• Facebook says it’s changing its algorithm to choke out clickbait. If this change is even half as effective as Facebook’s earlier efforts to destroy blog traffic, then this could be the end of that, too.
(I’m exaggerating — slightly. But Facebook’s anti-blog changes were a major blow to those of us whose income is based on blog traffic. The ensuing 40-percent-or-so reduction in traffic due to that has meant, for me, working longer hours as a ladder jockey at the Big Box to make up the difference, creating a vicious spiral of less-frequent posting and further diminishing, etc. And it also pretty much killed The Toast, which is unforgivable.)
• “We also have to wrestle with what evangelicalism actually was and remains, which is a religious identity shaped by money, marketing, corporate power, corporate executives, and private-sector places and spaces.”
To be fair, every form of religious identity in America is, in some ways, “shaped by money, marketing, corporate power.” The difference for white evangelicalism is, perhaps, the extent of that shaping and, even more, the denial — and thus failure to explore and resist — the effect of that shaping.
• Jake Meader: “The Evangelical Case for Voting for David Duke.”
Yes, it’s satire — primarily aimed at “complementarian” hack Wayne Grudem. But it’s tight satire — featuring only the slightest, razor-thin deviation from the actual arguments made by the four-fifths of white evangelicals who say they’ll vote for Donald Trump because of abortion and gay marriage and the imperative to work for a Supreme Court that they hope will outlaw abortion and gay marriage (even though, so far, their preferred justices have mainly just outlawed the Voting Rights Act).
• “The reason a lot of Klan members like Donald Trump is because a lot of what he believes in, we believe in. We want our country to be safe.” That’s from the Grand Wizard of a Virginia chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, openly endorsing Donald Trump for president on a Richmond TV news broadcast.
We should note that a leader of the deadliest terrorist group in American history enjoys his First Amendment freedoms only because those freedoms have been vigorously defended, for more than a century, by groups like the ACLU and, more generally, by the very sort of people the Klan has sought to kill, expel or intimidate.
And we should also note that this man isn’t at all worried that openly endorsing his preferred candidate — openly associating “what he believes in” with the Klan — might in any way diminish Trump’s chances of getting elected. Trump’s campaign has excited and energized the racist right so much that they now think and feel that their views are on an inevitable, unstoppable upsurge. Because of Trump, they think they’re winning.
• In the 1960s and 1970s, the American conservative movement purged itself of the paranoid irrationality of the John Birch Society. For decades, the Republican Party refused to have anything to do with the Birchers, or even to have anything to do with anyone who had anything to do with them.
Today, they’re back. The John Birch Society is sponsoring a booth and display at this year’s “Values Voter Summit” — the annual GOP/Religious Right convention seen as a requisite stop for any Republican seeking national influence.
To be clear, the JBS has not changed or somehow rehabilitated itself. The change has occurred on the other side — with the conservative movement and the Republican Party sliding ever closer to the Birchers.
Many factors have contributed to that change — AM talk radio, Fox News, Mitt Romney’s mainstreaming of post-factual rhetoric, etc. But there’s also this: Tim LaHaye wrote more than a dozen “End Times” novels explicitly promoting his own political mythology based on his years with the John Birch Society. Starting in 1995, those novels sold more than 60 million copies. Jesus hasn’t come back yet, but the Birchers have, and Tim LaHaye is a big part of the reason for that.
• Big Sexy: “A League of Bartolo Colóns.”
Also: I know that Colón grew up in the Dominican Republic, but in my head-canon, he actually spent part of his childhood in Hawkins, Indiana. My theory, in other words, is that Bartolo Colón and Dustin from Stranger Things are the same person. (Based on the show’s setting in the 1980s, the age-math works, so let’s just ignore the obvious problems of geography and language.)
• We’re back on the All-’70s-all-the-time music channel at the Big Box, so I’ve heard Lee Michaels’ biggest hit 12 times a week for the past month and it’s starting to make me uncomfortable.
“I just saw her with my best friend,” he sings, then asks, repeatedly, “Do you know what I mean?” And I want to assure him that, yes, everybody knows what you mean. We get it. Her and Bobby are boinking. No need, really, to keep going on about it or to keep asking. We all know what you mean.