Sunday, July 19, 2020


Weekend Roundup

Featured headline this week: Griff Witte/Ben Guarino: It's not only coronavirus cases that are rising. Now covid deaths are, too. When I posted last week's headline, Florida shatters single-day infection record with 15,300 new cases, denialists responded that it wasn't a problem, because the death rate hadn't risen. That wasn't very clever. Bad as the disease is, it does take a week or two to kill, and that sort of lag time has followed the infection curve from the very start. Moreover, infections continue to rise: see Hannah Knowles/Derek Hawkins/Jacqueline Dupree: Coronavirus updates: Halfway through the year, the pandemic's only intensifying in many states.

I probably scraped the cartoon on the right from Twitter. It seemed to capture the moment and the person exceptionally well. Not sure who did it. Google shows several Pinterest lists it's on, and various Twitter threads. I didn't care for the meme that attributed Covid-19 deaths to Trump's inaction in and before March -- I figured any politician would have been blind-sided -- but it's harder to excuse him from the second peak (if that's all it is) we're going through now. But that's secondary here, to the all-important stroking of Trump's fragile ego. Of course he's incompetent: Republican orthodoxy demands that government fail whenever called on in an emergency. But why does he have to be so needy? He's an embarrassment, and that's finally, albeit still slowly, sinking in even to the people who hitched their hopes to his dumb luck.

On the other hand, I believe that there is more behind America's abysmal failure to contain the Covid-19 pandemic than just the buffoon in the White House. There's a Lincoln Project widget I've seen on Twitter that provides a running bar graph of total Covid-19 cases in OECD countries. It starts with South Korea as the highest country, then Japan and Italy have their moments, but the USA soon overtakes and buries the rest. Still, the rise of the UK to second place is as steady. For an explanation of this, Pankaj Mishra takes a more unified view of Anglo-America in: Flailing states. Writing for an English audience who hate being left out, Mishra glosses over differences which are evident even in the chart. The UK does still have a functioning, albeit not especially well funded, public health system, which even Boris Johnson showed some appreciation for after they saved his life. Still, every march to the right in America has been felt in the UK. Some samples:

Anglo-America's dingy realities -- deindustrialisation, low-wage work, underemployment, hyper-incarceration and enfeebled or exclusionary health systems -- have long been evident. Nevertheless, the moral, political and material squalor of two of the wealthiest and most powerful societies in history still comes as a shock to some. In a widely circulated essay in the Atlantic, George Packer claimed that 'every morning in the endless month of March, Americans woke up to find themselves citizens of a failed state.' In fact, the state has been AWOL for decades, and the market has been entrusted with the tasks most societies reserve almost exclusively for government: healthcare, pensions, low-income housing, education, social services and incarceration. . . .

The escalating warning signs -- that absolute cultural power provincialises, if not corrupts, by deepening ignorance about both foreign countries and political and economic realities at home -- can no longer be avoided as the US and Britain cope with mass death and the destruction of livelihoods. Covid-19 shattered what John Stuart Mill called 'the deep slumber of a decided opinion,' forcing many to realise that they live in a broken society, with a carefully dismantled state. As the Süddeutsche Zeitung put it in May, unequal and unhealthy societies are 'a good breeding ground for the pandemic.' Profit-maximising individuals and businesses, it turns out, can't be trusted to create a just and efficient healthcare system, or to extend social security to those who need it most. . . .

The pandemic, which has killed 130,000 people in the US, including a disproportionate number of African Americans, has now shown, far more explicitly than Katrina did in 2005 or the financial crisis in 2008, that the Reagan-Thatcher model, which privatised risk and shifted the state's responsibility onto the individual, condemns an unconscionable number of people to premature death or to a desperate struggle for existence. . . .

However, after the most radical upheaval of our times, even the bleakest account of the German-invented social state seems a more useful guide to the world to come than moist-eyed histories of Anglo-America's engines of universal progress. Screeching ideological U-turns have recently taken place in both countries. Adopting a German-style wage-subsidy scheme, and channelling FDR rather than Churchill, Boris Johnson now claims that 'there is such a thing as society' and promises a 'New Deal' for Britain. Biden, abandoning his Obama-lite centrism, has rushed to plagiarise Bernie Sanders's manifesto. In anticipation of his victory in November, the Democratic Party belatedly plans to forge a minimal social state in the US through robust worker-protection laws, expanded government-backed health insurance, if not single-payer healthcare, and colossal investment in public-health jobs and childcare programmes.

Mishra skips around, through quite a few countries for examples, including a bit on how democracy doesn't guarantee anything. What does work is having a government which sees its role to provide for the public welfare of all, and having a society which looks to the government for justice, security, help, and improvement, again for all. Democracy, by giving everyone an equal stake, should lead to healthier, more equal societies, but democracy can be corrupted and conned by privileging money, as we've seen. What the pandemic has done has been to split the world open according to how inequal nations are, with the most inequal ones paying the harshest price. This comes as no surprise to recent critics of inequality, such as Richard Wilkinson/Kate Pickett, The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger. Even mainstream Democrats seem to have some intuitive understanding of this, as evidenced by their relief proposals. On the other hand, people who are totally oblivious to the problem of inequality have been utterly gobsmacked by the pandemic -- none more so than Trump.


Some scattered links this week:

  • David Atkins: Why is Trump sending stormtroopers into Portland?

    In one of the most alarming developments of Trump's presidency, dozens of federal agents in full camouflage seized protesters and threw them into unmarked cars, taking them to locations unknown without specifying a reason for arrest. It appears that at least some of the agents involved belonged to the US Customs and Border Protection (colloquially known as Border Patrol), an organization that obviously has no business whatsoever conducted counterinsurgency tactics against peaceful American protesters in Portland, Oregon. Neither the mayor of Portland nor the governor of Oregon wanted them there; in fact, they specifically requested that they leave.

    Atkins asks why Trump is doing this, and rolls out some theories, saving the "ridiculous" but "also likely closest to the truth" for last:

    But if Fox News were the sum of your reality, you would believe that emergency action needed to be taken before the residents started to erect a Thunderdome and the services of Snake Plissken would be required. You would send in the troops despite the potential cost out of a belief that relieved Americans would be desperately grateful for your embrace of "law and order" (even if it were heavy on the "order" and light on the "law.") You would do whatever it took to bring the situation to heel, and figure the public approval would follow from the new Pax Trumpiana. After all, Fox News declared it must be so.

    Atkins followed this post up with a more speculative one: Trump may use DHS stormtroopers to stop people from voting. I don't see how he can do this, at least on a scale that might sway the election, without generating a huge backlash. More on Portland:

  • Ryan Bort: So long, Jeff Sessions: Trump's former attorney general lost the Republican Senate primary to Tommy Tuberville, who was endorsed by Trump.

  • John Bresnahan/Ally Mutnick: Kansas Republican Rep. Steve Watkins charged with voter fraud. Watkins' father is also being investigated for campaign finance violations.

  • Philip Bump: In a pair of interviews, Trump highlights white victimhood.

  • Megan Cassella: America's hidden economic crisis: Widespread wage cuts.

  • Jane Coaston: The Lincoln Project, the rogue former Republicans trying to take down Trump, explained. More on Lincoln Project:

  • Sean Collins: Rep. John Lewis, civil rights leader and moral center of Congress, has died at 80: "He is remembered as a Freedom Rider, voting rights champion, and the 'conscience of the Congress.'" Also on Lewis:

  • Sumner Concepcion: 5 key takeaways from Trump's lengthy off-the-rails interview on Fox News:

    • Doubling down on his claim of the coronavirus "disappearing" someday
    • Defending the Confederate flag
    • Piling on more attacks against Biden
    • Griping about his inability to hold rallies amid the COVID-19 pandemic
    • Refusing to guarantee he will accept the results of the November election

    The last was the more-or-less new one. But it's worth nothing that he did the same thing in 2016, and he trapped Hillary Clinton into declaring that she would accept the results, and true to her word, she gave up meekly and vanished from sight.

  • Igor Derysh:

    • Trump Victory Committee paid nearly $400,000 to Trump's Washington hotel in second quarter. "Trump's properties have earned well over $20 million in political spending since he took office, per CPR data." I suppose his defense is "that's chump change," but the thought counts.

    • Trump says it's "terrible" to question why Black people are killed by police: "So are white people": He refers to "white people" five times in 20 seconds, per the CBS tweet. Question: "Why are African Americans still dying at the hands of law enforcement in this country?" Trump's complete answer: "So are white people. So are white people. What a terrible question to ask. So are white people. More white people by the way. More white people." Maybe he could have recovered a bit by adding, "Bottom line, police kill more people of all races than they should. And sure, statistics say they're more likely to kill a black person than a white, but the answer isn't to make them discriminate more carefully based on race. The answers is for them to kill a lot fewer people." Still, when your first thought to a question about discrimination against black is to bring up "white people," you're a racist. QED.

