Farewell to P.J. O’Rourke, America’s Only (Semi-)Funny Conservative — Jon Schwarz at the Intercept: The conservative writer P.J. O’Rourke, author of 20 books, died on Tuesday at age 74. For decades O’Rourke appeared constantly on television and radio shows because they always needed someone both right-wing and funny, and he was the only such person available. […] if we’re being honest — and O’Rourke would probably say we should be, even the day after he died — we should acknowledge that his prominence was fundamentally due to him being graded on a curve. Conservatism has never lent itself to being funny and never will. Saying “This is as good as humans can manage so let’s never change the structure of power” will generally only make the powerful laugh. But the “liberal” media had to book someone like him, and there he was.
Sandy Hook, Uvalde and the Exploitation of American Paranoia — Micah Sifry: A 2013 poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University found that a quarter of all Americans thought that the facts about Sandy Hook were being hidden, and an additional 11 percent were unsure. Joe Uscinski, a University of Miami political science professor who studies conspiracy theories, tells Williamson that according to his research, as of 2020, one-fifth of all Americans believed that every school shooting was faked. And not just school shootings; Uscinski says virtually all high-profile mass shootings draw this level of doubt. As a Politifact article on the ongoing skepticism about mass shootings points out, “Search queries for the term ‘false flag’ over the past five years have spiked during mass shootings, including those at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs (November 2015) and the Pulse nightclub in Orlando (June 2016). Interest peaked during the week of the Las Vegas shooting in October 2017, which inspired widespread false flag conspiracies. And searches for the term shot up again after the El Paso and Dayton attacks.” One out of every five of us is living in another reality, where mass shootings can’t be real.
“Prove to the World You’ve Lost Your Son”: How a Tulsa grandmother became a vicious Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist—in her own words — Elizabeth Williamson in Slate: Joe Uscinski, the political science professor, said that in most research, partisanship and ideology are less predictive of conspiratorial beliefs than are “dark personality traits.” People who embrace and defend “antisocial” conspiracy theories like Sandy Hook and QAnon often exhibit traits that psychologists call the “Dark Triad”: narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism, meaning the willingness to manipulate others to gain a certain result. Once isolated, now they bond online, deriving enhanced status and self-esteem as social media rewards them with likes, shares, and more conspiracy content. The survival of these virtual communities depends on their members’ defending these falsehoods, sometimes with confrontation and violence.
The year Australian progressives abandoned the national commitment to full employment — Bill Mitchell: At present, the unemployment rate in Australia is 4.2 per cent and falling. If the rate of new immigrants remains low for a while as our external borders open, then it is likely the unemployment rate will fall into the 3 per cent range soon. What people are learning is that the claims made by mainstream economists that full employment was anything between 5 and 8 per cent (at various times to suit their arguments) was a lie. It just suited their ideological agenda and flawed theoretical framework to maintain that narrative. Of course, underemployment is still very high, which means that even if the unemployment rate falls further, we are still a way from being at full employment. But with prices accelerating at present, we are seeing calls for government to pursue an austerity fiscal approach, which would prevent the unemployment rate falling further. We have been here before. Today, I document a major turning point in Australian politics, when the Labor government became the first to abandon the national government’s commitment to full employment, a policy approach that had defined the post Second World War period of prosperity. So … back to 1974 we go.
The Neoliberal War on Dissent in the West — Glenn Greenwald: This last decade of history is crucial to understand the dissent-eliminating framework that has been constructed and implemented in the West. This framework has culminated, thus far, with the stunning multi-pronged attacks on Canadian truckers by the Trudeau government. But it has been a long time in the making, and it is inevitable that it will find still-more extreme expressions. It is, after all, based in the central recognition that there is mass, widespread anger and even hatred toward the neoliberal ruling class throughout the West. Trump, Brexit and the rise of far-right parties in places where their empowerment was previously unthinkable — including Germany and France — is unmistakable proof of that. Rather than sacrifice some of the benefits of inequality that have generated much of that rage or placate or appease it with symbolic concessions, Western neoliberal elites have instead opted for force, a system that crushes all forms of dissent as soon as they emerge in anything resembling an effective, meaningful or potent form.
Putin’s Century of Betrayal speech — Branko Milanovic: Vladimir Putin’s speech on 21 February 2022 at the occasion of the recognition of Donbas and Lugansk republics is one of the most extraordinary political speeches of the present time. It consists of more than 6,000 words, and it was delivered over 55 minutes without the help of a single piece of paper or without a single hesitation. To the extent that one can judge there was no teleprompter either. It is a speech that lays bare, and intends to do so, Putin’s own philosophy of history. It covers the past one hundred years of Russia’s history. It gives one, not unreasonable, but very narrow version of that history, where historical events with multiple causes and multiple meanings are simplified to a single cause and single meaning. It is a form of “J’accuse” speech that tells, according to Putin, a story of a century of betrayals of Russia: by Communists, by Russia’s own elites, and by Russia’s pretended friends.