The Monday Morning Teaser

I’m back home again in the eastern time zone, operating on my usual schedule.

Last week I linked to some other people’s responses to the Bret Stephens’ NYT column “Climate of Complete Certainty“, in which he denounced environmental activists for making claims beyond what the underlying science justifies, but oddly named no environmental activists and specified no unjustified claims. That left his critics in the odd position of feeling like they needed to argue, but not really knowing what to argue against.

This week it dawned on me how to understand that column: as an illustration of Jason Stanley’s model of propaganda. The best propaganda, Stanley argues, doesn’t lie; it just activates false ideas that are already sitting in the minds of its target audience. I reviewed Stanley’s book How Propaganda Works a couple years ago, but his ideas are worth looking at again now that we have such an excellent current example. So the featured post this week will be “Climate of Propaganda” and should be out before 8 EDT.

A second post is a short note that outgrew its space, on the odd ceremony at the White House Thursday celebrating Trump’s executive order defending “religious liberty”, i.e., the one that is supposed to end the persecution of Christians by the IRS and other federal agencies. Since that persecution doesn’t exist, and since the order stopped well short of the unconstitutional things Trump had promised (like ending enforcement of LGBT rights), the religious leaders attending Trump’s ceremony were actually celebrating the fact that the conman they support has conned them. I’ll describe that scene in “Much Ado About Religious Liberty”, which should appear around 9.

The weekly summary has some important news to cover: France decided not to go fascist, raising the possibility that the Trump election was the peak of the global fascist momentum. The House passed TrumpCare, and House Republicans celebrated at the White House as if it had become law. One House Republican told a town hall meeting “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.” I think we’ll hear that line a lot in the 2018 campaign, so I’ll examine the evidence against it. New Orleans is having a divisive and potentially violent argument about removing Confederate statues. There’s some other stuff, and I’m still looking for a closing. So that probably appears between 11 and 12.

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