The Republic of T.

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

February 6, 2015
by terrance
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Digest for February 2nd through February 6th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for February 2nd through February 6th:

February 3, 2015
by terrance
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Anti-Science, Anti-Social Conservatism Makes Us Sick

America is in the middle of a measles outbreak, and conservatives are rushing to embrace the anti-vaccine movement. That anti-science, anti-social position is in light with conservatism’s rejection of responsibility to the greater community.

America is in the middle of a measles outbreak, thanks to the growing number of parents who are not willing to have their children vaccinated.

News of the outbreak reached London, where reporters asked New Jersey governor and 2016 presidential hopeful Chris Christie about the outbreak, and his thoughts on vaccinations. Christie’s answer was a cynical attempt to “have-it-both-ways,” by sounding “reasonable” while appealing to the anti-science GOP base.

After Christie’s remarks, conservatives hopped aboard the anti-vaccine bandwagon.

  • Fellow 2016 hopeful Sen. Rand Paul (R, Kentucky) said that most vaccinations should be “voluntary,” and that a parent’s choice to vaccinate their children is “an issue of freedom. ” Paul also repeated the myth that vaccines cause “profound mental disorders” in children.
  • Fox News’ Andrea Tantaros joined Sen. Paul, claiming that the “proximity” of vaccinations causes autism.
  • Laura Ingraham said she doesn’t think measles is “that big of a deal,” and defended Christie.

First it was “e. coli conservatism.” Now this. Anti-science, anti-social conservatism is making us sick — again.

Anti-Science

The modern anti-vaccine movement sprang up in response to a debunked report by a disgraced and discredited doctor.

The science is settled. Measles is one of a number of diseases eradicated or practically eradicated in the US, because of vaccination. There’s no debate that the measles vaccine is perfectly safe and effective.

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Vaccine Infographic by Leon Farrant

 

Measles, on the other hand, leads to nasty complications, and kills.

  • It’s one of the most infectious diseases around.
  • Ninety percent of those exposed to it will get it, if they’re susceptible.
  • It can remain airborne for hours, exposing everyone in the vicinity.
  • Every person who gets it can spread it to 12 to 18 people.
  • For every vaccinated person who gets it (resulting in a mild case), between 40 to 80 people are exposed.
  • Measles is transmissible and virtually undetectable for several days before the red, painful rash gives its presence away.
  • It’s early symptoms — high fever, cough, and muscle ache — so closely resemble the flu that it’s often initially misdiagnosed.
  • One in 1,000 people with measles will get pneumonia. Between one and three in 1,000 will die of pneumonia, brain swelling, or other complications.

The US declared measles eradicated in 2000. Now it’s back, along with other diseases, because the anti-vaccination movement has grown. A recent survey showed that 30 percent of Americans — especially young people — agree with Chris Christie on vaccinations.

Wealthy California parents who reject vaccinations, in favor of organic foods and essential oils, are not really the GOP’s target demographic. Evangelical conservatives who reject vaccination on religious grounds, like Donna Holman, Iowa state chair of the Vaccine Liberation, are. “Some people put faith and trust in their medical doctors, rather than put faith and trust in God,” says Holman, who started protesting vaccines in 1972, when she “heard they were using living cells from aborted babies” to make vaccines.

Anti-Social

Vaccines don’t just protect the person who’s vaccinated. We eradicated measles because 90% of Americans were vaccinated against it. The 10 percent who weren’t vaccinated were covered by the collective immunity — or “herd immunity” — of those who were. The disease couldn’t get enough of a foothold to spread.

Now, the anti-vaccine movement is large enough to erode mandatory vaccination advances. Vaccination coverage in 17 states is now below 90 percent, and as low as 86 percent in some. That’s for the disease to gain a foothold and spread.

An outbreak caused by parents rejecting vaccinations, like the one in California, puts others at at risk. People with compromised immune systems due to illness, and children who are too young for the vaccine are particularly vulnerable; like three-year-old Maggie Jacks and her 10-month old brother Eli.

Dr. Jack Wolfson’s response to the Jacks family’s is pretty representative of the anti-vaccination movements response to this outbreak. “It’s not my responsibility to inject my child with chemicals in order for [a child like Maggie] to be supposedly healthy,“ says Wolfson, before blaming Maggie’s leukemia on (wait for it) vaccinations. Wolfson almost sounds like he could have written The Onion’s anti-vaccination ”op-ed“: ”I Don’t Vaccinate My Child Because It’s My Right To Decide What Eliminated Diseases Come Roaring Back.”

