Tuesday, June 27, 2017

"What Legally Meant Was Very Different at the Turn of the Last Century, Compared to What It Means Now"

"So now four countries—Mexico, India, China, and the Philippines—max out every year, said Ngai. And depending on the visa category that a person applies for, the wait can be 10, 20, even 30 years. But if you're coming from a low-immigration country such as New Zealand, she said, you might not wait at all.
"When people who want to limit immigration to the U.S. say that immigrants should 'go to the back of the line and wait their turn,' said Domenic Vitiello, a Penn professor who teaches a course called the Immigrant City, they often fail to acknowledge there really is no single line to which everyone has equal access."

Michael Matza at The Philadelphia Inquirer talks with historians of immigration.

The Artlessness of the Con

"So, you compromise, because human nature avoids conflict, right? This is what he’s gaming you for because once you compromised, you’ve lost. You've inferred his premise that you have some complicity in the matter otherwise why would you compromise? You are on the defensive and will never get it back."

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo discusses "Trump's modus operandi."

And Jonathan Chait in New York asserts that "Social Darwinism Is What Truly Guides Trump."

Monday, June 26, 2017

"What Is Their Role in the Age of Trump?"

"While his rise clearly coincides with a global turn toward authoritarianism and away from democracy, he is very much a product of recent American history.
"He may not be usefully analogous to politicians of the past, but like them he benefited from historical processes that we can understand and respond to: our worship of celebrity; the persistence of gender, racial and economic inequality; the devastation of foreign wars; voter suppression; and a political system that does not reflect the diversity or policy preferences of the American people."

Moshik Temkin at The New York Times argues that "Historians Shouldn't Be Pundits."

Julian E. Zelizer and Morton Keller at The Atlantic dispute Temkin's argument.

"They Just Don't Have It"

"'The effects of unconditional cash transfers' included 'a significant increase in … quality of life benefits,' Ioana Marinescu of the University of Chicago noted in a recent report. Those included improvements in 'mental and physical health, education outcomes, parenting [and] reduced criminal activity.' Studies found either no impact or a slight decrease in labor participation, but some of that may have been due to recipients leaving workplace jobs to care for family members, including children, at home.
"Those results show that 'poor people and the middle class know best how to spend their money,' says Foster."

Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times looks at the discussion over universal basic income.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

"Embarrassed Library Of Congress Can't Believe Some Of The Albums It Used To Be Into"

"'Don't get me wrong; Ella Fitzgerald, Neil Armstrong's recorded words from the moon, the Velvet Underground—all that's still good, but boy, some of this just does not hold up. I think I've listened to the Frank Zappa stuff and Calvin Coolidge's inauguration maybe twice.'"

From The Onion.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

"It's About the Value Divides in British Society and to Some Extent in All Rich Democracies"

"There is a group I call the 'Anywheres' who are about 25 percent of the society. They tend to be highly educated and mobile, and the combination of the two is especially important here in Britain because we have an overwhelmingly residential university system.  We also have a very very dominant capitol city that sucks in so much of the professional class. Anywhere people tend to value the kinds of things that you'd expect from people who live those kind of lives. They value openness and autonomy and fluidity. They generally find social change easy to handle, and they have weak attachments to place and to group.
"On the other side of the ledger you have a much larger group, less politically influential, but much larger, about 50 percent of the people, who I call 'Somewheres.'  They tend to be much less well educated and to be much rooted and attached to places and to value familiarity and security and the things you would expect to flow form those kind of lifestyles. Anywheres can find social change easy and have weak group attachments whereas Somewheres find social change more difficult and tend to have much stronger group attachments, whether to nation or city or place."

John Judis at Talking Points Memo interviews David Goodhart, author of The Road to Somewhere.

"The Southern Roots of Modern Conservatism"

"To see all this as simple obstructionism, perversity for its own sake, is a mistake. A cause lies behind it: upholding the sanctity of an ideology against the sins of the majority. This is what drives House Republicans to scale back social programs, or to shift the tax burden from the 1 percent onto the parasitic mob, or to come up with a health-care plan that would leave Trump’s own voters out in the cold. To many of us, it might seem heartless. But far worse, Buchanan once explained in a famous essay, is misguided Good Samaritanism, which, by helping the unlucky, cushions them against the consequences of their bad choices. This is exactly the sentiment voiced by the House Republican who voted to strip away Obamacare and then explained that the new proposal, which punishes people with preexisting medical conditions, has the advantage of 'reducing the cost to those people who lead good lives.'"

