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Pro Forma

[ 120 ] May 2, 2016 |

I really can’t not recommend Andrew Sullivan’s return to the world of letters enough. And not because it is drawn out, self-regarding and tedious. I knew what I was getting before the page finished loading and I read:

As this dystopian election campaign has unfolded, my mind keeps being tugged by a passage in Plato’s Republic.

That’s not the only thing that gets tugged during the very, very, very dense article about how mean, pushy liberals made white people flock to Trump in droves and now America is going to be destroyed.

For the white working class, having had their morals roundly mocked, their religion deemed primitive, and their economic prospects decimated, now find their very gender and race, indeed the very way they talk about reality, described as a kind of problem for the nation to overcome. This is just one aspect of what Trump has masterfully signaled as “political correctness” run amok, or what might be better described as the newly rigid progressive passion for racial and sexual equality of outcome, rather than the liberal aspiration to mere equality of opportunity.

Sound familiar? Of course it does. Sullivan is wrestling with the same damn strawliberal every member of the bigot defense league has attacked since they admitted that Trump wasn’t going to go away if everyone ignored him.

So let’s skip to some amusing bits. Like the mandatory cocktail anecdote!

And so, as I chitchatted over cocktails at a Washington office Christmas party in December, and saw, looming above our heads, the pulsating, angry televised face of Donald Trump on Fox News, I couldn’t help but feel a little nausea permeate my stomach.

As an aside, if running Fox News is standard entertainment for these soirees, I’m glad I don’t get invited to them.

And Sullivan’s solutions to Save America are a veritable LOLmine.

Step 1 – “We” should stop picking on the Republicans and enable them because the alternative is gloom and doom and things go boom.

More to the point, those Republicans desperately trying to use the long-standing rules of their own nominating process to thwart this monster deserve our passionate support, not our disdain. This is not the moment to remind them that they partly brought this on themselves. This is a moment to offer solidarity, especially as the odds are increasingly stacked against them.

For the record I have never said the Republicans partly brought Trump on themselves. I have always said it is entirely their fault. But pretending that the GOP became the clusterfuck that it is today sorta accidentally not on purpose is standard for these pieces, because addressing the real problem, or even reality, is very much not central to the point.

That brings us to Step 2 – The Republicans should offer the Democrats the Unity Ponies that must be buried under all this horse shit!

And if they fail in Indiana or Cleveland, as they likely will, they need, quite simply, to disown their party’s candidate. They should resist any temptation to loyally back the nominee or to sit this election out. They must take the fight to Trump at every opportunity, unite with Democrats and Independents against him, and be prepared to sacrifice one election in order to save their party and their country.

Likelihood of this happening in this iteration of reality? Negative any percent. But reality didn’t stop the last 5,000 people who wrote this article, so why should it have stopped Sullivan?

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Today In the American Meritocracy

[ 61 ] May 2, 2016 |

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Nice work if you can etc:

Yahoo (YHOO) just disclosed the size of its executive pay packages and Marissa Mayer stands to make millions coming or going.

The CEO of the embattled online news site, currently trying to sell itself, is entitled to severance benefits valued at $54.9 million in case she is terminated without cause, according to a regulatory filing after the market closed Friday. The potential payout would also be triggered by a “change of control,” which includes the sale of the company, according to the filing.

Mayer’s potential payout includes cash severance of $3 million, $26,324 to continue her health benefits, $15,000 for outplacement, and — if that’s enough — nearly $52 million worth of accelerated restricted stock and options.

But wait. That’s just what Mayer gets if she leaves. Mayer was already paid $36 million in 2015 as her regular annual compensation. That total pay package was down nearly 15% from the prior year, but is still well above the median of roughly $12 million paid by executives in the Standard & Poor’s 500. Mayer was paid $42.1 million in 2014, making her the most highly paid female CEO in the S&P 500.

Imagine what she’d be worth if she had been successful!

Greenland Melting

[ 28 ] May 1, 2016 |

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Not good.

So much about the planet’s future will depend on processes that humans today cannot directly observe — because they are occurring hundreds of meters below the sea surface where enormous marine glaciers, in Greenland and Antarctica, simultaneously touch the ocean and the seafloor.

The more we learn about this crucial yet inscrutable place, the more worrying it seems.

