Christopher Hitchens, Antitheist, Dead At 62.
Christopher Hitchens, the cantankerous and wildly-intelligent writer, pundit, and “antitheist,” has died at the age of 62,Â fromÂ pneumonia, a complication of hisÂ esophageal cancer. His last-known work, “Trial of the Will,” was just published in the January, 2012 issue of Vanity Fair. An excerpt:
Before I was diagnosed with esophageal cancer a year and a half ago, I rather jauntily told the readers of my memoirs that when faced with extinction I wanted to be fully conscious and awake, in order to â€œdoâ€ death in the active and not the passive sense. And I do, still, try to nurture that little flame of curiosity and defiance: willing to play out the string to the end and wishing to be spared nothing that properly belongs to a life span. However, one thing that grave illness does is to make you examine familiar principles and seemingly reliable sayings. And thereâ€™s one that I find I am not saying with quite the same conviction as I once used to: In particular, I have slightly stopped issuing the announcement that â€œWhatever doesnâ€™t kill me makes me stronger.â€
In fact, I now sometimes wonder why I ever thought it profound. It is usually attributed to Friedrich Nietzsche:Â Was mich nicht umbringt macht mich stÃ¤rker. In German it reads and sounds more like poetry, which is why it seems probable to me that Nietzsche borrowed it from Goethe, who was writing a century earlier. But does the rhyme suggest a reason? Perhaps it does, or can, in matters of the emotions. I can remember thinking, of testing moments involving love and hate, that I had, so to speak, come out of them ahead, with some strength accrued from the experience that I couldnâ€™t have acquired any other way. And then once or twice, walking away from a car wreck or a close encounter with mayhem while doing foreign reporting, I experienced a rather fatuous feeling of having been toughened by the encounter. But really, thatâ€™s to say no more than â€œThere but for the grace of god go I,â€ which in turn is to say no more than â€œThe grace of god has happily embraced me and skipped that unfortunate other man.â€
Vanity Fair offers this tribute, “In Memoriam: Christopher Hitchens, 1949â€“2011.”
Wonkette founder and journalist Ana Marie Cox wrote via Twitter, “He inspired and provoked me in equal measure. RIP.”
Vanity Fair via Twitter wrote, “There will never be another like ChristopherÂ Hitchens. A man of ferocious intellect, who was as vibrant on the page as he was at the bar.”
Two days ago, conservative author and pundit Andrew Sullivan, in “Pray For Hitch,”Â wrote,
If you pray. His physical torments are hard to fathom; his spirits and ability to write unchanged. I haven’t seen him in a long while, and he is now still in Houston undergoing the effects of brutal chemo, as hisÂ luminescent pieceÂ in the latest VF reveals. I don’t know why, but he is suddenly in my mind and soul constantly these days, and the kindness of a returned email even now takes me aback, given where he is.
He is the greatest advertisement for the existential courage of the atheist I have ever known. And I say that not just from his writing, but from two and a half decades of debate and discussion with him in person. I don’t know what else to say: but pray for or think of him today, if you will. He is worthy of a particularly intense form of love.
Wikipedia offers this biography, not-yet updated:
He has been a columnist and literary critic atÂ The Atlantic,Â Vanity Fair,Â Slate,Â World Affairs,Â The Nation,Â Free Inquiry, and became a media fellow at theÂ Hoover InstitutionÂ in September 2008.Â He is a staple of talk shows and lecture circuits and in 2005 wasvotedÂ the world’s fifth top public intellectual in aÂ Prospect/Foreign PolicyÂ poll.
Hitchens is known for his admiration ofÂ George Orwell,Â Thomas Paine, andÂ Thomas JeffersonÂ and for hisÂ excoriating critiquesÂ of, among others,Â Mother Teresa,BillÂ andÂ Hillary Clinton, andÂ Henry Kissinger. His confrontational style of debate has made him both a lauded andÂ controversialÂ figure. As a political observer,Â polemicistÂ and self-definedÂ radical, he rose to prominence as a fixture of the left-wingpublicationsÂ in his native Britain and in the United States. His departure from the established political left began in 1989 after what he called the “tepid reaction” of the Western left followingÂ Ayatollah Khomeini’s issue of aÂ fatwÄÂ calling for the murder ofÂ Salman Rushdie. TheÂ 11 September 2001 attacksÂ strengthened hisÂ internationalistÂ embrace of anÂ interventionistÂ foreign policy, and his vociferous criticism of what he called “fascism with an Islamic face.” His numerousÂ editorialsÂ in support of theÂ Iraq WarÂ caused some to label him aÂ neoconservative, although Hitchens insists he is not “aÂ conservativeÂ of any kind.”
