The Republic of T.

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

June 5, 2014
by terrance
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How The Right Shoots Down Political Discourse

Guns — their presence, and all it portends — are increasingly invading every corner of our every day lives. They have morphed into a form of symbolic speech that threatens to shoot down our political discourse.

It seemed almost too good to be true, when the National Rifle Association issued a press release criticizing the recent antics of “open carry” activists.  It was too good to be true. The NRA quickly reversed itself, and apologized.

“Open carry” activists are gun owners who insist upon the right to openly carry their firearms, everywhere. Open carry protests at restaurants like Chipotle, Sonic, Starbucks, and Chili’s have led those chains to prohibit firearms in their restaurants. Polling places may be next.

The NRA’s first press release was a reaction to alarming behavior by open carry activists:

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June 4, 2014
by terrance
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Digest for June 4th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for June 4th from 16:21 to 16:50:

  • “Courage Is Not a Man With a Gun in His Hand”: Atticus Finch and the Open Carry Fad – While I doubt that the great American novel To Kill a Mockingbird is on the NRA's or the various "open carry" groups reading lists (one wonders what is), it might be useful to revisit one of the pivotal chapters in Harper Lee's compelling novel in order to understand the mentality behind armed groups of mostly white men laying siege to family restaurants.
  • The Real Villains of the Bergdahl Tale – The right-wing media is denouncing Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl as a “deserter” who wasn’t worth ransoming from the Taliban, but the real villains are the architects of the disastrous Iraq and Afghan wars who frivolously put the many Bergdahls in harm’s way, writes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.
  • Bullies in books help us tackle the real life ones – From Miss Trunchbull in Matilda to Estella in Great Expectations, Sarah Moore Fitzgerald explores how lessons in literature can help us find ways to stand up to bullying in real life
  • Is the Prisoner Swap Hysteria a Sign of GOP War Withdrawal Symptoms? – The problem for the happy warriors among the conservatives is that they can’t stop Obama from winding down America’s decade of war.
  • New Film Decries The Return Of Debtors Prisons – Over the past decade, towns and counties across the United States have been locking up a growing number of people for failing to pay their debts. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Brennan Center for Justice documented the practice in 2010, and Human Rights Watch released the results of its own investigation earlier this year.
  • It’s still Santorum’s party: Pro-LGBT Republican group GOProud folds – A quixotic attempt to carve out a relevant pro-LGBT space in the modern GOP fails
  • When Fox News Declared War on a Military Family – It's symptomatic of a conservative media mini-mob that now obsessively politicizing everything, and does it all with the knob turned up to 11.
  • Therapy Benefits Us All – In 2008, I went to therapy. By then, I’d needed it for a long time. I had a terribly difficult, incurable condition — one I’d had for 28 years without treatment.

    My condition? Being human.

  • Republicans Aren’t Pro-Life – One of the main platforms of the Republicans is that, as a party, they say they are definitively pro-life. But if you really look closely at their stance on weapons, abortion, food stamps, global warming, minimum wage, veterans, prisons, etc… you have to wonder how they can make that claim.

June 3, 2014
by terrance
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Digest for June 2nd through June 3rd

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for June 2nd through June 3rd:

June 2, 2014
by terrance
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Digest for June 2nd

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for June 2nd from 10:09 to 13:55:

May 28, 2014
by terrance
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Digest for May 28th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for May 28th from 11:27 to 11:38:

