The Republic of T.

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

March 9, 2015
by terrance
Comments Off

Digest for March 9th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for March 9th from 12:52 to 12:59:

March 6, 2015
by terrance
Comments Off

Digest for March 4th through March 6th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for March 4th through March 6th:

  • Army Must Call Chelsea Manning A Woman: Court – Chelsea Manning, a transgender woman convicted of leaking national security secrets, must be referred to using feminine pronouns, a court ruled.
  • 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…
  • The Problem Is Way Bigger Than Ferguson, Justice Department Report Reveals – It was billed as an investigation of the Ferguson Police Department. But a hard-hitting report released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Justice also reads as an indictment of cities and towns…
  • 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.
  • Senate Republicans can’t promise a healthcare fix before the Supreme Court rules – As the Supreme Court hears King v. Burwell, a challenge that could strip the part of the Affordable Care Act that actually makes it affordable for millions of citizens, Senate Republican leadership says they might not have a fix by the time the court rules in June.
  • ‘It’s the Blackness That Scares Everybody': Why White People Favor ‘African-Americans’ – White people have a far more negative view of the term 'Black' than they do of the term 'African-American.'

March 6, 2015
by terrance
Comments Off

50 Years Later: The Long March From Selma To Ferguson

50 Years Later: The Long March From Selma To Ferguson

Fifty years after Selma, the Department of Justice Report on Ferguson reveals the same racism the Selma marchers stood against, and the same economic consequences.

On Wednesday, nearly fifty years after the “Bloody Sunday” march from Selma to Montgomery, the Department of Justice released a damning report of its investigation of the police department and municipal court system in Ferguson, Missouri. The Department of Justice (DOJ) report on Ferguson uncovers both the same racism the Selma marchers stood against, and the same economic consequences.

Continue Reading →

March 4, 2015
by terrance
Comments Off

President’s Task Force Takes Baby Steps To Post-Ferguson Policing Reform

In August, 100 social justice leaders, Members of Congress, faith leaders, artists, and activists signed an open letter to President Obama, laying out seven action areas in the wake of the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. This week, the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing released its interim report, with 59 recommendations that only partially address those seven action items. Continue Reading →

March 3, 2015
by terrance
Comments Off

Digest for February 25th through March 3rd

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for February 25th through March 3rd:

February 27, 2015
by terrance
Comments Off

Wingnut Week In Review: Papa Bear Roars

Wingnut Week In Review: Papa Bear Roars

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:

Meanwhile, O’Reilly claimed that criticism of his record is based on “professional jealousy,” because “We are putting tremendous pressure on the Obama administration to fight the terror savages.”

The Fox Network, which has stood by O’Reilly thus far, fell strangely quiet after the JFK revelation. O’Reilly has taken to threatening reporters. In response to the Mother Jones article, O’Reilly said, “I expect David Corn to be in the kill zone. Where he deserves to be.”

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.

CPAC 2015

It’s that time of year again. The Conservative Political Action Conference is in town. Things went awry before the conference even started, when CPAC organizers decided to open the virtual floor to questions from Twitter, via the #CPACQ hash tag.

It didn’t take liberals long to start having some fun with it.

And if that’s not bad enough, CPAC’s official mobile app can’t tell the difference between presidential hopeful Ben Carson and North Carolina Sen. Tim Scott.

At first, styling CPAC 2015 after “The Avengers” seemed like an odd choice.

Conservatives%20Advertise%20CPAC%20Using%20'Avengers'-like%20Poster%20-%20US%20News

But the speeches so far show that the right-wingers at CPAC thing we are all in danger, and they’re going to save us, by leading us in to a with ISIS.

