The Republic of T.

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

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.

April 28, 2014
by terrance
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Digest for April 21st through April 28th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for April 21st through April 28th:

April 21, 2014
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Digest for April 21st

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for April 21st from 13:33 to 14:19:

  • The Real Money-Making Methods of the Super-Rich Are Far From Praiseworthy – The effects of inheritance come first and merit second, not the other way around.
  • 5 Ways American Policies and Attitudes Make Us Lonely, Anxious, and Antisocial – With mountains of knowledge, why aren’t we better at setting up our society in a way that helps us to prosper? Isn’t that the point of having a society in the first place? Unfortunately, ours is increasingly designed by politicians indebted to the 1 percent for the express purpose of enhancing and maintaining the power of the very top rung. The rest of us are left to cope with a rocky, competitive life path that leaves us isolated and exhausted. Inequality is stunting our growth as human beings.
  • The Terrible Fear of Paying the Poor Too Much – Republicans in America suffer a crippling anxiety. It’s the terrible fear of corporations paying poor workers too much.
  • How to behave – In the confusing world of modern manners, an etiquette guide would be a great help
  • Obama and David Brooks’s Manhood Problem – You know who had a “manhood” problem? George W. Bush. He acted childishly, wantonly invading Iraq without a shred of international legality, because Saddam “tried to kill my daddy.” He even adopted the diction of a 4-year-old as he initiated the mass slaughter of several hundred thousand people and the displacement of millions. You see, the opposite of “manly” is not, as Brooks imagines, “cautious.” It is childish petulance.
  • Counting the votes of African Americans and Latinos is the real vote suppression – Once you let those illegitimate votes count, Real Americans are denied their franchise. In fact, counting the votes of African Americans and Latinos is the real vote suppression.

April 17, 2014
by terrance
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Digest for April 17th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for April 17th from 14:11 to 14:16:

April 17, 2014
by terrance
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Digest for April 9th through April 17th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for April 9th through April 17th:

  • Reuters: ‘Americans increasingly prefer Democrats on health care’ – Nearly one-third of respondents in the online survey released on Tuesday said they prefer Democrats' plan, policy or approach to healthcare, compared to just 18 percent for Republicans. This marks both an uptick in support for Democrats and a slide for Republicans since a similar poll in February.
  • The 1% Wants to Ban Sleeping in Cars Because It Hurts Their ‘Quality of Life’ – Depriving homeless people of their last shelter in life is Silicon Valley at its worst.
  • Bacon Is Not a Vegetable – As a vegetarian, I have to walk a fine line.

    Really, I’m not judging you. But I often find it necessary to establish myself as “not a threat” to meat eaters. I also occasionally bump up against militant vegans.

  • Death by Stalling – Compassion for the dying is gaining traction. It’s about time.

    In 1948, 37 percent of Americans supported the idea behind the “death with dignity” movement. Last year, 70 percent of us did. While that number leveled off two decades back, how big a majority does an issue need to be worthy of some attention?

  • Prop 8 Lawyer’s Views On Gay Marriage Evolving – The lawyer who argued before the Supreme Court in favor of upholding California's ban on gay marriage learned while he was handling the case that one of his children is gay and now is helping her plan her wedding with another woman.
  • Latest Gallup Result: 12 Million Newly Insured Under Obamacare – Speaking of the uninsured, I inexplicably failed to blog about the latest Gallup results yesterday. Based on polling that goes through mid-April, Gallup now estimates that about 12 million people have gained insurance since Obamacare rolled out last year.
  • Blindsided by Dental Bills? What You Can Do – The ABC News Fixer fills a cavity in a reader’s wallet, has tips for you.
  • Start saving now: Day care costs more than college in 31 states – College costs loom large in the parental mind. According to a 2013 report by Sallie Mae, half of parents are putting away money for their kids' education. Those who aren't are fretting about it, saying that they feel "frustrated," "overwhelmed" and "annoyed" when they think about college savings. But most parents will deal with an even larger kid-related expense long before college, and it's a cost that very few of them are as prepared for. That expense is day care.
  • Blunder Reveals GOP’s Dark Heart – It’s not Kirsten Kukowski’s fault she only had gibberish to spout about workplace gender fairness. It’s the fault of her party and its culture—and the GOP will pay for it with women.
  • More Blacks Have Health Insurance Because of ACA – The number of African Americans who lacked health insurance dropped dramatically in 2014's first quarter compared to 2013's fourth quarter thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which Republicans threaten to repeal if they win control of both houses of Congress in November's national elections.

