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Donald Trump is defeated -- but Trumpism is more alive than ever

Back in 2016, I attended a debate watch party in San Jose hosted by the Santa Clara County Republican Party. The event was hosted at a Round Table Pizza — the kind of uninspiring corporate pizza chain that was almost too apt for the Bay Area's blandest political demographic. As infiltrators, my girlfriend and I pretended to be fellow Republicans, though we didn't actively try to goad anyone on their views as Sacha Baron Cohen might have. I was just there to write a story about the pro-Trump locals, to try to better understand who exactly these people were who lived among us in the ultra-liberal Bay Area.

At that point in 2016, Trump and his supporters were a poorly understood phenomenon, and Trump still seemed likely to lose the general election. I was not a Hillary Clinton supporter, nor a Democrat — I was far to the left of them — which gave me something of an outsiders' perspective. I considered Clinton a glaringly weak candidate, but still she seemed to have a far more organized operation than an undisciplined outsider like Donald Trump. Even back then, he clearly seemed to suffer from a personality disorder, which I assumed (wrongly) would be an impediment towards victory.

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Here's how America's oligarchs are 'cashing in' on the pandemic

Robert Reich is probably the most outspoken former secretary of labor. I mean, have any others become a household name, with an outsize presence on progressive news and social media sites to match? (Okay, maybe Frances Perkins.) This is all to say that the career trajectory of Mr. Reich, who was Clinton's labor secretary from 1993 to 1997, is more unusual than the average elder statesman. Rather than settle into a comfortable retirement, Reich has spent the past 23 years as an engaged activist, writing and speaking publicly about income inequality in the United States. That issue, Reich argues forcefully, is the singular thread that devolves all other aspects of our democracy; nearly every ill, from police violence to the rise of the far-right to the ascension of Trump, stem from the starkly unequal economic situation we find ourselves trapped in.

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What it feels like to survive COVID-19’s dreaded 'cytokine storm'

Of all the possible compounding effects of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, the cytokine storm is one of the most feared. An immune system overreaction in which the body is flooded with the eponymous signaling molecules, those who suffer a cytokine storm are at risk of dying at the hand of their own immune system, as an indirect effect of the virus they are fighting.

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There is hard data that shows 'Bernie Bros' are a myth

Mainstream pundits and politicians continue to obsess over the stereotype of the "Bernie Bro," a perfervid horde of Bernie Sanders supporters who supposedly stop at nothing to harass his opponents online. Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton and New York Times columnist Bret Stephens have all helped perpetuate the idea that Sanders' supporters are somehow uniquely cruel, despite Sanders' platform and policy proposal being the most humane of all the candidates.

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First lesson of the Iowa meltdown: Don’t entrust democracy to the techies

A few years ago, I was living in San Francisco and working on a local political organizing campaign as part of a national political advocacy group. Given that we were in the Bay Area, the local chapter of this advocacy group comprised a lot of well-meaning young people who worked in tech. So a group of them had decided that the best way to do political organizing was to put those tech skills to use.

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'Our chances of ever exiting the nightmare are shrinking': Paul Krugman explains how the GOP is getting worse

It is a great detriment to civil discourse that the divide between left and right in the United States is often depicted as being purely cultural — as if one’s politics were solely mediated by aesthetics, such as whether one prefers shooting guns or drinking lattes. This fabulist understanding of politics is harmful inasmuch as it masks the real social effects of the policy agendas pushed by left versus right. Seeing politics as aesthetic transforms what should be a quantitative debate — with statistics and numbers about taxation and public policy, questions of who benefits more or less from policy changes — and devolves it into a rhetorical debate over values.

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'Blue Lives Mickey': What the worst t-shirt in the world says about America

I had been in the Magic Kingdom for all of 15 minutes when I saw it out of the corner of my eye: the shirt. The worst shirt in the world, likely.

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The wives of the Internet don’t approve: Meet the 'anti-wife guy' -- whose man-child identity stems from living in opposition to his humorless wife

If you live in the Anglophone world and use the internet, you may already be familiar with /r/funny. With 27.3 million subscribers, /r/funny — pronounced  “R slash funny” when spoken aloud — ranks as the most popular subreddit, the neologism to refer to topical forums on the eponymous link aggregation site. Like nearly all subreddits, /r/funny operates on the principle of social Darwinism: people post things that they believe are funny — and which adhere to the lengthy and somewhat contradictory list of moderator rules that run along the side of the site — and account-bearing users then vote on what they like. Those posts then rise to the top of the subreddit.

