Naughty, Naughty, Naughty
gets the front page, so you know it's not going to be because someone has done something good.
On the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Kerry Bentivolio, a Michigan congressman, has a dream, too: to impeach the nation’s first black president.
“If I could write that bill and submit it, it would be a dream come true,” the freshman Republican told a local G.O.P. club meeting Monday in Birmingham, Mich., in a video posted on YouTube and reported by BuzzFeed.
Bentivolio graciously conceded that he’d have to come up with some grounds first. “I went back to my office and I have had lawyers come in,” he said. “And these are lawyers, well — Ph.D.’s in history — I said, ‘Tell me how I can impeach the president of the United States. What evidence do you have?’ You’ve got to have the evidence.”
The Tea Party congressman, a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, hopes to find e-mails linking the White House to the I.R.S. examination of groups with a “Tea Party” label seeking tax-exempt status.
Bentivolio is the perfect avatar of the impeachment fever gripping a G.O.P. that’s unmoored from reality, given that he once admitted in a court deposition, “I have a problem figuring out which one I really am, Santa Claus or Kerry Bentivolio.” That’s why he sometimes used the pronoun “we.”
He’s been playing Santa Claus — as part of a business he started 19 years ago called Old Fashion Santa — with his own six reindeer. “To project authenticity, he’s even sought clearance from Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Mount Clemens to fly his sleigh in its airspace on Christmas Eve,” Kathleen Gray wrote in The Detroit Free Press.
Yes, I think we all have trouble deciding if we are really imaginary characters, especially when we realize that Kerry Bentivolio was actually elected to Congress. And hey, he may be Santa-- as seen on Futurama.
Come on in. Let's see what else is in the toy bag.
Leonard Pitts looks around at dreamland.
Here in tomorrow... the president is black. The business mogul is black. The movie star is black. The sports icon is black. The reporter, the scholar, the lawyer, the teacher, the doctor, all of them are black. And King might think for a moment that he was wrong about tomorrow and its troubles.
It would not take long for [Dr. King] to see the grimy truth beneath the shiny surface, to learn that the perpetual suspect is also black. As are the indigent woman, the dropout, the fatherless child, the suppressed voter, and the boy lying dead in the grass with candy and iced tea in his pocket.
King would see that for all the progress we have made, we live in a time of proud ignorance and moral cowardice wherein some white people — not all — smugly but incorrectly pronounce all racial problems solved. More galling, it is an era of such cognitive incoherence that conservatives — acolytes of the ideology against which King struggled all his life — now routinely claim ownership of his movement and kinship with his cause.
When he was under fire for questioning the constitutionality of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, for instance, Sen. Rand Paul wanted it known that he’d have marched with King had he been of age. And he probably believes that.
Rand Paul is not even as accurate as a stopped watch. He's right a lot less than twice a day.
Ross Douthat is also I-have-a-dreaming, but since it's Douthat, you know it's going to be...well.
Three months before the 1963 March on Washington, whose 50th anniversary falls this week, officials in Birmingham, Ala., opened fire hoses and loosed dogs on civil rights protesters. Two months before the march, the civil rights organizer Medgar Evers was murdered outside his home in Jackson, Miss. And a few weeks after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have Dream Speech” echoed down the Washington Mall, a bomb ripped open Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church, killing four little girls.
Fifty years later, race is still in the headlines; indeed, the “postracial” presidency of Barack Obama has (predictably) given us more race-related controversy than the last two administrations combined. Some of these debates are essentially trivial, churned up by a “no, you’re the racist” grievance factory that runs day and night on cable news. But others — on voting rights, affirmative action, stop-and-frisk, etc. — are serious and weighty whatever side you take.
Yes, these are weighty matters for both the pro-racist and the anti-racist. Not that Republicans are racist.
Voter ID laws are not Jim Crow come again. And the thread of white identity politics running through Obama-era conservatism is just that — a sense of resentment and grievance, not a supremacist ideology reborn.
See, being resentful and angry toward people of color and passing laws to limit their access to the polls is not racism. Why? No firehoses, no racism. Nice to have a simple definition.
David Autor and David Dorn look again at that rising worker productivity, and falling worker pay.