Looney Tunes Legislators

In what may become a regular part of “Wingnut Week In Review,” here are the week’s nuttiest laws and lawmakers:

Here’s the best of the worst in wingnuttia this week:

February 25, 2015
by terrance
Comments Off

Digest for February 23rd through February 25th

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.
  • Michigan Judge Allows Atheist’s ‘Reason Station’ Inside City Hall – If a church can have a prayer station inside city hall, then an atheist can have a reason station there, too.
  • Op-Ed Columnist: Who Loves America? – Our allegiance needn’t — mustn’t — be blind to be true. We must acknowledge our warts if we are to proclaim our beauty.
  • Op-Ed Columnist: Knowledge Isn’t Power – Why education isn’t the answer to inequality.

February 24, 2015
by terrance
Comments Off

The GOP Can’t Run From Giuliani’s Hateful Rhetoric.

Republicans can’t run from Rudy Giuliani’s hateful rhetoric about President Obama’s patriotism, because the base won’t let them. This is who they are.

Last week, former New York Mayor and failed GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani ruined a quiet dinner, where anti-tax Republicans were vetting Wisconsin governor and possible presidential candidate Scott Walker, when he became the latest Republican to question President Obama’s patriotism. Continue Reading →

February 23, 2015
by terrance
Comments Off

Digest for February 22nd through February 23rd

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.
  • 5 Reasons White People Don’t Have to Hate People of Color to Be Racist – Here are some reasons why even the most “well-intended” white person can consciously and unconsciously still participate in racism:
  • How we die should be a personal choice, not the government’s – Many terminally ill patients fear dying slowly in pain. They'd like to cut short the agony.
  • This man is not a “moderate”: Why Jeb Bush is more conservative than you think – According to the dominant media narrative, Jeb Bush runs to the center. But history tells a different story
  • 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.
  • Bury Your Haters With a Smile: Why Success is Always the Best Revenge – If there’s one important thing to remember when it comes to the general population, it’s this: Most people get a kick out of hurting others.
  • Op-Ed Columnist: Straight Talk for White Men – The evidence is overwhelming that unconscious bias remains widespread in ways that systematically offer benefits based on race and gender.
  • 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.
  • Family of Alan Turing to demand government pardons 49,000 other men – Campaigners to bring petition to Downing Street, demanding all men convicted under gross indecency law for their homosexuality are pardoned

February 19, 2015
by terrance
Comments Off

Digest for February 18th through February 19th

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:

February 18, 2015
by terrance
Comments Off

While Republicans Block “Bomb Train” Safety Changes, A “Bomb Train” Explodes in West Virginia

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.

The West Virginia explosion came just days after another oil-bearing train derailed in Ontario, Canada. On Saturday, 29 railway cars of a 100-car train derailed, spilling oil and catching fire near Timmons, Ontario. Seven cars were still burning on Monday, when the West Virginia train derailed.

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

According to OpenSecrets, the oil and railroad industries were among the top ten contributors to Denham’s campaign committee in the last election cycle. In fact, Denham was among the top five recipients of railway money in the 2013–2014 election cycle.

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. )

Rep. Denham’s response isn’t just about earning his campaign contributions. Pushing back against safety upgrades for the hundreds of thousands of oil tankers traveling through American cities and towns is as much a part of conservatism itself as the “e. coli conservatism” that brought us multiple outbreaks of food contamination, and the anti-science conservatism that led potential GOP presidential candidates to come out against vaccinating children for measles — in the midst of a measles outbreak.

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?

February 17, 2015
by terrance
Comments Off

Digest for February 17th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for February 17th from 15:14 to 15:24:

  • Is Welfare Reform Causing Earlier Deaths? – We’ve reformed the social safety net at the cost of human lives.
  • 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.
  • Guess we don’t live in a post-racial world after all: 13 disturbing criminal justice statistics – Next time someone tells you we live in a post-racial world– after all, we have a black president– show them these stats.
  • 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."

February 13, 2015
by terrance
Comments Off

Wingnut Week In Review: Standing in the Courthouse Door

Standing in the Courthouse Door

After a federal judge struck down Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage, “Ten Commandments” judge Roy Moore channelled governor George Wallace, and all the usual wingnuttery ensued.

