Who Lost the White Working Class?

From Robert Reich:  http://robertreich.org/post/137631700920

Robert Reich
Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Why did the white working class abandon the Democrats?

The conventional answer is Republicans skillfully played the race card.

In the wake of the Civil Rights Act, segregationists like Alabama Governor George C. Wallace led southern whites out of the Democratic Party.

Later, Republicans charged Democrats with coddling black “welfare queens,“ being soft on black crime (“Willie Horton”), and trying to give jobs to less-qualified blacks over more-qualified whites (the battle over affirmative action).

The bigotry now spewing forth from Donald Trump and several of his Republican rivals is an extension of this old race card, now applied to Mexicans and Muslims – with much the same effect on the white working class voters, who don’t trust Democrats to be as “tough.”

All true, but this isn’t the whole story. Democrats also abandoned the white working class.

Democrats have occupied the White House for sixteen of the last twenty-four years, and in that time scored some important victories for working families – the Affordable Care Act, an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Family and Medical Leave Act, for example.

But they’ve done nothing to change the vicious cycle of wealth and power that has rigged the economy for the benefit of those at the top, and undermined the working class. In some respects, Democrats have been complicit in it.

Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama ardently pushed for free trade agreements, for example, without providing the millions of blue-collar workers who thereby lost their jobs any means of getting new ones that paid at least as well.

They also stood by as corporations hammered trade unions, the backbone of the white working class. Clinton and Obama failed to reform labor laws to impose meaningful penalties on companies that violated them, or enable workers to form unions with a simple up-or-down votes.

I was there. In 1992, Bill Clinton promised such reform but once elected didn’t want to spend political capital on it. In 2008, Barack Obama made the same promise (remember the Employee Free Choice Act?) but never acted on it.

Partly as a result, union membership sunk from 22 percent of all workers when Bill Clinton was elected president to fewer than 12 percent today, and the working class lost bargaining leverage to get a share of the economy’s gains.

Continue reading at:  http://robertreich.org/post/137631700920

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Why women over 50 can’t find jobs

From PBS News Hour:  http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/women-over-50-face-cant-find-jobs/

BY Teresa Ghilarducci 
January 14, 2016

If you’re a woman over the age of 50, finding work has statistically gotten harder since 2008.

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis recently published a study that showed that half of the long-term unemployed are now women over 50. So what’s going on?

Economics correspondent Paul Solman sat down with Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist and the author of the new book, “How to Retire with Enough Money,” to talk about how age discrimination and assumptions about the worth of women’s labor affect the job and retirement prospects of “older” women workers.

For more on the topic, tune in to tonight’s Making Sen$e segment, which airs every Thursday on the PBS NewsHour. The following text has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.

Kristen Doerer, Making Sen$e Editor


Paul Solman: What explains discrimination against older women in the workplace?

Teresa Ghilarducci: So this is a really interesting finding, because we’ve all known about age discrimination, but I don’t think any of us thought that men were exempt. The fact that women are the ones that don’t get the jobs when they’re over 50 and looking for work does though, on second thought, make sense.

Paul Solman: Why does it make sense?

Teresa Ghilarducci: Well, a lot of what women do in their lives is punctuated by time outside of the labor market — taking care of family, taking care of children — and women’s labor has always been devalued. So if you have an older woman coming to you and applying for a job, you’re going to think about what kind of experiences she had, what kind of skills she might have. And rightly or wrongly, but probably unfairly, you’re going to assume that she had some time out of the labor market and that she was doing something that was basically worthless, because she wasn’t being paid for it.

The fact that caring labor is devalued in our society is something we’re going to have to confront when more and more people have to be cared for as they get older. But what it does right now is that it hits a woman really, really hard when she’s trying to get hired.

Continue reading at:  http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/women-over-50-face-cant-find-jobs/

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How Intersectionality Makes You Stupid

From Tablet http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/196754/intersectionality-makes-you-stupid

A gay-rights group, caving to anti-Israel extremists, decides to cancel an ‘intensely divisive’ Jewish event—and then, under opposite pressure, decides to include it. The flawed lesson? The victim who shouts the loudest gets what they want in today’s hyper-politicized cultural climate.

January 21, 2016

As I write this, ISIS is hunting gay men to toss from the rooftops of Raqaa, and nearly 80 countries proscribe homosexuality. Yet for a 36-hour period earlier this week, the National LGBTQ Task Force chose to ally itself not with the one country in the Middle East that guarantees and protects the human rights of LGBTQ people, but with those who hang them from construction cranes.

