19 December, 2016

The Digest—Monday, 19 December, 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: Francine Prose on the evaporation of truth, "White Supremacy Is Not an Illness." more evidence that voter fraud is a myth, Paul Krugman finally recognizes the signs from Ancient Rome, the Not Normal, Trump's likelihood of outsourcing intelligence gathering to the peril of all, Trump's press attacks giving journalism much-needed aid, New Jersey's governmental attempts to censor journalism, Ben Carson is the worst person to run HUD=-

So I missed the last few days in an insomnia-induced stupor wherein I hallucinated a bic lighter as a pepperoni stick (and tried to eat it) and awoke abruptly pouring coffee into my lap. Yes, I'm quite a catch!

But I'm back...with a mutha-flippin' vengeance!


Truth is evaporating before our eyes
Francine Prose from The Guardian

I love Francine Prose, and there are so many crucial points in this article I feel compelled to quote it at length. 
More recently, Newt Gingrich, among others, has been informing us that facts and statistics no longer count so much as feelings, suspicions, prejudices and anecdotal evidence. The fact that violent crime is down, Gingrich explained on CNN, is of less import than the fact that “people feel more threatened. Liberals have a whole set of statistics which theoretically may be right but are not how human beings are. As a political candidate, I’ll go with how people feel, and I’ll let you go with theoreticians.”  
This is a major crux of the problem. "Liberals have a whole set of statistics which theoretically may be right but..." WHAT?! Oh, you silly liberals and your SCIENCE. That they so flagrantly admit manipulating people's feelings and then bank on those feelings instead of evil liberal facts is testament to just how much people don't care that they're being manipulated. The GOP has been saying, quite openly and for quite some time, that they're lying about a bunch of stuff, that the truth is irrelevant, and because of their emotional manipulation those that support them still consider the left less trustworthy. Perhaps "trust" has nothing to do with honesty anymore. 
As a consequence, we have begun to hear that we are living in a post-truth era, a period in which (to paraphrase Gingrich) those in power get to decide what is true and what isn’t. When, just before the election, a friend in upstate New York confronted a neighbor with evidence of Donald Trump’s misdeeds, her neighbor’s only response was: “That depends on where you get your facts.” 
This is partly the fault of the media who bought into the accusations of their "liberal bias," and in eating that bullshit-pie determined to be "fair" by treating opinion as equal to fact, promoting years of false equivalency that culminated in one presendential candidate's videotaped admissions to nonconsensually grabbing women by their genitals as of equal importance and scandal to the other candidate's use of a private email server. Supporters of the pussy-grabber changed LOCK HER UP! while the concept of prosecution or imprisonment for the man with lines of women accusing him of sexual assault was "politically incorrect." That's not politically incorrect; that's criminal.  
It’s dismaying to see how accurately George Orwell’s 1943 essay on the Spanish civil war predicted the present moment. Orwell feared “that the concept of objective truth is fading out of the world … I am willing to believe that history is for the most part inaccurate and biased, but what is peculiar to our own age is the abandonment of the idea that history could be truthfully written. In the past people deliberately lied, or unconsciously colored what they wrote, or they struggled after the truth … but in each case they believed that ‘facts’ existed and were more or less discoverable.  
“Nazi theory indeed specifically denies that such a thing as ‘the truth’ exists … The implied objective of this line of thought is a nightmare world in which the Leader, or some ruling clique, controls not only the future but the past. If the Leader says of such and such an event, ‘It never happened’ – well, it never happened. If he says that two and two are five – well, two and two are five.” 
Climate change is a hoax perpetrated by China. Millions of illegal immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton. This is the biggest electoral landslide in history. No one respects women more than I do. I know more than the generals. Obama was born in Kenya. Obama is the founder of ISIS. Unemployment is way up. Mexico sends us their rapists. Crime is way up. You can't walk down the street in America's inner cities without getting shot. "The number of murders in our country is the highest it's been in 45 years." The election is rigged unless I win. I'm an outsider. I'll cut taxes most for the middle class. My hands are perfectly normal. I know the best words. I love Hispanics. The jobs report is a lie. The unemployment report is a lie. GDP growth is a lie. The deal with Iran is the worst deal in history. Obamacare will raise your premiums more than 100% next year. The judge presiding over my case is Mexican. We're allowing thousands of refugees in from the Middle East without screening them. Illegal immigrants get better care than our military veterans. Hundreds of thousands of people are shot by illegal immigrants. More than 90% of people arrested are here illegally. We have the highest taxes in the world....sound familiar?
If we look for the reasons why Orwell’s dire presentiments threaten to become our everyday reality, we might consider the idea that Trump and his cohorts are reaping the benefits of the gradual (and, I would suggest, intentional) undermining and dismantling of our increasingly overcrowded and understaffed public education system. 
In school, we learn to distinguish truth from speculation, to value facts, to assess evidence, to evaluate information, to identify propaganda – to think. If what worried Orwell was widespread skepticism about our chances of writing history with any resemblance to the truth, how would he feel about a populace and a leadership that no longer values history at all, that has no respect for science, that believes the only subject worth pursuing is the how-to of uncontrolled capitalism?
How would we feel, or how do we feel? The GOP has been undermining science, education, and intelligence for years, especially since George W., when "truthiness" was born. It used to be common sense in this country that you seek the most qualified and educated people for their expertise on related studies, tasks, amd professions. Now, to know something about anything is "elitist" and how dare you think your "data" is more honest than my feelings

The biggest joke, though, and the most insidious lie, is that Trump and his people are guilty of everything they accuse others of being, only they are much, much worse. I can only hope the reality of his Presidency bullies some sense into the population, preferably before the world is destroyed.

White Supremacy Is Not an Illness
Christopher Petrella and Justin Gomer from Truthout via African American Intellectual History Society 

I wish I could get the people to read this who need most to do so, but it is also illuminative for the well-meaning non racists who don't quite understand the concepts of privilege, systemic racism, and historical context that underpin all the many inequalities that persist today. 
The presumption that one can eliminate racism by snuffing out a few "bad apples" misses the mark. In fact, such a paradigm misdiagnoses the systemic and ideological production of race itself which is squarely centered in white supremacy.... 
Addressing and eliminating quantifiable racial inequities gave way to treating individual racists (i.e. the few "bad apples") in an otherwise racially just country. Structural white supremacy, in other words, became conflated with individual bigotry.... 
Beginning in the late 1950s, however, "racism" began to surpass "white supremacy" as the preeminent term for marking, diagnosing, and ameliorating various forms of racial injustice. The deficiency of this term rests in its ability to invisibilize both its locus and its origin: whiteness. Avoiding the term "white" overlooks the policies, practices, and hierarchies of domination and exclusion that has shaped US and global history. 
White supremacy is not an unfortunate, anomalous stain on an otherwise virginal tapestry of democracy but rather, to paraphrase Hannah Arendt, it's terribly, terrifyingly normal.
In fact, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has for decades admitted that racial injustice is too normal to be considered a mental illness or a disease.... 
The ideology of race itself leads back to whiteness and white supremacy. US immigration and naturalization legislation, race-based marriage statutes, inheritance law, redlining, and the segregation of public facilities are all examples of how whiteness informs policy and practice. They draw, secure, police, and legitimize the parameters of whiteness and non-whiteness....
Most anti-miscegenation laws, in fact, did not prohibit marriage or sexual relations between two non-white people. What architects of anti-miscegenation laws feared most was race-mixing between white and non-white people because such a social practice would compromise the prospect of white racial purity, white national purity, and global white supremacy. 
Similarly, US naturalization law from 1790 to 1952 carried with it an explicit prerequisite of whiteness. For instance, the first US Immigration and Naturalization law (1790) restricted naturalized citizenship to "a free white [male], who shall have resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States for the term of two years."
Until we recognize the lasting and systemic nature of racism in this country, there will be no progress on the issues that the maintenance of white privilege and supremacy inflict on minority populations, like poverty and criminal justice reform. While it seems less likely we'll have this conversation as a country anytime soon, all a conversation requires is two people willing to engage. 

