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Showing posts from April, 2015

Oh, this is rich!

President Obama didn't want Congress to weigh in on the potential deal with Iran until after negotiations with his administration and the P5+1 countries were completed in June. But since so many Democrats joined Republicans in wanting to do so, he worked with them on legislation he could live with.

Today, Senators Rubio and Cotton gummed up the works with poison pill amendments so much that some are doubtful whether or not anything will actually pass.

Let me remind you, that's Senator Rubio - the one who says that President Obama isn't being aggressive enough with ISIS because he's afraid to alienate Iran - the sworn enemy of ISIS. He's also the one who admitted that his own idea on what to do about Iran's nuclear weapons program - pull out of the negotiations and unilaterally re-impose sanctions - wouldn't be effective.

And of course, Senator Cotton is the one who skated as close to the line of treason one can get without crossing over. He opposes ANY deal…

Listen

I'm just going to leave this one here for awhile...


Hillary Clinton's First Major Policy Speech of the Campaign

I have to say that I am very encouraged to see that Hillary Clinton's first major policy speech of the 2016 campaign was on the need for criminal justice reform. I know there are those who will brush it off as opportunistic - coming on the heels of the unrest in Baltimore. But apparently it was scheduled two years ago. Something this major doesn't just pop up over night.

We'll get to her specifics on policy shortly. But she started off by putting the issue of criminal justice reform within a context that should remind any listener of what our current President has been saying since he came on the scene back in 2004.
But more broadly, let's remember that everyone in every community benefits when there is respect for the law and when everyone in every community is respected by the law. That is what we have to work towards in Baltimore and across our country.

We must urgently begin to rebuild the bonds of trust and respect among Americans. Between police and citizens, ye…

What Religious Conservatives Don't Get About Marriage Equality

I'm not sure that the best way to go about advocating for your cause is to threaten the Supreme Court. But apparently it's what people like Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Franklin Graham, James Dobson and John Hagee have come up with in their efforts to fight against the legalization of same sex marriage. Here's their Pledge in Solidarity to Defend Marriage.
We will view any decision by the Supreme Court or any court the same way history views the Dred Scott and Buck v. Bell decisions. Our highest respect for the rule of law requires that we not respect an unjust law that directly conflicts with higher law. A decision purporting to redefine marriage flies in the face of the Constitution and is contrary to the natural created order. As people of faith we pledge obedience to our Creator when the State directly conflicts with higher law. We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross this line.

We stand united together in defense of marriage. Make no mistake about our res…

The One Thing You Should Read About Baltimore

As you know, HBO's series The Wire takes place in Baltimore because it's creator - David Simon - lives there. Today Bill Keller at The Marshall Project interviewed Simon. It's a tough read. Simon is as eloquent as always, but it's a depressing story. My takeaway from it is that - if anything - he went easy on Baltimore's mayor and police department in the television series. Here's a taste just to get you started:
The part that seems systemic and connected is that the drug war — which Baltimore waged as aggressively as any American city — was transforming in terms of police/community relations, in terms of trust, particularly between the black community and the police department. Probable cause was destroyed by the drug war. It happened in stages, but even in the time that I was a police reporter, which would have been the early 80s to the early 90s, the need for police officers to address the basic rights of the people they were policing in Baltimore was minimi…

My New Hero: Karim Wasfi

Here's the story:
On Monday, three car bombs shattered the peace in Baghdad, killing at least 19 people. One of the most deadly of these attacks took place in the upscale district of Mansour, according to Reuters. Yet this area also witnessed one of the day's most powerful displays of resilience.

Famed Iraqi maestro Karim Wasfi set a chair and a cello on the spot of the bombing and began to play. He gathered an awed crowd with his elegiac playing that sent a message to terrorists that they can't suppress the human spirit...

