Police Violence

What if cops were Skittles?

According to Vox, police have killed over 2,000 people since Ferguson. Their map of fatal encounters illustrates the point with red dots.

That made me wonder. What if cops were Skittles?
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democracy-in-america

Democracy in America: a bad idea

It’s now clear that democracy, as practiced in an anti-intellectual society like ours, doesn’t work. Let’s give elitism (properly understood) a try.

Democracy+ElitismMany of you probably read Andrew Sullivan’s New York Magazine piece back in April. If not, you should do so as soon as possible – it’s among the most important and insightful political essays we have seen in a generation and will reward your time. I won’t even try to summarize his message, because no paraphrase I could provide would do it justice. Short version: the US is in trouble, and democracy is perhaps the reason.

Sullivan got me to thinking, in some depth, about where I am politically and how I got here. More importantly, where do I go now? Continue reading

facebook-arrechaga-meme

Examining a cynical, fake-patriotic Facebook meme

Instead of making yourself a tool for those whose agendas run counter to the best interests of the nation that flag represents, how about stepping back and asking  who’s playing you, and why?

This meme came across my Facebook feed earlier today.

facebook-arrechaga-meme

Obviously somebody has an issue with Colin Kaepernick (and other black athletes) protesting injustice in America by refusing to stand during the national anthem. Continue reading

Adam Silver NBA Hb2

NCAA decision on HB2: hey NC, stupid and hateful ain’t cheap

At some point the North Carolina legislature is going to capitulate on its “bathroom” law. Will the NCAA’s latest move be the tipping point?

Much has been written and said about NC’s discriminatory “bathroom” law. And now even more is going to be written and said, thanks to the NCAA’s decision to yank seven college sports championship events from the state.

Late Monday, the NCAA announced it was pulling seven championship events out of North Carolina in the coming school year over the state’s so-called “bathroom law” — legislation best known for barring transgender people from using government building bathrooms in accordance with their gender identities.

The action came on top of numerous protests and calls to repeal the measure, all of which have gone unheeded by North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature and Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who’s running for reelection.

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clinton-collapse-696x385

Did Russia poison Hillary? An inductive argument

clinton-collapse-696x385Dear Hillary,

Get rid of all your stuff. I know I sound like Inconvenient Jesus right now. Just do it. All the pantsuits, all the jewelry, all the hairspray, the mouthwash, everything, especially the sentimental stuff. If you can’t pass through the eye of the needle, the road ends here.

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Never forget…what, exactly?

Yesterday, Big Think posted an interesting collection of Gallup Poll results, along with some commentary: Obama Actually Made America Great Again. Here’s the Data. To hear the rabidly irrational Obama opposition on today, of all days, I can only say that these are funny numbers to describe how Obama has ruined America in eight years.

What’s truly deplorable is that, of all the ways Bush (with a boost from Dems) ruined America Continue reading

Journalism

In just a decade, ‘content’ trumped ‘news’ (and those who reported it)

 Ten years has seen the evisceration of newsrooms; the alteration of form, function, and distribution of information; and the emergence of a distorted public discourse. Oh, joy.

Since 2007, I’ve written about the stark reductions in numbers of reporters and editors in America’s daily print newsrooms. During that time, I’ve witnessed more than 20,000 newsroom jobs vanish. Now, it seems, only about 30,000 men and women toil in those newsrooms.

MediaI chose toil deliberately. First, those who remain have had to meet the continued and unchanged corporate demand for product or content once produced by twice their number. Second, the job has changed: In addition to the still-present demand for print content, those 20,000 face the imposition of onerous digital deadlines and unbelievable expectations of quantity. Post so many stories a day, or an hour, they’re told. That, of course, has impacts on the quality of those stories.

For many, those who remain even have different titles — they are no longer reporters or editors. They have become “community content editors,” “content coaches,” “presentation team members,” “engagement editors,” “headline optimizers,” “story scientists,” or “curators in chief.”

Yes, the operations of those places once known as “newsrooms” are rapidly and radically changing. But that obvious observation obscures a few emerging realities about how information (once known as “news”) is crafted and distributed.

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captain-picard-facepalm

Did ANYBODY in the Libertarian Party graduate from high school?

The GOP and the Dems don’t have the market on staggering stupidity cornered. Check out the Libertarians.

Jesus Pole-dancing Christ. How are you not prepared for a question you know is coming?

aleppoYou might remember earlier this week when Libertarian candidate for Leader of the Free World® Gary Johnson didn’t know what “Aleppo” was.

“What is Aleppo?” Mr. Johnson said when asked on MSNBC how, as president, he would address the refugee crisis in the war-torn Syrian city.

When pressed as to whether he was serious, Mr. Johnson indicated that he really was not aware of the city, which has been widely covered during the years that Syria has been engulfed in civil war. After Mike Barnicle, an MSNBC commentator who is often part of the “Morning Joe” program panel, explained that Aleppo was the center of Syria’s refugee crisis, Mr. Johnson struggled to recover.

