Archive | November 2015

Black Friday in Colorado Springs: A Brief Response

ACADEME BLOG

Given the increasing frequency with which these mass shootings have been occurring, it is all too easy to become insensitive to the life-altering impact of such events on those most directly involved—the victims and survivors and their families, friends, and co-workers.

But until someone discovers a way to transform these cumulative shocks to the national consciousness and conscience into the political will to start taking meaningful steps toward reducing their likelihood, we are left with nothing but the platitudes of regret and a mordant curiosity about how the gun zealots will continue to rationalize—to spin politically–the continuing slaughter of Americans by Americans.

There have been widespread denunciations of BlackLivesMatter for demonizing police and for placing all of them, whether dedicated or irresponsible, at much increased risk. But many of these same people have themselves been engaging in an unremitting and unmitigated demonization of Planned Parenthood. They have also been adamantly…

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Black Friday in Colorado Springs

ACADEME BLOG

All week, we have been watching media reports on the ramped-up security at airports, train stations, shopping malls, and public events—all intended to discourage ISIS-led or ISIS-inspired attacks and to reassure the public that there will be a rapid and decisive response if any such attacks should be attempted.

Very thankfully, no such attacks have thus far occurred.

But this afternoon, in Colorado Springs, a gunman has reportedly shot at least three police officers and “multiple” (that is, as yet uncounted) civilians. The incident was first reported by phone from a Planned Parenthood office in a suburban shopping center, and police have not yet entered or secured that location. In fact, they have not yet even located the gunman or gunmen.

The scant available details do, however, include this sketchy description of a gunman, from the local newspaper: “The suspect is using a ‘long gun’ and he wore a long…

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Happy Thanksgiving from the Far Right

ACADEME BLOG

This is the cartoon of the day from the Far-Right website RedStates:

Far-Right Thanksgiving Cartoon

Although it is far from the worst caricaturing of President Obama that I have seen, it is reflective of the relentless attacks on anything and everything that he has done while in office.

It may be worth remembering the next time that there is a mass murder and the Far Right joins in its reflexive chorus of condemnation of President Obama’s unwillingness to refrain from politicizing such tragic events. Because, yes, the linkages between the ritual pardoning of the turkey and the terrible conflict in Syria are much more obvious than those between the ready availability of assault weapons and the increasing occurrence of mass murders.

Indeed, all of the GOP presidential candidates have asserted that President Obama’s Syrian strategy is disastrous. Yet, when they have been pressed on what they would do differently, except for those…

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The Ten Things for Which Robert Reich Is Most and Least Thankful

ACADEME BLOG

I am re-posting Robert Reich’s Thanksgiving message because I largely agree with it.

In a period in which partisanship requires almost absolute conformity to the “party line,” even when there is actually still no consensus on where or what that line should be, the adverb “largely” seems to have become a largely abandoned modifier.

Yet, especially as I prepare to sit down to our Thanksgiving meal, all forms of the word “large” seem to be apposite.

(I have been prepping for the big meal for about six hours. I adhere to the theory that you need to have a series of small “meals” to rev up your metabolism ahead of the “big meal.” But, when I shared this theory with my wife after she expressed concern that I might be “ruining” my appetite, her response was very un-holiday-like.)

On this Thanksgiving, here are the 10 things I’m most grateful for:

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Looking Back to 1915

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

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

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

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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