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Archive for February, 2012

2012 Patterson School Spring Crisis Simulation

[ 8 ] February 25, 2012 |

The Patterson School Spring Crisis Simulation has drawn to a close.  The UK School of Journalism set up two sites to support the sim; check them out. This year’s sim involved Mexican cartels, the Bellagio Casino, and the unfortunate passing of Mr. Brad Pitt.

More of a wrap up later this week.


Bull Connor Was Also A Victim of Liberal Intolerance

[ 100 ] February 25, 2012 |

For better or worse, I got out of the boat on this one, and can assure you that Roy ain’t lyin’. Dreher does tell a story in which a mother refuses to have anything to do with her son because he comes out, and he really does think the son is the bad guy for saying so. In comments, when he describes certain actions as “cruel and wrong,” he’s referring to the son mentioning what happened to him. There’s also stuff about “honor culture,” which is apparently intended to be a positive description as long as it involves Southern Christian bigotry.

Chairman Maggie Gallagher

[ 9 ] February 25, 2012 |

A chilling vision of the future.

Empty stadiums, then and now

[ 27 ] February 25, 2012 |

On June 21, 1948, Life magazine ran a gleeful series of photos ridiculing Harry Truman’s famous don’t-call-it-a-campaign-trip campaign trip through the West — a tour that was widely mocked by his adversaries but which actually had the effect of reviving his fortunes at a time when many within his party were scouting about for a replacement candidate. Henry Luce was a first-rate Truman hater, believing him to be insufficiently hostile toward the Soviet Union and insufficiently supportive of the Chinese nationalists, so when a publicity gaffe led Truman to deliver a speech to a nearly-empty Ak-Sar-Ben coliseum in Omaha, his magazine provided ample space for this:

Life conveniently overlooked the fact that Truman had drawn 160,000 Omahans to a parade earlier in the day, just as they had almost nothing to say about the substance of Truman’s speech, which endorsed still-popular New Deal policies including agricultural price supports, soil conservation efforts, federal support for farm cooperatives, measures to alleviate food insecurity and malnutrition, electrification programs as well as improvements to rural health services. Though Truman would eventually lose Nebraska by a margin of 54-46 percent, it’s perhaps worth pointing out that FDR had lost the state by 15 and 17 points in 1940 and 1944. So while the Republican media made strong efforts to depict Truman’s speaking tour as the work of a bumbling dope, the reality was that the more Truman spoke — sparse crowds or no — the more popular he became with voters.

Not so with Mittens, whose dishonest speech to an empty stadium in Detroit offered — as Ezra Klein points out — a horrifying call for Americans to address a debt non-emergency by hacking away at programs that serve the poorest citizens. No wonder, then, that the more Willard Romney speaks, the more everyone dislikes him.

Sometimes the empty stadium is an anomaly, and sometimes you’ve really earned it.

Two Hacks, Beat as One

[ 24 ] February 24, 2012 |

Andrew Revkin is getting defensive over the backlash against his hack job on Peter Gleick leaking the Heartland documents. Revkin has pulled out the big guns to make us stop–the notoriously ethical Megan McArdle!!!

[7:37 p.m. | Updated | I’ve been remiss in not pointing out the important reporting of Megan McArdle of The Atlantic on the origins of the Heartland files and some of Gleick’s statements. Her latest piece is a must-read that asks more probing questions and clarifies what is, and is not, responsible investigative journalism.]

Yes, the full-on conspiracy theorist McArdle clearly gives us all lessons in responsible investigative journalism. Moreover, her long-demonstrated objectivity on climate change should give anyone defending Glecik pause. Pause to think whether Revkin or McArdle is the greatest hack.

Nolte — He’s Still Got It!

[ 30 ] February 24, 2012 |

I’d have to say that my very favorite part of this little slice of comedy gold is the fact that Nolte considers a film based on a Mark Halperin book left-wing.

Of course, if all of the 700 people who claimed they would rather watch The Undefeated had paid to see it in a theater, I think its box office take would have doubled.

Official LGM Endorsement

[ 38 ] February 24, 2012 |

Elizabeth Warren for Senate!:

MAYBE YOU saw the pictures. Five middle-age men seated at a congressional hearing table to discuss freedom of religion and contraception. And not a single woman was on the panel. Unbelievable. Do you think Congress would ever have a hearing on prostate cancer and only have women speak? Of course not.

Washington is so out of touch with what’s happening to families across this country that the Senate is about to vote on an amendment that would allow any insurance company or any employer to claim a vague “moral conviction’’ as an excuse to deny you health care coverage. Here’s the really astonishing news: Senator Scott Brown is not only voting for this amendment, he is fighting to get it passed.

