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To win at Tokyo 2020, sports need to look beyond the medal tally and at their comms strategies – MuMbrella

Posted: February 27, 2020 at 7:44 pm

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In just five short months, the 2020 Olympics will get underway in Tokyo. While the mainstream news agenda will have its eyes on the medal haul of Australias Olympic hopefuls, success or failure at the Games will run far deeper for the sports themselves, where the consequences of under-performance, and failure to keep the pipeline of future fans and supporters stacked, could be felt long after the closing ceremony confetti has been cleaned up.

Right now, Olympic sport communications departments and social media teams are busy working on their Tokyo content plans, internal resource allocation and on-the-ground logistics mapping. A large part of that thinking will be spent figuring out how to make sure that if and when their medal contenders step onto the podium, the whole world will get to hear about it through a flurry of posts and press releases.

These comms strategies revolve around a legitimate compulsion to service a sense of community and belonging that permeates sport. But the Olympics is unlike every other major sporting event in the calendar. Rather than only watching a favourite sport, viewers abandon preconceived affinities in favour of whatever is being played or broadcast. In other words, most people drawn to the Games this July will be interested in the Olympics first and its composite sports second.

National sporting organisations that only have eyes for existing fans and followers will be missing a crucial opportunity to grow their numbers, and in turn increase their future revenue potential from both the Australian Sports Commission and lucrative sponsors. In other words, any sport walking away from the Games with the same type and tally of fans they arrived with will have failed.


At the 2020 Olympics, news will find its audiences faster than communications departments will be able to serve them.

Being able to accept that the news will take care of itself, and fans will self-serve with updates, brings with it the potential to liberate comms teams from resource-heavy, reactive tasks, and in turn, provides them with the freedom to explore more constructive and ambitious brand and communications strategies.

The Olympics isnt business as usual. For anyone involved in the business of promoting the sports represented there, that means following a different set of guidelines, adjusted to meet the behaviour of a special kind of sports fan that emerges only once every four years.

Theres no silver bullet for achieving that and every individual sport needs to consider its unique DNA carefully before deciding whats best, but they should start by considering the benefits of occupying a space at the heart of the Olympic party, instead of a single-minded focus on trumpeting personal success.

That means finding a way into other peoples conversations and the special Tokyo Olympics zeitgeist. No matter what individual sports have to say about themselves, it will only ever represent a tiny and transient percentage of what the rest of the Olympics-invested community is talking about. So instead of expecting new fans to come to them, sports communications specialists should find ways to embed their brand with potential new fans on their home turf.

No matter what their podium presence proves to be, after the high of the Olympics, many Australian sports will be facing an almighty comedown as they return home.

How long that hangover lasts and what the future looks like in the sober light of day will depend on how well sports win not just in the medal tally, but in their comms strategies.

Lee Robson is founder and chief storytelling officer at Istories, with two decades experience working with sports brands and elite athletes in Australia and the UK

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To win at Tokyo 2020, sports need to look beyond the medal tally and at their comms strategies - MuMbrella

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February 27th, 2020 at 7:44 pm

Posted in Personal Success

How my Grampy is helping me stay sober from beyond the grave –

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Kate McKenna and her Grampy Jack Wedge, circa 1992.

To know my Grampy was to love him.

My grandfather, Jack Wedge, died from cancer in 2016. He had been omnipresent in my life, never missing a graduation, holiday or birthday party.

I travelled home to Prince Edward Island from Quebec for his funeral.

I figured it would be a small gathering to celebrate his life. Instead, there were hundreds of people, from many walks of life.

I was amazed. I asked my mom who they were. Many of them, she guessed, knew him from Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) a fellowship he'd been part of for more than 30 years.

It was then that I realized I had only known a small part of my grandfather.

I made a mental note and filed it away for the next two years.

In 2018, I quit drinking.

I was nervous about my relationship with alcohol. I had started noticing I'd go out with friends and have three pints while everyone else was having one. I'd work till midnight, then stay out till morning. I felt myself slipping into a bit of a spiral.

I swore off booze altogether in May. The watershed moment came after a brutal professional disappointment. After that bad day at work, my first impulse was to crush a bottle of wine. Such a blatant urge to self-medicate set off alarm bells in my head.

The next morning, I woke up and emailed two close friends, saying I was finished with drinking forever. I said it kind of flippantly, but their earnest reaction made me think that maybe my drinking had worried themtoo.

My dear friend Dave Atkinson persuaded me to find a therapist. I followed his advice. After doing a questionnaire-style test, the therapist determined that yes, my drinking was probably problematic, and yes, I should probably stop drinking forever.

Lord, it was brutal, but I did it. I slipped up once, a month in. As of writing this, I've been sober for more than 19 months.

Nobody warned me, but my body reacted when I quit drinking. I was not a vodka-on-my-wheaties-type drinker, but I still noticed changes.

Some good better sleep, weight-loss and clear skin.

Some weird. People in early recovery will talk about the vivid dreams they have, where they relapse in some way. I didn't know that was coming and would wake up in a cold sweat.

I also felt my emotions thawing. In my job and in my life, I had a reputation for emotional toughness. In hindsight, I had medicated away any bad feelings with alcohol.

Once the booze was gone, I'd feel random spurts of intense sadness or happiness. Once I was walking to the bus stop and started weeping because of some long-buried memory of high school gym class.

But I kept going with the sobriety, numbing my body into submission with a punishing regime of very early rising, CrossFit and marathon training. Those activities, combined, gave me a good excuse to skip out on after-work drinks. I artfully dodged further questioning by telling people I was on antibiotics and couldn't drink.

And it was fine. Until I hit the worst realization of early sobriety.

As someone recently said to me: a drunk horsey is still a horsey. You can quit the booze, but it doesn't magically fix all the parts of you that you don't like.

All of my pre-existing bad habits I could be selfish, inconsiderate, and an impulsive ass at times stayed with me. And what do you do when you have nothing to blame?

Despite my best efforts, I couldn't hide from this question. Faced with no options, I was dragged into introspection.

That's when I started thinking about my grandfather again.

I wished I could go back in time and ask my grandfather for his advice on sobriety. But since he was gone, I decided to do the next best thing: speak with those he had helped, glean his wisdom from beyond the grave.

Taking a break from my Montreal life, I flew back to Charlottetown for a month. I wandered around, feeling raw and uncertain.

The obvious place to start was with my grandmother, Phyllis Wedge. We call her "Mama."

Mama loves to talk about her family. She can rhyme off her children's birth weights and her grandchildren's occupations, beaming, as though they're markers of her own personal success.

While she raised eight children, Grampy worked as a garbage man. They didn't have many extras, but they were upright and proud.

She told me about his drinking. One night, she told him not to come home because he'd had too much. The next day, he quit outright.

He was sober for 36 years.

Mama knew Grampy attended Alcoholics Anonymous a few times every week. But, like me, she didn't realize just what that meant until his wake. Over and over, strangers came up to tell her stories of how Grampy had helped them. He even did things you're not supposed to do in AA, like loaning them cash.

She didn't know many of the people, given that AA is anonymous. But she did have two names for me: Margaret Arsenault and a man named Greg.

Margaret and Grampy worked at a home for people with addictions later in my grandfather's life. His job was to hang out with the patients, playing cards and helping them with their day-to-day activities.

When we met, Margaret said Grampy loved hanging out with the people staying in the home.

I pressed her for any advice he may have dispensed at that time.

"Mostly, he listened," she said.

She said he only really had one piece of advice: show up to AA meetings.

I had hoped for something more specific, maybe more philosophical, but I filed that away and went to meet Greg.

Grampy met Greg soon after Greg first got sober.

Thirteen months later, Greg fell off the wagon and somehow landed at the local Legion.

Grampy showed up and hauled him out of there. Greg said Grampy had a look in his eye that told him not to fight.

Grampy put him in the back of his truck and drove him to a meeting; then he drove him to detox.

Greg said it was one of the first times anyone had ever shown him unconditional love. For him, it was a defining moment.

Greg has been alcohol-free ever since more than 30 years.

I wanted to know: what was it about Grampy's intervention that was so compelling that Greg quit drinking for good?

"It was the meetings," Greg said. "Just go to the meetings."

Working the program was the most important thing to my grandfather.

I'm not sure what I was hoping for, advice-wise, but it wasn't that.

Lord, if there's one thing I didn't want to do, it was AA. To me, AA meant cold black coffee and despair, in a church basement.

In my early days of sobriety, my therapist suggested I try it.

I looked up meetings in Montreal. My work schedule is weird and none of them were convenient. Once, I walked around the block near a meeting location, willing myself to go inside, but I never did.

I just felt I didn't need it. I quit by myself, white-knuckling my way through it. Honestly, I've never been much of a joiner.

It may have been a case of cognitive dissonance, but I told myself I had a bit of a drinking problem, but I wasn't a problem drinker. I didn't want it to become my identity.

But now I had no choice. I was on the Island, with the sole purpose of seeking out and then applying my grandfather's wisdom. I had to attend a meeting.

I still didn't want to, at all. So I called my buddy Dave to discuss.

"It's almost so obvious that it's unglamorous," Dave said.

Yeah. That's exactly it.

"You sought lessons from your grandpa expecting it was going to be X and it ended up being seven," he said. "He was like, 'No man, go to the meetings. There's some community that can help you out.'"

As usual, Dave was right.

This whole journey was inspired by my want or need to connect with my grandfather on this thing we had in common sobriety.

His ghost dragged me across the country so I could find some community and walk this road with some support.

The obviousness of the whole ordeal smacked me in the face. Grampy came through for me. Of course what I needed was community, and AA was it.

Now all that remained was to attend a meeting.

The first two attempts were a wash. There were a couple of brutal snowstorms. I waded through a metre of snow, knocked on the church door and walked away when I found it locked.

When I was 20 metres away, a nun poked her head out the door and yelled "YOU LOOKING FOR ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS?"

"Jeez," I thought. "Cool it lady, now all of Charlottetown knows."

I attended and introduced myself as an alcoholic. It was one of those surreal life experiences you don't ever really think will happen to you when you're sketching out your five-year plan.

The meeting was good. People were nice. A woman roughly my age followed me out and welcomed me, giving me the low-down on which meetings were the best and letting me know she was around if ever I wanted to talk to somebody.

Leaving the meeting, I wondered if I'd been dishonest with myself about the extent of my problem. Maybe it was worse than I thought. Maybe I was still a "horsey" who had quit drinking through sheer will but never dealt with the underlying reasons for why I drank in the first place.

I resolved to attend a few more meetings and see if it stuck. To date, my attendance has been spotty because life is bouncing me around to different provinces and countries.

I will, eventually, go back.

My grandmother told me that near the end of his life, Grampy worried his alcoholism would be passed down through the family. To some extent, that has proven true.

But that's not his legacy.

Through his quiet patience and unconditional love, he taught us that life is easier and better when you work through it with others.

He taught us that letting people into your life requires courage, but it will pay back dividends.

Something my grandfather understood better than most is that we are put on this planet to relate to and serve others.

And if I take anything from this experience, it will be that.

Kate McKenna is a Montreal-based journalist and author. She's been reporting for CBC News for the last six years and has covered major stories including the Quebec City mosque shooting, allegations of sexual misconduct at Concordia University and the 2019 federal election. Her work has aired on the BBC, NPR and CNN. Kate tries to tell complex stories with simplicity and humanity.

This documentary was produced and edited with Kent Hoffmanand made through theDoc Mentorship Program.

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How my Grampy is helping me stay sober from beyond the grave -

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February 27th, 2020 at 7:44 pm

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Joe Biden Is the Forrest Gump of the Democratic Party’s Rightward Turn – Jacobin magazine

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The following is an excerpt from Branko Marcetics forthcoming bookYesterdays Man: The Case Against Joe Biden. You can noworder a copy of this important new bookdirect fromJacobin for only $10, with free shipping.

They are not dealing with George McGovern. They are dealing with Joe Biden and Bill Clinton.

Joe Biden on the GOP and the issue of crime, 1994.