The latest exhibit: New research out of Greenland conducted by Dartmouth earth sciences Ph.D. student Kristin Schild and two university colleagues — work that has just been published in the Annals of Glaciology. The study examined the 5.5-kilometer-wide Rink Glacier of West Greenland, with particular focus on how meltwater on the ice sheet’s surface actually finds its way underneath Rink, pours out in the key undersea area described above and speeds up the glacier’s melt.

It’s a feedback process that, if it plays out across many other similarly situated glaciers, could greatly worsen Greenland’s overall ice loss. “These big tidewater outlet glaciers are the ones that are contributing these huge icebergs, they’re the ones that have rapidly, rapidly sped up in the last decade,” Schild said. This makes it critically important to learn “what are the main factors…that are leading to all these fast changes,” she added.

Greenland is an enormous sheet of ice, capable of raising sea levels by some 20 feet if it were somehow to melt entirely and its waters were to pour into the ocean. Fortunately, it can’t just do that all of a sudden — the vast ice sheet only reaches the ocean at relatively narrow, finger-like glaciers that stretch out into fjords, or underwater canyons that lead out to the sea.

May Day: Three Thoughts

[ 89 ] May 1, 2016 |

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Despite it usually being Erik Loomis’ bailiwick, I wanted to wish all of you a happy May Day, and to share three thoughts with you about the slogan that was associated with May Day – “eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, eight hours for what we will” – and what we can learn about the meaning of this day through that slogan.

The history of the day – its links to the Haymarket Affair, the eight-hour day movement, its adoption all over the world, its subversion here at home – is well known enough that I don’t want to repeat it here. Instead, I want to focus on the three parts of the slogan:

Eight Hours for Work

To me, this part of the slogan is significant because it speaks to the eight-hour day as an example of a successful, gradualist, labor reform that was brought forward by a movement determined to limit, if not entirely prevent, the exploitation of labor by capital. Before there was an eight-hour movement, there was a ten-hour movement. The ten-hour movement, fighting against factory work schedules of 12-15 hours a day, made the same arguments about the inhumane nature of long work days, how long hours robbed workers of the fair value of their labor by giving them the same pay for more hours, how it hurt families, hurt people’s health and productivity, and created an entire class of people who lived like drones, able to do nothing more than work, eat, and sleep.  They won that fight, and it was a fight that took strikes and protests and legislation and persuation, and then they started organizing for the eight-hour day.

And at a time when the Fight for Fifteen has moved from an impossibility to something to be bargained with (remember $10.10? Remember $12?) and then to be co-opted, and now to be enacted, it’s important to remember that gradualist reform can work as long as you keep moving and keep the pressure up against the inevitable backsliding and push-back. For good and for bad, there’s nothing natural or set in stone about the forty-hour, five day work week, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t fight for better, more predictable, and more humane standards in the face of employers who thrive on a system where workers are simultaneously underemployed and overworked and want to make it even more so.

The thirty-five hour week works in France, the six-hour work day works in Sweden. We deserve no less.

Eight Hours for Sleep

This part of the slogan speaks to how work takes a toll on the human body. Erik Loomis has done sterling work pointing to the history of industrial injuries, diseases, and deaths, but there is also a growing body of research that looks at the subtler ways in which class affects our health. The poorer you are, the less likely you are to get the sleep than you need. The poorer you are, the more likely you are to experience chronic pain. The poorer you are, the more stress you experience and the harder it hits you. The poorer you are, the shorter your lifespan.

The eight-hour day movement was one of the first recognitions of this phenomenon, long before the medical or social scientific community got involved. Having eight hours sleep a night wasn’t just about making workers more productive or lowering the rate of industrial injury – those were rationales largely directed at middle class voters, although they were all true – but about trying to limit the damage that capitalism and inequality was doing to the human body, and to literally save lives.

Given what we are now learning about the way that stress affects health, and the historic and growing economic inequality’s effects on the inequality of lived experiences, this task has become all the more pressing. The adage of a new Gilded Age is quite popular today, and it should be, but in this aspect, we are seeing something more similar to the Middle Ages, when descriptions of physical health and beauty went hand-in-hand with descriptions of class.

Eight Hours for What We Will 

And this is where we get to the issue of democracy, which is appropriate for May Day of a long primary season in a presidential election year. One of the arguments made for the eight-hour day movement was that a class of drones, people who only had the time to work, eat, and sleep, could not participate in a democratic society – you needed time to read the newspaper and follow the political issues of the day, to be an active participant in the highly-mobilized party politics of the 19th century, to not just vote but get out the vote.  And all of that is true, but there is often a kind of po-faced seriousness that sometimes is attached to the idea of free time as necessary for good citizenship. I don’t mean to denigrate the working-class auto-didact – I come from a long line of them – but free time isn’t just about engaging in intellectually cultivating pastimes.