Sam Tanenhaus at The Atlantic reviews Nancy MacLean's Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America.

"Visible to the Masses"

"Scraping together what little money he had saved during the summer as a bartender in the gay enclave Fire Island, he opened the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookstore, which was the first-ever gay bookstore in the world, on Thanksgiving Day in 1967.
"Frustrated that bars and bathhouses were the only places where gay men could openly congregate, he believed that a bookstore could be a community hub, a place where gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people could transcend the segregated restrictions imposed by bar culture and interact collectively. The bookstore also showcased LGBTQ people's literary contributions as writers, novelists, historians, poets, and essayists, at a time when the Library of Congress’s subheadings for homosexuality only included 'criminality and medical abnormality' with no reference to writers' sexual identity or recognition of a queer community."

Jim Downs at Slate discusses Craig Rodwell, who helped create the first Gay Pride parade in 1970.

"The Safety Pin and the Swastika"

"When that under­ly­ing assump­tion remains unques­tioned, the rhetoric of main­stream antiracism is itself sus­cep­ti­ble to appro­pri­a­tion by the right. This is what leads some­one like Richard Spencer to voice approval for inci­dents like one at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ottawa, when a free yoga class for stu­dents with dis­abil­i­ties was shut down for 'cul­tur­al issues of impli­ca­tion.' A Stu­dent Fed­er­a­tion state­ment on the mat­ter went as far as to link it to the threat of 'cul­tur­al geno­cide.' At the blog for Radix Jour­nal, an alt-right pub­li­ca­tion he found­ed, Spencer could bare­ly con­tain his excite­ment. He cit­ed the inci­dent as an exam­ple of 'racial con­scious­ness for­ma­tion,' and applaud­ed stu­dent activists for 'engag­ing in the kind of ide­o­log­i­cal project that tra­di­tion­al­ists should be hard at work on.'
"It should go with­out say­ing that left-lib­er­al iden­ti­ty pol­i­tics and alt-right white nation­al­ism are not com­pa­ra­ble. The prob­lem is that they are com­pat­i­ble."
Shuja Haider at Viewpoint argues that "if they were con­front­ed by a uni­fied 'we'–a sub­ject that refused to rec­og­nize the bor­ders, divi­sions, and hier­ar­chies that are reg­u­lat­ed by the log­ic of iden­ti­ty–the alt-right would be left with nowhere to plant its flag."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

"A Story That Explains the Situation Better Than Any Abstract Case"

"Narcotics police began to shut down this loophole, state by state, actually rounding up 17,000 doctors nationally between the mid-1920s and the mid-1930s. In California, the success of the legal drugs program was so clear that many people fought back; the mayor of Los Angeles was one of its strongest defenders. But the feds came for California's legal drug program too, and in the early 1930s Edward Smith Williams was arrested.
"The reasons for this crackdown only became public years later, when they were established in a trial.
"The head of the Narcotics Bureau in California in the 1930s, Chris Hanson, was approached one day by a local drug lord called Woo Sing. He pointed out that in states like Nevada, where the legal clinics had already been closed, addicts were forced to go to dealers; and he was furious that in California, the gangs couldn't find customers because users and addicts could buy their drugs legally. So Woo bribed Hanson to introduce the drug war into California. Hanson was convicted of taking bribes–but the war on drugs he brought to California continues."

Johann Hari in the Los Angeles Times explores the origin of the war on drugs in California.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

"We're Guilty of Letting Him Get Away with It"

"In a sense, it would be more reassuring for the robustness of America's civic health were investigators to expose Trump as the recipient of laundered Russia money, or of colluding with Russian officials, or as having been recruited by the Soviet Union by the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, as one of the wilder conspiracy theories claim. Any of these would at least supply a grubby, opportunistic explanation for Trump's pro-Russian rhetoric; and Americans who voted for him would have an excuse, of sorts, for their folly--namely, ignorance as to what was really going on.
"The likely reality, though, is that the full extent of Trump's morally objectionable views and behavior were wide out in the open throughout the presidential campaign. Trump repeatedly praised a Russian dictator and paid no political price. There's no denying that he also retailed the products of Russian hacking, called upon the Russians to hack his opponent's email, and peddled disinformation. The American people simply didn't care."