Identified as a champion of the “New Atheism”Â movement, Hitchens describes himself as anÂ antitheistÂ and a believer in the philosophical values of theÂ Enlightenment. Hitchens says that a person “could be an atheist and wish that belief in god were correct,” but that “an antitheist, a term Iâ€™m trying to get into circulation, is someone who is relieved that thereâ€™s no evidence for such an assertion.”Â He argues that the concept of god or a supreme being is aÂ totalitarianÂ belief that destroys individual freedom, and that free expression and scientific discovery should replace religion as a means of teaching ethics and defining human civilization. He wrote at length on atheism and the nature of religion in his 2007 bookÂ God Is Not Great.
Though Hitchens retained hisÂ British citizenship, he became aÂ United States citizenÂ on the steps of theÂ Jefferson MemorialÂ on 13 April 2007, his 58th birthday.Â AsteroidÂ 57901 is named after him.Â His memoir,Â Hitch-22, was published in June 2010.
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'DISTURBING SURGE IN VIOLENT THREATS'
Biden Launches Major Initiative to Protect LGBTQ Community Ahead of Massive White House Pride Celebration
The Biden administration is launching a three-pronged plan to protect members of the LGBTQI+ community, including protecting their safety and civil rights, supporting LGBTQI+ children, and protecting students from book bans.
“Over a dozen states have enacted anti-LGBTQI+ laws that violate our most basic values and freedoms as Americans, and are cruel and callous to our kids, our neighbors, and those in our community,” the White House said in a statement Thursday. “The Biden-Harris administration stands with the LGBTQI+ community and has their backs in the face of these attacks.”
The initiative will be announced during President Joe Biden’s Thursday evening Pride event, which Reuters reports will be “the largest White House Pride Month celebration in history.” In a “a deliberate contrast to a cascade of Republican legislation and other attacks targeting LGBTQ+ people,” President Biden will host “thousands” on the White House South Lawn.
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“This year we’re seeing a disturbing surge in violent threats against LGBTQ community organizations,” Biden White House domestic policy advisor Neera Tanden told reporters. “In too many parts of our country, LGBTQ Americans are being targeted for who they are, and that, simply put, is discrimination.”
President Biden has directed three federal agencies, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to “launch the LGBTQI+ Community Safety Partnership. The Partnership will work hand-in-hand with LGBTQI+ community organizations to provide critical safety resources to ensure these organizations can remain safe spaces for the community,” the White House says. “In acknowledgement of the mistreatment that LGBTQI+ communities have often faced in interactions with law enforcement, the Partnership will also work to build trust between LGBTQI+ organizations and federal law enforcement agencies.”
Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Kristen Clarke, will chair regular meetings with the U.S. Dept. of Justice’s LGBTQI+ Working Group, focused on “issues related to discrimination against the LGBTQI+ community.”
The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services on Thursday will “issue a Behavioral Health Care Advisory on Transgender and Gender Diverse Youth to provide evidence-based practices for mental health providers. HHS will also issue a guidance to states and communities on using federal funding to support mental health services for LGBTQI+ youth.”
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The administration points to the disproportionately large number of LGBTQI+ youth in the child welfare system, and notes that “far too often” they “experience trauma, including being exposed to so-called ‘conversion therapy,'” which Biden has spoken out against before. HHS says it “will issue a Behavioral Health Care Advisory on Transgender and Gender Diverse Youth to provide evidence-based practices for mental health providers. HHS will also issue a guidance to states and communities on using federal funding to support mental health services for LGBTQI+ youth.”
The White House also says it is working to “Shield LGBTQI+ kids and families from discrimination,” and “Address LGBTQI+ youth homelessness.” It also points to its efforts on “Protecting Americans from book banning,” and “Uplifting LGBTQI+ communities.”
