Links and Comments: Tell Them What They Want to Hear

One more set, just a few, then we’ll try to think of other things and hope that Trump and his minions will just magically disappear, as Trumps said, months ago, the virus would do over the summer. (It didn’t; he won’t.)

New York Times, Frank Bruni: Is There Nothing Trump Won’t Say?. Subtitle: Shamelessness meets illogic in a memorable (and endless) speech.

How to reconcile that with the vicious tone and vitriolic content of much of his remarks, which were as grounded in reality as a Tolkien novel and about as long? I’m stumped.

But I’m impressed: that he claimed such big-heartedness while showing such small-mindedness; that he twisted facts with such abandon and in such abundance; that he again trotted out that nonsense about having done more for Black Americans than any president since Abraham Lincoln; that he disparaged Joe Biden for not “following the science” about Covid-19 when he, Trump, mused about injections of bleach and vouched recklessly for hydroxychloroquine; that he characterized Biden’s positions as a “death sentence for the U.S. auto industry” when the Obama administration helped to save American carmakers.

He later taunted Democrats by gesturing at [The White House] and saying, “We’re here and they’re not.”

This wasn’t patriotism. It was puerility. He was rubbing his rebellion against tradition and presidential etiquette in his critics’ faces.

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The New Yorker: The Malign Fantasy of Donald Trump’s Convention. Subtitle: Using the White House as his prop, the President makes war on Joe Biden, and pretends the pandemic is all but defeated.

For four years, Donald Trump has been asking us to believe the unbelievable, to accept the unthinkable, to replace harsh realities with simple fantasies. On Thursday night, using the White House as a gaudy backdrop, the President made his case to the American people for four more years. His speech capping the Republican National Convention was long, acerbic, untruthful, and surprisingly muted in comparison to the grandeur of the setting, which no chief executive before him has dared to appropriate in such a partisan way. “We will make America greater than ever before,” he promised.

The problem, of course, is that America as we know it is currently in the midst of a mess not of Biden’s making but of Trump’s. Suffice it to say that, by the time Trump’s speech was over and the red, white, and blue fireworks spelling out “2020” had been set off over the National Mall, late Thursday night, more than three thousand seven hundred Americans had died of the coronavirus since the start of the Convention—more than perished on 9/11—and a hundred and eighty thousand Americans total had succumbed to the disease, a disease that Trump repeatedly denied was even a threat. His botched handling of the pandemic was the very reason that his Convention was taking place on the White House lawn in the first place.

But the real message of the evening was that nothing, not even a deadly plague or a cratering economy, can stop Trump from being Trump. He bragged. He lied. He even ad-libbed a taunt at his critics, using the White House as his prop. “We’re here,” he said, pointing to the flood-lit mansion behind him, “and they’re not.”

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UK perspective: Guardian: Trump unleashes diatribe of falsehoods and baseless attacks in RNC finale. Subtitle: Trump portrayed Biden as a creature of the Washington swamp, beat the drum of law and order and said little about racial injustice.

Yet while Biden rose to the occasion last week, Trump proceeded to deliver a somewhat flat 70-minute diatribe full of lies and falsehoods, red meat for the base and little to persuade the wavering voter. He even fluffed his big line by saying “profoundly” instead of “proudly”: “My fellow Americans, tonight with a heart full of gratitude and boundless optimism, I profoundly accept this nomination for president of the United States.”

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Vox, Ezra Klein: The 3 charts that disprove Donald Trump’s convention speech. Subtitle: Trump wants to take credit for something he didn’t do, and dodge blame for something he did do.

Gist: 1) the economic recovery began under Obama, long before Trump came into office; 2) the US has –still– by far the highest rate of new Covid-19 cases per million people, compared to “peer developed nations”; 3) and far more deaths per capita.

It is not Trump’s fault that the coronavirus reached our shores. It is Trump’s fault that we’ve responded so fecklessly. There is no reason that, say Germany, should’ve been so much more capable in its response. The difference was political leadership — a difference that was viscerally, visually on display during Trump’s speech, which packed 1,500 people onto the white House lawn, with barely a face mask in sight.

