The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Digest for February 27th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for February 27th from 16:09 to 16:25:

  • Five Things Rick Santorum Could have Learned in College

    Rick Santorum attacked President Obama on Saturday for being “a snob” because, Santorum said, the president wanted all Americans to have a college education (Obama hasn’t actually said such a thing). Then it turns out that when Santorum was in the Senate he said he wanted all Pennsylvanians to go to college. Hypocrisy much? Moreover, Santorum has a BA from Penn State, an MBA and a JD, so when he says not everyone is cut out for college (the way he was), it seems to me that he is the one who is being a snob.

    Santorum is cynically making a play for the Reagan Democrats, the white, ethnic blue collar workers who typically only have a high school education, and who are skittish about both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. But whoever told him that they don’t aspire to a college education for their children doesn’t actually know any working class people.

    Santorum has given ample evidence that despite all the taxpayer dollars wasted on his education, he failed to learn anything about how to think independently, which is what education should have taught him. So here are some things he might have learned if he had been paying attention, and which might have kept him from saying a string of silly things in public.

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  • Why Viola Davis Ditched the Wig at the Oscars – The Daily Beast

    "Whether she knows it or not (she does), Viola Davis made Sunday night at the Oscars a teachable moment, giving the world a crash course in the ever-complicated politics of African-American hair."

    … “People like to say that hair is no big deal in the black community, but it is,” says R & B singer Mary J. Blige, who’s worn her share of wigs and weaves since first appearing on the hip-hop scene in the early ’90s. “Black women get judged unfairly on many things, and how long your hair is or if it’s your hair just happens to be one of those things. You buy some hair, and you’re considered fake. You don’t have any hair, and you’re not cute. You can’t win.”

    Davis seemed to struggle with that very conundrum just a few days before her big Hollywood night. In early February she graced the cover of the Los Angeles Times Magazine sans wig and then last week appeared at several pre-Oscar industry events with her natural ’do as though it were a test run.

    “I think it was a bold move, but she is truly content with who she is,” said celebrity stylist Damone Roberts, who’s worked with the likes of Beyoncé and Madonna. “She was making a statement about having power to just be Viola.”

    Others felt the reasoning behind Davis’s short new ’do may have gone just a bit deeper.

    “She’s using her hair to say, ‘Don’t be confused. I am not who I play on TV or movies,’” says race and cultural writer Rebecca Walker. “‘I have left the plantation and wait for no one to tell my story.’”

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  • Santorum’s JFK story makes me want to throw up – Rick Santorum – Salon.com

    "Rick Santorum teed off on a venerated former president Sunday morning for telling America that the separation of church and state was “absolute..” Was it the guy responsible for the above quote? No, that was Ronald Reagan, running for reelection in 1984 (h/t BB).

    It’s Democrat John F. Kennedy who made Santorum “throw up,” the GOP presidential contender told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, with his famous 1960 speech to Baptist ministers trying to assuage widespread fears about his Catholicism in order to become our first, and still our only, Catholic president. Santorum claims that JFK said that “people of faith have no role in the public square,” and urged ABC’s viewers to go read the speech for themselves and see.

    So I did. (It’s here.) And not surprisingly, that’s not what Kennedy said at all"

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  • Ghastly Outdated Party – NYTimes.com

    "IT’S finally sinking in.

    Republicans are getting queasy at the gruesome sight of their party eating itself alive, savaging the brand in ways that will long resonate.

    “Republicans being against sex is not good,” the G.O.P. strategist Alex Castellanos told me mournfully. “Sex is popular.”

    He said his party is “coming to grips with a weaker field than we’d all want” and going through the five stages of grief. “We’re at No. 4,” he said. (Depression.) “We’ve still got one to go.” (Acceptance.)

    The contenders in the Hester Prynne primaries are tripping over one another trying to be the most radical, unreasonable and insane candidate they can be. They pounce on any traces of sanity in the other candidates — be it humanity toward women, compassion toward immigrants or the willingness to make the rich pay a nickel more in taxes — and try to destroy them with it. "

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  • Michael Tomasky on the GOP’s Michigan Giveaway – The Daily Beast

    "Michiganders, take pride: your 2012 primary will go down in American political history as perhaps the single most eye-popping case ever of a party’s demands on its candidates during the primary fight reducing its chance of winning the state in November from something not far from half to near zero. This is especially true if Rick Santorum manages to pull the upset and go on to be the nominee; Barack Obama’s campaign wouldn’t have to spend one thin dime in Michigan and would still win by at least 15 points. But it’s true also if unfavorite son Mitt Romney manages to win. Horse-race polls that once showed a tough battle between the two now project an Obama blowout. And the important point to take away here is that this change is not a matter of politics. It’s a matter of policy."

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  • Frank Rich: Why We Can’t Forget That Gay Marriage’s Liberal Champions Spent Decades on the Wrong Side of the Issue — New York Magazine

    "Compared with the other civil-rights battles in America, especially the epic struggle over race that has stained and hobbled the nation since its birth, the fight over gay equality is remarkable for its relative ease, compact chronology, and the happiness of its pending resolution. There’s no happier ending to any plot than a wedding. But, as last June’s celebration has gradually given way to morning-after sobriety, it’s also clear that something is wrong with this cheery picture. Two things, actually.

    The first is obvious: Full equality for gay Americans is nowhere near at hand. One of America’s two major political parties is still hell-bent on thwarting and even rolling back gay rights much as Goldwater Republicans and Dixie Democrats (on their way to joining the GOP) resisted civil-rights legislation and enforcement in the sixties. In most states, sexual orientation can still be used to deny not only marriage but also jobs and housing, as well as to curtail adoption rights. America’s dominant religions remain largely hostile to homosexuality, and America’s most cherished secular pastime, professional sports, is essentially a no-gay zone. The bullying of gay and transgendered children remains a national crisis. While Nielsen tells us that gay concerns and characters are “the new mainstream” of television—figuring in 24 percent of broadcast prime-time programming last season—we do not yet live in the United States of Glee.

    The second thing that’s wrong with the picture is far less obvious because it has been willfully obscured. In the outpouring of provincial self-congratulation that greeted the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York, some of the discomforting history that preceded that joyous day has been rewritten, whitewashed, or tossed into a memory hole. We—and by we, I mean liberal New Yorkers like me, whether straight or gay, and their fellow travelers throughout America—would like to believe that the sole obstacles to gay civil rights have been the usual suspects: hidebound religious leaders both white and black, conservative politicians (mostly Republican), fundamentalist Christian and Muslim zealots, and unreconstructed bigots. What’s been lost in this morality play is the role that many liberal politicians and institutions have also played in slowing and at some junctures halting gay civil rights in recent decades."

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  • Frank Schaeffer: The Republican’s Biblical Boondoggle

    "The base of the Republican Party is to be pitied more than feared. They have literally been conditioned to fear their own brains. Their religious indoctrination has actually destroyed their ability to reason. No wonder they eagerly believe in Fox News' alternative reality.

    Outside observers here in the US and overseas shake their heads in wonderment over just how it is that so many Republicans seem to literally come from somewhere else, say another planet.

    "How on earth could they believe" fill-in-the-blank: that global warming is not real, that evolution never happened, that an embryo is a "person," that the right to carry a gun equals "security," that President Obama is a socialist, communist, Muslim, the Antichrist, soft on terror, a dangerous man, not a Christian, the wrong sort of Christian or that history text books should reflect America's "Christian country" status…

    or…

    that Santorum could ever become president!

    To help readers understand the mindset that leads to the embrace of falsehood as truth maybe I can help."

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  • Plain Talk: More GOP hypocrisy — this time on contraception

    "Republicans continue to pillory President Barack Obama’s initial requirement that Catholic universities and hospitals offer their employees contraceptive health benefits, accusing the president of an unprecedented attack on religious freedom.

    But, as the Los Angeles Times pointed out the other day, Obama’s requirement, from which he has since backed down, was hardly any precedent.

    Twenty-two states already have laws that resemble the administration’s original rule and more than a third of them had some Republican support, the paper reported."

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  • Oligarchy in the U.S.A. — In These Times

    "In 2005, Citigroup offered its high net-worth clients in the United States a concise statement of the threats they and their money faced.

    The report told them they were the leaders of a “plutonomy,” an economy driven by the spending of its ultra-rich citizens. “At the heart of plutonomy is income inequality,” which is made possible by “capitalist-friendly governments and tax regimes.”

    The danger, according to Citigroup’s analysts, is that “personal taxation rates could rise – dividends, capital gains, and inheritance taxes would hurt the plutonomy.”

    But the ultra-rich already knew that. In fact, even as America’s income distribution has skewed to favor the upper classes, the very richest have successfully managed to reduce their overall tax burden. Look no further than Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney, who in 2010 paid 13.9 percent of his $21.6 million income in taxes that year, the same tax rate as an individual who earned a mere $8,500 to $34,500.

    How is that possible? How can a country make so much progress toward equality on other fronts – race, gender, sexual orientation and disability – but run the opposite way in its policy on taxing the rich?"

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