American Ideals and the Sometimes Very Disappointing Realities

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Although we often look nostalgically at our national past and find the present wanting in comparison, looking backwards can also remind us of the very considerable progress that we have made toward realizing the ideals that the nation was ostensibly founded to pursue. It reminds us also that the fault is almost never in the ideals themselves but often in our self-serving certainty that we are preserving them when in fact we are abusing them.

I came across the following passage on the dedication ceremonies for the Statue of Liberty in the Wikipedia article on the great landmark:

No members of the general public were permitted on the island during the ceremonies, which were reserved entirely for dignitaries. The only females granted access were Bartholdi’s wife and de Lesseps’s granddaughter; officials stated that they feared women might be injured in the crush of people. The restriction offended area suffragists

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Quotation of the Day

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I have been collecting pieces of the way that the arts can help us to fashion a response to disturbing political circumstances.

What follows is a brief excerpt from “In the Dark Times,” a poem by Bertolt Brecht that was written in response to times much darker than our own:

“In the dark times

Will there also be singing?

Yes, there will also be singing.

About the dark times.”

Source: Motto to the ‘Svendborg Poems‘ [Motto der ‘Svendborger Gedichte’] (1938), trans. John Willett in Poems, 1913-1956, p. 320 (1976)]

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Statistics of the Day

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Yesterday, I posted a breakdown of the percentages of metro areas of various sizes that Clinton and Trump won.

The following chart complements that chart because it breaks down the vote by number of counties carried by each candidate and the relative GDP of those counties, with a comparison between the 2016 and 2012 numbers included:


Here is what the chart looks like more graphically:


These statistics are taken from an article written by Mark Muro and Sifan Liu for the Brookings Institute. Their complete article is available at:

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Trump’s First Meeting with Media Reps

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This is the way that the meeting has been reported in an article written by Emily Smith and Daniel Halper and published in the New York Post:

Donald Trump’s Media Summit Was a ‘F—Ing Firing Squad’

Donald Trump scolded media big shots during an off-the-record Trump Tower sit-down on Monday, sources told The Post.

“It was like a f–ing firing squad,” one source said of the encounter.

“Trump started with [CNN chief] Jeff Zucker and said ‘I hate your network, everyone at CNN is a liar and you should be ashamed,’ ” the source said.

“The meeting was a total disaster. The TV execs and anchors went in there thinking they would be discussing the access they would get to the Trump administration, but instead they got a Trump-style dressing down,” the source added.

A second source confirmed the fireworks.

“The meeting took place in a big board…

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Image of the Day

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Don’t be entirely surprised if this Golden Pheasant replaces the Bald Eagle as the National Bird:


Photographed at Hangzhou Safari Park in Hangzhou, China (Reuters/Stringer)

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PostTruth Is the OED’s Word of the Year for 2016

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These are the opening paragraphs of “From Truthiness to Post­Truth, Just in Time for Donald Trump: Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year Should Scare the Hell out of You,” an article written by Erin Keane for Salon:

“Remember back in 2006, when Stephen Colbert, the fictional conservative blowhard TV personality played by comedian Stephen Colbert, coined the term “truthiness” on his Comedy Central show “The Colbert Report”? Truthiness, as Colbert defines it, is “the belief in what you feel to be true rather than what the facts will   support.”

“It was the perfect word to serve the nation in the days of the George W. Bush administration. If you felt that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, you could believe it was true that the U.S. had sufficient grounds to invade the    country and that the Bush administration and the lawmakers who voted in favor of this action…

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Juxtaposition of the Day

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This is a double juxtaposition for the price of one.

Note the order of the two articles—the implicit greater concern for the seeming epidemic of dog shootings by police over the incidence of hate crimes.

Here are the six “Fast Facts” in the second article:

“1. The new report covers incidents that occurred in 2015. This seems like the first important fact to note, since some people have already been trying to pass the data off as a response to Donald Trump’s election as president. . . .

“2. The data is incomplete + inherently increase-prone every year. . . .

“3. Hate-crimes against persons are down over last year. . . .

“4. Nearly two-thirds of all hate crimes involved no physical violence. . . .

“5. Crimes motivated by racial/ethnic bias were the most common type of hate crime. . . .

“6. Blacks, Jews, and gay men were the…

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Academics Earn $1,000/Hour Promoting Mega-Mergers

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These are the opening paragraphs of a new report by Jesse Eisinger and Justin Elliott for ProPublica:

“A serial acquirer, AT&T must persuade the government to allow every major deal. Again and again, the company has relied on economists from America’s top universities to make its case before the Justice Department or the Federal Trade Commission. Moonlighting for a consulting firm named Compass Lexecon, they represented AT&T when it bought Centennial, DirecTV, and Leap Wireless; and when it tried unsuccessfully to absorb T-Mobile. And now AT&T and Time Warner have hired three top Compass Lexecon economists to counter criticism that the giant deal would harm consumers and concentrate too much media power in one company.

“Today, “in front of the government, in many cases the most important advocate is the economist and lawyers come second,” said James Denvir, an antitrust lawyer at Boies, Schiller.

“Economists who specialize in antitrust—affiliated…

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