Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing excellent content, but also keeping an eye on other great writing from around the web. This may be a predominantly arts/culture-centric website, but given the immediate gravity of U.S. politics, we’ve been focusing this outward-looking post on indispensable political writing, as well as the occasional culture piece. (And, this week, basketball.)
Moze Halperin: Money has a piece on how the the vast (Planned Parenthood-defunding, health insurance CEO-benefitting, and inevitably poverty-perpetuating) American Health Care Act proposed by Paul Ryan with the help of two House committees would impact people using Truvada, or PrEP, aka pre-exposure prophylaxis, a drug taken predominantly by LGBT men to diminish one’s risk of contracting HIV by 99%. And surprise!— the Republican plan wouldn’t impact at risk communities positively. — MH
The proposed plan would complicate PrEP access, particularly for low-income Americans in the 31 states, plus the District of Columbia, that adopted the Medicaid expansion. The new bill would begin phasing out federal money for the expansion in 2020, likely blocking new applicants and access to meds like PrEP. If the plan passes in its current form, traditional Medicaid will be replaced by per-capita grants, a fixed-sum per person, which could result in cuts over time. And a proposed repeal of the ACA’s cost-sharing assistance, which paid insurers to reduce the burden of enrollees based on their income, would make coverage more expensive for poor Americans, says Lindsey Dawson, senior HIV policy analyst of the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Tom Hawking: Amy Davidson of the New Yorker writes compellingly about, well, just how fucked we are when it comes to the Trump administration’s attitude to climate change (a subject we tackled here at Flavorwire not long after the election.) The essay starts with a conversation between new EPA head Scott Pruitt and CBC’s Joe Kernen, wherein Pruitt suggested that the Paris climate accord was “a bad deal” that does not reflect “an America-first kind of approach” — the world can burn, so long as America (i.e. Trump and his cronies) get to make money from it — and expands into a discussion of the strange feeling of victimhood that drives #MAGA types:
Never mind that the deniers have the President, the bulk of the Republican Party, and a significant segment of private industry behind them: here was denialism as a form of victimhood. Conversely, concern for climate change, or just a basic belief in science, was yet another crazed form of political correctness.
There is a parallel here with the umbrage that many conservatives take when anyone short of a Klansman putting on a hood is called a racist. A recent example came in the confirmation hearings for Jeff Sessions, which featured various Southern men sympathizing with one another about the things they didn’t want to be called. Another was in the oral arguments before the Supreme Court that resulted in the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, in which the late Justice Antonin Scalia said that the Court had to act, because Congress was too terrorized by charges of racism. And now, apparently, it takes a brave man, besieged by America Not First-ers, to tell the world that the relation between carbon dioxide and climate change is nothing more than a puzzle, like the question of whether there might be little green men on a distant planet.
So yes, we are very, very fucked.
MH: Meanwhile, The Intercept writes about the dangers of “Dutch Trump,” aka Geert Wilders, potentially winning the Dutch national election on March 15:
When it comes to Islam and Muslims, the bombastic leader of the Party for Freedom makes the president of the United States look positively moderate. Trump, remember, is trying to ban immigrants from six Muslim-majority countries; Wilders wants to stop all Muslim immigration. Trump plans to surveil mosques; Wilders wants to ban mosques. Trump says he will eradicate “radical Islamic terrorism” from “the face of the earth;” Wilders wants to eradicate Islam, period.
The New Yorker likewise weighs in on the threats Wilders poses, even as a symbol if he doesn’t win.
Because he is more ideological than Trump, Wilders could in a way represent something more dangerous. Where Trump could go down in history as a one-off, an erratic showman who rose by pulling a few ideas from the anti-establishment populists, Wilders might more truly represent a rising global menace.
TH: I don’t often contribute to this column, but since I’m doing so this week, I’m going to include a basketball-related article, goddammit. The one I’m choosing is a patented Bill Simmons word-gush, and I appreciate you either love or hate Simmons; I happen to enjoy his writing, even if he could probably use an editor. And so I delighted in reading his lengthy discussion of the paradox of Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, who is currently on course to average a triple-double — which’d make him the first player to do so since 1961-62 — and yet arguably doesn’t make his team a whole lot better.
The biggest problem with ball hog basketball: Eventually, everyone else atrophies. The supporting guys stop thinking independently; when they’re asked to step up, it’s difficult to flick on that “OK, I’m good!” switch. I’m fascinated by OKC’s offense when Westbrook rests — how Domantas Sabonis says to himself, “It’s my only chance to post up and try a jump hook!”, or Kanter gets to become an instant low-post beast, or Oladipo (who’s adjusted to Westbrook about as well as you can expect) creates a little slash-and-kick on his own. Of course they’re worse without Westbrook on the floor; playing with Westbrook is like being one of the kids in that SNL sketch where the parents chew the food for their kids. Hey Steven Adams — here comes some corn!
TH: On more serious matters, here is the excellent Jillian Steinhauer of Hyperallergic laying waste to something that you’ve probably seen in your Facebook feed this week: the statue of a little girl facing down Wall St’s iconic charging bull of capitalism, which turned out to be a corporate-sponsored stunt, because nothing is real and everything is terrible:
…here is the truth about “Fearless Girl”: It features a branded plaque at its base. The companies that installed it had a permit. They are advertising firm McCann New York — whose leadership team has only three women among 11 people, or 27% women — and asset manager SSGA — whose leadership team has five women among 28 people, or 18% women. SSGA is a division of State Street, which has a board of directors that includes only 27% women. SSGA is also, according to Wikipedia, the world’s third-largest asset manager, managing more than $2.4 trillion in assets in 2014. And, like any good capitalist behemoth, it has some shady dealings in its history — like the time the SEC charged State Street with misleading investors during the subprime mortgage crisis. Or the class-action lawsuit brought against it for mismanaging retirement funds. Or the over $64 million that the company agreed to pay in January to settle fraud charges brought by the government, as Nick Pinto pointed out in the Village Voice.
But don’t worry about those cheating Wall Streeters who can’t be bothered to take care with people’s investments and lives — “Fearless Girl” will stop them! She has, as a visitor commented last night, “no doubt” and “no fear”!
MH: This week, The Atlantic‘s excellent column “By Heart” — in which authors gush in detail over an example of another authors’ writing — features High Dive scribe Jonathan Lee discussing how one Zadie Smith sentence helped him as a writer. “The Embassy of Cambodia.” He cites this fragment from “The Embassy of Cambodia,” a short story by Smith: “Surely there is something to be said for drawing a circle around our attention and remaining within that circle. But how large should this circle be?” He writes, in part:
The Zadie Smith quote reminded me to ask questions of myself, each time I sat down at my desk—about what I wanted to do with the novel I was writing, beyond the task of simply keeping up with it. And what I wanted to do was what I understand Smith to be describing when her narrator asks, in “The Embassy of Cambodia,” how large the circle around a given person’s attention should be.
American Theater looks to how certain theaters (particularly the Public, under the artistic direction of Oskar Eustis), are becoming forums for political discussion, with Eustis having put together “A Well Ordered Nation” series, whose first forum featured a discussion between Claudia Rankine, David Remnick, Salman Rushdie and Tony Kushner.
Eustis says the Public started discussing the possibility of using its space as a sort of town hall after the new year. It was a whirlwind turnaround, and he expects to announce more programming alone these lines at the Public, and to see similar events pop up around the country. “Every theatre I know is talking about this right now, and I think you’re going to see a plethora of initiatives over the course of the next year springing up,” he says, adding that the events and gatherings will center around “what people are doing to try and tie the theatre more explicitly to the dialogue about our political reality.”