By 1993, for all intents and purposes, Joe Biden had won. Sure, his 1987 exit from the presidential campaign trail had been humiliating. But he had survived a near-death experience, returned to the Senate with renewed purpose, been sent back to Congress for another six years by the people of Delaware, and, with three terms and a prestigious committee chairmanship under his belt, was now one of the Democratic Partys most influential and powerful lawmakers.

Whats more, the party had moved exactly where he had been urging it to go. In 1992, Democrats nominated Arkansas governor Bill Clinton to be their presidential nominee, a business-friendly Southern Democrat who antagonized the partys left wing, held conservative stances on criminal justice and the role of the government, and connected with those same conservative, white, Reagan-backing voters who Biden was convinced needed to be the beating heart of the party.

Since 1989, Clinton had been the chairman of the DLC, the conservative, Southern-dominated group determined to push the party rightward for which Biden had spent 1986 touring the country. Clinton had taken away many of the same lessons from his political career that Biden had from his. After becoming the countrys youngest governor in 1978 and challenging the states major industries, he had been unceremoniously tossed out of office two years later. He roared back in 1982, winning reelection and governing as a very different kind of politician one far more accommodating to business interests and conservative views. He won the 1992 election not just by tapping into his preternatural charisma and empathy but by showing he could be just as ruthless and right wing as any Republican: he publicly scolded Jesse Jackson by misconstruing the words of an African American rapper attending his Rainbow Coalition convention as racist, and he flew home from the campaign trail to oversee the execution of a lobotomized inmate.

Clintons guiding light was the philosophy of triangulation, otherwise known as the Third Way. Instead of going left or right, the theory went, Clinton would tread a path somewhere down the middle, much as Biden had spent his years in the Senate doing, voting largely as a Democrat but abandoning the party or taking conservative stances on key, consequential issues. In practice, this meant that Clinton and Biden, together with a cowed Democratic Party reeling after three consecutive presidential election losses, would spent the next eight years working with newly energized congressional Republicans to continue what Reagan had started: shrinking the size of government, rolling back protections for civil rights and liberties, cutting social programs and key regulations, and generally undoing the progress made under the New Deal and Great Society. He made clear he represents a new generation of leadership and government alone cant do it, and that is a new message from a Democrat, Biden said of Clinton as he prepared to take the oath.

The result was devastating for the US working class, as hundreds of thousands of Americans saw their jobs disappear, with only an increasingly frayed social safety net to fall back on. The march toward a repressive prison state sped up, while the gap between the rich and poor inflated. As these trends became more extreme, an ever-larger share of the voting public would conclude there was little point in taking part in the political system anymore.

The Reagan years may have been over, but their politics lived on. Biden, who like Reagan had spent the 1980s obsessed with federal deficits and cutting spending, would spend the next decade going even further in this direction.

Biden emerged from his 1990 reelection slightly bruised by a scandal that showed yet again the peril of his and the rest of the partys increasing reliance on big-money donors. During his earlier presidential run, Biden had forged a friendship with David L. Paul, a Florida-based savings-and-loan executive and major Democratic fundraiser known to lend his private jet to politicians. Paul, his family, and his companys foundation had given generously to Biden, a fact seized on by his Republican opponent in the wake of the ongoing savings-and-loan crisis and after CenTrust, the bank Paul founded, which regulators charged he had used as his own piggy bank, collapsed, costing taxpayers more than $1 billion. It would later come out that, after being personally lobbied by Paul, Biden had successfully weakened the criminal penalties for bank fraud proposed in a pending bill to reform the sector; he had tried and failed to recruit Strom Thurmond for the effort.

Whether it really was corruption wasnt clear: Paul had lobbied Biden to weaken a different part of the bill, Bidens chief of staff said, and the penalty reductions had actually been requested by smaller thrifts and banks. But Bidens financial and personal connections toa man of, in one regulators words, insatiable vanity and greed who worked in an industry Biden was meant to be keeping in check wasnt a good look. It was a taste of what was to come.

Having locked down reelection, Biden, together with the DLC and other centrists, served as something of an ideological policeforce to keep an eye on Clinton, who they feared would govern as a New Deal Democrat. Though he had built a career kowtowing to right-wing forces, Clinton at heart still fancied himself one of Roosevelts heirs, bitterly complaining to Democrats in 1993 that were Eisenhower Republicans standing for lower deficits and free trade and the bond market. Isnt that great?

After the election, Biden warned Clinton not to let his administration fall under the sway of liberals, singling out Bernard Nussbaum, the man who would become Clintons general counsel, for particular attention never mind that Nussbaum was a wealthy corporate lawyer. When a right-wing firestorm erupted over Clintons nomination of civil rights lawyer Lani Guinier to head the Justice Departments Civil Rights Division, partly as payback for the Thomas hearings, Biden joined the pile-on about her past academic writings, leading Clinton to cut her loose. His patience with liberal activists worn out by the previous decades judicial battles, Biden lashed out at the idiotic groups out there, like the XYZ Group for American Values, or the QSY Group to Save All the Women in the World.

Biden wasnt responsible for Clintons failure to reform US health care, but his lack of enthusiasm for the task didnt help. While behind the scenes, independent Vermont Rep. Bernie Sanders who had parlayed his success in Burlington into a successful congressional campaign tried pushing Clinton to pursue a single-payer health care system, White House officials and party leaders privately viewed Biden as noncommittal and someone who would take extra effort to be won over to even Clintons piecemeal reforms.

Internal documents noted Bidens reservations about Clintons plan, his private warnings not to load up any health care bill with too many bells and whistles, and his concerns that the benefit package may be too generous and would negatively impact small businesses. He has been one of the few Democratic members who have declined to sign Senator Woffords universal coverage letter, read one memo written for First Lady Hillary Clinton, then leading the health care effort, adding that Biden had previously said he opposed single-payer. Biden himself later boasted that he had refused to sign on to Clintons plan even after being beckoned to the White House.

As in the case of the CenTrust scandal during his 1990 reelection campaign, Bidens position may have been driven by powerful interests back home. One White House memo noted that DuPont, which Biden privately said controlled the Delaware Chamber of Commerce, would be key in his decision. Yet the company was advocating for national health insurance at the time. Maybe more key was the over $150,000 that Biden had got from health insurers over fifteen years. In any case, the reform failed, sunk by the White Houses own mismanagement.

While running full tilt away from anything hinting at liberalism, Biden gave Clinton full-throated backing as he continued Reagans legacy. He proposed early on to have business experts advise Congress on how to streamline government agencies and endorsed Clintons plan to lay off 252,000 federal workers. Putting the customer first will ensure that taxpayers get the service they deserve, he said, echoing the language of the era that cast government as a business and the public as its patrons.

Ultimately, in Clinton, Biden finally found a Democratic standard-bearer as passionate about attacking the deficit as he was. Despite polling showing the public was vastly more interested in job creation, Clinton upset his political advisers by kicking off his presidency with a deficit-cutting budget that slightly raised taxes on the very wealthiest while taking a big chunk out of government spending through federal layoffs and entitlement cuts. Clinton was fully conscious that this would block the ambitious social agenda he had actually campaigned on. The measure, which passed with only Democratic votes in the Senate, began a years-long campaign of deficit-cutting that culminated in the first balanced budget in decades. While universally lauded in media and political circles, the true significance of the balanced budget lay in further rolling back the New Deal. By the end of Clintons two terms, federal spending fell to its lowest level since 1966, and the federal workforce accounted for the smallest percentage of overall employment since before Roosevelt took office.

Biden cheered him on all the way. He told a constituent that Clintons first budget was our best chance for deficit reduction and introduced his own six-year plan for balancing the budget. Even as Clinton accepted painful spending cuts dictated by the GOP, Biden proclaimed that we are approaching an historic moment and that Americans would enjoy real benefits from a balanced budget.

Which Americans though? Back home in Delaware, where federal money made up a large chunk of the state budget, Bidens constituents felt the sting. The states Democratic governor Tom Carper warned in 1996 that his government would have to tighten its belt as a result, with a variety of programs, including scholarships, services for the elderly and disabled, drug and alcohol prevention, and emergency relief shelters, drastically cut back or wiped out, even as the number of homeless kids in Delaware had tripled over the previous decade. Delawareans pled with the states finance committee to save vital programs on which they relied. While Biden continued earning top ratings from environmental groups, the cuts he supported imperiled Delawares rivers and beaches and weakened the states environmental programs and federal Environmental Protection Agency enforcement.

Bidens zeal for cutting government broughtpreviously untouchable targets into his crosshairs. He had cruised to reelection in 1990 through his tried-and-true playbook of outraising and out-Republicaning a mediocre opponent. His proposals included a freeze [on] all government spending until we get it in order, which would require the straight-up courage to cut everything even Medicare and Social Security.

This is largely how it was for the rest of the decade. Biden repeatedly spoke out against GOP attempts to cut the big three Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security and commended Clinton by the end of his presidency for making the protection of Social Security and Medicare our highest domestic priority. Yet he also insisted that something had to be done about Medicare, pushing fraud prevention as a way to soften any future cuts, and he gave a tacit endorsement to a Medicaid reform plan put out by the National Governors Association in 1996 that would have given states discretion to deny benefits. On Social Security, he suggested raising the retirement age by one year and voted to repeal an earlier increase in benefits. This was in sharp contrast to his treatment of business: Biden had been first out of the gate to pressure Clinton to sign a bill in 1993 creating an antitrust exclusion protecting certain ventures from high damage awards.

Well never know whether Biden would have defended these programs or folded to right-wing pressure to cut them: Clintons plan to close out his presidency by reforming entitlements was derailed by the Monica Lewinsky scandal. But Bidens willingness to even rhetorically put these popular programs on the chopping block foreshadowed a new, more strident phrase of his antipathy to government spending.

This antipathy found its most radical expression in the form of the balanced budget constitutional amendment, which Biden had viewed as laughable and dangerous in previous decades. Now he was warming up to it. Its opponents viewed it with alarm: making a balanced federal budget a constitutional requirement would not only hamstring the government during times of emergency but require even during economic downturns, when most economists advised more government spending and when spending cuts had historically plunged countries into even greater misery the government to sharply raise taxes or, more likely, make drastic cuts to core, often life-saving programs.

To the relief of progressives and hundreds of economists, the amendment never passed under Clinton. But with the help of a wavering Biden, it came perilously close.

With the backing of its chairman, the Judiciary Committee started the decade by endorsing the amendment two years in a row. A 1991 report Biden issued warned that the spree of deficit spending by our federal government must be curbed. All the while he acknowledged it would be a disaster. This is a lousy amendment, he said in 1991. Its not a good idea except I cant think of any other idea except maintaining the status quo. And the status quo stinks. Biden was, he explained, prepared to take what I consider radical medicine to tackle deficits.

Had the constitutional amendment process been less onerous, the balanced budget amendment may well have passed several times in the mid-1990s. In 1994, Biden stayed undecided until the eleventh hour, when he and several other Democrats, including future presidential nominee John Kerry and future Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, came out against the amendment, causing it to fall four votes short of the sixty-seven needed to pass. Biden instead voted for a doomed alternative offered by Reid that insulated Social Security and construction projects from any painful cuts.

That sweetener was gone from the version that made it to the Senate floor the start of the following year, under a very different Congress and in a distinctly new political landscape. In between, the United States had experienced something of a political revolution, as a cadre of right-wing radicals, fed up with what they saw as the GOPs timidity and feebleness, took over the House, leaving both chambers of Congress in the Republicans hands for the first time in forty years. In many ways, this was a more significant victory for the conservative movement than Reagans had been in 1980. After all, it was Congress that shaped and passed legislation, and Reagans vision had been largely stifled by Democratic control of the House throughout his presidency.

The George Washington of this victory was Georgia representative Newt Gingrich, who fancied himself the most serious, systematic revolutionary of modern times and called for large-scale, radical change. It was his Contract with America, a ten-point legislative plan that aimed to finish what Reagan had started, that victorious Republicans had signed and campaigned on. A balanced budget amendment was one of its key planks.

