By Jonathan Miller, on Tue Jun 18, 2013 at 3:00 PM ET
I thought the GOP hit bottom with women voters in 2012, thanks to “legitimate rape,” “binders of women,” etc., and I was looking forward to the ‘new and improved’ party after its public autopsy and rebranding. But apparently several holdouts haven’t gotten the memo – and it’s not just bothering us leftist liberals. Several republican strategists and senior leaders (including Bob Dole) have been critical, college-age republicans say the party is out of touch, and Rep Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania said the party was ‘stupid’ to focus on abortion and parsing words about rape instead of on jobs and infrastructure.
But there are still plenty of state legislatures, talk-radio hosts, and US Congressmen who seem to be obsessed with reproductive functions – they remind me less of responsible leaders and more of my teenage sons, but even they’ve outgrown that phase (although they still enjoy rating each other’s burps). And of course I understand that a few idiotic comments don’t represent an entire party, but it’s hard not to see a pattern, between all the mandatory transvaginal ultrasound laws, the Governor of Iowa signing a law that makes him personally responsible for deciding which women in his state can have a federally-funded abortion, or Saxby Chambliss claiming that sexual assault in the military was just a result of all those young people’s hormones. Critics were quick to point out that many of the accused assailants were well past puberty (although I’ll cut the man some slack, given that my 47-year-old husband still frequently behaves like a teenager), but what I want to know is whether Chambliss realizes that by his logic, we should expect (and forgive) sexual assault every other place where hormonally-charged young people live together (like college dorms).
And don’t get me started on the insane illogic of opposing both abortion and family planning. (We’ve already seen how poorly that works from religious leaders – My former mother-in-law was a devout Catholic who nevertheless used birth control, like almost American Catholics, because as she put it in her beautiful Italian accent, “How can-a the Pope tell-a me how to have-a sex if he no-a have sex?”) Or the incredibly tone-deaf misogyny of people like the Governor of Mississippi, who attributed the decline in American education to the fact that mothers have entered the work force. (However, I’m getting a good laugh out of the attempts in some states to limit abortion by calculating based on the date of woman’s last period, which means that she was pregnant 2 weeks before she actually conceived.)
Fortunately, this trend is making life incredibly easy for comedians, particularly those of us who miss Todd Akin et al., as well as a great climate for ’60s-type protest songs. So here’s my contribution:
By Artur Davis, on Tue Jun 18, 2013 at 10:00 AM ET
Click here to review & purchase
The Great Recession of 2008-2010 was hell on dreams. For all of the trillions of dollars sunk in the stock market, and the staggering job losses, it is the collapse in confidence and optimism that lingers and that has had the most sustained impact on American life. So argues George Packer’s superb book, “The Unwinding”, which should stand as one of the most compelling narratives of the toll of our near depression.
The heart of this book is a series of extended profiles whose lives exemplify different themes: Tammy Thomas, a black woman in Youngstown Ohio, who makes the transition from an assembly line worker to community organizer; Dean Price, a working class North Carolina boy who makes and loses a fortune building truck stops before refashioning himself as a biodiesel entrepreneur, before he crashes again; Jeff Connaughton (whom I know as a fellow Alabama expatriate), who rides his on again, off again connection to Joe Biden to a backstage role as an influential Washington operator; and a mildly famous Silicon Valley entrepreneur named Peter Thiel, the founder of PayPal who remains a considerable force in the venture capital world. Packer also fashions two places into virtual characters in their own right: the foreclosure wracked city of Tampa, Florida, which experienced some of the worst wreckage of the housing implosion of the last decade, and the confines of Zuccotti Park, the site of the original Occupy Wall Street protests.
Packer weaves back and forth between these subjects to sketch a canvass of what went wrong. The Rust Belt’s manufacturing base stops being a reliable conduit for high school educated men and women to climb into the middle class; hard working people start sliding backwards and become functionally poor while they are grinding themselves into poor health and exhaustion. The rural south stops being idyllic and becomes a hotspot for mental depression and social estrangement. Washington turns its leadership over to a permanent lobbying machine that reduces every policy debate to a transaction. Wall Street slips out from under the grip of regulators and plays by its own devil-may–care rules until it runs itself and the economy into a ditch. All over the country, the work ethic is fitfully rewarded, sometimes even punished; upward mobility operates on steroids at the top brackets of society and all but disappears at the middle and bottom rungs.