The grim truth is that, even today, we still don’t have a plan to control the coronavirus, save to hope for a vaccine. Vice President Mike Pence admitted as much on Wednesday. “Last week, Joe Biden said ‘no miracle is coming,’ What Joe doesn’t seem to understand is that America is a nation of miracles and we’re on track to have the world’s first safe, effective coronavirus vaccine by the end of this year.” So that’s the plan, then. A miracle. And how many Americans will die between now and then? How many will die if we don’t have an effective vaccine, produced and delivered at scale, by the end of the year?

So this is the core of Trump’s reelection message: You should give him credit for the economic recovery he inherited from Obama. And you should blame someone else for the disastrous response to the coronavirus. Inspiring stuff.

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Links and Comments: Republican Gaslighting

All of these links just today.

Slate: Republicans Are Gaslighting America. Will It Work?. Subtitle: Night three of the RNC was more revisionist history.

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Salon: Mike Pence’s contemptible convention speech: A fable of failure, culture war and corruption. Subtitle: Is this the guy who’s supposed to bring the Republican Party back to reality after Trump? Because he’s a joke.

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CNN: Pence reinvents Trump’s presidency on a disorienting night of crises.

So at the shape-shifting Republican National Convention on Wednesday, Trump’s most loyal subordinate Vice President Mike Pence had little option but to do what he does best. He twisted the facts, spun a more pleasing alternative national reality and showered his boss with praise.

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NYT, Nicholas Kristoff: ‘We Did the Exact Right Thing,’ Says Our Glorious Leader. Subtitle: So why does the United States have 4 percent of the world’s population and 22 percent of coronavirus deaths?

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The New Yorker: Mike Pence’s Big Lie About Trump and the Coronavirus at the Republican National Convention

Wednesday’s address will go down in history as a memorable example of how establishment Republicans like Pence have utterly capitulated to Trump, debasing themselves and their party in the process, and, ultimately, betraying the country, which, in its hour of crisis, deserved honesty rather than pro-Trump spin.

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Washington Post: What country does Mike Pence live in?

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Vox, Ezra Klein: Those who like government least govern worst. Subtitle: From the Iraq War to the coronavirus: why Republicans fail at governance.

Mostly about the Bush administration’s wilful ignoring of evidence and expertise in its determination to go to war with Iraq, but drawing parallels to the current handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

There are many differences between Bush and Trump as individuals, and many differences between their administrations. But both of them represent a Republican Party soaked in contempt for, and mistrust of, the federal government. When you don’t respect, or even like, the institution you lead, you lead it poorly. When that institution is incredibly, globally important — as the US government is — leading it poorly can invite global catastrophe. And sure enough, under the last two Republican administrations, it has. There is continuity here, of the most consequential sort: a continuity of terrible outcomes.

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NYT, Charlie Warzel: Welcome to the R.N.C.’s Alternate Universe. Subtitle: A meaningful percentage of Americans are living in a collaborative fiction, built one conspiracy theory at a time.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned covering the daily information wars of the Trump era is that a meaningful percentage of Americans live in an alternate reality powered by a completely separate universe of news and information.

Some are armed with their own completely fabricated facts about the world while others, as the journalist Joshua Green wrote in this section in 2017, rearrange our shared facts “to compose an entirely different narrative.” There is little consensus on the top story of the day or the major threats facing the country. You will have noticed this if you’ve ever watched a congressional hearing and flipped between CNN or MSNBC and Fox News. The video feed is the same but the interpretation of events is radically different.

…Fox News has been extremely successful in crafting and selling an alternate reality to its viewers each night for well over a decade. The trick is to evoke two dueling emotions — fear and devotion — one conspiracy theory at a time. Fox News has mastered this and so has the R.N.C.

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There’s a parallel between all these examples on the one hand, and on the other hand my musings a few posts ago about how no matter how much humanity learns about the extent and complexity of the real universe, most people won’t care, or will deny it in favor of religious fantasies of one sort or another. Will expand these thoughts soon.

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Links and Comments: In the Political Air Tonight

Salon, Heather Digby Parton: The 2020 RNC isn’t a political convention — it’s a celebration of the Trump cult. Subtitle: Fear-mongering and corruption are nothing new in Republican politics. But Donald Trump has gone far beyond that.

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Washington Post: These 7 cultish moments at Trump’s convention add up to one Big Lie.