On Sunday, the Task Force announced that it had canceled a post-Shabbat service reception at its annual Creating Change conference organized by the San Francisco-based nonprofit A Wider Bridge, which builds connections between LGBT communities in North America and Israel. Headlining the evening were representatives from Jerusalem Open House, an LGBT community center that serves a diverse array of constituencies, Palestinians and Israeli Arabs among them. Caving to pressure from a handful of anti-Israel extremists, the Task Force withdrew its sponsorship and kicked A Wider Bridge off its program.

“We canceled the reception when it became clear to us it would be intensely divisive rather than the community-building, social atmosphere which is the norm for Friday night at the conference,” Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey said in an emailed statement. Tyler Gregory, Deputy Director of A Wider Bridge, told the Washington Blade that the Task Force “recommended we either cancel [the] event, or ensure that our event speakers condemn the Israeli government in their remarks,” though which aspects of Israel’s government the Task Force expected A Wider Bridge—which receives no Israeli government funding—to “condemn” were left vague. Refusing to comply with either demand, A Wider Bridge was forced to move its event to a different hotel.

Carey’s contention that the happening—announced months ago—would be “intensely divisive” appears to rest on complaints registered by just three people: Dean Spade, a transgender professor at the Seattle University School of Law and a self-described “trans south Asian performance art duo” named Dark Matter. These, at least, were the only individuals named in the Blade story as having made public statements egging on the Task Force to engage in what is effectively an act of anti-Semitic prejudice and segregation.

And let there be no confusion: A non-compulsory Shabbat dinner and discussion of the Israeli LGBT experience is “divisive” in the way that the presence of a gay man in a locker room is “divisive.” It only “offends” the sensibilities of bigots. When a white person refuses to sit at a lunch counter next to a black person, or a straight football player refuses to play alongside a gay one, we have a word for that: discrimination. Nonetheless, a group ostensibly committed to fighting discrimination and that holds a conference so inclusive of the world’s many diversities that it provides “scent-free” areas for individuals highly sensitive to smell, bowed to those wanting to make it Jew-free as well.

Fortunately, after complaints by grassroots activists and high-profile gay Jews like Congressman Jared Polis and Robbie Kaplan, the lawyer who successfully argued the landmark marriage equality case United States vs. Windsor, the Task Force came to its senses, and announced Tuesday morning that it had reversed its decision to cancel the Israel-themed evening. What she had just hours earlier described as an “intensely divisive” program, Carey now says is integral to “our core value of inclusion.”

This is an edifying moment for gays, Jews, and the broader left. Were they to let this act of blatant discrimination stand, the leaders of the Task Force would have betrayed all these communities by succumbing to the heckler’s veto. In the loftier precincts of progressive journalism, higher education, and the non-profit world, those hecklers tend to be proponents of “intersectionality,” a voguish theory purporting that power is inextricably linked to aspects of identity like race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation, and that an individual’s “marginalization” is thus determined by their accumulation of various traits. Across the country, pseudo-intellectual totalitarians posing as outcasts regularly intimidate earnest but spineless liberals into capitulation. From the Oscar red carpet to Yale University quads, whoever shouts the loudest and claims victimization on account of more facets of their identity can expect to get what they demand, regardless of the quality or even logic of what they have to say.

Continue reading at:  http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/196754/intersectionality-makes-you-stupid

Is mindfulness making us ill?

As a life long skeptic I have always found the number of otherwise intelligent people who fall for New Age mumbo jumbo to be mind blowing.

After having my mind truly expanded by people like  Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller, Carl Sagan and other scientists, futurists and artists I watched people fall for bullshit like Scientology and est.

As an atheist I was appalled at the number of feminist women who fell for crap like homeopathy, crystals, feng shui, wicca and the whole panoply of questionable practices.

Granted all of the above are just as valid as any religion but that is the point.  Why go to all the effort to reject a traditional religion with great holidays only to embrace one with crappy at best holidays?

I am further appalled by health plans that pay for all this “alternative medicine.”  As Tim Minchin pointed out, “There is a name for alternative medicine that works, it is called medicine.