Rather, I think it’s about actually experiencing freedom on a day-to-day basis. As I wrote a long time ago, the workplace is one of the least free places in America. And the people who fought for the eight-hour day and the ten-hour day before that realized that you can’t spend every waking hour of your life in a place where you have no freedom of speech, no privacy, no right to due process, and actually know what freedom feels like, let alone develop the habits of an independent citizen. So eight hours “for what we will” is about the will – whether it’s beer or Shakespeare, the important thing is that you’re deciding how you’re going to spend your time, that for part of every day no one but you is telling you what to do.

So go enjoy your May Day, because no matter what you’re doing with the day, you’re doing it right.

Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 29

[ 42 ] May 1, 2016 |

This is the grave of John D. Rockefeller.

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I hardly need to explain to you all who Rockefeller was. The wealthiest man in American history in real money, the Standard Oil monopolist took over 90% of the American oil industry using methods both legal and nefarious, as Ida Tarbell famously exposed. A Baptist prig who combined his fundamentalist Protestantism with Social Darwinism to justify his own disgusting actions, we can all take comfort in the fact that Rockefeller suffered from a condition later in life that made him lose all his hair, looking like the shriveled troll on the outside that he was on the inside. Like many of his monopolist contemporaries, Rockefeller loved to combine public statements about morality with private doings that showed no moral compass at all except the insatiable desire for ever-greater profit.

What I really love here though is that beneath the obelisk is the actual resting place of Rockefeller and various family members (though not his famous sons and grandsons). But there is nothing growing out of Rockefeller’s actual resting place.

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I am hoping that this lack of growth can be explained by one of two things. First, Rockefeller’s putrescent corpse is so filled with bile and evil that it is the equivalent of salting the Earth and nothing will ever grow above it again. The second option is that the soil is turning acidic from people leaving liquid offerings. At least we can hold on to this dream, whatever the actual circumstances.

John D. Rockefeller is buried in Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio.

Fearmongering

[ 75 ] May 1, 2016 |

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The anti-gay, anti-transgender fearmongering never ends. It might retreat as civil rights and social acceptance is slowly achieved, but there’s always another scare campaign about scary queer people.

Such fear mongering against gays and transgender people is a time-tested strategy, despite plenty of evidence that there is nothing to fear but fear itself. In the battle for marriage equality, the nation was told time and again that marriage itself, along with the American family, would be imperiled if same-sex couples were allowed to marry. “Freedom will be taken away,” said one infamous 2009 ad titled “Gathering Storm.” Religion would be destroyed because the clergy would be forced to conduct same-sex weddings, no matter their convictions. Yet none of these doomsday scenarios has come to pass.

The particular terrors that fueled the campaigns in Houston and North Carolina have an even longer history. In the debate over “don’t ask, don’t tell,” opponents of openly gay service spent decades fanning the flames of anxiety about straight recruits sharing quarters — sharing showers! — with known gays and lesbians. At one point, senators held congressional hearings in the bowels of a nuclear submarine to infuse the news cycle with frightening images of the compromised privacy of military life. The message was clear: In such conditions, gay people were not to be trusted, unit cohesion could not be maintained and an inclusive policy would be a clear and present danger to the United States.

Again, none of this was true, as a wealth of research before and after “don’t ask, don’t tell” concluded (some of it was buried by those opposed to change).

A 2003 Palm Center study found that the experience of military and paramilitary organizations that lifted their gay bans showed that “cohesion, morale, recruitment, retention and privacy will be preserved or even enhanced” by ending policies that required gay people to lie about their identities or stay out of uniform. Other scholars noted that, all across the globe, people in various contexts that might seem erotic (especially when social conservatives insisted on eroticizing them) in fact developed an “etiquette of disregard.” In doctor’s offices, in military barracks, in locker rooms and restrooms, most people simply finished their business and ignored those around them. Those who had predicted disaster were spectacularly wrong.

