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You Mess With Steve Rogers, You Mess With Me (X-Posted from Graphic Policy)

[ 123 ] May 25, 2016 |

captain america steve rogers 1 featured
Oh hey, there’s a new Captain America: Steve Rogers comic book out today. Why does this fill me with incandescent rage?

Find out below the cut!

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Why We Need the Liberal Arts

[ 295 ] May 25, 2016 |

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Danielle Allen has a long essay on the attack on civic education by proponents of vocational education who think STEM fields are the only legitimate fields. There are of course an endless number of problems with STEM-only education. One of them is that it undermines political participation and an understanding of the world in which we all live together. That’s one of the most powerful parts of the essay.

To make judgments about the course of human events and our government’s role in them, we need history, anthropology, cultural studies, economics, political science, sociology, and psychology, not to mention math—especially the statistical reasoning necessary for probabilistic judgment—and science, as governmental policy naturally intersects with scientific questions. If we are to decide on the core principles that should orient our judgments about what will bring about safety and happiness, surely we need philosophy, literature, and religion or its history. Then, since the democratic citizen does not make or execute judgments alone, we need the arts of conversation, eloquence, and prophetic speech. Preparing ourselves to exercise these arts takes us again to literature and to the visual arts, film, and music.

In other words, we need the liberal arts. They were called the free person’s arts for a reason.

To say that we need all these disciplines in order to cultivate participatory readiness is not to say that we need precisely the versions of these disciplines that existed in the late eighteenth century. To the contrary, it is the job of today’s scholars and teachers, learning from the successes and errors of our predecessors, to build the most powerful intellectual tools we can. Where their versions of the tools were compatible with preserving patriarchy, enslaving black Africans, and committing genocide against indigenous peoples, ours must not be. This revision of the liberal arts curriculum is controversial but necessary, for we want to retain the purposes and intellectual methods of the liberal arts, if not all of its content. We still need to cultivate capacities for social diagnosis, ethical reasoning, cause-and-effect analysis, and persuasive argumentation.

Given that the liberal arts are especially useful for training citizens, it should come as little surprise that attainment in the humanities and social sciences appears to correlate with increased engagement in politics. There is a statistically significant difference between the rates of political participation among humanities and STEM graduates. Data from the Department of Education reveal that, among 2008 college graduates, 92.8 percent of humanities majors have voted at least once since finishing school. Among STEM majors, that number is 83.5 percent. And, within ten years of graduation, 44.1 percent of 1993 humanities graduates had written to public officials, compared to 30.1 percent of STEM majors. As college graduates, the students are generally of similar socioeconomic backgrounds, suggesting that other distinctions must account for the difference in political engagement.

Of course, the self-selection of students into the humanities and STEM majors may mean that these data reflect only underlying features of the students rather than the effects of teaching they receive. Yet the same pattern appears in a study by political scientist Sunshine Hillygus, which controls for students’ preexisting levels of interest in politics.

Hillygus also finds that the differences in political engagement among college graduates are mirrored in K–12 education. High SAT verbal scores correlate with increased likelihood of political participation, while high SAT math scores correlate with decreased likelihood of participation. Again, since socioeconomic effects on SAT scores move both verbal and math scores in the same direction, this difference between how high verbal and high math scores affect the likelihood of participation must be telling us something about the relationship between attainment in specific subject domains and participatory readiness. Moreover, the SAT effect endures even when college-level curricular choices are controlled for. Just as Glaeser, Ponzetto, and Shleifer conclude, it is attainment in the verbal domain that correlates with participatory readiness.

Of course, there are probably zero non-STEM professors who argue that we don’t need engineers and chemists and biologists and computer scientists. We definitely need all of these people. However, a society that trains people only for these sorts of professions is a barren society, devoid of generations of human knowledge and understanding, one with real consequences for our politics and society.

Modern Heroes

[ 34 ] May 25, 2016 |

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I still maintain that some of the greatest heroes in the United States are those in the deepest red states fighting for reproductive rights.

Opening an abortion clinic in the United States is never easy, and it’s especially difficult in a state hostile to abortion rights. That’s one of the reasons no one has attempted to open a clinic in Oklahoma since 1974 — at least, not until now. With the state down to just two clinics since the closure of Outpatient Services for Women in December 2014, Julie Burkhart decided to bring back abortion services to Oklahoma City, the largest metropolitan area in the country without a provider.

Just a month from opening her doors, Burkhart, CEO of Trust Women and owner of South Wind Women’s Center in Wichita, Kansas (which faced its own contentious opening in 2013), now finds herself facing a state legislature that’s not only anti-choice, but just approved a radical, headline-grabbing bill that would make the act of performing an abortion a felony.

