Command+F: 12/08/2016

Everything worth reading for Thursday, December 8.


Trump and related

Larry Lessig says his new effort, which he calls “The Electors Trust,” will provide free counsel to electors.

Pruitt, the Republican attorney general for Oklahoma since 2011, has interacted most directly with the EPA by suing it over what he sees as over-reaching federal regulations. Some scientists have also questioned his fitness to run the environmental agency considering he has publicly stated that he believes the debate over the cause of global warming is “far from settled.”

First, Trump blasted an Indiana union boss personally on Twitter, prompting a blistering response from labor leaders. Then he announced his choice for secretary of the Department of Labor is fast-food executive Andrew Puzder, a union critic who’s even floated the idea of automating his restaurants to avoid worker costs.

“This is about the opposite of what Trump promised he was going to do when he said he was going to be the president for the working class. This pick is about pulverizing the working class.” — Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers

“I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American.” — Andrew Puzder

Mr. Puzder has spent his career in the private sector and has opposed efforts to expand eligibility for overtime pay, while arguing that large minimum wage increases hurt small businesses and lead to job loss among low-skilled workers.


[M]ore than 800 Earth science and energy experts in 46 states have signed an open letter to Donald Trump, urging him to take six key steps to address climate change to help protect “America’s economy, national security, and public health and safety.”

Publicly acknowledge that climate change is a real, human-caused, and urgent threat. If not, you will become the only government leader in the world to deny climate science. Your position will be at odds with virtually all climate scientists, most economists, military experts, fossil fuel companies and other business leaders, and the two-thirds of Americans worried about this issue.

On Sunday, protesters in North Dakota celebrated as news that the Army Corps of Engineers would not be granting a necessary permit for the Dakota Access pipeline spread.

The next day, North Dakota’s State Health Department spill investigation team was dispatched to the western part of the state — about 200 miles from the protest camps at Standing Rock — to contain a crude oil spill from a different pipeline.

[T]he bulk of the planet’s technosphere is staggering in scale, with some 30 trillion tons representing a mass of more than 50 kilos for every square metre of the Earth’s surface…

Professor Williams said: “The technosphere can be said to have budded off the biosphere and arguably is now at least partly parasitic on it. At its current scale the technosphere is a major new phenomenon of this planet — and one that is evolving extraordinarily rapidly.

On (the) Media

At this point, no one can stop right-wing nuts from attaching fake news as an epithet to every CNN report that bothers them. But there may still be time for the reality-based community to find enough common ground to tackle the original problem. If we can’t collectively find a way to counter misinformation so egregious that even its authors admit it’s a hoax, the outlook for the media — and the truth — in the Trump era is bleak indeed.

An overview of the science on need for cognition shows that lower levels of this individual difference lend one to be influenced easily by short messages or strong images, engage in biased thinking and partisan news sources, and fall victim to other ill sources of information. They can also become overwhelmed by complicated, layered information, instead favoring mental shortcuts to make decisions. So what’s the harm? In short, the strong potential for bad decisions. Low need for cognition can lead down paths of following stronger personalities (see below), contributing to prejudice and interpersonal conflict, and, at worst, serving as a precursor to some of the most tragic human rights issues in modern history. Don’t think? Then don’t expect the best to happen for you or society!

-Robert J. Cramer, Associate Professor of Community & Environmental Health at Old Dominion University

That one time Rick Santorum told a dreamer to go back to her country and come back later (spoiler: if you were raised in the U.S., then it is your country).

Media Matters will now focus their efforts on grappling with misinformation, where it comes from, and how it spreads. These new efforts will include new staff and a focus on technology, bringing in experts to build in-house software to help track conspiracy theories and misinformation.


Noam Chomsky and Harry Belafonte spoke at the Democracy Now! 20th Anniversary event Monday night. The whole broadcast is worth watching if you have the time.

One pivot I’m encouraging is for people to think about strategic alignment between progressives, liberals and the radical left when necessary and possible. This will not be applicable to all issues but may apply most to potential campaigns, issues and strategies where the stakes are so high that we need to create multipronged strategic alliances. Whether we’re talking about the Muslim registry or the elimination of the Affordable Care Act, we need to be thinking about how we can simultaneously create local and state policies to prevent and/or undermine local and state government participation, and coordinate that work with civil disobedience, direct action and strategic communications. In these times, we need to examine the possibility of using public policy to increase our reach and power, and to support our survival.

A review by The New York Times of tens of thousands of disciplinary cases against inmates in 2015, hundreds of pages of internal reports and three years of parole decisions found that racial disparities were embedded in the prison experience in New York…

In most prisons, blacks and Latinos were disciplined at higher rates than whites — in some cases twice as often, the analysis found. They were also sent to solitary confinement more frequently and for longer durations. At Clinton, a prison near the Canadian border where only one of the 998 guards is African-American, black inmates were nearly four times as likely to be sent to isolation as whites, and they were held there for an average of 125 days, compared with 90 days for whites.

But there is a point where it becomes too much, a kind of roar of opinions and fears that does not truly stir us to action or make us more aware. There is a danger to unfettered catastrophizing, which will sap our energy and distract and drain us. On social media and elsewhere, our attention has been monetized, not figuratively but literally, to a personally and societally harmful degree. We are fully in danger of succumbing to the rope-a-dope of the outrage machine. If we aren’t careful, we’ll punch ourselves out by Inauguration…

The role of poetry in our time of crisis is the same as always: to preserve our minds and language, so we may be strong for whatever is to come. And also, to preserve the possibility of mutual understanding, not by arguing for it, but by demonstrating it.

“The explanation for Byrd Park says that the area is yellow because negroes- that’s the term they used for African Americans- travel back and forth to get to Byrd Park. And because the school is in Randolph, the African American neighborhood, and for that reason, losses on property are being taken. It’s explicit acknowledgment that it’s not just the presence of African Americans as neighbors that negatively affects these assessments from HOLC’s perspective, it’s even the proximity of African Americans. Not just as residents, but as pedestrians.” — Robert Nelson

“Jackson Ward was the single largest African American neighborhood in Richmond and it was a separate city together. It had its own economy. There were several Black-owned banks, there were department stores, law firms, insurance companies, and by the same token you had skilled labor and poor Blacks but they all lived in the same neighborhood.” — John Moeser

Liberty University announced that it had hired Ian McCaw, a “godly man of excellent character,” as its athletic director…

McCaw is well acquainted with Christian athletics. In May, he left his job as the athletic director at Baylor, another eminent Christian university. His departure followed a devastating investigation that found that the leaders of the football team and the athletic department had looked away when told of multiple gang rapes and sexual assault.

Note: If you enjoy anything in this post, especially if its from an article, please click the link — even if you don’t (intend to) read the whole thing — to at least give the author/source the page view.

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