Saturday, January 24, 2015

Chidike Okeem — Is America a Leftist Nation?

via Change the Game

The conventional wisdom of the American right is that liberals are winning the culture war because they control the mainstream media and malign conservatives unfairly. This argument does not consider the copious ways in which mainstream conservatives work overtime to make their ideology as unpalatable to non-traditional audiences as possible. Yes, liberals are winning the culture war. However, as far as American politics is concerned, it is simply an uncomfortable truth that liberals are doing a much better job of winning public debates and appealing to the diverse American electorate. By contrast, conservatives are much more concerned with posturing and appealing to the most extreme elements on the far right. Conservatives are trained to see ethnic diversity as the political equivalent of a metastasizing cancer. 

 Liberals are consistently proposing ideas and solutions to problems. Even if these solutions are economically misguided or logically incoherent, they are superficially appealing enough to make people believe that they are truly good ideas. President Obama’s idea to make community college "free," for example, requires knowledge of economics to understand why government intervention in the college education space creates distorted incentives and unintended economic consequences. Conservatives are not effective in making this argument. Although "free" community college may be a foolhardy policy, it is effective in accomplishing the goal of making people believe that Democrats truly care about social mobility. In his recent State of the Union speech, Obama did an admirable job of making the voting public know that he is a bleeding-heart liberal, even though he did a lackluster job of explaining how he would accomplish all the wonderful things he plans on giving people for "free." 

 Read complete article here

Black Republican Reception features Tim Scott, Mia Love, Will Hurd

Joseph C. Phillips — A Real Tribute To Martin

April 4, 1968. I was in the first grade. Time has dimmed my memory but I can still see my mother entering my classroom, taking me by the hand and whisking me home. Later, I discovered Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated. Riots had broken out at many of the schools in town and rumors swirled that violence was going to overtake the entire city, as it had happened in other parts of the country. The frustration, rage and grief of a people lit the country on fire. 

 The following year, as I readied myself for school, my mother thrust a black turtleneck at me announcing that I would be wearing the shirt to school. I hated turtlenecks and protested. My older sister, ever the diplomat, explained that it was “Wear Black Day” at school and if I didn’t wear the shirt, I’d be beaten by my classmates. Needless to say, I wore the shirt. I wish my mother had told me that I was wearing the shirt to honor Dr. King. Perhaps then the gesture would have had meaning. As it was, I spent the entire day tugging at the shirt, scratching my neck, and wondering why I was the only kid wearing black on “Wear Black Day.” 

Read complete article here

Jessye Norman singing Erik Satie's "Je te veux" (French for 'I want you')

I have understood your distress,
dear lover,
and I yield to your wish:
make me your mistress.
Modesty shall be far from us,
no more [distress]1,
I long for the precious moment
when we will be happy:
I want you.

I have no regrets,
and I want only one thing:
next to you, there, so close,
to live all of my life.
Let my heart be yours
and your lips be mine,
let your body be mine,
and let all of my flesh be yours.

I have understood your distress, etc.

Yes, I see in your eyes
the divine promise
that your loving heart
comes to seek my caress.
Enlaced forever,
burned with the same flames,
in dreams of love,

we will exchange our two souls.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Dr. Elaina George, M.D. — Obamacare fines are looming should you really be afraid?

Dr Elaina George is a Board Certified Otolaryngologist. She graduated from Princeton University with a degree in Biology. She received her Masters degree in Medical Microbiology from Long Island University, and received her medical degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

Jonathan Haidt — The moral roots of liberals and conservatives

Psychologist Jonathan Haidt studies the five moral values that form the basis of our political choices, whether we're left, right or center. In this eye-opening talk, he pinpoints the moral values that liberals and conservatives tend to honor most.

Minorities and the 'Slumburbs'

Despite bleak forecasts, families of color are finding more equitable conditions in suburbs. But the type of suburb matters.

Maureen Still/Flickr

There's a flaw to this theory of a growing "slumburban" America, and to the notion that the suburbs are contributing to ever-downward social and economic mobility for minorities relative to whites. A new study finds that, in fact, minority households are faring better in some suburbs, specifically those suburbs that have "matured" after the 1968 Fair Housing Act. Most of the gains in these places—what the study describes as "post-civil rights suburbs"—are accruing to low-income and African-American households.

Read complete article here

Productivity-wage divergence is due to globalization, not the decline of unions.

This chart suggests to me that the productivity-wage divergence is due to globalization, not the decline of unions.

Marriage, and When Liberals Are Wrong

"A large amount of other research suggests that [family structure] also drives economic outcomes."

