Politics

December 11, 2017

Popular Sovereignty, 2017

Most pundits commenting on the probable election tomorrow of Roy Moore as a U.S. Senator from Alabama are focusing on his “sexual misconduct.” His history of “dating” teenagers when he was in his thirties has provoked outrage and soul searching, with NY Times columnist Gail Collins asking whether Republican voters are willing to vote for “an upstanding family man” who could be relied on to support Democratic agendas or “an awful slimeball who you could count on to support all the things you believe in.” A third option? “No fair answering moving to another state,” she writes. Bah-dah-bum. < more >

November 9, 2016

Tyranny of the Majority

Gather, several religious congregations have beckoned, for reconciliation, for healing, for hope. Though I would take comfort from being with others who are similarly dismayed by Donald Trump’s election to the presidency, I will not – cannot – attend. Not because I am otherwise engaged. But because I refuse to be reconciled or to heal. < more >

October 10, 2016

“Presidential” Debates: What to Tell Your Children

During PBS’s broadcast last night, political analyst Amy Walter disclosed that she would not be allowing her fourth-grade son to watch the second presidential debate. Like many parents of young children, Walter was uneasy imagining how a young person would process likely references to sexual assault, marital infidelity, and who knows what else might fly out of Donald Trump’s mouth. < more >

February 17, 2016

Teaching Writing, Questions

I met with a student yesterday before class who left me feeling at a loss.  I am struggling, yet again, to set realistic expectations when it comes to writing.

The student came to me wanting to make sure he understood what I was asking in an upcoming essay.  After we had worked together to clarify and develop a strategy to complete the assignment, we had a few minutes to talk.  “Who are you?”  I asked.  “I mean, when you’re not at school, what’s your life like?” < more >

January 12, 2016

Honor Thy Mother

Perhaps you missed this story.  A 21-year-old Syrian “man” shot his 45-year-old mother in the head with a rifle and killed her.  He was involved with ISIL, the Muslim terrorist organization. She wanted the two of them to leave the Syrian town of Raqqa, fearing for his safety as US-led troops neared the ISIL stronghold.  He told ISIL leaders of his mother’s request.  They insisted he publicly execute her.  He complied. < more >

November 12, 2015

Update: The Philosopher and the Welder

Two well-written and reasoned pieces responding to Marco Rubio’s assertion that we need more welders and “less” philosophers:

— one by Scott Timberg in Salon

— one by Farai Chideya in Five Thirty Eight Politics

Both question assertions about pay as well as the false opposition between liberal arts and vocational educations.  My favorite bit: a reference to Matthew B. Crawford’s short, smart book, Shopcraft as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work.  Crawford (who earned a Ph.D. in phiosophy) argues for the importance of skilled, thoughtful manual workers. < more >

November 10, 2015

Welders and Philosophers

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio seems to have distilled his education policy during tonight’s debate. “Welders make more money than philosophers,” declared the Florida senator. “We need more welders and less philosophers.”

If Rubio is serious about education, he shouldn’t draw an artificial line between welders and philosophers. This country will not get stronger by assuming that workers who “do” don’t think…and that those who think don’t “do.” < more >

May 24, 2014

Lean this way!

A while back, when Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg first published her book, Lean In, I argued that the concept of using social media to bring women together in consciousness raising groups was terrific, but that Sandberg’s formulation was flawed.  I’m excited to read an article in today’s Boston Globe that a domestic worker fighting to unionize at an area hotel has challenged Sandberg to lean into her cause.  The only way we’ll make real change happen in this country is to work across lines of difference (race, class, gender, ethnicity, religion).  Real change doesn’t just improve some peoples’ lives.  It has a positive effect on everybody.

November 22, 2013

Whether You Lean In or Out, Get in the Water

A long-time, much loved friend posted a question months ago, which I paraphrase: what do you think about parents who have the resources not to work outside the home and who know, from the get-go, that they will seek full-time employment because they want it?

My answer today is prompted by a piece I read on Politico.com this morning.  Writer Michelle Cottle criticizes Michelle Obama for  “Leaning Out.” Cottle complains that Obama has wasted her Ivy League education and career as a high-powered lawyer and that when, this week, Obama weighed in on an education system that leaves behind impoverished kids of color — especially impoverished girls — it was too little, too late.  Cottle also criticizes the First Lady for choosing a public role that has emphasized traditionally “feminine” issues such as healthy eating and exercise.  I am sympathetic to the complaint that Obama might have focused on less traditionally feminine topics, but I draw the line at the following: “Turns out,” Cottle writes, “she was serious about that whole “mom-in-chief” business—it wasn’t merely a political strategy but also a personal choice.” < more >

April 16, 2013

The Marathon Bombing and Popsicle Stick Etiquette

Many years ago, Lily and I toured the ancient city of Nazareth with our Haifa friends and their three kids.  It was hot, so all the kids were eating popsicles.  Lily finished her treat.  She wanted to throw away her popsicle stick.  She scanned the city street for trash cans.  We walked a few blocks, and without a garbage receptacle in sight, she asked our friends what to do with her leftover stick.  They told her to throw it on the ground.  She protested: “That’s littering!” < more >