How We Are Ruining America

I rarely agree with David Brooks but this column is right on.

From The New York Times:  https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/07/11/opinion/how-we-are-ruining-america.html

David Brooks
July 11, 2017

Over the past generation, members of the college-educated class have become amazingly good at making sure their children retain their privileged status. They have also become devastatingly good at making sure the children of other classes have limited chances to join their ranks.

How they’ve managed to do the first task — giving their own children a leg up — is pretty obvious. It’s the pediacracy, stupid. Over the past few decades, upper-middle-class Americans have embraced behavior codes that put cultivating successful children at the center of life. As soon as they get money, they turn it into investments in their kids.

Upper-middle-class moms have the means and the maternity leaves to breast-feed their babies at much higher rates than high school-educated moms, and for much longer periods.

Upper-middle-class parents have the means to spend two to three times more time with their preschool children than less affluent parents. Since 1996, education expenditures among the affluent have increased by almost 300 percent, while education spending among every other group is basically flat.

As life has gotten worse for the rest in the middle class, upper-middle-class parents have become fanatical about making sure their children never sink back to those levels, and of course there’s nothing wrong in devoting yourself to your own progeny.

It’s when we turn to the next task — excluding other people’s children from the same opportunities — that things become morally dicey. Richard Reeves of the Brookings Institution recently published a book called “Dream Hoarders” detailing some of the structural ways the well educated rig the system.

The most important is residential zoning restrictions. Well-educated people tend to live in places like Portland, New York and San Francisco that have housing and construction rules that keep the poor and less educated away from places with good schools and good job opportunities.

These rules have a devastating effect on economic growth nationwide. Research by economists Chang-Tai Hsieh and Enrico Moretti suggests that zoning restrictions in the nation’s 220 top metro areas lowered aggregate U.S. growth by more than 50 percent from 1964 to 2009. The restrictions also have a crucial role in widening inequality. An analysis by Jonathan Rothwell finds that if the most restrictive cities became like the least restrictive, the inequality between different neighborhoods would be cut in half.

Reeves’s second structural barrier is the college admissions game. Educated parents live in neighborhoods with the best teachers, they top off their local public school budgets and they benefit from legacy admissions rules, from admissions criteria that reward kids who grow up with lots of enriching travel and from unpaid internships that lead to jobs.

It’s no wonder that 70 percent of the students in the nation’s 200 most competitive schools come from the top quarter of the income distribution. With their admissions criteria, America’s elite colleges sit atop gigantic mountains of privilege, and then with their scholarship policies they salve their consciences by offering teeny step ladders for everybody else.

Continue reading at:  https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/07/11/opinion/how-we-are-ruining-america.html

I’m a Lesbian But The Chicago Dyke March Doesn’t Speak For Me

Back in the 1970s neither the Feminist Movement nor The Lesbian Movement saw fit to include women who were transsexual.

Seems like both have a bad history of excluding women who don’t meet their ever shifting but very specific sets of rules.

From Kveller: http://www.kveller.com/im-a-lesbian-but-the-chicago-dyke-march-doesnt-speak-for-me/

By Joanne Strasser Edwards
Jun 27, 2017

It feels strange to be angry at people marching for human rights, especially when their cause is so near and dear to my wife, son and me. But last Saturday, three Jewish individuals were banned from participating in the Dyke March Chicago. Their crime? Carrying rainbow pride flags with the star of David.

When I learned that the organizers’ decision to ask them to leave was based on the participants’ apparent affiliation with the State of Israel, I felt uneasy. Because as a Zionist, gay woman, I can easily recognize good old anti-Semitism masked by the cloak of anti-Zionism. Never mind hijacking an important cause to promote a one-sided political agenda.

Making matters worse, the parade edited its Facebook post to “make clear that anti-Zionist Jewish volunteers and supporters are welcome at Dyke March.”

Thank you very much, but what gives the parade organizers the right to decide which Jews are and are not welcome, and to incorrectly define Zionism while they’re at it? This stance is offensive, ignorant and a misuse of a platform. Furthermore, in an event that pleads for recognition and inclusion, the only message I got was that someone like me would have had to sit out. And that doesn’t feel right.