James Kirchick in the Los Angeles Times argues that "there is no way to stop a shameless narcissist from exploiting public anger."

"Unions Provide a Mediating Function"

"Pondering the working-class grievances that helped elevate Donald Trump to the Oval Office in 2016, I often ask myself: How different might the political climate have been if 25 percent of the private sector were unionized, as was the case in the early 1970s? If more working-class Americans felt listened to and represented? If modernized unions could buffer economic shocks and improve productivity? The decline of the business model of old-style industrial unions may have been economically inevitable, but the lack of any new model to replace it has been socially calamitous. Unions will not be easy to fix, but allowing them to innovate would be a first step, and possibly also a last chance."

Jonathan Rauch at The Atlantic makes the "Conservative Case for Unions."

And Stacy Mitchell pushes for a revival of interest in antimonopoly.

While Peter Beinart and Franklin Foer explore problems for Democrats regarding immigration and populism.

"The Future of Dining Out Might Look a Lot Like Eating In"

"We are living through a golden age in food—if you can pay the bill.
"Today's restaurant renaissance is an expression of the long-term growth of leisure spending in the U.S. But there's nothing leisurely about the restaurant business today. The superabundance of quality and variety among restaurateurs has created cut-throat competition, particularly in the fast casual sector. The price gap between grocery bills and restaurant checks has never been higher. The rise of takeout has forced restaurants to serve more diners who don't step foot on their property."

Derek Thompson at The Atlantic discusses trends relating to restaurants and food.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

"There's a Mystical Aura to It"

"'When I was a kid, he was the hero,' said Philbrick. 'Because I had seen "They Died With Their Boots On," heroic portrayal. But then I think I was a freshman in high school and I saw "Little Big Man," in which Custer is the deranged maniac, a caricature almost of a Vietnam-era imperialist.'"

Mo Rocca on CBS Sunday Morning visits Montana to learn about Gen. G. A. Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

Down in Monterey

"'Well, John and Lou did a very, very smart thing: they created a Board of Governors,' said Michelle. That 'Board' included their friends Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson and Smokey Robinson.
They never had a meeting, but everyone submitted the names of who they thought should be at the festival.
"Michelle Phillips' pick? 'Otis Redding,' she said. 'My good! And Paul McCartney suggested this kid Jimi Hendrix. We had no idea who he was.'"

Upon the festival's fiftieth anniversary, Anthony Mason on CBS Sunday Morning interviews Lou Adler and Michelle Phillips, manager and member of the Mamas and the Papas, about the Monterey Pop Festival.

"I've Got Three Words for You: Scared White People"

"What's different about the Voter Study Group is that it tracks the attitudes and votes of the same 8,000 adults since before the 2012 election, and then throughout the 2016 election. So it's like the nation's largest, longest political focus group.
"The story we've told ourselves—that working-class whites flocked to Trump due to job worries or free trade or economic populism—is basically wrong, the research papers released this week suggest.

"They did flock to Trump. But the reason they did so in enough numbers for Trump to win wasn't anxiety about the economy. It was anxiety about Mexicans, Muslims and blacks."

Danny Westneat at The Seattle Times discusses the research of political scientist Christopher Parker (And Jonathan Chait at New York presents recent research into the 2016 vote).

"The Most Famous Conspiracy Theorist in the World Is the President of the United States"

"Conspiracy theories are easy ways to tell difficult stories. They provide a storyline that makes a harsh or random world seem ordered. 'Especially if it's ordered against you,' he says. 'Since, then, none of it is your fault, which is even more comforting.'
"'That said, more extreme conspiracy theories are becoming more mainstream, which is obviously dangerous,' Fink adds. 'Conspiracy theories act in a similar way as religious stories: they give you an explanation and structure for why things are the way they are. We are in a Great Awakening of conspiracy theories, and like any massive religious movement, the same power it has to move people also is easily turned into a power to move people against other people.'"

Adrienne Lafrance at The Atlantic looks at conspiracy theories in the era of Donald Trump.

"That Elite Is Them"

"As a result, America is becoming a class-based society, more like fin-de-si├Ęcle England than most would care to admit, Reeves argues. Higher income kids stay up at the sticky top of the income distribution. Lower income kids stay down at the bottom. The one percent have well and truly trounced the 99 percent, but the 20 percent have done their part to immiserate the 80 percent, as well—an arguably more relevant but less recognized class distinction."

Annie Lowrey at The Atlantic reviews Richard V. Reeves's Dream Hoarders.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

"The Left May Be Building Up One of Its Own as a Prelude to Knocking Her Down"

"The question lingers, however: Do we want to hear that nuance? Democrats are desperate for agents of cosmic justice—the kinds of politicians who are willing to fight Trump in 33 different ways. This has led them to treat a hardline disciplinarian with a complicated record as if she were a cardboard cutout of Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

Katy Waldman at Slate discusses the rise of Sen. Kamala Harris.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

"This Is Just Astonishing"

"The FBI is actively investigating ties between the president’s campaign and a hostile foreign power. Ditto for his former national security adviser. The FBI director has been fired for refusing to kill the investigation. The attorney general has recused himself. The deputy attorney general has appointed a special counsel, Robert Mueller, who is busily hiring experts in money laundering. A few days ago Mueller widened the scope of his inquiry to include a criminal investigation of the president. Bipartisan congressional committees are holding hearings. The president himself has lawyered up, and now the vice president has lawyered up too.
"This would not be completely unprecedented if it happened in 2022, six years into Trump's presidency. But it's happened in Trump’s first five months."

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones brings everyone up to speed. (As does Andrew Sullivan at New York.)

"These People Don't Want to Separate Church and State, They Want to Institute a New Religion, Just with Themselves at the Helm"

"If the CIA or MI5 wanted to encourage a style of 'activism' that could consume an infinite amount of energy, yet was utterly ineffective at anything other than dividing people, it would be the prominence of this very type of politics. We need politics that unites us in our shared humanity, for the 99.9 per cent to come together and fight the 0.1 per cent who are stealing the wealth of the Earth, pitting the poor against the poor and entrapping us in ignorance. We do not need politics that explicitly sets out to divide us and perfectly mirrors what it claims to oppose."

Frankie Gaffney at The Irish Times asserts that "Identity politics is utterly ineffective at anything other than dividing people."

"Instructors Could Literally Lose Their Jobs Over Even the Appearance of Impropriety"

"The corporatized university also ends up producing the corporatized student. Students worry about doing anything that may threaten their job prospects. Consequently, acts of dissent have become steadily de-radicalized. On campuses these days, outrage and anger is reserved for questions like, 'Is this sushi an act of cultural appropriation?' When student activists do propose ways to 'radically' reform the university, it tends to involve adding new administrative offices and bureaucratic procedures, i.e. strengthening the existing structure of the university rather than democratizing it. Instead of demanding an increase in the power of students, campus workers, and the untenured, activists tend to push for symbolic measures that universities happily embrace, since they do not compromise the existing arrangement of administrative and faculty power."

Yasmin Nair at Current Affairs argues that "the 'dangerous academic' is like the Dodo in 1659, a decade before its final sighting and extinction: almost nonexistent."

"Archaeologists Discover Fully Intact 17th-Century Belief System In Ohio Congressman"

"'All the 400-year-old viewpoints remain almost completely untouched, from religion's place in society to the rights of women to the attitude toward science. I can only imagine the insights this single sample will provide as to how people who lived centuries ago saw the world around them.'"

From The Onion.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

"Americans Are All These Things and More"

"Yes, it is true that in a finite school year, say, with finite class time and books of finite heft, not everything about everyone can be taught. There are necessary trade-offs. But in practice, recognizing the true and longstanding diversity of American identity is not an either-or. Learning about the internment of Japanese Americans does not block out knowledge of D-Day or Midway. It is additive. It brings more complexity and fosters a more world-ready awareness of complexity."

Eric Lieu in a 2015 Atlantic article revisits E. D. Hirsch, Jr.'s Cultural Literacy.

