BRIEFLY NOTED: For 2021-08-02 Mo
Things that went whizzing by that I want to remember...
A very nice look at what looks like a very nice book: Sheera Frenkel & Cecilia Kang: An Ugly Truth <https://books.google.com/?id=dZ60DwAAQBAJ>:
Claire Potter: Actually, Facebook Does Kill People: ‘Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang’s “An Ugly Truth” reveals why Mark Zuckerberg’s denials that Facebook is a Covid–19 conspiracy superspreader are laughable…. Frenkel and Kang add a new wrinkle to the story: the magic of Zukerberg’s partnership with Sheryl Sandberg.… Facebook was only ever about…: collecting your data, selling your data, and keeping users “engaged” so that they can… be shown targeted advertising and encouraged to give up more information…. Facebook became what Zuckerberg and Sandberg had always intended to be: a giant marketing machine posing as a real-life community. Is it any surprise, then, that the algorithms created to power this giant money-maker have also been a potent channel for marketing conspiracy theories, quack remedies, black market data sales, and right-wing disinformation campaigns?… Zuckerberg was genuinely shocked at the possibility that Facebook had played an integral role in throwing the election to Trump. But it was common knowledge among executives that the platform was being used during the 2016 campaign by foreign and domestic actors, and their hands were tied by a corporate culture that failed to differentiate between truth and lies, had no capacity to screen out malicious activity, and didn’t want to acknowledge that disinformation had a real-world impact…. Sheryl Sandberg comes off as a brilliant, ambitious, and ultimately amoral person, Mark Zuckerberg emerges as arrogant and closed-minded, cocooned in money, and bent on pushing technology as far as it can go, regardless of the consequences…. Researchers… between June and July 2021. They found that 25% of people who only got news from Facebook in the previous 24 hours say they won’t get vaccinated, putting it below only Newsmax (41%) and slightly above Fox (23%)…. Joe Biden was right the first time around: Facebook is killing people, and it has been killing people long before the Covid–19 pandemic. It is part of facebook’s DNA…
Adam Tooze: The Wages of Destruction <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_pZtzELV48>:
Dan Davies: Another Roaring 20S? We Need to Do Better Than That: ‘Over the course of the pandemic, we have done all the things with government spending that everyone had warned against, and the sky hasn’t fallen in. The Biden administration seems to have understood this; it’s on the verge of passing a $3.5tn (£2.5tn) spending package on infrastructure, healthcare and social security…. Now that every leading industrial country has had to run record deficits and finance them with quantitative easing, the genie is out of the bottle. The fear of interest rate rises has hobbled our ability to think through the problems we face…. If we are determined to navigate the present with help from the past, perhaps we should return not to the 1920s, but the period known in France as the trente glorieuses and in Germany as the Wirtschaftswunder (economic miracle)–the post–1945 flourishing that rebuilt the continent. During those years, people were asking a question that remains relevant today: if we could spend all that money on a war–or in our case a pandemic–why not invest to make society flourish? The last time policy was made on that basis, Europe enjoyed an economic miracle. The opportunity facing us shouldn’t be underestimated. If there is even a chance of opening up political space required to bring back full employment as a goal, and to regard rising wages as a sign of success rather than an ominous sign, then it should be grabbed with both hands…. For more than a decade now, the developed world has seen the growing wealth and security of older people set against the stagnation and increasing precarity of the younger generation. Politicians of the left have done well to the extent that they have confronted this trend, and badly to the extent that they have avoided it…. Only then will we ensure prosperity for all.
Jeet Heer: Is Trump’s Stranglehold on the GOP Weakening?s: ‘Trump’s support… [is] a matter of personal fealty…. We should be paying attention to the way an emerging cohort of party leaders at state level have gone out of their way to make displays of loyalty. As Politico reported in July: “In Oklahoma, the newly installed party chair is endorsing a primary challenge to GOP Sen. James Lankford, the home state incumbent who crossed Trump by voting to uphold results of the November election. In Michigan, the state party chair joked about assassinating two Republican House members who voted to impeach Trump. Arizona’s state chair accused Republican Gov. Doug Ducey of nothing less than killing people by restricting the use of hydroxychloroquine, a Trump obsession, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.”… Trump is carrying on as if he’s the head of a government in exile. That’s bad enough. The fact that enablers like Meadows are indulging Trump in this fantasy is even worse. A Trumpified GOP will remain a reality for the foreseeable future.
