kakistocracy

An appropriate word for the day from Anu Garg.

kakistocracy

PRONUNCIATION:

(kak-i-STOK-ruh-see, kah-ki-)

MEANING:

noun: Government by the least qualified or worst persons.

ETYMOLOGY:

From Greek kakistos (worst), superlative of kakos (bad) + -cracy (rule). Ultimately from the Indo-European root kakka-/kaka- (to defecate), which also gave us poppycock, cacophony, cacology, and cacography. Earliest documented use: 1829.

 

E.J. Dionne wrote today:

“Let’s be clear: The United States of America is not Donald Trump’s country.

When all the returns are in, Hillary Clinton will emerge with a popular vote lead of about 1.5 million to 2 million votes….

To Point this out is not a form of liberal denial. It’s a way of beginning to build a barricade against right-wing triumphalism—and of reminding immigrants, Muslims, African Americans, Latinos and yes, our daughters that most Americans stood with them on election day.”

There are things we can do:

 

  1. Support the Popular Vote movement in your state. Eleven states with 165 electoral votes have already joined. We need 105 more electoral votes. When we have 270, the way the electoral college works can change without a Constitutional Amendment. Those states part of the Popular Vote agree to give all their electors to the winner of the national popular vote.
  2. Encourage Nancy Pelosi to appoint Keith Ellison head of the Democratic National Committee. An early Sanders supporter, in 2006 Ellison became the first Muslim elected to Congress and the first black member of Minnesota’s congressional delegation.S
  3. Slate has a nice list of ideas of how to channel frustration into action. Check it out.

4. Wear your safety pin. Let the people who feel threatened—people of color, women, immigrants, LBGTs, Muslims—know you are with them. But the safety pin is only a symbol. Action brings the prick.

 

 

Mad Grrrls

I’ve been gone awhile. Got sick of hearing myself rant. But this election has called me back.

Donald Trump said, “Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish, the Second Amendment…if she gets to pick, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”

Hillary

Tom Friedman wrote in  August 10 New York Times: “And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin got assassinated.”

Donald Trump backtracked, saying he meant the power of the NRA at the voting booth, but Darrin Bell had a great cartoon in the Washington Post showing the fallacy of that claim–are judges chosen before an election, or after?

My favorite response came from Elizabeth Warren, who wrote on Twitter: Mr. Trump “makes death threats because he’s a pathetic coward who can’t handle the fact that he’s losing to a girl.”

Elizabeth Warren

Go Grrrls!

 

The silence of our friends

Martin Luther King Jr. said:

“In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

I’m sending this to my Mendocino Coast friends, asking everyone who cares about our well-run little town to speak up.

Les and I have lived here, full and part-time, since 1989. We were dismayed by the attacks, before and during the recent election, on what we have experienced as an efficient, caring city government. More dismayed lately by the attacks on those members of the City Council who voted to approve Hospitality House’s purchase of the Old Coast Hotel.

The Old Coast has sat empty for years. I look forward to seeing it filled with people trying to turn their lives around. If you visit a Hospitality House, you do not see loiterers or trash; they are not allowed. Residents who are caught begging, or using alcohol or drugs, are evicted. Hospitality House is not a flop house; it is a place where people ready to change are helped to do that.

I look forward to seeing the Old Coast used for such a worthy purpose: to help the mentally ill and the homeless.

oldcoasthotelweb_420x280_thumb

Listening to the radio, I was disappointed to hear a member of the Fort Bragg City Council quoted (I’m paraphrasing): “If two people will change their votes, a Recall won’t be necessary.”

This is not the way a responsible official reacts in a democratic society. When we lose, we don’t threaten. We work with the majority and make sure the bad predictions don’t happen.

Mayor Dave Turner’s daughter wrote a wonderful letter in support of her dad on her blog. Read it here.

pippi-image-1733745134

She asks that we come to the reception Monday night, March 9, at 5:30, to celebrate the newly renovated Town Hall. Stay for the City Council meeting. The first 30 minutes are for Comment. Friends shouldn’t stay silent.

I will be there. I hope you will.

King

None so blind

We wonder why white police officers are so quick to lethally target black men. The North Miami Beach Department provides a clue: their sniper training program used mug shots of young black men for target practice. Real, still alive (for now), young black men.

TARGET-PRACTICE-630x426

A National Guard Sgt. happened to look into a pile of garbage at the Medley, Florida, shooting range and spotted a photo of her brother with bullet holes in his face and head.

The chief has apologized: he didn’t know about it. They used mug shots of whites and Latinos, too. The sniper training program has been suspended. But symbols become reality and this is a powerful one.

Black equals bad.

Aim high.

Shoot to kill.

What happened to “disable”?

What happened to good sense and sensitivity?

Racism–is it over?

I’ve been away: downed by the November election and the deaths of unarmed black men; lifted by Obama’s new mojo. Down and up.

People claim racism must be over because—look—we elected a black president. My father would have agreed—he turned off the television when Ed Sullivan shook hands with Nat King Cole.