David Leonhardt is the managing editor of a new venture at The New York Times that focuses on politics, policy, and economics. It features analytical journalism, with an emphasis on data and graphics.

 One of today’s more intriguing social-science debates is whether changes in family structure have helped cause the rise in economic inequality — or are merely an effect of that rising inequality.

 I’ll have to generalize here a little bit, but in broad terms many liberals have argued that economic factors are the ultimate cause of family changes. Marriage has declined among lower-income Americans, according to this argument, because they are no longer able to find the sort of steady, good-paying work that allows for stable families. Among college graduates, on the other hand, marriages have actually become more stable — with divorce on the decline — because they’re still doing O.K. economically.

Conservatives instead tend to see family structure as a cause and inequality as an effect: The rise of single-parent families has caused economic hardships for many people in those families. If the country could find a way to promote stable marriages, across social classes, inequality would be lower than it otherwise is.

Read complete article here

Dr. CHE Sadaphal — The Arab–Israeli conflict

In order to understand the Arab Israeli conflict, one must also consider the historical developments that have shaped the past and formed the conflict-laden present that we all live in.

The official narrative for the creation of the State of Israel began long before the country was officially “created” in 1948. Fervor for Zionism has been growing throughout Europe decades before the end of World War II, and after the Holocaust, sufficient political and moral currency existed to establish a Jewish state in Palestine—an area before 1948 that was composed of more than 90% non-Jews and whose land owners were 99% non-Jewish. After the end of World War I, the British controlled Palestine as part of a colonial mandate, and they made plans to partition the region into a Jewish state after their mandate ended, partly in response to United Nations Resolution 181 (also known as the partition resolution). This resolution was adopted by the UN General Assembly but was notably nonbinding; it also advocated diving Palestine into Jewish and Arab States when the British relinquished control.
On May 14, 1948, the State of Israel was born after being recognized both by then U.S. President Harry Truman and then head of the Jewish Agency David Ben-Gurion.
It is important to note that even before May 1948, once plans for the partition were formalized, violence increased in the region out of the expected competition, displacement, and threatened occupation of land between nonindigenous and indigenous people. In fact, the region was engaged in civil war from November 1947 to July 1949 as rival armed forces jockeyed for control.
My purpose is not to point fingers or to blame but to better understand the present by taking a discerning look at history. It seems that from the very start, things in the Holy Land were very messy, and although we are more than 60 years removed from 1948, very little has changed—rival sides still live in perpetual tension and conflict even though the balance of power has shifted dramatically. However, it has reached the point where no one and no side remains innocent and all hands are dirty. The reason being is that violence begets violence, and the perpetual cycles of tit-for-tat justice has absolved all parties of moral legitimacy because invariably, once violence is resorted to, the innocent always suffer, demoting the aggressors to using the same strategy as those they are so vehemently fighting against. Even if one cause is just, it is never just to take the lives of the innocent in the pursuit of retribution.
But didn’t God choose Israel? Aren’t they “special” and “chosen?”

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake - Love Never Felt So Good

Stephen L. Carter — There's No Ignoring Driverless Cars

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

You might have missed the news that the University of Michigan last month completed construction of a 32-acre miniature city that will enable the safe testing of, among other things, “connected and automated vehicle technology” -- that is, driverless cars. The carpocalypse may be closer than we think -- Chris Urmson, who runs Google’s driverless car project, expects to see driverless cars on public roads within two to five years -- which is why it’s important to ask hard questions now.

Automobiles that operate themselves are all the rage. “Driverless technology is the future,” said Claire Perry, an undersecretary in Britain’s Department for Transport, this past October. “We can’t avoid it, and I don’t want us to.” The autonomous Audi A7, unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show this month in Las Vegas, has received rhapsodic reviews from technology writers. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which has deployed rovers on the surface of Mars, announced last week that it will be partnering with Nissan to develop dual-use technologies.

Read complete article here

John McWhorter — Start a Revolution Against the War on Drugs

via The New York Times:

The idea of a “New Civil Rights Movement” is hopeless. The civil rights revolution was due not only to relentless effort, but a confluence of factors that made them bear fruit in a way they hadn’t for centuries before. Amid the Cold War, segregation was embarrassing as P.R. Restrictions on immigration since the 1920s had made it easier to draw focus to black people. Television was new. Republicans were chastened after Barry Goldwater’s defeat.

There is nothing equivalent today. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to sit still; we just need to narrow our focus. Any uptick in “revolutionary” ideas among blacks in our moment is founded largely in what happened to Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and John Crawford last year, and it is on the prevalence of such cases that we must indeed focus. The poisonous relationship between black men and police forces is the key to why we never really get past race.