April 11, 2014
by terrance
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The Ryan Budget Shows What Republicans Want To Do To America

Sometimes a budget is a moral document. Sometimes it’s a threat. With the passage of Rep. Paul Ryan’s latest austerian budget, the GOP is once again spelling out very clearly what they want to do to America. It’s not a threat, but a promise that Americans must make sure Republicans never have the power to fulfill.

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April 9, 2014
by terrance
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Digest for April 8th through April 9th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for April 8th through April 9th:

April 8, 2014
by terrance
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Digest for April 8th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for April 8th from 13:37 to 13:58:

  • Why Race Has Been The Real Story Of Obama’s Presidency All Along – A few weeks ago, the liberal comedian Bill Maher and conservative strategist and pundit Bill Kristol had a brief spat on Maher’s HBO show, putatively over what instigated the tea party but ultimately over the psychic wound that has divided red America and blue America in the Obama years.
  • Gallup: The uninsured rate is lowest since 2008 – So now will Republicans say Gallup is cooking their books to show millions more people have gained health insurance because of Obamacare?
  • The Ryan Budget: How I Spent My Weekend – Hypothetically, if you wanted to distill every form of right-wing economic lunacy into a 100-page document, then hypothetically, it would be the Ryan Budget. It's all in there, and I had to cuddle up with it this weekend.
  • Cosmos Shows How to Do Equity – No, I’m not just talking about the fact that the new host, Neil deGrasse Tyson, is Black—although it is hugely important to have visible Black scientists as role models for people of all colors. I also love a line in the first episode, describing the initial encounter between Europeans and Native Americans: “For better or worse, the two halves of the world discovered each other.”
  • WATCH: Melissa Harris-Perry Rebukes Mississippi Gov. – This Saturday, in the regular "Open Letter" segment of her MSNBC show Melissa Harris-Perry, MHP addressed Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, rebuking him for signing a "right to discriminate" bill targeting the LGBT community.

April 2, 2014
by terrance
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In The GOP’s “ConservaCare” Alternatives, The Bugs Are Actually Features

More than seven million Americans have enrolled in health insurance through Obamacare, meeting the goal set by the Congressional Budget Office. Meanwhile, support for Obamacare has surpassed opposition, with 49 percent supporting, and 48 percent opposing the law in a Washington Post/ABC News poll; 47 percent support Republican “repeal and replace” efforts, while 49 percent oppose them.

All Republicans offered in response were excuse-making attempts to “debunk” Obamacare’s success, and “trutherist” claims that “the books were cooked.” Republicans might have a shot at relevance if they have alternative, that come close to accomplishing what the Affordable Care Act has.

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April 1, 2014
by terrance
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Digest for April 1st

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for April 1st from 11:09 to 16:52:

  • Just Look At This Couple And Then Tell Me That Marriage Equality Should Be Banned – Jack and Ted were together for 25 years, and they couldn't get married in their home state.
  • Why Atheists Making Up .07% of America’s Prison Population Is Threatening to Christian Fundamentalists – Religious fundamentalists often proclaim that if atheists don’t like their Christian America they can leave. It's worth reminding them that if every atheist left, America would lose 85 percent of its scientists — not that the fundamentalists love science exactly — and less than one percent of its prison population. That's a tricky one for the self-proclaimed righteous ones, because godlessness supposedly leads to sinful behavior. But the facts are the facts.
  • Meet The Obamacare Enrollment Truthers – On the final day of open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act, right-wing media have resorted to echoing Republicans and accusing the White House of "cooking the books" on the latest enrollment figures.
  • Best defense a child rapist can have is a silver spoon – In case you wondered if there were two different justice systems in this country, consider this.

    Start with Robert H. Richards IV, an unemployed man who nevertheless has two million-dollar homes. He can do that sort of thing because he's a du Pont heir, and despite the horrors of the "death tax," he's still mooching his entire life without doing anything productive because of his family lineage.

