Also, Bessie Jones meets Hobart Smith: Given the way our up-country journalism works, does anyone ever understand any policy issue?
For example, could you explain the issues involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership in any way at all? There have been very few attempts to explain what that whole thing’s about—or to explain why Obama is siding with the congressional GOP more than with his own party.
Over the weekend, we took the obvious step. We reviewed what Krugman has said about the TPP in his columns and on his blog.
Some day soon, we’ll show you what Krugman has said. (We were a bit surprised.) In the meantime, let’s admit it. None of us understands the TPP, and no one is making the slightest attempt to explain the relevant issues.
Second issue: Obamacare.
We don’t intend what follows as a criticism of President Obama. But we’re often struck by the way the liberal world seems to have settled regarding this general topic.
We’re so old that we can remember when President >Clinton tried to create a national health care program or something of that sort. No one ever understood that program either, but it seems to us that the original goal was something like “universal coverage.”
Twenty-two years later, the Supreme Court saved Obamacare’s bacon last week. That said, we still aren’t hugely close to universal coverage; we still spend two to three times as much on health care, per person, as other developed nations spend; and we watched Ezekiel Emanuel on C-Span last weekend telling a caller why the deductibles in Obamacare are so darn high.
Is it just our imagination? Or, judged on a global basis, is this a comically awful program, even after all these years?
(Some day soon, we’ll show you the Q-and-A with Emanuel.)
Third issue: affirmative action procedures at the University of Texas.
In this morning’s New York Times, Adam Liptak reports on the Supreme Court’s decision to review UT’s affirmative action admissions program again.
Liptak’s front-page report struck us as perhaps a bit propagandistic, and perhaps a bit poorly explained to boot. After reading it, we don’t even feel clear about which part of UT’s admission procedure will be under review.
In this passage, Liptak describes the current admission procedure, which has two basic parts:
LIPTAK (6/30/15): Most applicants from Texas are admitted under a part of the program that guarantees admission to top students in every high school in the state. (This is often called the Top 10 program, though the percentage cutoff can vary by year.)Later, Liptak describes the Top 10 program as “race-neutral,” implying that it won’t be under review. Here’s the problem:
The Top 10 program has produced significant racial and ethnic diversity. In 2011, for instance, 26 percent of freshmen who enrolled under the program were Hispanic, and 6 percent were black. Texas is about 38 percent Hispanic and 12 percent black.
The remaining Texas students and those from elsewhere are considered under standards that take account of academic achievement and other factors, including race and ethnicity. Many colleges and universities base all of their admissions decisions on such “holistic” grounds.
If we understand the matter correctly, the Top 10 program was adopted in part to produce racial diversity. Among various theoretical downsides, it can have bad consequences for ambitious black kids and for diversity in Texas high schools. (In theory, it could give black kids a reason to stay in all-black high schools instead of transferring to more challenging magnet schools, where they might not end up in the top ten percent.)
We didn’t think that Liptak’s report was especially clear. For that reason, we had the analysts file “UT admission procedures” in the drawer with TPP and O-care.
Our national discourse is a daily ridiculous mess. This fact, though, may be hard to discern, given the platforms from which our journalists and our professors perform.
Those high platforms may convey the sense that the moral and political intelligence resides in Gotham and DC, not in the Carolina low country, where people talk love and forgiveness and may even lapse into Gullah.
Do yourselves a favor! Imagine the possibility that those families in Charleston may know more about various things than their condescending city-dwelling cousins, who pushed back against them last week.
Why not take a trip on that old gospel ship! For more on the so-called “Lowcountry clap,” you can examine a book from the Duke Books Scholarly Collection, Talking to the Dead: Religion, Music, and Lived Memory among Gullah/Geechee Women.
The low-country clap is explicitly mentioned. Readers, we’re just saying!
Ranging a bit further afield, our personal preference, even in music, is for so-called black and so-called white together. For that reason, we offer this link, in which the Georgia Sea Island Singers engage with Hobart Smith.
Our up-country ways may not be all that. Except when we’re doing the telling!