Yes, Black America Fears the Police – Here’s Why – We are not criminals because we are black. Nor are we somehow the only people in America who don’t want to live in safe neighborhoods. Yet many of us cannot fundamentally trust the people who are charged with keeping us and our communities safe.
Confronting the Rhetoric of “Black on Black Crime”: A Response to Derailing Strategies – This is a derailing strategy because people feel compelled to respond to the question of "Black on Black crime," while the conversation regarding police brutality is interrupted. However, it is a mistake to respond to the question of "Black on Black crime." It is a classic derailing strategy because it seeks to turn the focus away from the issue at hand and onto the protesting community, as if to say that you are not allowed to call out the violence of the state unless everything and everyone in your community is in order. It is also a derailing strategy because it suggests that one issue necessarily replaces the other.
Mike Bowers Recants – A lot of bad old memories were revived and perhaps mitigated by a New York Times profile by Richard Fausset of former Georgia Attorney General Michael Bowers, who has emerged as a most unlikely ally of his state's LGBT community in opposing a "religious liberty" law pending in the legislature, which is being supported by most of Bowers' fellow Republicans.
The Gangsters of Ferguson – Yesterday the Justice Department released the results of a long and thorough investigation into the killing of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson. The investigation…
An Open Letter to My Students: I Am Sorry for What I Am About to Do to You – To all of my precious students,I am sorry for what I am about to do to you. This week, I am going to have to give you a new test. It's called PARCC … and my guess is that most of you will hate them. My guess is that one or two of you will be brought to tears because they will make you feel like you are not smart enough. My guess is that several of you will give up part way through the test and just start clicking around on the screen.
[Video] Debunking the Myth That Black Men Are Immune to Harm – "The narrative that young men of color's pain is insignificant–both that it's somehow smaller than the pain that other people experience and that it's somehow less important–is as old as our country," Vera Institute of Justice researcher Danielle Sered told an overflow crowd last week at the Ford Foundation in New York City.
“Words Can Kill” – Ex-U.S. Senator John Danforth (R) was the political mentor of Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich (R), who committed suicide last week. In his eulogy today at Schweich's funeral, Danforth called out John Hancock, head of the state GOP, for the anti-Semitic whispering campaign which preceded Schweich's death.
The Myth of Christian Persecution | Political Research Associates – Franklin Graham, son of famed evangelical Billy Graham and current president of both the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) and Samaritan’s Purse, is increasingly taking center stage in the Right Wing’s dramatization of “Christianity under siege”—part of a growing manipulation of religious liberty arguments to further blur the division between church and state.
Bombastic Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, affectionately dubbed “Papa Bear” by Steven Colbert, formerly of “The Colbert Report,” is in so much trouble that he’s even defending President Obama. It’s that bad.
Papa Bear Roars
Anyone with a YouTube account knows by now that Fox News Host Bill O’Reilly has a bit of a temper.
When NBC news anchor Brian Williams falsely claimed that his helicopter was nearly shot down, as he covered the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, O’Reilly unleashed a fusillade of righteous anger against a national media that he said, “isn’t half as responsible as the men who forged the nation.” Lamenting the “culture of deception” in the “liberal media,” O’Reilly said the Williams affair should prompt questioning of other media “deceptions.”
It did, but not in the way O’Reilly probably imagined. Late last week, Mother Jones’ David Corn and Daniel Schulman reported that “for years, O’Reilly has recounted dramatic stories about his own war reporting that don’t withstand scrutiny.” Here are a few:
“War Zone” Reporting. O’Reilly has claimed over and over again that he was a war correspondent during the Falklands war in 1982, and even face combat. Thus, when “Papa Bear” speaks of war, he does so with the understanding of one who’s seen it up close.
Except that O’Reilly was never a war correspondent, nor did he experience combat. O’Reilly was 1,000 miles away, in Buenos Ares. He covered one protest that turned violent, endangering his cameraman in the process, and getting himself yanked out of Argentina. CBS released O’Reilly’s 1982 footage, which confirmed that O’Reilly’s been spinning a yarn for years.
O’Reilly also threatened a New York Times reporter, because he didn’t like a Times article detailing Fox’s defense of O’Reilly, while he lied to the public for years. “I am coming after you with everything I have,” O’Reilly said. “You can take it as a threat."
O’Reilly’s been in the media long enough that surely he knows this is not the way to kill a story. (The most effective method would have been to ignore it.) Maybe he just can’t help himself. He has a long history of attacking reporters.
How much trouble is O’Reilly in? Things have gotten so desperate that O’Reilly is now defending President Obama. Days after lashing out at the liberal media for smearing him, in the guise of advising would-be GOP presidential candidates, O’Reilly told his audience that the president’s policies may be “controversial,” but there’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed.
After ranting last week that America “deserves to be destroyed” if it enacted net neutrality, this week Glenn Beck proved a bit of a sore loser. “You morons! You useful idiots! That’s all you are,” Beck bellowed at net neutrality supporters who were almost certainly not watching his show. “You’re a useful idiot. Read Joe Stalin. You moron!”
