22 November, 2016

The Digest—Tuesday, 22 November, 2016

[The Digest is a collection of articles, videos, and other media I've viewed and found significant throughout the day. It is a way to divest myself from other social media that is more reliant on likes, click-bait, and peer-approval rather than quality, intelligence, and diversity of opinion, which are the qualities I find important. It is also a way to devote myself to daily contributions to this space...at least in theory.]

-=Summary: The media mourns itself, the nefarious consequences of false equivalence, rigging the election, war on the poor, university as commerce, Matt Tiabbi says some shit, & Good Girls Revolt=-


Trump v the media: did his tactics mortally wound the fourth estate?
from The Guardian

I would argue that the fourth estate has been mortally wounded for a while and that the infection of Trump has merely made the symptoms more visible. This should terrify everyone, even those whipped into repeated frenzies about the "mainstream media" and "liberal press." For a group of persons who claim to want change so desperately that they're willing to watch the world burn to accomplish it, they exempt themselves form these efforts and seek only to reinforce their views of the world. But, of course, what they call change is really reinforcement of long-standing status quo and existing privilege...but that's a different topic.

How False Equivalence Is Distorting the 2016 Election Coverage  (must read!)
from The Nation

This one is a little old, though I just stumbled upon it today, but it addresses one of the most egregious failures of the press in modern political discourse. "Equal time" rules during campaigns make sense, but equal truth? Not so much. No one has done a better job at validating the anti-science, anti-fact, anti-reality narrative driven by Republican politics and embodied in Donald Trump than the mainstream press and its desperate drive to seem unbiased. 

In this narrative, if one side has a fact, represented in scientifically-supported data, peer-reviewed, or even just basically, observably, demonstrably true (as in, "The clock on the wall says it's 4pm"), and the other side has a story funded by billionaires in whose interest it is to make clocks disreputable, or just to fuck with the system (as in, "Other sources in the room said the clock was slow" or "Scientists haven't come to a consensus that time is real" or "It didn't feel like 4pm; I'd guess it was closer to 5"), these two "viewpoints" are posed as equally deserving of attention and validation. This is total bullshit. Journalists know better, but fear and cowardice motivate them to treat Newt Gingrich's gut feelings on equal standing with scientific data.

Did Republicans Rig the Election?
from The Nation

About laws restricting access to the vote, strict voter ID laws, and the fact that Republicans are quite open about desiring lower voter turnout. For a long time I wondered why a party that is so gung-ho about AMERICAN VALUES and treats the Constitution as second only to the Bible wouldn't work hardest to ensure everyone the opportunity to vote (yes, I used to be that naive). Then I realized that of course they don't care about AMERICAN VALUES and that they would wipe their arses with the Constitution if it won them more elections and brought in greater profits. 

Get Ready for a War on the Poor
from the Nation

As someone studying to become a social worker, as someone on Medicaid, and as a human being with empathy and compassion, this issue worries me a great deal. That so many Americans are hostile to a contributive sense of society and community; who decide other people are just lazy and/or fraudsters; who either don't care or participate in the suffering of millions of their fellow countrymen—that is almost as sad as what is going to happen to social welfare in this country. 

Along with the 20 million people who didn't have access to healthcare before the ACA, I will lose my health insurance if Medicaid expansions are repealed. Single mothers working 2 minimum wage jobs who still require food stamps might now see their children starve. If you are likewise opposed to the social welfare programs in this country, please respond below and explain your position. It is a position I simply do not understand.

Have Public Universities Lost Their Focus?
from The Atlantic

I began noticing the decline in college education while still in college myself. In an art history course, the instructor admonished most of us for performing so badly on a test. I expected her to recommend that people actually study for the next one, but what she actually said shocked me. She decided that, since most people failed the test, she'd allow the class to use their notes during tests. She wasn't kidding.

When I taught college, there was a class in which I had to fail 6 students for plagiarizing the entireties of their final projects. The project itself was very simple, and a student who had kept up with assignments during the semester would have completed the final project at the end of the last homework assignment. In other words, the only reason for plagiarism was sheer and simple laziness. Can you guess what happened next? I am the one who got in trouble, who was punished, because I threatened the school's revenue stream. 

With the American disdain for intellectualism and intelligence, I don't expect this issue to be high on the priority list of anyone who could actually fix the problem, but it's an important subject about which to be aware. 

President Trump: How America Got It So Wrong by Matt Tiabbi
from Rolling Stone

I usually like Matt Tiabbi, but this is mostly horseshit. I'm tired of hearing about how the snobbish intellectuals ignored the travails and anger of white middle-America. Their anger, their image, their lives, their religion—virtually everything about them is reflected in the status quo of American life, from commercial and consumer expectation and advertising to television programming, movies, magazines, and everyday interaction. 

Furthermore, the daily increase in Clinton's lead in the popular vote is in contrast to all these articles that claim wholesale repudiation of Clinton specifically and Democrats in general. It's also worth noting that the people writing about white rage, that it's been ignored, that we failed this population, are also white. The people of color writing about this have a very different perspective, and it's one I trust much more than calls to reinforce the same old white, male privilege reasserting itself. And before you say, "but Trump won 52% of the white female vote!" or "but Trump won 1/3rd of the Latino vote!" I just have two words for you: internalized oppression


Good Girls Revolt
episodes 3 & 4 

Watching a representation of how women were treated in society 50 years ago is sobering, and it's worth considering how things have changed as well as how they haven't. It also has a great soundtrack.

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