  • Tom Engelhardt: Donald J Trump, or Osama bin Laden's revenge. Starts with a stroll through Trump's sculpture "garden of heroes" (which Masha Gessen wrote up in sufficient detail last week, then considers the fate Osama bin Laden hoped we would have in leading America into "the graveyard of empires" in Afghanistan.

  • David S Fogelsong: With fear and favor: The Russophobia of 'The New York Times': "Disregarding all past experience, journalists, politicians, and foreign policy experts have simply assumed that the claims of Russian bounties for killing American troops are true. They -- and we -- should know better."

  • Matt Ford: The Supreme Court's unconscionable rush to kill a prisoner.

    The federal government ended its 13-year moratorium on executions on Tuesday morning by killing Daniel Lewis Lee at the federal death chamber in Terre Haute, Indiana. Lewis is the first in a series of federal prisoners slated to die in the next few days as part of a renewed push by the Trump administration to carry out death sentences at the federal level, even as the practice falls out of favor nationwide.

  • Melissa Gira Grant: The dark obsessions of QAnon are merging with mainstream conservatism: "With Republican candidates and Trump embracing the strange, child trafficking-fixated movement, it can no longer be dismissed as merely a conspiracy theory."

  • Maggie Haberman: Trump replaces Brad Parscale as campaign manager, elevating Bill Stepien. Parscale got a lot of credit for Trump's 2016 win with his Facebook operation, so naturally got promoted to head the whole campaign operation, finding himself in way over his head.

  • Jeff Hauser/Max Moran/Andrea Beaty: Better policy ideas alone won't stop monopolies. Outlines the obstacles antitrust enforcement faces, especially in the courts but also in the bureaucracy. But the conclusion I'd draw from this is that that's why better policy ideas are needed. Why not develop some policies that would prevent monopolies from forming in the first place? Ending patents, promoting open source software and research, giving employees more power on boards and as owners, making it much more difficult to acquire companies (e.g., limiting debt financing of purchase price), allowing bankrupt companies to return under employee management, publicly-sponsored non-profit cooperatives -- those are all things that would help. Certainly way better than waiting for monpolies to form and trying to prosecute the worst offenders.

  • Mara Hvistendahl: Masks off: How the brothers who fueled the reopen protests built a volatile far-right network. On Ben Dorr and brothers Aaron, Chris, and Matthew. When Trump was elected, we saw an outpouring of protests styling themselves as the Resistance. It seems inevitable that when/if Trump loses, the right will organize its own Resistance -- smaller but more menacing, much like the Dorrs here. I expect thay'll make the Tea Party look like a polite afternoon klatch.

  • Tyshia Ingram: The case for unschooling: "Why the hands off alternative to homeschooling might get parents through the Covid-19 pandemic." I was intrigued by this because my own experience with the school system was mostly negative. My impression is that schooling has become even more demanding and oppressive since then, especially with "No Child Left Behind"'s focus on testing. So my initial reaction when schools shut down this Spring was that maybe kids could use a break. On the other hand, to make this work, I don't doubt that children and adolescents need access to and support from people who do have decent educations. My parents weren't much help, but after I dropped out of high school I found my own way. Would certainly be easier today with the Internet. By the way, after I dropped out, I spent a lot of time reading about education. The term "unschooling" comes from John Holt, who was one of the pioneering writers I read back then. Teaching as a Subversive Activity, by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner, was my favorite.

  • Elahe Izadi/Jeremy Barr: Bari Weiss resigns from New York Times, says 'Twitter has become its ultimate editor': I can't say as Weiss was even on my radar, but she was prominently mentioned in the Harper's letter controversy, and evidently decided to exploit that moment of fame by "canceling" herself. She was evidently most famous as the main pro-Zionist voice on their opinion staff, not that the Times' biases there are likely to change in the near future. Some reaction:

    • Henry Olsen: McCarthyism is back. This time, it's woke. The Weiss resignation (and/or Andrew Sullivan's resignation from New York Magazine) stirred up a hornet's nest of outrage among Washington Post opinion writers -- scroll down for links from Matt Bai, Hugh Hewitt, Kathleen Parker, Megan McArdle, and Jennifer Rubin -- but this is about as off the deep end as any. Olsen has no more grasp of McCarthyism than Clarence Thomas did of lynching when he decried having to face unflattering testimony. Although I am glad that McCarthyism is still being viewed as something bad. For a better grounded use of the term, see Peter Beinart: Trumpism is the new McCarthyism. Sullivan's farewell letter, which doubles as promo for his new subscription newsletter, is here.