Parents who decide not to vaccinate their children aren’t just making a choice for their child or their family. They are making a choice for every they and their family come into contact with. Parents don’t just have a responsibility vaccinate their children against diseases. They also have a responsibility to the larger community, and a responsibility for the health of that community.

Conservatives love to preach “personal responsibility,” but they reject responsibility to community — or anyone outside of themselves — and as usual the rest of us pay for it.

February 2, 2015
by terrance
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Digest for January 29th through February 2nd

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for January 29th through February 2nd:

January 30, 2015
by terrance
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Wingnut Week In Review: From Rogue to Reject

This week, we saw the beginning of the end of conservatives’ love affair with Sarah Palin (maybe), and said farewell (but probably not goodbye) to a regular on “Wingnut Week In Review.”

From Rogue to Reject

It took them long enough. After her incoherent, meandering speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit, conservatives figured out what the rest of us always knew about Sarah Palin.

To quote Gertrude Stein: There is no “there” there.

To be fair, not all conservatives were late to the party. Shortly after John McCain inflicted Sarah Palin on the American public, a live mic caught columnist Peggy Noonan saying exactly what was up.

We know the rest of the story.

Fischer Out of Water

Hardly a week goes by when Bryan Fischer, daily radio host and Director of Issue Analysis for the American Family Association (AFA), doesn’t earn a spot on the “Wingnut Week In Review.” But Fischer may have gone too far even for the AFA. Rachel Maddow broke the news that the AFA fired Fischer following media coverage highlighting Fischer’s racism and homophobia, in advance of an AFA-sponsored trip to Israel for members of the Republican National Committee.

Here’s a sampling of Fischer’s greatest hits from “Wingnut Week In Review”:

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz got hold of the story, and the Southern Policy Law Center (SPLC) wrote to members of the RNC, asking them not to go on the AFA-sponsored Israel trip, because of the AFA’s “track record of bigotry and extremism,” and Fischer’s disparaging remarks about Jews, Muslims, and gays — among others. SPLC designates the AFA as a hate group, mainly because of Fischer’s bigoted mouth.

Does this mean the AFA has come to its senses? Of course not. Sure, the AFA wrote a letter to the SPCL repudiating some of Fischer’s views. The AFA explained that Fischer would continue to host his radio show, and write blog posts, but that his statements do not represent the views of the AFA. Fischer was right back on the air yesterday, saying that he has simply given up his role as a “spokesman.” So, the AFA has “repudiated” Fischer’s views, but still gives him and his views a platform.

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

January 28, 2015
by terrance
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An Unbroken Line of Violence

An Unbroken Line of Violence

In ten years of blogging, much of my writing comes down to telling stories, and stitching them together into a bigger context. It’s been my thing, for a while now, because it just made sense to me. Individual words combine to make sentences. Sentences combine to make paragraphs, and paragraphs combine to create full-fledged stories. Stories that seem separate from one another are linked together through time by recurring themes.

After the Michael Brown was shot to death by officer Darren Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, I began gathering similar stories of unarmed black men killed by police officers. Eventually, I began putting them into a timeline to put them in chronological order. Each story I came across lead me to several more I hadn’t heard of before, until I found lists of such deaths going back several decades. Each time I came across a new story, I researched it, and added it to the timeline.

At some point, my timeline reached all the way back to the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis. Neither was killed by police officer, but by private citizens acting as vigilantes — as a law unto themselves. I couldn’t leave their deaths out of my timeline, because I saw them in the same context as the deaths of Michael Brown, John Crawford, and Eric Garner. With them, I began including extra-legal killings in the timeline.

Opening the door to extra-legal killings raised a question. How far back would this timeline go? Around that time, I came across this quote by Angela Davis.

“There is an unbroken line of police violence in the United States that takes us all the way back to the days of slavery, the aftermath of slavery, the development of the Ku Klux Klan. There is so much history of this racist violence that simply to bring one person to justice is not going to disturb the whole racist edifice.”

Extra-legal and extra-judicial killings of black men and women goes back centuries. I’d started the timeline with the most recent police killings. Eventually, I expanded the timeline to include a number of lynchings — extra-judicial killings that often took place with the implicit approval or explicit participation of law enforcement, and for which few participants were ever punished.

I started with lynching victims whose deaths were included on Wikipedia. As I came across more names, I started researching stories, and entered into the timeline those for which I could find information. I poured over stories that had a familiar ring. The “black brute” stereotype haunted the stories of lynchings going back to Reconstruction, all the way up to the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and others.

Adding lynchings to the timeline brought me to the murder of Emmet Till, where the story of lynching in America overlapped with the murders of civil rights activists. I started with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of Civil Rights Martyr’s.

I soon realized the enormity of the project I’d started. I came across a partial list of African-American lynching victims that contained 2,162 names. Meanwhile, every week seemed to bring new stories to add to the timeline. I learned that the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project had a of 122 Civil Rights-Era cold cases, concerning victims whose deaths may have been racially motivated. The Southern Poverty list, “The Forgotten, ” includes the names of 74 men and women who died between 1954 and 1968, whose deaths may have been racially motivated.

As I continue to review these lists and add the cases for which I find information, my hope will be to add names and faces to the“unbroken line of violence.” Davis spoke of.

January 28, 2015
by terrance
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Digest for January 26th through January 28th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for January 26th through January 28th:

January 27, 2015
by terrance
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Greece Proves Populist Movements Can Fight And Win

After five years of protests, demonstrations, and strikes, Greek citizens voted to throw off five years of crushing austerity. Their victory has emboldened populist parties across Europe, and should inspire Americans to resist austerity here at home.

The victory of Greece’s leftist anti-austerity Syriza party, and the election of Alexis Tsipiras as prime minister ushers in a government that will push back against the austerity measures devised by the troika of Greece’s international creditors and the International Monetary Fund, and accepted by the country’s economic elite, following the crash of Greece’s economy in 2009.

Greece’s new leaders left little doubt about their intentions as they celebrated victory.

Alexis_Tsipras"

Greece leaves behind the austerity that ruined it, at least behind the fear, leaves behind five years of humiliation, and grease moves forward with optimism and hope and dignity."
~ Alexis Tsipiras, Greece’s new prime minister

“We are going to destroy the basis upon which they have built, for decade after decade, a system, about a network that viciously sucks the of energy and economic power from everybody else in society. ”
~ Yanis Varoukis, Greece’s new prime minister, on Greece’s oligarchy.

The IMF assumed the Greek government could impose austerity without significant impact on economic growth and unemployment. In fact, the IMF assumed Greece’s economy would grow as a result of the 2010 aid package, for which the troika and the IMF demanded austerity measures. The results were disastrous.

Wealthy Greeks got off scot free. Cocooned in suburbs, they were untouched by austerity cuts until mid–2013, when the government ruled that wealthy Greeks were no longer entitled to free police bodyguards. Since 2009, businessmen and journalists who were threatened by anarchist groups had received personal police protection.

The burden of austerity cuts fell mostly upon middle and working-class Greeks. Three million Greeks are living on or below the poverty line. Nearly every family has been affected. Many have survived by queuing up at soup kitchens, and scavenging rubbish bins for food.

Austerity devastated the health of Greece’s economy and its people. The national health budget was cut by 40 percent. As a result 35,000 doctors, nurses, and other health workers were unemployed. Hospitals lack basic supplies and sufficient staff. Infant mortality went up by 40 percent. Stillbirths are up 21 percent, as a result of cuts to prenatal service. HIV infections rose more than 200 percent due to increased IV drug use, and cuts to needle exchange programs

Austerity drove some Greeks from desperation to despair. Suicide deaths in Greece increased 45 percent between 2007 and 2011, driven mostly by a rise in suicides among men. According to one analysis, every one percent fall in government spending led to a 0.43 percent increase in suicides among men. Men between the ages of 45 and 89 face the highest suicide risk, because they are most likely to have their salaries and pensions cut.

Since the financial crisis, conservatives have warned Americans that we’re in danger of becoming Greece, unless we submit to the austerity Greeks are rising up against. Unlike Greece, America has only experienced what Paul Krugman calls “de facto austerity,” due to Republicans in Congress blocking any measures that might help the economy. Sequestration was another taste of the kind of austerity conservatives want to impose.

The new Republican Congress will almost certainly try to subject Americans to the kind of austerity that Greeks have suffered. House Budget Committee chair Tom Price has already proposed measures that would reduce the federal workforce by over 400,000, leading to the loss of even more job — mostly in the private sector — supported by the economic activity of federal employees. Price’s proposed “reforms” to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are really cuts that would devastate those programs and the Americans who depend upon them.

The fight against austerity in Greece has only just begun. Greece’s creditors and economic elite will insist on more punishing austerity. In the next two years, the fight here at home will intensify. As Americans push back against homegrown austerians, Syriza’s victory should remind us that progressive, populist, people-powered movements can win — if they just keep fighting.

January 26, 2015
by terrance
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Digest for January 24th through January 26th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for January 24th through January 26th:

January 23, 2015
by terrance
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Digest for January 20th through January 23rd

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for January 20th through January 23rd:

  • 7 enormous lies “American Sniper” is telling America – This article originally appeared on AlterNet. The film American Sniper, based on the story of the late Navy Seal Chris Kyle, is a box office hit, setting records for an R-rated film released in…
  • Jon Stewart’s brilliant “F**k you”: Why sputtering obscenity is sometimes the best response to Fox News insanity – “One of the most salient features of our culture,” writes philosopher Harry Frankfurt, “is that there is so much bullshit.” This is an inconvenient fact of life for those who don’t like being…
  • “Be a Man.” What Does That Even Mean? – Man up! Grow a pair! Don't be a pussy! That's the message boys still get from coaches and peers, movies and video games, and all too often their own fathers. It's the message those fathers grew up…
  • What Happens When a Civilian Kills a Cop in Self Defense? – The careless use of SWAT teams in no-knock drug raids — when heavily armed police burst into a home without warning — has resulted in a long list of innocent people being killed or seriously…
  • Imagine Something Different – “Imagine if we did something different.” Those were just six words out of close to 7,000 that President Barack Obama spoke during his State of the Union address. He was addressing both…
  • Young Woman Serving 30 Years for a Miscarriage Receives No Pardon – This is what the right-wing war on women looks like.
  • American Liar – Chris Kyle, author of the runaway best-seller American Sniper, was a military hero who killed 160 people during his four tours of duty in Iraq and is now the subject of an Oscar-nominated blockbuster. He was also a fabulist. Before his tragic murder in 2013, Kyle told a number of extremely dubious stories. In one tale, Kyle claimed he killed two carjackers at a gas station southwest of Dallas, and that his driver’s license directed local police officers who questioned him to contact the Department of Defense. Kyle also claimed he traveled to post-Katrina New Orleans with a sniper friend, set up his gun atop the Superdome, and picked off dozens of armed looters.

January 20, 2015
by terrance
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Digest for January 20th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for January 20th from 09:48 to 12:26:

January 16, 2015
by terrance
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Wingnut Week In Review: Benghazi To Beyoncé

From Benghazi and Beyoncé, to the terrorist attack in Paris, this week was a smorgasbord of wingnuttery.

The world is still reeling from the terrorist attack on the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, in which ten journalists and two police officers died. At least, most of the world was still reeling. America’s wingnuts were riding the fresh wave of Islamophobia rising in the western world.

Rupert Murdoch warned of a “growing jihadist cancer” via Twitter.

Comedian Aziz Ansari proceed to mock Murdoch unmercifully.

Ansari had so much to say, that he created a hashtag for it all: #RupertsFault.

Author of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling slammed Murdoch for imposing collective guilt on all Muslims.

Rowling also praised the Muslim hero who saved Jewish lives in Paris.

Former congressman Joe Walsh tweeted that Islamists should behead those who refused to run an image of the first cover of Charlie Hebdo after the attack.

[tweet https://twitter.com/WalshFreedom/status/555439146253426688]

Benghazi

The federal investigation into former CIA director David Petraeus has been going on for three years now, but on January 9, FBI and Justice Department investigators recommended charges against Petraeus. Wingnuttia smelled a conspiracy, of course.

Beyoncé

Former Arkansas governor and likely Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee slammed President and Mrs. Obama’s parenting skills, for letting their daughter listen to the music of Beyoncé. Out promoting his new book, Huckabee told People magazine, “I don’t understand how on one hand they can be such doting parents and so careful about the intake of everything — how much broccoli they eat and where they go to school … and yet they don’t see anything that might not be suitable” in Beyoncé’s lyrics, or in choreography “best left for the privacy of her bedroom.” Huckabee described Beyoncé as “mental poison” in his book.

Meanwhile, in response to a caller who asked why he made “disparaging comments about Huckabee,” Glenn Beck called Mike Huckabee a liar and “one of the most disingenuous men I have ever, ever met.” “He is Jeb Bush, hiding behind the cross,” Beck added. “He is a liar to your face. He is a very disingenuous man.”

Mike Huckabee’s own son, David Huckabee, once lost his job as a Boy Scout camp counselor for killing a stray dog, by hanging him by his neck, slitting his throat, and stoning him to death, and was once arrested for having a gun in his bag at the airport in Little Rock, Arkansas. So, Huckabee might want to ease up on criticizing anyone else’s parenting.

