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Rahm’s Chicago

[ 99 ] March 11, 2015 |

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As you may know, Rahm Emanuel closed a whole bunch of schools and mental health clinics in Chicago, leading to the classic “YOU’RE GONNA RESPECT ME!” exchange. What does Rahm’s Chicago envision replacing these horrible institutions? Gourmet mac and cheese shops.

Grant kept the concept for his new mac and cheese restaurant simple Tuesday: “Carryout only,” he said. “Gourmet mac and cheese. Good food. Good price. Good time.”

Located in the same building as his most recent Logan Square business, East Room, the yet-unnamed restaurant will feature gourmet mac and cheese by chef Laura Piper, owner and executive chef at Downtown’s One North Kitchen and Bar, 1 N. Wacker Drive.

The new restaurant will be on the first floor of the Logan Square building, which will be built in a 383-square-foot area, according to city records. The same building formerly served as a mental health clinic that shut down in 2012, followed by a series of citywide protests and a more recent hearing before the City Council.

The mac and cheese spot, led by Piper, joins a slew of new and upcoming bars and restaurants on the booming block, including East Room, Owen + Alchemy, Q-tine, Slippery Slope, The Radler, Emporium Logan Square and Chicago Distilling Company, along with some established local outlets like Revolution Brewing, Café Mustache and Gaslight Coffee Roasters.

Makes sense. Get rid of public institutions where rich white people might have to see people who make them feel uncomfortable, replace them with private institutions where rich white people will only see other rich white people and maybe just enough people of color (i.e. 1) to make themselves feel diverse and hip. That’s Rahm’s New Gilded Age Chicago in a nutshell.

St. Louis: Culinary Capital of the World

[ 93 ] March 11, 2015 |


I haven’t spent very much time in St. Louis and haven’t been there at all since 2006. That seems too bad since it is evidently the food capital of all the universe with the best Italian food on the planet and of course pizza equal to if not greater than that of New York. Everyone knows provel is better than real cheese. How great is St. Louis?

Fun fact: Jesus actually came to St. Louis first. Both mainstream Christians and Mormons got it wrong. I mean, why else would the second-highest position in the Catholic church be called Cardinals?

It’s that great. Can we start using St. Louis pizza for communion wafers in churches? It’s basically a cracker anyway.


[ 55 ] March 11, 2015 |

So this morning Bill Kristol went on television and said something profoundly stupid, offensive, and wrong. In other words, a pretty typical day. However, unlike the last several hundred times that happened, this one launched a gloriously hilarious twitter hashtag.

No, Really, the Supreme Court Going Troofer Would Be A Disaster

[ 77 ] March 11, 2015 |


Very important point by Greg Sargent here:

Scott Walker has now supplied yet another piece of evidence that Republicans will likely find themselves unable or unwilling to act if the Supreme Court guts Obamacare subsidies for millions in three dozen states. In the process, he’s illustrated how such a Court ruling will likely set in motion a mad frenzy of buck-passing among Republicans over what to do about all those people — and how that might spill over into the 2016 presidential race.

A spokesperson for Walker has now confirmed that should the Court rule that way, he will not view it as the state’s responsibility to fix the problem that results — and instead says that responsibility will fall to the federal government.

The textbook version of checks and balances maintains that institutions will jealously guard there own power. In practice, however, high veto point systems provide ample opportunity for public officials to evade responsibility. The combination of separation of powers and federalism will allow Republican public officials to evade responsibility for the consequences of Republican Supreme Court accepting the premise of a libertarian lawsuit to achieve Republican policy goals. And, sadly, it has a good chance of working: the assumption that voters will know that Obama isn’t to blame for failures related to “Obamacare” is probably wrong. But at any rate, it’s abundantly clear that this is what Republicans at both the federal and state level are going to try.

Flushing Tenure Down the Toilet

[ 58 ] March 11, 2015 |


The attacks on tenured professors are just getting ridiculous.

Is the University of North Georgia moving to terminate a tenured professor of Spanish at its Dahlonega campus for being rude? Some North Georgia faculty members say that’s what’s happening to their colleague, Victoria McCard, and that her case demonstrates the university’s disregard for the tenets of tenure.

Various faculty accounts of exactly what transpired between McCard and a guest lecturer on campus in mid-October differ slightly, but they’re essentially the same on key issues. McCard, whom colleagues described as outspoken, asked the guest lecturer to speak up during a public presentation in the library — either because he was too quiet or because McCard thought he wasn’t being direct enough in his remarks about the political climate in his home country of El Salvador, or both. Either way, McCard offended the lecturer, who later met with her to discuss what had happened. He and McCard did not see eye to eye, and the lecturer lodged a complaint against her with the department chair. The chair reported it to the administration, which investigated the claim through a series of interviews with Spanish department faculty members.

A week later, McCard received notice that she was being suspended from teaching and barred from campus. She soon received word that the university was moving to fire her for various charges under the umbrella of being an unruly employee: disruptive behavior, discredit to the university, insubordination and interfering with the work performance of another employee.

I get that certain professors can be cranky and even kind of jerks. But a firing offense? For what? For challenging a visiting speaker who, presumably, is another professor? Even if not another professor, did McCord cuss the person out or something? No evidence of that. I’m not certainly not comfortable with the new definition of tenure, which is “saying nothing that offends the university president or provost” but this is ridiculous. Effectively, not saying anything negative to anyone at all is becoming the coin of the realm in keeping your academic job.

The destruction of public legal education in America: A case study

[ 45 ] March 11, 2015 |


Yesterday I linked to a talk given last week by UC Irvine dean Erwin Chemerinsky on the future of legal education, in which Chemerinsky criticized Brian Tamanaha’s claim that law schools can and should spend much less money than they’re currently spending. Chemerinsky’s argument is that law schools cost as much as they do almost wholly because of personnel costs. Thus, according to him, the only way to cut costs significantly would be to have a law school with a small full-time faculty and a lot of part-time adjuncts, and that, in Chemerinsky’s words, “wouldn’t be a very good law school.”

This is because full-time faculty are better teachers than part-timers, and because full-time faculty are around the building a lot more, and thus are more easily available to answer student questions outside of class (This is actually his argument, in case you’re wondering if the will to sarcasm is getting the best of me).

In other words, a good legal education is by its nature extremely expensive, and indeed there’s just nothing that can be done about that (Again, this really is what he’s arguing).

Chemerinsky is a well-known con law professor of a generally liberal-left orientation. I suspect that if somebody made a similar argument to support the status quo in regard to the extremely expensive American health care system, he would simply laugh in that person’s face, given that many nations with excellent health care systems spend far less than the US does on health care.

Now for various reasons it’s somewhat more difficult to compare legal education systems across nations than it is to compare national health care systems. On the other hand, it’s much easier to compare the same legal education system across time within the same country.

Let us go now, you and I, to gaze upon the financial history of one law school over the past 55 years. This sort of micro-analysis of a single institution within a much larger institutional system has its limitations, of course, but it also offers a vivid particular glimpse of one piece of the general story of what has happened to legal education, to public education, and to public legal education, in this country over the course of the past half century. Read more…

Koch U Professor Calls for Less Democracy

[ 136 ] March 11, 2015 |


It’s hardly surprising that George Mason University, which has become a national embarrassment for its willingness to take right-wing money to hire professors with little interest other than to produce right-wing propaganda, is now seeing its professors calling for less democracy in order to create “good governance.” It may not surprise you that said good governance will coincide with the interests of the Koch Brothers rather than workers and everyday people.