With the political calculus now altered, the Clinton administration toned down its opposition to the amendment. Even as Alice Rivlin, director of the Office of Management and Budget, warned that the amendment would exaggerate the boom-bust cycle, engineer worse recessions, and make for bad economic policy and bad constitutional policy, the White House made clear that it had lost the appetite to fight. Gingrich left a meeting with Clinton with the impression that he was not going to engage in an aggressive campaign against the measure.

Gingrichs confidence was likely rooted in the fact that many Democrats had become devoted converts. The 1995 version of the amendment, which required the prohibitively high threshold of three-fifths of both chambers of Congress to either raise the debt limit or pass a nonbalanced budget, was sponsored and championed by Illinoiss Paul Simon, one of the Senates stalwart liberals, and backed by prominent Democrats like Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and, of course, Biden.

Something is going to come bouncing out of here and sent to the states [to be ratified], Biden said. The amendment had real flaws, he repeated, but vowed to back it because we need something. After several Democratic attempts to make it more forgiving failed, Biden and the rest of the committee, on a 153 vote, once more sent the amendment to the Senate.

Some of us tried to make this a better proposal, he said as he prepared to vote for it. But he was faced with a choice of an imperfect amendment or continued spending, and he had sufficient confidence in our citizens and in our political institutions that we will confront any challenges from its many flaws.

What those flaws and imperfections would mean in practice was stark. To make the spending cuts a balanced budget demanded, countless programs that Americans relied on would have to be cut or eliminated: low-income housing, heating assistance, federally funded school lunches, mass transit, even the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funded hundreds of TV and radio stations around the country, not to mention the big three entitlement programs. It would be a disaster for working people, for elderly people, for low-income people, Bernie Sanders had warned.

In the end, a sufficient number of Democrats were spooked by the threat posed to Social Security and other programs to defeat the amendment, including Daschle and even Californias conservative senator Dianne Feinstein, both of whom had had been on board with the idea in 1994. But the decisions of Biden and two other Democratsto switch their votes in favor of the amendment brought it a mere two votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed for passage.

Bidens support became even more determined as a result of his 1996 reelection contest. Once more, Biden faced an opponent who sought to paint him as an overly liberal flip-flopper. But businessman Ray Clatworthy was not only considered too far right by the Republican he had beaten in the primary; he was the first rival in Bidens career who could match him in fundraising. Despite political experts stressing his seat was one of the countrys safest borne out by his eventual 22-point margin of victory Biden, per usual, moved right. While campaigning for reelection, he became one of just twelve Democrats to side with a near-unanimous GOP to again bring the balanced budget amendment within two votes of passage.

Even after his reelection, Biden stayed the course. This time, with Clintons second term in the bag, the measure faced stronger Democratic opposition. As the ground was readied for yet another vote in 1997, the White House lobbied key Democrats to reject the balanced budget amendment, and Clinton trashed it in his State of the Union speech, calling it unnecessary and unwise and warning that it could cripple our country in time of economic crisis. Biden, for his part, played unconvincingly coy. His spokesman told the press Biden would use his vote as leverage to make improvements to the measure, such as exempting Social Security but then quickly added that Biden would vote for it no matter what, undermining any leverage he might have had.

Whatever economic motivation Biden may have had to support the amendment was undercut when more than one thousand economists, including eleven Nobel Prize winners, signed a letter pleading with Congress not to adopt it. One economist, Nobel laureate James Tobin, cautioned it would put the federal government into a fiscal straitjacket during economic crises; another compared its insistence on keeping spending strictly below revenue to telling the Atlantic Ocean not to cross a line in the sand.

Despite dithering in the days leading up to the vote, Biden voted for the third straight year to approve the amendment that even he along with just about everyone outside of antigovernment, right-wing circles, including his local newspaper had warned would bring economic catastrophe. He joined all fifty-five of the Senates Republicans and just ten other Democrats. The amendment failed by just one vote. Against Bidens best efforts, disaster had been averted.

But if the American working class narrowly avoided the economic calamity of a balanced budget amendment, the same could not be said for a host of other measures passed by Biden and the Democratic Party during the 1990s.

The first came in 1991, as President George H W. Bush began working on what would come to be the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Despite a decades-long political career heavily underwritten by organized labor, Biden became one of a small group of Democratic turncoats that gave Bush fast track authority to negotiate the deal. AFL-CIO president Lane Kirkland bitterly noted his disenchantment that on a great issue that affects the livelihood and survival of our constituents, the Democrats had deserted labor.

NAFTA would ultimately be ratified under Clinton, who during his campaign had done a careful balancing act, backing the agreement to prove he could stand up to unions but pledging to improve it once in power. The improvements Clinton secured did little to assuage labors fears, and Democrats like Biden were forced into a similar balancing act. Biden agonized over the decision, claiming in September 1993 that if I had to vote today, I would vote no, but also insisting he thought labors theory that NAFTA would lead to an exodus of jobs to Mexico was flawed.

He stayed undecided until the very day of the vote two months later, ultimately charting a course that was vintage Biden. In his floor speech, he launched into a spirited attack on critics of unions: How dare we tell these people not to worry? he shouted. If you saw your future decimated, you would have every reason to be frightened. This is not a false fear. He then dismissed the arguments on both sides of the issue as vastly overblown, claiming labor only opposed NAFTA because they have nothing else to criticize. After only briefly explaining his support, he declared the agreement the best deal we are going to get now. With his vote and that of twenty-six other Democrats, NAFTA passed the Senate.

Biden turned out to be grievously wrong. The deal not only caused the loss of nearly 700,000 US jobs, many of them in the countrys manufacturing centers, but it further weakened the power of unions. It became a gift to unscrupulous businesses who used the threat of offshoring jobs to Mexico in some cases, purposefully loading equipment into trucks headed south of the border in full view of disgruntled workers to push employees into accepting worse wages, hours, and benefits, and to undermine unions bargaining power. As Sanders had warned during the House debate on NAFTA, it was indeed a bad deal for American workers. Politically, the consequences would be just as grievous, as the loss of power for unions pushed the Democratic Party further into the arms of corporate donors, and Democrats saw an exodus of blue-collar support over the betrayal, creating a future opening for the party to be outflanked.

Next came the euphemistically named welfare reform, what Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott later termed the Holy Grail of [the GOPs] legislative master plan. Conservatives had fantasized about dismantling the welfare system for decades. Reagan had memorably lobbed verbal broadsides at it during his 1976 presidential run, conjuring racialized images of a woman in Chicago scamming tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars and a strapping young buck using government handouts to buy a T-bone steak. Such deeply rooted caricatures had little relation to reality in fact, the welfare queen stereotype was based on a career con woman with a much more complicated personal history but they were potent images that seemed to confirm what many white Americans uncharitably suspected. More importantly, they were tied up with a centuries-old stereotype of African Americans as lazy and a post-1960s one of the poor as black and, as a result, lacking moral character.

Welfare had never been a big focus of Bidens. He had gestured at vaguely doing something about it during his first campaign, but other liberal golden calves had always taken priority for him. By the late 1980s, however, he started to echo long-standing right-wing attacks on the system. We are all too familiar with the stories of welfare mothers driving luxury cars and leading lifestyles that mirror the rich and famous, he wrote in 1988. Whether they are exaggerated or not, these stories underlie a broad social concern that the welfare system has broken down that it only parcels out welfare checks and does nothing to help the poor find productive jobs.

The legislation Biden was writing about, the Family Support Act, was a somewhat progressive measure. It strengthened the collection of child support, forced states to set up education, training, and job programs for people on welfare, and expanded childcare and Medicaid for families going from welfare to work. But by penalizing parents who either didnt take part in those programs or turned down any job offer, it chipped away at the welfare system in ways that would only intensify.

There are some things, dammit, we have to change on, he told a group of Iowa Democrats in 1992. I dont know of a single person who says that welfare, the way it is, we like it. Biden kept using this language throughout the 1990s. He claimed that too many welfare recipients spend far too long on welfare and do far too little in exchange for their benefits, called for Congress to require all welfare recipients to sign a contract in which they agree to work in exchange for their benefits, and insisted they should have a limit of just six months to find a job before they lost their benefits.

By 1995, all the pieces to make this happen were in place. A radically right-wing, Republican-controlled Congress had just swept to power on the back of a promise to take on welfare. The Democrats were under the thrall of the DLC, which put welfare reform at the center of its policy goals. The president had promised to shrink the size of government and campaigned on ending welfare as we know it, and he had just hired a political operative whose grand strategy was to fast-forward the Gingrich agenda.

This was an agenda that, at least publicly, horrified Biden. He had thought about retiring, he told the 250-strong crowd at the annual Sussex County Democrats spring dinner in 1995, but the GOP takeover of Congress had changed his mind. Its going over my dead political body that they succeed, he said, drawing the nights only moment of spontaneous, passionate applause. Newt Gingrich has energized Joe Biden. Im looking forward to beating the hell out of the Republicans.

The core of the Republicans vision of reform involved taking responsibility for welfare out of the hands of the federal government and putting it in the hands of the states in the form of block grants, funding packages they would be given complete discretion over. Biden understood some of the potential issues with this approach; he had attacked Reagans 1982 proposal to turn over social and economic programs and the taxes behind them to the states, charging that the states, because of their own budget problems, are not going to fund these programs. Nevertheless, in September 1995, the newly energized Biden voted with fifty-two Republicans and thirty-four other Democrats to make the radical welfare overhauls that Gingrich had made the cornerstone of the Republican agenda. Generations have made welfare their way of life, he wrote in the Wilmington News Journal. This must end. It is simply unacceptable to me and most hard-working Americans.

The Senates overwhelming passage of this measure sparked three months of pressure by progressive Democrats and activist groups to discourage Clintons support for it. Come December, when the House and Senate versions were reconciled into what Democrats decried as far too cruel and punishing to children, all but one Senate Democrat voted against the final version, which Clinton vetoed. But Democrats were not going to quit, Daschle pledged in the votes aftermath, and would continue to try to present alternatives.

Far from beating the hell out of Republicans, what ultimately passed in 1996 was a poster child for the bipartisanship Washington so often celebrates. As Bidens fellow Delawarean in the House, Republican Michael Castle, teamed up with a Democrat to put forward a version of welfare reform supported by Clinton, Biden linked arms with another Republican, Arlen Specter, to introduce an identical version in the Senate. Castle thanked the two senators for lend[ing] credibility to our proposal. Delaware governor Carper (who is today a senator) said the proposal demonstrates that Democrats and Republicans can work together in the Congress.

For his part, Biden declared, It is time to say we do not care who gets credit for reforming welfare. It is time to just do it in a bipartisan fashion for the sake of the American people and for the sake of the people on welfare.

The Senate ultimately rejected Biden and Specters bill for one that William Roth was pushing. But as Roth explained, Congress wasnt acting in the spirit of partisan competition. Were all working toward the same goals, he said. What has been lost in the shuffle and shouting of the last 10 months is that there is a great deal of common ground on welfare reform, affirmed Biden. When it came to a vote, six of the seven Democrats up for reelection that year, including Biden, helped send the bill to Clintons desk with large bipartisan majorities even as angry protesters stormed the halls of Congress.

Clinton signed the bill on August 22, 1996, in the White House Rose Garden, surrounded by a bipartisan gaggle of delighted lawmakers. Lillie Harden, a black former welfare recipient from Clintons hometown of Little Rock used by the bills proponents as a living, breathing argument for the supposedly debilitating effects of welfare, stood by Clintons side. Biden, who seven months earlier had said the Rush Limbaughs who got elected had got his juices going and strengthened his resolve to stay in Congress, was one of the small number of elected officials confirmed to attend.

But as the presence of protesters suggested, not everyone was happy. Ted Kennedy said that calling the measure reform is no more accurate than to call the demolition of a house remodeling. Three of Clintons assistant secretaries at the Department of Health and Human Services resigned in protest. Bernie Sanderswould term the law the grand slam of scapegoating legislation. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the New York Democrat who had jumpstarted Lyndon Johnsons war on poverty, called welfare reform ruinous and grotesque, warning it would throw between one million and five million children into poverty.

The predictions were largely accurate. The numbers of Americans living in deep poverty climbed to well over two million by 2005, with single-parent families with kids hit the hardest. Twenty years on, the number of households living on less than $2 a day had doubled. State governments, increasingly controlled by Republicans and free to do what they wanted with welfare funding, drew on those block grants to plug their own budget deficits while virtually eliminating the welfare programs they so despised. Across the West and South, the welfare safety net virtually disappeared. In Bidens home state, the bills freezing of welfare funding at 1994 levels kneecapped the Delaware governments welfare policy of putting more money into health care, day care, and job training. Meanwhile, Lillie Harden, who had had a stroke in 2002, died twelve years later at the age of fifty-nine, unable to get on Medicaid she had been while on welfare. Asked about the low-wage work shed taken up that supposedly marked her successful transition from welfare dependency, she said: It didnt pay off in the end.

The push for welfare reform had revealed a fundamental truth of US politics: even as partisan gridlock and dysfunction began to take hold of the US political system during the 1990s, the American ruling class was more than capable of coming together to get things done as long as it flattered the interests of the countrys most powerful and its victims were the working class. Just as with NAFTA, Biden and the Democrats support for all this would in the long run further sever their link to the partys working-class base and swell the ranks of the disenchanted and politically disengaged.

At the same time Biden was helping conservatives continue their assault on the American working class, he was going to bat for Delawares corporate sector.

Over the course of the previous decades, Delaware had transformed into a bankruptcy haven, one whose lenient bankruptcy courts, known for hustling cases through at twice the speed of the rest of the country and favoring bankrupted companies over creditors, helped attract a rush of major corporations or at least the legal papers incorporating them. Thanks to this and a package of corporate-friendly state banking laws passed in 1981, more than 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies were incorporated in the state by the end of the 1990s, though you would be hard-pressed to find any of those companies stores or offices in Delaware. Bankruptcy was big business: the year before, 86 percent of bankruptcy filings by companies with $190 million or more in assets had been in the state, pumping money into local law firms and the surrounding economy. But the beneficiaries were chiefly suburbanites who commuted into Wilmington to occupy the citys proliferating white-collar jobs.

The rest of the country had taken notice. By 1998, the National Bankruptcy Review Commission, a panel of judges, lawyers, and professors formed in 1994, recommended a proposal given the moniker The Delaware Killer in legal circles to bar companies that didnt physically operate in states where they were incorporated to file for bankruptcy there.

Biden was outraged. I cannot comprehend what purpose would be served by diverting cases from a court with such an accomplished record, he said, vowing to oppose the measure when it came to the Judiciary Committee. His and the rest of the Delaware delegations outrage meant the measure never made it into a bill. It looks like Delaware has won the first round, Bidens state director said. Calling it a prestige thing for the state, Biden threatened one year later to filibuster a bill that tried to do the same; its author admitted defeat over Bidens intensity on the issue.

But when it came to easing the burden of bankruptcy on working Americans, Bidens intensity went the other way. As the decade came to a close, a coalition of banks and credit card companies began pushing a bill described by the Associated Press as the most far-reaching overhaul of the nations bankruptcy laws in twenty years. With personal bankruptcies rising 300 percent since 1980 to hit an all-time high of 1.4 million eighteen years later many of them due to credit card debt that banks were exacerbating by luring customers with high spending limits the industry-favored legislation aimed to make it harder for ordinary Americans to file for bankruptcy. Biden swiftly became one of its champions.

The episode was a classic case of a politician protecting a local industry. Delaware at the time was home to no less than ten credit card banks employing 20,000 people, including MBNA, the second largest in the country. But there was more to it than this. MBNA, which complained it lost $1 billion a year under the existing bankruptcy regime, was by far the largest campaign contributor to all three of Delawares members of Congress. By 1999, Biden had received $67,100 from its officials since 1991, less than his two colleagues but enough to earn him the label of the senator from MBNA. The connections went deeper than donations, too. Biden had sold his house for twice its value to one of those donors, MBNAs chief marketing officer, and his son Hunter had been hired straight out of law school in 1996 as a lobbyist for the company, zipping up the ranks to become senior vice president two years later.

Biden backed the bill, introducing an identical version of what had passed the House, even as consumer groups lined up against it and Democratic lawmakers warned it would hurt families and children. Democrats attempted to derail it, while a Harvard professor named Elizabeth Warren personally lobbied First Lady Hillary Clinton to get her husband to veto it. The pushback succeeded, and the threat of Clintons veto sunk the bill.

Or at least it did for a time. The lending industry continued pushing the overhaul well into the new millennium, this time under an industry-friendly Republican president and with Biden still its loyal soldier. He would vote again and again with Republicans to advance the legislation while taking tens of thousands of dollars more from MBNA, which by this point was paying Hunter, who had left the company in 2001 to become a lobbyist, a monthly consulting fee.

Simply put, too many people are finding it too easy to walk away from their legitimate obligations by filing for bankruptcy, Biden said, explaining his support for the bill. Warren, in a 2002 New York Times op-ed calling the legislation a quiet attack on women, charged that Biden had agreed to vote with Republicans on almost all the issues that were holding up the bill. The two would finally meet face to face three years later at a Judiciary Committee meeting, where Biden accused her of making a mildly demagogic argument and insisted her real problem was with interest rates, not bankruptcy.

But if its not going to fix that problem, you cant take away the last shred of protection for these families, Warren shot back. I got it, okay, Biden replied, chuckling. Youre very good, professor.

Biden and the lending industry won; he and seventeen other Democrats voted with yet another lockstep Republican majority for the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, signed into law on April 20, 2005. It was another disaster for the American working class: even as households remained buried under mountains of debt, fewer filed for bankruptcy, deterred by the bureaucratic hoops and higher costs ushered in by the law. Credit card fees, interest rates, and prices, all of which the bills proponents swore would drop once the law went into action, kept on climbing, bringing record profits to the industry on the order of many billions more a year. The law swiftly came to be hated by a cross-section of bankruptcy judges, furious at having to dismiss cases where the filers didnt know they were required to take credit counseling classes first. Unquestionably, this is the most poorly written piece of legislation that I or anyone else has ever seen, said one. Another accused Congress in a written opinion of working with the credit industry to make more money off the backs of consumers in this country. Of course, all of this affected Hispanic and black families the most; they were two and three times more likely to file for bankruptcy as white families, respectively.

All this had happened in no small part through Bidens efforts. He provided cover to other Democrats to do what the credit industry was urging them to do, Travis Plunkett, legislative director of the Consumer Federation of America, would later recall, saying Biden had provided a veneer of bipartisanship that helped the industry sway other Democrats. Warren remembered it similarly. The Senate was evenly split between the two parties, but one of the bills lead sponsors was Democratic powerhouse Joe Biden, and right behind him were plenty of other Democrats offering to help, she charged in 2014.

This was a pattern with Biden. At various times, he voted against a measure banning double charging for ATM transactions, an amendment strengthening protections for bankrupt Americans who had large medical debts or served in the military, a provision to shift responsibility from debtors to the predatory lenders who had drove them into bankruptcy, and a requirement that credit card companies warn consumers of the consequences of making only minimum payments. It is little wonder that Warren, coming off her own political conversion from being a Republican, would view Biden as everything wrong with the Democratic Party.

But even all this paled in significance compared to a virtually ignored vote Biden cast at the close of the 1990s. After Citigroup was formed in 1998 out of a merger that was, strictly speaking, illegal, Robert Rubin Clintons former Treasury secretary who, unbeknownst to anyone, was in talks for an executive position at the new bank worked his influence in concert with Citi lobbyists and Clintons banker-friendly advisers to retroactively legalize its creation. They did so through a bill repealing the Glass-Steagall Act, the Depression-era law separating commercial and investment banking passed to prevent another epochal crash. Voting against it in the House, Bernie Sanders warned it would lead to more mega-mergers and the further concentration of economic power in this country. Biden, once more with a unanimous GOP and a large contingent of Democrats behind him, voted to make it law.

I think we will look back in ten years time and say we should not have done this but we did because we forgot the lessons of the past, Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota said after the vote. That which is true in the 1930s is true in 2010.

Just as in the 1980s, there was one aspect of the federal government and its purse strings where Bidens budget-cutting obsession not only didnt apply but went in the opposite direction: crime and drugs.

The end of that decade set the pattern for what followed. In September 1989, President Bush had delivered a speech outlining his National Drug Control Strategy, calling for harsher punishments for drug dealers, nearly $1.5 billion toward drug-related law enforcement, and more prisons, more jails, more courts, more prosecutors at every level throughout the country. At the time, the right-wing Heritage Foundation gushed that this constituted the largest increase in resources for law enforcement in the nations history. Decades on, its remembered as a key moment in the escalation of the war on drugs, with Bush putting forward an expansive bill based on the strategy the following year.

But for Biden, it was a half-measure. Quite frankly, the Presidents plan is not tough enough, bold enough, or imaginative enough to meet the crisis at hand, Biden said in a televised response to Bushs speech. In a nutshell, the Presidents plan does not include enough police officers to catch the violent thugs, enough prosecutors to convict them, enough judges to sentence them, or enough prison cells to put them away for a long time.

Just as Biden spent the 1980s chiding Reagan for being insufficiently pitiless on crime, he would spend the 1990s leading the Democratic Party in an ongoing contest of one-upmanship against the GOP on the issue. The stakes were high. Bush had won the presidency in 1988 by successfully tarring Michael Dukakis, his centrist Democratic opponent, as a wimpy liberal who put law-abiding Americans in harms way by being too soft on criminals. Neither Biden nor the rest of the party would let themselves be outflanked on the issue again.

Partisan wrangling over tough-on-crime legislation occupied most of Bidens time and energy for the first half of the 1990s. Biden and the Democrats tried again and again to pass a major, extreme new crime bill, eager to prove to the voting public they could be just as harsh and unforgiving to criminals as the GOP, if not more so. In 1991, Biden boasted that his much bigger version of the crime bill included the death penalty for no less than fifty-one offenses five more than Bushs bill. What do we have to do, put half the country behind bars? Bernie Sanders said on the House floor.

A wag in the newspaper recently wrote something to the effect that Biden has made it a death penalty offense for everything expect jaywalking, Biden joked.

These efforts were roundly criticized at the time. The NAACP and other groups lobbied against the bill. In a letter addressed to senators just a few days before the vote, three ACLU lawyers called the legislation far worse from a civil liberties perspective than any that has ever been considered by the Senate. Lawyers and federal judges including the latters official policy-making body warned the law would overwhelm the judicial system and widen its already broad inequality. As the different versions made their way to Bushs desk, the Washington Post condemned them as rotten and an exercise not so much to combat crime as to convince the public that legislators are tough on criminals.

Occasionally Biden would oppose a particularly extreme Republican measure, though in typical style, only after accepting the premise and watering it down somewhat. So when Republicans tried to get rid of the exclusionary rule that is, allow the use of illegally seized evidence in court as long as it was illegally seized by authorities in good faith Biden argued forcefully against it on the floor, then put forward a proposal that allowed the use of evidence seized in good faith under an improper search warrant. Civil liberties advocates looked on in horror as dubious measure after dubious measure made its way into the bill, while one embarrassed Democratic senator shook his head at the crass political contest over who hated crime the most. No one will deny this is an extremely tough bill, Biden said.

The legislation failed, but only because of the GOP. Its gun control provisions inspired pushback from the National Rifle Association, andRepublican senators subsequently blocked it. When that didnt stick, Bush, afraid of handing the Democrats a win on one of his key issues so close to an election, vetoed it, claiming it was too soft. The process would repeat itself again the following year, when Republicans filibustered that edition because the severe limits it placed on habeas corpus, or prisoners right to appeal, werent severe enough. I just cant believe Republicans would kill a death penalty bill, said Biden.

By 1993, however, things had changed. Bush had been replaced by Clinton, who, facing down a surprisingly ferocious right-wing campaign, had every reason to make his party look tough on crime. Whispering in his ear was adviser Rahm Emanuel, a right-wing fundraiser who assured Clinton it would poll well. Whispering in his other ear was Biden, who privately urged the president to seize control of the issue by upping the ante and demanded rapid enactment of the Biden/Clinton crime bill to maintain crime as a Democratic initiative.

While Clinton gave the effort his full backing, Biden put his famous skills at Senate wheeling and dealing toward passing what was essentially a conservative Republican bill. On television, Biden offered Texas Republican senator Phil Gramm a deal: if Gramm dropped his opposition to the bills gun control measures, Biden would support Gramms mandatory minimum sentences, which at least one newspaper described as vague and almost uniformly bad. This was despite saying that same year: I think weve had all the mandatory minimums that we need. We dont need the ones that we had.

In went Trent Lotts amendment setting up a three strikes provision for violent felonies, something Biden had called a wacko amendment one year earlier but now voted for despite laying out his concerns about it at length. Same with an amendment to make carjacking a federal offense, potentially punishable by death. Even the extreme things Biden voted against, like prosecuting kids as young as thirteen as adults, didnt dampen his enthusiasm to get the bill passed.

There is a mood here that if someone came to the floor and said we should barb-wire the ankles of anyone who jaywalks, I suspect it would pass, he said in November 1993. I think weve gone overboard already.

As he explained on the Senate floor, he was fine with what he called barbed-wire amendments because while they make sense and they are useful, they also didnt mean anything of consequence. The real meat of the bill, he said, was the extra $21 billion being pumped into law enforcement, funded by almost the exact amount of savings ($22 billion) Biden and the rest of Congress had made by approving Clintons earlier slashing of the federal workforce. We are trading, in effect, in this bill, bureaucrats for cops, he explained.

This was far from an outlier in the Clinton years, when the money cut from public housing and welfare budgets was diverted instead toward building the carceral state. As sociologist Loc Wacquant pointed out, slicing $17 billion from public housing while lifting prison funding by $19 billion in these years effectively made the construction of prisons the nations main housing program for the urban poor.

On August 25, the bill cleared the Senate for the final time. Bidens relief was obvious, went one account of the vote. He gave a thumbs-up sign to a reporter in the press gallery. He chatted with his Democratic colleagues. He stayed unusually quiet in the floor debate. And he smiled. Often. Dianne Feinstein kissed him on the floor. Maine senator George Mitchell declared him the one person most responsible for passage of this bill and the most effective legislator in the Senate, bar none. I hope my mom was listening, Biden replied.

The bill whose passage Biden and the rest of the Democrats were celebrating like it was V-E Day wasnt necessarily viewed so favorably outside of Washington. Around the country, newspapers deemed the congressional bidding war that produced it a creation of hysteria, pointing out, for example, that mandatory minimums, which had helped to triple the prison population in fourteen years, were disastrous. Even in Washington the feeling wasnt unanimous, with the Congressional Black Caucus voicing wide-ranging objections. Bidens own words on the Senate floor described the skepticism: that Congress was simply trying to show everybody how tough we are.

Indeed, just as in the previous decade, Biden had actively cultivated this hysteriaeven while crime had in fact sharply dropped since a decade earlier. When the Justice Department released a 1991 report showing a decrease since the previous year, Biden called it flawed and urged no one to believe the epidemic of crime in America has been broken. That same year, he claimed that rural America was suffering a plague of violent crime, drug trafficking and drug abuse, even as the per capita rural crime rate was dwarfed by its urban counterpart. He charged that the whole country had just undergone the worst crime epidemic in its entire history and that demographics namely, a growth in violent teenaged gangs had led to this record carnage. As he steered the bill toward passage, he assured audiences that the victimization of America is greater than the statistics suggest, and that FBI figures showing a fall in crime over 1992 were misleading.

But as Bidens private and public rhetoric made clear and as was widely understood at the time the legislation had always been about securing political cover. As Biden put it on the Senate floor:

The liberal wing of the Democratic Party is now for 60 new death penalties.The liberal wing of the Democratic Party has 70 enhanced penalties.The liberal wing of the Democratic Party is for 100,000 cops. The liberal wing of the Democratic Party is for 125,000 new state prison cells.I would like to see the conservative wing of the Democratic Party.

I hope the president would maybe take the politics of crime out of the upcoming elections, Biden had said after an earlier version passed under Bush. When the bill finally became law in 1994, he made it the centerpiece of his 1996 reelection campaign, touting it and his support for the balanced budget amendment to the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, which gave him a standing ovation. When neoconservative commentator Bill Kristol told the GOP leadership to keep attacking Democrats on the crime bill, Biden responded: I would like to be running and have someone use the crime bill against me. I hope to God that Bush attacks us on crime, he said on the eve of the 2000 election. I think we would eat them alive.

Clinton signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act into law on a sunny fall day in September, as Biden proudly looked on and a large, bipartisan crowd of officials applauded. By the time Clinton left office, the United States had the worlds highest incarceration rate, and two decades after the bill passed, the federal prison population had more than doubled. Even the bills few laudable measures like the Violence Against Women Act, which Biden had pushed for intensely and which motivated even critics like Sanders to vote for it, further fed incarceration rates while doing little to bring down domestic violence and even exacerbated it in some cases.

It is little surprise that prominent figures involved in the laws passage would come to regret their roles, including the Clintons and Sanders, who later admitted he was not happy I voted for a terrible bill. Not Biden, though. For more than a decade afterward, he touted what he called the Biden crime law as one of his proudest accomplishments, claiming as late as 2016 it had restored American cities. Perhaps he had a point: evidence suggests that by locking more people away and taking them from the labor pool, mass incarceration artificially depressed official unemployment numbers, letting Clinton and his neoliberal policies take credit for a supposed economic miracle.

But the 1994 law was not the end of Bidens overzealous crime-fighting efforts. For the second half of the decade, he turned his attention to juvenile delinquents.

Warning of a youth arms race, he sponsored a bill in 1996 loosening the rules around imprisonment of minors, letting local jails keep juveniles locked up for three times as long in certain circumstances and relaxing the requirement that they be kept out of sight and sound of adult inmates. For the next three years, he worked with Republicans and Democrats to write and rewrite a massive juvenile crime bill, which at various times included provisions creating special juvenile gun courts, putting $1 billion toward jails for violent juveniles, and building on the 1994 crime bill by generally expanding the size and powers of law enforcement.

What prompted and justified such severe measures was one criminologists racist 1995 prediction that the country was on the brink of an outbreak of superpredators: fearless, remorseless, violent youth criminals who didnt know right from wrong. The prediction seemed to be proven true by a spate of school shootings. The theory, which its author later retracted, would become infamous during the 2016 election, when a twenty-year-old video of Hillary Clinton, now the Democratic presidential nominee, espousing the idea ignited outrage. At the time, though, Biden echoed this language, charging that his 1996 bill would apply very forcefully to that category of children who are predators, whom he placed in a separate category from at-risk kids.

See the article here:
Joe Biden Is the Forrest Gump of the Democratic Party's Rightward Turn - Jacobin magazine

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February 27th, 2020 at 7:44 pm

Posted in Personal Success

Welcome to the Roaring ’20s: Rainmaking in the New Decade –

Posted: February 20, 2020 at 9:41 am

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Editors Note: The Rainmakers Group will work alongside the RISMedia team to share pragmatic industry insights into building your personal and professional wealth in 2020. Throughout the year, the Rainmakers Group will cut through the noise to explore and share new business opportunities that will help drive your bottom line to new heights. Just to be perfectly clearthe Rainmaker in 2020 is YOU!

As we are officially roaring into 2020, the pundits have spoken. The good news is that interest rates most likely will remain low, the economy is strong and homeowners need the personal touch of a real estate professional more than ever. The headlines that should be on your radar: the inventory crunch continues; commissions will get squeezed a little harder; iBuyers will continue to make headlines; and the ROI for the latest shiny tech products will be as confusing as ever.

But there are more than 35 trillion reasons why you should be paying attention at the dawn of this decade. That was the combined U.S. housing market value in 2019, and the real estate transaction is at the center of it all.

Throughout the year, this column will share the DNA of the Rainmakersthose top thought leaders who are bringing it in real estate, mortgage, title, insurance, lead generation and data mining. But let me kick things off with a bit of personal history. As a wise man by the name of Confucius said, Study the past if you would define the future.

So, heres the scene: New York City, Oct. 2, 2013. The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)the mecca of business institutions. Rockefeller, Carnegie and Ford all stood within these hallowed halls to figuratively grab the brass ring and literally hear music to their ears as they rang the fabled bell.

We were staring up in awe at the massive pillars that grace the iconic NYSE on Wall Street. RE/MAX Founder Dave Liniger and a small team were coming off a long road show, ready to launch the companys IPO. This was surely going to be a surreal experience. Something to tell the grandkids. A defining moment of clarity about the pillars of business that the greats had mastered generations before us.

And, lo and behold, it happened! The elusive pillars of success were revealed. Those that led individuals and corporations to the holy grail of their professions are:

As a real estate agent, broker, team member and business entrepreneur, mastering these pillars to success is the path to your personal success in 2020.

YOU must build and honor your personal and professional brand. It is the promise you make to your customers.

YOU must be unique, a knowledge broker, an exceptional service-aholic.

YOU must TAKE marketshare in your local area. Referrals, leads, listings and closings are your lifeblood.

YOU must remain curious and dedicated to personal and professional education.

YOU must build purchasing power. Invest wisely in yourself and your profession.

The dawning of a new decade is upon us. Real estate, like the weather, is local, but paying attention to the national forecast is essential.

To get you started, here are our recommended Rainmaker Reads. Enjoy, be a Rainmaker, and share these insights with your team, customers and friends.

Rainmaker Reads

Mike Ryan is a partner with the Rainmakers Group, an advisory firm serving the real estate and settlement service industries with global insight, talent and technology.

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Welcome to the Roaring '20s: Rainmaking in the New Decade -

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February 20th, 2020 at 9:41 am

Posted in Personal Success

Success in the digital economy requires diversity at every level – SiliconANGLE

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Tens of thousands of companies from startups to Fortune 50 corporations, mom and pop shops to megaconglomerates are currently undergoing digital transformation. One common pitfall is not understanding the true requirements of adapting to the digital economy.

Transformation isnt only about technology; it requires a behavioral change, which makes cultural metamorphosis as important to a successful digital journey as choosing a cloud strategy. Shaking up the workforce is one way to make this happen.

You learn from all the talent around you and the way people think differently about problems, said Christine Heckart (pictured, left), chief executive officer of Scalyr Inc. That synergy often creates magical outcomes.

Geeta Schmidt(pictured, right), chief executive officer of Humio Ltd., agrees with Heckart.Celebrate peoples differences. [You should]feel comfortable and safe when youre coming with an opposite viewpoint because the diversity of thought is really what were trying to include.

Heckart and Schmidt spoke with Sonia Tagare, host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Medias mobile livestreaming studio, in two different interviews during the CloudNOW Awards event in Menlo Park, California. Both women were presented with a Top Women in Cloud awardduring the event.

Picking one key value and focusing on it is important to build a cohesive company culture, according to Heckart. At Scalyr,this value is care.We really strive to have a culture that encourages people to care about each other and care about the companys mission, she said.

This means prioritizing customer experience and product quality but also has wider implications. [We] also care about the environment and care about the community and care about peoples lives outside of the day-to-day work job, Heckart added.

Being the CEO of a start-up is an exhilarating experience, according to Heckart. She draws inspiration from her co-workers and the employees she supervises.

Were a company by engineers for engineers; and engineers innovate to change the world, she said. Every day is different, and every day is fun.

Heresthe complete video interview with Heckart:

As one of Humios founders, Schmidt found her input was an integral part ofthe companys success. Yet alongside the excitement came challenges as she stepped out into male-dominated territory. She remembers her early days raising capital for Humio.

I walked into a venture capital event where there were no other female CEOs, she said. There were a hundred CEOs, and I was the only [woman].

Schmidt overcame her fear and proved herself as a CEO. Now she wants to help other women join her in the executive suite. This means taking active stance toward making the workplace more welcoming for women and minorities.