In the four years since the Great Recession officially ended, the productivity of American workers — those lucky enough to have jobs — has risen smartly. But the United States still has two million fewer jobs than before the downturn, the unemployment rate is stuck at levels not seen since the early 1990s and the proportion of adults who are working is four percentage points off its peak in 2000.
This job drought has spurred pundits to wonder whether a profound employment sickness has overtaken us. And from there, it’s only a short leap to ask whether that illness isn’t productivity itself. Have we mechanized and computerized ourselves into obsolescence?
Of course, anxiety, and even hysteria, about the adverse effects of technological change on employment have a venerable history. In the early 19th century a group of English textile artisans calling themselves the Luddites staged a machine-trashing rebellion. Their brashness earned them a place (rarely positive) in the lexicon, but they had legitimate reasons for concern.
... if technological advances don’t threaten employment, does that mean workers have nothing to fear from “smart machines”? Actually, no — and here’s where the Luddites had a point. Although many 19th-century Britons benefited from the introduction of newer and better automated looms — unskilled laborers were hired as loom operators, and a growing middle class could now afford mass-produced fabrics — it’s unlikely that skilled textile workers benefited on the whole.
Fast-forward to the present. The multi-trillionfold decline in the cost of computing since the 1970s has created enormous incentives for employers to substitute increasingly cheap and capable computers for expensive labor. These rapid advances — which confront us daily as we check in at airports, order books online, pay bills on our banks’ Web sites or consult our smartphones for driving directions — have reawakened fears that workers will be displaced by machinery. Will this time be different?
The answer is yes. Actually, we're living in the great age of hand crafting -- most of the things you own were crafted by hand, predominately the hands of young women in China or south Asia. Which doesn't mean that technology isn't displacing workers, it is. The reason that technology is different this time around, is that it's stretching the space between rich and poor and reducing the opportunities to move from one to the other.
Computerization has therefore fostered a polarization of employment, with job growth concentrated in both the highest- and lowest-paid occupations, while jobs in the middle have declined. Surprisingly, overall employment rates have largely been unaffected in states and cities undergoing this rapid polarization. Rather, as employment in routine jobs has ebbed, employment has risen both in high-wage managerial, professional and technical occupations and in low-wage, in-person service occupations.
Of course, there are many fewer of those managerial roles than there were of the vanishing middle class positions.
Alex Rosenberg and Tyler Curtain ask a question I think we've all had lately: Economics (huh, good God y'all) what is it good for?
The fact that the discipline of economics hasn’t helped us improve our predictive abilities suggests it is still far from being a science, and may never be. Still, the misperceptions persist. A student who graduates with a degree in economics leaves college with a bachelor of science, but possesses nothing so firm as the student of the real world processes of chemistry or even agriculture.
Before the 1970s, the discussion of how to make economics a science was left mostly to economists. But like war, which is too important to be left to the generals, economics was too important to be left to the Nobel-winning members of the University of Chicago faculty.
Well... yes, I certainly agree with that, since the bozos of Chicago school economics were largely responsible for the non-functional conservative economics we have today. Anyway...
Mr. Friedman argued that false assumptions didn’t matter any more in economics than they did in physics.
Like the “ideal gas,” “frictionless plane” and “center of gravity” in physics, idealizations in economics are both harmless and necessary. They are indispensable calculating devices and approximations that enable the economist to make predictions about markets, industries and economies the way they enable physicists to predict eclipses and tides, or prevent bridge collapses and power failures.
... many economists don’t seem troubled when they make predictions that go wrong. Readers of Paul Krugman and other like-minded commentators are familiar with their repeated complaints about the refusal of economists to revise their theories in the face of recalcitrant facts. Philosophers of science are puzzled by the same question. What is economics up to if it isn’t interested enough in predictive success to adjust its theories the way a science does when its predictions go wrong?
Here follows a lot of text explaining that just because Chicago School economics hasn't worked, doesn't mean it's wrong. The real world is just too damn complicated. So economists need to feel
their way to solutions and shouldn't be confused by people like Krugman who like ugly old facts.
Apparently it's much easier to pretend that economic theory can't predict anything, than to admit that conservative economics always fail. Don't worry, I'm sure when we bash our head against the brick wall this time, it won't hurt.
Amy Harmon looks at the protests over genetically modified "Golden Rice."
