Thursday, November 24, 2016



How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic
How does Donald Trump lie? (The Guardian)

Fact-checking is great and everything, but we need to think more seriously about how to challenge a self-sustaining reality. What do we do when every graph or chart or whatever can be matched by something saying the opposite? How do you reach out to somebody who really, really wants to believe something that almost certainly isn't true?

Fake news:

Trump's fake-news presidency
Top 20 fake news stories

Not to get too postmodern here, but how do you deal with the fact that the non-fake news is often pretty fake? How do you draw the distinction? Is it about drawing distinctions, or is it about something else?

Quick questions about reality:

Have left wing accounts of ideology / false consciousness / consensus reality / social construction / whatever been successfully captured and weaponized by the right?

How does social justice politics reconcile these two things?
(a) a healthy and productive suspicion of one's own perspectives
(b) honoring lived experience

Climate change:

Slate on Trump's plan to eliminate NASA climate research

BTW: how does "the raising of the seas" bite you as a useful synonym for "climate change"?

Technology, virality, oral culture, gamification, etc.

Donald Trump, the First President of Our Post-Literate Age


2011 Demos report about 'digital fluency'


America is divided. The two Americas aren't really talking to each other. Mostly they don't even hang out together. Sometimes Thanksgiving is an exception to that rule.

It could be that Thanksgiving is that special day you have to pretend that your moral knowledge is just your political perspective. "It is just my opinion. You are entitled to your own opinion." Maybe it's the day you have to compromise your beliefs just to keep your shit together.

I guess that's OK, but it's not the best. And it's less OK this year than last year, for sure.

It could be that Thanksgiving is that special day when you get to laugh it up, and hug it out, with your political enemies. Maybe you create some little utopian spark within all the surrounding darkness, even though you know that spark will never spread. But for just one day, families can come together and pretend that everything is OK, and that the wider world can just be put on pause. It's the day where we act out overcoming political differences, like a weird play that is supposed to bring hope and healing or something, only nobody is watching except ourselves.

I guess that's OK. But maybe actually it's not OK.

It could be that Thanksgiving is that special day when you just lose it, and speak truth to power, that day when you call somebody or everybody on what they've done, on what they are condoning and what they are embracing. That special day when you put yourself and maybe others at risk, emotionally and maybe in other ways too. You do that, only it comes out all wrong. Or it comes out just right, but somehow everything goes wrong anyway.

And that's pretty good. Except the bit about it coming out all wrong, or everything going wrong anyway.

Is there another way? I don't know. This is a miscellaneous jumble of resources for thinking about Thanksgiving. Hopefully it will grow throughout 2017. Please submit any stuff you'd like to see here. Maybe there should be like a recipe section too?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


Salon. A continually growing list of violence at Trump events.

Times. Trump's History of Encouraging Violence.

Not to say violence is always bad or anything. Or that Trump supporters don't experience violence. Or that Trump's incitements can't be written off on a case-by-case basis as jokes. So what do we do with all that?

Here's some footage I guess cut by a Trump supporter. I guess the subtext is "don't fuck with us."


Anger as a Tool in Social Justice Movements


Anti-Trump Masterpost at Quantum Displacement.

Reddit. (And here).

An article by Lauren Dockett at the Washington Post about surviving this Thanksgiving. Lots of useful and interesting stuff in here, although it might be worth challenging some of the assumptions. Maybe for some people, trying their best to be happy with their family and loved ones this Thanksgiving isn't what they really want to be doing.

"It’s important to remember that politicians come and go, but these people will still be your family a generation or two from now." Uh-uh, no way. Families do break up, get estranged. That sucks but so does Trump. So does the normalization of Trumpism. So does racism, class war, misogyny, authoritarian populism, fascism. Shit is real. Better to regret the way we said something, than to regret not saying something at all. (Easy for me to say, of course).


Salon: How voter ID laws helped Trump win the presidency. "Because this was the first presidential election in nearly 50 years in which the Voting Rights Act of 1965 wasn’t fully applied, swing states were able to restrict the franchise in ways that may have been consequential in Trump’s winning the Electoral College (he lost to Hillary Clinton in the popular vote). In Wisconsin, for example, Voter ID laws disproportionately targeted nonwhite voters and, according to the executive director of Milwaukee’s Election Commission, resulted in the city’s turnout dropping by roughly 41,000 voters. Trump won the state by fewer than 18,000 votes."


A cult deprogrammer's perspective. "Avoid loaded language. [...] You don’t want to be written off. So when you’re talking to your Trump-supporting friends about their beliefs, use neutral language. Don’t call him a 'birther' or a 'misogynist,' since those are words typically used by people who don’t like Trump. If the person you’re talking to feels 'othered' or attacked, they’ll shut down."


Monday, November 14, 2016


Mariana Mazzucato in The Guardian: He’s right, the economy is sick – and businesses like Trump’s are part of the disease. "The shareholder value revolution of the 80s created a corporate governance model that rewards quarterly returns over investments in the productive capacity of companies. Companies increasingly spend their profits, now at record levels, on buying back shares in order to boost stock prices, stock options and executive pay. This has led to a financialised economy, which many of Trump’s policies – including a lowering of corporate income tax – will only worsen."

Economics, Ideology, and Trump. "The extent to which economic insecurity in the US and the UK is driven by globalisation versus policy is still under discussion – my answer would be that it is a combination of both – but the skill-biased technical change hypothesis looks to be a dead end – and a costly one at that." Heavy-duty analysis of the economics of austerity.

Simon Wren-Lewis. The Austerity Con.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Checks and Balances, Division of Powers, Constitution

Harsher Security Tactics? Obama Left Door Ajar, and Trump is Knocking. "Over and over, Mr. Obama has imposed limits on his use of such powers but has not closed the door on them — a flexible approach premised on the idea that he and his successors could be trusted to use them prudently. Mr. Trump can now sweep away those limits and open the throttle on policies that Mr. Obama endorsed as lawful and legitimate for sparing use, like targeted killings in drone strikes and the use of indefinite detention and military tribunals for terrorism suspects."


Autocracy: Rules for Survival. "Rule #1: Believe the autocrat. He means what he says. Whenever you find yourself thinking, or hear others claiming, that he is exaggerating, that is our innate tendency to reach for a rationalization [...]"

Useful for thinking about how rationalizing / justifying / normalization occurs:

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


Mike Konczal: "[...] the Ryan Agenda is designed in no way to appeal to, or rely on, liberals and Democrats. It’s been engineered to pass through reconciliation on a party line vote. All those times liberals made fun of Republicans for passing party-line bills that would get vetoed Republicans were simply doing test runs for what they would do with unified government, testing the boundaries of their members and the institutions themselves. [...] Now, personality-wise, there’s going to be a ton of conflicts. And maybe ego and power jockeying can open opportunities. But progressives should be aware that it will not be hard for Trump to bend the GOP towards his program, and it will not be hard for conservatives to justify it with time. [...] They aren’t ready with a replacement for Obamacare. They aren’t ready for the heat of privatizing Medicare, or weakening Medicaid. There are constituencies for both, and town halls can be flooded and people organized. Those who desperately wanted a change towards economic security are going to be surprised that the factories aren’t coming back and that they signed up for a libertarian kleptocracy instead. But we should also be clear on the challenges of their policy agenda, and that the cracks won’t appear by themselves."