Who have you enaged with lately?

All This Talk of Voter Fraud? Across U.S., Officials Found Next to None
Michael Wines from The New York Times
“The old notion that somehow there are all these impostors out there, people not eligible to vote that are voting — it’s a lie,” said Thomas E. Mann, a resident scholar at the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. “But it’s what’s being used in the states now to impose increased qualifications and restrictions on voting.”
This is a surprise? 

How Republics End
Paul Krugman from The New York Times

I refuse to think someone like Krugman is unaware of the many publications comparing the fall of Ancient Rome to events and symbolism of American society. I read one many years ago called The Twilight of American Culture. It doesn't mean he doesn't have a point, and I found the following particularly disturbing:
Consider what just happened in North Carolina. The voters made a clear choice, electing a Democratic governor. The Republican legislature didn’t openly overturn the result — not this time, anyway — but it effectively stripped the governor’s office of power, ensuring that the will of the voters wouldn’t actually matter.
Donald Trump, This Is Not Normal!
Charles M. Blow from The New York Times
To have a president who nurses petty vengeances against the press and uses the overwhelming power of the presidency to attack any reporting of fact not colored by flattery and adoration is not normal.
"Any reporting of fact not colored by flattery" is one of the best descriptions of this phenomenon that I've read. I think I might steal it. 

Will Trump Play Spy vs. Spy?
Evan Thomas from The New York Times
In recent days, President-elect Donald J. Trump has rejected the C.I.A.’s conclusions that Russian hackers attempted to sway the American elections, and has accused unnamed officials within the agency of trying to undermine him. And he has rejected the tradition of receiving the intelligence community’s daily briefing, implying that he would rather rely on information and analysis from his inner circle of advisers.
Do you comprehend how dangerous this is? "I don't like the facts you're giving me about the world, so I'll outsource them for facts I want and act upon them with the full power of the presidency to shape the globe. Because I know more than the generals." This is a guy who thinks there should be more nukes in the world and thinks opting for peace rather than total destruction is a cop-out. Ugh.

By Attacking the Press, Donald Trump May Be Doing It a Favor

Jim Rutenberg from The New York Times
His running campaign of Twitter attacks, declarations of failure and vows to punish the traditional news media is threatening to do what so many years of cost-cutting and re-envisioning could not do as easily: put the industry on more solid economic footing, where customers who realize its value are willing to pay for it more regularly. 
It’s early. And, in traditional media, hope is the province of masochists.
How New Jersey’s Attorney General Is Trying to Muzzle a Reporter
Lloyd Grove from The Daily Beast

I expect more of this in the coming years. 

Ben Carson’s Warped View of Housing

The Editorial Board from The New York Times
Last year, Mr. Carson accused the agency of “social engineering” for requiring state and local governments that receive federal housing money to stop dumping subsidized housing in poor neighborhoods and instead locate some of that housing in healthier neighborhoods where residents would have access to transportation, jobs and decent schools. His comment betrayed a distressing ignorance of HUD’s mission, the laws under which it is supposed to operate and, more broadly, the history of housing segregation in the United States. 
What triggered his outburst was the administration’s decision — long overdue — to begin paying attention to the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and its mandate to “affirmatively further” fair housing goals. Among other things, this meant making a good-faith effort to break down patterns of racial and economic segregation that, perversely enough, had been promoted by the government itself. 
Research shows that integrating poorer families into healthier, mixed-income neighborhoods has improved prospects for them and their children. A prominent Harvard study last year found that young children whose families had been given housing vouchers to move to better neighborhoods were more likely to attend college — and to attend better colleges — than other children, and had significantly higher incomes as adults. This form of economic integration could be crucial to breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty.

Apparently Carson believes that because he escaped poverty, it's just a matter of gumption and willpower for everyone else. This is called internalized oppression. I also think he's just a prick high on status and notoriety. I hope no one tries to actually show the law to him, or any of those research results and data. He might compare it all to beastiality and insist housing vouchers make you gay.

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