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/jan/23/is-mindfulness-making-us-ill

It’s the relaxation technique of choice, popular with employers and even the NHS. But some have found it can have unexpected effects


Saturday 23 January 2016

I am sitting in a circle in a grey, corporate room with 10 housing association employees – administrators, security guards, cleaners – eyes darting about nervously. We are asked to eat a sandwich in silence. To think about every taste and texture, every chewing motion and bite. Far from being relaxed, I feel excruciatingly uncomfortable and begin to wonder if my jaw is malfunctioning. I’m here to write about a new mindfulness initiative, and since I’ve never to my knowledge had any mental health issues and usually thrive under stress, I anticipate a straightforward, if awkward, experience.

Then comes the meditation. We’re told to close our eyes and think about our bodies in relation to the chair, the floor, the room: how each limb touches the arms, the back, the legs of the seat, while breathing slowly. But there’s one small catch: I can’t breathe. No matter how fast, slow, deep or shallow my breaths are, it feels as though my lungs are sealed. My instincts tell me to run, but I can’t move my arms or legs. I feel a rising panic and worry that I might pass out, my mind racing. Then we’re told to open our eyes and the feeling dissipates. I look around. No one else appears to have felt they were facing imminent death. What just happened?

For days afterwards, I feel on edge. I have a permanent tension headache and I jump at the slightest unexpected noise. The fact that something seemingly benign, positive and hugely popular had such a profound effect has taken me by surprise.

Mindfulness, the practice of sitting still and focusing on your breath and thoughts, has surged in popularity over the last few years, with a boom in apps, online courses, books and articles extolling its virtues. It can be done alone or with a guide (digital or human), and with so much hand-wringing about our frenetic, time-poor lifestyles and information overload, it seems to offer a wholesome solution: a quiet port in the storm and an opportunity for self-examination. The Headspace app, which offers 10-minute guided meditations on your smartphone, has more than three million users worldwide and is worth over £25m. Meanwhile, publishers have rushed to put out workbooks and guides to line the wellness shelves in bookshops.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/jan/23/is-mindfulness-making-us-ill

Dumbing Down University

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Feminism isn’t just a fad – and that’s why so many anti-feminists are angry

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/dec/30/feminism-not-just-a-fad-anti-feminists-are-angry

The movement for gender equality is so deeply embedded in our culture that even those who deride it as a ‘trend’ are scared of its staying power


Wednesday 30 December 2015

The power that feminism currently wields has been described as a “moment” or a “trend” – but it’s much more than that. The last 10 years of feminist work have paved the way for a feminism that’s deeply resonant and embedded in the culture, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

And no matter how you cut it, gender justice has been at the forefront of the national conversation and a lot of people’s minds this past year.

Some was good: celebrities spoke up against sexism, the military ended the ban on women in combat, battling sexual assault took center stage, and companies from Netflix to Spotify created realistic and generous parental leave policies.

Some of it was bad: a woman was arrested after desperately trying to end her pregnancy with a coat hanger, a Planned Parenthood was the target of a terrorist shooting and, no matter a woman’s accomplishments, we were reminded that there is always someone ready to insult her with sexism or racism.

And some of it was a bit of both, like when Cecile Richards was forced to testify in front of a House committee (but she made them all look ridiculous). Some people were even outraged when Ghostbusters was remade with an all-female cast – but that didn’t stop anything.

Feminism’s prominence is even one reason that Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign looks very different – and is being responded to very differently – in 2016 than in 2008. Clinton isn’t shying away from taking on gender explicitly any more, and the sexism lobbed at her isn’t being tolerated in the same way, because since 2008 we’ve seen feminism get even more of a foothold in our broader culture.

Rebecca Traister calls this political and cultural shift the “death of white male power”: those opposed to progress on race, gender and LGBT issues are not participating in a full-blown cultural freak-out because feminism is having a “moment”. They’re afraid because they know their world is changing in a way that they can no longer control.

Part of feminism’s growing influence has to do with technology: before the internet, if a woman was interested in feminism, she had to seek it out by finding an organization with which to become involved, subscribing to Ms. magazine or taking a women’s studies class. As feminism has become more entrenched online – first through blogs, now through social media – more people have gained access to activism, information and community. Now women stumble across feminism while they’re on Tumblr or Facebook, reading about everything from politics to pop culture, and have the ability to learn more in just a few clicks.

Continue reading at:   http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/dec/30/feminism-not-just-a-fad-anti-feminists-are-angry

 

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The Scary Science at Johns Hopkins University

From The Advocate:  http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2015/12/15/scary-science-johns-hopkins-university

Doctors at the esteemed institution are perpetuating dangerous myths about transgender people — and the university is not doing enough to stop them.