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel had everything going for him that an incumbent could hope for, but a populist uprising still forced him into a runoff, in a re-election campaign he was almost certain to win. Continue Reading →
Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for February 23rd through February 25th:
Is The Junk-Food Era Drawing To A Close? – Not long ago, the great processed-food companies like Kraft and Kellogg's towered over the US food landscape like the high hat that adorned the head of Chef Boyardee, the iconic canned-spaghetti magnate whose empire is now owned by ConAgra.
But now, Big Food has fallen on hard times
The Art of Masculinity – Placing black and Latino men at the center of race discussions in America is, of course, nothing new. But in recent years, as we discuss what seems to be a growing number of black and brown victims of police and vigilante violence, the conversation about race and masculinity has taken on a more urgent tone.
Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for February 22nd through February 23rd:
Most Americans Say the Rich Aren’t Taxed Enough – Tax season is here and more than two-thirds of Americans think the wealthy pay too little in federal dues, according to a new poll. What’s more, six in 10 say the middle class pays too much.
Talent Does Not Decide Whether You Succeed – It can be easy to ground ourselves with the notion that we don't have—or weren't born with—the talent to succeed. While some people may naturally have the upper hand in some skill sets, being successful at something really comes down to dedicating yourself to develop and master skills. Talent is just a starting point.
The Three Stooges of the Grand Obstructionist Party – Three grumpy old white men form a triumvirate of virtually everything that is wrong with the political system of abject dysfunction that currently is preventing anything positive or hopeful for the American people. Dick Cheney, Bill O'Reilly, and Rudy Giuliani represent a modern day version of the Three Stooges, take your pick who is who but for my money Cheney is Moe, O'Reilly is Larry, and Giuliani is Curly. But their antics, while reflective of the foolishness of their namesakes, have consequences that are all too real and destructive.
Why Do People Feel Entitled to Tell the Poor What to Eat? – Why do people think they’re entitled to decide how food stamps, in particular, are used? Not all government benefits elicit such feelings. When we give people assistance through the home-mortgage interest deduction, we don’t feel entitled to tell them what house to buy or what neighborhood to live in; when we subsidize a college education through student loans, we don’t tell students what school to go to or what to major in. When we tax capital gains income at a lower rate than income made from labor, we certainly don’t tell those stock pickers what to do with the extra cash.
Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for February 18th through February 19th:
Doctor Refuses to Treat Same-Sex Couple’s 6-Day-Old Baby – A flurry of state lawmakers are trying to pass “religious freedom” legislation that they say is necessary to stop the government from infringing on religious rights – but which would have the added effect of allowing businesses to discriminate. In Michigan, we're seeing exactly where this kind of ideology leads.
You Know You’re a Bigot When… – You know you're a bigot when you can't take out the word "Muslim" from a sentence you stated and replace it with "Jew" and still have it be socially acceptable.
While Republicans Block “Bomb Train” Safety Changes, A “Bomb Train” Explodes in West Virginia
On Monday, a tanker train carrying more than 3 million gallons of oil derailed in Fayette County, West Virginia, just outside of Montgomery. Nineteen tanker cars, each carrying up to 30,000 gallons of crude oil, left the track and caught fire, setting off an explosion that one resident said was “like an atomic bomb went off.” At least one tanker plunged into Armstrong Creek, a Kanawha river tributary.
No injuries or deaths were reported, but two homes were destroyed, and about 1,000 people were displaced. Two water treatment facilities were temporarily closed. The West Virginia National Guard is testing water samples, but has been unable to determine how much, if any, of the oil that spilled has made it into the Kanawha River, which supplies water to thousands of West Virginians.
Thanks to the boom in the Bakken shale oil patch in North Dakota and Montana, the number of rail cars used to ship crude oil has increased 4,000 percent — from 9,500 carloads in 2008, to 435,000 in 2013. They’re called “bomb trains” because they’ve been involved in similar accidents in Virginia, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Alabama. In 2013, 47 people were killed when a derailed train exploded near Lac-Mégantic, Quebec.
A similar accident in Lynchburg, Virginia, last year prompted the Obama administration to consider recommending safety upgrades, including thicker tanks, shields to prevent tankers from crumpling, rollover protections, and electronic brakes to stop tanks simultaneously, instead of slamming into each other. These requirements, currently under White House review, would cause tens of thousands of older tank cars used to carry oil and other flammable liquids to be phased out, costing the oil and rail industries billions of dollars.
It’s no surprise that the oil and rail industries are against these safety upgrades. They’d prefer better track maintenance and slower speeds, to spending money to make sure their tankers don’t explode. These industries have successfully blocked new recommendations from the Department of Transportation for twenty years, thanks in part to lawmakers like California Republican Rep. Jeff Denham, chairman of House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials
Rep. Denham’s industry backers got their money’s worth out of him this month. On February 3, almost two weeks before the train derailment in West Virginia, Denham’s subcommittee held a hearing titled, “How the Changing Energy Markets Will Affect U.S. Transportation,” featuring witnesses from the American Petroleum Institute and the Association of Railroads.
