The Republic of T.

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

Digest for April 18th through May 2nd

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for April 18th through May 2nd:

  • The Beginning of the End in Afghanistan – "If anything, the beginning of the end in Afghanistan will help Obama build his “leadership” case against Mitt Romney. With the killing of bin Laden, the intervention in Libya, and the gradual end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama has the resume he needs to present himself as a strong and competent manager of the country’s foreign affairs, which in turn, might improve perceptions of his economic management. What’s more, this provides a clear contrast with Romney, who at varying times in the last three years, has opposed each of these moves. At the end of the day, Obama will be able to pose a simple question to the American public—“Do you want a president who has brought peace, security, and good relations with our allies, or do you want a president who has called for extending our wars, and starting new ones?”"

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  • Robert Reich (The Tinder-Box Society)

    "It’s a combustible concoction wherever it occurs: Increasing productivity, widening inequality, and rising unemployment create tinder-box societies.

    Public anger and frustration can ignite in two very different ways. One is toward reforms that more broadly share the productivity gains.

    The other is toward demagogues that turn people against one another.

    Demagogues use fear and frustration to advance themselves and their own narrow political agendas – scapegoating immigrants, foreigners, ethnic minorities, labor unions, government workers, the poor, the rich, and “enemies within” such as communists, terrorists, or other conspirators.

    Be warned. The demagogues already are on the loose."

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  • Why Is the Conservative Brain More Fearful? The Alternate Reality Right-Wingers Inhabit Is Terrifying | Media | AlterNet

    "Consider for a moment just how terrifying it must be to live life as a true believer on the right. Reality is scary enough, but the alternative reality inhabited by people who watch Glenn Beck, listen to Rush Limbaugh, or think Michele Bachmann isn't a joke must be nothing less than horrifying.

    Research suggests that conservatives are, on average, more susceptible to fear than those who identify themselves as liberals. Looking at MRIs of a large sample of young adults last year, researchers at University College London discovered that “greater conservatism was associated with increased volume of the right amygdala” ($$). The amygdala is an ancient brain structure that's activated during states of fear and anxiety. (The researchers also found that “greater liberalism was associated with increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex” – a region in the brain that is believed to help people manage complexity.)

    That has implications for our political world."

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  • Why I Had to Get Out: Confessions of a Wall Street Insider | Occupy Wall Street | AlterNet

    "When some people think about Wall Street, they conjure up images of traders shouting on the stock exchange, of bankers dining at five-star restaurants, of CEOs whispering in the ears of captured Congress members.

    When I think about Wall Street, I think about its stunted rainbow of pale pastel shirts. I think about the Locksmiths from Shenfield vaulting, highly secured, and very cold lobbies. And I think about the art passed daily by the harried workers, virtually unseen.

    Before I occupied Wall Street, Wall Street occupied me. What started as a summer internship led to a seven-year career. During my time on Wall Street, I changed from a curious college student full of hope for my future into a cynical, bitter, depressed, and exhausted "knowledge worker" who felt that everyone was out to screw me over.

    The culture of Wall Street is pervasive and contagious. While there are Wall Street employees who are able to ignore or block it out, I was not one of them. I drank the Kool Aid. I'm out of it now. But I'd like to tell you what it was like."

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  • Richard Grenell, Openly Gay Romney Spokesman, Resigns – NYTimes.com

    "Last month, Richard Grenell became the first openly gay spokesman to serve on a Republican presidential campaign. Today, he became the first openly gay spokesman to get hounded out of a Republican presidential campaign.

    Jennifer Rubin reported the news on her Washington Post blog, Right Turn. Apparently Mr. Grenell, who’d been hired to work on foreign policy and national security, quit because he was kept “under wraps” during the heated discussion around the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

    In a statement, he said his “ability to speak clearly and forcefully on the issues has been greatly diminished by the hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues that sometimes comes from a presidential campaign.”

    People in politics generally use the term hyper-partisan to refer to their opponents. In this case, I assume Mr. Grenell meant his fellow Republicans."

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  • Romney Tax Tips: 10 Ways to Stiff the IRS | Mother Jones

    "Unlike Mitt Romney, most Americans who will pay their taxes today can't afford fancy accountants. But Romney has reluctantly made public his tax returns, and thus shared valuable strategies to ensure that he pays a far lower rate than, say, Warren Buffett's secretary. Citizens for Tax Justice recently waded through Romney's 2010 return—in which his $22 million in income was miraculously taxed at just 13.9 percent—to come up with a handy primer for how you, too, can beat the IRS at its own game. To paraphrase:"

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