“Are you still an atheist?”

The Paul Ryan nomination does seem to be an instance of Divine intervention, doesn’t it?

My old friend (and classmate at Pimlico Junior High School) Stuart Levine writes:

After Romney’s choice of Ryan as his running mate, it is now impossible for any Democrat to be either an atheist or an agnostic. I fully expect that the DNC will announce an official day of thanksgiving during which all Democrats can give thanks to their Deity of Choice.

Stuart certainly has a point. As of right now, Romney seems to have made an inspired choice, from a Democratic perspective. As has been remarked before in this space, as a purely statistical matter the frequency with which Barack Obama’s electoral opponents have self-destructed strongly suggests that he is either on a personal mission from God or has sold his soul to Satan. Neither hypothesis is fully consistent with atheism.

However, statistical arguments lead only to probable opinion. (Or something weaker than that, once the econometricians get started.) In the absence of deductive proof, I remain agnostic.

Footnote Of course, you don’t have to be a theist to follow Jewish rituals. So, on the occasion of this truly monstrous all-hereditary-rich-white-guy Republican ticket, let us all recite the brucha prescribed in the שׁוּלחָן עָרוּך (Shulkhan Aruch) on seeing a monstrosity:

Blessed are You, HaShem, Ruler of the World, Who has created all things according to Your will: even the Ryan Budget.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

18 thoughts on ““Are you still an atheist?””

  1. This seems like a replay of ’08, where Republicans go with the safe bet, but then regret it and find a firebrand for the base.

    1. I think we might look back and realize that in its strange, spurious, platitudinous way the Romney campaign was a rerun of the Goldwater fiasco.

      1. Except that they will be certain that any problem was caused because Romney wasn’t conservative enough. A Romney loss guarantees an even more reactionary nominee in 2016.

      2. I guess they responded to Goldwater by building a massive propaganda engine. This decade, maybe they’ll think of new, aggressive, ingenious assaults on voting rights or education – something that strikes to the center of democratic rights and changes the game. When they infiltrated the national political discourse with their noxious antigovernment ideas they did that, and the next thing might be as big. They seem to have perfected the “ratchet” in pushing their agenda: forced to pause at times, they seldom lose ground.

  2. Every time the thought has gone through my head that “this contract is mine to lose,” I lost it. That kind of self-sabotage could be just my personal problem. Certainly it is consistently enough a fact of my existence to make me worry that Romney’s choosing Ryan will make Democrats overconfident.

    1. LOL!

      And, I’ll bet you were just as needlessly nervous that GWB, having displayed his incompetence in such a glorious manner, could possibly win a second term from this electorate.

      Sleep tight, it’s in the bag.

  3. I don’t see why this is any cause for celebration. Yeah, he’s the advocate of nasty policies that don’t add up, but as has been observed in many places what he proposes, when accurately described, seems so Dickensian that people can’t believe that’s what he really proposes. That’s doubly true for the low-information voters still sitting on the fence. He’s not the obvious clown that the last choice was.

  4. Last night Mark when you linked to the LA Times piece I did a triple take to assure myself I wasn’t reading the Onion… then a quadruple take in case someone had cleverly replicated the paper, as someone did with the NYT weeks ago (the Keller piece). This one screamed “fake news” and “satire”, and still does.

  5. This election has never been in doubt. The only way Obama loses is if the Dow drops 500 points two days in a row a couple weeks into October. The best Romney can do is gobble up as many electoral votes as he can in states that could go either way to avoid embarrassment.

    1. If you knew some of the people I do, you wouldn’t be so sanguine! I told those who said Dubya couldn’t possibly win a second term to not underestimate the uninformed, misinformed, and redneck quotient in this country, hoping all the while I was simply exhibiting my pessimistic streak.

      There are a LOT of seemingly fairly intelligent and decently educated people, especially older ones (who ought to be hanging onto their SS and Medicare with both hands) who get all their “information” from Fox and Rush and right wing pundits and bloggers. They don’t know nor care what is spin and what is outright lies, and when a real fact bites them in the butt, like somebody refuting on Facebook the idea that the President is suing to prevent military early voting in Ohio, they simply pooh-pooh it with no backup, or ignore it completely.

  6. The most apropos construction RE theistic explanations of Obama’s political fortunes comes I think from the recently released Nas album:

    Obama must have naked pictures of God.

  7. well it may not prove a good choice in the long run, but at least it is a diversion from the constant drumbeat about romney’s taxes!

  8. [beats drum]

    I’d like to see Romneys returns so we can judge how much the Ryan plan would save him. Maybe nothing, right?

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