  • Big Gains for Obamacare – New poll shows big gains in public support for Obamacare.
  • Take heart Republicans. You’ve kept millions of kids from getting health coverage – Republicans can take heart on this sad Obamacare enrollment good news day because they've achieved something in their relentless war on health insurance: They've kept millions of children off of the health care coverage rolls.
  • The School-to-Prison Pipeline Starts in Preschool – A study conducted by US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights shows that black preschoolers (yes, four and five year olds) make up almost half of all out-of-school suspensions for preschoolers. What any preschool student has to do in order to be suspended is beyond me. That said, black students are receiving the message — at younger and younger ages — that their behavior will be regarded differently, as inherently more disruptive and therefore more deserving of punishment. They are being denied the right to their formative years of education and socialization. And then we wonder why there is an “education gap.”
  • Celebrating Bigotry in Uganda – If for some reason you need a buzzkill today, BuzzFeed has one in a report on a "five-hour celebration" in Kampala of Uganda's new Anti-Homosexuality Law, apparently a joint production by President Yoweri Museveni and (a special buzzkill for me) the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda.

March 31, 2014
by terrance
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The “Billionaire’s Primary”: Meet America’s New Political Bosses

The Republican 2016 presidential primary season opened with the “Sheldon Adelson Primary.” The eight wealthiest person in the country, worth an estimated $40 billion, doesn’t have to wait for the official GOP primary season to start. He holds his own primary.

Republicans even called it “the Sheldon Primary.”Adelson granted audience to GOP presidential hopefuls at the spring meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, in Las Vegas. Over the course of four days of Scotch tastings, golf, poker tournaments, and private meetings, the 80-year-old casino mogul examined the GOP’s most likely 2016 presidential candidates.

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March 26, 2014
by terrance
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Digest for March 19th through March 26th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for March 19th through March 26th:

  • Wal-Mart Manager Speaks out About His Store’s Ugly Reality – From no time off, to working multiple roles at once, here's what's really going on at the mega-chain.
  • Inherited wealth is an injustice. Let’s end it – Inheritance, which rewards the wealthy for doing nothing, is once again becoming a key route to riches just as it was in the Victorian era
  • Obamacare and the Self-Made Man – "Every American regardless of his means must have access to reasonable health care. In the absence of a single-payer system, every American regardless of his means must purchase health insurance in the marketplace to guarantee such access."

    What in these words (and their equivalents) raises such ire in decent folk? Americans on the whole are decent folk and selfishness or other immoral motives therefore do not likely underly their anger. Instead, I believe much of their anger turns on the myth of the self-made man. Let me explain.

  • The Sad Death of One Penniless Adjunct Professor Is Still Making a Surprising Difference – If one obscure college professor dies, does it make any difference? If you're Margaret Mary Vojtko, yes.

    Margaret Mary died last summer at age 83 — and her death has turned her name into an emotional rallying cry for adjunct college teachers who're seeking justice from their schools.

  • The Minimum Wage Fight Is A Fight For Women – The states with elected officials most likely to espouse anti-taker sentiments — i.e., Republican-dominated states — are the most dependent on federal spending, while returning the least to Washington in the way of tax dollars.
  • GOP States Are The Most Dependent On Government – The states with elected officials most likely to espouse anti-taker sentiments — i.e., Republican-dominated states — are the most dependent on federal spending, while returning the least to Washington in the way of tax dollars.
  • Insane New Gun Law in Georgia Will Allow Guns in Bars, Schools, Churches—Just About Anywhere – The NRA calls it "a historic victory for the Second Amendment.” Everyone else: Not so much.
  • Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s ‘conscious uncoupling’ – what deluded tosh – Among the many distinctive attributes of celebrity it has always seemed likely that the most important is the capacity to alter reality, to create a force field in which the normal rules by which the rest of us live are suspended. Something beyond access to an unlimited supply of dazzling white jeans.
  • 8 Laws To Keep Women In Line That Are Somehow Still On The Books – Sometimes, however, the law moves at a glacial pace, and we find ourselves staring at ordinances that are either relics of a different social and political era, or perhaps some attempt to reclaim that past. While every state has undoubtedly passed its share of controversial laws, we've rounded up some of the ones that really don't seem to have a place in 2014.

March 25, 2014
by terrance
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Drilling Into America’s (Lack Of) Dental Coverage

Wendell Potter writes, in a series of posts about the poor state of dental coverage, that millions of Americans — 36 percent, according to a 2013 survey —put off going to the dentist because of the cost of dental care. Last year, I became one of them. In pain, and in need of emergency dental care, I was shocked to find out how little my dental insurance covered.

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March 21, 2014
by terrance
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Wingnut Week In Review: March Madness

March Madness is upon us, in more ways than one. We know that right-wingers will howl with outrage over anything President Obama does — from using Air Force One to encouraging students to stay in school, and vacationing in Hawaii in stead of Pigeon Forge. So it’s no surprise that conservatives are losing it over President Obama’s March Madness picks.

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