The seven are:

  • Trump’s awe-inspiring ability to rise above opponents.
  • The need to let Trump into your hearts.
  • Trump as the most empathetic person in America.
  • Trump as the heroic defender of Western civilization.
  • The greatest economy in the history of the universe.
  • Trump’s uniformly perfect handling of the virus.
  • Trump as a glorious and benevolent savior.

Again: this is a cult, divorced from reality.

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CNN: At Fox News, ‘the inmates are running the asylum’

Excerpt from a book. Opening lines of the article:

“Everything I know about the Constitution, I learned from you on ‘Fox & Friends,'” President Donald Trump once told Judge Andrew Napolitano.

Again, is this the best Republicans can do?

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Mother Jones: Why Are Right-Wing Conspiracies so Obsessed With Pedophilia?. Subtitle: The story is the same, from the day-care panics to QAnon: It’s not really about the kids. It’s about fears of a changing social order.

These conspiracy theories go back centuries: the McMartin preschool scandal of the 1980s; “Wild claims of Jews killing Christian children and using their blood in rituals—the “blood libel”—date back to at least the 12th century and have popped up every so often since then, and long before that Christians were suspected of performing similar rites.”

The continuities between the McMartin case and Pizzagate suggest a broader explanation for pedophile conspiracies: They aren’t the residue of malfunctions in our media culture. They’re an outgrowth of the normal workings of reactionary politics.

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The New Yorker: The Stunning Predictability of Steve Bannon’s “We Build the Wall” Scam.

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Links and Comments: Republicans are Now the Cult of Trump

It’s official.

Washington Post: The Republican Party announces that it stands for nothing.

There is no Republican Party platform announced for its convention this year. No platform; no principles, no standards, no ideals. It’s all about supporting Trump. Virtually the definition of a cult. Whatever Fearless Leader wants.

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And Slate: Republicans Announce Their 2020 Platform Consists of Supporting Whatever Trump Wants.

Republicans have no ideals anymore; they just want to follow an authoritarian leader.

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And yet, at The Atlantic, David Frum (a former speechwriter for George W. Bush!), perceives The Platform the GOP Is Too Scared to Publish, subtitled, What the Republican Party actually stands for, in 13 points.

These include (of course) tax cuts for the rich; denial of the science behind the coronavirus and climate change, and so on. Frum does a good job about characterizing these in the terms Republicans would use, e.g.

3) Climate change is a much-overhyped problem. It’s probably not happening. If it is happening, it’s not worth worrying about. If it’s worth worrying about, it’s certainly not worth paying trillions of dollars to amend. To the extent it is real, it will be dealt with in the fullness of time by the technologies of tomorrow. Regulations to protect the environment unnecessarily impede economic growth.

The one point Frum misses, it seems to me, is Republicans’ undying support for the military. We can never spend too much on the military, they think, despite that the US spends more on its military than the next dozen or so nations combined. This reveals the overriding motivating factor of conservatives, and Republicans: fear.

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The overwhelming impression of Republican talking points, and their convention so far, is of *fear*. Paranoid fear. Their convention so far has been, not about the promise of American, as they said, but about stoking fear. And lying.

Washington Post: These 7 cultish moments at Trump’s convention add up to one Big Lie

Slate: The Republican Coronavirus Strategy: Lie About Everything, subtitled, The party is following Trump’s pattern of deceit.

Slate’s William Saletan identifies the points about lies, with many links to documented examples: about 1, Travel Bans; 2, Emergency Declartions; 3, Testing; 4, Medical Supplies, 5, Vaccines, and 6, Speed. For example, keeping links:

Trump has lied about the virus all along. He’s still lying. “We just have to make this China virus go away. And it’s happening,” he declared in a convention video, even as thousands of Americans continue to die. But the president is no longer alone in his fictional universe. He’s backed by a party that glorifies him with fabrications: that he stood up to North Korea, that his impeachment was “fake,” and that he “ended once and for all the policy of incarceration of Black people.” The tale of his struggle against the virus is just another heroic myth. Trump “is a visionary,” Rep. Matt Gaetz explained to the audience. What’s “built in the mind is even more powerful” than reality, said Gaetz. That’s the message from the first night of the convention: This is no longer a party of limited government, national security, or the rule of law. It’s a party of lies.