This will be the first abortion clinic to open in Oklahoma in 40 years.

You may not be surprised that Julie Burkhart is not patient with the idea that the 2016 election does not matter so we might as well vote for true leftist Jill Stein.

Every Crisis is an Opportunity to Punch Hippies

[ 41 ] May 25, 2016 |

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I love Republicans. Every crisis is an opportunity to tear down the safety net and push forward a pro-corporate, pro-polluter agenda.

The House voted along party lines Tuesday to approve a bill that would loosen pesticide regulations in the name of fighting the Zika virus.

Democrats almost unanimously opposed the bill, which was recently retooled by House GOP leaders as an effort to prevent the spread of Zika. The final tally was 258-156, with all but 23 Democrats opposed to the bill.

The bill, which loosens environmental protections on pesticides and other chemicals, was called the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act until earlier this month.

Democrats have accused Republicans of seizing on the Zika virus to pass a years-old bill that would make it easier for corporations to skirt regulations.

Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), the bill’s sponsor, said it would help to eliminate a “duplicative and unnecessary permitting regulation” that has made it more difficult for some local governments to spread for mosquitoes.

In a statement opposing the bill on Monday, the White House said nearly all state and local officials spraying for mosquitoes are already allowed to use chemicals “as needed to respond to Zika virus concerns and do not require any additional authorization.”

Makes sense though since we all know Rachel Carson is the greatest mass murderer since Hitler.

Where is my mind?

[ 301 ] May 25, 2016 |

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Going to do this in bullet points:

  • A couple of years ago Matt Bruenig published some very poorly reasoned stuff about why lawyers should make less money. He got the facts regarding what lawyers and law graduates actually make all wrong, and then took a bizarre theoretical position: that lawyers making less money was simply a good thing in and of itself, without any regard to whether this result would produce any beneficial effects for anyone else.
  • I wrote a brief thing on LGM criticizing him, to which he responded in a sophomoric way, doubling down on his previous mistakes and throwing lots of gratuitous insults around for good measure.
  • Last week Bruenig lost a freelancing gig writing for Demos because he got the facts all wrong about a policy issue, then doubled down on his previous mistakes and threw a lot of gratuitous insults around for good measure. He may or may not have then refused to promise to the people at Demos (a partisan think tank) that he would stop gratuitously insulting people whose good opinion Demos would like to cultivate. In any case he was fired.
  • He then squeezed $25,000 out of the internet by posting an appeal on GoFundMe that was less than scrupulously straightforward about his actual employment situation.
  • I posted something about the ironies of the above series of events, which in the first line disavowed any opinion on whether the loss of his freelancing side job was a fair outcome under the circumstances.
  • This then inspired several luminaries of the People’s Front for Judea, or possibly the Judean Peoples’ Front, to attack Erik Loomis for failing to stand up for labor rights, or something.

Thoughts:

  • My interactions with Bruenig have been limited to these two incidents. Scott and djw avow that substantively speaking his stuff in general is very good, and I have no reason to doubt them.
  • To wax avuncular, Bruenig is in his mid-20s, and I more than suspect I would have been similarly obnoxious on many occasions if they had had the internet and the twitter and the snapchat etc. back when I was a snotty young know it all. He is apparently a talented young person and I hope he does great work in the future.
  • Twitter in particular seems like a terrible medium for any kind of exchange of views. It’s apparently the cyber-equivalent of getting real drunk before getting into an argument.
  • Blaming Erik for failing to opine on these matters is the very definition of absurdity, even by Twitter’s abysmal standards or lack thereof.
  • Yesterday I had an extensive phone conversation, at her request, with Matt’s wife Elizabeth Bruenig. She is very distraught about these events, and although I’m not free to discuss the details, our conversation left me with a strong sense of how toxic the social network has become in regard to political debate and commentary in particular, and how this toxic atmosphere has particularly bad professional and personal effects on women journalists and commenters.
  • The people who are trying to get Matt Bruenig fired from his primary employment, and who are harassing Elizabeth Bruening, are the scum of the earth and should be treated as such.

[SL] [UPDATE] Since someone asked in comments whether Elizabeth Bruenig was “really being harassed,” the answer is “yes.” When someone says that their tweets are damaging their family and ask to take the discussion offline and you refuse, that’s unambiguously “harassment.” Foust also contacted Matt Bruenig’s day job employer, which is scummy behavior and threatening their employment whether you explicitly ask for them to be fired or not. Foust writes to dispute that he contacted Bruenig’s employer. Since his Twitter feed is now private I can’t dispute his characterization, so I withdraw the charge. MY apologies; I should not have made the claim without access to the original Tweets, and I regret the error. The first I obviously stand by.