 Racism expresses itself in other ways, but no cognitively resilient group of people feels “oppressed” in a day to day sense by wealth gaps or dumb things people can say. A world with no racism at all would be like a world without dirt, and playing fields -- made of dirt -- are never perfectly level. Few black people would deny any of that.

Read complete article here

Michael David Cobb Bowen — An Appetite for Pathology

I just watched two movies that I didn't really want to watch. I recognized the promise in the trailers that these films were ready to deliver something grotesque and so I avoided them. However, my daughter Scholar, has a particular rule for selecting movies to watch with us and it was her night to choose. She refuses to watch anything the lot of us have watched before. For her, it's all about us in the living room experiencing the same emotions at the same time for the first time. I think that's a reasonable approach to watching even unreasonable films. For me, I want films that are unsubtly vivid and loud and I primarily want to see them at the theater. At home however, I much prefer something humorous and witty like Robot and Frank or The Grand Budapest Hotel. I don't like movies that take themselves too seriously. For me, films are only visual literature. Like anybody else, I occassionally watch movies for what I presume to be the same reasons as anyone else, including buzz about them being hot movies. These two very hot movies I consciously decided to stay away from with my customary 'ick'.

The two movies were Nightcrawler and Gone Girl, essentially two stories about psychopaths going about their business and getting away with it. Unlike with Indiana Jones or Robocop, the bad guy doesn't fall from a great height screaming all the way down.

There's not much to say about either flick in and of themselves. They are both professionally done in such a way that they convincingly tell their stories, although from a strictly cinematic point of view, Gone Girl is the superior film. What's more interesting to me is the reason why I would, or why you would go ahead and watch. You see both of these are films about a mindless public's complicity in the weavings of a psychopath. They are about the profession of maintaining a mainstream media narrative that is voyeuristic, perverse, obsessive and inescapable.

There's no news that dirty laundry sells, and that America is a huge market for that sort of nasty business. And it's no secret that even during the feral motorcycle movie heyday of the 70s, breaking through with Mad Max, the entire post-apocalyptic world was never so graphically obscene as what we watch today. However, there are a couple of questions that raise my eyebrows at this particular moment.

Read complete article here

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr — My Dear Fellow Clergymen (April 12, 1963)

April 16, 1963

While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statements in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

I think I should indicate why I am here In Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against "outsiders coming in." I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty-five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct-action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here I am here because I have organizational ties here.

But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco-Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

Racial Bias, Even When We Have Good Intentions

Race bias is subconscious. Conservatives tend to reduce it to conscious actions. Progressives over interpret bias. 

The New York Times: 

The deaths of African-Americans at the hands of the police in Ferguson, Mo., in Cleveland and on Staten Island have reignited a debate about race. Some argue that these events are isolated and that racism is a thing of the past. Others contend that they are merely the tip of the iceberg, highlighting that skin color still has a huge effect on how people are treated. Arguments about race are often heated and anecdotal. 

As a social scientist, I naturally turn to empirical research for answers. As it turns out, an impressive body of research spanning decades addresses just these issues — and leads to some uncomfortable conclusions and makes us look at this debate from a different angle.

Read complete article here

A conservative vision for social justice

The American economy is splitting in two. Opportunity is plentiful for the wealthy and well-educated, but it is drying up for the bottom half. What can Washington do? After decades of research and hands-on experience, American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks offers surprising solutions in this AEI Vision Talk.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

GOP Censures Member for Racist Posts and Calls for Resignation

The Republican National Committee’s executive committee voted Wednesday to censure a party leader who has repeatedly posted racist and homophobic material to social media. 

Time Magazine:  In a closed-door vote in San Diego, the Republican Party leadership also demanded the resignation of Dave Agema, the Michigan national committeeman whose controversial statements have been a thorn in the side of the GOP as it seeks to rehabilitate its image with minority voters.

“Dave Agema’s history of harmful and offensive rhetoric has no place in our party, which is why the RNC executive committee acted in the swiftest way possible to avoid giving him a platform,” Chairman Reince Preibus said shortly after the vote. “We have voted to censure him, and we are urging the Michigan GOP and their voters to explore options to discipline Agema for his actions. Today, we used all available tools to remove him from the committee.”

Read complete article here

Our Voices Will Be Heard: Tauana Goins

Hear Tauana Goins' story. Tauana is one of the nine brave parents who has chosen to make their voices heard by participating as plaintiffs challenging teacher dismissal laws in New York State.