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Monday, February 13: Free Choice (No GB Meeting)
Sam Ackerman’s insight on polarization and his suggestions for related articles...
A topic that is often thrown around in political conversations today is polarization. Despite the conventional wisdom that the American people have balkanized in recent years, there is debate whether polarization has increased in mass public (although there is consensus regarding greater polarization in Congress).
Here is a link to some comprehensive data and graphs illustrating greater Congressional polarization in the last few decades (note: lower scores connote greater degree of liberalism higher scores connote greater degree of conservatism).
Here is an article from the Pew Research Center that explains the position that the masses have indeed polarize.
Here is a Washington Post article written by leading polarization skeptic Morris Fiorina on why mass polarization seems apparent, but merely reflects people sorting into the “proper” political
parties that match their beliefs.
Kris Ahn’s recommendation for a podcast series from Obama’s former speech writers...
Hey everyone! This week I want to share a new(ish) news source and podcast series from two of Obama’s former speech writers, Jon Lovett and Jon Favreau, and a former spokesperson for the Obama administration, Tommy Vietor. In their podcast, Pod Save America, the three former aides, joined once a week by another Obama-era aid, Dan Pfeiffer, discuss current events, those events’ implication on political precedents and presents, and often provide opportunities for activism and involvement. The hosts are joined by guests every episode, including White House lawyers, activists, Mayor de Blasio, and the 44th President himself, Barack Obama. This podcast is only a small part of a greater news source, Crooked Media. Lovett, Favreau, and Vietor’s mission was to create a place “to talk about politics the way actual human beings talk.” The guys admit that they are not journalists, and are not always right, but promise a “no-bullshit conversation about politics” through the existing podcast, and written content and live video the team is working on. If Pod Save America is any indication, Crooked Media will soon be a strong, admittedly left-leaning source to get information on the current political world, and more importantly, what you can do about it.
Hannah Mitlak offers some optimism with a Maureen Dowd op-ed recommendation...
This week, as we rejoice in the at least temporary relief from Trump’s immigration ban, I hope to offer some relief from the distressing political climate. At a time when newsfeeds are flooded with tragedies, we deserve a break. In a decidedly light-hearted piece, the notorious Maureen Dowd points out the “gold lining” of Trump’s presidency thus far. This includes new highs for SNL ratings, greater appreciation for Muslim art, and at last, acknowledging the benefits of Obamacare.
It’s worth noting too that contributions to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood are also breaking records. If nothing else, millennials have shed their “apathetic” label for an activist one, as protests and demonstrations have long outlasted Trump’s inauguration. For me, the greatest comfort is in the newfound awareness and outrage of the average citizen. People don’t vote to say thank you – they vote when they want change.
Rosie Moss reviews the film Denial...
Denial, a film directed by Mick Jackson, tells the story of a Holocaust studies professor, Deborah Lipstadt, who, with a team of brilliant lawyers, must prove that the Holocaust actually happened. When a so-called historian challenges the validity and extremity of the Holocaust itself, Deborah and her team are forced to fight back and defend the voices of the millions of people who died as the result of brutal genocide.
Deborah and her team work tirelessly to gather the information that will prove that the Holocaust did, indeed, happen. When the leading lawyer of the case informs Deborah that neither she nor any Holocaust survivor will testify, Deborah must choose between expressing her voice on a matter so consequential and trusting her lawyers to win the case, which would deem Holocaust denial an unacceptable opinion in society. Deborah must come to terms with the idea that as crucial as it is for Holocaust survivors to be able to express themselves and share the atrocities they endured, they cannot give Holocaust deniers the power to question or, more importantly, humiliate these survivors.
With bits of humour dispersed throughout a powerful fight for truth, Denial keeps its viewers captivated from beginning to end. Both the significance of assuring the Holocaust’s existence and Deborah’s bold passion throughout make the eventual victory for Deborah’s team one of immense fulfillment. This film brings light to the importance of defending the truth; the falsification of history allows brutality to be trivialized or forgotten, and therefore, more likely to occur again. Denial successfully illustrates the necessity of giving voice to those in history who have suffered and of remembering the heinous, true events that occurred throughout the Holocaust.
For more information: http://www.bleeckerstreetmedia.com/denial
Juan Jacobo Munoz provides the press’ opinion on President Trump’s impact on Latin America...
The potential economic effects of the Trump presidency on Latin America and its relations with the United States.
1. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01/17/donald-trumps-trade-policy-driving-latin-america-chinas-arms/ (Donald Trump's trade policy is driving Latin America into China's arms: Donald Trump’s trade policy is driving Latin America into China’s arms: How paradoxically a protectionist, nationalist policy is reducing US clout in region to the advantage of China.
2. http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2017/01/17/in-latin-america-mexico-the-only-real-loser-under-trump/#643afd865cf1 (In Latin America, Mexico The Only Real 'Loser' Under Trump: How Trump’s protectionism, wall, changes to NAFTA and other policies are only likely to affect Mexico without major consequences for the rest of Latin American countries)
3. http://www.americasquarterly.org/content/four-tips-working-trump-latin-america (Dealing With Trump: Four Strategies for Latin America)
4. http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/26/americas/trump-latin-america/ (Trump's wall isn't Latin America's only problem)
5. https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/trump-latin-america-economy-by-jose-antonio-ocampo-2017-01 (Will Trump Block Latin America’s Recovery: Columbia professor Jose Antonio Ocampo on the future of Latin American economic recovery under Trump)