Some critics have pointed out that there is, in the wake of the first recession covered in 24 hour news cycles, not much that is deeply original about Packer’s inventory of decline, and that, as David Brooks argues, the storytelling genius does not compensate for the lack of sociological depth or data points in a book that is so openly ambitious to shape the national conversation. But the other chronicles of this period, Tom Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum’s, “That Used to Be Us” and Ron Suskind’s “Confidence Men” come to mind, along with a host of other narratives that reconstruct the capital markets crisis, are simultaneously more precise and more bloodless than Packer: they rely, more or less exclusively, on the perspective of insiders who have a lot to reveal or justify but who certainly never missed a meal during the economic storm. Packer puts his emphasis mostly on people who suffered genuine degradation and misery during the Great Recession. And unlike the many accounts of this period who worry that we have too quickly reverted to normalcy, with not enough lessons learned, Packer captures the not so well understood fact that a discernible number of Americans have become permanently radicalized by their suffering: America does not look the same to them as it used to, and they drift into a destabilized zone that is alienated from the moral and social certainties of their youth.
Read the rest of… Artur Davis: What We Lost in the Storm — A Review of “The Unwinding”
By Nancy Slotnick, on Tue Jun 18, 2013 at 8:30 AM ET
I love girls.
I love girls. Ok, I should really say I love Girls, the new HBO show, but the previous sentence was my feeble attempt to capture the attention of my male readership. Anyway, the show is awesome. The guy’s line “I want you to know, the first time I f*ck you, I might scare you a little, because I’m a man, and I know how to do things,” makes Marni need to masturbate before she even makes it back to her apartment. This is alpha male behavior. Does it exist outside of cable television? Can it be taken seriously or are players, pick up artists and sketch comedians the only guys who really talk this way?
Women want a contradiction in terms, and Lena Dunham does a fantastic job of pointing this out. We want men to take us by storm. We tell ourselves “If he really wanted to meet me, he would come over and talk to me.” But yet when they do take charge, we don’t want to be bossed around. Our girlfriends shame us if we cancel plans because we have a date, as if a whipped boyfriend is the only kind of boyfriend that is acceptable. Maybe they’re just jealous?
I’ve been a dating coach for the last decade, and every girl I meet wants to nab the bad boy who is also a good guy: a husband/father candidate who is an Alpha male in the bedroom. Because I found one for me, I’m in a pretty good position to help in this regard. But the first rule of being married to an Alpha male is very similar to the first rule of Fight Club. In case you haven’t seen it- the rule is you do not speak of it- but I shouldn’t even tell you this because if you want to date an Alpha male you should see Fight Club. And commit not to cringe. Then see it again and watch it as a relationship movie- fascinating on a whole nother level. But I digress.
By Erica and Matt Chua, on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 1:30 PM ET
LOCAVORista may have fallen in love with Buenos Aires and thought it had the best street art, but she was mistaken…Sao Paulo holds that crown. Yes, Buenos Aires offers a wide array of high-quality street art, but it pales in comparasion to Villa Madalena’s paint covered walls. In fact, it’s harder to find places without street art in this posh Sao Paulo neighborhood than trying to locate art. Let’s take a quick walk through the neighborhood to check out just some of the paintings.
The minds of the many artists in the neighborhoods have spilled out onto the walls exactly as this mural depicts: directly from brains to spray paint.
One of the larger works, the whimsical scene stretches almost an entire block, even working in the landscaping.
Read the rest of… Erica & Matt Chua: Sao Paulo Street Art Smackdown
By John Y. Brown III, on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 12:00 PM ET
I have received three flirty messages from three different fake FB profiles pretending to be a young woman eager to exchange private emails with me.
I finally responded to the last one just now.
“Thanks for your message.
However, another woman sent me an almost identical flirty message yesterday and we got married this afternoon.
And it’s really going well. To top it all off (and no offense) but she is a lot hotter than you are.
Here name is Rebecca Brown and we have “married” now as our Facebook relationship status
Good luck with finding romance. Or amusing yourself pretending to be a young woman. Which is, frankly, a turn off to most women your age and not the most well thought out romance strategy.
But you never know…you just might stumble onto an interaction that will change your life forever doing just what you are doing now. It could happen.
Keep the faith. And keep putting yourself out there until something better than rejections like this one from me start to happen for you.
There’s more than one fish in the sea. And more than one profile to fake private message on Facebook. Somewhere out there there on FB tonight there is a soulmate for you who as we message is writing a really funny trolling message under a fake name and profile just like you. And you two are destined to meet someday and fall in love. Someone who “gets you” and will love you just the way you are. And that is no laughing matter.
Q: I recently listened to your interview on NPR and applaud you for your comeback after spending time in a federal institution. I was on my way back to academia when I was arrested while being a practicing psychologist for two counts of fraud. I got 21 months. I have no criminal record prior to this and am very concerned about my future beyond incarceration. Any thoughts? Right now I am still in the numb/ embarrassment stage. —R.V., A City in Calif.
I actually have a chapter in a new book about recovering from crisis. I think the key is to repair and reinvent yourself in a way that stays true to the best of who you are. For instance, if you lose your professional license, could you still offer counseling at a halfway house after you complete your sentence? Or perhaps at a shelter for the homeless or victims of domestic violence?Something that will be therapeutic for you and helpful for others. For me that’s taken many forms, from teaching about the legislative process and addressing elected officials about ethical dilemmas to advocating for educational opportunities inside prison.
I won’t lie to you: Prison sucks. But it forced me to pause and reflect and thus gave me an advantage over the Sanfords and Weiners on the road to recovery. It can do that for you, but you must constantly remind yourself that failure is not falling down but staying down.
Q: I want to run campaigns, but getting a job as a manager is quite difficult. Candidates have two main problems: They often seem to think that they do not need to be managed, and when they do, they do not want to spend money for a salary. Of course, it is full-time work that is simply too much to ask of a volunteer. I have spent a lot of time on campaigns in general, and last year in particular. Consequently, I have taken the position that I will not do any more free work for politicians—I’ve seen that it usually does not pay off. I do not like sitting on the sidelines. Do you have any ideas? —C.B., New York CityI totally agree with the paradox you reference regarding candidates and campaign managers. As I’ve said before, candidates who try to run their own campaigns have a fool for a manager.
I think you should broaden your search and consider working for an issue campaign instead. There are lots of benefits to that; for instance: (1) no lying awake at night wondering if your candidate will make a campaign-ending faux pas; (2) no screaming candidate calling your cell at 2 a.m. to berate you about a typo in an email you did not write; (3) no frantic middle-of-the-night calls to bail the candidate’s son out of jail.
Most important, when you work for an issue campaign, you don’t have to worry if the candidate will actually follow through on the campaign pledge that motivated you to work on his behalf, because an issue never lies. And you don’t have to worry that your candidate’s efforts to follow through will be scuttled by her evil colleagues in the legislature, or wherever. So if you win an issue campaign, you really do win.
Read the rest of… Jeff Smith: Do As I Say — A Political Advice Column
If Boston, NYC, and San Francisco are the top three U.S. innovation cities why do their economic, education, health care, and energy systems produce the same poor results as cities around the rest of the country? I read the recent Top Innovation Cities of the Global Economy report from 2thinknow ranking the top 100 global innovation cities with great interest. Of course I quickly scanned the rankings to see which U.S. cities made the list. While I was disappointed my hometown of Providence, Rhode Island didn’t make the cut I was pleased to see our neighbor Boston was ranked number one. Two other U.S. cities joined Boston in the top ten, NYC ranked fifth and San Francisco ranked seventh.
Seems logical to ask if the top ranked innovation cities are delivering more value to their citizens or making more progress on the big social challenges of our time than other cities. What’s the point of innovation if not to deliver value and solve real world problems?
After barely scratching the surface of examining output measures the obvious question is this, if Boston, NYC, and San Francisco are the top U.S. innovation cities why are their poverty rates so high? Why are their education attainment levels so low? If these cities are innovation hot-spots and models for the rest of the country shouldn’t they deliver better economic opportunity, and better education, health care, and energy solutions, as well as a better quality of life to their citizens? I thought innovation was about delivering value and solving real world problems.
Read the rest of… Saul Kaplan: Measure Innovation Outcomes
By John Y. Brown III, on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 12:39 PM ET
Here’s to father’s who kick a** and take names — every day, as dads. Here’s to fathers who are men’s men and the modern version of Father Knows Best but who also have a metrosexual side when they need it.
Who make boatloads of money but still have time to go door-to -door with their daughters to help sell Girl Scout cookies and coach their son’s soccer team and make dinner for their wife’s scrapbooking club the second Tuesday of every month.
Here’s to the fathers who are as loving as they are strong and never complain or ask for praise but just keep on being a grown-up –and daily–version of Prince Charming, Assuming Prince Charming is middle-aged and moved to suburbia and worked his way up to partner at a medium-sized accounting firm. And teaches Sunday School and is trying to persuade his wife to take dance lessons together because it “sounds fun.”
Happy Big Daddy’s day to all those arse-kicken’ super pops!
And just a regular old Happy Father’s Day to other 99.997% of the reat of us dads out there. And just a reminder that the 0.003% making the rest of us look bad by comparison , are on the verge of a nervous break down and could crack any day now.
So hang in there. For us, today is more of a Happy ‘Lil Daddy’s Day. We’re pretty good dads, all things considered, but fall short of the exhausting ideal. And that’s OK. We kick a** in our own way and deep down we know they know that.
Just don’t hope for more than a tie today and a pleasant Lil Daddy Day card. And pat yourself on the back. And don’t mention they got you the exact same tie two years ago.
By Jonathan Miller, on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 1:59 PM ET
Morgan County Judge Executive Tim Conley with some dude named Bubba
Rebuilding West Liberty, an initiative aimed at reconstructing a small rural town nearly destroyed last year by horrific tornadoes, attended today the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America annual meeting. Tim Conley, the Morgan County Judge/Executive, told members of the CGI America Residential Energy Efficiency Working Group that affordable and energy efficient housing is a key to helping break the cycle of poverty. “Even before the devastating tornado fifteen months ago, many of our citizens could not afford to pay their utility bills. With this project we can demonstrate to all of rural America the extraordinary economic value of sustainability and energy efficiency,” Conley said.
On March 2, 2012, the town of West Liberty, Kentucky suffered a massive tragedy. An EF3 tornado ripped through this community of about 3,400 residents, killing seven, devastating nearly 400 homes, businesses and government structures, and destroying much of the downtown area. While the disaster was an unprecedented crisis for the tiny community, it also represented an extraordinary opportunity to rebuild itself with a 21st century, lower-cost, sustainable infrastructure, and develop a path to create job-producing business opportunities, increasing the tax base and attract new residents to West Liberty. The community’s residents and leaders chose this bolder path. After a year of extensive discussions among key stakeholders and outside experts, the community completed a thorough visioning process to rebuild West Liberty in a thoughtful and sustainable manner, giving careful consideration to the need to preserve the region’s Appalachian heritage and resources.
The Rebuilding West Liberty Team (From L): Bobby Clark of the Midwest Clean Energy Enterprise; Poker player Jonathan Miller, Stacey Epperson of NextStep, and Morgan County Judge Tim Conley
In January 2013, the town issued a strategic report: Rebuilding West Liberty, Kentucky, outlining thirteen locally-inspired strategies that would make West Liberty not only a model for disaster-ravaged communities, but also for all of rural America. (Click here for a PDF-version of the full report.)
Judge Conley today provided insight on one of Rebuilding West Liberty’s most urgent stakeholder-inspired strategies and most critical needs: rebuilding roughly half of the 300 residential homes that were lost to the storm. The three year project includes a $27 million investment of equity, grants, debt and operating grants to complete the project in West Liberty, and Next Step® Network will scale innovations piloted for other disaster response efforts and affordable housing projects for factory-built homes across the nation.
Please join us in this critical initiative.
Sign the petition below, to take part in the grassroots coalition supporting the project: