Links and Comments, 6 Oct 13

Many interesting posts this past week, some already posted on Facebook, collected here mostly for my future reference.

Andrew Sullivan (The Dish) responds to a report about tea party voters. Sullivan:

The bewildering economic and social and demographic changes have created a cultural and existential panic among those most heavily concentrated in those districts whose members are threatening to tear down the global economy as revenge for losing two presidential elections in a row. They feel they have already lost and have nothing to gain from any constructive engagement with a president they regard as pretty close to the anti-Christ of parasitic minorities. They feel isolated in a more multi-cultural country. They feel spied upon and condescended to. They have shut out any news sources apart from Fox. It does not occur to them, for example, that Obamacare might actually help them. And you get no actual specifics on policies they like or dislike. It is all abstractions based on impressions.

More to the point, the bulk of these Republicans no longer believe in the Republican party. They identify more strongly with the Tea Party or Evangelical groups or Fox News than the GOP. On social issues, the defining issue is homosexuality – not abortion. That intransigence will alienate them them even further from the future mainstream. Their next big issue: denying climate change. Right now, I see no way to integrate these groups and people into the broader body politic or conversation. Their alienation is so deep it is close to unbridgeable. And further defeats will make their isolation worse, not better, their anger more, not less, intense.

Examples of telling lies to promote political/religious agendas: Texas fundamentalists want to teach Garden of Eden in science class

The Futurist magazine’s top 10 forecasts for 2014 and beyond (via Slate)
Big data, shrinking populations, AI, amateur science, and more

Sometimes you only need to read the headline…
Christian Group Promotes Upcoming Summit with a James Madison Quotation So Fake That Even David Barton Disavows It

Adam Lee at Daylight Atheism nicely summarizes the current Government Shutdown Blues.

There’s only one possible reason they’re so absolutist in their resistance to Obamacare: not because they think it’s going to fail, but because they believe it’s going to succeed. If they really believed that the law would be a huge failure, they could just sit back, wait for it to collapse under its own unpopularity, and then gloat and say “we told you so”. The fact that they’re fighting so tenaciously implies that they’re worried people are going to like it, and they know that if it’s a success, their original opposition will haunt them. They chose to redouble their opposition, trying to prevent voters from getting a chance to make up their own minds about it.

This is likely the most alarming and not entirely implausible post of the week: The Yale political scientist died this week. His life’s work tells us that American democracy is doomed.

Which is to say, the current US crisis may decay the status of American democracy, irrevocably.

And his analysis has a disturbing message for residents of the contemporary United States. The current atmosphere of political crisis isn’t a passing fad and it isn’t going to get better. In fact, it’s very likely to get worse. Much worse. And lead to a complete breakdown of constitutional government and the democratic order.

John Scalzi explains why the ACA [aka Obamacare] is of crucial interest to writers and other artistic types who, traditionally, live on the brink of desperation.
Why The ACA Matters to Me

I don’t have enough fingers and toes on my body to count off the writers in my own personal sphere who are hardworking, who are hustling as much as they can with their work, who had the medical boom dropped on them by life and were screwed because they didn’t have health insurance, or couldn’t get health insurance was even remotely within their financial means. I can’t tell you the number of writers I know personally who have gone begging online or to family and friends to cover a catastrophic medical issue. Not to mention musicians, artists, actors, and any other sort of creative people.

Later this post at ThinkProgress, Why The Affordable Care Act Matters To Artists, which quotes Scalzi’s post among others.

1st October saw this brilliant post on Slate, If It Happened There … the Government Shutdown, presenting the current crisis as it happened in another country, reported by American journalists. Note the loaded wording — “sleepy capital city”, “regime”, “intensely proud and nationalistic people”, “rule”, “a young fundamentalist lawmaker from the restive Texas region”, “its vast stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction”.

The capital’s rival clans find themselves at an impasse, unable to agree on a measure that will allow the American state to carry out its most basic functions. While the factions have come close to such a shutdown before, opponents of President Barack Obama’s embattled regime now appear prepared to allow the government to be shuttered over opposition to a controversial plan intended to bring the nation’s health care system in line with international standards.

Media Matters: What Epic Propaganda Looks Like:

There’s nothing wrong with being passionate and dedicated to a cause. But the right wing’s almost hypnotic, monomaniacal focus on opposing health care reform has been matched, if not outstripped, by its relentless desire to purposely lie about the new law year after year after year. That’s not passion, that’s propaganda.

I was tempted to Facebook this post by Bill Maher, but did not.

New Rule: Conservatives Who Love to Brag About American Exceptionalism Must Come Here to California

New Rule: Conservatives who love to brag about American exceptionalism must come here to California, and see it in person. And then they should be afraid — very afraid. Because while the rest of the country is beset by stories of right-wing takeovers in places like North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin, California is going in the opposite direction and creating the kind of modern, liberal nation the country as a whole can only dream about. And not only can’t the rest of the country stop us — we’re going to drag you along with us.

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