Foreign Entanglements: Taiwan

[ 0 ] May 25, 2016 |

On the latest episode of Foreign Entanglements, Natalie speaks with Lauren Dickey about Taiwan and China policy:

“We need something for readers who love Paglia’s content, but find her writing too coherent and unpretentious.”

[ 149 ] May 24, 2016 |

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This is something that was published on Salon. It has words, some of them big ones, but alas the rare occasions in which the combinations of words generate something close to meaning leave you begging for the pure gibberish:

In this election, abstraction will clearly lose, and corporeality, even if—or particularly if—gross and vulgar and rising from the repressed, will undoubtedly win. A business tycoon who vigorously inserted himself in the imaginations of the dispossessed as the foremost exponent of birtherism surely cannot be entirely beholden to the polite elites, can he? Trump is capital, but he is not capital, he is of us but also not of us in the way that the working class desires elevation from their rootedness, still strongly identified with place and time, not outside it. After all, he posed the elemental question, Where were you born?

Though he is in fact the libertine (certainly not Clinton, who is libertinism’s antithesis), he will be able to tar her with being permissive to an extreme degree—an “enabler,” as the current jargon has it, for her husband’s proclivities, for example. It has nothing to do with misogyny. It has everything to do with the kind of vocabulary that must substitute for people’s real emotions, their fears and desires, in the face of an abstract market that presumes to rule out everything but the “rational” utility-maximizing motive.

If you don’t believe that these grafs could be representative, it’s your funeral.

Things that Shouldn’t Be Confusing

[ 392 ] May 24, 2016 |

Apparently some clarity regarding the LGM editorial process is necessary:

As should surprised no one, Erik has no control whatsoever over what Paul posts. To the extent that any contributors have the right to prod or quash or edit a post, that power lies with Scott and myself, and we exercise extraordinary discretion in practicing it. Thus, Erik is clearly under no way responsible for either maintaining or violating a “respectful silence.” And with respect to this claim:


It is again obvious to me that the situation that Erik faced in 2012 and the situation that Matt Bruenig faces now are sufficiently different that there may be any number of reasons why someone would decide to comment on one, and not the other. It may also be the case that Erik (and anyone else here at LGM) simply desires to stay out of what is becoming an increasingly fratricidal discussion. That’s not just their right; it’s likely a damn good idea. I am flummoxed, however, regarding how Corey and Connor and Glenn and Doug think that publicly haranguing someone who has remained on the sidelines (intentionally or no) is somehow a sensible thing to do.

Book Review: Michael Todd Landis, Northern Men with Southern Loyalties: The Democratic Party and the Sectional Crisis

[ 62 ] May 24, 2016 |

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Michael Todd Landis has no tuck for the doughfaces, northern Democrats who worked to expand the slave power in pre-Civil War America. He blames them directly for the Civil War, sharply rejecting previous histoirans who have placed the blame for the war on abolitionists. In this book, Landis details a generation of utterly feckless, spineless, submissive northern Democratic politicians who fully served their southern masters, even though their own actions angered their constituents and decimated their party in northern states.

Landis chronicles northern Democrats from the Compromise of 1850 through the election of 1860, demonstrating how the aggressive Southern nationalists bent on turning the United States into a slave nation demanded increasing fealty from their northern allies they needed to hold power in the United States. Although the South had an unfair advantage because of the Three-Fifths Compromise, the growing northern population meant that to hold the House and win the presidency, the South had to have a successful Democratic Party in North. That became increasingly harder when to be a prominent Democrat meant to hold extremist positions and not compromise, even with other elements in the northern Democratic Party. The South had plenty of northern Democrats willing to play along, not only Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan, who would serve their interests in the White House, but senators, congressmen, and those who controlled state political machines.

After the Mexican War, which deeply angered northerners, the South could not run its own politicians for the presidency and expect to win. They needed northerners to do what they said. The first was Lewis Cass of Michigan, who effectively believed in nothing except his own political fortunes and southern rights. Cass took the Democratic nomination in 1848, defeating the young and ambitious Stephen Douglas and the powerful James Buchanan. Cass’s nomination led to northern Democratic splitters nominating Martin Van Buren under the Free Soil Party, helping to doom Cass and elect the Whig Zachary Taylor to the White House. Congress was a mess because of the war’s aftermath and the House could not pick a speaker. Landis credits Stephen Douglas much more than Henry Clay of solving these problems through the Compromise of 1850, but perhaps “credit” isn’t the right word. Rather, it was Douglas promoting his own pro-Southern agenda and unquenchable ambition by forcing though the Fugitive Slave Act. Landis states “Northern Democrats were clearly responsible for the Compromise of 1850” (32) because the critical Senate votes came from people like Douglas, Cass, Indiana’s Jesse Bright, who was actually kicked out of the Senate for treason in 1862, and other northern Democrats. This law infuriated northerners but Democratic politicians went ahead with it anyway, the first of many times in the next decade they would risk their own political careers to serve the South. Moreover, northern Democrats like James Buchanan took the lead in defending the law, urging for its instant implementation and punishing free soilers like David Wilmot by targeting their districts to send the first slave catchers.