    • Avi Selk: A New York Times columnist blamed a far-left 'mob' for her woes. But maybe she deserves them. In any case, the talking point will set her up for lucrative ventures further right.

    • Alex Shephard: The self-cancellation of Bari Weiss: "Like much of her writing, the New York Times editor's resignation letter is long on accusation and thin on evidence." As Shephard concludes, her resignation will "make the perfect ending for her next book."

    • Philip Weiss: Bari Weiss leaves the 'NYT' and that's bad for Zionists: "Weiss is such a gifted careerist that even this moment feels like shtik: Bari Weiss playing her own persecutino for the greater glory of Bari Weiss."

  • Jen Kirby: Israel's West Bank annexation plan and why it's stalled, explained by an expert: Interview with Brent E Sasley ("a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington and an expert on Israeli politics").

  • Ezra Klein: What a post-Trump Republican Party might look like: Interview with Oren Cass, who was a Romney consultant and author of The Once and Future Worker: A Vision for the Renewal of Work in America, on "why conservatives need to challenge free-market economic orthodoxy." He doesn't say much about the Republican party (either the financiers or the rank-and-file), but does offer a bunch of dubious economic ideas. Some such rethinking is in order (although few ideas have fared worse than supply-side focus), but even if Trump loses badly, I don't see many Republicans (either rich or poor) taking the hint to rethink economic policy. Rather, they'll try to pin their loss on media focus on Trump's gaffes, limiting them as much as possible to Covid-19. Most importantly, the real power base behind the GOP -- which is Fox News -- will pivot to attack mode, and try to gin up another Tea Party, as they did in 2009. And once again, they'll do that not for tactical reasons but because they have to fill up 24/7 of air time, and outrage sells, and it doesn't matter to them if their market is a hopeless minority -- just so it's big enough to be profitable.

  • Andy Kroll: The plot against America: The GOP's plan to suppress the vote and sabotage the election.

  • Paul Krugman: Why do the rich have so much power?

  • Nancy LeTourneau: The pandemic is making Republican lawmakers much more vulnerable:

    All of that is happening as the news of a potential landslide in the 2020 election continues to build. There's been a lot of talk about how several incumbent Republican senators are extremely vulnerable in their quest for reelection. But today, the Cook Political Report made some changes to their House ratings -- with 20 seats moving towards the Democrats. . . .

    So when Greg Dworkin's friend suggested that this wasn't so much an election as a countdown, it resonated deeply. The hope that we can turn things around in a few months is palpable. But what will happen over those months is terrifying. The clock is ticking.

    Perhaps the saddest part of all of this is that it begs the question: "Why did it have to get this bad?" I'm sure that future historians will write volumes in an attempt to answer that question. But something is deeply wrong with our democratic republic when it takes a pandemic costing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans to get us to wake up and smell the stench emanating from the president and his congressional enablers.

  • Dahlia Lithwick: Mary Trump's book shows how Donald Trump gets away with it: "The problem with a fraud as big as this president is that once you start collaborating with him, it's impossible to get out." I must admit I'm enjoying the reviews of niece Mary Trump's book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man, not least because it seems so close and personal, even if the title could apply equally to nearly every silver-spooned baby boomer in the land. Lithwick writes:

    Donald Trump ogled his own niece in a bathing suit and sought to fill one of his books with hit lists of "ugly" women who had rebuffed him; Donald Trump paid someone to take his SATs; Maryanne Trump Barry, a retired federal appeals court judge, once described her brother as a "clown" with no principles; Donald Trump was a vicious bully even as a child; Freddy Trump -- the author's father -- died alone in a hospital while Donald went to a movie. The details are new, and graphic, yes, but very little about it is surprising: The president is a lifelong liar and cheater, propped up by a father who was as relentless in his need for success as Donald Trump was to earn his approval. . . .

