The last time most people heard the name "Van Jones," it was as a political football. He got burned on the national scene, and he's learned a few lessons: play your cards close to the vest and keep moving forward. While his name's been less heard, Jones is still making his case in inner cities, Appalachia and think tanks.
In an interview before a speech to students at Howard University, Jones showed how much he's walled off his time, alluding to it only indirectly: "I'm glad I had 6 months in the White House. Now I'm working on the same issues in other ways."
He spends little time in the past and bounds over questions regarding his departure. Earlier this summer, though, the past seemed to repeat itself in a way that couldn't be ignored. The events surrounding the hasty termination of another black administration employee at the hands of a conservative media campaign begged Jones' analysis. The following is from his NY Times op-ed.
"Our situations aren't exactly the same. Ms. Sherrod's comments, in which she, a black woman, appeared to admit to racial discrimination against a white couple, were taken far out of context, while I truly did use a vulgarity." Jones is referring to himself using an expletive to describe Republicans
"Life inside the Beltway has become a combination of speed chess and Mortal Kombat: one wrong move can mean political death. In the era of YouTube, Twitter and 24-hour cable news, nobody is safe."
Nobody is safe. And Jones knows that in a way that few do. Even a year later, Glenn Beck continues drawing squiggly lines between Van Jones and the "New Black Panther Party" (Jones has retaliated with the L word). But amazingly, Jones hasn't tried to burrow deep below the chalk radar. Between his visiting fellow stint at Princeton University and his senior fellowship for the Center for American Progress, he could remain largely hidden under a stack of policy papers.
Instead, Van Jones, has started to beat the drum again, a little more measured this time: "We've got to find a way to get past the food fight. On TV you have people screaming at each other. When you have a really tough problem people should get more quiet--listen harder rather than screaming louder."
Author of the best-selling "The Green Collar Economy," Jones is still trying to convince America that "we are going into a period where the economy is melting down and the glaciers are melting down too." He promotes environmentally friendly jobs as the best way to employ the unemployed while tackling global warming. This two pronged approach, preaching environmentalism for the poor, can be an uphill battle.
But that is Jones's strength. Part of the reason he garnered a White House appointment rests in his deft, nearly poetic ability to deliver this message.
Following Jones to his address to Howard University's incoming freshman, he acknowledged the shortcomings of our current climate nomenclature; "Let's call it global weirding," then went on to lampoon our industrial stasis; "For 100 years we've been stuck on the post whale-oil solution." Finally, he invoked a slight of magical realism to describe the origin of our fuel supply..."That black goo that comes out of the ground is death--it is the blood and bones of our biological ancestors and we've been running our society on it. You pull death out of the ground and burn it...without ceremony. Then you've got death in the air and death on the oceans."
All his prose is in service of stretching out the corners of the environmental tent to include those who typically have been left out. He makes a special effort to engage two groups in particular: urban youth and Appalachian families. Thought not often seen at the movies together, both tend to suffer from economic hardship and environment-based illness (the highest levels of obesity, asthma and cancer). And to each their own rhetoric.
A Howard freshman hears: "If you are a young person standing in front of somebody's house, I'd rather you be on top of their house putting up a solar panel. I'd rather you put down the handgun and be able to pick up a caulking gun."
Inner-city youth seem like Jones' natural audience. He first entered the environmental debate through an Oakland-based campaign called "Green Jobs not Jails."
But Jones takes special pride in his ability to talk over the pink, bristled head of Glenn Beck, directly to his audience. At every speaking engagement, even at Howard, Jones mentions his plan for Appalachia and the heartland. "Under sane climate policy a rural farmer could get three paychecks. This is an agenda for a red state--three paychecks to bring back rural America...the first check is from deploying wind turbines. You get paid to watch those spin. The second is from growing an energy crop--hopefully an advanced energy crop, not necessarily corn. The third check comes from sequestered carbon in the soil that you can trade on the carbon markets."
Different solutions to the same problem. Which is how Jones views his own personal and political evolution as well: "Quite famously I've had a very colorful past as an activist. I've tried on lots of hats and ideas. The great thing about being an American is that you have the right to think whatever you want and you have the right to change your mind...My answers have changed as I've gotten older but my questions have stayed the same."
The Democrat’s command and poise left her rival looking frustrated, peevish, and out of sorts.