One witness got under Rep. Denham’s skin — Greg Saxton, chief engineer for the tank car manufacturer Greenbriar. Saxton was heavily quoted in an oped in The Modesto Bee, a paper in Denham’s home district. Saxton visited Lac-Mégantic, Quebec as the train cars were still smoldering. “There was a funeral every day,” Saxton recalled, “morning, noon, and night.” Saxton’s solution was to build a better tank car. His new design informed the safety upgrades currently under White House Review.
Denham made it clear where he stood.
Rep. Denham went to bat for the railway and oil industries, to delay safety standards for oil tankers rolling through American towns and cities every day — maybe yours. (Check here to find out if you live in an oil train blast zone.) Modesto is also home to Greenbriar’s manufacturing facility. New safety upgrades would likely mean new jobs in Rep. Denham’s home district, but he seems more concerned with making sure his industry friends don’t have to spend money upgrading their tankers. (After all, that means they can give more of it to his campaign. )
While conservatives like Rep. Denham play to an anti-science conservatism that values “liberty” over safety, and allow his corporate donors to put profit above public safety, the rest of us are left to wonder: When will the next “bomb train” go off? And where?
The Worst Sort of Violence Against Children – Keeping public schools defunded and dysfunctional is also a form of violence. Promoting privatization and competition when kids really just need resources is also cruelty. Pretending that standardized curriculum and tests are a Civil Right is also savagery. It’s called class warfare. Its most prominent victims are children. Its most active soldiers are teachers. And we’re on the front lines every day.
Could we please not forgive Sarah Palin? She is an unrepentant nightmare – Everyone. I am begging you. Do not participate in or encourage the aw-shucks redemption of Sarah Palin – or any other unrepentant nightmare person, for that matter. She does not deserve it. She is the same person she was in 2008 (though seemingly even more desperate and eager to pander) and she is still actively trying to make the world worse.
Lesley Gore, Feminist Icon – …while the girl group genre, at the behest of older male producers like Phil Spector, was dominated by songs that portrayed girls as boy-crazy damsels in distress—"The Leader of the Pack" by the Shangri Las and "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" by the Shirelles being iconic examples—Gore stood out by showing a more defiant, feminist side with her 1963 hit "You Don't Own Me." The song portrays a narrator standing up to her controlling, possessive boyfriend: "You don't own me, don't try to change me in any way/You don't own me, don't tie me down 'cause I'd never stay."
It’s not just Alabama. The Supreme Court is due to rule on marriage equality, and Justices Thomas and Ginsburg are already dropping hints that the court will rule in favor of marriage equality. So, the madness spread far beyond Alabama.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has written a letter asking Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen to explain her inaction and the Fed’s silence on Greece’s stand against austerity. The stakes are too high for the U.S. to let Greece go it alone.
“Make it clear to the leadership of the European Central Bank that the United States and the Federal Reserve object to actions that affect our national interest and risk U.S. and global financial stability through the unnecessary and counterproductive implementation of deflationary policies,” Sanders asks Yellen in the letter.
Report: Black Girls Face Extreme Inequality At School, But Little Is Being Done About It – Black girls around the country were suspended from school six times more often than their white counterparts during the 2011-2012 school year, even though they only represent a small share of public school enrollment. Black boys also faced disproportionate rates of discipline, but to a lesser degree. They were suspended at three times the rate of white boys.
This week, conservatives’ anti-science agenda blew up in their faces, Republican Aaron Schock landed in hot water for his interior design choices, and Bobby Jindal got an enlightening makeover.
No Vaccine For Stupid
It started innocently enough. Asked about a recent measles outbreak during a visit to London, New Jersey governor Chris Christie responded by backing parents who choose not to vaccinate their children. Sen. Rand Paul (R, Kentucky) weighed in, and — apparently channeling Michele Bachmann — said that vaccinations cause “profound mental disorders.” The usual anti-science wingnuttery ensued.
Conservatives tried to “teach the controversy,” but this time it didn’t work.
Washington Post writer Ben Terris created “a bit of a crisis” when he popped by Schock’s office to check things out. Then Schock’s interior decorator — Annie Brahler, of the (you can’t make the stuff up) Euro Trash design firm — invited him in to see the rest of the place. When Terris started snapping pictures, Schock’s communications director Benjamin Cole halted the tour, and later tried to pressure Terris into deleting the photographs and ditching the story.
UPDATE: It just keeps getting better. Colby Itkowitz, at WaPo, uncovered that Benjamin Cole was once featured in a film about “saving” the Jews. Filmed in 1999, the hour-long documentary about the Southern Baptists efforts to convert Jews never aired, but it was posted to YouTube. It’s now posted here for your viewing pleasure.
Will The Real Piyush “Bobby” Jindal Please Stand Up?