HOME IMPROVEMENT: Was the Constitution divinely inspired?


Respect for the viewpoints of Others: Rusty Bowers was the first witness at yesterday's meeting of the January 6 committee.

Bowers is the conservative leader of the Arizona House. For us, his frontier-adjacent, spare speaking style seemed to recall the late Barry Goldwater—and possibly Sandra Day O'Connor, who grew up in deep isolation on a large cattle ranch on the Arizona-New Mexico border, nine miles from the nearest paved road. 

Back in 2020 and 2021, Bowers refused to go along with deranged requests from Rudy Giuliani and Donald J. Trump. He had supported and voted for Donald J. Trump—but now he refused his requests.

At one point, pausing due to emotion, Bowers made the statement shown below. We were a bit surprised:

BOWERS (6/21/22): Deny your oath, I will not do that.  And on more than one—on more than one occasion throughout all this, it has been brought up. 

And it is a tenet of my faith that the Constitution is divinely inspired—of my most basic foundational beliefs. And so, for me to do that because somebody just asked me to is foreign to my very being.

For the full transcript of yesterday's meeting, click here.

Bowers believes that the Constitution is a "divinely-inspired" document. Nor does he seem to be alone in that view.

At the end of the day's presentation, vice chair Liz Cheney made the following statement. She was addressing Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, two of the day's other witnesses:

CHENEY (6/21/22):We've been reminded by you, and by Speaker Bowers and Secretary of State Raffensperger and Mr. Sterling, that our institutions don't defend themselves. Individuals do that. And we've been reminded that it takes public servants. It takes people who've made a commitment to our system to defend our system. We also have been reminded what it means to take an oath under God to the Constitution, what it means to defend the Constitution.

And we were reminded by Speaker Bowers that our Constitution is indeed a divinely inspired document. And so it's been an honor to spend time with you and with our previous witnesses here today. 

According to the highlighted statement, Cheney believes that the Constitution was divinely inspired too.

For ourselves, we don't believe that the Constitution was divinely inspired. In fairness, we can't really say that we disbelieve that proposition. Truth to tell, we've never given the possibility a single moment of thought.

Was the Constitution divinely inspired? Though we were familiar with that point of view, we were briefly surprised to see Bowers state his belief about this matter. 

We were a bit surprised, all over again, when we saw Cheney second the motion.

For ourselves, we don't hold any religious beliefs at all. Having said that, we're aware of the fact that many millions of other people do. 

In Bowers' case, his voice broke on several occasions as he explained that he refused the deranged requests of Giuliani and Trump because his religious beliefs are so strong. We thought of President Clinton's passage about the Arkansas Pentecostals, and we thought about the wide array of human belief and experience.

Our blue tribe is occasionally somewhat less than perfect when it comes to the task of respecting the viewpoints of Others. We've often mentioned that passage by Clinton as an example of the way a successful political figure may end up being liked and respected, and also winning elections, if he or she is able to form a more ecumenical view.

Clinton wrote about his home state's Pentecostals in his 2003 memoir / autobiography, My Life. We first mentioned the passage in question way back in 2004

According to Clinton, his state's Pentecostals didn't tend to vote for him when he ran for office statewide. That said, he described his admiration and respect for this group in one of the most unusual passages you'll ever see a Democratic politician transfer onto paper.

Clinton described the way he would always attend an annual meeting of Arkansas' Pentecostals. We'll recommend that you read the whole thing, but along the way, he offered such statements as these:

CLINTON (pages 251-252): Far more important than what I saw the Pentecostals do were the friendships I made among them. I liked and admired them because they lived their faith. They are strictly anti-abortion, but unlike some others, they will make sure that any unwanted baby, regardless of race or disability, has a loving home. They disagreed with me on abortion and gay rights, but they still followed Christ’s admonition to love their neighbors.