Here’s hoping Huckabee is looking over his shoulder, because the “Beygency” has him in its sights by now.

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

January 15, 2015
by terrance
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Digest for January 15th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for January 15th from 15:00 to 15:33:

January 13, 2015
by terrance
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Digest for January 13th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for January 13th from 14:09 to 14:20:

  • It’s Not Just the Cops – Public defenders know that the trouble with our justice system extends far beyond abusive policing
  • Have you experienced homophobia in your day-to-day life? – Last week a BBC radio presenter held hands with one of his male reporters on a Luton street and was shocked by the homophobia they encountered. We’d like to hear from people who have experienced this not as an experiment, but in their everyday lives Last week, two male radio presenters in Luton conducted an experiment to see what reaction they would get while holding hands around the town.
  • #blacklivesmatter voted 2014’s word of the year in US – Twitter protest hashtag is overwhelming victor in American Dialect Society’s annual poll of language experts.
  • The Top 5 LGBT Issues for 2015 – Underneath these headline-grabbing stories lay decades of systemic inequity that shape the lives of queer and transgender people of color. Here are five issues to follow in 2015.
  • Is There Any Relief in Sight for Our Overtested Kids? – If you're contemplating ways to suck the spirit out of a school, this is an effective one. Studies have shown the importance of the first few weeks of school for fostering relationships and building motivation in children. Instead, we were forced to take a route that was sterile and demoralizing—a school-wide lobotomy, if you will. Each morning my former students would trundle into my classroom to submit to an onslaught of questions whose responses were restrained to an A,B,C,D paradigm that rewarded compliance and rote memorization at the expense of creativity and critical thinking.
  • “Has America gone crazy?” – It's a question that dogs me wherever I travel abroad — and one for which I increasingly have no easy answer
  • More Police in Schools Means More Student Arrests [Infographic] – It ought not come as a surprise by now. Institutions with school resource officers–that is, school-based law enforcement personnel–report student arrests for disorderly conduct at nearly five times the rate of schools without similar personnel on campus, according to an infographic released by Boston University. The graphic examines the unequal toll that zero-tolerance policies and discipline have on black and Latino students, and the long chain of consequences that harsh discipline can trigger for young people–including lockup, expensive court-related fees and fines, and a cycle of arrest and jail time. The takeaway is that harsh discipline not only doesn't benefit its targeted students, it also sets them on a path that's dangerous and difficult to correct.
  • 10 things every parent of a transgender child needs to know – Here are my recommendations of 10 things every parent needs to know about their transgender child.
  • Here’s the real reason police unions protect the worst cops – Police unions were created to get rid of bad cops. But today they protect them.

January 5, 2015
by terrance
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Digest for January 5th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for January 5th from 13:07 to 13:25:

  • Homophobic, transphobic parents make abusive homes. Let’s help LGBT kids get out | Jessica Valenti – We know that conversion therapy is harmful and that there are few good options for children removed from their parents. We need better options
  • Privilege of ‘Arrest Without Incident’ – When a white, female shooter is calmly taken into custody, it’s hard not to believe there is a racial double standard.
  • The Brutes in Blue: From Ferguson to Freedom – Ferguson is not a wake-up call to black America, which has been well aware of the injustices and oppression their communities have faced daily, yearly, and over the course of decades and centuries. Ferguson is a wake-up call for white America, to look and learn from the lived experiences of black America, and to join with their brothers and sisters in active struggle against the system which has made Ferguson the status quo.
  • Just How Many Bad Cops are There and What’s Their Impact? – Can you think of ANY profession, where lives hang in the balance, that you would be comfortable with if there were only 90,000 in the US that are bad and wanted to use their positions to do you and your family harm? Of course not. Not when your families lives are directly impacted by whether or not they are good or bad.
  • Are Evangelical Christian Parents Killing Their LGBT Kids? – Last week another transgender teen, Leelah Alcorn, took her life because, she said, her parents rejected her. LGBT activist, Dan Savage, has called for charges to be brought against Leelah’s parents and even suggested that Leelah’s siblings be removed from the home. Are her parents really at fault? What about other LGBT kids in Christian homes? Are they also at risk because their parents are Christians? Is it that simple?
  • Changing Masculinity: It’s Time to Pivot – Whichever your point of view, the way masculinity is handled in society needs to change.
  • How Driver’s License Suspensions Unfairly Target The Poor – Losing your driver's license is a serious penalty, but often it's for nothing to do with unsafe driving. Without one, many who can't afford to pay the fines have a hard time finding or keeping a job.