    But as it became clear that Donald had no real business acumen -- as his Atlantic City casinos cratered and his father unlawfully poured secret funds into saving them -- Mary realized that Fred also depended on the glittery tabloid success at which Donald excelled. Fred continued to prop up his son's smoke-and-mirrors empire because, as Mary writes, "Fred had become so invested in the fantasy of Donald's success that he and Donald were inextricably linked. Facing reality would have required acknowledging his own responsibility, which he would never do. He had gone all in, and although any rational person would have folded, Fred was determined to double down." . . .

    And as Mary Trump is quick to observe, the sheer stuck-ness of his enablers means that Trump never, ever learns his lesson. Being cosseted, lied to, defended, and puffed up means that Donald Trump knows that, "no matter what happens, no matter how much damage he leaves in his wake, he will be OK." He fails up, in other words, because everyone around him, psychologically normal beings all, ends up so enmeshed with his delusions that they must do anything necessary to protect them. Trump's superpower isn't great vision or great leadership but rather that he is so tiny. Taking him on for transactional purposes may seem like not that big a deal at first, but the moment you put him in your pocket, you become his slave. It is impossible to escape his orbit without having to admit a spectacular failure in moral and strategic judgment, which almost no one can stomach. Donald Trump's emptiness is simply a mirror of the emptiness of everyone who propped him up.

    More:

  • German Lopez: Florida now has more Covid-19 cases than any other state. Here's what went wrong. "The percentage of positive tests is now nearly 19 percent," which means they're not testing enough (recommended maximum is 5 percent), not too much. More Covid-19 stories:

  • Nick Martin: Ivanka Trump and Lockheed Martin want you to reach for the stars and stop collecting unemployment. Actually, "find something new" isn't a totally stupid idea. It seems likely that the economy will eventually adapt to Covid-19 and look different than the one before the pandemic. As such, those who can shift their trajectories toward emerging careers will benefit both for themselves and for the future society. Extended unemployment compensation and benefits could help. But companies like Lockheed Martin are just trying to scam the program for themselves.

  • Dylan Matthews: Trump reduced fines for nursing homes that put residents at risk. Then Covid-19 happened.

  • Jane Mayer: How Trump is helping tycoons exploit the pandemic: "The secretive titan behind one of America's largest poultry companies, who is also one of the President's top donors, is ruthlessly leveraging the coronavirus crisis -- and his vast fortune -- to strip workers of protections."

  • Sara Morrison:

    • Lawmakers are very upset about this week's massive Twitter breach: Maybe because the folks who got hacked are rich and famous?

    • Everything you need to know about Palantir, the secretive company coming for all your data.

      Palantir is also controversial because its co-founder and board chair, Peter Thiel, is controversial. Thiel, who was one of Facebook's first outside investors and maintains a position on its board of directors, has seen his share of criticism over the years, but the libertarian billionaire really came into the public eye in 2016 when he revealed himself as the money behind Hulk Hogan's privacy lawsuit against Gawker (which would ultimately kill the site) and an early Trump supporter.

      As most of liberal Silicon Valley's big names publicly came out against Trump, Thiel was one of relatively few public figures who supported his candidacy. After speaking at the Republican National Convention, he gave the Trump campaign $1.25 million, and when Trump won the election, New York magazine said he was "poised to become a national villain." Thiel has been rewarded for his support: He was chosen to be a member of the president's transition team; in the early days of the Trump presidency, Politico dubbed Thiel "Donald Trump's 'shadow president' in Silicon Valley"; and Thiel's chief of staff and protégé, Michael Kratsios, served as the White House's chief technology officer from 2017 until this month, when he was named acting undersecretary for research and engineering at the Department of Defense.

      The article notes that "Palantir even sued the US Army in 2016 to force it to consider using its intelligence software after the Army chose to go with its own," and "won the suit, and then it won an $800 million contract."

  • Elie Mystal: The Trump administration is on a capital punishment killing spree: "After 17 years, attorney general Bill Barr has resumed federal executions -- and the conservative on the Supreme Court approve."

  • Terry Nguyen: Boycotts show us what matters to Americans.

  • Tina Nguyen: Trump keeps fighting a Confederate lag battle many supporters have conceded. I thought Nikki Haley made a courageous move in ditching the Confederate flag after a mass shooting in Charlestown while she was governor, but it became merely savvy when literally no one tried to save the flag. As a northerner whose ancestors came to the US well after the Civil War, you'd expect Trump to have even less interest in the Confederacy. But some polling here shows not only that a majority of Americans view the Confederate flag as a racist symbol, there is no significant difference between North and South -- but there is one between Republicans and Democrats.

