Poverty and Racism have a dual impact on upward mobility


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❝ The defining feature of the American Dream is upward mobility – the aspiration that all children have a chance at economic success, no matter their background. However, our research shows that children’s chances of earning more than their parents have been declining. 90% of children born in 1940 grew up to earn more than their parents. Today, only half of all children earn more than their parents did.

The American Dream maintains its mythic status even as it declines steadily. Political charlatans, self-described as conservative more often than not seem to have offered the best lies. The liberal flavor [in my lifetime] can be moved by the courage of citizens to grow backbone. Sometimes.

Republicans sing, “Mommas, don’t let your babies grow up to be college graduates!”

❝ Most Republicans think colleges are bad for the country, and the vast majority think the news media is too, according to new data from the Pew Research Center. The Pew study, conducted from June 8 to 18 among more than 2,000 respondents, found that Democrats and Republicans are growing substantially more divided in their opinions on public institutions.

❝ According to the survey results released Monday, 58 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning independents say that colleges and universities have had a negative impact on the nation — the first time a majority of Republicans have thought colleges are bad for the country. As recently as 2015, 54 percent of Republicans said colleges and universities had a positive impact on the way things were going in the country, but by 2016 those results split to 43 percent positive and 45 percent negative.

On the other side of the aisle, 72 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaners say they think colleges and universities have a positive effect on the country, holding steady with past years’ results…

❝ The partisan divide was even sharper when it came to the media. Only 10 percent of Republicans thought the media had a positive effect on the way things are going in the US.

Meanwhile, 44 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents have a positive view of the news media’s impact on the nation — an 11-point increase since August 2016…

❝ Despite the widening partisan gap, however, Pew reports that the public’s overall views on the effect of institutions on the nation are relatively unchanged. Polarization may have increased, but the uptick in Democrats’ positive views balance out Republicans’ increasingly negative ones.

Nice to know that confidence in constitutional democracy, republican representation, outweighs ideological stupid.

The real face of terrorism in America


Gavin Wright, 49, Curtis Allen, 49, and Patrick Stein, 47

Three Kansas men from a militia cell called “the Crusaders” plotted to bomb a mosque and apartment complex home to Somali immigrants…

Curtis Allen, 49, Gavin Wright, 49, and Patrick Stein, 47, were charged Friday with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, according to the Department of Justice’s national security division. The Crusaders call Muslims “cockroaches,” and they had discussed attacks brutal attacks on Muslims for months, federal prosecutors said.

FBI agents working on tips from an undercover informant said the three men planned to blow up four car bombs at the Garden City apartments. Allen, Wright and Stein hoped the attack on the 120-resident complex would “wake people up,” the feds said.

The arrests followed an eight-month investigation that took the agents “deep into a hidden culture of hatred and violence,” said acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall. “Many Kansans may find it as startling as I do that such things could happen here.”…

If you read more than the TV Guide, watch more than Fox Noise, you shouldn’t be surprised.

…Allen, Wright and Stein had stockpiled guns, ammunition and explosive components, prosecutors said. They also spied on possible targets and planned to issue a manifesto, according to the feds.

They decided on the apartment complex in Garden City, a meatpacking town of 26,000 people in southwestern Kansas. Many Somali refugees who work at a Tyson Foods beef slaughterhouse live there, and the complex includes a mosque where they worship together.

“They chose the target location based on their hatred of these groups, their perception that these groups represent a threat to American society, a desire to inspire other militia groups, and a desire to ‘wake people up,'” the complaint said…

They talked about attacking targets such as city or county meetings, landlords who rent to Muslim refugees, organizations that assist Muslim refugees, a mall frequented by Muslims and Garden City’s African Community Center, investigators said. They decided on the W. Mary St. apartment complex in August, according to the complaint.

…Police in Liberal arrested Allen on Tuesday night after his girlfriend said he beat her, the charging documents showed. His car had ammo for an AR-15, an AK-47 and a Glock handgun, according to investigators.