But no amount of evidence seems capable of stopping the fear strategy. The Rand Corp. has completed a new study on transgender military service concluding, unsurprisingly, that ending discrimination against transgender troops will not harm military readiness. The Pentagon has neither released the study nor met its own deadline for reviewing the policy. Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), who wrongly predicted that openly gay military service would “complicate things” and “make it very difficult for us to take care of the troops,” is now opposing service by transgender troops because — guess what — he can’t understand which bathrooms they would use. And Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, who had earlier wrongly predicted that openly gay troops would drive away one-quarter of the military, is now predicting that transgender service will increase sexual assaults.

Disrupting MBAs

[ 69 ] May 1, 2016 |

If there’s one group that it’s not too easy to feel bad for, it’s the business community, but the corporate all-in to maximize profit at the top is now affecting MBAs as the Uberization of the lower and mid-range business workers is now taking place.

In a brick-and-beam former warehouse in Boston’s Fort Point Channel neighborhood, Rob Biederman and Patrick Petitti are building an online network that could change how white-collar work gets done.

In the same way Uber built a network of drivers, and Craigslist can help you find someone willing to paint your back porch tomorrow, the company that Biederman and Petitti cofounded, HourlyNerd, has attracted 22,000 independent consultants with MBA degrees from 45 top universities, all willing to do projects for clients that range from the corner clothing boutique to conglomerates like General Electric.

Business owners can understand the allure of paying someone a few thousand bucks to analyze three different locations for a new shop. But anyone who sits in front of a computer every day, analyzing data and assembling PowerPoint presentations, is probably justified in fretting about what this could mean for their job.

And these online expert networks could evolve into potent competition for some of the best-known management consulting firms, like McKinsey & Co. and Boston Consulting Group. The traditional consultants are a bit like the livery companies that were the only game in town before Uber arrived: high-touch and expensive, but don’t try to call them 10 minutes before you need them to show up.

The outsourced, temped, franchised, subcontracted, independent contractor economy is frequently justified and celebrated when it hurts working class people. Getting rid of or disempowering taxi drivers and hotel cleaners and Toyota employees and McDonald’s workers is all good when profit is at stake. But there is no reason that this can’t go far up the corporate ladder. Much of pharmacy work, legal work, and financial workers can be sent overseas. Other work can be temped or contracted in other ways. This is just one example. The emphasis on “disruption” and corporate profit over steady jobs is not only a real threat to the middle class, not to mention the working class, but it is actually destroying it as we speak.

Daniel Berrigan, RIP

[ 53 ] May 1, 2016 |

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The great anti-war priest has died at the age of 94.

The legendary anti-war priest Father Daniel Berrigan died today at 94. He was a poet, pacifist, educator, social activist, playwright and lifelong resister to what he called “American military imperialism.” Along with his late brother, Phil, Dan Berrigan played an instrumental role in inspiring the anti-war and anti-draft movement during the late 1960s as well as the anti-nuclear movement.

In 1968, Father Daniel Berrigan made headlines when he traveled to North Vietnam with Howard Zinn to bring home three U.S. prisoners of war. Later that year he and eight others took 378 draft files from the draft board in Catonsville, MD. Then in the parking lot of the draft board office, the activists set the draft records on fire using homemade napalm to protest the Vietnam War.

Maureen Dowd’s Greatest Bong Hits, An Ongoing Series

[ 208 ] April 30, 2016 |

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As has observed more than once in this space, that Maureen Dowd not only somehow maintains a sinecure in the nation’s most prominent op-ed space but actually receives industry honors is a classic illustration of the poor taste and judgment of America’s overpaid and underachieving elites. She has yet another abysmal addition to her canon of hot takes:

IT seems odd, in this era of gender fluidity, that we are headed toward the most stark X versus Y battle since Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.

It’s the perfect MoDo first sentence — a meaningless generalization and dated pop culture reference combined to produce an banal, shallow point. It’s done again and again. Like this, after the inevitable and not actually very appropriate comparison of Trump and his cronies to the Rat pack:

Hillary Clinton’s rallies, by contrast, can seem like a sorority rush reception hosted by Lena Dunham, or an endless episode of “The View,” with a girl-power soundtrack by Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and Demi Lovato. The ultimate insider is portraying herself as an outsider because she’s a woman, and the candidate who is considered steely is casting herself as cozy because she’s a doting granny.

Sometimes, you hear that even if Dowd’s ideas are lame, you have to admit she can write. No I do not. It’s all cliches and references and phrases that seem to take the form of humor while never, ever being funny. Also, as Charlie Pierce said about Bill Simmons — only it applies much more forcefully here — Dowd’s “vaunted pop-cult knowledge is carved out of a very thin loaf of Wonder Bread.” The one billionth lazy, meaningless reference to Lena Dunham — Dowd sure is on top of the zeitgeist.