  • Empathy Workout: Brain Training May Boost Altruism – Can you teach empathy?Scientists using a new combination of brain scans and old-fashioned biofeedback techniques say they helped people focus and boost their feelings of affection and empathy.
  • Leonard Pitts Jr.: Enough slaughter – I am running out of words.
  • Elliot Rodger and America’s ongoing masculinity crisis – A comprehensive breakdown of the 70 mass shootings over the past 32 years — and what they have in common
  • Republicans for More Fat Kids – Is it really cost that’s driving the House GOP to fight Michelle Obama on school lunches? Of course not—it’s the culture wars, the sugar lobby, and plain old hatred of her husband.
  • If Liberals Really Were Hostile to Religion…. – If you put aside those who (a) profess to be mortally offended by the removal of officially sanctioned religious expressions like municipal creches or school prayers, or (b) consider it an act of persecution to be denied taxpayer support for the religious education of their children, or (c) regard themselves as martyred by the obligation to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's by obeying equal employment or health insurance laws, it's really, really hard to find even semi-plausible examples of threats to "religious liberty" in this country.
  • White Guy Killer Syndrome – Black men are not rolling into college campuses and movie theaters to shoot large numbers of people.
  • “I don’t care about your sympathy”: Father of Isla Vista victim urges action, slams politicians for gun control cowardice – "I don’t give a %$&* that you feel sorry for me," Martinez told politicians. "Get to work and do something"
  • Let’s Stop Subsidizing Economic Inequality – Why must you and I foot the bill, via our taxes, for the callousness of Wal-Mart or Domino's?
  • 7 Pieces of Timeless Wisdom From Maya Angelou – Maya Angelou, acclaimed poet, author, and civil rights activist, died Wednesday at the age of 86. Mother Jones had the opportunity to interview Angelou almost twenty years ago. Our reporter, Ken Kelley, wrote that she "speaks in the lilting cadence of the dancer she was trained to be. She moves with the sure grace of the poet she was born to be." Her words of wisdom are as true now as they were in 1995. Here are seven excerpts from the interview:

May 22, 2014
by terrance
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Digest for May 22nd

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for May 22nd from 14:07 to 14:43:

  • Stop Trying to Fix Your Son. He’s Not Broken – Your son doesn’t need you to point out his limitations, he needs you to guide him to make the right choices in life. He needs you to see his possibilities. He needs you to encourage him as he faces daily struggles, pressures and criticism from society. He needs your comfort and help. He needs you to have realistic expectations and allow for mistakes. He needs your reassurance that you believe in him and love him unconditionally.
  • Your Guide to the Gay Marriage Fight – After a federal judge struck down Pennsylvania’s gay marriage ban this week, the state became the 25th where gay marriage is currently legal—kinda. In seven of those states, courts have struck down gay marriage bans but gays can’t marry yet because appeals on those decisions are pending. In the other half of the country, gay marriage bans remain in effect, although all but three are facing court challenges. What’s your state’s marital status? The map below, developed and updated by Mother Jones, charts the ongoing battle for gay rights. Click on a state for more information about it.
  • Republican Medicaid refusal leaves over 250,000 veterans uninsured – Republicans sure have a lot to say about our veterans and the country's need do support them, but when it comes time to act? They filibuster funding for an expansion of their healthcare program. They also leave 258,600 veterans uninsured. That's how many low-income veterans don't have access to health care through the Veteran's Administration and don't have access to Medicaid because their Republican lawmakers have refused to take the Obamacare expansion.
  • States are falling for marriage equality. Which will be the last one standing? | Steven W Thrasher – History does not judge well the last people to end discrimination, and it's getting more and more difficult to stop doing the right thing
  • Program for veterans with traumatic brain injuries endangered because Republicans and funding – The program costs between $100 million and $200 million, and the alternatives are more expensive in the long term and less effective for the veterans. Republicans and Democrats both want to pass it. But Republicans already filibustered a veterans' healthcare bill in February, and now this small piece is being held up by, y'know, cost concerns.
  • The Roots of the GOP’s Race Problem – Thursday is the 50th anniversary of the Great Society and the civil rights push. But if conservative hero Barry Goldwater had had his way, government would have stayed out of it.
  • The Truth About Race In America: It’s Getting Worse, Not Better – The woman battling the Republican governor and state house to get Medicaid expanded in Kansas is the state insurance commissioner and a life-long Republican.
  • All In America, the battle for healthcare – The woman battling the Republican governor and state house to get Medicaid expanded in Kansas is the state insurance commissioner and a life-long Republican.
  • Still a Nation of Immigrants – NYTimes.com – Yet many of the groups driving the diversification aren’t seizing the electoral power that comes with being here.

May 20, 2014
by terrance
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Who Will Reach The Rising American Electorate?