Knowing the Pentecostals has enriched and changed my life. Whatever your religious views, or lack of them, seeing people live their faith in a spirit of love toward all people, not just your own, is beautiful to behold. If you ever get a chance to go to a Pentecostal service, don’t miss it.

That last statement was a genuine topper! Along the way, Clinton had also said this:  

“Besides being true to their faith, the Pentecostals I knew were good citizens. They thought it was a sin not to vote.”

Bill Clinton wasn't a Pentecostal. He didn't share their religious perspectives—and his state's Pentecostals tended to vote against him. 

That said, he told the world that he liked and admired them as people. Someone else might have rejected them as the latest gaggle of Others, but Clinton said that knowing these others had "enriched and enhanced [his] life."

Today, members of our flailing blue tribe are embracing certain people from the other side. Lynn Cheney is one such person. Yesterday, Bowers became another—and that's not all! 

This morning, there was George Conway, he of the Clinton-chasing "elves," sitting on the Morning Joe panel, eagerly embraced by our side. For the record, we aren't saying he shouldn't be embraced, though we also aren't saying he should be.

For ourselves, we don't hold religious views. On the other hand, we're aware of the fact that several billion other people do, all around the world. 

Members of our flailing blue tribe are occasionally rude about people who do. As our ministry continues this week, we'll offer this fleeting thought:

We might have more success, in the political tribe we call home, if we improved the way we play with regard to (several) such matters. 

Admittedly, this would be a type of long-term home improvement project. That said:

Within our personal memory, it all goes back to that one nagging incident. It took place in the autumn of 65, during our freshman year!

Tomorrow: Whatever comes next


  1. "Bowers believes that the Constitution is a "divinely-inspired" document. Nor does he seem to be alone in that view."

    Why, this sort of grandstanding is, of course, typical for show trials, dear Bob.

    The real question is, why would anyone want to watch this shit? Why would you want to watch to it, dear Bob?

    Oh well...

    1. Who hasn’t already seen the video of Right-wing snowflakes throwing a public temper tantrum, just because black peoples votes counted in the 2020 Presidential election?
      Give them rattles and pacifiers, and tell them to take a long nap, while the adults run the country.

  2. "Our blue tribe is occasionally somewhat less than perfect when it comes to the task of respecting the viewpoints of Others. "

    Somerby says this immediately after describing the beliefs of two individuals who refused to break an oath to the Constitution based on religious belief. None of the Democrats on the panel showed disrespect toward that belief. Further, it was The Others (Giuliani, Trump, Eastman, the many Trump supporters) who were urging Bowers to break his oath. They also urged Cheney to break hers by siding with Trump instead of the 1/6 Select Committee. Those Others showed the ultimate disrespect for the divergent views of their fellow Republicans. They have never shown respect for any Democrat view either. But Somerby chides the Democrats for being "less than perfect" in respecting Trump and his ilk.

    If that doesn't take the cake!

  3. "We've often mentioned that passage by Clinton as an example of the way a successful political figure may end up being liked and respected, and also winning elections, if he or she is able to form a more ecumenical view."

    Somerby mistakes the nature of Clinton's respect for the Pentecostals. First, he didn't ever say he approved of their religious views. Second, he singled out traits he did admire in them, such as their hard work and serious lives. Third, he did not change his own political views to accommodate theirs, nor did he enact any programs to benefit them specifically, nor did he promise to do any of that.

    How did Clinton show respect? He visited them, talked with them about their lives and their needs, he didn't criticize them, and he told them about his own goals, interests and life. His visits to the Pentecostals occurred when he was stumping for Fulbright, as an intern on Fulbright's campaigns. As such, he was a young man (pre-college) who had perhaps not encountered Pentecostals on a one-on-one basis before and Clinton, as we know, was interested in everything and everybody, curious about the world. So, he wasn't making any special effort to know the Pentecostals and he wasn't trying to schmooze or butter them up or win anything from them. He was just being himself -- since he was an admirable person, his natural self was admirable enough to attract Somerby's interest.