All employees, at every level, should feel like they can reveal their authentic self during work hours, according to Schmidt. This means bringing together folks that dont look like each other, wear exactly the same clothes, and do the exact same hobbies and come from the same country, she said.

Another way to help create a supportive work environment for women is throughevents such as CloudNOW, where women come together to share experiences and help one another. Id like to see more of [where] we actively create environments and communities for that to happen, Schmidt said.

Heres the complete video interview with Schmidt:

Becoming a C-suite executive led Schmidt to a revelation on how the concept could be applied in her personal life.I realized I probably need my own personal board, my own sort of support infrastructure, she said.

Gathering a diverse network pulled from family, friends, and career contacts gave her a safe place to gain advice and share experiences. The personal board isnt exactly people; its profiles, she said, describing how she built her board by seeking out people she could learn from outside of those she knew from her daily work.

As the relationships matured, she found that the personal board was a two-way street. The members supported her life and career growth, and she supported them.

Encouraging other women to adopt the same concept, Schmidt said that it builds a support infrastructure unrelated to ones job. Its not your manager; its not your coworker, she said. You feel some level of freedom having those discussions, because those people arent looking at your company. Theyre looking at helping you.

These interviews are just part of SiliconANGLEs and theCUBEs coverage of the CloudNOW Awards.

Show your support for our mission with our one-click subscription to our YouTube channel (below). The more subscribers we have, the more YouTube will suggest relevant enterprise and emerging technology content to you. Thanks!

Support our mission: >>>>>> SUBSCRIBE NOW >>>>>> to our YouTube channel.

Wed also like to tell you about our mission and how you can help us fulfill it. SiliconANGLE Media Inc.s business model is based on the intrinsic value of the content, not advertising. Unlike many online publications, we dont have a paywall or run banner advertising, because we want to keep our journalism open, without influence or the need to chase traffic.The journalism, reporting and commentary onSiliconANGLE along with live, unscripted video from our Silicon Valley studio and globe-trotting video teams attheCUBE take a lot of hard work, time and money. Keeping the quality high requires the support of sponsors who are aligned with our vision of ad-free journalism content.

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Success in the digital economy requires diversity at every level - SiliconANGLE

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February 20th, 2020 at 9:41 am

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Minster Bank has successful year in 2019 –

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MINSTER Minster Bank enjoyed another successful year in 2019. Total assets increased to an all-time high of $517.9 million. Total deposits increased to $450.8 million for the year. These deposits were utilized in the communities we serve in the form of consumer and business loans, which grew to over $259.0 million in balances.

Our Private Wealth Management and Trust services continue to grow. We have developed a specialty in both personal and corporate retirement planning. Business owners and high net worth clients have benefitted from working with our professionals in the areas of business succession planning, Trust and investment management, said President and CEO Dale Luebke.

His report continues:

We continue to invest in technology and protecting our customers information. Minster Bank introduced Zelle person-to-person payments. Its a fast, safe and easy way to send money using our mobile banking app or online banking account. Funds are sent directly to the recipients account in a matter of minutes using their email address or U.S. mobile phone number. Real-time Alerts is another service that was introduced in 2019. Customers can easily set the type of account alert and how theyd like it delivered. The Minster Bank Mobile Banking app for mobile and tablet users, continues to grow.

The Minster Bank app is another convenient way to manage accounts, pay bills, and quickly send money to a friend or family member. Our Minster Bank VISA Debit Card gives our customers access to their bank accounts with no surcharge at any ATM displaying the MoneyPass logo. There are over 20,000 MoneyPass ATMs across the United States. Our business customers continue to enjoy the benefits of Remote Deposit Capture, which allows them to deposit checks at their place of business by scanning and transmitting the images to our bank for posting and clearing. The installation and set-up of the service is easy, saves time preparing deposits, and can help reduce the risk of fraud.

Minster Bank believes in giving back to the communities that have contributed to our growth and success. In 2019, scholarship money was donated to 13 graduating seniors throughout Auglaize, Mercer, Miami, and Shelby counties. Minster Bank also held Community Shred Days at our Troy, and New Bremen offices, which gave people the opportunity to have their sensitive documents shredded on site for free. Over 7.5 tons of paper was shredded and recycled during these events.

We have been very active in providing financial education programs to the schools in our area. Through this program and others, we reached over 2,000 students of all ages. We have also provided educational programs through the Ohio State Extension service, through talks at local service clubs, and through Chamber events.

In October 2019, I announced plans to open a new office in the Vandalia-Butler area. It has been our goal for some time to further expand the markets we serve. As part of our strategic planning process and growth philosophy, we make an effort to seek out prime locations and identify and hire outstanding employees. We look forward to continuing to develop and serve even more relationships throughout Montgomery County offering personalized service through a high-performing bank.

Minster Bank, a local community bank, and is headquartered in Minster, Ohio. Offices are located in Minster, New Bremen, St. Marys, Sidney, Troy, Wapakoneta, and a loan production office in Vandalia. Visit to learn more about Minster Bank.



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Minster Bank has successful year in 2019 -

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February 20th, 2020 at 9:41 am

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Largest-ever study of impact of Open Educational Resources in college reveals benefits of introducing OER courses on a broad scale – GlobeNewswire

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February 20, 2020 01:01 ET | Source: Achieving the Dream

Washington, D.C., Feb. 20, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A comprehensive study examining the impact of Achieving the Dreams Open Educational Resources (OER) Degree Initiative reveals that community colleges that introduced OER courses across degree programs saw an explosion of OER courses on campus. The three-year initiative enabled 38 colleges in 13 states to offer 6,600 OER course sections over two and a half years, reaching nearly 160,000 students, the study said. Approximately 2,000 instructors participated in the development and delivery of these courses, substantially expanding the number of faculty with OER experience at participating colleges. Nearly 600 courses were redesigned, contributing to the availability of OER content. The studyconducted by SRI Education and rpk GROUP and released at Achieving the Dreams 2020 DREAM conference here todayfound that students enrolled in OER courses earned more credits than non-participating peers and that the effort was cost-effective not just for students but for institutions. Students at the participating colleges saved $10.7 million on the cost of learning materials. As courses became established, institutions were in position to recover their costs or even, in some instances, generate income from the effort as more students signed up for the OER courses. The Initiative aimed to increase college affordability and student success by catalyzing an institutional commitment to OER, said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream. The effort made OER not the responsibility of individual faculty but a campus-wide responsibility. The research shows that OER can be a key factor in student success, a crucial element in teaching and learning that can encourage more students to make more progress toward degrees and graduate. Whats particularly exciting is that now we know for sure that colleges can gain academic and financial benefits for students and recoup their initial investments over a relatively short time. While education research yields mixed or negative results, this study saw mostly positive effects, said Rebecca Griffiths, principal education researcher at SRI education and the lead investigator on this study. What was most striking was that students gained significant benefit from cumulative exposure to multiple OER courses than one-off OER courses. The study also provides a more exact picture of the cost-benefit trade-off for institutions. We have a much higher level of confidence that the savings are real and that OER is financially a good investment for institutions. Funding for the initiative was provided by support from the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ascendium Education Group, and the Speedwell and Shelter Hill Foundations. Academic Benefits The academic impact analysis, conducted by SRI, was based on results from 11 institutions that were selected as research partners at the start of the initiative in 2016. The analysis found that students who took multiple OER courses on average earned more college credits over time than otherwise similar students who took no OER courses. Overall, credit accumulation did not vary significantly for underserved students versus other students. Students who took OER courses had similar cumulative GPAs as other students, on average, according to the report. Increasing course accumulation is crucially important at community colleges, as studies reveal that students who have earned credit for more than 15 courses are more likely to persist in academic programs and graduate, notes SRIs Rebecca Griffiths. She stressed, however, that the study was not designed to determine whether increases in course attainment was caused by participation in the OER courses and this will need to be a topic for further study. SRI also surveyed 300 instructors in 2016 and 900 instructors in 2018 to understand their background and experiences with OER and 2,400 students in 2017 to gain their perspectives and experiences in OER courses. Researchers conducted site visits at ten colleges to gain further insight from both groups. In both surveys and focus groups, students mostly reported positive experiences in OER courses, the study said. Most students found OER materials accessible and well-aligned to learning objectives. Meanwhile, instructors reported that OER affected the way they presented and used materials in class, increased the relevance of those materials, and influenced their pedagogical beliefs overall. Instructors were more likely to report that OER influenced the relevance and use of instructional materials in their courses than their pedagogical strategies. Instructors were cautious in their assessments about the extent to which use of OER increased student engagement, preparation, and achievement in their courses. Forty-three percent of instructors thought their OER programs would definitely be sustained, and another 48 percent thought these programs may be sustained. Eighty-three percent said they would not return to using traditional materials in their courses. Will OER Degree Programs Take Hold? The OER courses that were created across institutions were fairly evenly divided among a broad range of degrees, including: Business and Administration; Computer and Information Systems; Health and STEM systems; Liberal Arts, General Studies, Humanities and History; Language and Literature; Social Sciences and Psychology, and other fields. OER course development was primarily focused on converting introductory or gateway courses to OER, with 91 percent of instructors indicating they were teaching introductory and/or gateway level courses in the 2018 instructor survey. The report does not state definitively whether completely aligning OER courses along a degree pathway will take hold. The courses were still being implemented through the life of the grant, said Richard Sebastian, director of Open and Digital Learning at Achieving the Dream. Students could not take enough courses in the programs at the time of the research to be able to determine the likely success of the OER degree pathways on the campuses, But the report noted the importance of establishing broad-scale efforts to enable students to earn degrees in OER courses. The concept of an OER degree pathway sends a clear signal that cross-unit coordination is needed across academic departments, advising, the registrar, IT, instructional design, the library, and the bookstore, the report said. Elevating OER into a pathway raises the likelihood of a coherent student experience supported by a coordinated and sustainable set of activities. Cost Savings and the Cost-Benefit Tradeoff Research conducted by rpk GROUP indicated that the initiative saved students, on average, $65 per course on instructional materials, factoring in actual student purchasing patterns. Student savings totaled about $10.7 million across all participating colleges, money that students said they would use to cover other educational or personal expenses. In surveys, 41 percent of respondents said OER courses would have a significant positive impact on their ability to afford college. More than half (53 percent) of students said they had not purchased required materials for a course at least once, and the most common reason was cost. The share of students reporting financial strain due to textbook costs was higher for Pell students and underrepresented minorities. On the other hand, relatively few students reported that they had withdrawn from a class or stopped taking courses for a semester or more due to costs (12% and 16%, respectively), the report said. Researchers also conducted a cost-benefit analysis of OER implementation at five cost partner institutions and estimated that the institutions would recover their investments in OER or even generate income from the effort. While implementation costs at institutions ranged from $300,000 to $1 million, colleges spent on average $576,000, two-thirds of which was used to pay faculty to develop courses and one-third of which was used for general program support. The research reveals that the average cost of providing OER degree courses ($70 per student) declined rapidly as enrollment in redesigned OER courses increased. When the impacts across all five cost partner colleges are taken into account, estimates suggest an average of $1.03 in gross revenue was generated for every dollar spent (program and additional delivery costs)a modest 3 percent institutional return on investment that reflects an average net financial benefit of $38,000, the study says. Courses developed and certified as OER are able to be freely shared with other institutions. Many of these courses will be added to Achieving the Dreams OER course library and made available to the public. Moving forward To move OER forward, institutions need to intentionally integrate this OER degree work into their institutional improvement efforts and organizational strategies, said Achieving the Dreams Dr. Karen A. Stout. To make this happen, Achieving the Dream is supporting expanding OER within institutions as part of its institutional improvement model and offering additional services to help institutions bolster sustainability of OER course development and faculty support. Based on instructor surveys and focus groups, the report recommends that institutions: Make OER adoption a strategic institutional initiative and connect OER degrees with strategic goals with high level administrative support. Ensure faculty receive learning opportunities and supports, including OER training and course development supports to enhance the instructor experience and improve course quality, and opportunities for collaboration with colleagues can also build morale. Address logistical and cultural barriers to course sharing across colleges. Communicate OER options strategically to increase student awareness of OER course options and degrees to students they most wish to reach. Additionally, Achieving the Dream will announce a new grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to investigate whether participation in OER courses led to an increase in course attainment at OER Degree Initiative colleges. Copies of the report are available at Participating colleges Colleges involved in the academic or cost impact studies included Alamo Community College, Austin Community College, Borough of Manhattan Community College, Bunker Hill Community College, Central Virginia Community College, Forsyth Tech Community College, Herkimer Community College, Monroe Community College, Montgomery College, Pierce College, and Santa Ana Community College. #### ABOUT ACHIEVING THE DREAM Achieving the Dream (ATD) leads a growing network of 277 community colleges committed to helping their students, particularly low-income students and students of color, achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth, and economic opportunity. ATD is making progress in closing academic achievement gaps and accelerating student success through a unique change process that builds each colleges institutional capacities in seven essential areas. ATD, along with 75 experienced coaches and advisors, works closely with Network colleges in 44 states and the District of Columbia. SRI Education, a division of SRI International, is tackling the most complex issues in education to identify trends, understand outcomes, ad guide policy and practice. We work with federal and state agencies, school districts, foundations, nonprofit organizations, and businesses to provide research-based solutions to challenges posed by rapid social, technological and economic change. SRI International is a nonprofit research institute whose innovations have created new industries, extraordinary marketplace value, and lasting benefits to society.