The rising American electorate that twice propelled Barack Obama into the White House could be a deciding factor in 2014, if either party reaches out with a message that addresses concerns of its diverse constituencies and motivates them to vote.

The “rising American electorate” is the name given to the core of the electoral majority behind Barack Obama’s victories in 2008 and in 2012. In both elections, the Obama campaign reached out to the rising American electorate with a message that united the diverse groups at its core, and policies that addressed the concerns of each.

At The New Populism Conference on Thursday, an afternoon session will be devoted to the plight of the rising American electorate in today’s economy and how a populist progressive movement can address their concerns and mobilize them to be a force at the voting booth. The all-day conference will be live-streamed on the conference web page, the Free Speech TV website and other sites.

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May 19, 2014
by terrance
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Digest for May 19th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for May 19th from 11:03 to 11:07:

May 19, 2014
by terrance
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Digest for May 14th through May 19th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for May 14th through May 19th:

May 14, 2014
by terrance
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Digest for May 12th through May 14th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for May 12th through May 14th:

  • How the Right Wing Is Killing Women – A woman giving birth in America is more than twice as likely to die as a woman in Saudi Arabia or China.
  • ‘If you’re trying and not succeeding, the welfare system today gives you basically nothing’ – In theory, a welfare system should achieve two goals: It should reward people who are working to get out of poverty, and it should help those with the greatest disadvantages. Right now the country is doing a lot more to achieve one than the other. And the end result is that we appear to have built a system that does the least for the people who are worst off.
  • GOP’s “lawless” obsession: Gross obstructionism incites attacks on Obama – When a party believes a president is illegitimate, any performance of basic tasks is a scandalous power grab
  • Stemming the Tide of Recidivism: Banning ‘the Box’ – Today, 70 million Americans have criminal records—nearly one third of the American adult population. Studies reveal that formerly incarcerated people with stable employment are far less likely to reoffend than those who are unemployed. But too often, they’re hindered by the employer practice of asking about prior convictions, which for many serves as an instant disqualification. As a result, former offenders have a permanent stigma that prevents their successful reintegration into society, despite their best efforts.
  • Backsliding on Educational Equality – If you truly believe our nation should aim for authentic equality, check out your state’s affirmative action laws. Find out whether they have affirmative action bans or if any are pending. Contact your local and state representatives and get involved in efforts to maintain affirmative action in education, government employment, and contracts.
  • Paul Ryan’s Approach To Poverty Is Straight Out Of The 19th Century – Whoever the bogeyman, the conservative response springs from the same core belief that too much government assistance causes the problem it's supposed to solve, and that any decent person can make it in America if he or she tries hard enough.
  • Top 5 Signs That It Is Karl Rove Who Is Brain Dead, Not Hillary Clinton – Karl Rove was reported to have raised questions about Hillary Clinton’s mental well-being because of her fall in late 2012.
  • Michael Sam, football player and pioneer | Opinion | McClatchy DC – Let's hope that in not too many years Michael Sam will be known more for his talent on the football field and less for being the first openly gay player drafted in NFL history.
  • Americans Think They’re Smarter Than Average, Especially Rich White Guy Americans – You may think you’re smart, but you’re dumb. I’m simplifying ('cause you’re dumb), but that is the cheering overall conclusion of a new survey by the research organization YouGov. The online questionnaire of 991 Americans finds that 55 percent believe they are smarter than the average person.
  • How His Mama Made Him – My partner and I have a running joke, that his mother can’t stand the person she raised him to be.

    It’s that kind of joke that has more than a little truth in it.

May 12, 2014
by terrance
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Digest for May 12th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for May 12th from 10:46 to 10:51:

May 7, 2014
by terrance
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Why The Lawlessness At Bundy’s Ranch Must Not Stand

Right-wing lawlessness continues apace at Cliven Bundy’s ranch, where supporters who were itching to shoot police officers and federal agents, nearly shot each other instead. Some citizens want the “militia” out. Can this thing end without bloodshed?

Standoff At The Ranch

It was inevitable that the “militiamen” who flocked to Cliven Bundy’s ranch would turn their guns on each other. It’s poetic that the people who rushed to defend Bundy’s mythological “ancestral rights” to flout federal law, would draw guns against one another over their own delusions.