    But that doesn't mean that listening to The Others should be done for instrumental (goal-driven) purposes, to butter them up or change them or win their votes or manipulate them. It doesn't mean that doing it will change a thing about their views or ours. As Clinton himself noted, the Pentecostals weren't likely to vote for Fulbright because of his talks with them. You talk with people because you are interested in them. If you don't approve of their beliefs or their lies or their behavior, pretending isn't going to help anything, just as listening won't change any of that either.

    Respect, to me, means letting other people live their lives as long as they are within the law and not hurting others, with the expectation that they will do the same. We are all citizens entitled to equal treatment under the law. The rest is social and there are no obligations to engage in any other manner beyond that -- except as each individual feels the urge to be social and conform to social and cultural norms. And that is all that Clinton did.

    Somerby seems to expect more than that. That's where his political motives become apparent. From his past essays about this, it seems like Somerby expects liberals to be accepting of beliefs, attitudes, behaviors that they do not share and to go along with Trumpism, which is contrary to the strongly held values of most liberals. And that is akin to urging us to "break our oaths" to the things we care about it, to abandon the Constitution (in the form of what we use to guide our own lives and behavior) because someone asks us to -- in this case Somerby, but also the demands of the right wing, which does not respect the rights of others and is actively trying to subvert them, whether it involves a woman's right to make choices about her own health care or a black person's right to work and receive equal pay, or a trans person's ability to pursue the same interests as others do without interference. The Others do not practice live and let live and they do not respect us or anyone else they consider different -- including Cheney and Bowers and Lady Ruby and Shay Moss and the many others they actively harmed in their efforts to undermine our Constitution and peaceful transfer of the presidency to Biden, who won the presidential election.

    It is outrageous that Somerby would use this analogy -- which fits so poorly, but the reason it doesn't fit is because his own urging upon Democrats to fall into line is wrong with a capital W.

    1. If you look at Latino's embrace of the Republican Party this is all disinformation and misinformation, especially given that they ignore the entire history of this controversy. It ignores that so-called Hispanics are a minority in our country. Democratic objections to the Latin Exodus have nothing to do with the intellectual or moral capacity of voters. People need to make up their minds whether they want to stay or go -- as has been said on numerous occasions.

      NO aliens involved in the war on either side. Somerby's failure to note any of the nonsense floating around is suspicious to me. He is only here, combatting the idea that Ukraine deserves support and the Russians opposition because they invaded a bordering country without provocation and are killing people in a needless war to appease a strongman's ego (much as people have died to assuage Trump's ego).

  4. "This morning, there was George Conway, he of the Clinton-chasing "elves," sitting on the Morning Joe panel, eagerly embraced by our side."

    Morning Joe puts a Never-Trump Republican on a panel and Somerby calls that being eagerly embraced by Democrats. That's ridiculous. Nor are Democrats embracing Cheney. These folks are still Republicans and agreement about a limitied issue, such as Trump's malfeasance, doesn't make us BFFs.

    But this does show what would happen should any liberals actually take Somerby's advice and get to know The Others. Those liberals will be accused of opportunistically embracing those others. So, damned if you do, and damned if you don't. But Somerby is not a big fan of consistency under any circumstances.

    To cover himself, Somerby takes a bold stand:

    "For the record, we aren't saying he shouldn't be embraced, though we also aren't saying he should be."

    For amusement, think about what Somerby would do in a position of moral crisis. Would he stand up to Trump? I can say confidently that he wouldn't, since he can't even own an opinion here. He calls Conway a "Clinton-chasing elf" in order to portray Morning Joe as a hypocrite, but he won't say whether Conway should be embraced -- perhaps Somerby liked the Clinton-chasing that happened so long ago? Or perhaps he has opinions but is just unwilling to express them. Either way, that is less than the epitome of integrity, and that makes Somerby somewhat less than fit to be opining about the spine of liberals, especially those who stand up for their beliefs under pressure.