Clinton and Trump have moved on to their mano a womano fight, leaving behind “the leftovers,” as Trump labels deflated rivals.

“Mano a womano” is witless, and what this sentence — like the entirety of the column to this point — is telling us is that each major party will field a candidate in the upcoming general election, one of them a man and one a woman. Maureen Dowd makes a six figure salary.

Now we reach the point where the column stops becoming merely something too banal to be worthy of publishing alongside the onion dip recipes and profiles of B-list celebrities in the Sunday supplement in the local paper and becomes actively offensive:

“It’s going to be nasty, isn’t it?” says Obama Pygmalion David Axelrod. “Put the small children away until November.”

It sure is great that “Barry” Obama knew a white guy who could teach the former president of the Harvard Law Review how to act in polite society.

A peeved Jane Sanders called on the F.B.I. to hurry up with the Hillary classified email investigation.

Does Sanders seem “peeved” to you here? Anyway, she’s probably dowdy like that awful Judith Steinberg Dean!

We can only hope that Cruz, who croons Broadway show tunes, and Carly, who breaks into song at the lectern, will start doing duets from “Hamilton.”

I have to give her this: she never misses the opportunity to include the most obvious pop culture reference in a way that doesn’t say anything. It’s impressive in its own way. You’d think one of them would be funny one time if only my accident, but nope.

Longtime Dowd watchers will note, however, that she’s been playing against type here, unprecedentedly arguing that Hillary Clinton is a woman. So you already know the twist that’s coming: in fact, all Democratic men are women and all Democratic women are men:

On some foreign policy issues, the roles are reversed for the candidates and their parties. It’s Hillary the Hawk against Donald the Quasi-Dove.

Just as Barack Obama seemed the more feminized candidate in 2008 because of his talk-it-out management style, his antiwar platform and his delicate eating habits, always watching his figure, so now, in some ways, Trump seems less macho than Hillary.

He has a tender ego, pouty tweets, needy temperament and obsession with hand sanitizer, whereas she is so tough and combat-hardened, she’s known by her staff as “the Warrior.”

The idea that a “tender ego” and “needy temperament” (or, for that matter, “obsession with hand sanitizer”) are inconsistent with masculine bluster is hilarious. One amazing thing about Dowd is how inept the Judy Miller of love is even on the only subject she actually cares about, gender stereotypes.

And finally, what would a Maureen Down column be without a massive factual howler that benefits the Republican candidate:

The prime example of commander-in-chief judgment Trump offers is the fact that, like Obama, he thought the invasion of Iraq was a stupid idea.

Trump’s assertion that he opposed the Iraq War ex ante is an utter lie, and since it’s the sole basis for asserting that Trump is any kind of “dove” that’s kind of a problem. But it’s a lie that fits the narrative, and that’s all the Pulitzer winner has ever needed.

Teach For America Applications Declining

[ 37 ] April 30, 2016 |

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Seems as if young people are starting to realize that Teach for America is a scam that puts them in educational settings for which they have no preparation in order to bust teachers’ unions, a position that might not make sense to some who want to become full-time teachers.

Applications to Teach for America fell by 16 percent in 2016, marking the third consecutive year in which the organization — which places college graduates in some of the nation’s toughest classrooms — has seen its applicant pool shrink.

Elisa Villanueva Beard, TFA’s chief executive, announced the figures in an online letter to supporters Tuesday morning, describing the steps that the organization is taking to stoke interest and reverse the trend.

“Our sober assessment is that these are the toughest recruitment conditions we’ve faced in more than two decades,” she wrote. “And they call on us all to reconsider and strengthen our efforts to attract the best and most diverse leaders our country has to offer.”

TFA received 37,000 applications in 2016, down from 57,000 in 2013 — a 35 percent dive in three years. It’s a sharp reversal for an organization that grew quickly during much of its 25-year history, becoming a stalwart in education reform circles and a favorite among philanthropists.

Teach for America now boasts 50,000 corps members and alumni; some have stayed in the classroom and others have gone on to work in education in other ways, joining nonprofits, running for office and leading charter schools. Its alumni include some of most recognized names in public education, including D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson and her predecessor, Michelle Rhee.