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Finally, for perspective, Business Insider compiles a list of Who’s not at the RNC?.

There have been respectable Republicans before the party turned into a Trump cult. Remember… Mitt Romney, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Paul Ryan, John Boehner, Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell? None of them welcome at this year’s convention.

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And of course, this current political theme dovetails with some of my other recent blog posts.

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Notes for the Book: The Future of Enlightenment

More thoughts coming together. A famous quote is this from SF author William Gibson: “The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.” (There are variants of this phrase around the web also.)

Then there was a video I saw on YouTube that presented legitimate and dumb-ass reasons for not wearing masks. Here it is: https://www.facebook.com/brittlestar/videos/639264403614751. (For some reason it plays twice. It’s less than 90 seconds long.) The former reasons include rare skin conditions, being a small child, etc.; the latter are the familiar knee-jerk reactions against science or expertise, the fetishization of personal freedom, just being a jerk, and so on.

The specific reasons aren’t the point; it’s that in general these attitudes will never go away. They are part of human nature; they are manifestations of group identities, tribal identities, the priority for most to conform rather think independently, which risks mistrust or ostracization from one’s community or social group.

And my thought from these extends some of my earlier posts, some tagged “notes for the book,” about hierarchies of knowledge and awareness, how we are living in a modern in world in which most of the answers to most of the big questions are now *known*… yet most people don’t care, or actively reject them. So this could be formulated, let’s see…

No matter how far science advances, no matter how fully the big questions about the universe and human existence are known, this knowledge will extend to only a tiny fraction of the human race. It will never be evenly distributed. There will never be a future enlightened state of humanity in which all the old superstitions and prejudices have been overcome or set aside in favor of a common, mature understanding of humanity’s place in the universe. Rather, most people will be happy, thank you very much, to live lives that prioritize their own group’s place and status (inside a bubble, so to speak), and outside of that, consider everything else as irrelevant, or to be explicitly rejected as threatening that privileged status.

It’s those who have so little grip on actual reality, as revealed by millennia and centuries of systematic investigation, who are most attracted to various outrageous ideologies, it seems, whether it’s Scientology, Christianity, or QAnon, that have (quite apparently) superficial naive appeal but that fall apart into incoherency on close examination.

Posted in Lunacy, Science, The Book | Comments Off on Notes for the Book: The Future of Enlightenment

Links and Comments: Thinking, or Not

Scientific American: Nine COVID-19 Myths That Just Won’t Go Away. Subtitle: From a human-made virus to vaccine conspiracy theories, we rounded up the most persistent false claims about the pandemic.

I’m beginning to think that many, perhaps most, people, do not truly *think* and draw conclusions in the way rationalists and scientists — including all those who have built the modern technological world (which ironically allows the conspiracy theorists to spread their ideas) — do. How is it all these religious loonies claims to *know* this or that, with no evidence or rationale? (QAnon.) They clearly can’t *know* these things, because they are demonstrably not true. My take, for the moment, is that these people are — like Trump — transactional. They imagine what they would like to be true, and say it to the world, because many of their listeners will believe them. They can get away with it, because day to day life for virtually everyone does not depend on the truth or falsity of bizarre conspiracy theories about the actual world.

Posted in Psychology, Thinking | Comments Off on Links and Comments: Thinking, or Not

Links and Comments: Benedictine Option; Pandemic Spread; Economic Stabilizers; Ed Yong; Evangelicals and Trump

The Atlantic: The Christian Withdrawal Experiment. Subtitle: Feeling out of step with the mores of contemporary life, members of a conservative-Catholic group have built a thriving community in rural Kansas. Could their flight from mainstream society be a harbinger for the nation?

An example of the Benedictine Option that I mentioned earlier: a religious community sealing itself into a self-sustaining bubble that rejects the reality and influence of the outside world.

I’m sure it works! It sustains the community! (As in that M. Night Shyamalon film The Village, which worked to a point.) It’s analogous to how virtually every other animal species on the planet, engaged with its environment only to the extent it needs to survive, does survive, with no understanding of the bigger world, of the universe. Humans *can* perceive the bigger world and universe, and to me it seems a shame to renounce that ability… a renunciation of the supposedly God-given ability to think, reason, perceive. (If you believe God gave humans those powers of reason and perception, why deny them and seal yourself into a reality-denying bubble?)