  5. Well, Bob found something to latch onto to avoid saying anything relevant about the proceedings yesterday. What does Bob think about the President smearing and abusing
    a private citizen in a crude fashion we have never seen
    before? He doesn't want to tell us, but from following Bob
    we can guess, since it's a black women, he doesn't see
    it as any big deal.
    As to Bowers, here's a man who drew a line in the
    sand. But he was only ready to draw it when it became
    clear his own integrity would be stained. He voted for
    Trump after he had done all the same lying about the
    elections in 2016, with all the same dangerous
    implications. What makes right wingers indifferent to
    sleazy behavior that damages others, even if they
    may take a stand when there own ethics are on the
    line? It is a big question about these times that
    stares you in face, and the examples in the Trump
    era are all but endless. Bob has no interest.

  6. "For ourselves, we don't hold religious views. On the other hand, we're aware of the fact that several billion other people do, all around the world.

    Members of our flailing blue tribe are occasionally rude about people who do. "

    I have seen atheists be rude to religious people, but atheists and liberals are not the same category of people.

    Somerby may also be confusing the right-wing's use of religion to justify political acts, which the left has every right to oppose on a political basis. There is also the case of opposition to religious people trying to impose their religion on those who believe differently, which is not the same as "being rude" or of showing respect for religious observance. For example, trying to ban abortion or reform gays is not religion and involves interference with others, not practice of any religious belief. So, Somerby's statement needs some explanation about what he finds "rude" about the reaction of liberals to religious people (many of whom are themselves liberal).

  7. "As our ministry continues this week, we'll offer this fleeting thought..."

    A religious person might find it offensive that Somerby first says he holds no religious views, then uses the word "ministry" to describe his efforts here. Somerby perhaps thinks it is clever or cute, but in an essay about respect, he should consider that it also sounds mocking, dismissive of the religious work of others.

    Ministry definition: the work or vocation of a minister of religion

  8. "Admittedly, this would be a type of long-term home improvement project."

    Somerby is not a liberal, which means he doesn't live in the blue tribe. To extend the analogy, a person cannot just go into another family's home and start using a hammer to take down walls. Somerby's obvious priority is to peel off votes from the Democrats by portraying us unfavorably at every opportunity, to weaken faith in the press by attacking them as a source of reliable information, and to excuse and defend right-wing behavior, including Trump's criminality and its support by Republicans.

    Today's essay portrays liberals as people who won't listen to those fascinating Pentecostals, hypocrites who embrace George Conway simply because he criticizes Trump, who would be rude to those who are religious such as those who upheld the Constitution for religious reasons (even though it is the left who has organized and presented the hearings to address Trump's criminal behavior, and everyone was polite and respectful to all of the witnesses, no matter who they are and whether they appeared under subpoena or voluntarily. Today's essay serves no other purpose than to complain about Morning Joe and chide liberals, even though no specific wrong behavior of any kind is presented as evidence that we need to clean up our act. Somerby doesn't need any specific incident to talk about, because it is his reason for being here to denigrate Democrats, so vague complaints are sufficient to equate liberal rudeness with death threats on Lady Ruby.

    Somerby is scum.

    1. Anonymices have computer files full of this stuff.

      They add or delete a word or pejorative or two, then click send.

    2. Somerby pulled the stuff about Clinton and the Pentecostals from his files too. He only writes a paragraph of new thought and embeds that in a bunch of recycled nonsense. Such as the Lady with the Lapdog a few days ago. And the Godel stuff. I am sure the commenters put more work into their replies than Somerby does into his columns.

    3. I think his column today reflects his ongoing theme about expanding his party’s base.

      I think you’re right in that Somerby blogs are shorter and not as weighty, but he has been undergoing medical treatments.