In 1852, the Democrats hoped to nominate someone more capable than Cass, who still wanted the presidency. They didn’t get anyone more capable, but they did get someone who was more than willing to serve southern interests in New Hampshire’s Franklin Pierce. Landis dismisses Pierce’s abilities entirely, noting, “His tenure in Congress was notable only for his public drunkenness and his eagerness to please the Southern leadership.” (60) Through the various machinations and infighting in the Democratic Party, Pierce rose into the nomination. During his four years, he signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, gave plentiful cabinet positions to southern radicals (including Jefferson Davis as Secretary of War), recognized the pro-slavery adventurer William Walker as the rightful president of Nicaragua, pressed for the U.S. acquisition of Cuba, and supported the Gadsden Purchase, a naked land grab from Mexico specifically in order to build a transcontinental railroad that would serve southern interests.

Amazingly, this was not good enough for the South. Because Pierce gave some major patronage positions to more moderate Democrats and tried mollify different factions of the party, and because he respected Stephen A. Douglas’ popular sovereignty position in Kansas, for the southern leadership, he was not only a disappointment but a traitor. A real leader for them would indeed invade Cuba, would do whatever it took to make Kansas a slave state.

James Buchanan harbored no such reservations about moderate northern Democrats. Hating Stephen Douglas and fully believing in the southern cause, Buchanan did whatever the South wanted. He continued to support Latin American expansionism to the extent that Nicaragua and Costa Rica, fearful of American takeover, issues the Rivas Manifesto, denouncing Buchanan’s slavery expansionist politics. Buchanan even fired a commodore for trying to catch the privateers like David Walker still operating in Central America. He also called for more land from Mexico, saying in his Second Annual Message, “Abundant cause now undoubtedly exists for a resort to hostilities against the Government.” (173)

By 1857, the core issue for southern nationalists was ensuring that Kansas was admitted at a slave state. Dred Scott killed Douglas’ popular sovereignty arguments and the South would stop at nothing. Buchanan agreed. The famously undemocratic Lecompton Constitution, which pro-slavery forces created without allowing a vote among the anti-slavery majority, became Buchanan’s one number policy goal. Many northern Democrats in the House and Senate were reluctant to vote for it because they rightfully feared for their political careers. But Buchanan pushed it through by bribery and corruption. Simply buying votes, Buchanan and his allies managed to get it through Congress, only to see Kansas voters reject it, Democrats to get swept out of office in the North in 1858 by an outraged populace, and Congressional investigations into the bribery. Southern Democrats were depressed that their northern allies lost, but saw it as a symbol that the North was the enemy, not that their own policies were bankrupt. Instead, they moved closer to secession.

At the heart of all of these actions is that Calhounism had spread throughout the Democratic Party. These people by the 1850s simply had no respect for democracy as an institution. To be a nationally prominent Democrat in 1860 was to be a follower of Calhoun’s ideology. This helped destroy the party in the North and Landis follows key states and their political machines, including Indiana, Pennsylvania, and New York, to demonstrate the slow decline of the party on the critical state level. Landis makes it clear that Lincoln did not win in 1860 because the Democratic Party divided between Douglas and Breckinridge. The North was so disgusted with the Slave Power by then that a Republican victory was almost inevitable. Landis argues that the split actually helped the anti-Lincoln forces by making Douglas and John Bell seem more moderate than they actually were. Douglas had basically been read out of the Democratic Party by 1860 because the South despised him as a traitor, so his being able to play off that allowed him to win some votes from Lincolln.

Landis also has a strong historiographical argument to make. He accuses previous historians of not only downplaying the role northern Democrats played in disunion, but also of being so enthralled by southern speechifying that they took their side. Specifically, he accuses David Potter, author of The Impending Crisis, long the standard overview of the 1850s, as being “hopelessly infatuated with Southern orators and seems bent on justifying secession and placing for the war on abolitionists.” This is as close as one can come to putting Potter as Dunning-curious. A harsh charge and I’d be curious what you all think of it, as it has been at least 15 years since I’ve read Potter and don’t quite remember the argument.