Technology over Pre-K

[ 63 ] March 11, 2015 |


This is a very small newspaper item from the small but pretty wealthy Rhode Island town of East Greenwich. But I think it is telling about education today, where school districts (and most certainly the outside funders) are pushing expensive technologies as answers to education issues while basic and fundamental aspects of education like funded pre-K are left to rot. We might ask whether every East Greenwich high school student student should receive a pricey Chromebook before universal pre-K is implemented in the town. I’d probably argue no but the fact that it happens that way here and no doubt in school districts across the country is too telling about educational priorities in the age of privatizing public goods.

The Logan Act is an illiberal anachronism

[ 65 ] March 11, 2015 |

To state the obvious, the Republican letter to Iranian leaders is ridiculous and awful on both procedural and substantive grounds, and they deserve all kinds of scorn and criticism for it. But to attempt to suggest the letter is constitutes a criminal seems to have inspired some breathless pundits to revive the Logan Act (last seen in the hands of Ronald Reagan, threatening Jesse Jackson with persecution), an illiberal, speech-limiting anachronism that hasn’t actually been used in a prosecution in over 200 years. Here’s the relevant text:

Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

There’s a case to be made that Cotton letter appears to be in technical violation of this law. But there’s a much more important case to be made that this law deserves to stay dead and buried. Consider the following crank-penned missive, adorned with sufficient postage to make it to Sofia: “As a proud Bulgarian-American, I am dismayed to learn of the ongoing negotiation of the Bulgarian-American blah blah blah treaty. This policy would be a tragic, short-sighted mistake for both countries for reasons XYZ and I encourage you to abandon this plan.” The notion that sending this letter ought to be a felony is indefensible, but it’s as much a violation of the above standard as the letter.

I don’t know enough about first amendment jurisprudence to know if this statute would stand up to scrutiny. It shouldn’t, though, and given its longstanding disuse it would be a strong candidate for desuetude. Since obviously prosecution isn’t going to happen, there’s little to be gained to try to revive a terrible law like this. The Cotton letter can be criticized on several other less problematic but devastating grounds; there’s no need to revive sort of thing.

See also Brian Beutler.


….to clarify, since some commenters are missing this point, I am not making the argument that my cranky Bulgarian letter and the Cotton letter are ought to be seen as “equivalent.” There’s are important distinctions between them, all of which clearly make the Cotton letter more objectionable. My point is merely that as written the Logan Act fails to make this distinction. It’s not my suggestion they are equivalent, it’s the implication of this terrible, unconstitutional law that they are. If the Cotton letter should be illegal (and I don’t think it should, probably, but I take no argument on that here) we need a less overbroad, unduly speech-restricting statute.

Game of Throne podcast: Season 2, Episode 4 — “Garden of Bones”

[ 1 ] March 11, 2015 |


Why Do We Have This Tool?

[ 12 ] March 10, 2015 |

In honor of the release of Grounded: The Case for Abolishing the United States Air Force in paperback, Real Clear Defense has published an excerpt:

Air force independence was controversial from the start. The appendix of a British Air Ministry memorandum of June 1921, entitled “Some Arguments for and against a Separate Air Force,” detailed seven arguments against independence. In this section, I boil these arguments down to five rationales for air force independence. Some of these rationales speak directly to the idea of an independent air force, while others justify bureaucratic division in a more general sense.

Anita Sarkeesian: “What I Couldn’t Say”

[ 24 ] March 10, 2015 |

Anita Sarkeesian discusses what it’s like to be under constant scrutiny, what it’s like to be harassed, and how women respond to harassment. It’s moving without being maudlin…yet still inspires so much haaaaaaate.

UPDATE: The original video appears to have been removed by the user. I’m replacing it with this video (link supplied by The Temporary Name. Thank you, Temporary!). advocatethis says she comes in at 26:00.

Thanks to SophiaNOTLoren for the transcript:

So, it looks like “Ideas At The House” has all of the individual speakers from this panel — the one with Anita Sarkeesian is here if it makes a difference for updating the post.