    4. As has been pointed out here repeatedly, the Democrats are not going to peel off any Republican votes by talking nice to Republicans. The way to win elections is to get out the vote at election time, not to convert Republicans and Independents (who skew Republican despite being unwilling to label themselves as such).

      It is highly questionable whether Somerby's approach would attract even one Republican to the Democratic party. It isn't as though he is giving any helpful advice about doing so. He mostly is criticizing the left, which doesn't help anyone who sincerely wants to talk to Republican friends and relatives.

  9. Bowers is still a Republican who supported Trump in 2016/2020,

  10. Somerby refers to Democrats/liberals as "our flailing blue tribe." He used to say "failing" instead of "flailing". He is referring to our entire group and attributed that adjective to all of us., He does't criticize isolated behaviors when he does this. He doesn't say we are good but could be better. He doesn't urge us to be more effective in our efforts to win votes. He calls us all failures.

    That isn't how someone works within a group to improve it. It is how an opponent of that group dismisses it and tries to keep others from joining it, being associated with it. Notice that Somerby never mentions what we do right, never states agreement with or adherence to any belief on the left. Never encourages or commends what the left does. It is always unrelentingly negative criticism.

    If you need more evidence that Somerby is claiming to be liberal while attacking Democrats witness the cadre of defenders in these comments, mostly conservatives and troll(s) pretending to be Marxist Bernie bros while advancing the right's interests, as happened in both the 2016 and 2020 elections. Sophomoric imitations of communist jargon is being used to smear liberals, while the left is attacked for neglecting economic concerns of poor people. These are the trolls suggesting that Hispanics and blacks are finding greater common cause on the right (in the face of bigotry) despite Biden's many programs to help workers and strengthen a pandemic-stricken economy. What actual liberal has supporters like that? And the ultimate effect is to make readers feel less certain about their ability to tell what is real and what is fake anywhere. In other words, Somerby is gaslighting his readers and his trolls are doing the same in the comments. Because that is what the right does to sway voters.

    1. https://emotionallysensitive.com/why-criticism-painful-bpd/

  11. Trump was pretty coarse in the way that he tried to manipulate Bowers, who must have resented that. Also, when people have a job to do they often resent being told that they screwed up, particularly if they are conscientious about doing their task. So, the whole thing has less to do with the divinely-inspired constitution and more to do with Trump's ham-fisted approach to manipulating people.
    In the next election, GOP will insure that they have enough cynical actors in the right positions to overturn the election results.

    1. That's one of the reasons consultants and campaign managers of the Clinton campaign in 2016 blamed their loss on Russia and Comey. They resented having to admit they made mistakes so they invented scapegoats.

    2. If you read Clinton's own book, "What Happened?", she does not blame Comey and Russia for her loss. She reviews her own mistakes in detail and analyzes the impact of each. Statistical analysis, like that at 538 Blog (Nate Silver) did show the impact of Comey's statement, right before the election, and estimated the impact on her numbers, showing that it alone could have accounted for her loss. Similar analyses have shown that the Facebook and other social media interference by Russia could have depressed the turnout in WI, MI and PA sufficiently to turn those states for Trump. The contention that Clinton didn't visit those states enough is flat wrong for PA, and surrogates did visit WI and MI frequently, suggesting that the explanation that Clinton didn't visit enough is not a good explanation.

      It is hard to see how such a thorough and soul-searching book, written by Clinton herself, could be scapegoating, but who needs facts to make such accusations?

    3. To the 9:19 AM commenter: excellent, specific, fact-based reply. Love it.

  12. And lets look at how persuadable The Others are, whether by argument or experience. Here is what Driftglass has to say about Rusty Bowers:

    "Yesterday's January 6th committee hearing featured the testimony of ordinary, dedicated public servants who were going about their jobs of making sure the 2020 election was conducted freely and fairly and for that they were subjected to a continuous onslaught of verbal and physical intimidation and threats by the Trump mob.

    It was terribly moving and, at times, hard to watch.

