Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Monday, July 3rd, 2017.


Stuff to Read Over the Fourth

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Trump Maladministration

Some articles I want to comment on before they scroll out of memory —

Lindy West, “Save Free Speech From Trolls

West calls out the Right for “weaponizing” the concept of freedom of speech to shout down dissent or criticism, especially when it comes from women.

Nothing is more important than the First Amendment, the internet men say, provided you interpret the First Amendment exactly the same way they do: as a magic spell that means no one you don’t like is allowed to criticize you.

In other words, they react to people expressing disagreement with them as an infringement on their free speech rights. This is something I’ve written about before; see “First Amendment Primer (for Righties)” from February 2013:

Righties do love their First Amendment rights, but they don’t understand them very well. For example, on the Right it is commonly believed the right to freedom of speech includes a right to not be disagreed with. (This is something I’ve written about before, so for examples, see “This Is Rich,” and “America Has Lost Its Mind.”)

People, read the First Amendment. It says Congress cannot infringe in freedom of speech or the press, and this prohibition has been extended to state government by the 14th Amendment. In a legal sense, this refers to censorship, and censorship is something that only government can do.  A privately owned newspaper or magazine has an absolute right to not publish everything submitted to it, and that is not censorship, either. I have a right to delete comments that irritate me, and that is not censorship, either.  And if somebody expresses disagreement with you, that is so not censorship.

By the same token, if a mob of people somehow prevent you from speaking, or thugs who don’t like your editorials come and smash up your printing press, that’s not censorship, although it would certainly be breaking other laws.

I’m sorry to say that some of this hairbrained thinking has crept into the Left. After Kathy Griffin’s recent, stupid “trump beheading” stunt, I saw a lot of “don’t censor Kathy!” and “stand with Kathy’s First Amendment rights” on social media. But I didn’t see anybody attempting to censor Kathy, nor did I see anybody saying she had no right to publish the dumb photo. All I saw was criticism. Criticism is not censorship. And just because you have a right to smear yourself with honey and sit on an anthill, that doesn’t mean you should.

McKay Coppins, “How the Left Lost Its Mind” 

The Trump era has given rise to a vast alternative left-wing media infrastructure that operates largely out of the view of casual news consumers, but commands a massive audience and growing influence in liberal America. There are polemical podcasters and partisan click farms; wild-eyed conspiracists and cynical fabulists. Some traffic heavily in rumor and wage campaigns of misinformation; others are merely aggregators and commentators who have carved out a corner of the web for themselves. But taken together, they form a media universe where partisan hysteria is too easily stoked, and fake news can travel at the speed of light.

Before we go on, let me try to quiet the cries of “False equivalence!” before they begin: No, these personalities and publications do not yet wield the same influence in the Democratic Party that their counterparts do in the GOP. But ignoring them would be a mistake. In recent months, some of the most irresponsible actors in this world have proven alarmingly adept at influencing venerated figures of the left—from public intellectuals, to world-famous celebrities, to elected officials.

See also “The Rise of Progressive Fake News.”

I think trolls and fake news did a lot of damage to the Democrats last year, and people across the liberal-progressive spectrum were falling for it. Clinton supporters were being told Bernie Sanders was a friend to the NRA known to hate women; Sanders supporters were being told Hillary Clinton would be indicted any minute now. None of that helped. And it seems to be getting worse.

Aaron Blake: “The biggest winner in the current health-care debate: Single-payer

 … after weeks of debate, there is one clear winner so far: single-payer health care.

No, single-payer isn’t going to happen at the end of this debate — or even the end of this year or this decade, necessarily. But the logical foundations for it are being laid in our political debate just about every single day. And when you pair that with the rising public support for government-run health care, it’s clear in which direction this whole debate is trending.

This article cheered me up, needless to say.

The most surprising aspect of the current health-care debate, for me, has been how Republicans have essentially given up on making the conservative case for their bills. They aren’t even arguing that the free market would lead to higher-quality care, efficiency and medical advancements, as the GOP of old might have. Instead, they are trying to obscure the reality that their bills would cut Medicaid by hundreds of millions of dollars (versus where funding is currently set) and would increase the number of uninsured Americans by potential 20 million or more. …

…That political reality has also basically forced Republicans to concede this point: that people being uninsured is a very bad thing, and that cutting funding to Medicaid is a bad thing. They have basically conceded that government involvement in health care is a good thing — or, at least, a necessary thing. That wasn’t the argument they were making against Obamacare eight years ago.

Democrats, meanwhile, are gradually talking themselves into supporting single-payer, it would seem. Their laser-like focus on the number who are uninsured and the Medicaid cuts has a logical conclusion. There is only one way to make sure nobody is uninsured, after all.

We’re a long way from overwhelming public support for a taxpayer-funded national health care system, which is what the phrase “single payer” is shorthand for. There are very few, if any, “pure” single-payer systems on the planet, in which all health care is paid out of government funds. The majority of industrialized nations have some variation of a mixed public-private system, although in every case I know of people can get nearly any medical treatment they really need through the public system.

Andrew Mills, “The plane truth: How we caught Chris Christie sunbathing on a closed beach

Anatomy of a scoop.

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