Quick hits (part I)

1) Some of the last victims (i.e., the heinously, wrongly accused) of the Satanic day care scare of the 80’s and 90’s are finally exonerated and getting paid millions.  Not enough. I’d be far happier with some of the legal professionals responsible for this travesty facing some accountability.

2) On a related note, I just finished reading Dan Chaon’s terrific novel, Ill Will, in which a false accusation of a ritual Satanic murder plays a central role.  It was excellent, but Chaon’s Await Your Reply was even better.

3) A woman was awarded over $400 million by a jury that agreed talcum powder caused her ovarian cancer.  This, despite the fact that the American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute believe that any link ranges from non-existent to small.   Who needs science?  Not our legal system.

4) Loved this article on all the ways Indiana Jones would actually have died were he in a nearby refrigerator for a nuclear blast.

5) I had not really appreciated just how remarkable Roger Federer’s career resurgence had been till I read this great feature.

6) You will not be surprised to learn I score low on Social Dominance Orientation.  Trump and Neo-Nazis, on the other hand…

7) Haven’t had time to fully digest the utterly deplorable Arpaio pardon yet, but the NYT Editorial is a good start:

The Constitution gives the president nearly unlimited power to grant clemency to people convicted of federal offenses, so Mr. Trump can pardon Mr. Arpaio. But Mr. Arpaio was an elected official who defied a federal court’s order that he stop violating people’s constitutional rights. He was found in contempt of that court. By pardoning him, Mr. Trump would show his contempt for the American court system and its only means of enforcing the law, since he would be sending a message to other officials that they may flout court orders also.

Mr. Arpaio could not be less deserving of mercy. In addition to the dragnets of Hispanic-looking people that ultimately led to his contempt conviction, he racked up a record of harassment, neglect, mistreatment and other flagrant abuses of office that should have ended his career years ago.

8) On the “last great newspaper war” between the Post and the Times.  Winner?  All of us.

9) Drum on statue creep:

This is a quick note to New York City mayor Bill DeBlasio and everyone else: don’t tear down any statues of Christopher Columbus. Ditto for George Washington, the Puritans, George Custer, or anyone else you can think of who might be problematic. Just don’t.

At the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, this stuff plays into the hands of the Trumpies. The whole “Who’s next?” meme is an almost childishly transparent attempt to distract attention from Confederate statues; build support among moderates; and sow division among liberals. Don’t play the game. The answer to every question about statues is: I don’t know. Let’s tear down the memorials to Confederates who fought a war in defense of slavery, and then we can decide later if we ought to do anything more. OK?

That’s it. Easy peasy. We have a moment right now when we might be able to get some low-hanging fruit and make a difference. Let’s not screw it up by thinking it’s also a chance to redress every historical offense that Howard Zinn ever taught us.

9) Likewise, I entirely endorse MB’s sentiments on the idea of removing a Columbus status in Buffalo:

Is there any political/ideological group that is better at winning a battle but losing the war? Do these do-gooder, hyper-sensitive, ahistorical, and politically tone-deaf uber-liberals have any judgment whatsoever? Why not remove every statue or memorial that depicts a man since they all represent patriarchal societies that oppressed women? The impact of this type of petition is to make people like me angry about being lumped together with Nazi/racist/white supremacists because I am not sufficiently offended by a statue of Columbus to demand its removal. And people wonder how “political correctness” gets such as bad reputation.

10) Mike Pesca was also great on the statue issue in his “spiel” during his Gist podcast.  (The sexual assault conversation that was the main feature of the podcast is also worth a hearty recommendation).

11) I like to think I’m a good feminist and fully embrace women’s equality.  But is it so wrong to have different pronouns for males and females?  We really are different in some ways.  In Sweden, the answer to that question is, increasingly, “yes.”

12) A study from Texas suggests that ballot order matters to a disturbing degree.  It is, of course, so easy to rotate the order of names– nothing else should be acceptable.

13) Okay, back to the “how extreme liberals ruin it for everybody” theme.  ACLU tweets out a photo of an adorable toddler wearing an ACLU onesie and holding a flag and gets raked over the coals on twitter.  Well, the toddler was white and blonde, so clearly an act of white supremacy.  Yes, seriously.  Just sad reading the comments.  A lot of people thought this was in poor taste because the ACLU is all about defending neo-nazis these days.  They are not!  The ACLU is about defending free speech damn it.  The whole point is that you don’t get to pick and choose whose speech we can hear and whose we cannot (the damn neo nazis make it more complicated with Virginia’s open carry, etc., but that’s a different, yet related, issue).  Alas, many on the left increasingly think that the ACLU should only defend free speech for some.

14) The rather copious evidence that Exxon quite intentionally tried to mislead the public on climate change.

15) I really enjoyed this effort to follow-up on just how much the eclipse affected tourism in cities within the zone of totality.

 

 

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

2 Responses to Quick hits (part I)

  1. Nicole K. says:

    14) It’s getting a bit dated, now but “Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power” By Steve Coll provides a quite extensive and very interesting history of just how extensive their role in climate denial actually was. They spared no expense on funding climate denial, junk science, and waging a PR war against climate scientists. Most of the activity reached its peak in the late 90’s. When Rex Tillerson (now Secretary of State) took over he significantly scaled back many of their more aggressive efforts and significantly moderated their position.

    It’s pretty clear why they were motivated to put so much money into undermining climate science. They were/are the largest American oil company, and they were under tremendous pressure to constantly replenish their access to exploitable oil reserves. This was well before fracking caused such a huge change in the landscape of what was available, so they saw anything that limited their ability to replenish their reserve capacity as an existential threat to the future viability of the company.

    I’m not saying that what they did was “right” per se. But the science wasn’t really settled beyond a reasonable doubt until early in the 2000s.

  2. R. Jenrette says:

    #7 Since Joe Arpaio served six terms as sheriff of Maricopa County, isn’t it obvious that he’s not the only one who should be held accountable? The good voters who elected him to six terms as sheriff despite his well publicized indifference to the Constitution and there needs to be some self examination among them.
    Sheriff Joe accepted the pardon and in doing so admitted guilt per the legal experts I have heard.
    Can his voters be any less guilty?

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