“O.K., got it,” he said…

Breathtaking, huh? It gets better. Continue reading

Woman-Power

Goodbye forever, Phyllis Schlafly, 9/5/16

Schlafly’s personal formula was to marry rich, employ a housekeeper while proudly touting her housewife credentials, follow her bliss (into enterprises for which she did not require a living wage), and then work to deny equality for all women.

We knew you too well and for too long, hypocrite extraordinaire.

She was a conservative who was against the New Deal, feminism (“Men should stop treating feminists like ladies, and instead treat them like the men they say they want to be.”), an equal rights amendment to the Constitution (“I simply didn’t believe we needed a constitutional amendment to protect women’s rights.”), legalized abortion, laws against the harassment of women in the workplace (“Sexual harassment on the job is not a problem for virtuous women.”), sex education for children in public schools (“Sex-education classes are like in-home sales parties for abortions.”), and the Supreme Court’s ban on teacher-led prayer in public schools (mind you, she only wanted Christian prayer in all children’s schools, of course). Continue reading

Colin Kaepernick

Shaun King is right. White America doesn’t approve of ANY form of black protest.

If you have an issue with what Colin Kaepernick is saying and doing, you’re defending racism and police brutality. Period.

Colin Kaepernick

Shaun King has a pointed question for all of you Colin Kaepernick critics: which form of protest do you actually prefer? 

It’s such a great question because when you think back on it, there has never been a black protest that America’s “reasonable” and “responsible” and “moderate” whites were cool with. We turned the hoses and attack dogs on MLK’s peaceful protests. We really didn’t like Malcolm X’s “by any means necessary.” The very existence of the Black Panthers made us apoplectic.

We disapproved of Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s black power salute. Continue reading

CATEGORY: World

#HopeTuesday: Moving the goalposts faster than the ball – our expectations of humanity’s progress vs reality

We’ve never had it so good. “We,” as in all of humanity, and “good” as in just about every measure of life, liberty and happiness.

by djerrid

Here are a few of the many, many examples. Infant mortality, educational attainment, lifespan, reduction in violence, communication both locally and globally, justice, nutrition, wealth. You name it, we’re better than ever. You are blessed to live in the best time for human beings.

So…why do we feel like the world is falling apart? Why are we so afraid and discontented: with each other, for our future, for our well-being? Of immigrants, of suicide bombers, of the zika virus, of Russia and China flexing their muscles, of the refugee crisis, of the rise of nationalism in Europe and elsewhere, of Trump, Hillary and Congress’s tendency to put party and personal ambition well above the country’s interest, of income and other forms of inequality? Continue reading

Donald-Trump-snake-oil

Donald Trump is a genius

It’s easy to be dismissive of Trump. But is it safe to think he’ll get his in the end?

Donald-Trump-snake-oilNo, he’s not a genius like Stephen Hawking or David Foster Wallace or Prince. Nor is he even Warren Buffet or Bill Gates. Rather, Trump is a genius in the same way as the raccoon which continues to get into the bungeed garbage can in my garage that holds the cat food is a genius. He is an intuitive genius.

Donald Trump is a genius at using people. Ask Chris Christie. Many observers point to the turnover in Trump’s campaign leadership as bad management. It’s anything but. Corey Lewandowski did his job, getting Trump through a crowded field of candidates. But by June, despite his primary success, there was still a chance the GOP Establishment would the rules process to deny him the nomination. Lewandowski was an outsider who couldn’t help with that. So Trump discarded him. (Check out Ernst Rohm on Wikipedia. But I digress.) Continue reading

Woman-Power

Patriarchy in the news, 8/21/16

Woman-Power

I haven’t done one of these in a while, but there is so much out there.

First up, trending on Twitter is #thingsfeministmenhavesaidtome. There are surprises, but the golden oldies are well represented, such as these:

“You’re just assuming all guys are like that, which is pretty sexist.”
“Aren’t you generalizing men if you discuss patriarchy? Don’t alienate allies now.”
“I consider myself more of a humanist.”
“Just because women think something is sexist doesn’t mean it automatically is, you know.”
“I support feminism, but I think women need to lighten up.”
I guess a hashtag things”feminist”menhavesaidtome might not work as well.

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Ryan Lochte for president

I’m not disappointed in Ryan Lochte.

Liar Liar 2, starring Ryan Lochte - coming soon to a theater near you.

Liar Liar 2, starring Ryan Lochte – coming soon to a theater near you.

That would be like getting disappointed at the sun for rising in the east. At squirrels for hoarding nuts. At Arsenal for finishing fourth. No, I’m not disappointed in Ryan Lochte. I’m disappointed in myself.

When I saw the headline – Ryan Lochte and three others robbed at gunpoint in Rio – my first thought was something like “damn, that’s awful.” But it should have been “wait – what’s the operative word in that sentence?” The answer, of course, is “Lochte,” and if I were even a little alert I’d have known, without question, that a raging, sideways douche-bro shitrain was a’fixin’ to blow up.