But as Teach for America’s influence has grown, so has resistance to it. The organization — which trains prospective teachers for five weeks and demands just a two-year commitment — has drawn criticism for creating instability in troubled schools that could benefit from sustained efforts with more experienced educators.

She blamed the decline on a number of factors that are driving enrollment drops in many teacher-preparation programs, including the improving economy, which offers young college graduates more options than they had during the recession. In addition, she wrote, the public debate about education is polarized and “toxic,” driving away talented people from a profession that needs them.

“Anyone concerned with the future of our nation should be alarmed by the staggering decline in enrollment we’re seeing across the country in teacher preparation programs,” she wrote.

She tacitly acknowledged that some of the recruitment problems are due to increasingly vocal critics of TFA, including some alumni. “The toxic debate surrounding education — and attacks on organizations that seek to bring more people to the field — is undeniably pushing future leaders away from considering education as a space where they can have real impact,” she wrote.

Who Rejects the Science Behind Climate Change?

[ 64 ] April 30, 2016 |

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Why, it’s old white men! Younger people accept climate science at rates far higher than older people and both African-Americans and Latinos at rates far higher than whites. Unfortunately, this piece doesn’t specifically break it down by gender as well, but it definitely places the blame on what it calls “the white male effect.”

The ethnicity gap (and the age gap) can likely be explained in part by certain groups’ general preferences for maintaining the status quo. Social scientists have identified what they’ve termed the “white male effect,” describing the fact that white males tend to be less concerned about various sources of risk than minorities and women. Scientists have speculated that this effect largely stems from the fact that mitigating these risks could result in restrictions on markets, commerce, and industry that have historically tended to disproportionately benefit white males. In other words, if you are already doing well from the system, you’re less inclined to change it—no matter how much the ice melts and the oceans rise. In their 2011 paper “Cool Dudes,” Aaron McCright and Riley Dunlap concluded: “The unique views of conservative white males contribute significantly to the high level of climate change denial in the United States.” And climate change denialism is largely—but not exclusively—a US phenomenon.

In fact, their research found that conservative white males who express the highest confidence in their opinions about climate science and risks are the most wrong, and in the most severe denial. McCright and Dunlap concluded that “climate change denial is a form of identity-protective cognition, reflecting a system-justifying tendency.” This may also contribute to the age gap, since younger Americans have not yet benefitted from the societal status quo to the same degree as older Americans.

Minorities also tend to be disproportionately affected by the negative consequences of climate change, and realize the benefits of addressing it. For example, minorities are more likely to live in close proximity to coal power plants and their associated air pollution. Cutting carbon pollution would result in fewer coal power plants, and hence cleaner air for these populations. Many minorities have also recently emigrated from countries that are more vulnerable to climate change impacts. In other words, some minority groups (particularly Latinos) are more likely to have “transnational ties,” and an awareness of how people in other countries think about and are affected by climate change.

It’s almost like old white men may not be the cause of many of this nation’s intractable problems!

The Worst Spot in America

[ 38 ] April 30, 2016 |

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Stone Mountain, Georgia is an abhorrent place, one of the single most reprehensible spots in the United States. A beautiful geological formation, unfortunately it has served as a center of American white nationalist ideology for over a century. It was the meeting point for the founders of the second Ku Klux Klan in 1915. In 1916, the owner deeded the north side of the mountain to the United Daughters of the Confederacy so that figures of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis could be blasted into the side, the largest and most ambitious of the new monuments to white power erected in the South during the late 19th and early 20th century. It didn’t really go anywhere for a long time, with various architects, including Gutzon Borglum, failing to make much progress. The KKK took over fundraising for it and in 1923, the owner granted the KKK an easement to hold rallies there at any time. But it still stalled out until the civil rights movement led to a new spasm of white nationalism in the South. In 1958, the Georgia legislature passed a law to buy the mountain and in 1964, the carving of the slaver heroes started. It was completed in 1972, shortly after Jimmy Carter, who won the Democratic primary against someone to his left in part by criticizing his opponent for supporting Martin Luther King, replaced the arch-segregationist Lester Maddox as Georgia’s governor.

It’s now surrounded by a theme park and a cheesy light show shines on our Treason in Defense of Slavery leaders nightly, but that doesn’t mean that the tackiness means it shines less brightly in the meth-addled eyes of current white supremacists. In fact, there was a racist rally just last weekend, which of course led to the counter-rally and then the real horror, the canceling of the evening’s laser light show.

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