The activist group Jewish Voice for Peace is publicly defending the Dyke March, and has pointed out that other Jews at the march, wearing Jewish symbols, including Stars of David, t-shirts with Hebrew, kippot, and sashes with Yiddish script, were not asked to leave. But I say, bullshit.

By definition, Zionism is the belief that Jews should have a homeland in the historic Land of Israel. Being a Zionist doesn’t make one pro-settlement, pro-wall, anti-Palestinian or a racist. But being against Zionism means you oppose Israel’s right to exist. Period.

To me, being an anti-Zionist is at odds with being a human rights activist because it calls to ignore and invalidate one side’s narrative—it hinders peace, coexistence and merely feeds extremism on both sides. So here’s where it gets tricky: If you’re against Zionism, you’re also against Palestinians. Period.

When people, like the Dyke March Chicago organizers, casually toss around terms and implement nonsensical bans, it hurts everyone. Zionism is not a dirty word, and being a Zionist in 2017 means promoting the future of a secure Jewish state. Without this, there will never be peace or a Palestine.

Sounds weird, but if you’re pro-Palestinian, you sure as hell better be pro-Israel; and the other way around. The future of these populations is dependent solely upon on their ability to coexist. In fact, I’d go as far to say that the future of any population depends on its ability to coexist.

Continue reading at:  http://www.kveller.com/im-a-lesbian-but-the-chicago-dyke-march-doesnt-speak-for-me/

Does Feminism Have Room for Zionists?

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/07/opinion/does-feminism-have-room-for-zionists.html

On March 8 women around the world will be abstaining from work and rallying in the streets as part of the International Women’s Strike, with the aim of starting an “international feminist movement” that challenges the sexual, physical and economic exploitation of women. The organizers of the wildly successful Women’s March have thrown their support behind the strike, and there are more than 40 rallies, walkouts and events planned across the United States that are affiliated with the international demonstration.

As a proud and outspoken feminist who champions reproductive rights, equal pay, increased female representation in all levels of government and policies to combat violence against women, I would like to feel there is a place for me in the strike.

However, as someone who is also a Zionist, I am not certain there is.

Although I hope for a two-state solution and am critical of certain Israeli government policies, I identify as a Zionist because I support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Increasingly, I worry that my support for Israel will bar me from the feminist movement that, in aiming to be inclusive, has come to insist that feminism is connected to a wide variety of political causes.

This insistence can alienate feminists, like myself, who don’t support all the causes others believe should be part of feminism. For example, some who identify as feminists may not agree with the organizers of the International Women’s Strike when they call for a $15 minimum wage. Nor do all feminists necessarily join the strike organizers in supporting the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters.

For my part, I am troubled by the portion of the International Women’s Strike platform that calls for a “decolonization of Palestine” as part of “the beating heart of this new feminist movement.” The platform also states: “We want to dismantle all walls, from prison walls to border walls, from Mexico to Palestine.”

Implying that mass incarceration is analogous to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is analogous to Donald Trump’s desire to build a wall along the Mexican border is simplistic at best.

Continue reading at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/07/opinion/does-feminism-have-room-for-zionists.html

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America’s Massive Retail Workforce Is Tired of Being Ignored

From Racked: https://www.racked.com/2017/6/20/15817988/retail-workers-unions-american-jobs

Long absent from discussions about employment, workers from Walmart to Bloomingdale’s are taking matters into their own hands.

Sarah Jaffe
Jun 20, 2017

Francisco Aguilera has worked at the Express on Bay Street in Emeryville, California for the past year and a half. “I do a little bit of everything,” from running the register to folding and arranging clothes to working in the stockroom in the back of the store, he says. Soft-spoken with an open smile, Aguilera is what many people picture to be the typical retail worker: someone putting in a few hours in the evenings at a shopping complex while attending college during the day. He likes his job well enough, though he notes it can be tiring to work until 9:30 or 10:00 at night and then find time to do his schoolwork.

The customers, too, can be exhausting, Aguilera says. Bay Street is one of the shiniest shopping developments in Emeryville, a town of about two square miles on the east side of the San Francisco Bay. If you visit it today, you might think it was carved out of Oakland and Berkeley solely to create a retail destination, packed with multiple outdoor shopping centers, big-box stores like Target and Ikea, and thousands of low-wage retail workers who commute half an hour or more in search of work.