    One of the key witnesses was from the Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, Russell "Rusty" Bowers, about whom I tweeted, "If there are still persuadable people anywhere out there, Russell Bowers' testimony would have moved them."

    Well, I stand corrected: Russell Bowers' testimony didn't even persuade Russell Bowers. From the AP (with emphasis added):

    Bowers was one of five recipients of this year’s John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage award for his refusal to consider overturning the 2020 election results despite pressure from Trump and his supporters.

    But while Bowers said the efforts by Giuliani and other Trump backers have been hurtful, he does not levy any criticism on Trump directly and would support him if he were on the ballot.

    “If he is the nominee, if he was up against Biden, I’d vote for him again,” Bowers said. “Simply because what he did the first time, before COVID, was so good for the county. In my view it was great.”

    And despite all the damning testimony Bill "Bullshit" Barr unloaded on Trump during his 1/6 depositions -- despite trying to cash in on all that shit talk by writing an entire shitty book slagging Trump -- this (from the Rolling Stone):

    Bill Barr Says Trump Is ‘Responsible’ for Jan. 6 … and Also That He’d Still Vote for Him in 2024

    This has been your (and my) periodic reminder that, however tempting is might be to our empathic, forgiving Liberal hearts to keep pawing through the Republican midden pile looking for a pony, it's really nothing but reprogrammable meatbags all the way down.

    That for decades, while the establishment media masturbated itself blind in their Platonic Both Siderist Cave, the GOP has been worked diligently to create an unstoppable Gingrich/Limbaugh political Doomsday Machine.

    A Doomsday Machine that could not be reasoned with or bargained with.

    A Doomsday Machine with no "off" switch.

    And they succeeded."

    1. But we liberals are the ones who Somerby tells to go visit the Pentecostals!

    2. Driftglass is a clever writer.

    3. Bowers did stipulate that he would vote for Trump if he were running against Biden. That’s in 2024…

      I’m not sure you fault anyone in that scenario.


    4. That Right-wingers beg Daddy Government to save them, isn’t exactly “news”.

    5. This is standard brainless snark.

    6. One of the best comments of the year...it destroys Somerby's main argument.

    7. just because Biden sometimes flubs his words? what an absurd standard, and one that Trump fails too:

  13. Brad Raffensperger and Rusty Bowers defended efforts to make It harder to vote: no heroes.

  14. Now that (some) liberals are willing to acknowledge that some religious people are well-motivated, it would be great if they would extend the same courtesy to conservatives. To acknowledge that most conservatives want the same things as liberal do. They just disagree about which policies are apt to produce those results.

    1. And that’s why conservatives support a criminal like Trump?

    2. David,
      We need your help defeating Republicans in the midterms.
      Can you please remind every Republican voter that Republican politicians want equality for black people?
      Thanks in advance.

  15. Bowers would still vote for Trump, no matter what Trump does. There in lies the problem.

  16. Enjoyed the essay, Sir Bob. As someone who works with a MAGA-hat wearing Republican, I can say that as human beings, we get along quite well, he as a church-going Christian, and I as an atheist.

    We know of each other’s quirks, but we still respect one another. Admittedly, we’ve never got to actually discussing and comparing our quirks, certainly not our politics, though I once brought up the idea of a universal basic income, and he seemed to take it as crazy talk, though he was polite about it.

    I meet Sihks every day, and no finer group can be found in my brief encounters. I’ve even been invited to share a meal in one fellows cab, but for obvious reasons declined. I was working at a warehouse, he was a trucker. (Don’t even start, you comment trolls.)

    Religion can go both ways – either you embrace the golden thread that runs through the Abrahamic religions, mainly compassion and friendship – or you use your credo for other ends. We see where things have been trending for quite some time now.

    Anyways, hope you’re doing well.


  17. Bowers is a Mormon that the belief that the constitution is divinely inspired is commonly held by Mormons.