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Largest-ever study of impact of Open Educational Resources in college reveals benefits of introducing OER courses on a broad scale - GlobeNewswire

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February 20th, 2020 at 9:41 am

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Stop and frisk gets renewed attention in Bloomberg candidacy –

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NEW YORK (AP) David Ourlicht was a college student, walking down a street near campus, when he became one of millions of New Yorkers swept up in the era of stop and frisk.

A police officer accosted Ourlicht, deeming suspicious a bulge in his jacket. Police patted him down, told him to stand against a wall, emptied his pockets, finding nothing illegal, and accused him of lying about his address, according to court testimony. The 2008 encounter ended with a disorderly conduct summons, which was later dismissed.

Ourlicht was embarrassed, angry and rattled, but not surprised. Police encounters like that had become a cornerstone of policing under then-Mayor Mike Bloomberg and a fact of life for Ourlicht, who is of black and white heritage, and his friends growing up.

He later joined a lawsuit that helped curb stop and frisk and became a lawyer himself. But his experiences with police, which he says began with getting beaten and handcuffed at 15 while trying to go up to his apartment, still cast a shadow over his life today.

Every day I get into my car, every day I decide to step out of my house, its a psyching up that I have to do to myself, Ourlicht said. Its always there.

New Yorks stop-and-frisk history is getting renewed attention as Bloomberg campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination. Bloomberg long defended the practice, even after a federal judge found that the stops discriminated against those who were black or Latino. He abruptly apologized in November shortly before announcing his White House bid and has largely sought to move past the issue.

That became difficult last week when a 2015 recording of Bloomberg resurfaced in which he said the way to bring down murder rates is to put a lot of cops in minority neighborhoods because thats where all the crime is.

Bloomberg said the remarks do not reflect my commitment to criminal justice reform and racial equity. He has since gotten endorsements from some members of the Congressional Black Caucus. And as he campaigned in the South last week, many black voters said they werent offended by the comments and were more focused on finding a candidate who could beat President Donald Trump.

But the former mayor likely will face more questions about the practice as his campaign gains traction. Bloomberg is on the cusp of qualifying for Wednesdays presidential debate, where his rivals are sure to pillory him on stop and frisk to blunt his rise and appeal to African Americans, who are a critical voting bloc in the Democratic primary.

Stop and frisk is a term for a tactic police have long used: accosting, questioning and sometimes patting down people who officers think might be doing something illegal, but the suspicions didn't necessarily amount to probable cause for an arrest.

The New York Police Department began increasing its emphasis on stop and frisk in the mid-1990s, when Republican Rudy Giuliani was mayor. But stops soared under Bloomberg who held office as a Republican and later an independent rising from about 97,000 stops in 2002 to a high of about 685,000 in 2011. There were fewer than 13,500 stops last year, according to NYPD data.

Over 80% of the people stopped during the surge of stop and frisk were black or Latino.

They include Hawk Newsome, 42, who said he was stopped dozens of times while living in the Bronx when Giuliani, then Bloomberg, served as mayor.

Too often, people overlook the psychological effects of the policy, he added.

We felt like these cops could murder us. They were pulling out weapons on us and pushing us against the wall. There was this anxiety we could be killed at any time, said Newsome, chairman of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York. Just growing up in it, it made you feel hopeless, like, Damn, this is all my life will ever be. This is how they treat me. Look at our schools, look at our police. My life isnt worth much.

Police and Bloomberg insisted that the stops helped drive crime down to record-low levels and that the tactic was legal.

Critics said stop and frisk amounted to racial discrimination with little impact on crime. About 10% of stops led to arrests or summonses, and only about 1% to weapons seizures.

In 2013, a federal judge declared that New York Citys use of the stops had violated civil and constitutional rights.

Bloombergs administration appealed the ruling. His successor dropped the appeal and agreed to reforms and a court-appointed monitor.

It remains to be seen whether voters of color in and outside New York will see past the practice and give serious consideration to Bloomberg. But the national conversation in recent years about racial inequity in the criminal justice system could keep stop and frisk in focus during the rest of the campaign cycle.

Its complicated, said Dayvon Love, director of public policy of the grassroots think tank Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle in Baltimore.

I think theres more of a recognition that that approach doesnt work to solve the problem of violence and homicide in communities around the country, he said, but some people living in neighborhoods plagued by violence would see the strategy, not necessarily to the extreme of Bloombergs approach, as the best option available to them to meet their immediate needs.

From Loves perspective, black people who are politically well-connected and more interested in their own personal success could gravitate toward someone like Bloomberg.

Many young voters outside New York don't know much about Bloomberg's record as mayor.

But for Brandon Kolawole, 24, of Chicago, mention of stop and frisk triggers a response of familiarity and dread.

"I've seen it, and I've dealt with it," said Kolawole, who is black. "If the police see you, they can just pull you over, stop you and frisk you for whatever reason."

Kolawole, who said he won't vote in November, knows "very little" about Bloomberg and his role in expanding the policy. Kolawole has seen the presidential candidate's ads on television promoting his work with former President Barack Obama but doesn't know much about the former mayors time in office.

Warren Evans spent about 30 years in law enforcement in the Detroit area six of those as a county sheriff and one as the citys police chief. On Thursday, he endorsed Bloomberg for the Democratic nomination for president.

Evans, who is black and has been Wayne Countys elected executive for the past six years, understands the initial purpose of stop and frisk. But he says it failed because of bad police practice and the inherent bias many officers have about communities of color.

I dont think its going to resonate negatively over the long term for Bloomberg, Evans told The Associated Press. I agree with his final determination that when he looked at the data and understood what was going on, it wasnt good policy and it wasnt implemented well. But he has done what a lot of politicians dont do. He didnt fake an answer.

Regina Garcia Cano reported from Baltimore and Jennifer Peltz from New York. Associated Press writers Corey Williams in Detroit, Noreen Nasir in Chicago and Jennifer McDermott in Providence, Rhode Island, contributed.

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February 20th, 2020 at 9:41 am

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BTS Map of the Soul: 7: How K-pop group BTS built a billion-dollar fandom –

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In one photo for their upcoming album, Map of the Soul: 7, the seven members of the South Korean supergroup BTS, or the Bangtan Boys, are cloaked in feathers, obscured by an ominous cloud of darkness. Other photos show them dressed in all-white and in neutral tones, posing in the midst of a sumptuous feast in a shadowy room.

These images are a sharp detour from the colorful, Wes Anderson-esque aesthetic of their previous album, Map of the Soul: Persona, but that wasnt a shock to fans: The Bangtan Boys public image, one that doesnt rely on traditional forms of Western masculinity, is constantly evolving, as is their music. Fans will tell you that the Korean supergroups discography, once heavily inspired by hip-hop, belongs to no genre. What defines BTS what sets them apart in the eyes of fans is their emotional honesty, expressed through their lyrics, press interviews, and personal vlogs. Theirs is an underdog story, where they managed to surpass the odds to become one of the highest-earning K-pop acts and the unofficial face of Korean music worldwide.

In Home, a sentimental track that reflects on BTSs material success, theres a verse that translates to the world thinks we own the whole world. It sure seems like it. BTSs new album, which comes out February 21, has garnered more than 3.42 million preorders within the first week of its announcement. The boys have drawn comparisons to legendary music acts like the Beatles and the Jackson 5 for their ability to sell out massive arenas worldwide. Theyve sold out at least seven shows for the North American leg of their 2020 tour from fans in all 50 states, surpassing ticket sale records of top US pop stars Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift.

The Western media and the world, for that matter has only been able to gawk at the sheer scale of BTSs dominance. Theyve posed on the covers of glossy magazines with headlines like How BTS Is Taking Over the World, Musics Billion Dollar Boy Band Takes the Next Step, and The K-Pop Megastars Get Candid About Representing a New Generation. BTS is receiving star treatment, but skepticism and resistance to their status as the worlds biggest pop stars still persist on the grounds of their boy band label, the (wrongful) assumption that their fanbase is fueled solely by teenage devotion, and xenophobia from an industry traditionally dominated by white Western stars.

BTSs path to superstardom was paved, in part, by South Koreas wave of cultural exports to the West from music to television dramas to elaborate skincare routines. Before BTS, a series of top K-pop acts (Big Bang, Girls Generation, EXO) have made US debuts, yet none really stuck, making the boys success even more unprecedented and unexpected.

In 2019, BTS reportedly brought in $4.65 billion for the South Korean economy through physical album sales, concert tickets, and branded merchandise. The band is currently worth 0.3 percent of the countrys gross domestic product and is projected to contribute $48 billion for South Korea by 2023, according to a report from the Hyundai Research Institute. These staggering numbers highlight how BTSs influence is a 21st century tour de force, something few Western pop artists are capable of achieving today.

At its heart, the music industry is driven by fan activity the money poured into live shows, album sales, and official merchandise to bolster an emerging artist onto musical charts, whether that be the USs Billboard Hot 100 or South Koreas Gaon Music Chart. To understand the scale of BTSs success among other K-pop acts and Western artists, you have to delve into the Korean entertainment industry and understand how its a wholly different beast than its American counterpart, down to how its biggest stars are cultivated and marketed.

While record labels, artist management companies, and talent agencies operate as separate entities in America, Korean entertainment companies are a configuration of all three. The top K-pop music companies are hybrid, highly integrated, full-stack cultural technology enterprises, said Bernie Cho, president of DFSB Kollective, a Seoul-based agency that specializes in distributing Korean music. That means they have a top-down approach when it comes to managing creative endeavors and, in some cases, producing and shaping an artist or a band.

This is best reflected through K-pops intense trainee system, where potential stars are recruited through auditions and cultivated over years of rigorous performance training. Music studios are typically responsible for a groups formation, their marketing and music, and even their personal lives. While BTS members were recruited through this system, their management label, Big Hit Entertainment, took a different approach, placing fewer restrictions on them. BigHit CEO Bang Si-hyuk envisioned the boys as relatable, down-to-earth figures that fans could connect with. (BigHit did not respond to an emailed request for comment from Vox.)

Compared to other idols, BTS members have more creative and personal freedom, like the ability to write their own songs and lyrics and manage their own social media aspects that BigHit aggressively marketed to audiences. The result is a massive international fanbase nicknamed ARMY (an acronym for Adorable Representative MC for Youth), consisting of millions of people that span across ages and cultures.

These fans are well-organized and single-mindedly devoted to the Bangtan Boys. They constantly flood Twitter with hashtags to promote the bands activities, organize to stream new music, and even create merch for other fans. Perhaps most importantly, fans see BTS as original, authentic, and socially conscious public figures who arent afraid to talk openly about the struggles and anxieties of their career path.