The nature of a retail job is shaped, for many workers, by three things: the customers, the manager, and the likelihood of moving on to something else. Aguilera notes that his job has been relatively pleasant because he likes his manager, who has been willing to work with his schedule. Managers, he says, “have so much control over basically your whole experience.

Marlena Hudson can testify to that. Over the last two years balancing two jobs at two different Bay Street stores, she’s experienced the way managers can be manipulative, making decisions based on favoritism and their own convenience at the expense of their employees. During this time, she has also seen Emeryville vote on the nation’s highest minimum wage, currently
$15.20 an hour for businesses with 56 or more employees. That wage is nice, she notes, but it still doesn’t afford her enough money to move out of her grandmother’s house. “You have to be working full-time or 40 hours a week, at least,” she says, to pay Bay Area rents, and despite working two jobs, she has a hard time getting enough hours to make ends meet. Even in Emeryville, one of the best places in the country to be a retail worker, making the work into a career is a struggle.

Hudson and Aguilera are part of America’s massive retail workforce. Nationwide, retail jobs account for 10 percent of all employment. That includes jobs at clothing and accessories retailers like the ones at Bay Street, department stores like Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, grocery stores, electronics stores, home and garden stores, and of course, Walmart and other big-box stores. Despite its major role in the economy, retail — which makes up half of all consumer spending — tends to be a low-wage, high-turnover sector. Its workers are disproportionately women and disproportionately people of color. They face a laundry list of problems, from rampant wage theft to race and gender discrimination.

Retail workers get little attention in major discussions about employment in America. In part, this is because the jobs are widely seen as low-skill, temporary ones done by young people like Aguilera, on their way to something more prestigious. Why make the jobs better if they’re just done by kids, or women who are looking for pocket money, or the unskilled?

Continue reading at:  https://www.racked.com/2017/6/20/15817988/retail-workers-unions-american-jobs

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Two Trumps Confess to Conspiracy | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann

Meet the chef who’s debunking detox, diets and wellness

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jun/18/angry-chef-debunking-detox-diets-wellness-nutrition-alternative-facts?CMP=twt_a-science_b-gdnscience

Anthony Warner – alias blogger turned author the Angry Chef – is on a mission to confront the ‘alternative facts’ surrounding nutritional fads and myths


Sunday 18 June 2017

A few minutes into my encounter with the Angry Chef, I begin to wonder if his moniker might be ironic, like the big guy whose friends call him “Tiny”. On the basis of his excoriating blog – which exposes “lies, pretensions and stupidity in the world of food” – I had been expecting a bilious, splenetic man with wild eyes, his skin covered in tattoos. Instead, I’m sat across from a mild-mannered nerdy type with a tidy beard and black-framed spectacles. Unlike his writing, which is showered with profanities, he hasn’t sworn once. In fact, he picks his words very deliberately, as if there’s a legal and fact-checking team working overtime in his brain.

“I expected you to be a bit more … furious,” I finally say. “Do you have a temper?”

The Angry Chef, aka 44-year-old Anthony Warner, considers this, shakes his head. “Not at all,” he says. “People who know me and see the blog say, ‘You’re not angry at all!’ No, I was never one of the shouty, scary chefs. Perhaps slightly intimidating sometimes, but only in a quiet, I-don’t-know-what-he’s-going-to-do sort of way.”

“What about the swearing?” I ask.

“I can if you want,” Warner replies. “But no, I don’t rant, I don’t swear nearly as much in real life as I do on my blog.”

The Angry Chef’s first post on 30 December 2015 consisted of a few pointed thoughts on going sugar-free. He was anonymous back then and there were a couple of reasons for that. Warner liked the idea of writing in character: while he stands by everything he writes, the Angry Chef persona allows him to be more confrontational and unhinged. The other reason was that he wasn’t sure what his bosses would think of his new creation. After a decade as a “decent but unremarkable” chef in professional kitchens, Warner became a development cook for Premier Foods, a large commercial food manufacturer. He has spent the last 10 years creating recipes for the likes of Oxo, Mr Kipling, Loyd Grossman and Ambrosia.

