Wanted: Justice Amy Coney Barrett

The fight over Barrett’s confirmation would almost certainly build trust between President Trump and social conservatives. It would energize Republicans ahead of the midterm elections.

The facts of Barrett’s life — that she is a mother of seven children, and that when she speaks about her Catholic faith, she speaks about God as if she really believes in His existence — will provoke nasty and bigoted statements from Democratic senators and liberal media personalities. Again.

.. Professor Barrett’s qualifications become stronger by virtue of her willingness to write candidly and intelligently about difficult and sensitive ethical questions: Our universities, our judiciary, and our country will be the poorer if the Senate prefers nominees who remain silent on such topics.”
..  the fight to confirm her will contain edifying political lessons. We don’t have religious tests for public office in this country, and having a republic that does not have an established religion does not require excluding sincere believers from positions of authority.
.. they should be able to compel religious people to conform to liberal moral norms — which just so happen to track exactly to doctrinal developments in the once dominant Mainline Protestant churches. 
.. The ACLU would compel Catholic hospitals to perform abortions.
.. Evangelicals at a crisis pregnancy center will be made to advertise for abortion... contain an even deeper lesson, one that is salutary for both liberal secularists, who once indulged in triumphalism, and conservative believers, who have been tempted to despair: Believing Catholics and Evangelicals will continue to make their contributions to the common good of this country. You will live with us. If we’re going to have peace, we’re going to make it together.

Psychologists are facing consequences for helping with torture. It’s not enough.

Prior to settling, Mitchell and Jessen denied any legal responsibility, and their attorneys argued their inculpability by comparing them to the low-level technicians whose employers provided lethal gas for Hitler’s extermination camps.

.. The case marks the first instance of legal accountability of any kind for psychologists who abandoned ethical standards — and basic decency — while claiming they were merely following government orders on torture.

..  The perverse rationale: According to memos from government lawyers at that time, “close observation” by health professionals constituted clear evidence that there was no specific intent to cause severe pain or suffering.

.. None of these psychologists has ever been sanctioned for ethics violations by state licensing boards or professional associations — even the relative few whose identities are known. In part, this is because the American Psychological Association (APA) — the largest membership organization of psychologists in the world — did not effectively defend the profession’s bedrock do-no-harm principles.

.. In public forums, the APA’s ethics director dismissed reports of detainee abuse as “long on hearsay and innuendo, short on facts.”

.. One association president condemned dissident voices as “opportunistic commentators masquerading as scholars.” Another advised us to “turn down the temperature on outrage.” A high-profile military psychologist boasted in his memoir, “I confronted one of my critics and threatened to shut his mouth for him if he didn’t do it himself.”

.. The APA commissioned a comprehensive independent review, conducted by attorney David Hoffman of the Sidley Austin law firm. The 500-page report confirmed what our own research and investigations had found. It concluded that the APA, despite growing evidence of detainee mistreatment, had secretly coordinated with Defense Department officials to promote ethics policies that matched the government’s preference

.. This was accomplished, in part, by stacking a key APA task force with military intelligence insiders and relying on Pentagon representatives

.. APA leaders took this path to “curry favor” with the military establishment — a source of lucrative grants and contracts

.. we have an authoritarian-minded commander in chief who’s insisted that “torture works.”

.. Donald Trump declared that he would “bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.”

.. Since taking office, Trump has appointed both a CIA director who argued that the likes of Mitchell and Jessen are patriots, not torturers, and a deputy director who ran a CIA torture site and participated in the unlawful destruction of videotape evidence.

.. nominated for an administration position a lawyer who authored some of the infamous “torture memos

.. given serious consideration to reopening CIA black sites and expanding the use of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.

.. many Americans (roughly half, sometimes more) support the torture of terrorism suspects
..  contributed to radicalizing a new generation of adversaries.
.. Psychologists understand the lasting impact of trauma very well. The demons of deep psychic wounds can continue without end. Colleagues who work with torture survivors describe the victims’ overwhelming feelings of helplessness, brokenness and disconnection from other people, direct results of having been subjected to agonizing abuse and humiliation at the hands of another human being.
..  are haunted by flashbacks and nightmares, and a lasting sense of safety seems impossible to achieve.
.. psychologists’ complicity, whether through active participation or silent acquiescence, is so egregious.

Fear and Trembling in Las Vegas

A week with the street preachers of Sin City.

He gives me lessons in salesmanship. “You only have thirty seconds to make a pitch,” he says. “Whatever the product, you have to make them think they need it. Each person, you have to learn to mimic them. If they’re abrupt, you have to be abrupt. If they’re open, you have to be open.”

.. According to Ricky, you have to make it clear they need the product—weed-killer, say—without insulting them: “You have to say, you’re doing such a great job with those cypresses, but I couldn’t help noticing a couple leaves are wilting.” Being vulnerable, he says, is often a great sales tactic. Personal stories create the illusion of connection.

.. Until 2005, casino hotels such as the Bellagio treated the Strip outside their doorstep as their de facto property and street preaching was banned, the prohibition enforced by byzantine Clark County—Vegas’s home county—restrictions on the size of a banner a person could carry. Jim was arrested under such restrictions in 2005.

.. It was then that Jim found an unlikely ally: the American Civil Liberties Union, not historically a friend to the religious right.

.. Clark County wanted to settle with him, he says, and spent the deposition asking if he’d take money in lieu of policy change.

.. Jim is partial, I come to learn, to the dumb routine, as a means of disarming those he sees as his intellectual enemies, accustomed to expecting someone who’s not “academically playing with all the cards.” Such a perception, he says, can work in his favor.

.. His only interest is in learning just enough theology to respond to the questions and concerns of would-be converts: “I have no desire to learn things that I’m not able to pass on in a practical way to other human beings. Learning for the sake of learning—I have no desire to do that.

.. “And I said, ‘Lemme ask you a question: once you’ve gone through that whole course and you graduate and you’ve got that diploma, how many people are you going to be able to talk to about this subject matter?’” The answer? Not many. “And I said, ‘Why take the time, then? Why don’t you spend your time down handing down tracts on the street trying to reach people for Christ, rather than getting another degree under your belt, so that you can feel like you’re kind of a mucky muck within Christianity?