Desperately trying to see the glass as half full

Many people like me who strongly opposed Donald Trump are desperately looking for silver linings that his presidency will not be the disaster for the US and the world that his campaign rhetoric suggested it would be. Those hopes seem increasingly desperate since Trump’s election has created major openings for a lot of people and groups who have all manner of regressive agendas, even while Trump himself has, as usual, been saying all manner of contradictory things, causing people to wonder what his agenda is and if he has even got a coherent one.
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Murder by drone

There is a new book The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program by Jeremy Scahill and the investigative team at The Intercept and it has been very favorably reviewed by Scott Shackleford who says it describes a program that is far worse than president Obama and its supporters let on because the brutal facts are strongly suppressed. In order to reduce the risk of American casualties, the risks to civilians has been increased because, of course, the lives of foreigners, especially dirt poor ones in some distant land, are worth so much less than our own precious lives.
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Neoconservatives jump ship again

The neoconservatives have been one of the worst influences in US foreign policy. They have advocated for the muscular use of the US military to quickly achieve both US hegemony in the world in general and Israeli dominance in the Middle East. They disdained the use of ‘soft power’ (i.e., economic and political strategies) to achieve those same ends more slowly and stealthily, which is the approach of the neoliberals.
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The dirty little secret of preferential treatment in US higher education

Affirmative action in public higher education in the US is a lightning rod for criticism, repeatedly targeted for legal challenges. The issue is whether colleges can consider a person’s race and ethnicity as a factor in granting admission and to what extent it can be done. In the US, of all places, this should not be such a major issue. Unlike in those countries where it is only scores on some kind of national exam that are considered (as was the case when I took my university entrance exams in Sri Lanka back in medieval times), here the goal of colleges, especially elite ones that have considerable choice over whom to admit, is to shape a student body that meets the goals of the institution and for many colleges that involves having students with diverse backgrounds. At my institution, there were many discussions about how to attract more potential arts and humanities majors, more women into engineering, and so on so as to create a more lively and varied intellectual climate.
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Discrimination by Uber and Lyft drivers

I have never taken a ride in an Uber or a Lyft service so have no first-hand knowledge of how they compare with regular taxis. But a new paper says that Uber drivers practice discrimination against women and people of color and the type of discrimination was different for women than it was for people of color. This article discusses the contents of the paper.
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Origin of bellwether

During elections, the word ‘bellwether’ often crops up and is assigned to a state or county or other region or to this or that indicator as people decide where to focus their attentions on. Given the many factors at play, people try to identify things that have in the past been good indicators of the larger mood. Most people know the meaning of this word as signifying a leader or indicator of trends. But where does this strange word come from?
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So this is what the absence of ‘political correctness’ looks like

Donald Trump and the other contenders in the Republican primaries (especially Ben Carson) insisted that ‘political correctness’ was a huge problem in the US and that we needed to be able to speak our minds openly. Of course, they could always do that. What they were really objecting to was being criticized for saying awful things. So they were not calling for the end of censorship but asking for their critics to be censored or to self-censor.
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