I should have known. You should have known. We all should have known, and the fact that we didn’t, that’s on us.

And it just keeps getting worse. First he made up the robbery story. Then we get video proving he lied and we learned that it all went down because he and some douche-bro teammates were trashing a store in the middle of the night. Then he lies some more. Continue reading

Hillary Clinton & Bernie Sanders

I’m not ready to make nice: an open letter to my condescending pro-Clinton friends

Hillary ClintonA number of people who are supposed to be friends have crossed a line and I don’t know if there’s a way back.

In recent months I have been called an idiot.

I’ve been called silly.

I’ve been called a child.

I’ve been called privileged.

I have also been called a sexist and a misogynist.

Not by Republicans, or trolls or anonymous blog commenters, though. No, I have been called these things by people whom I considered to be friends. Plural. As in, several people, some of whom might be reading this.

This isn’t all of it, either. In more Facebook shares and comments and stray tweets than I can readily recall I have had my intelligence, my character, my good faith, my commitment to my country and my family and my community questioned, often in pointed and patently insulting terms.

I’ve held my tongue for the most part, but the time has come to make something clear to those among you who have chosen the path of condescension: you have damaged our friendship badly, perhaps irreparably. Continue reading

Journalism

CNN (and others) and its overuse of anonymity: There’s more to the story …

First, there’s this headline:

Secret Service spoke to Trump campaign about 2nd Amendment comment

CATEGORY: Journalism Then there’s this lede graf:

(CNN) — A US Secret Service official confirms to CNN that the USSS has spoken to the Trump campaign regarding his Second Amendment comments.

Then there’s this second graf that does not identify “the official”:

“There has been more than one conversation’ on the topic, the official told CNN.

Then there’s this fifth graf: Continue reading

Donald Trump

The Trump Problem: is it too late for GOP elites to step in?

Donald-Trump-snake-oilNothing much surprises me at this stage of my life. And then again there’s the Republican Party.

I wasn’t at all surprised when Donald Trump won 13 million votes in the GOP primary. George Wallace won just under 10 million back in 1968. Factor in fifty years of population growth and that says there are probably about 16 million hard core segregationists in the U.S. I was mildly surprised that no one else got more votes than Trump. But then again, it was a very large field of weak and candidates with narrow bases.

However, I was stunned at the feeble effort of the elite to stop Trump. Continue reading

ArtSunday

Writers of slender acquaintance: Karel Capek

Our houses and machines will be in ruins, our systems will collapse, and the names of our great will fall away like dry leaves. Only you, love, will blossom on this rubbish heap and commit the seed of life to the winds.” – Karel Capek

Karel Capek (image courtesy Wikimedia)

The Czech writer Karel Capek, in terms of being a writer of slender acquaintance, falls somewhere between Rudyard Kipling, a Nobelist remembered now only for children’s stories and Rhian Roberts, a Welsh writer of great promise who published a few short stories and then disappeared. While he is often (erroneously) credited with having coined the word for a creation that may haunt the 21st century,  was nominated for the Nobel Prize numerous times, and even has literary awards named for him, Capek is not widely read now.

He should be. His central themes – the ability of technology to overwhelm and destroy humanity, the dangers of rampant consumerism, corporatism run amok, the evils of authoritarianism of both left and right political persuasions – will resonate powerfully with contemporary readers. Given that Capek died in 1938, his prescience about the power of these forces in our lives makes him a writer who should be widely read and discussed. Continue reading

aging-infrastructure

Clinton, Trump proposals to rebuild nation’s infrastructure do too little

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president, says she wants to spend $275 billion over five years to rebuild American roads and bridges. As noted here last year, that’s nowhere near enough money. Donald “I am your voice” Trump, the GOP nominee, says he’ll spend twice as much.

Neither candidate is overly specific on the details of how to fund those repairs.

But the amounts suggested are piddling. Take Clinton’s $275 billion, for example. What will that buy?

aging-infrastructureAccording to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, the United States has “4.12 million miles of road in the United States, according to the Federal Highway Administration, including Alaska and Hawaii. The core of the nation’s highway system is the 47,575 miles of Interstate Highways, which comprise just over 1 percent of highway mileage but carry one-quarter of all highway traffic.” [emphasis added]

The association provides a variety of estimates for road construction and reconstruction, varying by number of lanes, urban vs. rural, rebuilding vs. milling and repaving, and so on.

Using a middle-of-the-road (an appropriate cliché here, I suppose) figure of $5 million per mile, Clinton’s proposed spending would buy reconstruction of about 45,000 miles of highways — only 1 percent of America’s traffic-bearing byways.

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Trump, WaPo and the GOP: gutless politicians, tepid journalism

Apropos of Denny’s insighful analysis earlier today, the Washington Post blows the headline.

Instead of

Broad array of military luminaries condemn Trump over attacks on Khan family

a less gutless rag would have gone with

Broad array of military luminaries condemn Trump over attacks on Khan family but none withdraw endorsements

‪#‎justsaying‬ ‪#‎profilesincourage‬