Still, science fiction writers have speculated that such insular societies might survive a global catastrophe when globalist elitist city-dwellers might not. (A mixed case is presented in a book I recently re-read, John Wyndham’s 1955 novel The Chrysalids.)

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A few more with fewer comments (but more quotes perhaps).

Salon, 31 July: The year of dark magical thinking: Trump’s petty revenge fantasies have killed thousands. Subtitle: Trump believed the virus would only hit blue states, which would work out great. So he let tens of thousands die.

Partly about Jared Kushner, who advised Trump that, since the virus was hitting the big cities [because of population density], and big cities tend to be Democratic [because they are not sealed into small-town bubbles], and since the Democrats didn’t vote for Trump… it wasn’t a problem. Let them die. This is contemptible, of course, but seemingly routine for the Trump administration.

Of course this administration are all idiots with no understanding of how pandemics spread. Currently, the areas of highest new outbreaks in the US is in the rural areas of California and in the southern states, those initially relatively unaffected.

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Slate, 31 July: The Extremely Boring Idea That Could Save the Economy. Subtitle: They’re called automatic stabilizers — and we need them to stop Republicans from screwing up another recovery.

About ways to manage the economy a bit more complex that the Republicans’ go-to strategy of cutting taxes for the rich, no matter the state of the economy.

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The Atlantic: here’s Ed Yong’s long article about How the Pandemic Defeated America. Subtitle: A virus has brought the world’s most powerful country to its knees.

Despite ample warning, the U.S. squandered every possible opportunity to control the coronavirus. And despite its considerable advantages—immense resources, biomedical might, scientific expertise—it floundered. While countries as different as South Korea, Thailand, Iceland, Slovakia, and Australia acted decisively to bend the curve of infections downward, the U.S. achieved merely a plateau in the spring, which changed to an appalling upward slope in the summer. “The U.S. fundamentally failed in ways that were worse than I ever could have imagined,” Julia Marcus, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School, told me.

A couple final paragraphs:

It is hard to stare directly at the biggest problems of our age. Pandemics, climate change, the sixth extinction of wildlife, food and water shortages—their scope is planetary, and their stakes are overwhelming. We have no choice, though, but to grapple with them. It is now abundantly clear what happens when global disasters collide with historical negligence.

COVID‑19 is an assault on America’s body, and a referendum on the ideas that animate its culture. Recovery is possible, but it demands radical introspection. America would be wise to help reverse the ruination of the natural world, a process that continues to shunt animal diseases into human bodies. It should strive to prevent sickness instead of profiting from it. It should build a health-care system that prizes resilience over brittle efficiency, and an information system that favors light over heat. It should rebuild its international alliances, its social safety net, and its trust in empiricism. It should address the health inequities that flow from its history. Not least, it should elect leaders with sound judgment, high character, and respect for science, logic, and reason.

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Alternet: Neuroscientist explains why Christian evangelicals are wired to believe Donald Trump’s lies.

For Christian fundamentalists, being taught to suppress critical thinking begins at a very early age. It is the combination of the brain’s vulnerability to believing unsupported facts and aggressive indoctrination that create the perfect storm for gullibility. Due to the brain’s neuroplasticity, or ability to be sculpted by lived experiences, evangelicals literally become hardwired to believe far-fetched statements.

This wiring begins when they are first taught to accept Biblical stories not as metaphors for living life practically and purposefully, but as objective truth. Mystical explanations for natural events train young minds to not demand evidence for beliefs. As a result, the neural pathways that promote healthy skepticism and rational thought are not properly developed. This inevitably leads to a greater susceptibility to lying and gaslighting by manipulative politicians, and greater suggestibility in general.

Posted in Culture, Lunacy, Religion | Comments Off on Links and Comments: Benedictine Option; Pandemic Spread; Economic Stabilizers; Ed Yong; Evangelicals and Trump

Links and Comments: Living in History

People have a tendency to feel pleased they are living in history, experiencing the thrill of witnessing grand, momentous events. This partly explains I think the ever-recurring belief by some that they are living in the “end times.” How special one must be to witness the end of history! Instead of just one among another generation of humanity, a million-year old species of hundreds of thousands of generations who’ve lived and died and who are mostly forgotten. As most of us will be.

