Why does WNYC/PBS in NYC think all public intellectual interviewers are men? — Don’t pledge until we all hear more diverse voices




Top 10, Top 20, Top 100 — you find your list.  Or even rely on Richard Posner‘s pre-9/11 list, and public intellectuals who are not SLAMs or SCAMs (and not fiction writers) are not women.  They are the default identity: straight liberal Anglo men or straight conservative men — the defaults or the embodiments of the “norms,” the 5 percenters.

I’ve been teaching this in Writing Politics for so many years it gets boring, old, trite, frustrating, maddening . . . oops, now I sound like a w/b-itch . . . something not nice, I suppose.  The first repair is please, please, please let’s forget Charlie Rose and Leonard Lopate and John Hockenberry and start filling the NYC airwaves with women public-intellectual interviewers.

The second repair — stop featuring how difficult it is to spot sexual harassment.  The definition is very, very clear, and the difference between civil and criminal law is VERY basic, yet even Brian Lehrer seem to have a problem with this.

The first thing is that you can’t say you didn’t know it was happening (male or female bosses either).  Indeed, the only reason sexual harassment — not pay inequity, nor paycheck discrimination — has had any impact since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is that the federal courts (including the Supremes) put their employers/managers/co-workers on the hook.  The whole head-in-the-sand approach doesn’t work — in CIVIL law (not criminal law, needless to say; criminal law carries a higher burden).

Aren’t we in the Anita Hill moment for public television and public radio, meaning her bravery despite Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas taking a seat was worth it?  Without her, NOW would not have increased and sexual harassment would have remained obscure (even though the press still can’t get a definition of it . . . or explain the difference between sexual crimes and civil crimes).

Here’s an exercise.  Compare the Forbes 400 with any top list of PUBLIC intellectuals and you might well find yourself on a stick, a broom, etc.  You get the idea.

Now, I get it for Roger Ailes/Rupert Murdoch’s baby Fox News(?), but public radio and public television, particularly in New York City, being conducted or run by mainly men?

To be sure, Terry Gross could don a cool cape and fly from station to station, but she’s only one person. . .

Here’s my challenge — don’t submit your pledge until we’ve heard bell hooks, Melissa Harris-Perry, or anyone but Doris Kearns Goodwin* absolutely refuse to interview for these openings.  This could be a call-in or petition campaign we might actually win!

* (who signed more than one settlement for more than one case of plagiarism — or one of the ultimate public intellectual civil crimes — unconscionable in my book 🙂 )

Trump’s Gang — Heads or Bodies of State?

Of course they beat their wives – Trump’s advisor(s) that is. There is already a link between terrorism and domestic violence, so why not the Alt Right media heads, like Bannon?  Ailes uses sexual harassment as a negotiating tool.  (Think about this for a moment if Trump appointed Bannon or Ailes as Secretary of State? Chris Christie gets to be the new AG, or is he also angling for it?)

Are these floating heads of state(s)? Or are they intimidating, free-floating heads on bodies that are simply fear-mongering? To be sure, they are a few of Trump’s advisors and campaign staff who already knocked off the GOP.  (Remember Trump’s finger incident, when he couldn’t stop poking congressional Republicans on the Hill?) So now the question is: Is Trump’s gang trying to intimidate all of us non-SCAMs and SLAMs?

It’s striking how the New York Times this summer started adopting the American academy’s language (“othering” or “us versus them”) more and more.  After, what, more than half a century, it’s fascinating to see this in the paper.  And it’s odd that it took so long to figure out the neotribalism aspects of being what Frantz Fanon called Wretched of the Earth.  (The idea that fear is not part of the American electoral discourse?  Fear is, and was, always a factor for getting folks out to those polls.  FDR got electoral mobilization based on that emotion.)

Nonetheless, if you’re interested in reading about theories of violence, vitriol that uses petrol, or the politics of violence and intimidation, you don’t have to grab a copy of Wretched of the Earth.  Fanon happens to be one of the far-right wing’s (right righteous revolutionaries) favorite books to bash and then burn.

Burning books, however, is better than burning at the stake actual women, children, immigrants, the ill, or persons with disabilities, and different genders and sexualities, who were the “wretched” or the inspiration undergirding this postcolonial book, among others. The fact that it took so long for “the print authorities,” or the Paper of Record, to notice is hardly new news.

What is new news is that the caring equation increased. Others need protection in an “us and them” equation long before “them” can become “us,” if that makes sense.  And the authorities are not just those taking office, executing offices (police), but especially those in the Fourth Estate practicing or selling our freedom of speech.

Why did it take so long for the United States to realize it’s not #BlackLivesMatter or #AllLivesMatter, or that the police triage their violence all the time (raping prostitutes into silence so as not to report anything)? False hope is always dangerous. It’s not just retaliation, it’s blowback.

We know why it took so long for Trump to get his gang in place as he is developing another property called the White House. Trump being a landed businessman (developer) is supposed to intimidate us, and he needs a gang.

The false hope stems from the news claiming to be new, when it’s actually age-old. Intimidation tactics don’t work so well without the element of surprise. The mainstream (not just right-wing) media is so good at reporting bride burnings and honor killings in the East, but not at our ideological home patrolled by dead white men.

Meanwhile, more than 10,000 women and children have to go to the ER each day because of domestic violence.  (Four million per year, and that’s a low guesstimate, since it’s only the ones willing to admit they didn’t run into doorknobs that get reported).

The only thing new about police brutality is that some folks are starting to document it, and therefore care, though only if they’re one of us (immigrants already on our shores, not abroad).#

Debating the Obama Presidency (preorder)


Preorder here

Edited by Steven E. Schier

Contributions by Alan I. Abramowitz, Emory University; Andrew E. Busch, Claremont McKenna College; Peter Juul, Center for American Progress; Lawrence Korb, Center for American Progress; William G. Mayer, Northeastern University; Ruth O’Brien, City University of New York Graduate Center; John J. Pitney Jr.. Claremont McKenna College; Danielle Pletka, American Enterprise Institute; Daniel E. Ponder, Drury University; Steven E. Schier, Carleton College; Raymond Tatalovich, Loyola University Chicago; and John Kenneth White, Catholic University of America. « less

 This is the first book to present both the arguments for and against Barack Obama’s presidency and its policies. In it, prominent political scientists and Washington think tank scholars address Obama’s domestic, economic and foreign policies and his political legacy. Contrasting perspectives assess the consequences of the large aspirations of the Obama presidency and the political and policy challenges Obama encountered in the pursuit of those aspirations. Barack Obama’s project in the White House involved installing lasting changes in national policy and politics. Institutionally, the Obama administration sought to preserve control of Congress through maintenance of reliable partisan Democratic majorities, and enhance influence over the federal courts through a steady stream of liberal judicial appointees. The administration sought increased autonomy over the executive branch by a reorganizations spawned by a national economic crisis and an ambitious domestic policy agenda. Politically, the Obama administration sought the entrenchment of consistent Democratic electoral majorities. Such large ambitions have generated enduring controversies surrounding his presidency, controversies that receive a full airing and debate in this volume.



Chris Christie’s Revenge – Angry White Males without their Doughnuts

Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 4.01.51 PM  I saw something exceptional yesterday.

Not since I was in Switzerland — on my way to Unterwasser — have I seen an all-white, male, middle-aged road crew.  And I saw it in New Jersey, no less — not just New Jersey, but the Plainfields.  North Plainfield, Plainfield, and Watchung are divided by Highway 22.  It’s hard to find the bridge over the highway that literally separates wealthy Watchung from the largely poor, demographically diverse Plainfields (South Plainfield is more prosperous).

Together, North Plainfield and Plainfield are about three-quarters non-white, and Watchung is the mirror opposite — three-quarters white. Or put it this way, South Plainfield and Watchung have T R U M P signs in their front yards, whereas the Plainfields do not (with the exception again, of South Plainfield)

The Plainfields’ poverty rate seems unremarkable without putting it in statewide context.  New Jersey is the wealthiest state in the nation; it beats Connecticut.  Yet in this wealthy state are some of the poorest cities in the nation, including Camden and Plainfield.  In Plainfield, even the building where Planned Parenthood is housed is marked “for sale.”

Plainfield, what is more, is home to a historic Quaker house museum and a Unitarian congregation, with the relatively new kid on the block, so to speak, being one of the many physical homes across the nation of #BlackLivesMatter.

Why does it matter that the municipal work crew I saw was all white, middle-aged men?  Because as jobs diminish and municipal public-works jobs are even more difficult to find, connections, favors, and favoritism must matter even more.

So this got me thinking, why all of a sudden are municipal public-works road jobs (possibly; this is an unfounded social science hypothesis, after all, an observation) going to what is demographically categorized as, or the embodiment of, Trump supporters? Or put more plainly, why all the signs in the border town South Plainfield –- even the wealthy Watchung did not have that many T- R- U- M -P* signs.


*The spaced out letters work well we all have vision problems in middle age. The lettering reads like a general practitioner’s eye-exam.

2.4 minutes of Anti-Trump — Rumpism or “Schadenfreude Fun”

PEO-blowfish.svgWatch the blowfish for 2.4 minutes of fun!  Then, in case you have trouble pronouncing Schadenfreude, which is a uniquely German word defined as — deriving pleasure from others’ pain — hit the  iconic sound image for more fun.      120px-Speaker_Icon.svg  In this case you can hear the robot pronounce Schadenfreude, which is fun to watch in conjunction with, or after you view the Washington Post’s video of the pain in the top 10 Republican Trump haters’ body language.   Their smiles are particularly pained fun given the Trump Rump monster they built.  Feel me?



Five Minutes of Freedom Ain’t For Free

Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 4.01.51 PM.pngWatch the 5.08 visual version of Jennifer Lopez Singing for Hillary Clinton

While I don’t like wading through advertisements, this version is the best song for Hillary Clinton, the General whose fighting the GOP’s War against Women, now waged by Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee.

New Rules & Paycheck Reparations

Gold_Bars  The BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) is so dull that even professors in American Political Development took years to publish a book on the origins of this statistics-collecting agency formed in 1906.

But information is power, and President Barack Obama will exercise his executive power to force medium and large firms to “report to the federal government what they pay employees by race, gender and ethnicity . . . to crack down on firms that pay women less for doing the same work as men.” Wowsa. Hillary Clinton just scored an executive power worth following if she’s elected.

If American businesses start reporting what women, Latinos, African-Americans, LGBTQers, persons with disabilities, and (best of all) any employees — including white men — who are over 39 years old (and thus protected under age discrimination) are paid, we can all count on getting a pay raise, no? All of us but white men who are under 40 and older than 18 years old — many of whom make up Trump’s voting base — will have the data reported for potential lawsuits.  In other words, less than 20% of the American workforce is not protected, or 80% can sue for discrimination.

The Lilly Ledbetter Law, the first law Obama signed, has had little to no effect. The neotribal Roberts Court (religious, anti-woman, anti-union . . .) undermined class-action suits as a means of helping those who were discriminated against to get paid fairly, so Obama found another way — new rules that capitalize on the reparations movement re-energized by Ta-Nehisi Coates.  African-American women, historically paid the least, should be the first in line for raises.