Brown joining the War on Women certainly doesn’t make this outcome any less likely.

A Couple?

[ 32 ] February 24, 2012 |

I can see the fierce opposition to upper-class tax hikes; it would be pretty rough for an individual to get by on just one Cadillac.

In other news, Mittens is a huge, huge liar.

He Laughed at Accidental Sirens That Broke the Evening Gloom

[ 91 ] February 24, 2012 |

Mittens: dead wrong on the auto bailout, and consequently prone to lying about it.

This Day in Labor History: February 24, 1912

[ 32 ] February 24, 2012 |

On this date in 1912, the police force of Lawrence, Massachusetts brutally beat a group of children and their mothers as the children attempted to board a train to stay with union supporters in Philadelphia. This tactic, which had brought much attention to the textile workers’ cause, infuriated the mill owners who ordered the police to stop this from happening again.

Lawrence, Massachusetts was one of dozens of New England cities that had become textile centers by the early 20th century. The region had pioneered the nation’s Industrial Revolution through textile factories; the nation’s first modern factory was in Pawtucket, Rhode Island in the 1790s and the first large-scale textile community was in nearby Lowell, Massachusetts. While in the early years, manufacturers had recruited local Anglo-Saxon women to work, poor pay and degraded conditions soon pushed them out to be replaced by immigrants. At first, these immigrants were mostly Irish but as the late 19th century immigration wave washed over America, migrants from southern and eastern Europe became the new labor force. The bosses looked down on these new immigrants, seeing their needs and lives as not worth consideration.

As had been the case through the history of the textile industry, and still is today in developing world nations, young women provided much of the labor. The factory owners have always justified this by talking about young women’s dexterous hands, but the far more important reason is the gendering of the work. Women get paid less. That’s the real issue. Young women whose families were desperate for the paltry wages they brought were easily exploitable. Working conditions in the factories were deeply unpleasant. Those factories, whose ruins litter the northeast, could get brutally hot and steamy, especially during the summer. Workers breathed in textile fibers, leading to lung disease.

The so-called “Bread and Roses” strike began on January 12, 1912 when a Progressive Era reform went into effect, limiting women’s working hours at 54. Women thought the owners would not reduce their pay accordingly, but the owners did. The workers, starting with the Poles but quickly spreading throughout the polyglot work force, walked out. As was typical during this era, the American Federation of Labor ignored both the immigrant female workers and the strike; Samuel Gompers found the whole strike annoying. The I.W.W. had already done some organizing work in this community and when the workers went on strike, the Wobblies jumped into it. The workers flocked to the radical union, outraging the mill owners and forces of order.

Massachusetts militiamen surrounding a group of strikers.

A member of the school board tried to frame the strike organizers by planting bombs around town; he was caught and released without jail time. It is almost certain that one of the industrialists paid him to do it for William Madison Wood, owner of the American Woolen Company, paid the man a large sum of money the week before. This was conveniently not seriously investigated. The police shot a female striker, then charged the two lead organizers of the strike with murder, even though they were 3 miles away at the time.

At this point, the I.W.W. brought in the big guns. Big Bill Haywood. Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. The I.W.W. was not very good at running a union’s mundane affairs. But they were superb publicists. They revved up the propaganda machine and nationalized this local conflict. Haywood went around to all the textile towns raising funds. Writers came to Lawrence to tell workers’ stories. Wobblies also discovered the very effective tactic of centering strikers’ children in the campaign. Destitute and nearly starving without their measly wages, Wobblies got the kids out of town, placing them with supporters in New York and other northeastern cities.

This children’s strategy began on February 7. The New York Call, a socialist paper wrote:


Children of the Lawrence strikers are hungry. Their fathers and mothers are fighting against hunger, and their hunger may break the strike. The men and women are willing to suffer, but they cannot watch their children’s pain or hear their cries for food. Workers and strike sympathizers who can take a striker’s child until the struggle ends are urged to send their name and address to the Call. Do it at once.

119 children were placed into homes that evening.

The I.W.W.’s exodus of children was a piece of masterful propaganda. Newspaper reporters found this tactic fascinating and nothing could raise funds like the plight of kids. More trains of children followed, to Boston, Philadelphia, Vermont, New York. On February 24, another 100 children were about to board a train to Philadelphia. The police, outraged by charges of incompetence and looking down on the immigrant strikers (the police force was increasingly Irish and the Irish were the least supportive ethnic group of the strike), stepped in and blocked the path for the children to board the train. One woman made a rush to get her child on the train. The police grabbed her and that spark set off a frantic march toward the train. The police began beating the women and children. Children were separated from mothers. The train left without a single child aboard.

