The Tyranny of Narratives in Journalism

I ran across Cowen’s talk recently, and I thought of this thread. I don’t have a lot of time now, but here’s a brief description of the thread. My sense is that journalists, and maybe more specifically publishers and editors, require news to occur within a narrative. Indeed, “stories” in the context of journalism is essentially synonymous with a newsworthy event or information. This is the reason I use the word tyranny. Must a narrative framework dominate the approach of journalists? What’s the downside and upside of that? Cowen touches on the downside–and he’s touching on many of the points I want to bring up. (I do want to push back on some of his points, too, though.)

Some Recent Thoughts on Liberals and Conservatives

Two books I’ve recently encountered (The Captive Mind and To the Finland Station) have got me thinking about the roots of liberalism. I don’t really have thoughts on the roots of conservatism (I wish I did), but I want to write some conclusions I’m arriving at with regard to American conservatism. In this thread, I want to jot these thoughts down, and use this space as a way of working out these ideas.

Musings on Bad Faith in Politics

“Hypocrisy” and “cynicism” are two adjectives used to describe actions of Republicans, particularly when they supported Trump. I tend to think those two words are inadequate. I like bad faith better, but the meaning seems a little vague to me. In this thread, I want to flesh out the meaning and think about term, versus alternatives, when discussing the modern day GOP and their leader.

Voter Fraud Vs. Voter Suppression

Voting and the integrity of our election are truly a critical part of our democracy, and the Democrats and Republicans have two competing narratives with regard to this topic. Democrats believe that Republicans want to suppress votes, particularly for people of color, as a primary way to gain or hold political power. Republicans, on the other hand, believe that voter fraud is a serious problem that poses a real threat to the integrity of our elections. Who’s right? That’s what I want to answer in this thread. Primarily, I want to collect evidence for both narratives. Now, I have already been reading about this topic, and let me say upfront that the evidence for voter fraud being a serious problem seems scant, while the evidence for voter suppression, in my view, seems far more compelling. Before I begin, I should acknowledge if one or both narratives proves true, they are legitimately serious problems–problems that would demand some corrective action.

“Our Entire Democracy is now at Risk. History will judge what we do at this moment.”

These are the closing words of a 100 scholars. Specifically, they find recent actions to make voting more difficult, by Republican controlled state legislature, alarming.

Statutory changes in large key electoral battleground states are dangerously politicizing the process of electoral administration, with Republican-controlled legislatures giving themselves the power to override electoral outcomes on unproven allegations should Democrats win more votes. They are seeking to restrict access to the ballot, the most basic principle underlying the right of all adult American citizens to participate in our democracy. They are also putting in place criminal sentences and fines meant to intimidate and scare away poll workers and nonpartisan administrators. State legislatures have advanced initiatives that curtail voting methods now preferred by Democratic-leaning constituencies, such as early voting and mail voting. Republican lawmakers have openly talked about ensuring the “purity” and “quality” of the vote, echoing arguments widely used across the Jim Crow South as reasons for restricting the Black vote.

These scholars urge Congress to act, passing laws to counter these efforts, even if it means suspending the filibuster. I’m wary of language like this, but I can’t dismiss these claims. I’m concerned; I don’t think we’re out of the woods, even though Trump is not in office. Here is Max Boot, former Republican Senator and Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, and former Republican Congresswoman, Barbara Comstock.

General McCaffery on General Flynn’s comments about coup in the U.S.:

Racism Against Asian-Americans

Has any been following the stories of violence and verbal attacks against Asian-Americans? Last night, I believe six Asian women (and two non-Asians) were shot and killed. I’m dismayed by these stories, hearing Asian-Americans express fear of going out and seeing these brutal attacks. Watching these things evokes an odd feeling, almost as if I’m watching a different country, as the reality here seems very different. Have you guys heard of similar stories happening in Hawai’i? By the way, I heard Trump last night on Fox News referred to the covid virus as the “China virus.” It’s still appalling that people who know better continue to support him. (I made myself watch the clip, just so that I can say I heard it myself.)

Continue reading “Racism Against Asian-Americans”

Suggestions to Make the Internet Better for Democracy

How to Put Out Democracy’s Dumpster Fire by Anne Applebaum and Peter Pomeratsev in the Atlantic is an article about the way the current nature of the internet, in general, and social media, specifically, are harmful, or even hostile, to democracy. The authors also recommend several specific suggestions to change this. The writers seem optimistic that their suggestion could actually significantly improve the internet, making it a more viable for democracy, if their recommendations are adopted (which is another matter).

I do believe improvements can be made to at least reduce the toxicity and dysfunction of the information and discussion space produced by the internet. But I do have some critiques of their recommendations.

I’ll go over these soon, but for now I recommend others to read this article.