In December, President Biden signed a law protecting same-sex and interracial marriages.
You can watch the video above or at this link, and read the entire White House announcement on its website.
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House Freedom Caucus Republican: Trump Is Spinning Out of Control
A right-wing GOP lawmaker who has backed Donald Trump through both of his impeachments is sounding the alarm that the former president is becoming increasingly erratic which could put the 2024 general election at risk for his party.
According to a report from Politico, the closer Donald Trump gets to becoming the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nominee the more some GOP lawmakers are growing worried that not only will they lose their shot at taking back the White House, but he’ll take down-ticket GOP candidates down with him.
The report also notes that the battle between Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis is starting to turn off conservative voters and some are hoping that an alternative will rise from the squabble.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) was blunt about the GOP’s prospects as they stand today, telling reporters, “I’m worried about it,” and expressed fears that Trump will keep independent voters at a distance.
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With a wide array of candidates having just appeared over the past weekend in Iowa, Rep. Zach Nunn (R-IA) claimed the infighting is turning voters — even Republicans — off.
“We’ll see if the two titans punching each other fires up the base, or if six months from now people are tired of both and ready for a third way,” Nunn explained before making tha blunt observation, “When you talk to Iowans, s–t-talking other candidates will not get you success. We don’t necessarily pick the winner, but we’re pretty good at smelling bulls–t.”
Kentucky Rep. Tom Massie (R), who has sided with DeSantis, is very worried about the possibility of Trump at the top of the ticket.
“I wish Trump were on Twitter. He’s in an echo chamber right now. And people don’t know how far he’s spun out from where he was,” he said in an interview. “The more visibility that we can help Trump get — when he attacks [his former White House press secretary] Kayleigh McEnany, for instance — the better.”
You can read more here.
Image via Shutterstock
RIGHT WING EXTREMISM
Trump Has Been Notified He Is Target of DOJ Investigation – Insists ‘It’s Not True’ He’s Getting Indicted: Reports
Attorneys for Donald Trump reportedly have been notified the ex-president is a target of a criminal investigation into his handling of classified documents. The ex-president denies he is being indicted.
The Guardian Wednesday evening reported federal prosecutors told Trump’s attorneys last week he is a target of the long investigation that is now led by Special Counsel Jack Smith. That investigation, experts believe, could lead to obstruction of justice and Espionage Act charges.
“Trump’s lawyers were notified before they met on Monday with the special counsel Jack Smith leading the Mar-a-Lago documents case and the senior career official in the deputy attorney general’s office and made the case that prosecutors should not indict the former president in the matter,” The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell reports.
Politico also confirms The Guardian’s reporting, stating: “Federal prosecutors have notified former President Donald Trump in a letter that he is the target of a criminal investigation, according to a person familiar with the matter.”
Earlier Wednesday, a conservative website reported federal prosecutors had informed Trump’s attorneys he is a target and likely to be indicted. That website is run by John Solomon, who Trump named as his official representative to the National Archives last year. That move reportedly gave Solomon access to non-public administration records related to Russia, Politico reported.
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Later Wednesday, The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman reported via Twitter she had been in touch with Trump.
“Trump tells me minutes ago he has NOT been told he’s getting indicted, when contacted. ‘It’s not true,’ he said, adding again he hasn’t done anything wrong,” Haberman tweeted at 2:40 PM.
“When I asked if he had been told he’s a target, he demurred, saying he doesn’t talk directly to prosecutors,” she added.
Haberman says she used the Solomon report as the basis for her conversation with Trump.
Less than one hour after Haberman says she spoke with the ex-president, he again posted an angry rant on his Truth Social platform.
“No one has told me I’m being indicted, and I shouldn’t be because I’ve done NOTHING wrong, but I have assumed for years that I am a Target of the WEAPONIZED DOJ & FBI, starting with the Russia, Russia, Russia HOAX, the “No Collusion” Mueller Report, Impeachment HOAX #1, Impeachment HOAX #2, the PERFECT Ukraine phone call, and various other SCAMS & WITCH HUNTS,” he rambled.
Trump made clear he expects House Republicans to protect him: “REPUBLICANS IN CONGRESS MUST MAKE THIS THEIR # 1 ISSUE!!!”
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