This core notion of authenticity something that influencers, celebrities, and politicians alike aspire to embody is a key factor in BTSs astounding success overseas. It is a large part of the groups appeal to companies seeking their endorsements. From 2013 to 2018, BTS sold more than $1.1 billion worth of branded items, and theyre expected to have an even greater economic impact than the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics within 10 years, according to the Hyundai Research Institute.

When I talk to American BTS fans for my research, they say that theyre drawn to how genuine BTS is and how theyre saying something about themselves, rather than just talk about money, sex, and drugs [like American artists], Jade Kim, an associate professor at Texas A&M International University who researches Korean pop culture and media, told me. BTS blurs the line between [being a pop idol] and a person, and thats a big difference for fans.

The price of a music download or stream in Korea is worth shockingly little, Cho told me. Selling the same exact song or exact same album, Korean acts could earn more than eight times more profit outside of Korea than inside, he said. This has driven all types of Korean artists, from idols to indie singers, to go overseas and target an international audience. There arent enough Koreans on this planet, living inside or outside of Korea, to singlehandedly make K-pop go global, Cho said on BTS and the genres ascending popularity. Simply put, international fans are why K-pop is international.

International fans are why K-pop is international

While product sponsorships are common in the Korean entertainment industry, BTS has broken into the US market by the sheer force of its fandom, who have rallied stores like Hot Topic, Target, and Walmart to carry band merchandise and albums. Thats why you can find virtually every type of BTS-branded product imaginable on the internet. Theres BTS cold brew coffee, hand cream, Mattel dolls, and Funko Pop figurines. You can also buy BTS-inspired colored contacts, streetwear, Reebok shoes, and bank checks.

Granted, this is only a short list of BTSs brand collaborations and official merchandise. There are thousands of other unofficial products on the market, and the Bangtan Boys are also ambassadors for Fila, the city of Seoul (for three consecutive years), the Hyundai Palisade, and an electric street racing championship hosted by Formula E.

In short, BTS is everywhere in Korea and abroad. Their branding prowess is undeniable, and even products that are unintentionally promoted through a BTS members golden touch can quickly sell out, whether that be a sweater, fabric softener, or a bottle of wine. As careful as a member might be to not name-drop a brand, its only a matter of time before sleuthing fans and BTS product accounts identify whatever theyre wearing or alluding to.

The fandom is very focused on buying official merch from concerts, BigHit, or the BTS Line store because it directly supports BTS, said Liv, a 24-year-old BTS fan from England, who didnt want to disclose her last name for privacy reasons. Liv has stopped purchasing BTS merch for herself, but she sometimes gives away items on Twitter for other fans to have a chance at owning some BTS goodies.

Money is an inextricable aspect of any music fandom culture, not just BTSs: Fans want to support their favorite artists, and that devotion is usually expressed through purchasing concert tickets, albums, and merchandise collections all things that help the artist succeed. Still, not everyone can afford that or live where merch is easily accessible, Liv told me, which is why she and her fellow ARMYs are so passionate about hosting social media giveaways. K-pop fan culture is especially consumerist because, as Caitlin Kelley wrote for MTV, fans understand many Korean acts do not make much money if they havent attained the rarified stature of a top-selling group like BTS.

Therefore, fans can feel like they have a responsibility to support their faves by buying branded items every time a new collaboration or album is released. The relationship is like a parent giving unconditional love and support to their child, the band, David Kim, a YouTuber who analyzes Korean culture and K-pop, told the Washington Post.

Theres a downside to this focus on consumerism: Some fans spend thousands of dollars on merchandise or travel to attend concerts and meet-and-greets. Its normal to spend extra on multiple versions of collectibles. Merch-shaming also exists within some corners of K-pop fandom the idea that having a more extensive merch collection or attending a lot of performances is the marker of a good fan. Fan culture is complicated, and not everyone buys into the consumerist (and classist) ideology that owning merch makes someone a more dedicated fan. Most fans buy merchandise and concert tickets simply because they love the artist.

Within online fan circles, ARMY members like Liv have found ways to make the BTS community more inclusive, especially for younger fans and those who live in places where its prohibitively expensive to get items shipped. US BTS ARMY, a not-for-profit organization and fan news site for BTS, occasionally hosts worldwide merch giveaways for global fans, and Album For Every ARMY is a charity project for fans who are unable to buy their own BTS albums.

Theres a wide spectrum of ARMY fans, including those who are teenagers or are in school, that dont have the extra income for merch, Jackie, the chief financial officer at US BTS ARMY, told me. (Jackie, who volunteers to work on the site, asked to only be identified by her first name.)

We like to partner with a company and host these giveaways so that anyone can have access to some of this official merchandise, she said. As with most popular artists, theres a vast black market for unofficial products created and sold by companies and independent artists alike. Big Hit Entertainment has previously sought to curb the use of the Bangtan Boys image and crack down on unauthorized merch outside of concerts, but online, small businesses by fans proliferate.

To their credit, fans are wary of off-brand merchandise that appears to be exploiting BTSs image for purely monetary gain. However, ARMYs are generally supportive of small artists who create original trinkets and drawings, said Stephanie Le, a 21-year-old college student who runs The Happi Peach pin shop on Instagram.

Le has turned several of her original designs of BTS members into enamel pins, a hobby that shes managed to successfully monetize in the past year. Fans tend to purchase official merchandise, but they also see the value we bring to things that arent normally produced, Le told me. I consider myself a multi-fandom pin maker, but BTS has lately been a big inspiration for me so Ive been drawing them more often.

Her operation is relatively small (she needs at least 20-50 preorders before she can manufacture a pin design), but some apparel and merchandise makers operate full-time businesses that solely cater to K-pop fans and even carry official products. Theres a constant stream of demand for novel items or t-shirt designs, especially when a band like BTS releases a new album.

Demand for branded merchandise is huge, but most devoted fans know that physical album sales carry weight in official music rankings. ARMYs have been savvily setting goals online for the boys comeback in late February, according to Jackie. When a new album comes out, we as a fanbase try and encourage the purchase of the album in the country where you reside in so it counts towards a chart in that country, she said. Since were a US base, most of our goals are directed towards the US.

Thats why Korean entertainment companies put so much effort into developing sleek, beautifully crafted albums; theyre marketed as collectibles, not just music products. (BTS was nominated for a 2019 Grammy in the Best Recording Package category.)

Instead of buying a CD with a booklet, you often buy a luxurious photo book [that comes] with posters, postcards, stickers, or tickets with the CD thrown in as a bonus, Cho of DFSB Collective told me of most K-pop albums. Some of these extra items are what industry insiders refer to as bundling, or including concert tickets or a piece of merch with the purchase of an album or song, something many top US artists do to boost album sales. (BTSs upcoming album is not bundled with any merchandise, and the band is one of the few acts that have reached No. 1 on the charts without bundles.)

For ARMYs (and other K-pop fans), it doesnt really make a difference what the album comes with or what it looks like; theyve planned to purchase it from the start. This level of sincere devotion to an artist and even mass mobilization on said artists behalf is what helped propel BTS into the international limelight. In other words, BTS fans take it upon themselves to actively promote the bands work. Theyve already figured out the number of iTunes and Spotify streams, YouTube views, and Shazam song requests it would take for BTS to reach the No. 1 spot once Map of the Soul: 7 is released. If achieved, these goals would once again prove BTSs ability to top the Billboard charts. This energy is something that even well-known stars like Justin Bieber struggle to capture: animating legions of fans to stream or buy music that will benefit the artist.

When journalists and music critics speculate about the future of BTS, the narrative inevitably turns to South Koreas two-year military service requirement, which all BTS members will be subjected to by the time theyre 28. For fans, its a fraught and bittersweet reality, given how Jin, BTSs oldest member, will turn 28 in December. With this latest record, however, 2020 will likely be another big year for the young men in both music and commercial spaces.

In a corporate briefing in early February, BigHit announced its plans to invest in a more immersive BTS concert experience, introducing tour villages in select cities with attractions like a BTS-themed hotel, an exclusive pop-up store, and other themed exhibits. The label is placing its focus on what fans want, a crucial part of its formula for success, according to executives. BTSs trajectory in the past three years has been unstoppable; theyve smashed records, sold out stadiums, cemented their international presence, and signed another seven-year contract, which means theyll likely keep performing into their 30s.

As long as our bodies hold up, well be doing the same thing in 10 years, Suga, one of the groups three rappers, told the Hollywood Reporter in a cover story last year (a story that was thoroughly criticized by fans for its inaccuracies, culturally insensitive sentiments, and lack of prior research).

And, likely, as long as BTSs bodies hold up, its not a question whether their fanbase will continue supporting them, financially and artistically, individually or as a group. Whatever they do and wherever they go, the ARMY will be behind them.

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BTS Map of the Soul: 7: How K-pop group BTS built a billion-dollar fandom -

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February 20th, 2020 at 9:41 am

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Lessons In The Power Of Organizing Concepts From Last Nights Democratic Debate – Forbes

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Democratic Debate

Last nights Democratic debate was a fire fight with verbal sparring in all directions. While everyone watching saw things through their own filters, it was clear that some of the candidates stayed closer to their personal messages and organizing concepts than did others. In general, those that did better in this debate were those that more strongly believed in their organizing concepts and let them guide their words and actions. Be. Do. Say.

Messages/slogans from the candidates websites:

Last year, Tom Porter recapped the winning US Presidential campaign slogans since 1948 and suggested that An effective slogan will sum up a candidate's pitch to the country in a few words, and be powerful enough to cut through the endless onslaught of information in people's lives.

Some of the most powerful were not completely original. But they did reflect the candidates fundamental beliefs:

It must start there. If the slogan does not flow from what the candidate fundamental believes, its highly unlikely that all their actions through the years will have been in line with that slogan. With the intense scrutiny and opposition research of a presidential campaign, they will get caught and called out like Mike Bloomberg did last night. He was forced to defend his previous support of things like Stop and Frisk and the way women had been treated at his company.

An organizing concept is the strategic core idea being executed in a slogan, message and communication points. Those with stronger beliefs in their organizing concepts find it far easier to stay on message. Theyre always communicating what they themselves believe and not reading PowerPoint slides or Post-It notes provided by others.

Bernie Sanders is always fighting for justice. Elizabeth Warren is always fighting corruption. Its harder for Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Bloomberg to stay on message because their organizing concepts are more amorphous.

The best example Ive seen was Charlie Shimanski and his first gathering of the American Red Crosss disaster response directors. As Charlie told me for an earlier article - which you can read by clicking here,

I start by getting a sense of what I want them to feel when they're done hearing from me - what I want them to feel, not hear me say.I wanted them to feel that they are at the core of what we do, that our success is on their shoulders. I wanted them to feel proud."

Feel proud was not a headline message. It was an organizing concept.

The most powerful organizing concepts guide slogans, messages, communication points to impact how others feel. Even though they are rooted in the candidate or leaders fundamental beliefs, they are not about the candidate or leader. They are about what the candidate or leader inspires and enables in others.

The first question anyone has about a presidential candidate or any new leader is What does this mean for me? Ultimately, all communication is personal. Candidates and leaders connect better with people that think those candidates and leaders can help solve the problems they most care about.

Those concerned about injustice or corruptions will gravitate to Sanders or Warren. The other candidates messages may be too generic to inspire the same passion. Their paths to success lie in strengthening messages based on organizing concepts they believe in and others care about.

This lesson applies to any executive onboarding into a new role. They must craft their entry communication plan based on a clear organizing concept. That concept must match their underlying beliefs and guide their actions and words. Everyone they interact with will listen and observe for clues about what this means for them. This is true for presidential candidates, new CEOs and new first line supervisors.

Click herefora list of myForbes articles (of which this is #619) and a summary of my book on executive onboarding:The New Leaders 100-Day Action Plan.

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Lessons In The Power Of Organizing Concepts From Last Nights Democratic Debate - Forbes

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February 20th, 2020 at 9:41 am

Posted in Personal Success

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