Monday brought the first debate of the presidential season, but it often felt like two separate debates. One, from Hillary Clinton, was wonky, crisp, and polished; if not always inspiring, it was professional and careful. The other, from Donald Trump, was freewheeling, aggressive, and meandering, occasionally landing a hard blow but often substance-less and hard to follow. But the two debates intersected at times, sometimes raucously, as Trump repeatedly broke in to interrupt Clinton.
It was a commanding performance from the Democratic nominee. Clinton delivered a series of detailed answers on subjects ranging from race to the Middle East to tax policy. Meanwhile, she delivered a string of attacks on Trump, assailing him for stiffing contractors, refusing to release his tax returns, fomenting birtherism, and caricaturing black America. She stumbled only occasionally, but left few openings for Trump. She remained calm and often smiling as Trump repeatedly attacked her and interrupted her answers—doing it so often that moderator Lester Holt, often a spectral presence at the debate, finally cut in twice in short order to chide him. (Vox counted 40 instances; Clinton made some of her own interruptions, but fewer.) Clinton displayed a sort of swagger perhaps not seen since her hearing before Congress on Benghazi.
If undecided voters were looking for an excuse to come around to Clinton’s corner, they may have found it on Monday night.
Donald Trump sniffled and sucked down water. He bragged about not paying federal taxes—“That makes me smarter.” He bragged about bragging about profiting from the housing crisis—“That’s called business, by the way.” He lost his cool and maybe the race, taking bait coolly served by Hillary Clinton.
If her objective was to tweak Trump’s temper, avoid a major mistake, and calmly cloak herself in the presidency, Clinton checked all three boxes in the first 30 minutes of their first debate.
It may not matter: Trump is the candidate of change and disruption at a time when voters crave the freshly shaken. But the former secretary of state made the strongest case possible for the status quo, arguing that while voters want change in the worst way, Trump’s way would be the worst.
In a unique, home-spun experiment, researchers found that centripetal force could help people pass kidney stones—before they become a serious health-care cost.
East Lansing, Michigan, becomes a ghost town during spring break. Families head south, often to the theme parks in Orlando. A week later, the Midwesterners return sunburned and bereft of disposable income, and, urological surgeon David Wartinger noticed, some also come home with fewer kidney stones.
Wartinger is a professor emeritus at Michigan State, where he has dealt for decades with the scourge of kidney stones, which affect around one in 10 people at some point in life. Most are small, and they pass through us without issue. But many linger in our kidneys and grow, sending hundreds of thousands of people to emergency rooms and costing around $3.8 billion every year in treatment and extraction. The pain of passing a larger stone is often compared to child birth.
For decades, the candidate has willfully inflicted pain and humiliation.
Donald J. Trump has a cruel streak. He willfully causes pain and distress to others. And he repeats this public behavior so frequently that it’s fair to call it a character trait. Any single example would be off-putting but forgivable. Being shown many examples across many years should make any decent person recoil in disgust.
Judge for yourself if these examples qualify.
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In national politics, harsh attacks are to be expected. I certainly don’t fault Trump for calling Hillary Clinton dishonest, or wrongheaded, or possessed of bad judgment, even if it’s a jarring departure from the glowing compliments that he used to pay her.
But even in a realm where the harshest critiques are part of the civic process, Trump crossed a line this week when he declared his intention to invite Gennifer Flowers to today’s presidential debate. What kind of man invites a husband’s former mistress to an event to taunt his wife? Trump managed to launch an attack that couldn’t be less relevant to his opponent’s qualifications or more personally cruel. His campaign and his running-mate later said that it was all a big joke. No matter. Whether in earnest or in jest, Trump showed his tendency to humiliate others.
Details later, because I start very early tomorrow morning, but: in the history of debates I’ve been watching through my conscious lifetime, this was the most one-sided slam since Al Gore took on Dan Quayle and (the very admirable, but ill-placed) Admiral James B. Stockdale (“Who am I? Why am I here?”) in the vice presidential debate of 1992.
Donald Trump rose to every little bit of bait, and fell into every trap, that Hillary Clinton set for him. And she, in stark contrast to him, made (almost) every point she could have hoped to make, and carried herself in full awareness that she was on high-def split-screen every second. He was constantly mugging, grimacing, rolling his eyes—and sniffing. She looked alternately attentive and amused.
Communal living is hardly a departure from tradition—it's a return to how humans have been making their homes for thousands of years.
For most of human history, people were hunter-gatherers. They lived in large camps, depending on one another for food, childcare, and everything else—all without walls, doors, or picket fences. In comparison, the number of people living in most households in today’s developed countries is quite small. According to the Census Bureau, fewer than three people lived in the average American household in 2010. The members of most American households can be counted on one hand, or even, increasingly, one finger: Single-person households only made up about 13 percent of all American households in 1960. Now, that figure is about 28 percent.
Belonging to a relatively small household has become the norm even though it can make daily life more difficult in many ways. Privacy may be nice, but cooking and doing chores become much less time-consuming when shared with an additional person, or even several people. Water, electric, and internet bills also become more bearable when divided among multiple residents. There are social downsides to living alone, too. Many elderly people, young professionals, stay-at-home parents, and single people routinely spend long stretches of time at home alone, no matter how lonely they may feel; more distressingly, many single parents face the catch-22 of working and paying for childcare. Living in smaller numbers can be a drain on money, time, and feelings of community, and the rise of the two-parent dual-earning household only compounds the problems of being time-poor.
During the debate, the Republican nominee seemed to confirm an accusation that he hadn’t paid any income tax, then reversed himself later.
In the absence of facts, speculation will flourish. For example, as long as Donald Trump declines to release his tax returns, his opponents will offer theories for why he has failed to do so.
Trump has claimed that he cannot release his returns because he’s being audited by the IRS. (He complained Monday that he is audited every year.) He repeated that claim during the debate, even though the IRS has said that Trump is free to release his returns even if he is being audited.
Harry Reid, the Democratic senator from Nevada who in 2012 claimed (falsely, it turned out) that Mitt Romney paid no income taxes, has speculated that Trump is not as wealthy as he claims and is a “welfare king.” Romney himself has gotten in on the act, writing on Facebook, “There is only one logical explanation for Mr. Trump's refusal to release his returns: there is a bombshell in them. Given Mr. Trump's equanimity with other flaws in his history, we can only assume it's a bombshell of unusual size.”
Who will win the debates? Trump’s approach was an important part of his strength in the primaries. But will it work when he faces Clinton onstage?
The most famous story about modern presidential campaigning now has a quaint old-world tone. It’s about the showdown between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy in the first debate of their 1960 campaign, which was also the very first nationally televised general-election debate in the United States.
The story is that Kennedy looked great, which is true, and Nixon looked terrible, which is also true—and that this visual difference had an unexpected electoral effect. As Theodore H. White described it in his hugely influential book The Making of the President 1960, which has set the model for campaign coverage ever since, “sample surveys” after the debate found that people who had only heard Kennedy and Nixon talking, over the radio, thought that the debate had been a tie. But those who saw the two men on television were much more likely to think that Kennedy—handsome, tanned, non-sweaty, poised—had won.
Even in big cities like Tokyo, small children take the subway and run errands by themselves. The reason has a lot to do with group dynamics.
It’s a common sight on Japanese mass transit: Children troop through train cars, singly or in small groups, looking for seats.
They wear knee socks, polished patent-leather shoes, and plaid jumpers, with wide-brimmed hats fastened under the chin and train passes pinned to their backpacks. The kids are as young as 6 or 7, on their way to and from school, and there is nary a guardian in sight.
A popular television show called Hajimete no Otsukai, or My First Errand, features children as young as two or three being sent out to do a task for their family. As they tentatively make their way to the greengrocer or bakery, their progress is secretly filmed by a camera crew. The show has been running for more than 25 years.
One man conducted hundreds of interviews to understand the motivation and morality of those in the finance industry.
How can bankers live with themselves after the destruction wrought by their industry? That’s in part what the Dutch journalist Joris Luyendijk sets out to uncover in his new book, Among the Bankers: A Journey Into the Heart of Finance, which was published overseas last year under the title Swimming with Sharks. The book attempts to lay bare not the technical workings of a very opaque industry, but the emotional and moral considerations of those who operate within it.
Luyendijk, a reporter at The Guardian who has a background in anthropology, poses that question of conscience over and over again. To answer it, he conducted hundreds of interviews with people who work in the City, London’s version of Wall Street.