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May 5, 2014
by terrance
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Digest for May 5th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for May 5th from 13:18 to 13:24:

  • Dehumanizing the Poor for Fun and Profit – For Sterling, Bundy and their amoral company, the good old days were pre-emancipation, when white men like them were men, and federal law said black men were, well, only three-fifths human.
  • In Deep South Where GOP Rejected Obamacare, Tens of Thousands Die Unnecessarily Every Year – The Center for Disease Control house found that 900,000 people a year die of five leading causes every year in the US, and that 20% to 40% of these deaths are preventable (i.e. 180,000 to 360,000 needn’t die).
  • How We Lost 200 Black Girls in 12 Days – Historically, far too little has been done about missing black children.
  • How Oklahoma’s GOP Governor Turned a Heinous Killer Into a Death-Penalty Martyr – Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) has done what almost no death penalty foe has been able to do in decades of fighting capital punishment: She’s made the country feel sorry for a heinous killer. Last week, she turned a man who shot a 19-year-old woman and watched as she was buried alive, into exhibit A as to why the death penalty should be abolished.
  • What makes U.S. ‘primitive, backward’? – The recent and ghastly botched execution of a man in Oklahoma has rekindled my thoughts on capital punishment — a practice outlawed in most civilized countries. Indeed, most of the industrialized world looks with horror on the United States, in this regard, as a primitive and backward country.
  • Quantifying the Effects of Homophobia – Data confirms that antigay laws do society more harm than good.
  • Do Men Cling To Their Mask of Masculinity? – Graham Phoenix used to regard the life he was leading as a lie. His fear was that people would see him as weak, indecisive and scared. He wonders whether this is typical for men?
  • The Black Man in the White House: Racism Is Alive and Well in America – While many say racism is over and point to the fact that America has its first black president, Barack Obama's election actually ignited racial tension in the country, rather than ending it. As a result white supremacists, hate crimes and Internet sites like Stormfront have grown exponentially.
  • Robert Reich: The 4 Biggest Right-Wing Lies About Inequality – Despite Piketty's proof that inequality is epic, the right clings desperately to its mythology.

    Even though French economist Thomas Piketty has made an air-tight case that we’re heading toward levels of inequality not seen since the days of the nineteenth-century robber barons, right-wing conservatives haven’t stopped lying about what’s happening and what to do about it.

    Herewith, the four biggest right-wing lies about inequality, followed by the truth.

May 2, 2014
by terrance
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Bundy’s “Militia” Is Lawlessness of a Different Color

At what point do armed citizens consider themselves the law, based on little more than their numbers and their guns? The latest news from Bundy Ranch, raises this and many other questions.

The Bureau of Land Management called an end to its gather of Cliven Bundy’s cattle. Even though the agency was well within its rights to take action — considering that Bundy owes more than $1million in unpaid grazing fees, and the courts have repeatedly ruled against him for 20 years — it stood down after well-armed, self-appointed “militias” rush to defend Bundy’s freeloading, rather than give right right-wing another Waco or Ruby Ridge myth to rally around. 

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April 30, 2014
by terrance
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Can Conservatives Stop Defending Slavery?

Cliven Bundy isn’t the first conservative to defend slavery, but he may be one of the first condemned by fellow conservatives for doing so. Does this mean conservatives are ready to stop defending slavery, if only for the sake of their political future?

Conservatives have a peculiar relationship with America’s “peculiar institution.” On one hand, right-wingers appropriate slavery to describe everything they dislike. On the other hand, conservatives consistently claim that slavery wasn’t so bad. Cliven Bundy is only the latest:

  • March 2006: Adele Fergusen wrote in the Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal, that the “pony in the manure pile” of slavery is “that it was the ticket to America for black people,” and that blacks should “consider their presence here as the work of God, who wanted to bring them to this new, raw country and used slavery to achieve it.”
  • October 2006:“Reparative Therapy” specialist Gerald Schoenewolf, wrote in an essay published on the website of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), “Africa at the time of slavery was still primarily a jungle … Life there was savage … and those brought to America, and other countries, were in many ways better off.”
  • January 2007: Virginia Delegate Frank Hargrove told the Daily Progress of Charlottesville that blacks should “get over” slavery.
  • January 2007: Conservative blogger Mark Graber argued that Dred Scott v. Sanford was rightly decided.
  • September 2007: Conservative columnist Michael Medved wrote a 6 point defense of slavery, consisting of “six inconvenient truths.”
  • March 2008: Pat Buchanan wrote that blacks should be “grateful” for slavery.
  • February 2010: Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) said that, “Far more of the African American community is being devastated by the policies of today than were being devastated by the policies of slavery.”
  • June 2010: Glenn Beck launched into a bizarre defense and declared that race relations in colonial America were good until the Civil War: “The things that have happened in this country where it really starts to wrong was the lead up to the Civil War, and it became politicized and it was all about slavery, before then we were moving on the right track.”
  • September 2011: South Carolina Senate President, Republican Glenn McDonnell came under fire after pictures surface of him at a Republican event,  dressed in a Confederate army uniform, with two African Americans  dressed as slaves. McDonnell, a Civil War re-enactor who has been photographed in Confederate garb before, defended the event and the photos.
  • November 2010: Rep. Steve King (R, Iowa) said the USDA’s settlement with black farmers is “slavery reparations” cooked up by a “very, very urban” President Barack Obama.
  • January 2011: Glenn Beck defended the “three-fifths clause” of the U.S. constitution on his Fox News show.
  • October 2012: Arkansas state Rep. John Hubbard wrote in his self-published book, “Letters To The Editor: Confessions Of A Frustrated Conservative,” that slavery “may have actually been a blessing in disguise” for African-Americans.
  • October 2012: Arkansas state Rep. Loy Mauch wrote to a local newspaper asking, “If slavery were so God-awful, why didn’t Jesus or Paul condemn it, why was it in the Constitution and why wasn’t there a war before 1861?”
  • March 2013: An audience member, during a panel on minority outreach at the Conservative Political Action Committee conference, asked why Frederick Douglass forgave his former master for, “Feeding him and housing him.”
  • June 2013: Virginia candidate for lieutenant governor E. W. Jackson said government programs had done more harm to black families than slavery.
  • October 2013: Nevada Republican Assemblyman Jim Wheeler said that he would vote to reinstate slavery, if that’s what his constituents wanted.
  • March 2014: Film critic James Bowman complained in the American Spectator that the movie “12 Years A Slave” did not portray any, “kind masters or contented slaves.”

But unlike the conservatives above, Bundy’s statements were met with — albeit qualified, lukewarm, and reluctant — condemnation from some of the very same conservatives who were his enthusiastic supporters days earlier.

Defending slavery is likely to be a hard habit for conservatives to break. It has deep roots in modern conservatism, going all the way back to John Rushdoony, father of the Christian Reconstructionist movement that fueled American fundamentalism, and spawned organizations like Focus on the family and the American Family Association. Rushdoony described Southern slavery as “benevolent” and wrote, “Some people are by nature slaves and will always be so.”

Defending slavery is also one way conservatives “play the race card.” It worked, because conservative media enabled them, the same way that people enable a  chronic gambler by paying his debts while denying there’s a problem. Republicans were able to get away with it because of a base willing to support an agenda that harms them, so long as it doesn’t help “the wrong people.”

But “playing the race card” doesn’t work so well for conservatives anymore. The GOP made itself the party of white people. It has grown whiter still by re-drawing district lines around huge chunks of their base, while systematically concentrating Democratic voters — especially African-Americans — into as few districts as possible.

The strategy has created a huge demographic problem for the GOP. While the U.S. population is growing more diverse, and the electorate along with it, Republican districts are isolated from demographic changes. Republicans in Congress still represent mostly white districts.

As a result, Republicans aren’t used to talking to — or listening to — non-white voters, because for so long they haven’t had to do so to win. And maybe they won’t have to for a long time, if Republicans limit themselves to just holding the House and maybe retaking the Senate. But Republicans want to win national elections in the future, they’re going to have to learn. Not defending slavery anymore is a good place to start.