Liberal police later found nearly a metric ton of ammo at Allen’s house, investigators said. FBI agents who searched G&G, where Allen worked for Wright, said they uncovered a detonator believed to be a homemade explosive and other bomb components…

Federal agents took custody of all three of them Friday morning. Allen, Wright and Stein face up to life in federal prison without parole if they’re convicted.

Throw away the key!

House of Lords backs UK government plans for same-sex marriage


Celebrations and singing outside the House of Lords

The House of Lords spent two days debating the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, with many members voicing their concerns…But it rejected an amendment aimed at wrecking the bill by 242 votes, moving it a step closer to becoming law.

The BBC’s Norman Smith said plans were on course for the first same-sex weddings to take place next summer.

The bill would allow couples, who can currently form civil partnerships, to marry…

The result was greeted with cheers from supporters of same-sex marriage gathered outside Parliament…equalities minister Baroness Stowell of Beeston called the legislation a “force for good” which would strengthen marriage.

She said it protected both religious freedom and freedom of speech.

Baroness Royall, Labour’s leader in the Lords, said marriage had a “special status in our society”: “I firmly believe that our society will be strengthened when more couples are able to choose to make a lifetime commitment to each other and when all members of our communities are able to celebrate their identity and relationships within the institution of marriage…”

Peter Tatchell, who co-ordinates the Equal Love campaign, said: “This is a victory for love, marriage and equality“…

Bravo! Mail me a penny postcard when the United States government catches up to the growing number of Western industrial nations supporting full civil rights for their LGBT citizens.

Forget the money, follow the sacredness that is your totem

Jonathan Haidt is a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia and a visiting professor of business ethics at N.Y.U.’s Stern School of Business…parts of this article were excerpted from his new book – which means we’ll probably see him on TV in the next week visiting with either Tom Keene or Charlie Rose.

In the film version of “All the President’s Men,” when Robert Redford, playing the journalist Bob Woodward, is struggling to unravel the Watergate conspiracy, an anonymous source advises him to “follow the money.” It’s a good rule of thumb for understanding the behavior of politicians. But following the money leads you astray if you’re trying to understand voters…

Despite what you might have learned in Economics 101, people aren’t always selfish. In politics, they’re more often groupish. When people feel that a group they value — be it racial, religious, regional or ideological — is under attack, they rally to its defense, even at some cost to themselves. We evolved to be tribal, and politics is a competition among coalitions of tribes.

The key to understanding tribal behavior is not money, it’s sacredness. The great trick that humans developed at some point in the last few hundred thousand years is the ability to circle around a tree, rock, ancestor, flag, book or god, and then treat that thing as sacred. People who worship the same idol can trust one another, work as a team and prevail over less cohesive groups. So if you want to understand politics, and especially our divisive culture wars, you must follow the sacredness.

A good way to follow the sacredness is to listen to the stories that each tribe tells about itself and the larger nation. The Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith once summarized the moral narrative told by the American left like this: “Once upon a time, the vast majority” of people suffered in societies that were “unjust, unhealthy, repressive and oppressive.” These societies were “reprehensible because of their deep-rooted inequality, exploitation and irrational traditionalism — all of which made life very unfair, unpleasant and short. But the noble human aspiration for autonomy, equality and prosperity struggled mightily against the forces of misery and oppression and eventually succeeded in establishing modern, liberal, democratic, capitalist, welfare societies.” Despite our progress, “there is much work to be done to dismantle the powerful vestiges of inequality, exploitation and repression.” This struggle, as Smith put it, “is the one mission truly worth dedicating one’s life to achieving.”

This is a heroic liberation narrative. For the American left, African-Americans, women and other victimized groups are the sacred objects at the center of the story. As liberals circle around these groups, they bond together and gain a sense of righteous common purpose.

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Fox News hates the Muppets – Muppets respond


 
Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy hit back at Fox News during a UK press conference following the London Premiere of their new film. Fox had publically criticized the film for supposedly pushing a ‘dangerous liberal agenda’ at kids.

Har!

America’s conservatives lead the world in paranoia. They may not get what they think they need; but, they surely sound like they get what they deserve.

Barney Frank to wed his partner, Jim Ready, in Massachusetts

Rep. Barney Frank, the most prominent gay member of Congress, is getting married.

The Democrat, who is retiring from the House at the end of this term, will marry his partner, Jim Ready, in a Massachusetts ceremony. No date has been scheduled and no other details were provided…

Frank, 71, and Ready, 42, have been together since spring of 2007. The congressman told The New York Times in an interview after he announced his retirement that he wanted to spend more time with Ready, a photographer who also owns a business doing custom awnings, carpentry, painting, welding and other handyman services.

In 2007, Ready made headlines when he was arrested for growing marijuana in the backyard of his Maine home. Frank acknowledged in 2009 that he was present at the time of Ready’s arrest. The Boston Globe reported Ready pleaded guilty to civil possession of marijuana, and the charge was later dropped.

Frank, a liberal firebrand known for his quick wit, was first elected to the House in 1980. As chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Frank co-authored the most sweeping changes to banking industry regulations since the Great Depression…

There are four openly gay members of Congress, all Democrats: Frank and Reps. Jared Polis of Colorado, David Cicilline of Rhode Island and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.

Same-sex marriage is legal in New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia.

That last sentence certainly says something about the most advanced, forward-looking and democratic corner of the country. But, then, the bastion of revolutionary separation from colonial England, the heart and soul of the abolition of slavery – would be expected to do no less than continue the region’s history of support for civil rights.

So, Barney – mazel tov!

Define liberal brains by complexity, conservative brains by fear

This is going to sound sort of obvious, but here we go: A study from University College London published this week in Current Biology has discovered that there are actually differences in the brains of liberals and conservatives. Specifically, liberals’ brains tend to be bigger in the area that deals with processing complex ideas and situations, while conservatives’ brains are bigger in the area that processes fear.

According to the report: “We found that greater liberalism was associated with increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex, whereas greater conservatism was associated with increased volume of the right amygdala.”

People with larger amygdalae respond to perceived threats with more aggression and “are more sensitive to threatening facial expressions.” The anterior cingulate cortex, however, “monitors uncertainty and conflict.” “Thus,” says the report, “it is conceivable that individuals with a larger ACC have a higher capacity to tolerate uncertainty and conflicts, allowing them to accept more liberal views.”

The question remains about sorting the cause-and-effect relationship between ideology and brain structure. Could be that liberal open-mindedness helps the brain grow in complexity – and conservatives habit of cowering behind ideology bloats their right amygdala.

Thanks, Mary Lupin

North Carolina town bans thongs


Click for Florida alternative – NSFW in North Carolina

If you plan on going to Kure Beach, North Carolina, bring your sunscreen and shades, but please leave your thong behind.

The seaside community has adopted a zero tolerance policy on anyone wearing the barely-there bikini by the shore on their part of North Carolina’s Pleasure Island, just south of Wilmington.

“You can do what you want to in your own space,” said Mayor Dean Lambeth, “but for public decency, keep it off the public beach…”

The decision to forbid thongs was triggered by a couple’s recent inquiry about spending their honeymoon in Kure Beach, Lambeth said. According to the mayor, the couple wanted to know if they could wear thongs. The man thought the town’s policy on the matter was ambiguous, Lambeth said. After consulting with the police chief, he determined the ordinance should be amended to better address the issue.

Section 12-32 of the Code of the Town of Kure Beach, which was adopted on April 22, makes it illegal “for any person being naked or insufficiently clothed … to bathe or swim in the Atlantic Ocean” or any other area within the town’s jurisdiction. Sun-bathing “naked or insufficiently clothed” is also banned.

“Thong bathing suits or similar attire are specifically prohibited,” the code says.

Anyone wearing a thong on the beach will be fined $25…

He also suspected the decision on the thongs could end up in court and blamed liberals for that.

“You can file a suit — the way this country is leaning so far left, it wouldn’t surprise me,” he said. “They want to challenge it? They want to spend the money? Go for it.”

He’s probably right. Sex-obsessed Republicans seem to stick to public restrooms.