From the Industrial Worker, the I.W.W. newspaper

The beating of women and children received national press coverage and led to the textile owners losing the strike. Said the journalist Ray Stannard Baker, a man not exactly known for his radicalism, “If I were living in one of those miserable tenements I should join any movement, however revolutionary, to put an end to such conditions.” Workers were called before Congress to testify about their working conditions. Among those in attendance, the wife of President William Howard Taft. On March 12, the owners gave in, providing pay raises and better working conditions. The region’s other textile factories quickly agreed to these changes to avoid the negative publicity.

This was the I.W.W.’s greatest victory. And 12 months later, it was dust. The I.W.W. was terrible at the day to day activities of running a union. It general believed that workers should not sign contracts because that undermined militancy, but the lack of a written contract showed naivete because the owners quickly sought to repeal what they had given up in the face of public pressure. When the I.W.W.’s attention became distracted, so did the nation’s. Without the organizing of the Wobbly leadership, the workers divided by ethnicity and were no match for the power of the owners. Union leaders were blacklisted from the factories. By 1914, the union was in tatters and industrial unionism would not become established in Lawrence until the 1930s, long after the Wobblies had passed from the scene.

As a scholar of the I.W.W. in the Pacific Northwest, I am struck by the differences between tactics the Wobblies used in the textile mills of the Northeast and the extractive industries of the West. While men led the strike in Lawrence, the textile workers were both men and women, children were central to the campaigns, and women’s concerns were front and center. The idea of the family was used as an organizing tool. In the timber industry of the Northwest, the I.W.W. was openly misogynist, blaming women for both marrying men and keeping them from fulfilling their mission as uber-masculine men working in clean nature and standing up for themselves against the feminizing force of capitalism, and for having sex with men outside of marriage, calling prostitutes parasites.

My opinion about the Wobblies is that they were total opportunists with few real principles outside of organizing toward a vague revolution. This had its good and bad sides. They were very good at adapting to local conditions and using whatever fuel they could to build a strike. They cared deeply about workers’ lives and made incredible sacrifices to help create a better world. On the other hand, since the strike was more important than the union, they would leave as fast as they came. The I.W.W. had its place, but, like Che Guevara, it’s easy to romanticize the people who sounded very hard-core and led extreme actions, but didn’t necessarily stick around to see through the dirty work of day-to-day unionism.

For more on the Lawrence strike, see Bruce Watson, Bread and Roses: Mills, Migrants, and the Struggle for the American Dream.


[ 123 ] February 24, 2012 |

Ryan Braun’s suspension has been overturned. As is generally the case with drug warriors, MLB is furious that pesky things like “due process” and “checks to ensure that evidence is reliable” are getting in the way of a good witch hunt.

Anyway, given this kind of attention to detail I’m sure that everyone fingered in the Mitchell report is 1000% guilty of breaking non-rules. We’d better keep some people against whom there is even less evidence for breaking non-rules out of the Hall of Fame just to be sure.

It is entirely appropriate to post photographs of scantily clad women on your website.

[ 60 ] February 23, 2012 |

You probably thought this was about some other sexist academic, but it’s actually about Vincent Hendricks, a philosopher who posted this on his website. Unlike that other sexist academic, Hendricks at least had the decency to retract the fruit of his poor judgment and issue a formal apology. But this raises an important question: what’s the problem with displaying photographs of scantily clad undergraduate-aged women on a site affiliated with your name? One of Brian Leiter’s readers seeks to enlighten aggressively ignorant sexists like the one whose name I won’t mention:

I think it is easy for people to forget how intimidating professors can seem to undergrads. It’s interesting: I took a degree in a science field as an undergraduate, and I was a very successful student. But I left the field, and one reason was because of a required class I had with a male professor who used to make mildly inappropriate jokes about women in class and had cheesecake posters on the wall of his office. I found it deeply unsettling—the message was unequivocally that women, especially women about my age, were viewed in a sexual manner. This meant, to me as a young scientist, that I was not being viewed in the first instance as a promising intellectual star scientist. But this (being viewed as a promising intellectual star) was the only way I wanted to be viewed by my professors, and so I felt totally alienated from him, his class, and from the profession he represented. Since I had plenty of opportunities elsewhere, I left.

So it’s a basic failure to see that the world as we view it is not the world as undergrads view it–what some would see as a joke or as just a bit of boy-culture virtual masturbation, is what female undergrads can see as a rejection of how they want to be classed as students. Are they sexy schoolgirls? or are they smart, or even brilliant, potential logicians? (Or maybe they just want to be taken seriously as logic students?)

Why is it so hard for people to understand this?

Most likely because the people who don’t understand it don’t consider women to be people.

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