relevant to these kinds of issues. As an example, I recall with fondness your exogesis of “The Parable of the Good Samaritan” which suggested to me you felt racial inclusion was intrinsically theological.

    • weeklysift  On June 21, 2021 at 5:55 am

      You’re right. What I meant was that these issues don’t concern the usual Christian theological arguments, like the truth of the Bible, the divinity of Jesus, and so forth.

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