Kevin Drum: The Real Source of America’s Rising Rage: ‘So What’s Changed?… We need to look for things that (a) are politically salient and (b) have changed dramatically over the past two to three decades. The most obvious one is Fox News…. The recent battle over critical race theory is an instructive example of how all roads lead to Fox News. Turning a decades- old critical framework deployed mostly in grad school into the latest culture war… remained bubbling under the surface until early this year, when—facing flagging ratings and increased competition from the even more far-right outlets Newsmax and OAN—Fox suddenly decided to put it into heavy rotation. Starting in March, Fox mentioned CRT 1,300 times in the space of just three months…. Fox News is a grinding, daily cesspool of white grievance, mistrust of deep-state government, and a belief that liberals are literally trying to destroy the country out of sheer malice….. It is Fox News that has torched the American political system over the past two decades, and it is Fox News that we have to continue to fight.
Noah Smith: The Super-Scary Theory of the 21st Century: ‘The Scary Theory, therefore, holds that in addition to using their overbearing institutions to suppress social media, new authoritarian Great Powers like China will also be able to use emerging A.I. technology to achieve a level of totalitarian social control never before imagined except in dystopian novels. Whether technological totalitarianism makes,,, We don’t know yet. Which is why the Scary Theory of techno-authoritarian great power dominance is still just a speculative, scary idea. But it’s an idea that I have trouble getting out of my head. The more China goes from strength to strength while increasing its social control, and the more its democratic rivals seem to lapse into division and chaos, the more I worry. There is no law of the Universe saying that freedom and democracy and respect for individual rights always triumph in the end—or if there is such a law, we don’t know it yet. For all we know, the arc of history could bend in any direction at all. Anyway, just throwing that out there. Sleep tight, sweet dreams!
Matthew Yglesias: Why has Biden’s Bipartisanship Worked?: ‘The paradoxical strength of a weaker political positionMost political scientists, journalists, progressive activists, and Democratic Party staffers were deeply puzzled by Joe Biden’s repeated pledges during the 2020 campaign to bring a spirit of bipartisanship back to Washington. Speaking personally, I am cynical about politics and never had a problem with Biden saying that stuff, but I did worry that he might actually believe it and found it reassuring when he brushed Republicans aside and just wrote a partisan American Rescue Plan. And yet now Biden appears to be on the cusp of delivering a significant bipartisan infrastructure plan…. Obama was a lot more opinionated. Obama was quite open to compromise, and in some ways was willing to make bigger ideological concessions than Biden was. But he also had pretty specific ideas of what it was he was trying to accomplish. Indeed, just as liberals have complained for years that Obama would do too much to pre-compromise his proposals, something I hear from Republicans who worked on these processes is an annoyance that Obama would essentially tell them what he thought they should want out of a deal. And if you accept the premise that Republicans care about long-term deficits and the incentive effects of marginal tax rates, the grand bargain he was offering them was super-reasonable. It just turns out that they don’t, in fact, really care that much about that stuff. Compared to that, the BIF is a total mess conceptually… a true triumph of backroom dealmaking…. That’s the part where I think you should look if you want to credit Biden’s legislative experience or see the value of having a veteran lobbyist like Steve Richetti on the team. You don’t get a deal by being the smartest person in the room; you get a deal by making deals…. [Republican] reluctance to deal is driven more by sincere differences of opinion and less by a sense of a desperate need to treat everything like a fight to the death. The GOP has what they think is a viable road to victory, and that road doesn’t preclude them from passing a few bipartisan bills.
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