"Trail of Fears"

"Like Jackson, he is a wealthy Washington outsider posing as a champion of the people. He does not recognize the legitimacy of the political system, as Nixon did, because he is not a creature of it. He will not go quietly, if it comes to that. We may be fast approaching another 'question of public faith,' in the words of Archibald Cox's great-great-great grandfather. But as in Jackson's time, there is no political center to curb the power of the president. There is only extremism and chaos."

Kevin Baker at The New Republic argues that "Donald Trump operates in a political landscape that is far more similar to Andrew Jackson's than to Richard Nixon's."

Monday, June 12, 2017

"Relationships Between Government and Those Who Are Governed"

"Virginia's dual passage of racial integrity and sterilization acts in 1924 highlighted another concern held by lawmakers beyond that of interracial love: the perception that the white race was in danger of being weakened by inferior traits and that laws were needed to promote good racial hygiene and public health."

On the fiftieth anniversary of the Supreme Court's Loving decision, Osagie K. Obasogie at The Atlantic describes how the decision was connected to issues of eugenics.

"That's Classic Trump"

"Yes, clearly he understands that there are individual battles he's lost or things aren’t going as he had hoped they would, and he doubles down. This is the old Roy Cohn lesson that he learned and has lived by for half a century: When things get rough, double down and keep going. If you say something that's wrong or stupid or misunderstood, you don't apologize, you don't retract, you just double down and hit that harder and harder. That's part of his DNA, and so all of these stories about his anger and his lashing out fit in with that. That's him saying, 'I'm going to stick with this. Everyone tells me it's not a travel ban. It's still a travel ban to me.'"

Isaac Chotiner at Slate talks with a Donald Trump biographer Marc Fisher.

And Jeet Heer at The New Republic calls Trump "a Mobster President."

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Bright Knight

"The show was a campy, pop art-inspired playground and West's performance—an utterly straight-faced approach to a ridiculous character—was perfect. 'All we wanted from him was eternal squareness, rigidity, and purposefulness,' producer William Dozier said in 1966 as Batman's premiere loomed, and West—helped by Burt Ward’s Robin and a lineup of celebrity guest stars—delivered. Whether he was dancing the Batusi or hanging from a helicopter with a shark chomping on his leg (in the series' spin-off Batman: The Movie), West's ultra-serious approach to ultra-ridiculous material worked perfectly."

Matthew Dessem at Slate reports the death of Batman Adam West.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Trump May

David Frum at The Atlantic reacts to former FBI chief James Comey's testimony against Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May's snap election.

Steven W. Thrasher and Owen Jones at The Guardian react to the British election (as does John B. Judis at The New Republic). And Joseph Stiglitz blames austerity for Britain's problems.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

"A Tabernacle Too, but One That Welcomes the Viewer Inside"

"It's easy to think of movie-watching as a passive experience, one in which you sit back and the movie happens to you through the medium of light and sound. Early nitrate film did not live for long, but its fragmentary remains remind us that movies have lived a material life just as vital and animated as painting. I saw a cabinet containing nitrate reels once in the basement of the New York Historical Society, what was left of a collection that had partially burned. It was like looking at an opaque tabernacle."

Josephine Livingstone at The New Republic reviews the documentary Dawson City: Frozen Time.

"It's an Opportunity for the State of California to Take Up the Slack"

"'Since the two countries established diplomatic ties, China-U.S. relations have weathered various tests and always moved forward, bringing huge benefits to both peoples,' Xi said. 'Bilateral relations also contributed a lot to peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and the world.' Bilateral, in this case, with a non-national government."

James West at The New Republic calls Gov. Jerry Brown America's "New Climate Commander-in-Chief."

"Like a Drama of Sophocles"

"The L.A. houses are also austere enough to be off-putting. Yet what historians and critics have generally failed to see is that they were inscrutable and even crypt-like not by accident but by design. They were places for Wright to bury the grief he’d been shouldering for nearly a decade, since Mamah Borthwick, the woman he’d abandoned his family and career for, was brutally murdered in 1914."

On the 150th birthday of Frank Lloyd Wright, Christopher Hawthorne in the Los Angeles Times argues that "the five Los Angeles houses Wright produced in the early 1920s remain underappreciated and largely misunderstood."