More than 50 years ago, Alabama governor George Wallace literally stood “in the schoolhouse door,” to prevent the integration of the University of Alabama. Wallace argued that “states’ rights” allowed Alabama to keep its school’s segregated, and that the federal government had no authority to demand it integrate.

This week, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore figuratively stood in the courthouse door, in defiance of a court ruling that struck down Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage. Moore’s argument is essentially the same one Wallace used.

The usual wingnuttery commenced.

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.

To shed more light on the subject, Redneck News anchor Jeremy Todd Addaway reported on the changes same-sex marriage is bringing to Alabama.

Here’s the rest of the best in wingnuttia this week:

February 12, 2015
by terrance
Comments Off

Obama’s Right: Shame On Staples. Shame On The Republican House, Too.

The president is right. Staples is cutting workers’ hours (and paychecks) to avoid providing health insurance. Shame on them, but that’s only half the story.

Earlier this week, Buzzfeed reported that the office supply giant Staples, Inc., has begun limiting part-time employees to no more than 25 hours per week. The company rolled out the new rules just in time to avoid the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate, which kicks in this year. The mandate requires companies like Staples to pay for health benefits for “full-time” employees, which it defines as anyone working more than 30 hours per week.

Buzzfeed editor in chief Ben Smith asked President Obama about Staples blatant attempt to dodge covering its employees. The president didn’t hold back. Continue Reading →

February 10, 2015
by terrance
Comments Off

We Must Not Let Greece Go It Alone

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.

In other words, take a side. Continue Reading →

February 10, 2015
by terrance
Comments Off

Digest for February 6th through February 10th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for February 6th through February 10th:

February 6, 2015
by terrance
Comments Off

Wingnut Week In Review: No Vaccine For Stupid

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.

An Office Fit For A …

Of all the rumors going around about Rep. Aaron Shrock (R, Illinois), there’s one we can definitely confirm. He doesn’t like to talk about it, but Rep. Aaron Shock is such a big fan of the hit PBS show “Downton Abbey,” that he had his Capitol Hill office decorated in the style of the “red room” on the show.

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.

Schock may have an ethical crisis on his hands. Brahler did the redesign for free, which may violate an old House rule prohibiting members from accepting “gifts of services, training, transportation, lodging, and meals,” valued at more than $50. Indeed, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has filed an ethics complaint against Schock for taking the free interior design work. Rep. Schock has offered to pay the decorator for her work, probably to avoid an ethics inquiry.

The real question here is, why would a guy who voted to defund PBS decorate his office in the style of a PBS show?

Benjamin Cole is now Rep. Schock’s former communications director. The spotlight on his boss also uncovered some of Cole’s racist Facebook posts

bencole1

The National Zoo was closed that week, due to the federal government shutdown that Schock voted for, inspiring Cole to compare Blacks to zoo animals.

In another post, Cole suggested a mosque should be built on White House grounds, for the president.

bencole2

Cole resigned following the revalation of his racially-charged comments. The question is, would anyone hire a communications director dumb enough to post stuff like that on social media? Probably. Some right-wing outfit will gladly put Cole on the payroll.

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?

This is a portrait of Louisiana’s Republican governor, Piyush Jindal, painted by a constituent. (Piyush is Jindal’s real first name, but he was nicknamed “Bobby” as a child — after the youngest son in “The Brady Bunch.”) On loan from the constituent, it hung in the governor’s office.

jindalportrait_792a92b2b7a36c63a908a38c7c582444

This is Piyush “Bobby” Jindal’s official portrait as governor.

jindal5n-3-web

This is Piyush “Bobby” Jindal.

Bobby_Jindal,_official_109th_Congressional_photo

Got a problem with that? Bobby Jindal says you’re a “race-baiter” if you do. Jindal is a big fan of forced “assimilation” for brown-skinned immigrants entering the US, but this is taking things a bit too far. It’s one thing to demand that people shed their cultural identity. It’s a whole other thing to expect them to shed some melanin too.

Here’s the best of the rest of the worst in wingnuttery this week: