First October: Links and Comments

Old Teeth, Hurricanes, Government support for me not thee, Andy Borowitz, Liz Truss

Salon, Troy Farah, 1 Oct 2022: How a Chinese fossil discovery rewrites the history of life on Earth, subtitled “Paleontologists describe some of the oldest teeth, jaws and limbs ever discovered”

Very interesting no doubt, but it’s common for mass media to overstate or exaggerate the significant of a particular discovery like this; that’s the nature of journalism, to make something newsworthy. This item is presumably significant within a narrow scope. It’s one new piece to add to ten thousand established ones, about the history of life on Earth. It doesn’t change the validity of evolution or say anything about the human species.


An extreme example of paranoia and deep ignorance about how the world actually works:

Joe.My.God: QAnon Nutbags: The Deep State Created The Hurricane Because DeSantis Refused To Enact A Vaccine Mandate

Politifact, citing Instagram posts: Hurricane Ian was orchestrated as part of a pandemic-related conspiracy to devastate Floridians.

Pants on fire. These people are idiots. (A Deep State can *create* hurricanes??) And now T***p is more and more explicitly aligning himself with QAnon. And millions still follow and believe him. We’re doomed.


At the same time, this seems to be true:

Politifact, citing Yuh-Line Niou in a tweet: Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis “voted against aid for Hurricane Sandy.”

Mostly true. The “mostly” is because of voting against large aid packages but supporting smaller ones, different aid packages at different times, and so on. The point is both Rubio and DeSantis haven’t hesitated to ask the Biden administration for relief for Hurricane Ian (even as DeSantis has tried to deny that the hurricane was so bad, or that climate change has anything to do with it).


Salon, Paul Rosenberg, 1 Oct 2022: How “religious freedom” became a right-wing assault on equality and the rule of law, subtitled “‘American Crusade’ author Andrew Seidel on the radicalized Supreme Court and its quest to enshrine Christian power”

An interview with the author of American Crusade: How the Supreme Court Is Weaponizing Religious Freedom and co-author of The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American.

Of course there are right-wing proponents who say exactly the opposite… it’s an elementary exercise for the reader to understand why they would.


Here’s another piece about the new Andy Borowitz book, Profiles in Ignorance (discussed a few days ago). An interview with the author.

Salon, Dean Obeidallah, 30 Sep 2022: How the GOP weaponized ignorance — and how “smart people acting like dopes” stay in power, subtitled “Satirist Andy Borowitz on deliberate dumbness in America, and how it became central to the Republican brand.” (Also here.)

You write about ignoramuses and argue that they’re attracted to the Republican Party, or so it seems. Democrats, by contrast, have eggheads. You mentioned Adlai Stevenson, Al Gore, even Mike Dukakis. Is there something about the parties that naturally self-select? 

I think both parties started in a similar place. If you go back to ancient history before either of us was born, to the 1950s, and you look at Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, both of them were actually big readers. Harry Truman didn’t go to college, but he read like crazy. He read every library book in Independence, Missouri. Ike on the other hand, was also a huge reader, but he kept it a secret. He thought it was going to hurt his image. He acted like he just played golf all the time, but Ike stayed up every night until 11 o’clock reading. I think reading is actually a really good measure for determining how knowledgeable somebody is.

I’m a little bit hesitant to say that the Democrats are the party of smart people and the Republicans are the party of ignorant people. But I think the Republicans caught on a little bit sooner to the fact that this whole projection of anti-intellectualism was a vote-winner, and they really made it their brand. The Democrats were a little bit tempted by that too. I mean, certainly Bill Clinton was looking at Ronald Reagan and saying, “Now, he’s got a real winning message. How can I dumb down my message a little bit?” So the Democrats haven’t been immune to it, but the Republicans really are untouchable when it comes to this movement. They are really the vanguard.

On the one hand, see item above about QAnon idiots. Still, my take isn’t that it’s about eggheads v ignoramuses; it’s about ideology v reality. As I’ve detailed over and over in this blog. There are plenty of smart conservatives who use their intelligence to defend their ideology. Thus the reason evidence doesn’t change people’s minds. People dig in, rationalize their original views, and the smart ones do it best. Like being lawyers.

For example, a final item for today:

The Guardian, John Crace, 20 Sep 2022: Half-witted, reckless Librium Liz may be even worse than May and Johnson, subtitled “Robotic PM displayed zero awareness in radio interviews of the damage she has done”

She is following in the footsteps of Republicans since Reagan, with the long-discredited supply-side economics. Those policies only benefit the wealthy. Those who support Republicans.

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