Link Dump from Recent Days

Catching up on links from the past week, in no particular order. Subjects are:

  • Another take on why people are pessimistic about their economic futures;
  • Trump’s dictatorship: “History shows that autocrats always tell you who they are and what they are going to do. We just don’t listen until it is too late.”;
  • How the benefits of home schooling were based on flawed research;
  • Thom Hartmann on how America will never forgive the GOP’s embrace of Donald Trump;
  • How those Hallmark Christmas movies appeal to MAGA women;
  • Another Supreme Court case, where conservative lawyers defend the wealthy, that is “built on shameless lies”;
  • Right-wingers are outraged that Elon Musk’s AI chatbot isn’t transphobic;
  • Right-wing anti-woke has come for George Orwell;
  • Recent events in Texas show that the GOP’s abortion exceptions for medical emergencies are a sham;
  • A Republican senator makes claims about Democratic “fake electors” with no evidence he can cite;
  • Big NYT piece on the “Troll Army Waging Trump’s Online Campaign”;
  • And a NYT piece about “American’s Thirst for Authoritarianism” which I will pick up with tomorrow.

NY Times, guest essay by Steven Rattner, 7 Dec 2023: People Are Pessimistic About Their Economic Futures. Can You Blame Them?

While inflation has provided the proximate trigger for unhappy feelings, an understandable grimness about our broader economic prospects, particularly for younger Americans, is playing a major part.


NY Times, Washington Memo, Peter Baker, 9 Dec 2023: Talk of a Trump Dictatorship Charges the American Political Debate, subtitled “Former President Donald J. Trump and his allies are not doing much to reassure those worried about his autocratic instincts. If anything, they seem to be leaning into the predictions.”

“Trump has made it crystal clear through all his actions and rhetoric that he admires leaders who have forms of authoritarian power, from Putin to Orban to Xi, and that he wants to exercise that kind of power at home,” said Ruth Ben-Ghiat, author of “Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present,” referring to Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, Viktor Orban of Hungary and Xi Jinping of China. “History shows that autocrats always tell you who they are and what they are going to do,” she added. “We just don’t listen until it is too late.”


Washington Post, Laura Meckler, 11 Dec 2023: How a true believer’s flawed research helped legitimize home schooling, subtitled “Brian Ray says home-schooled students do better. His daughter tells a different story.”

But Ray’s research is nowhere near as definitive as his evangelism makes it sound. His samples are not randomly selected. Much of his research has been funded by a powerful home-schooling lobby group. When talking to legislators, reporters and the general public, he typically dispenses with essential cautions and overstates the success of the instruction he champions. Critics say his work is driven more by dogma than scholarly detachment.

Again: dogma over objective evidence. I’ve always had very specific thoughts about why parents (generally religious) home-school: to avoid public school lessons that would challenge their faith.


AlterNet, Thom Hartmann, 11 Dec 2023: Opinion | Dear GOP: America is not going to forget — and many Americans will never forgive

Dear Republicans,

After the corruption of the Coolidge and Hoover administrations crashed the world economy, kicking off the Republican Great Depression in 1929, it took your party decades to rid itself of the stink.

But you’ll never rid yourself of the stink of Donald Trump. At least never in the lifetime of anybody around today. Trump’s stench is a tragic part of American history that will last generations.


Salon, Amanda Marcotte, 11 Dec 2023: MAGA women want a Hallmark “home for the holidays” fantasy — but their votes run their kids off, subtitled “Trumpism promises to a return to a time when kids lived close — instead, young people are fleeing to blue states”

About those innumerable Hallmark Christmas movies.

Hallmark is selling a fantasy to older, mostly Republican viewers: That their wayward daughters will give up on life in the big city and return home to live near their mothers.

In the real world, your harried urban professional daughter will never come home to Oklahoma or Texas or Florida, because, for one thing, she can’t get an abortion if she needs one.


Slate, Dhalia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern, 11 Dec 2023: Oops! The Supreme Court Heard Another Case Built on Shameless Lies.

The Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in Moore v. United States, an effort to preemptively kill a future wealth tax before it can even be enacted. As in several recent high-profile cases, the facts are hotly contested; indeed, the conservative lawyers who represent the plaintiffs appear to have misled the justices about key details that would undermine their legal theory. On this week’s episode of Amicus, Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern discussed the right’s emerging strategy of manufacturing cases on the basis of made-up claims so the courts will have an opportunity to shift the law rightward.

Transcript of a discussion between the two writers. Again: conservatives defending the wealthy.


LGBTQNation, 12 Dec 2023: Right-wingers are outraged that Elon Musk’s AI chatbot isn’t transphobic, subtitled “Many on social media have been determined to get Grok to make transphobic comments, but the bot is determined to be respectful.”

With examples.


Washington Post, Sandra Newman, 12 Dec 2023: Opinion |
Now right-wing, anti-‘woke’ doublethink has come for George Orwell

Have you heard that the writer who invented the Thought Police has fallen victim to modern-day thought-policing? Perhaps not, if you don’t follow anti-“woke,” right-wing media, but in their telling, George Orwell is headed for the memory hole.

Cancel culture, because by modern standards Orwell wasn’t a very nice person. At least they appreciate the irony.


Washington Post, Ruth Marcus, 13 Dec 2023: Opinion | Think there’s an abortion exception for medical emergencies? Texas shows that’s a sham.

We might call this legislating in bad faith.

Women of Texas, now you know: The state’s abortion law will not protect you in the case of a medical emergency. Not only will the state’s attorney general come after you, the all-Republican, Texas Supreme Court will contort itself to find that your situation doesn’t constitute an emergency that would allow an abortion to proceed. Never mind what your doctors say — courts know best, even as they purport to be deferring to medical judgment.


Boing Boing, 12 Dec 2023: Sen. Ron Johnson stunned when CNN asks him to back up his MAGA lies

Johnson claimed Democrats have also dealt with “fake electors,” but was unable to say where or when.


LA Times, Robin Abcarian, 13 Dec 2023: Column: Believe Trump when he vows revenge on the media. MAGA shock troops are already on the attack

Many examples. Which leads to this big NYT piece.

NY Times, Ken Bensinger, 13 Dec 2023: Inside the Troll Army Waging Trump’s Online Campaign, subtitled “A team of meme-makers has been flooding social media with pro-Trump posts riddled with sexist and racist tropes. Donald Trump is cheering them on.”

Caption for the photo: “Mr. Trump has helped spread memes that traffic in misinformation, artificial intelligence and deepfakes. The meme-makers are ‘single-handedly changing the landscape of politics and social media,’ a Trump adviser said. ”

Long piece (update: it’s on Thursday’s front page).


One more link, to a perhaps important piece — where is all this coming from, really? — but which I haven’t read yet.

NY Times, Charles M. Blow, 13 Dec 2023: America’s Thirst for Authoritarianism.

Will pick up here tomorrow.

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