Links/Quotes/Comments: 1 Sep 2022

About secularism, elections, misogyny and education, publishing ‘errors’, Trump supporters’ plans, and the real America.

The New Yorker, Margaret Talbot, 28 Aug 2022 (Sept 5 issue): Justice Alito’s Crusade Against a Secular America Isn’t Over

Subtitle: “He’s had win after win—including overturning Roe v. Wade—yet seems more and more aggrieved. What drives his anger?”

Alito has warned that, as Americans become more secular, the U.S. may become less attuned to the constitutional rights of religious citizens. But when he makes this argument a curious elision sometimes occurs, and he seems to be saying that the growing percentage of secular people is in itself a form of religious persecution. In Rome, Alito said, “Think of the increasing number of young Americans whose response, when asked to name their religion, is to say ‘None.’ Think of those who proclaim that religion is bad. What can we say to such people to convince them that religious liberty is worth protecting?” Who is the “we” here? Supreme Court Justices? Conservative Christians? The devout?

The only “liberties” the secular want to take away from the religious is their ability to impose their values on everyone else. Why is this so difficult for conservatives to understand? But of course we don’t expect rational arguments from the religiously inclined, precisely because…. they’re religious.


Sarah Palin lost her election, therefore the election was rigged, say Republicans.

Salon, Igor Derysh, 1 Sep 2022: “Scam to rig elections”: Tom Cotton fumes over Sarah Palin loss as GOP fans cry “stolen election”

Subtitle: “Republicans claim a new ranked-choice system approved by Alaska voters is some kind of nefarious Democratic plot”


AP/Le Monde, 1 Sep 2022:
Republican Palin loses to Democrat Peltola in Alaska House special election

Subtitle: “After Mary Peltola’s victory was announced, Sarah Palin called the ranked voting system ‘crazy, convoluted, confusing.'”

Yes, yes, math (to the extent that tallying votes is math) is *hard.*

In fact, ranked voting has been around for decades. It’s been used, for decades, by science fiction folks to tally voting in their awards (including the Hugos and the Locus Awards). It does take some explaining, but it’s not conceptually difficult. Except apparently to Tom Cotton and Sarah Palin and their like.

(Quick example of how this works. Suppose there are five candidates for a position, one Democrat and four Republicans (or vice versa). Suppose in a standard election all five get 20% of the vote, more or less. The one who gets maybe 21% of the vote wins — maybe the Democrat. In ranked voting, everyone votes for candidates in preference, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. So given the results of a standard election, with no one having a majority, all the 2nd place votes are counted, and added into the totals for first place votes. And so on, even to 3rd place votes, and farther, until one candidate achieves a majority. Which in this scenario, would be a Republican, since there were more of those candidates to begin with. Get it?)


AlterNet, Alex Henderson, 1 Sep 2022: ‘Pure misogyny’: Dennis Prager ripped for accusing women of ‘disproportionately’ destroying America

Why? Education of course!

In the op-ed, Prager writes, “It’s true that females are not inclined to violence or predatory sexual behavior as men are, but this hardly means that girls and women don’t have to learn to control their natures…. It should be obvious that at least two generations of parents — especially among the well-educated — did not teach many of their daughters to control their emotions and think rationally. The result is that women are disproportionately active in doing damage to our society.”

Prager goes on to list some of the reasons why he believes that women, who comprise the majority of the U.S. population, are “disproportionately” tearing down American society — and he cites “education” as the “most obvious example.”


NY Times, Tiffany Hsu and Alexandra Alter, 31 Aug 2022: ‘Publishing error’ delays Dinesh D’Souza’s book ‘2000 Mules.’

Citing “a publishing error,” the publisher of a book version of “2000 Mules” — a documentary film by the conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza that used dubious evidence and logical leaps to claim widespread ballot box fraud — said the book would be delayed until the fall.

Because his thesis is entirely false, presumably. Follow the link: A Big Lie in a New Package, subtitled, “A new documentary from Trump allies makes the latest case the election was stolen, but the group behind the claim has been assailed even by some on the hard right.”

Reminds me of David Barton. (NPR)


The Atlantic, Jonathan Rauch, 29 Aug 2022: Trump’s Second Term Would Look Like This, subtitled “The former president and his allies have explained their plans quite clearly.”

Viktor Orbán is their model. The playbook, outlined in detail in the article: 1) First, install toadies in key positions; 2) intimidate the career bureaucracy; 3) co-opt the armed forces; 4) bring law enforcement to heel; 5) weaponize the pardon; 6) defy the courts.

The MAGA base, conservative media, and plenty of Republicans in Congress defend their leader with whatever untruths, conspiracy theories, and what-abouts are needed. Fox News and other pro-Trump outlets play the role of state media, even if out of fear more than enthusiasm.

Meanwhile, MAGA forces are busy installing loyalists as governors, election officials, district attorneys, and other crucial state and local positions. They do not succeed in every attempt, but over the course of four years, they gather enough corrupt officials to cast doubt on the legitimacy of any election they lose. They invent creative ways to obstruct anyone who challenges them politically. And they are not shy about encouraging thuggish supporters to harass and menace “traitors.”


Washington Post, Max Boot, 31 Aug 2022: MAGA Republicans are out of touch with the real America

The writer (a former Republican) writes from Provincetown, Mass., a place (like all the big cities) the MAGAs have persuaded us is not “real America.”

There is an implicit assumption, shared by many Republicans and Democrats, that “real” Americans are White, rural, conservative, Christian and poorly educated. (“I love the poorly educated,” Donald Trump said in 2016.) Ultra-MAGA Republicans assume that their policy preferences — anti-immigration, anti-gun control, anti-abortion, anti-“woke” — are the only legitimate views that can be held by “real” Americans, and that anyone who disagrees is a pointy-headed elitist or “globalist” who is out of touch with reality.

Yet it is White, Christian, rural, conservative voters who are now in the minority. Indeed, much of the reason that MAGA Republicans sound so hysterical so much of the time is that they know that the tides of economic and demographic change are leaving them behind.


There is a good reason so many MAGA Republicans are embracing “semi-fascism”: Their views are too unpopular to command majority support anymore. They certainly don’t speak for the “real” America — to the extent that such a thing even exists.

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