(It’s been ages since I commented on anything at LGM, I vaguely recall seeing a post about commenting policy changing… has it really been so long?!)

Anyway, here’s a transcript I typed up. Hope it’s useful to someone else out there.

What I couldn’t say is “Fuck you!” ~laughter and applause~ To the thousands of men who turned their misogyny into a game; a game in which gendered slurs, death and rape threats are used to try and take down the big bad villain — which in this case, is me.

My life is not a game. I have been harassed and threatened every day for going on three years, with no end in sight, and all because I dared to question the self-evident, obvious sexism running rampant in the games industry. Nothing about my experience is a game.

What I couldn’t say is “I’m angry.” When people who know what I go through on a daily basis meet me in person, they often act with some surprise, saying things like, “I don’t understand how you aren’t more angry!” Because I’m just being me, I’m usually kinda charming and nice to people… but I respond saying that I am angry; in fact, I’m furious! I’m angry that we live in a society where online harassment is tolerated, accepted, and excused; where web services and law enforcement are not taking responsibility for the abuse women suffer every day online. I’m angry that I’m expected to accept online harassment as the price of being a woman with an opinion.

What I couldn’t say was anything funny. Most of my friends would describe me as a little bit snarky, and pretty sarcastic, and you can occasionally glimpse this part of my personality in earlier criticism videos, but I almost never make jokes any more on YouTube. Even though humor can be humanizing, and I like using it, I don’t do it because viewers often interpret humor and sarcasm as ignorance, especially if those viewers are male, and the ones making the jokes happen to be female.

You would not believe how often jokes are taken as “proof” that I don’t know what I’m talking about, or that I’m not a “real gamer,” even when those jokes rely on a deep knowledge of the source material. So as a result, I intentionally leave that more humorous side of my personality out of my current video presentations. I rarely feel comfortable speaking spontaneously in public spaces, I’m intentional and careful about the media interviews I do, I decline most invitations to be on podcasts or web shows, I carefully consider the wording of every tweet to make sure it is clear, and can’t be misconstrued.

Over the last several years, I’ve become hyper-vigilant. My life, my words, and my actions are placed under a magnifying glass. Every day I see my words scrutinized, twisted, and distorted by thousands of men, hellbound on destroying and silencing me.

What I couldn’t say is, “I’m a human being.” I don’t get to publicly express sadness, or rage, or exhaustion, or anxiety, or depression; I can’t say that sometimes the harassment really gets to me — or conversely, that the harassment has become so normal that sometimes I don’t feel anything at all. The death threats come through on my social media, and it’s just become a routine: screencap, forward to the FBI, block, and move on.

I don’t get to express feelings of fear, or how tiring it is to be constantly vigilant of my physical and digital surroundings. How I don’t go to certain events because I don’t feel safe, or how I sit in the more secluded areas of coffee shops and restaurants so the least amount of people can recognize me, and see me. I don’t show how embarrassed I am when I have to ask the person who recognized me in my local grocery store to please not mention the location where they met me.

Somehow we’ve fooled ourselves into thinking that by expressing human emotions, it somehow means that the harassers have “won.” This false belief is largely because in our society, women are not allowed to express feelings without being characterized as “hysterical,” “erratic,” “bitchy,” “highly emotional,” or “overly sensitive.” Our expressions of insecurity, doubt, anger, or sadness are all policed, and often used against us. But by denying ourselves the space to feel and to share those feelings, we’re just perpetuating this notion that we should all suffer alone. That we should all just toughen up, and grow thicker skin — which we shouldn’t have to do!

What I couldn’t say is, “I don’t even want to be saying any of this!” Largely because I still fear that expressing human emotion publicly will make me seem insecure. The truth is that women who persevere and retain some measure of their humanity are not expressing weakness; they’re demonstrating courage. In all the different, messy, honest ways that we respond to harassment, we actually demonstrate how much we all still have in the face of such cruelty and injustice.

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