Here are a few examples of what skin color can do to you in America.

white face,black face

  1. Identical resumes were sent out for job openings, half with stereotypical black names, half using white names. The white names received 50% more callbacks.
  2. Actual people, with identical resumes and interview training, were sent to apply for low-wage jobs. African-Americans with no criminal record were offered jobs at a rate as low as white applicants with criminal records.
  3. Doctors, shown statistically identical patient records, were asked to make judgments about heart disease. They were much less likely to recommend a helpful procedure to black patients.
  4. Whites and blacks were sent to bargain for a used car. Blacks were offered prices $700 higher.
  5. Emails using black names sent to apartment-rental ads on Craigslist got fewer responses than white names.
  6. White state legislators (of either party) were less likely to respond to constituents with African-American-sounding names
  7. Emails to faculty at universities asking for research possibilities were more likely to be answered if the names sounded white.
  8. On eBay, a photo of an iPhone being auctioned held by a white hand received 21% more offers than the same phone held by a black hand.
  9. In a video game simulation, players were asked to shoot at people carrying a gun. African-Americans were shot at more, even when they were not holding a gun. Man-Holding-Gun-1

Most of us would claim we are not biased. Our racism is insidious. Psychologiest Daniel Kahneman says we think both fast and slow. In our slow thinking, we try to avoid discrimination, but it creeps into our quick, unconscious decisions.

See the full New York Times essay.  

thinking fast and slow

If one dollar would get you six…

One of the best ways to beat poverty is to reach children early (See Nicholas Kristof’s article in the Sept 14 New York Times).

cryingWhen babies are stressed—hunger, loud noises, soiled diaper—their brains flood with cortisol. When they are comforted—picked up and hugged—the stress hormone disappears.

The hormone can be measured in a baby’s saliva. Stressed babies grow into suspicious, frightened, aggressive children and adults.

poor children

Toxic stress is one way poverty regenerates. Poor mothers live in stressed homes, dealing with multiple challenges, often without a partner, and too often as teenagers.

A scholar named David Olds has shown a way to break this poverty cycle.

The Nurse-Family partnership sends nurses into these homes, from pregnancy to age two, giving low income mothers coping strategies. Random controlled studies show the visits to be stunningly effective. Each dollar invested gives back $5.70 in reduced costs later on.

One Dollar BillIt is critical to intervene early while the baby’s brain is developing, and it’s far less expensive to teach parents to support children than to maintain prisons years later.

Right now, there are enough funds to visit only 2-3 percent of needy families.

Let’s name chairs at Nursery Schools instead of universities.

nurse family partnershipc7

f you want to help, here are a few organizations whose work on early childhood has impressed Kristof.

NURSE-FAMILY PARTNERSHIP is a proven home-visitation program that gives at-risk kids a shot at reaching the starting line. nursefamilypartnership.org

REACH OUT AND READ supports pediatricians who hand out books to low-income children during doctor visits, with instructions about bedtime reading. Careful studies show that the parents read to the children more often and the children end up with larger vocabularies — all for just $20 per child per year. reachoutandread.org

SPRINGBOARD COLLABORATIVE provides intensive summer school for disadvantaged children, so that a three-month loss in reading level turns into a 3.3-month gain. A donor can sponsor a child for a summer for $350.

springboardcollaborative.org

SAVE THE CHILDREN provides home visitation, screening and literacy programs for young children. A sponsorship is $28 a month. savethechildren.org

Save your life . . . and the planet’s

proud to be a veganTwo years ago I became a vegan*. When people ask why, I say for my health. It worked. The change erased my allergies, allowed me to cut my asthma medications in half, and gave me a working digestive system. I was hoping it would make me skinny. My husband Les (who is disgustingly skinny) says: “You have to give up sugar for that.” I snarl: “My last pleasure?” What I should say when people ask why I’m a vegan is the larger truth: moving to a plant-based diet could save us—our lives and the planet’s. First—our personal health. cookies-in-processing-factory_500x300 The American diet is 94% animal (eggs, cheese, meat, poultry, fish) and processed foods (sugar, white flour, fat and salt), and only 6% fresh fruits and vegetables. Seventy per cent of us are overweight or obese and, by 2030, 50% of us will have pre or full-blown diabetes. Meat-processing-factory-001   This diet causes the four chronic diseases (heart disease, obesity, cancer, diabetes) that consume 75% of our present health costs. If we turned the statistics upside down (6% animal-based and 94% plant), with the exception of certain kinds of cancer, 90% of Western disease would not exist. which will it be Second—the planet’s health I get up early to write. While brushing my teeth at 5 a.m., I listen to the Thom Hartmann show. I was astonished to hear him say we can grow 100 to 200 pounds of vegetables for the resources it takes to grow a pound of beef. I can’t find that statistic online, but I did find a chart that shows the inefficiency of producing milk, chicken, pork, and beef. Here in California, we’re in a severe drought. Miami, my other home, is listed second among large cities facing water scarcity. Agriculture in this country uses 85% of our fresh water. Producing a pound of animal protein takes 100 times as much water as growing a pound of grain. I’m just saying . . . *Vegan joke: How do you know when someone’s a vegan? Answer: They tell you.  What is a vegan? A vegan is a type of vegetarian who excludes meat, eggs, dairy products, and other animal-derived ingredients from her diet. What do vegans eat? The most common question. A vegan diet includes all grains, beans, legumes, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruits and the nearly infinite number of foods made by combining them. Vegan versions of familiar foods are available, so you can eat vegan hot dogs,ice cream, cheese, and vegan mayonnaise. vegan0