  • John Nichols: Why the hell is the Supreme Court allowing a new poll tax to disenfranchise Florida voters?

  • Anna North: America's child care problem is an economic problem. Subhed bullet list:

    • More than 41 million workers have kids under 18. Almost all of them lost child care as a result of the pandemic.
    • In normal times, inadequate child care is the equivalent of a 5 percent pay cut for parents. Now it's much worse.
    • By late June, 13 percent of parents had cut back hours or quit their jobs
    • 80 percent of moms say they're handling the majority of homeschooling responsibilities in their families
    • And about 16 percent of parents are taking care of kids alone, without a partner
    • Add to that parents needing and looking for jobs: More than 11 percent of women are unemployed right now
    • Meanwhile, 40 percent of child care programs say they will have to close permanently without outside help
    • More than 250,000 child care workers have lost their jobs
    • When it comes to schools, the news is just as grim: At least 3 of the country's biggest school districts will be partially or fully remote in the fall
    • With fewer options for child care, parents could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars over their lifetime
    • Trump has offered zero solutios to solve the problem

    All originally in bold. Thought that would be too much clutter, but kept one that seemed to stand out.

  • JC Pan: In defense of free stuff during (and after) the pandemic: "The mass expansion of public goods is long past due, so pay people to say home, give them free health care, and stop charging tuition."

  • Alex Pareene: Throw the bums out: "We are in the midst of a world-historic failure of governance. Why isn't anyone in charge acting like they are responsible for it?" Picture is Andrew Cuomo, and his "three-dimensional foam mount repreenting the pandemic's toll on the state." I'm not one inclined to defend Cuomo, but I really doubt a random reshuffling of politicians would do us any good. There may be exceptions, but in damn near all of the country, there's a big difference between Republican and Democratic "bums."

  • Heather Digby Parton: Trump's unhinged Rose Garden campaign rally: His sideshow act is getting truly pathetic: "He can't hold rallies, so he forced the press corps to sit through one. Then he said Joe Biden will ban windows."

  • Kim Phillips-Fein: Rethinking the solution to New York's fiscal crisis.

  • Abraham Ratnet: Trumpism is an aesthetic, not an ideology -- and it will survive Donald Trump. I'm half convinced: ideology involves too much thinking for Trump followers. But at least I can imagine an ideology. I'm finding it much harder to come up with a Trump aesthetic. Sure, there's no great shortage of Trump kitsch, from his Goya pandering to his gold toilets, but is that really an aesthetic? I've long been wary of efforts to ideologize and/or aestheticize politics, not least because the Nazis and Fascists put so much effort into doing just that. (I don't like lumping them, but in this regard one could also include various Communist parties -- with Korea the most comprehensive.) But with Trump's followers, what you mostly get are Trilling's "irritable mental gestures" -- well, sometimes physical gestures as well. All they have is a psychology, and sure, that will survive Trump, not because Trump invented it but because Trump was as mired in it as they are. He never was the leader of a movement. He just caught the spotlight as the guy acting out most flagrantly.

  • David Roberts:

  • Michael Scherer/Josh Dawsey: From 'Sleepy Joe' to a destroyer of the 'American way of life,' Trump's attacks on Biden make a dystopian shift.

  • Jon Schwarz: Political correctness is destroying America! (Just not how you think.) What he means is that the right, and for that matter the center, work at least as hard at patrolling use of language among their followers. You don't have to spend much time watching Fox News to see that everyone in every time slot echo the same talking points, offering the same spin on and definition of events and ideas. The modern term for this is message discipline. The exclusive association of PC with the left goes back to the Leninist Communist Parties, where approved speech was deemed to be correct, and because correct implies fidelity to a higher authority, like nature or reality (or God or Party). The use in recent America has been far more haphazard, mostly as people have sought to avoid and deplore slurs, occasionally resorting to indirect or infelicitous phrases. This is contentious because parties on all sides understand that controlling the language used to define an issue often determines the outcome. But it also becomes pedantic when debates reduce issues to terminology -- itself a common, if unappealing, debate technique. Schwarz provides many examples of Republicans dictating their followers' speech, as well as a few where mainstream Democrats have joined them (e.g., deference to God and Country, to the military and the police). Still, I'm not sure that calling this PC is helpful. For example, insisting that climate change is a hoax is more properly propaganda, its message discipline enforced as dogma. It is in no sense of the word correct.