He's also held unpublicized concerts as a means to keep Iraqi music and culture alive against threats of the Islamic State group, which forbids music. "If anyone from any sect bets against gatherings like this one, they'll lose the bet," Wasfi said, addressing an audience at one such concert, according to NPR. Wasfi shows the same courage on behalf of human resilience that was demonstrated by The Cellist of Sarajevo. These are the kind…

"We Haven't Bothered to Take the Bullet Out"

This morning President Obama shared his thoughts about what is happening in Baltimore. He had six points he wanted to make:
His thoughts are with the family of Freddie Gray, who deserve transparency and full accountability,His thoughts are also with the police officers who were injured,There is no excuse for the violence, it is  counterproductive,The overwhelmingly majority of protesters were peaceful and didn't get the attention they deserve,The incidents of police violence against minority and poor communities is a crisis that needs to be addressed,And finally, he said this: We can't just leave this to the police. I think there are police departments that have to do some soul searching. I think there are some communities that have to do some soul searching. But I think we, as a country, have to do some soul searching. This is not new. It’s been going on for decades...

If we are serious about solving this problem, then we're going to not only have to help the police, …

Two Wise Voices on Baltimore

It just so happens that two of the people who speak with great wisdom on the racial issues in our criminal justice system today are from Baltimore...Ta-Nehisi Coates and David Simon. Yesterday both of them had something to say about what is happening in their city. Their thoughts don't necessarily align. But I wonder if we have the capacity to hold onto both at the same time.

Ta-Nihisi Coates:
When nonviolence is preached as an attempt to evade the repercussions of political brutality, it betrays itself. When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con. And none of this can mean that rioting or violence is "correct" or "wise," any more than a forest fire can be "correct" or "wise." Wisdom isn't the point tonight. Disresp…

A Response to Charles Pierce

Charles Pierce took issue with what I wrote comparing the records of Senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker. So I'd like to respond.

First of all, I find it interesting that he couches his critique in the current debate about the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. I said nothing about that controversy in my piece. When I want to talk about that issue...I do. Seeing it simply as some kind of effort by President Obama to - as Pierce puts it - "bring people like Warren and Sharrod Brown to heel" is insulting and diminishes the importance of the issues at stake.

My point in making the comparison was to challenge progressives on how we go about assigning hero status to politicians. Where TPP comes into play in all that is that recently I've seen people make the argument against it based on the fact that Senator Warren is against it, and they trust her. Of course they are free to use that as their standard. But it made me wonder how we go about deciding wh…

Congress Has Gotten Really Good at Saying "No!"

Years ago when I was teaching parenting classes, my mentor told a story about an interaction she had with her two year-old daughter. As is often the case with children that age, Mom had heard her say "No!" to just about anything and everything all day. Finally she said, "Congratulations, you've gotten really good at saying 'no.' Now let's work on something else."

I think about that story when I look at what our Congress has been up to lately. Case in point: Colleen McCain Nelson reports in the Wall Street Journal that, rather than be embarrassed by the letter 47 senators sent to Iran's leaders suggesting that they shouldn't trust President Obama in negotiations over their nuclear weapons program, they've now decided to implement the same strategy on global climate talks.
President Barack Obama and Congress are headed for another power clash on the international stage, as key Senate Republicans challenge his efforts to forge a global pact…

President Obama As "Angry Black Man" (updated)

I know y'all thought I was kidding when I said that Obama's Anger Translator performance Saturday night was every Republicans worst nightmare. But after taking a tour around red land on the internets this morning, it's clear that some folks took it VERY seriously. Bless their hearts.

Byron York seems to have led the way.
...there's no doubt that Obama, by incorporating comedian Keegan-Michael Key into his act, went public with the anger — specifically, the black anger — that has become part of the general conversation about Obama's time in office...

Of course, it was all comedy — don't the critics understand it's just a joke? — but Obama gave his imprimatur to the Luther interpretation of the Obama presidency. Criticism directed at Obama about seemingly non-racial issues, from Ebola to the BP oil spill to climate change, is more severe for Obama than it would be for a white president because it is rooted in racial animus. That animus showed its face in more …

Shut Up and Dance

Wow, this is fun!

Every Republican's Worst Nightmare

Especially early on, a lot of liberals got frustrated with President Obama because they felt like he didn't throw enough punches (figuratively) at the opposition. The classic example was when Michael Moore said that he should take off his tutu and put on his boxing gloves.

While it's true that the President usually prefers to best his opponents by being smarter than them rather than by pummeling them with words, last night at the White House Correspondent's Dinner he played with being a rascally fighter (some of us have always known he had that in him). That's precisely why it was so funny...he was taking on his own caricature.

One of the best bits was when he talked about his (rhymes with)" buckit" list following the 2014 midterms (previously known as his "pen and phone" strategy). But then he brought on Luther, his anger translator. Or as I like to call him, "every Republican's worst nightmare."


The whole routine was fabulously funny…

Who Threatens Our Privacy?

The whole Snowden affair has receded into the background by now. But recently Michael Cohen made an important point that seemed to get totally lost in the discussion about privacy.
This week, the group Wikileaks posted on its website the entire archive of data and information stolen from Sony Pictures last fall — and it seems every day there’s a new, earth-shattering scoop...

I needed only 20 minutes on the Wikileaks site to find a credit card number, medical information, private e-mail addresses, salary data, and plenty else that most people wouldn’t want available on a searchable database.

This kind of cyberattack is a greater threat to people’s privacy than anything revealed in the Snowden/NSA leaks, which became a cause celebre for some of the same people chortling over the Sony leaks...

Today, it is harder and harder to stay outside the omnipresent eye of social media, surveillance cameras, and smartphone videos. Wikileaks is only adding to the onslaught on our privacy rights — s…

Photo of the Day: Every Republican's Worst Nightmare

Odds & Ends

While we were looking elsewhere, yet another battle has broken out amongst Republicans. Ali Gharib has the story about the looming confrontation between AIPAC and the neocons over Iran.

Eric Holthaus, who has been a critic of President Obama's climate policy, changes course and says it's gradually starting to pay off.

For those of us who have been watching to see if Hillary Clinton learned anything from her mistakes in 2008, this is good news: Hillary Clinton Campaign Launches Grassroots Organizing Program in All 50 States.

This week Gov. Scott Walker paid a visit to my home state of Minnesota. He was greeted with some of the information I wrote about recently. It was summed up best by former Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak:
"He promised a 'road to prosperity,'" Rybak said. "About the only road to prosperity that's working in Wisconsin is the bridge that's being built to Minnesota." This week, the baton was finally passed. Trymaine Lee got the exi…

Sometimes a girls just gotta rant

Honestly, I don't rant very often. But these emos getting into their fee-fees about President Obama and the TPP is just so, well...emo of them.

Ever since the President told Chris Matthews that "Elizabeth Warren is wrong," I've seen one diary after another at Daily Kos about how he "attacked" her. Really?!!! He didn't call her a paid shill for the corporatocracy or a warmonger or Bush-lite. As a matter of fact, he didn't call her any names at all. He f*cking disagrees with her. And he said she was wrong. That's what one does if they are sane and rational in their political discourse.

What was really laughable and extremely annoying at the same time was when the author of that diary I linked to up above said this.
...the people and groups I trust the most on economic issues, the people who have fought for my values on just about every major economic issue, folks like Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, the CPC, the AFL-CIO, Public Citizen, Sierra Cl…

"Sticking With the Issue After the Media Lost Interest"

It's hard to imagine that it was less than a year ago that the media became consumed with horror stories about child migrants from Central America entering the United States. Some of us noticed that all of that (as well as the fear-mongering about Ebola) disappeared from the headlines as soon as the 2014 midterms were over.

But thanks to the Economist, we learn that the Obama administration is continuing to follow up.
At a summit in Panama City on April 10th and 11th Barack Obama reiterated his goal of spending $1 billion next year to tackle the causes of migration from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, known as the Northern Triangle. Experts say his proposal, coupled with joint efforts by the three countries to stop young people from fleeing, mark enlightened new ways of trying to revive Latin America’s most violent region. They face big hurdles, however.

The $1 billion earmarked for the three countries, which has been championed above all by the vice-president, Joe Biden, is …

TPP is Not NAFTA

Do the Personal Qualities of a President Matter?

One of my favorite things is when people bust up conventional wisdom. That's exactly what Paul Waldman did with an article title: Sincerity is Overrated.
You don't need a president who's sincere, you just need one who'll do the things you want. Even though President Obama's incredible integrity is something I admire most about him, I think Waldman has a point. And in the process of talking about that, he busts up some more conventional wisdom.
As we know well, presidents tend to keep the vast majority of the promises they make while campaigning, and most of those they don't keep are merely the ones they tried and failed to do. The actual number of broken promises, a la "Read my lips: no new taxes" is incredibly small. If a candidate says he's going to do something, he's probably going to at least try to do it. This is particularly true when the thing he's proposing is of vital importance to his party. And it's true even if it was somet…

The Myths That Feed White Supremacy

Adrien Schless-Meier has written a thought-provoking article about the ties that bind everything from Nellie Andreeva's questions about whether or not people of color are currently taking up too much space on television to the shooting of unarmed black men by law enforcement. Her analysis finds that the one thing all of these reactions have in common is that they are based on a "zero sum game" when it comes to the relationship of white people to people of color.
While it’s easy to cast off discussions of pop culture as trivial or inane, Andreeva’s article draws on and reinforces a logic with deep, pervasive implications. It is the axiom according to which white folks organize our histories, our lives, our relationships: In a world based on whiteness, there is only room for one winner — and it had better be us...

The irony of this fear shouldn’t be lost on us — white people simply wouldn’t exist as we do today, embedded within and sitting atop a racial hierarchy, if it we…

Photo of the Day: Passing the Baton

It's a bittersweet day for me. As regular readers here know, I've been a big supporter of Attorney General Eric Holder. But it's time to say, "Thank you for your exemplary service," and allow him to go on to the next chapter in his life. It's also time to say, "Welcome Madame Attorney General Lynch!"

What Makes Us Exceptional

This morning President Obama did something unprecedented...he took responsibility for a terrible mistake that took the lives of two good men.


Here's a part of what he said:
But one of the things that sets America apart from many other nations, one of the things that makes us exceptional is our willingness to confront squarely our imperfections and to learn from our mistakes. In some ways, that echoes what he said at the 50th Anniversary Celebration in Selma.
What greater expression of faith in the American experiment than this, what greater form of patriotism is there than the belief that America is not yet finished, that we are strong enough to be self-critical, that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is in our power to remake this nation to more closely align with our highest ideals? Of course, the events he was commemorating at that time didn't happen on his watch. So the personal burden wasn't as heavy.

But I was reminded of an…

President Obama is Determined to Close Gitmo

Perhaps because none of the 2016 presidential candidates is talking about it, I haven't seen much in the media about this:
Facing a potential showdown with Congress, the Pentagon is racing to move dozens of detainees out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in coming months before lawmakers can block future transfers and derail President Obama’s plan to shutter the U.S. military prison.

As a first step, officials plan to send up to 10 prisoners overseas, possibly in June. In all, the Pentagon hopes that 57 inmates who are approved for transfer will be resettled by the end of 2015. That would require “large muscle movements” by at least two countries, which officials hope will each agree to take in 10 to 20 Yemeni detainees, who cannot be repatriated because of security conditions in their war-torn homeland. The potential showdown with Congress they are referring is that Sen. Ayotte is sponsoring a bill that would extend the current ban on bringing prisoners to the United States and effectivel…

A Feminist Foreign Policy

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the fact that Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom was being accused of Islamophobia for her attempts to speak up for the rights of women in Saudi Arabia. Jenny Nordberg has also written about the story in the New Yorker and interviewed FM Wallstron. In discussing the possibility of a "feminist foreign policy," she said this:
Wallstrom also cites a growing body of research showing that women’s security is directly related to both national and international security. In the 2012 book “Sex and World Peace” a team of four researchers (Valerie M. Hudson, Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill, Mary Caprioli, and Chad F. Emmett) present data indicating that the more violent a state and its citizens are toward women, the more violent that state is likely to be over all, both internally and in its dealings with outside world. “In fact, the very best predictor of a state’s peacefulness is not its level of wealth, its level of democracy, or its ethno-rel…

Senator Warren Is Still Wrong

During his interview with Chris Matthews, President Obama said that Senator Elizabeth Warren was wrong about the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. The Senator responded with a blog post on her web site.
The Administration says I’m wrong – that there’s nothing to worry about. They say the deal is nearly done, and they are making a lot of promises about how the deal will affect workers, the environment, and human rights. Promises – but people like you can’t see the actual deal...

If most of the trade deal is good for the American economy, but there’s a provision hidden in the fine print that could help multinational corporations ship American jobs overseas or allow for watering down of environmental or labor rules, fast track would mean that Congress couldn’t write an amendment to fix it. It’s all or nothing.

Before we sign on to rush through a deal like that – no amendments, no delays, no ability to block a bad bill – the American people should get to see what’s in it. F…

It's Not Sexist, Just Irrelevant

I'm going to be brutally honest here. If the press were to have written this about Hillary Clinton instead of Jeb Bush, you could bet your last dollar that there are folks who would be screaming "SEXIST!!!"
Jeb Bush is eating like a caveman, and he has literally shrunk in size.

The former Florida governor, expected to seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, is on the popular Paleo diet, which is based on what are believed to be the eating habits of the Paleolithic hunters and gatherers.

For Paleo practitioners, lean meat and fruits and vegetables are in and processed foods, dairy products and sugary delights are out.

For Bush, the results have been noticeable. Late last year he was something of a pudgy doughboy with a full face and soft jawline. Today the 6-foot, 4-inch-tall Bush sports a more chiseled look. His campaign-in-waiting would not say how much he had lost, but he looks to have shed 20 or 30 pounds. Of course, all the stuff about a caveman diet fro…

Stepford Husbands

No cinematic endeavor better captured what patriarchy did to women than The Stepford Wives. We still have a ways to go in freeing women from those kinds of constraints, but as the saying goes, "You've come a long way baby!"

I would, however, suggest that in order to end patriarchy, men have to change too. In many ways, the myth of the "Stepford Husband" still exists. It's what Bill Pozzobon calls "the code," but it pretty much comes down to the idea that, in order to be a man, you have to prove that you are the opposite of the stereotypes we typically associate with feminine. I was reminded of that when I read this commentary recently.
It was always true that women matured faster than men but part of the reason for that is that the transformation from boy to man is much more complete than that from girl to woman. In recent decades, it’s become worse, in that males are increasingly doing jobs where brute strength and physical courage have little va…

Hey There Lonely Girl

I had totally forgotten about this song until it showed up when I was looking for something else on youtube. And oh my...the memories that had also been forgotten came back with it.

Anybody else out there old enough to remember it?

The Kids Are All Right

Ebony published an article by Brooke Wilson and Cynthia Boateng, who are seniors at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, VA.
Mistakes are as common as they are guaranteed. No matter who you are, and regardless of your particular walk in life, you are bound to stumble sometime. While no one aspires to blow it, one can only hope their mistakes are met with grace and second chances.

The notion of second chances is not at all revolutionary. Yet imagine a world where no one, or only a small few, received do-overs. Worse still, imagine a world where people are penalized for mistakes that aren’t mistakes at all; where children are punished for trivial and non-consequential matters. I wish this were an imaginary tale. Sadly, it’s reality for many students across the country. Is that gorgeous writing, or what? They go on to talk about discriminatory discipline practices in our schools and advocate for a restorative justice approach as an alternative.

I love reading stuff like this. It remi…

Perhaps Republicans Aren't So Happy With Their Choices

Offered for your consideration:


That was posted on Facebook by the conservative group Human Events. It showed up in my timeline because a few of my Republican friends passed it on. As of this writing, it has been shared over 200,000 times.

What does that tell you about how Republicans are feeling right now about their clown car field of 2016 candidates?

Things That Took Less Time Than Loretta Lynch's Confirmation

Thomas Perez on TPP

To my mind, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez is the most unacknowledged liberal champion in the Obama administration. I followed him closely during his years as head of the Civil Rights Division at DOJ as he resurrected and reformed that department following it's demise under the previous Bush administration. He has also been doing some amazing work at the Department of Labor lately.

And so, when Greg Sargent interviews Sec. Perez about the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement - you bet I'm going to pay attention.
THE PLUM LINE: There’s a tremendous amount of suspicion about trade deals. Prior trade deals didn’t raise wages or bargaining rights. What specifically will be in TPP that is somehow different from these other deals, from the point of view of the standard of living of American workers?

THOMAS PEREZ: I share the skepticism that my friends have about NAFTA. It was woefully weak in protecting workers and on the enforcement side. The question is: Can we meaningfully …

A Whole New Brand of "Political Correctness"

As the media becomes consumed with the 2016 presidential election and begins to (as President Obama said back in 2004) "slice and dice" the electorate, I've started to notice a pattern. The group of voters that seems to fascinate them the most is working class whites - mostly men. Even though they are a shrinking part of the electorate (from 1/3 in 1980 to 17% in 2012), countless articles have already been written about how the Democratic Party has lost them and what they can do to win them back. Former Democratic Senator Jim Webb is even considering a candidacy based almost solely on his appeal to them.

But what's even more interesting to me is how, in talking about what might motivate white working class men to avoid the Democratic Party, journalists seem to have decided that it's important to avoid talking about one set of issues at all costs: racism/sexism/homophobia.

For example, Politico recently published a story by Larry Sabato, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey S…

What Maureen Dowd Doesn't Know About Feminism Could Fill a Book

Yes, I know. I should just stay away from Maureen Dowd columns. Every time I read one I am reminded that the New York Times gives valuable real-estate space to an idiot. My only excuse for reading this one is that I saw a clip of it on twitter that was so awful, I clicked through. Now I have to write about it to let off the steam. So sue me!

One thing you can say about Maureen is that she is an equal opportunity basher. Now she's all about trashing Hillary Clinton the same was she did Barack Obama and George W. Bush. The truth is that she seems to have a natural inclination to be disgusted by anyone who is either president or who wants to be. I'll leave it to the rest of you arm chair psychiatrists to analyze that one.

In going after Hillary today, Maureen shows that she knows absolutely NOTHING about feminism. To the extent that she has a point other than railing about Hillary, its that she was too masculine in 2008 and is being too feminine this time around.

Here's a new…

Photo of the Day: Pallin' Around with Tiggers

Ruh-roh. I sure hope Momma Grizzly doesn't find out about this!


A Study in Contrasts

I'm about to write something that will likely get me in hot water with a lot of my progressive friends. But in the end, if I make you pause to think, it will be worth it.

What I want to do is contrast the records of two fairly new Democratic Senators: Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker. Senator Warren has 10 months of seniority on Senator Booker - but they both began their terms in 2013. Other than that, their names are rarely mentioned together.

As we've seen, Senator Warren has become the hero of progressives, while Senator Booker became persona non grata when he criticized Democrats and the Obama campaign for going after Romney over his connections to Bain Capital during the 2012 campaign.

Its interesting to note what these two have achieved in their short history in the Senate. On Warren's web site, you can see what bills she has sponsored. There is one of note having to do with student loan refinancing. The other three appear to be symbolic in nature. Looking a bit deep…

Politico Redefines Political Correctness

Given that the Clinton campaign has suggested that they are going to run on President Obama's record rather than away from it, I found this headline at Politico to be rather provocative: Clinton's Real Opponent: Barack Obama. But when I read it, I found that they were talking about something very different than what I'd assumed.

The gist of the article goes like this: When a sitting president's job approval rating is below 50%, a candidate from their party is not likely to win. In several swing states with a high white population, Barack Obama's approval rating is lower than would otherwise be expected.

The case they are trying to make gets rather convoluted and eventually left this reader with the thought that some political scientists just have too much time on their hands. But other than that, I was amazed at how far the authors were willing to go to avoid saying the obvious: Among white voters, Barack Obama's approval rating is affected by racism.
When you …

"This Is Embarrassing"

You wanna see President Obama get angry? Here ya go...

Right Wingers: How Dare You Teach My Child Empathy!!

I tend to ignore most of the really outrageous stuff that is peddled by right wingers these days. But I saw one today that touched on something that I feel pretty strongly about. Apparently they are outraged (warning: wing nut link) that a high school World and U.S. History teacher gave her students this assignment:
Class assignment at Union Grove HS: "pretend you're a Muslim..." #wiright@eagnewspic.twitter.com/Q1RFZ6PyDM
— Vicki Mckenna (@VickiMcKenna) April 13, 2015 It is not difficult to imagine what Ms. Urban is trying to accomplish with this assignment. Her students have been studying the history of Muslims in America and she is asking them to try articulate what the world looks like through their eyes. On the one hand, this writing assignment is a check to see if the students have absorbed the material they have reviewed so far. But on a deeper level, it is a classic way to help children learn empathy for people who - at first glance - seem very different from the…