Follow-up Links on Current Themes

Let’s catch up on links from the past couple weeks that I haven’t already used, beginning with some follow-ons to topics already covered.

  • Climate Change: Scientists have reached the “I told you so” moment;
  • The DeSantis video: Republicans are now openly hostile toward gays and transgender people;
  • How the US religious right is promoting anti-LGBTQ+ bigotry around the world;
  • How the Supreme Court has elevated Christian Religion above civil laws;
  • Robert Reich on why people don’t appreciate the improving economy;
  • And the resultant harassment of scientists, by conspiracy theorists who don’t want to hear facts that contradict their beliefs.
  • And thoughts about whether humanity will survive.

CNN, 8 Jul 2023: Global heat in ‘uncharted territory’ as scientists warn 2023 could be the hottest year on record

Well, this is frustrating — I saved this link, just this morning, because the headline then was something like “Scientists regret having to recognize an ‘I told you so’ moment” with regards climate change, and breaking records. But CNN has changed the headline since this morning. (I should capture not only the link, but the headline at the time, for later use.) The point is that scientists have been predicting the extreme results of climate change, and seen large segments of the population dismiss them or disbelieve them. And so now that their predictions are coming true…?


More about what that DeSantis video ad reveals about the Republican party.

The Nation, 10 Jul 2023: Ron DeSantis, American Psycho, subtitled “The Florida governor’s irony-poisoned ad uses far-right memes to sanction homophobic and transphobic violence.”

The ad quotes a DeSantis critic saying the governor has “produced some of the harshest, most draconian laws that literally threaten trans existence.” This accusation of having an eliminationist program is touted as an achievement.


Slate, Christina Cauterucci, 10 Jul 2023: Ron DeSantis Is Betting the Farm on Trans Hate, subtitled “The era of tepid acceptance is over.”

On the last day of June, a Twitter account for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis posted a video celebrating his yearslong assault on LGBTQ+ Floridians.

DeSantis has set a new low bar for the Republican presidential primary: The occasional verbal overtures Trump made to gay people as president—while actively rolling back queer and trans rights and protections—are no longer acceptable. The new conservative stance toward LGBTQ+ people isn’t quiet grumbling in public while raising hell in the courts. It’s rabid hostility. In Republican discourse, there’s no further need for pretense about protecting the sanctity of marriage or respecting religious freedom. Transphobia and homophobia are self-justifying ideologies; hating trans people because they’re trans is good enough.

The essay notes how Republicans once demonized Muslims, but now ally with them because they too hate homosexuals. The essay ends:

In most cases, presidential candidates stop short of pledging to eradicate growing demographics of Americans. (Some of those Americans vote, after all, and all are loved by other voters who do not wish to see them suffer.) That restraint is no longer necessary. DeSantis’ promotion of that video suggests that, in his campaign’s view, the bloodthirst Republicans feel toward trans people has finally grown to outweigh the adverse effects of alienating everyone who wants to see a trans loved one thrive. It foretells a Republican Party that has fully given up on persuading LGBTQ+ people—and those who care deeply for them—to vote for the GOP, reasoning that the party stands to gain more by demonizing and destroying them instead.


On a similar point.

The Guardian, 9 Jul 2023: US religious right at center of anti-LGBTQ+ message pushed around the world, subtitled “American groups have helped to establish global web who share ideas and funding in bid to restrict gay and trans rights”

Again, religious conservatives don’t believe in freedom for others; they want to impose their views on everyone.


LA Times, Miles Taylor, 9 Jul 2023: Opinion: The lasting threat is not the ‘next Trump,’ but the MAGA base

Tribalism is as strong as it’s ever been within the Republican Party. Whether or not Trump remains the tribal leader, the power of group loyalty has radicalized the base. Tens of millions of people now believe conspiracy theories that are provably false, a reality that will shape the American political system in unknowable ways for many years to come.


NY Times guest essay by Kate Shaw, 8 Jul 2023: The Supreme Court’s Disorienting Elevation of Religion

I’m reading this very carefully. Are these cases all about Christians, and not other religions? Yes, of course.

The result is that if a Christian objects to a law, they are exempt from it.

As Justice Sotomayor suggests, under the opinion’s reasoning, a school photo business could deny services to multiracial children on the grounds of an objection to interracial couples, or a corporate headshot business could refuse to photograph women on the basis of a belief that a woman’s place is in the home. If businesses choose to read this opinion broadly, its consequences for many Americans’ ability to obtain goods and services on equal terms could be staggering.


On the economy and public perception:

Robert Reich, The Guardian, 10 Jul 2023: Why aren’t Americans happier about the economy?, subtitled “The economy is getting better overall – but as the rich get richer and the poor grow poorer, overall has become a worse gauge of wellbeing”

Reich captures the answer in his opening paragraphs.

It’s a Goldilocks economy – not too hot to spur inflation, not too cool to invite recession.

On Friday, the labor department announced that the US economy added 209,000 jobs in June.

It was the 30th consecutive month of job gains. The unemployment rate dipped to 3.6%

Last Thursday we learned that the US economy grew at an annualized 2% rate in the first quarter of this year. That’s well above economists’ expectations of around 1.4%.

But if you haven’t received this news, you’re not alone. Good economic news doesn’t make it through the negative sludge of Fox News or Newsmax. It barely gets through the mainstream media.


The result of all this, is this.

Adam Lee, OnlySky, 6 Jul 2023: The revolt against reality: Harassment of scientists is escalating

Summarized in the overview:

From COVID-19 to climate change, scientists who speak out are facing a flood of hate mail, threats and harassment from conspiracy theorists who don’t want to hear facts that contradict their beliefs.


Are humans intelligent animals who will survive for more than another hundred years or two? Or are we are tribal species, suspicious of reality that does not promote tribal survival and tribal myths, unable to appreciate the broad spans of time and space, and will die by our own hands, so to speak, by wrecking the planet? Will the Enlightenment Project of the past three or four hundred years go down to defeat? It seems increasingly so.

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