Riots have erupted in Baltimore, Maryland after Freddie Gray, a 25-year old arrested for possession of a switchblade, died in custody after his neck was nearly severed. According to Baltimore’s deputy police commissioner, Jerry Rodriguez, when Gray was arrested and placed in the police van, he could talk, but when he emerged from the van, he could not breathe. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake concedes that “it’s clear what happened inside the van”. So let’s talk about this.
One of the big problems in our election coverage is the tendency for journalists to focus on descriptive questions (who will be president?) rather than normative ones (who should be president?). This is understandable, given journalism’s focus on objectivity, but the result is that we often spend much more time talking about whether a candidate is electable than we do about whether or not the candidate would actually do a good job. Voters need to know which candidates support policies that will help them and those they care about–they don’t need to know which candidates pundits think are likely to prevail. So my response is to continue my Candidate Evaluations series, which considers a candidate’s background, policy history, and explicit statements to determine whether or not the candidate would actually be any good at being president. Previously, I did Ted Cruz. Today, I tackle Rand Paul, who declared his intent to run earlier this week.
The University of Oklahoma was recently scandalized when footage emerged in which members of the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon sang a revoltingly racist song:
This should make us think long and hard–how are young people acquiring racist beliefs? What are the social, economic, and environmental factors that lead young people to think negatively of other people based on their racial background? To what extent is wider society influenced by these same factors? How can we mitigate them and create a more fair and just society? But we’re not asking any of these questions. Instead, we’re going after the students and patting ourselves on the back for not being racist. That’s a mistake–here’s why.
I am a huge fan of Netflix’s House of Cards, which stars Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood, a ruthless political anti-hero. Here’s the trailer, if you haven’t seen it. It’s really good:
I launched into the 3rd season yesterday and was fascinated by Underwood’s “America Works” proposal. Very minor spoilers here–Underwood plans to eliminate or restructure America’s entitlement programs, using the money saved to create 10 million jobs, which will apparently cost $500 billion. Now, this is a television show. There are no CBO reports to look at, no detailed policy analyses or public policy research, but I want to dig into this and take the opportunity to explore some of the issues with entitlement programs.
In a display of just how spectacularly indifferent the contemporary social justice movement is to issues of inequality, there is now a backlash against British actor Benedict Cumberbatch (from The Hobbit, Sherlock Holmes, and the Imitation Game) for using the word “colored” when making an argument in favor of racial equality. Yes, you read that right. We now care more about which words people use to make their arguments than we do about what is being argued. Activists now care more about making sure everyone uses the approved vernacular than they do about achieving justice for the victims of inequality. This preoccupation with going after individuals (especially famous celebrities) for using the wrong words to say the right things is indicative of everything that is wrong with the left today. Here’s why.