You've no doubt long suspected that the rise of celebrity culture has something to do with the decay of community culture (and the ascension of Donald Trump to the U.S. Presidency), but George Monbiot at The Guardian shows how strong the link between all these phenomena really is. "The more distant and impersonal corporations become," he writes, "the more they rely on other people’s faces to connect them to their customers," and though that's been true at least since the rise of Madison Ave. almost a century ago, it's still rather dispiriting to see kids less involved in community (and more involved in aping celebrities) than they were even 20 years ago. And so you see how "(a)n obsession with celebrity does not lie quietly beside the other things we value" but rather "takes their place," and "virtual neighbours replace real ones."
Michael Corcoran at TruthOut explains how the repeal Affordable Care Act might happen. His hope, and mine, is that we use the opportunity afforded us by rage-filled Republicans to press for a Medicare-for-All, single-payer health insurance system that poll which finds majority support in poll after poll after poll. This article, by the way, has the best explanation of why "health savings accounts" are such a bad idea: aside from giving the rich (the only people who can set aside money for a "health savings account"!) yet another unearned tax cut, rich folks' HSAs would reduce the amount of money available to poor folks when their money runs out -- a problem you wouldn't have if they were all paying into the same insurance plan.
Caroline Poplin at MedPage Today also describes how ACA repeal might go down, how inadequate right-wing proposals to replace it are, and why we desperately need "social insurance." I guess she doesn't just say "Medicare-for-All" or "single-payer" because some folks might recoil, but if you're praising Social Security and Medicare as government programs that do good work and hold down costs, then that's what you're talking about. She also describes one of the more intractable problems with health care costs today -- "(b)ecause of the amazing success of modern medicine, many illnesses that used to kill -- cancer, heart attacks, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, even HIV -- are now chronic. And very expensive." Nothing we can't handle as a national community, of course, even with our representatives in both parties determined to oppose us.
As the Electoral Integrity Project finds North Carolina to be "no longer a fully-functioning democracy" but more closely resembles an authoritarian state, one of the EIP's founders, Andrew Reynolds, describes what must be done. Admitting you have a problem, of course, is always the first step, a step that's often as hard for proud Americans as it is for their ragehead neighbors, but creating independent redistricting commissions ("no democracy in the world outside of the U.S. allows the elected politicians to draw the lines") would be the best second step, one that would make all the necessary future steps (like, stop having "Voter Integrity Projects" question black folks' right to vote!) much easier.
Finally, we learn that Donald Trump would really like to put all his businesses in a "half-blind trust" so he can continue to make money off them while not actually violating the Constitution's various prohibitions against Presidential conflicts of interest. It might work according to the letter of the law (I said might!), but certainly not according to its spirit, which is at least as important, and Mr. Trump is a "law and order" guy, is he not? Seriously, this "half-blind trust" idea is so stupid even Evil Joe Walsh gets off a zinger at its expense. (Though if Bob Novak were still with us, he might describe the "half-blind trust" in terms of Solomon actually cutting the baby in half.)