I thought this was an interesting post by Bret Devereaux on how the U.S. is not remotely a traditional nation-state, in the sense that Americans have neither a common myth of ethnic origins, nor a common particular territory stretching back hundreds of years, nor a common understanding of history. "It is not a nation-state, nor is it a multi-national state, but rather a de-nationalized state. It is the un-nation," he writes. I think insofar as there is anything worth praising in the American project, it is the idea of an egalitarian, universalist democratic republic that is open to all, instead of the homeland of some particular narrow group. Of course it has never actually lived up to this idea, or even got very close to it, but it's a decent goal. Anyway hope folks are having a nice holiday!
Always a good time to pre-order this here book, by the way.
This week's content: First I talk about the various ongoing climate disasters and the fact that – as a recent sting operation from Greenpeace reveals – a relative handful of specific people are overwhelmingly at fault:
All Americans are implicated in climate change to some degree. As a country, the U.S. has for decades contributed several times the global average of per capita emissions. But a relative handful of people — principally corporate executives at large fossil fuel companies, their major shareholders, company apparatchiks who hand bribes to politicians, and those that accept those bribes — bear the overwhelming majority of the responsibility. Their amoral greed is directly implicated in the climate disasters that are killing thousands of people already, and will soon be killing millions.
Speaking of people who are in bed with ExxonMobil, Joe Manchin's notion of what is "responsible" is nuts:
Behold the culture of moderate members of Congress, where the most powerful senator moves heaven and earth solely to pay lip service to a norm of bipartisan lawmaking that is objectively pointless, and in any case hasn't been actually respected by both sides in 20 years.
Then I covered the recent Supreme Court decision holding that oligarchs should (probably) be allowed to buy the government in secret:
The only positive thing about this case — and the other big decision from this week, in which the court cored out most of the remaining shreds of the Voting Rights Act — is that it illustrates the stakes. These decisions are totally illegitimate. Not only does Justice Neil Gorsuch hold a seat that was unconstitutionally stolen from President Obama, and not only were he, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett nominated by a president that lost the popular vote and confirmed by a Senate majority representing a minority of the American people, the Constitution does not actually give the Supreme Court the power to overturn laws. Judicial review was invented out of thin air in Marbury vs. Madison, and for almost its entire history it has been used to enshrine slavery, racism, Jim Crow apartheid, corporate tyranny, and other horrific doctrines.
I also covered Bill Cosby getting released from prison on a technicality:
If you're a regular working stiff in this country accused of a crime, it's a safe bet that you will get the absolute bare minimum of due process. And there's a good chance you will get railroaded directly into prison by prosecutors stacking up as many charges as they can, forcing you to take a plea bargain out of fear. In the unlikely event you go to trial, it will likely be a charade, clumsily going through the legal motions before you get put away.
Finally, a piece on how the anti-anti-racism fanatics are attempting to recreate the McCarthyite frenzy:
No, the Second Red Scare, in which McCarthy was the central figure, was a campaign of illiberal political repression with two goals. First, smear the Democratic Party as being soft on communism, and second, purge anyone with lefty opinions on race, gender, homosexuality, foreign policy, or economic equality from public life — especially women.
Next week I'm going to Alabama for a bit of a vacation, but I'll still be working a couple days so I'll likely still sneak in a quick newsletter. Stay cool out there, and don't follow the LAPD's fireworks handling example.