  • Dylan Scott:

  • Alex Shephard: Donald Trump Jr wages a culture war on the publishing industry: "He evidently believes that he can make more money self-publishing -- especially if he portrays the move as a rebuke of liberal elites." Trump has a new book, to be released during the Republican convention, Liberal Privilege: Joe Biden and the Democrat's Defense of the Indefensible (sic?).

  • David Sirota: Wall Street is deeply grateful for the Supreme Court's recent little-noticed ruling.

    Chief Justice John Roberts has created the most conservative court in modern history: In just the last few weeks, his court has helped financial firms bilk pension funds, strengthened fossil fuel companies' power to fast-track pipelines, limited the power of regulatory agencies that police Wall Street, and stealthily let Donald Trump hide his tax returns. As a reward for Roberts's continued defense of the wealthy and powerful, much of the national media has obediently depicted him as a great hero of moderation, because he sort of seemed to snub Trump in a handful of other rulings.

  • Roger Sollenberger: Fox News peddled misinformation about the coronavirus 253 times in five days. Well, that's what you get for counting.

  • Emily Stewart: The PPP worked how it was supposed to. That's the problem. "America's plan to save small business in the pandemic was flawed from the start."

  • Matthew Avery Sutton: The truth about Trump's evangelical support: Review of recent books on evangelical Christians: Kristin Kobes Du Mez: Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation; Sarah Posner: Unholy: Why White Evangelicals Worship at the Altar of Donald Trump; and Samuel L Perry/Andrew L Whitehead: Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States.

  • Derek Thompson: A lot of Americans are about to lose their homes: "The current housing crisis could get messy quickly, but fixing it shouldn't be complicated, if Congress intervenes."

  • Paul Waldman: If you aren't filled with rage at Trump, you aren't paying attention.

    Before the pandemic, Trump was one of the worst presidents in our history. But now he has laid waste to our country, with his unique combination of incompetence and malevolence -- and he's not done yet. Once we finally rid ourselves of him, it will take years to recover. But as we do, we should never for a moment forget what he was and what he did to us. And we should never stop being angry about it.

    Same thing could have been said about Bush in 2008, but Obama chose not to remind people of the wars and recession and environmental and climate degradation and collapsing infrastructure and education and increasing inequality he was to no small extent responsible for. He not only let people forget the perils of electing Republicans, he let them transfer blame to his own party and self, allowing Republicans to stage a resurgence which led to Trump in 2016.

  • Alex Ward:

  • Libby Watson: The Democrats' baffling silence as millions of Americans lose their health insurance: "Five million have lost coverage amid the pandemic -- a number that's expected to triple by year's end. But the party leadership isn't reacting as though it's a crisis."

  • Moira Weigel: The pioneers of the misinformation industry: Book review of Claire Bond Potter: Political Junkies: From Talk Radio to Twitter, How Alternative Media Hooked Us on Politics and Broke Our Democracy; and Matthew Lysiak: The Drudge Revolution: The Untold Story of How Talk Radio, Fox News, and a Gift Shop Clerk with an Internet Connection Took Down the Mainstream Media. "Potter, a professor at the New School, keeps a (mostly) neutral, academic distance from her subjects, while Lysiak has written a sympathetic biography that moves at the speed of a screenplay."

  • Erik Wemple: Tucker Carlson whitewashes the racism of his show and his former top writer.

  • Erica Werner/Jeff Stein: Trump administration pushing to block new money for testing, tracing and CDC in upcoming coronavirus relief bill. This seems beyond stupid. It's part of negotiations on a follow up to the CARES act, which expires at the end of the month (more on it below). Trump is also insisting on a payroll tax cut, which seems especially dumb given the more pressing needs of the unemployed, and "another round of stimulus checks" (same problem, plus until the virus is contained there won't be much economy to stimulate).

  • Richard D Wolfe: Why government mostly helps people who need it the least . . . even during a crisis. Mostly on the stock market, which the Fed and the Trump administration have struggled mightily to re-inflate after the panic in March, even though an overvalued stock market is useless to fighting the pandemic or even re-opening the economy. Trump thinks it makes him look good, and maybe it does to people who own a lot of stocks. The re-inflated stock market is a big part of the reason the share of wealth owned by billionaires has increased dramatically while virtually everyone else has suffered.

  • Matthew Yglesias:

  • Li Zhou: Congress is running out of time to extend expanded unemployment insurance. Also on CARES: