Sunday, March 18, 2018

Midterm Election: A Call to Defend Democracy
Putting aside for the moment that I have serious policy disagreements with the current president, I want to focus on a deeper clash over the future of democracy and liberty.

It is normal in a democratic society for some to disagree with a current president on policy positions, because in a democracy sometimes the other side wins. Those out of power struggle but the main focus is on winning back power in the next election.

Except when the current president is governing in ways that threaten the future of elections, democracy, and freedom. Then, two things happen.

First, policy disagreements continue but become more divisive because these are intertwined with deeper concerns about the ill-informed and autocratic way decision making threatens to undermine respect for the rule of law and our democratic traditions. 

Similarly, persistent and ungrounded attacks on the free press (and on data-driven problem solving itself), assaults on courts and law enforcement encourage disrespect for institutions essential to a functioning democracy.

Second, the opposition party has a difficult choice. We can focus on policy (because this is what animates most in our coalition, of course) and risk enflaming internal divisions that will prevent us from winning back power. Or we can focus on democracy & freedom, the rule of law & tradition, protecting the functioning of democratic institutions like elections.

In the 2018 midterms we need to focus on the latter. We need to build a coalition of moderates mobilized around a call to defend democracy. This coalition will include Democrats of all stripes as well as moderate Republicans (particularly those formerly known as Reagan Democrats).

The three pillars of this defense are a government that puts American families first by ensuring elections are free & fair, the rule of law is respected, and leaders are expected to be problem solvers who use the best available data to figure out how to rebuild America’s shrinking middle class.

Stein Ringen’s commentary today, Who will Defend Democracy, provides a way to frame foreign policy consistent with, and reinforcing, this approach to the midterm elections.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Three Disruptive Facts Revealed as Not Liberal Talking Points
This week our president admitted what fact-checkers have been saying since he took office: he is a liar. 
Not only not a liberal talking point (it has always been a fact-checker observation of many more lies than any previous president)…but now even beyond that it is the president himself telling us he is a liar.

Of course, he already told us this before the election when he said, after years of insisting the opposite (aka lying to our faces over and over again), that President Obama was indeed born in the US.

Also not a liberal talking point? The president’s tariffs are likely to spark a trade war that will hurt American consumers and businesses….the opposite of making us great. And what liberal wacko dares to call the president a misinformed liar here? The US Chamber of Commerce. Communists.

A third non-liberal talking point to put a damper on Fox Noise driven outrage? Current claims—that are the foundation for a destructive assault on higher education—that only STEM majors get jobs and promotions…have been found (in a study by that well-known anti-business group called Google) to be inaccurate. The tops seven skills students need to master are all skills they learn in a well-rounded liberal arts education emphasizing the social sciences, humanities and arts.

For more on this Google study, check out this blog....

Google Finds STEM Skills Aren’t the Most Important Skills
January 5, 2018 by Lou Glazer

Terrific Washington Post column on research done by Google on the skills that matter most to its employees’ success. Big surprise: it wasn’t STEM. The Post writes:

Sergey Brin and Larry Page, both brilliant computer scientists, founded their company on the conviction that only technologists can understand technology. Google originally set its hiring algorithms to sort for computer science students with top grades from elite science universities.
In 2013, Google decided to test its hiring hypothesis by crunching every bit and byte of hiring, firing, and promotion data accumulated since the company’s incorporation in 1998. Project Oxygen shocked everyone by concluding that, among the eight most important qualities of Google’s top employees, STEM expertise comes in dead last.

The seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills: being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others (including others different values and points of view); having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas.

Those traits sound more like what one gains as an English or theater major [or conflict transformation program…or any social science degree] than as a programmer. Could it be that top Google employees were succeeding despite their technical training, not because of it?  After bringing in anthropologists and ethnographers to dive even deeper into the data, the company enlarged its previous hiring practices to include humanities majors, artists, and even the MBAs that, initially, Brin and Page viewed with disdain.

This, of course, is consistent with the findings of the employer-led Partnership for 21st Century Learning who describe the foundation skills for worker success as the 4Cs: collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity. And the book Becoming Brilliant which adds to those four content and confidence for the 6Cs.

And consistent with the work on the value of a liberal arts degree of journalist George Anders laid out in his book You Can Do Anything and in a Forbes article entitled “That Useless Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech’s Hottest Ticket.”

It’s far past time that Michigan policymakers and business leaders stop telling our kids if they don’t get a STEM related degree they are better off not getting a four-year degree. It simply is not accurate.

(Not to mention that many of their kids are getting non-STEM related four-year degrees.)
And instead begin to tell all kids what is accurate that the foundation skills––as Google found out––are not narrow occupation-specific skills, but rather are broad skills related to the ability to work with others, think critically and be a lifelong learner. The kind of skills that are best built with a broad liberal arts education.

The Post concludes:

No student should be prevented from majoring in an area they love based on a false idea of what they need to succeed. Broad learning skills are the key to long-term, satisfying, productive careers. What helps you thrive in a changing world isn’t rocket science. It may just well be social science, and, yes, even the humanities and the arts that contribute to making you not just workforce ready but world ready.


Here is a link to the above blog.

Here is a link to the Washington Post analysis referred to in the blog.

Here is another blog on this.

Here is another article about the Google analysis called Project Oxygen.

Here is a link to The New Education building in this data and referred to in the blog.

The New Education: How to Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World in Flux, by Cathy Davidson

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

It is good news that Conor Lamb looks like he is about to win in PA or come within a percentage. Trump won that district in 2016 by 19 points. Very good news. At the same time, we must retain our laser-like focus on unity to win the midterms. This is job one.