One bright morning this month, 400 protesters smashed down the high fences surrounding a field in the Bicol region of the Philippines and uprooted the genetically modified rice plants growing inside. ...
The concerns voiced by the participants in the Aug. 8 act of vandalism — that Golden Rice could pose unforeseen risks to human health and the environment, that it would ultimately profit big agrochemical companies — are a familiar refrain in the long-running controversy over the merits of genetically engineered crops.
Only Golden Rice--rice modified to produce vitamin A--is different in at least one respect.
Not owned by any company, Golden Rice is being developed by a nonprofit group called the International Rice Research Institute with the aim of providing a new source of vitamin A to people both in the Philippines, where most households get most of their calories from rice, and eventually in many other places in a world where rice is eaten every day by half the population. Lack of the vital nutrient causes blindness in a quarter-million to a half-million children each year. It affects millions of people in Asia and Africa and so weakens the immune system that some two million die each year of diseases they would otherwise survive.
The destruction of the field trial, and the reasons given for it, touched a nerve among scientists around the world, spurring them to counter assertions of the technology’s health and environmental risks. On a petition supporting Golden Rice circulated among scientists and signed by several thousand, many vented a simmering frustration with activist organizations like Greenpeace, which they see as playing on misplaced fears of genetic engineering in both the developing and the developed worlds. Some took to other channels to convey to American foodies and Filipino farmers alike the broad scientific consensus that G.M.O.’s are not intrinsically more risky than other crops and can be reliably tested.
So here's a question for debate this morning: if progressives are willing to take the word of the scientific majority that human-caused global warming is real, why are many progressives so unwilling to accept the consensus that GMOs are safe?
Kathleen Parker demonstrates that, after delivering a reasonable column last week, she can still be absolutely and completely thick headed.
Obama’s race remarks exacerbate tensions
If I had a son, he would look like Christopher Lane, the 22-year-old Australian baseball player shot dead while jogging in Oklahoma.
...Stepping out from his usual duties of drawing meaningless red lines in the Syrian sand, the president splashed red paint across the American landscape:
“If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”
In so saying, he essentially gave permission for all to identify themselves by race with the victim or the accused. How sad, as we approach the 50th anniversary of the march Martin Luther King Jr. led on Washington, that even the president resorts to judging not by the content of one’s character but by the color of his skin — the antithesis of the great dream King articulated.
No one spent days trying to decide whether to even arrest Lane's killers. No one tried to turn them into heroes. The reason Trayvon's death became a symbol and the case so important was not because another black teenage was killed, but because another black teenager was killed, the police knew exactly who did it, and no one was doing a damn thing about it but sending congratulations. Jesus. I may have to take a break from Parker. Kathleen, please go talk to Leonard Pitts.
Robert Kaiser tells how, at the actual time of King's speech, the Washington Post was AWOL.
The city of Washington had been on edge for days. Fearing a riot, mayhem or lord knows what, many left town to avoid the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The organizers predicted a crowd of more than 100,000 protesting Negroes, as we called black people then. Just the idea of such a horde seemed to scare the white residents of what was still a southern town.
I was a Post summer intern — a kid reporter on his first big story — and one of 60 staffers the paper deployed that day. This was a tiny fraction of the number of National Guardsmen and police on the streets but a veritable army for what was then still a provincial daily paper. Ben Gilbert, the imperious city editor, had spent weeks planning the coverage. With help from colleagues, he was about to make one of the biggest goofs of his long career. ...
The Post... got embarrassed. The main event that day was what we now call the “I Have a Dream” speech of Martin Luther King Jr., one of the most important speeches in U.S. history. But on the day it was given, The Post didn’t think so. We nearly failed to mention it at all.
We were poised and ready for a riot, for trouble, for unexpected events — but not for history to be made. Baker’s 1,300-word lead story, which began under a banner headline on the front page and summarized the events of the day, did not mention King’s name or his speech. It did note that the crowd easily exceeded 200,000, the biggest assemblage in Washington “within memory” — and they all remained “orderly.”
Reporters on the scene also thought that Lincoln's Gettysburg Address was an embarrassment. So if you wrote what you thought was a really insightful diary this week and it only drew eight comments (as I did), buck up. The verdict of history is not in.
But really, just be grateful for the eight comments.