Hence, one scrolling to the /r/funny homepage this morning would see a webcomic by Little Porpoise about an anthropomorphic human heart wielding a knife; a visual pun on the word “telekinesis”; and a prank video filmed by a man tricking his mother into sitting on an air horn. All of these were, per Reddit's userbase, voted to be the most funny posts of the moment.

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Capitalism created the post-truth society -- and that may be its undoing

No economic system has lasted forever. And I imagine that some day, when historians are studying the rise and fall of capitalism, they might look back at Glenn Beck's 2010 Earth Day meltdown as a seminal moment  — an exemplar for how capitalism created the post-truth society that seems destined to doom its ability to function.

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The rich live much longer than the rest of us -- and there's only one bold proposal that can fix that

Perhaps the foremost horror of living in the neoliberal political epoch is capitulating to the myriad ways that it has devolved discourse. Now, all realms of life —  social, cultural, and environmental — have been infused with the soulless rhetoric of economic efficiency. We are accustomed to hearing our peers discuss their personal brand, as though we were corporations, or one’s follower count, as though it implies hierarchy and economic power (and it does). Neoliberal culture perpetuates the right-wing myth that one’s ability to “hustle” and one’s ability to survive are correlated; the same goes for the canard that the wealthy earned or deserve their wealth, and those who do not chase wealth are unworthy, or deserve their penury.

In the American debate over the right to universal healthcare, we see this rhetorical devolution reach its true potential. Every Democratic presidential candidate has an opinion about healthcare and how it is doled out; but all of them, save Bernie Sanders, are steadfast in their belief that health care should remain a market commodity, as if it were a tradable economic good on par with chocolate bars or Tickle-Me-Elmos.

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A stray tweet from an MSNBC journo epitomizes how elite pundits informally coordinate their anti-Sanders rhetoric

Bernie Sanders supporters are not paranoid to suspect that there is a conspiracy to prevent him from getting the presidential nomination. Indeed, given the existential threat that his politics pose for the rich and powerful, the Democratic Party elite and their wealthy donors seem downright terrified of his redistributive policy platform. Hence, many large media outlets and the elite pundit class have, often subtly, allied themselves against him.

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Here's why Jeffrey Epstein surrounded himself with scientists

The list of confidants and friends who were fêted by the late financier and alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein included a number of prominent scientists. Among the eye-popping names that appeared on the list: the late cosmologist Stephen Hawking, Nobel-winning physicist Murray Gell-Mann, evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould, physicist Frank Wilczek, neurologist Oliver Sacks, and geneticist George M. Church.

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Marianne Williamson and Silicon Valley are the dead ends of the Hippie Era

There are no hippies on Haight Street anymore. Along the eponymous road in the storied San Francisco neighborhood, arguable birthplace of the counterculture movement, tourist shops hawk tie-dye memorabilia to commemorate hippie culture, music and style. Yet aside from physical tchotchkes, the spirit of the 1960s no longer permeates the Haight: gone are the grinning, barefoot peaceniks, as are the free clinic and the Diggers. In their place? Aggrieved, techie millionaire property-owners whose primary spiritual tenets are not free love but property values.

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Earth's robber-barons are salivating over bringing authoritarian capitalism to space

Imagine, for a moment, that the Axis had won World War II. In this nightmare scenario, the Germans and their fascist allies would rule much of the world's nations by proxy, relaxing into the easy chair of hegemony. It seems probable that the Third Reich would have put a satellite into orbit in fairly short order, followed, perhaps, by a man into space, and likely a man on the moon.

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Beto O’Rourke’s ‘war tax’ policy proposal is straight out of ‘Starship Troopers’

Amid an overcrowded Democratic presidential candidate field, it's hard to distinguish yourself from the pack if you don't slot easily into the scale that runs from "pro-corporate centrist" to "left-populist." If you're former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke —  who falls somewhere in the middle, politically, and somewhere towards the top, looks-wise — you pull a militaristic policy proposal out of your hat that recalls some of the most campy pseudo-fascist sci-fi ever written.

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