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Stuff You Should Consume - May 12, 2022
Welcome to this week’s edition of “Stuff You Should Consume.” ICYMI: I am going to donate a portion of the proceeds for every preorder to the Texas Library Association’s Whitten Intellectual Freedom Fund which is fighting efforts to ban books. Texas is ground zero in this fight and they need all the help we can give them.
Twelve Publishing has generously offered to match my donation for the next 1000 preorders. If you already pre-ordered the book (thank you!), I will donate from your purchase as well. If you would like a signed bookplate, you can upload your proof of purchase HERE.
“Get to Work. Get Informed. Get Brave” by Jill Filipovic
Things are bad and they are going to get worse — unimaginably worse. The anti-abortion movement in the US is a minority, but they are motivated, they are generously funded, and they have a stranglehold on the Republican Party and the Supreme Court, and so things are going to get bad in ways that the world hasn’t seen and feminists haven’t dreamed up
“The Limits of Privilege” by Rebecca Traister, New York Magazine
But as we teeter on the threshold of the post-Roe world, it’s worth considering that the message that privileged women will be just fine is inaccurate and that its repetition, while well meaning, is counterproductive to the task of readying an unprepared public for massive and terrifying shifts on the horizon. It’s worth pointing out that it is simply not true that the reproductive options of white, middle-class, and even wealthy people are going to remain the same. Because while circumstances will certainly be graver and more perilous for the already vulnerable, the reality is that everything is about to change, for everyone, in one way or another, and to muffle that alarm is an error, factually, practically, and politically.
“Why Being Anti-Science Is Now Part Of Many Rural Americans’ Identity” by Monica Potts, FiveThirtyEight
And now this attitude has become more entwined with partisanship and partisan politics. In a 2021 paper published in American Political Science Review, political scientists David C. Barker, Ryan Detamble and Morgan Marietta looked at Republicans’ growing distrust of scientists and other experts. Their research shows that partly due to the education divide — i.e., college graduates prefer the Democratic Party, and white people without a college degree prefer the Republican Party — the divide between those who are pro-intellectualism and those who are anti-intellectualism is more entrenched in party politics.
“Messaging Won’t Save Democrats; Community Might” by Micah Sifry
This rings true to me. Politics as it is practiced today, in the form of messaging wars on television and online, is just too far from most people’s lives. A well-made ad may “go viral” on social media and generate campaign cash, but there’s not much evidence voters pay much attention or get persuaded by paid media. Most political scientists agree that paid political ads have no discernible or lasting effect on voter choices, but most political consultants keep making and running them because candidates and donors believe they work (and the consultants get a big cut whether or not they do). So Lux’s conclusion from this finding really astonished me: He says Democrats are “going to need a lot more to win this year than campaign ads: we need to build community.”
“The Dark Truth Behind the SCOTUS Ruling” by Peter Hamby, Puck
The grim truth for Democrats is that it took the American right more than four decades to accumulate the power finally wielded by Alito this year. His opinion—in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization—was a response to a 2018 Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks, a restriction passed by a Republican legislature and signed by a Republican governor with full knowledge that it would be challenged by abortion rights lawyers, and ultimately climb its way up the judicial ladder until it landed in the laps of five conservative Supreme Court justices who were warriors in the long right-wing vendetta against Roe.
It took a very, very long time for the American right to build that architecture. They created policy groups to deliver white papers to state legislators. They formed judicial societies to cultivate legal minds, from which friendly Republican politicians could pluck nominees. They were shameless about gerrymandering state legislative districts in their favor. They incubated a conservative media ecosystem that long predated Facebook and Fox News. And now, Republicans have a chokehold on the federal judiciary, 28 Republican governors, and full G.O.P. control of 30 of the country’s state legislatures.
“The Smash-and-Grab Economy” by Hannah Levintova, Mother Jones
In the popular imagination, private equity is often portrayed as a vulture, or some other scavenger that feasts on the sick and dying. Gross but unavoidable. But the bulk of the work done by modern-day private equity firms is not to finish off sick companies, but rather to stalk and gut the healthy ones. This type of predation is the result of 50 years of policies that have prioritized the profit-making of a few over the wellbeing of many: a corporate world that grew accustomed to valuing shareholders over everyone else, a penchant for siding with executives over unions, and a legislative establishment loath to enact strict regulations on the financiers whose donations fuel their campaigns. In short, a toxic soup of regulatory inertia and corporate greed.