Of course people have been thinking the end is near (that aliens will arrive to save us; that someone who promised his followers that he would return in their lifetimes, 2000 years ago, might eventually reappear), forever, perhaps. Prophecies of doom, often tagged to specific dates, get explained away when the date passes and we’re all still here.

But one can make a case, on two or three counts, that we are now living in very unusual times. First, that the United States has never had a worse president, and the concern about whether enough people will realize this, without slavishly behaving like a cult whose leader can do no wrong, when the election comes in 10 weeks or so. Second, the global threat of climate change, the perfect example of the frog-boiling-in-water slow motion change that human nature isn’t equipped to perceive or understand, except by the minority who have been educated to understand the implications of slow-moving, long-term trends…

CNN: Greenland’s ice sheet has melted to a point of no return, according to new study

And third, the relatively near-term threat of the current pandemic, a global plague such as occurs every century or two, and will happen more and more often as humanity expands into previously untouched wilderness — a collateral effect of the “sixth extinction.”

Thinking big, my take is to realize that, should some existential threat really occur, most people won’t notice. Or care. Some who notice will deny it’s happening, or refute the claims from smarty-pants who think themselves better. Human nature.

The communities who deny the virus will die at higher rates. Evolution in action.

So just a few links on this theme today.

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Rolling Stone, Wade Davis: The Unraveling of America. Subtitle: Anthropologist Wade Davis on how COVID-19 signals the end of the American era.

The COVID pandemic will be remembered as such a moment in history, a seminal event whose significance will unfold only in the wake of the crisis. It will mark this era much as the 1914 assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, the stock market crash of 1929, and the 1933 ascent of Adolf Hitler became fundamental benchmarks of the last century, all harbingers of greater and more consequential outcomes.

In a dark season of pestilence, COVID has reduced to tatters the illusion of American exceptionalism. At the height of the crisis, with more than 2,000 dying each day, Americans found themselves members of a failed state, ruled by a dysfunctional and incompetent government largely responsible for death rates that added a tragic coda to America’s claim to supremacy in the world.

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The New Yorker, Howard Markel: America’s Coronavirus Endurance Test. Subtitle: To defeat the virus, we will have to start thinking in years, not months.

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The Atlantic, Sarah Zhang: The Coronavirus Is Never Going Away. Subtitle: No matter what happens now, the virus will continue to circulate around the world.

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The Atlantic, Ed Yong (author of the well-received I Contain Multitudes): How the Pandemic Defeated America. Subtitle: A virus has brought the world’s most powerful country to its knees.

Slate’s Mike Pesca comments about this: “We Should Absolutely Expect More Pandemics”. Subtitle: The Atlantic’s Ed Yong on what we need to learn from the coronavirus to prepare for the next global health crisis.

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And here’s a bottom line. Contrary to those (conservatives) thinking the coronavirus deaths overstated, indirect evidence – the typical death rate month to month, year to year – suggests they’re vastly understated.

NYT: The True Coronavirus Toll in the U.S. Has Already Surpassed 200,000.

You just have to look at the counts of *all* deaths, over the past few months, compared to similar months over the past few years. If the increase in deaths isn’t due to Coronavirus, what else could it be?

Posted in Culture, Lunacy | 770 Comments

Links and Comments: Republicans Embracing QAnon

Salon, Amanda Marcotte: Is QAnon the new Christian right? With evangelicals fading, a new insanity rises. Subtitle: “Right-wingers desperately need a myth that turns them into the good guys. With QAnon, they’ve outdone themselves”

Amanda Marcotte pulls no punches.

White evangelicalism is in decline, but another movement is rising to take its place, a movement that scratches that same right-wing itch towards false piety and elaborate tribalist mythologies that are incomprehensible to outsiders: QAnon.

Yes, QAnon, the bizarre paranoid conspiracy theory that holds (more or less) that behind the scenes of observable reality lies a shadowy worldwide pedophile ring run by Democrats and prominent celebrities, and that Trump’s bizarre and self-serving authoritarian behavior is actually an elaborate ruse to hide his secret fight to destroy this elite child-abuse conspiracy.