Northern Men with Southern Principles is a very good and infuriating book. If you ever had any respect for Pierce and Buchanan, you won’t anymore. These were absolutely awful leaders. It’s very much a political history and Landis doesn’t provide much of the social context in the states as to the details of the northern rejection of the Democrats in the 1850s, but that’s an exceedingly minor critique. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in these issues.

This Is Reassuring

[ 91 ] May 24, 2016 |

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Say what you will about Woody Johnson, the man has an eye for talent: Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow, Mitt Romney, Jeb! Bush. He’s backing another winner:

New York Jets owner Woody Johnson is the latest major Republican donor and fundraiser to get behind Donald Trump, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Johnson, who was finance chairman for Jeb Bush’s failed presidential campaign, plans to raise money for the Republican National Committee and Trump through a joint fundraising committee, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Johnson met with Trump Monday and is prepared to lean on potential donors to get on board, the person said.

For years, Johnson has been a major player in fundraising circles. He was a bundler for the Republican candidate in each of the past four elections, and has written some big checks himself, including the $500,000 he contributed to Right to Rise, the super-PAC that supported Bush. Johnson is likely to donate some of his own money this year, too, the source said.

Johnson, who has known Trump for years, has had an even bigger impact as a bundler. In May 2008, he arranged a fundraiser for John McCain’s cash-starved presidential campaign that brought in $7 million in a single evening. Johnson was also a top bundler for George W. Bush’s 2000 and 2004 campaigns and for Mitt Romney’s 2012 effort.

His tastes in political candidates and quarterbacks are similarly unerring:

20 (51). New York Jets: Christian Hackenberg | Grade: D-

The Jets have been looking for a quarterback and they’re taking the chance on Hackenberg. The tape has been horrible, and that includes his freshman year that everyone touts as his saving grace. He’s been one of the most inaccurate quarterbacks in college football for three straight years and his -12.1 overall grade ranked 41st in this draft class alone in 2015. The Jets are hoping that he can be a reclamation project, but he has to take monumental strides to become a viable NFL quarterback.

Hackenberg had a 53.5 COMP% as a junior. Woof! I think I understand why Fitzpatrick’s agent isn’t blinking.

An Unfortunate Mural

[ 65 ] May 24, 2016 |

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Oh dear:

The artist behind the Elgin mural that depicts a portion of a famous photo of a 1930 lynching of two black men in Indiana said the piece was intended to get people to ask questions, think about issues and consider their own place in history.

“The idea here was talking about lynching, asking questions, the history,” artist David Powers said.

“You don’t want to be on that wall with these monsters. Anywhere. In any town,” Powers said. “You don’t want to be on this wall murdering someone because you don’t like them.”

The 66-year-old Elgin artist said he has been pushing boundaries since he began creating art. He said his family has always believed in standing up for the little guy, the immigrant, and people of all races.

When social media users began calling for removal of his mural, “American Nocturne” from a downtown Elgin park, Powers was infuriated and talked about the lynching.

“These were vigilantes, criminals, who murdered people in the streets. I find it abhorrent and awful,” he said.

But if people are not reminded of these crimes, if it is not addressed in our art and in our civil discussions, it can happen again, Powers said.

When one group is afraid of the other, if they don’t ask questions and find answers, fear wins, he said.

OK, I guess? But I don’t think you can just paint the famous picture of a lynching, minus the lynched people, and then walk away. I do think the people of Elgin need to confront their past. I’m not entirely sure this is the most productive way to accomplish that. It is racist? Probably not, if the artist says so. Does such a depiction need to be both accompanied by an explanatory sign and part of a community process that includes discussion and education? Yes, definitely.

The original lynching photo is at the link if you want to look at it.

Donald Trump, Who Profits from Outsourcing

[ 35 ] May 24, 2016 |

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Sure, Donald Trump is lying about his opposition to outsourcing and about his caring whether Americans have manufacturing jobs, but if you are Cornel West, at least he’s doing so authentically!

Donald Trump has been tough on American companies that have moved jobs to other countries. That hasn’t stopped the presumptive Republican presidential nominee from investing in them.

Trump has denounced units of United Technologies Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Mondelez International Inc. on the campaign trail — and has received income of as much as $75,000 from bonds issued by all three since January 2015, according to his latest financial disclosure form released Tuesday. He also has invested in Apple Inc.’s stock and bonds even though in February he called for a boycott of the company for refusing to help the Federal Bureau of Investigation unlock an iPhone used by a terrorist in San Bernardino, California.

I mean, sure, we can talk about how bad these companies are. It’s so much easier for me to do that when a piece of their profits are going into my Swiss bank accounts!

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