Looking Back to 1915

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

I was doing some online research and happened to follow a link to the Wikipedia entry for the major events of 1915.

What follows is a selectively edited version of that list of events.

In some ways, the mix of events seems strangely familiar. In many other ways, however, it is very clear that the world was a much more volatile and dangerous place a century ago than it is today. Any yet, in the midst of all of that carnage and calamity, inequity and pettiness, there were some truly profound achievements, as well as many more mundane accomplishments, all contributing to ongoing human progress.

It seems worthwhile to remember that broader truth in a week in which the cover of Time magazine had the tagline “World War ISIS.” I would describe it as the headline but it is in the lower right-hand corner of the cover, below a long shadow…

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The Great Divide: Political Rhetoric and Political Reality

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

In an article for Vox, Ezra Klein challenges the Republican talking point that “America is doing terribly.” Klein points out that although the GOP presidential hopefuls may be now attracting some support with this message, it will create two longer-term problems for them: “The first is that the economy simply isn’t as bad as they’re making it out to be — so the apocalyptic rhetoric may well run into month after month of good jobs numbers during the general election. (Of course, if the economy unexpectedly falls into recession, then Republican rhetoric will look much better.) The second is that Republicans are increasingly focused on economic problems they don’t really know how to solve, and don’t have much credibility to say they will solve.”

More specifically, Klein’s article includes two graphics that illustrate very pointedly how far the campaign talking points about the need to address economic inequality and…

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Ohio, the (Congestive) Heart (Failure) of It All

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Last night on The Nightly Show, Larry Wilmore reported on Ohio’s rejection of a ballot issue that would have legalized marijuana.

Focusing on Ohio’s electoral importance as a presidential swing state, Wilmore described Ohio as “America’s designated driver” and suggested that, instead of indulging with weed, Ohioans prefer to engage in the state’s favorite recreational activity, which is “slowly dying in Ohio.”

I have to say that I was shocked to hear this kind of denigration of our state from someone not from Michigan.

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Two Koch-Related Informational Items

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

First Item:

Nation of Change has published a very succinct overview of the Koch family’s various foundations, an article that includes links to further and fuller information on each of the entities.

Written by Dave Levinthal of the Center for Public Integrity, the article is available at: http://www.nationofchange.org/2015/10/31/the-koch-brothers-foundation-network-explained/.

Second Item:

A website called Inspiration Green has provided an exhaustive list of the products made by Koch-owned enterprises, as well as a detailed overview of the various activities of Koch-funded political entities.

The list is available at: http://www.inspirationgreen.com/koch-brothers-products.html.

Taken together, these two items demonstrate that hyperbole about the Koch family’s outsized influence on American politics and American life is simply not possible.

Indeed, through their political action committees and their various foundations, through which they have recruited other ultra-wealthy families to their causes, the Kochs and the Waltons have had an impact far beyond anything managed or perhaps even…

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BGSU Chapter President and Colleague Coordinate Presidential Poll in Ohio

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

At Bowling Green State University, Melissa Miller and David Jackson, both faculty members in the university’s department of political science, have worked with the university’s office of communications and contracted with Zogby Analytics to poll likely Ohio voters on their preferences among the presidential candidates of both parties.

This poll is the first sponsored by BGSU. According to Jennifer Sobolewski, the university’s communications manager, the total cost of the poll was $9,500. She suggested that the poll will “raise BGSU’s visibility.”

BGSU is located in Wood County is a swing county in Ohio, which has become one of the most consistent swing states in the nation with a substantial number of electoral votes.

In an article on the poll published in the Toledo Blade, Miller points out that “Wood County’s record of voting for the winning presidential candidate is second longest in the state, after Ottawa County. Wood County last…

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Ben Carson Is Very Much Opposed to Political Correctness but a Proponent of Campus Censorship of Free Expression

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

As Tyler Kingkade has illustrated in an  article published yesterday by the Huffington Post, Ben Carson has frequently railed against “political correctness” and, in particular, against the attempts to silence conservative voices of college campuses:

For example, Carson compared the U.S. to Nazi Germany last March, before saying, “I know you’re not supposed to say ‘Nazi Germany,’ but I don’t care about political correctness. You know, you had a government using its tools to intimidate the population. We now live in a society where people are afraid to say what they actually believe.”

In 2012, Carson said: “[People] need to rise up, they need to say to political correctness: ‘Take a hike. This is who we are, this is what we believe in, these are principles that allowed us to become the pinnacle nation in the world in record time and we’re not about to throw them out of the window…

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On Ben Carson’s Advice to Those Confronted by a Mass Murderer

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

When our son was younger and we were watching a television show or a film that happened to feature any gunfire, he would wonder out loud why a person who had been shot had not simply dodged out of the way of the bullets. He had apparently watched any number of cartoons in which characters escape bullets by stretching their bodies in extremely elastic ways around the flying bullets.

So, when I heard Ben Carson say that, if confronted by a mass murderer while in a group of people, he would urge them to rush the gunman because “he can’t get all of us,” it recalled my son’s childish notion that bullets can somehow be escaped if one simply remains calm and determined and concentrates on avoiding the bullets.

But Carson is an adult, and despite all of his advocacy of second-amendment rights, he seems to have little appreciation for…

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The Early Presidential Debates in a Single Chart

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Debate Topics

It is very encouraging to see the discussion of student debt early-childhood education, at least on the Democratic side, and the fact that standardized testing has been included among the topics not yet discussed by either party.

From our perspective, it would be very helpful to see a discussion of the efficacy of corporate “reform” of public education, the mounting scandals involving charter schools and for-profit higher education, and the broader issue of the preservation of public education as an enduring and necessary public good, rather than a more ephemeral corporate commodity.

It would also be very helpful to see a discussion of unions on the Democratic side–a discussion that might include the very clear connection between a middle-class standard of living and labor unions, the effects of “right to work,” and the push-back against the exploitative expansion of contingent employment.

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Why is ABC Hiding from the Public the Ugly Truth about the Treatment of Refugee Families?

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

The author of this post is Ana Fores Tamayo, and it is a somewhat edited version of what was was originally published on her blog Adjunct Justice on September 18 [http://adjunct-justice.blogspot.com/2015/09/why-is-abc-hiding-from-public-us-dirty.html].

When Pope Francis touches US soil, he will begin a whirlwind tour through the northeast corner of our vast country. So, he decided to hold a virtual audience with several parts of the country that he would not be able to visit during his brief sojourn here.

Via satellite then, he spoke with students at the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago’s inner city; with the homeless and with those dedicated people who work with them in Los Angeles; and finally, with parishioners from Sacred Heart Church in McAllen, Texas, many of whom have led the efforts to show that the refugee crisis in the United States is a humanitarian crisis, not a political issue to be exploited.

A one-hour special covering these papal visits…

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Sometimes a Single Statistic Is a Terrible Revelation

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Over the past decade, any number of commentators have noted the striking differences between our national discussions of and our national responses to terrorist attacks and domestic gun violence. In fact, that contrast has now been referenced so frequently that it has become something of a truism.

But, in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, Michael Shermer, the publisher of Skeptic magazine, has highlighted a statistic that should breathe new life into that truism and give it fresh dimension.

It is a statistic that should profoundly disturb every American, whether they are gun owners or not. Moreover, it should make us much more determined to move beyond the current impasse—beyond the well-rehearsed talking points–and to treat this issue with the great seriousness that it not only deserves but demands.

Here is that statistic:

Since 1970, nearly 1.35 million Americans have been killed by firearms.

As a point of…

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