Seriously? How in the 21st century, hundreds of years since the Enlightenment, hundreds of years of building a global civilization based on science and technology (which incidentally enables no-nothings like QAnon followers, and religious fundamentalists, to spread their conspiracies and theological fantasies), that has led to so many incredible discoveries about the age and extent of our universe, are so many people still so ignorant and uninformed and credulous? Well, I have no quick easy answer. I need to account for such a phenomenon, in the big scheme of things. Partly it’s my observation that ordinary people don’t need to understand reality in order to live their lives, raise their children, and provide the next generation; communities and tribes are built on shared theories about the world, no matter how outlandish. It seems to be only a tiny fraction of the entire population that is smart enough, or cares enough, to try to understand how the universe actually works. (This is perhaps a luxury of mature cultures.)

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Slate: House Republicans Get Cranked Up, subtitle, “QAnon is headed for Capitol Hill.”

After winning a runoff for the Republican nomination in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District Tuesday night, Marjorie Taylor Greene delivered a message for her soon-to-be colleague in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“She’s a hypocrite,” Greene said. “She’s anti-American. And we’re going to kick that bitch out of Congress!”

Where Greene has broken new ground, though, is in her support for QAnon, a vast and ever-morphing conspiracy that holds that Donald Trump is secretly combating a cabal of globalist and Democratic elites who run a pedophile ring and worship Satan. “I’m very excited about that now there’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this global cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles out,” Greene—who, again, will almost certainly serve in the United States House of Representatives next year—said in 2017. “And I think we have the president to do it.”

My take: she’s insane. Or slightly better: she’s a Trump cultist. Or at best, severely uneducated about the real world works.

I’m always trying to understand these issues in the bigger picture. There have been crackpots throughout history. How is it crackpots are becoming significant political forces now? Because internet?

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Links and Comments: Kamala Harris

So Biden chose a non-white, non-male Vice Presidential candidate. Cue the Republican misogyny and racism. It’s everywhere.

NY Times: I Hope This Is Not Another Lie About the Republican Party. Subtitle: But it might be lost forever.

I saw the warning signs but ignored them and chose to believe what I wanted to believe: The party wasn’t just a white grievance party; there was still a big tent; the others guys were worse. Many of us in the party saw this dark side and told ourselves it was a recessive gene. We were wrong. It turned out to be the dominant gene.

NY Times: Trump Encourages Racist Conspiracy Theory About Kamala Harris “President Trump said he heard that Ms. Harris, the presumptive Democratic vice-presidential nominee born in California, was not eligible for the ticket, repeating a theory that is rampant among his followers. Constitutional scholars quickly called his words false and irresponsible.”

NY Times: Kamala Harris Crystallizes Trump’s View of Women: They’re ‘Nasty’ or Housewives. “As Ms. Harris joined the Democratic ticket, the president wasted no time calling her ‘nasty’ and praising the ‘suburban housewife’ he says will vote for him. His views are out of step with reality.”

NY Times: Her Voice? Her Name? G.O.P.’s Raw Personal Attacks on Kamala Harris. “‘Radical leftist’ or not progressive enough? In the hours after Ms. Harris’s announcement as Joe Biden’s vice president, the Trump campaign struggled to launch a clear attack on the Biden-Harris ticket.” Quote from the article, stating things very politely:

One right-wing commentator, Dinesh D’Souza, appeared on Fox News to question whether Ms. Harris, the junior senator from California and a child of immigrants from Jamaica and India, could truly claim she was Black. And on Tuesday night, Tucker Carlson, the Fox News host, mispronounced her first name, even growing angry when corrected.

“So what?” he said, when a guest told him it was pronounced “Comma-la.” (Fox News declined to comment on the exchange.)

On Twitter, Eric Trump, one of the president’s sons, favorited a tweet, which was later deleted, that referred to Ms. Harris as a “whorendous pick.”

Republicans, classy as always.

My provisional conclusion about why conservatives, right-wingers, Republicans, whatever set of overlapping Venn circles are appropriate, so often resort to ad hominem attacks is because they know they don’t have a case for their political policies based on any kind of merit. All they can do is scare their cultish base into fearing the opposition.

Posted in Politics | 5 Comments