This anonymity did not last long. The Angry Chef’s railing against the trend for clean-eating and wellness bloggers, his frustration at the miraculous properties assigned to kale and coconut oil quickly found an audience. The Sun asked Warner to contribute to an article about “Insta-gurus’ diet advice”, and Ben Goldacre, one of his anti-pseudoscience heroes, tweeted his approval. New Scientist commissioned Warner to write for them, a gratifying nod for a self-described “science geek” who has a degree in biochemistry from Manchester University.

Now a book, The Angry Chef: Bad Science and the Truth About Healthy Eating, is out next month. It is a systematic, densely footnoted, and often very funny takedown of pretty much every food fad that has taken hold in recent years: detox, alkaline, ash and paleo diets among them. If you believe superfoods exist, then Warner will have some strong words to make you reconsider. Likewise, if you’re convinced there’s no possible defence for sugar or processed food, then he wants you to take another look at the evidence.

In an age of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, of “Deliciously Ella” Mills, and Hemsley and Hemsley, these somehow seem quite radical ideas. “A lot of the clean-eating people, I just think they have a broken relationship with the truth,” says Warner. “They’re selling something that is impossible to justify in the context of evidence-based medicine.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jun/18/angry-chef-debunking-detox-diets-wellness-nutrition-alternative-facts?CMP=twt_a-science_b-gdnscience

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I’m Glad the Dyke March Banned Jewish Stars

Intersectionality is Stalinist Bupkis.

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/27/opinion/im-glad-the-dyke-march-banned-jewish-stars.html?_r=0

Bari Weiss
June 27, 2017

This weekend, at a lesbian march in Chicago, three women carrying Jewish pride flags — rainbow flags embossed with a Star of David — were kicked out of the celebration on the grounds that their flags were a “trigger.” An organizer of the Dyke March told the Windy City Times that the fabric “made people feel unsafe” and that she and the other members of the Dyke March collective didn’t want anything “that can inadvertently or advertently express Zionism” at the event.

Laurel Grauer, one of the women who was ejected, said she’d been carrying that Jewish pride flag in the march, held on the Saturday before the city’s official Pride Parade, for more than a decade. It “celebrates my queer, Jewish identity,” she explained. This year, however, she lost track of the number of people who harassed her for carrying it.

I’m sorry for the women, like Ms. Grauer, who found themselves under genuine threat for carrying a colorful cloth falsely accused of being pernicious.

But I am also grateful.

Has there ever been a crisper expression of the consequences of “intersectionality” than a ban on Jewish lesbians from a Dyke March?

Intersectionality is the big idea of today’s progressive left. In theory, it’s the benign notion that every form of social oppression is linked to every other social oppression. This observation — coined in 1989 by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw — sounds like just another way of rephrasing a slogan from a poster I had in college: My liberation is bound up with yours. That is, the fight for women’s rights is tied up with the fight for gay rights and civil rights and so forth. Who would dissent from the seductive notion of a global sisterhood?

Well, in practice, intersectionality functions as kind of caste system, in which people are judged according to how much their particular caste has suffered throughout history. Victimhood, in the intersectional way of seeing the world, is akin to sainthood; power and privilege are profane.

By that hierarchy, you might imagine that the Jewish people — enduring yet another wave of anti-Semitism here and abroad — should be registered as victims. Not quite.

Why? Largely because of Israel, the Jewish state, which today’s progressives see only as a vehicle for oppression of the Palestinians — no matter that Israel has repeatedly sought to meet Palestinian claims with peaceful compromise, and no matter that progressives hold no other country to the same standard. China may brutalize Buddhists in Tibet and Muslims in Xinjiang, while denying basic rights to the rest of its 1.3 billion citizens, but “woke” activists pushing intersectionality keep mum on all that.

One of the women who was asked to leave the Dyke March, Eleanor Shoshany Anderson, couldn’t understand why she was kicked out of an event that billed itself as intersectional. “The Dyke March is supposed to be intersectional,” she said. “I don’t know why my identity is excluded from that. I felt that, as a Jew, I am not welcome here.”

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/27/opinion/im-glad-the-dyke-march-banned-jewish-stars.html?_r=0

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