Category Archives: Current Events

Finding Mercy in Merciless Times

By David Kyuman Kim

“We forgive him.” “I have no animosity in my heart for him.” This is what the family of Robert Godwin Sr. said to Anderson Cooper on CNN two days after Steve Stephens murdered their father on Easter and broadcasted the awful act on Facebook. The shock of seeing a murder on social media was only surpassed by the moral witness of a grieving family saying “We forgive.” The expressions of forgiveness and mercy would be astonishing arguably at any time, but in this American moment, one rife with animosity, hatred, and the dramatic resurgence in racially-motivated crimes, forgiveness comes as a shock to an unforgiving system. Continue reading

The Ego Budget

By Benjamin Reeves

Common wisdom says that the “skinny budget” presented by the president to Congress every year is essentially a political document. It doesn’t define what the budget will actually be since Congress — not the president — is responsible for drafting and passing the budget; rather, its purpose is to provide a guide to the president’s priorities for the country, and traditionally, the president’s party uses it as a baseline when drafting their budget. Given the skinny budget’s role as a primarily political document, it’s not surprising that presidents use its opening statement, in which they address Congress and the American people, as a rhetorical opportunity before getting down to dollars and cents. Continue reading

The Berth of Biopolitics

By Matt Seybold

While coverage of Dr. David Dao’s involuntary deplaning has focused on United’s ineffective PR response, procedural failures, and various forms of victim-shaming, it is also a stark example of the failure of neoliberal political economy to abide its own purported logic. In 1978, a coalition of so-called “Deltacrats,” with the blessing of President Carter, pushed through the Airline Deregulation Act on the dubious grounds it would help address two persistent bugbears of the era: inflation, and rising fuel prices. Milton Friedman, figurehead of what Michel Foucault would call “anarcho-liberalism” and the academic face of the Reagan Revolution, called the ADA “the first major move in any area away from government control and toward greater freedom.” The largest commercial airlines, particularly Delta and United, had lobbied hard for deregulation, which would hasten the process of oligopolistic amalgamation. The legislation’s primary sponsor and spokesperson, Senator Howard Cannon, would be rewarded with the Tony Jannus Award for “outstanding achievement in commercial aviation,” a recognition generally reserved for airline executives, but would lose his seat in ‘82 to a challenger who argued, ironically, that Chairman of the Commerce Committee Cannon was not business-friendly enough. Continue reading

A New Genre of Civic Literature: Official Reports of Government Inquiries Into International Cases of Abuse of Institutionalized Children

By Arthur McCaffrey

This is a story about institutional crime and social justice. At times, it may seem there is too much of the former and not enough of the latter. That’s the bad news. The good news is, when the institutional crime involves the abuse and exploitation of children, a number of different governments, in different countries, in different parts of the world, are finally beginning to do something. Unfortunately, the US government is not one of them.  Continue reading

Believing is Seeing

By Afshan Jafar

As chair-elect and long-time member of a university faculty steering committee — the academic equivalent of a senate executive committee — I have been accused of many things over the years: having an “agenda”; being “aggressive”; being “strident”; being “blunt”; being “obfuscating”; looking for “special treatment”; and not being “forthright” are just a few of those. These negative responses were often prompted by what I believed to be innocuous actions, such as reading a piece of legislation to answer someone’s question (“obfuscating” and “not forthright”); pointing out that our evening faculty meeting time was not convenient for parents and especially mothers (“having an agenda” and “looking for special treatment”); trying to finish my sentence while somebody was trying to interrupt me (“strident” and “aggressive”). Continue reading

By Mail or Meals: The Cost of Human Contact Is Priceless

By Lauren Anderson

It was a handwritten letter, in clear block printing, with an unfamiliar return address. Somewhat ironically, it was from our mail carrier, Richard, who had been switched off our New Haven, Connecticut route weeks ago.

He was writing to say that he missed delivering to our neighborhood, had started a new book and watercolor class, and sometimes ate lunch nearby in case we wanted to join him. It was an unexpected but characteristically human gesture. Continue reading

Battle Fatigue: Why It’s Your Civic Duty to Get Some Rest in Trump’s America

By Amy Newlove Schroeder

We all know that life has changed since Election Day — and those changes have not solely occurred on the national stage. Trump’s election has affected the way many of us face our daily lives, causing deep and granular alterations in behavior. Instead of greeting the day with a steaming cup of joe and a casual perusal of my Facebook news feed, I now start the morning by immediately turning on CNN and pulling up the New York Times on my phone .I only read the articles about Trump, because every other piece of news seems like small potatoes. I used to get most of my news from NPR: now I subscribe to three newspapers. I used to channel surf when I got home from work. Now I go straight to MSNBC. There has been so much news, and all of it is bad: false claims of Obama wire taps; Jeff Sessions; the travel ban; Australia; Mexico; Ivanka Trump’s pumps; Russia, Russia, and more Russia. If you’re anything like me, you can’t look away. Continue reading