If we get over confident we will not attract suburban and educated Republican women.

If we attack each other over a progressive litmus test we will not attract frustrated and angry union voters.

Focus on unity to take back the House. We all need an institutional check on the president in addition to the (sometimes) checks from courts.

While we will not likely oust him, taking back the House does make impeaching him likely. Focus.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Another Fox Noise Double-Double

Clint O’Connor’s analysis of a Fox Noise talking head’s error-filled criticism of LeBron for daring to speak out against the president (and I mention error-filled because part of the ridiculous critique is that LeBron spoke ungrammatically) is very much worth reading. But be careful if you forward or otherwise highlight this story to do all you can to avoid letting this talking head use the story to build her twitter followers or draw more attention to her show.

That is why I am not mentioning her here at all and reminding us of a clip from West Wing were the fictional President Bartlett takes on this exact talking head’s idiocy directly and with devastating effect. We might be better off to ignore the story she wants us to circulate entirely and just re-circulate this 3:42 second West Wing clip instead.

Or just read another great story from our incredible local paper, the Akron Beacon Journal, and we will know most of what we need to know about this issue. Thanks Clint, ABJ, and LeBron from speaking out with clarity and calm, care and concern for our country.

Here is the full text of Clint O’Connor’s article from today’s ABJ. I love the concluding line: “Ingraham pulled off a double-double. She managed to miss the point and prove the point.”

Fox News host Laura Ingraham went after LeBron James on Thursday night.

In defending President Donald Trump, Ingraham told James to “shut up and dribble.” She questioned James’ intelligence, his grammar and his education.

The fuel for Ingraham’s fire was a new segment of Rolling with the Champion, which was posted Thursday on James’ Uninterrupted website ( The segment featured host Cari Champion driving James and fellow NBA superstar Kevin Durant around snowy Akron.

It had the feel of James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke. But instead of singing, the three discussed a series of wide-ranging topics. It was taped Jan. 14, the night before a Cavs-Warriors game in Cleveland.

Ingraham opened her segment on The Ingraham Angle by saying, “This is a Jumb Dock Alert.” She meant to say “Dumb Jock.”

She went on to criticize James for criticizing Trump.

“Here’s his barely intelligible not to mention ungrammatical take on President Trump,” she said, before cutting to a brief clip of James saying Trump did not care about people, which included an expletive.

After the clip, Ingraham reappeared and, her voice dripping in derisive sarcasm, said. “But wait.” Pause. “There’s more gripping insight.”

In the full segment on Uninterrupted, Champion had actually asked James what the climate was like in the Trump era to be an athlete with a platform.

“The climate is hot,” said James. “The No. 1 job in America, the appointed person is someone who doesn’t understand the people. And really don’t give a [expletive] about the people.”

When James was growing up, he continued, “there was like three jobs that you looked to for inspiration or you felt like these were the people who could give me light. It was the president of the United States, it was whoever was the best in sports, and then it was, like, whoever was the greatest musician at the time. You never thought you could be them, but you could grab inspiration from them …”

“At this time right now, with the president of the United States, it’s at a bad time, and while we cannot change what comes out of that man’s mouth, we can continue to alert the people that watch us, that listen to us, that this is not the way.”

Ingraham referred to James and Durant’s remarks as “ignorant comments.”

She added: “Must they run their mouths like that?”

Ingraham came across sounding like an old, angry racist sitting on a porch shooing a couple of black kids off her lawn.

The clip she showed on Fox was also out of context.

If Ingraham, or her minions, had bothered to watch the entire 16-minute and 44-second drive-around, they would have learned that very little of it was about politics or Donald Trump. Topics included when the two men were first introduced to basketball, the NBA All-Star Game, racism, the contributions of Muhammad Ali and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., growing up fatherless, being good husbands and good parents, as well as good-natured childhood memories, which for James represented the sights and sounds of Akron outside the car window.

Ingraham also jumbled some facts.

• She called the segment “a podcast on ESPN.”
It was not a podcast. It was not on ESPN.
• She said James makes $100 million a year to “bounce a ball.”
James’ Cavaliers salary for the 2017-2018 season is about $33.3 million.
• She said James should be a cautionary tale for kids, because he left high school early to play in the NBA.
James graduated from Akron’s St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in 2003.
The lack of an education charge is especially galling. Are you not entitled to an opinion if you did not attend college?

And by the way: The LeBron James Family Foundation and its I Promise programs have committed millions of dollars to helping elementary and secondary school students to learn, focus and move on to college. James also teamed with the University of Akron to provide four-year scholarships for students who complete the I Promise program. The price tag is around $90 million.

The foundation just sent a group of “LJFF 330 Ambassadors” to Los Angeles for the NBA All-Star weekend.

The ambassadors are Akron teens who mentor young kids. On Friday, they were scheduled to plant trees in an area devastated by wildfires.
Ingraham’s questioning James’ right to speak out is bizarre. James has delivered thoughtful remarks in recent years about racism and social injustice issues. He does not go off half-cocked.

Apparently, Ingraham was not watching Uninterrupted when Champion asked James and Durant about some people’s discomfort with, and often toxic response to, black men with money, black men with a voice.

Ingraham pulled off a double-double. She managed to miss the point and prove the point.

Clint O’Connor covers pop culture. He can be reached at 330-996-3582 or Follow him on Twitter @ClintOMovies.

In today's paper we get a response from LeBron and several other All Starts. 
“We know it’s bigger than us,” James said. “It’s not about us. I’m going to continue to do what I have to do to play this game that I love to play, but this is bigger than me playing the game of basketball.”
Well done.