New York Review of Books
On the rant page of the revered NYRB, Garry Wills sounds quite plausible for a change:
Obamacare is now, for many, haloed with hate, to be fought against with all one’s life. Retaining certitude about its essential evil is a matter of self-respect, honor for one’s allies in the cause, and loathing for one’s opponents. It is a religious commitment.
(April 22, 2014)
Using the most esoteric readings of chicken entrails and more advanced techniques of sociological observation, Miss Astra Taylor, yes that is Astra Taylor, discerns what some readers might call A Great White Plot:
The Web is regularly hailed for its “openness” and that’s where the confusion begins, since “open” in no way means “equal.” While the Internet may create space for many voices, it also reflects and often amplifies real-world inequities in striking ways.
An elaborate system organized around hubs and links, the Web has a surprising degree of inequality built into its very architecture. Its traffic, for instance, tends to be distributed according to “power laws,” which follow what’s known as the 80/20 rule—80 percent of a desirable resource goes to 20 percent of the population.
In fact, as anyone knows who has followed the histories of Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook, now among the biggest companies in the world, the Web is increasingly a winner-take-all, rich-get-richer sort of place, which means the disparate percentages in those power laws are only likely to look uglier over time.
Powerful and exceedingly familiar hierarchies have come to define the digital realm, whether you’re considering its economics or the social world it reflects and represents. Not surprisingly, then, well-off white men are wildly overrepresented both in the tech industry and online.
(April 10, 2014)
Lifted from the website of ex-Senator John Edwards’ new law bordello as a public service of this magazine, a magazine that stoutly believes that Senator Edwards erred in not using a condom:
Edwards Kirby is led by John Edwards, a tireless proponent for social and economic justice. As a proven advocate who will fight for fairness, equality, civil rights and equal opportunity under the law, there is no attorney more dedicated than John Edwards.
Throughout his national political service—as U.S. Senator from North Carolina, 2004 Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee and candidate for President of the United States—John tirelessly fought for progressive social policies aimed at eliminating poverty, reforming health care, safeguarding civil rights and protecting the environment.”
New York Times
The lugubrious Paul Krugman, who in 1968 indubitably read Poverty Is Where the Money Is (while taking notes) and who recently scampered away from Princeton University for the City University of New York where he will be paid $250,000 for advancing that institution’s “inequality initiative,” once again brings down the boom on the American “oligarchs” as opposed to the Russian oligarchs:
But who wouldn’t prefer modest inflation and a bit of asset erosion to mass unemployment? Well, you know who: the 0.1 percent, who receive “only” 4 percent of wages…. Now, I don’t think that class interest is all-powerful. Good arguments and good policies sometimes prevail even if they hurt the 0.1 percent—otherwise we would never have gotten health reform. But we do need to make clear what’s going on, and realize that in monetary policy as in so much else, what’s good for oligarchs isn’t good for America.”
(April 6, 2014)
In Slate’s imperishable “Dear Prudence” column an exchange between intellectual titans:
Q. Kids: Over lunch the other day my brother mentioned that he had taken his 2-year-old son to buy a helmet so he can ride his tricycle outside, and that my nephew’s first choice was a yellow and pink helmet covered with cartoon flowers. My brother gently steered him toward a more “manly” helmet. This provoked a lively (amiable) discussion around the table as to whether little boys should be allowed to wear pink and flowers if they so choose. My immediate response was that they should, but I suppose I can see my brother’s point that allowing kids to wear anything they please might get them bullied. What’s your position?
A: If your brother’s 2-year-old daughter wanted the black helmet covered with spiders, he surely would have laughed and gotten it for her, and not pushed her to choose the princess helmet. I wish your brother had let his son pick the flowers. Maybe it reminded this little boy of an older girl—or female cartoon character—he admires. Maybe he just likes flowers. In any case, it was a great opportunity for your brother to examine his reaction to gender stereotypes and let them be damned. While he didn’t, he did bring up this incident and solicited other opinion, which is all to the good. Also good was that your brother was not either alarmed or punitive about this with his toddler. My position is that while letting his boy choose flower power would have been great, he’s the father and his gentle steering was not out of line.”
(January 22, 2014)
America as seen in black and white by Keith Boykin, who is for the purposes of this idiotic excursus black:
But put aside all the racist vitriol directed at President Obama in the past five years. He’s actually not the primary target of the right-wing hate machine. He is merely a symbolic placeholder who represents the way conservatives see government as a tool for empowering undeserving people of color at the expense of deserving whites. Rank-and-file conservatives also hated Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton because they believed these two white presidents were redistributing their hard-earned tax dollars into the pockets of Black and Latino welfare queens.
The Republican Party has been playing with fire on these issues since the 1960s, when the GOP’s “southern strategy” began consciously deploying race as a tool to scare working-class whites. That’s how they convinced the very people whose lives depend on government benefits from Medicare, Social Security and the Veterans Administration to believe that government, as Ronald Reagan put it, is “the problem.”
Such cognitive dissonance enables white conservatives to see themselves as victims of the very government spending that supports their lifestyles.
(April 10, 2014)
Slate (yet again)
The makings of a pest, Antonia Ayres-Brown of New Haven, Connecticut, who issues a public bull on the pages of Slate:
In the fall of 2008, when I was 11 years old, I wrote to the CEO of McDonald’s and asked him to change the way his stores sold Happy Meals. I expressed my frustration that McDonald’s always asked if my family preferred a “girl toy” or a “boy toy” when we ordered a Happy Meal at the drive-through. My letter asked if it would be legal for McDonald’s “to ask at a job interview whether someone wanted a man’s job or a woman’s job?”
A few weeks later, I received a short response from a McDonald’s customer satisfaction representative claiming that McDonald’s doesn’t train their employees to ask whether Happy Meal customers want boys’ or girls’ toys, and my experiences were not the norm.
This response was unsatisfying, so I began visiting more than a dozen local McDonald’s locations with my father to collect data. Ultimately….
(April 21, 2014)