Congressman Patrick Kennedy

Congressman Patrick Kennedy represents the 1st District of Rhode Island in the United States Congress.

Recent Articles

How Does It Feel to Be a Problem on the Internet?

A diagram of comments left on a blog post by a woman who identifies as a rape survivor. The post argues for Penny Arcade's "Dickwolves" shirts to be discontinued. credit @kirbybits I feel like I promised y'all at least one nerd-culture post, and so far all I've written here is, you know, actual issues. So boring! If you've led a good and honest life, perhaps you haven't come across the "Dickwolves" controversy that's dominated the social-justice/video-games intersections of the Internet I hang out in. This wisely anonymous person has assembled an astonishingly comprehensive timeline of events , but the short version is this: Penny Arcade, an incredibly popular webcomic about video games and gaming culture that hubs a small media empire, made a throwaway joke about rape in a strip a few months ago. Some people objected, using the opportunity to talk about rape culture; the creators responded in an atypically dismissive manner to the criticism, doubling down and selling T-shirts based...

Shoot Two Dogs, Keep Your Job.

Perhaps you read last year about a SWAT team raiding a family's home at night and shooting two dogs, a pit bull and a corgi, in front of the family's 7-year-old daughter, and then charging her father with child endangerment for possessing about an ounce of marijuana. Not an unusual story — the SWAT program's militarized approach to police work means that missteps are horrific — but the reason you heard about it is because it was caught on video. Well, that's my hometown, the Midwestern college burg of Columbia, Missouri. And for a while, it looked like some good would come of the bad; local officials felt the scrutiny of national headlines, and a long-standing movement to establish a police citizen review board got the public support it needed. I moved away a couple of years ago, so I hit up my friend Julia Bonham for an update. From what I gather from Julia, a criminal defense attorney in Columbia -- and she speaks on her own behalf, not as a representative of anyone -- it's...

Have Behavioral Economists Ever Met a Poor Person?

This morning, Mike Konczal at Rortybomb (link h/t Adam ) responds to a bit of behavioral economic wtf-ery that's been around since the creation of the safety net: the conservative notion that aid to the poor feeds a "culture of poverty" and leaves its subjects even worse off. Konczal sums up the disconnect between math and reality: One of the more curious behavioral responses [that behavioral economists see] is that people hate unemployment. They hate not being part of their productive community, they hate not contributing, they hate the loss of identity that one gets as someone who works. To an economist that’s b-a-n-a-n-a-s. Unemployment should be a pleasant vacation! But, last time I checked, it wasn’t (is that consistent with the latest frontiers in happiness research?). Quite. And the reasons he outlines are the tip of the iceberg; it's no secret (among actual unemployed people, at least) that in the present day, the requirements for state safety-net programs are so draconian as...

Systemic Economic Disparities: Bigger Than Class.

( Image via ) My post from yesterday, in which I used San Francisco's Chinatown as an example of systemic economic issues and the sway they have over perceptions of race, showed up on Ta-Nehisi Coates' blog at The Atlantic this morning. After reading the commentary by TNC and the community, I want to clarify a couple of points. First, my language around the systemic forces shaping Chinatown poverty makes it sound like I'm saying that "one plus two equals three, and three is greater than one or two." Let me state for the record that I'm neither down with oppression addition nor with Oppression Olympics. Different groups have different experiences, period, because human beings have different lives. It bears repeating. And second, my point was absolutely not that class trumps race. Get that away from me! I draw a very clear distinction between "class" and "systemic economic issues," and my post was about the latter. Individuals can travel class and race in ways and degrees that...

(Rich) White People With Asian Last Names.

My colleague for the week, Jamelle Bouie , gets a shout-out from Ta-Nehisi Coates this morning for his assertion that Asians and Latinos will be thought of as "white" in the U.S. in the next 40-ish years, and that America’s essential black-white race paradigm will simply morph a bit, into black-nonblack. (This is in rebuttal to the idea that "race" will disappear entirely someday.) Jamelle’s basing this on intermarriage rates, and qualifies it by saying that some nonwhites will never "become" white. An example: by some economic and health metrics , Asians are already doing better than white people — but averages don’t tell the whole story, of course, and poor Asian communities often deal with systemic oppression doubly, both as immigrants and as people of color. Working-class folks in San Francisco’s Chinatown are kept vulnerable with the same mechanism as all undocumented immigrant workforces: Threats of deportation keep efforts to organize at bay, and workers have no option besides...

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