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Reposted from JoanMar by Yasuragi

    Daily Kos' own ObamaCare guru, Brainwrap, has recently highlighted the story of Luis Lang in a number of posts here, here, here, and here, and on his own website. The story is particularly interesting and noteworthy because Luis Lang is losing his sight but gaining some valuable insight. This is Mr. Lang:


     On Wednesday, the Washington Post explained about Luis Lang to everyone who doesn't have an internet:

Lang’s story has gone wild on the internet, turning him into a symbol of a number of intertwined narratives about the law: How Republican opposition to the Medicaid expansion has created a coverage gap claiming many low income people; how justifiable confusion about the complicated law is fueling anger at it; and so on.

It all started when the Charlotte Observer reported that Lang, 49, a self-employed Republican handyman who has never bought insurance, developed “bleeding in his eyes and a partly detached retina caused by diabetes.” The paper reported that subsequent medical bills quickly ate up his savings, whereupon he turned to the Obamacare exchange. He discovered he earns too little to get a subsidy, yet he might not be able to get on Medicaid because South Carolina has not opted into the Medicaid expansion. He risks falling into the “Medicaid gap.”

The paper reported that his family blamed this on Obamacare, prompting criticism from bloggers and others, combined with a crowd-funding drive for his surgery. In a subsequent interview with Think Progress, Lang said he now thinks opposition to the Medicaid expansion is the culprit, is rethinking his GOP affiliation, and is going to try to get coverage from the law, though he still says he has issues with its implementation and blames both parties:

“Now that I’m looking at what each party represents, my wife and I are both saying — hey, we’re not Republicans!” Lang said….

“I put the blame on everyone — Republican and Democrat. But I do mainly blame Republicans for their pigheadedness,” Lang said. “They’re blocking policies that could help everyone. I’m in the situation I’m in because they chose not to expand Medicaid for political reasons. And I know I’m not the only one.”….

    He's right that he's not the only one. In fact, there are approximately 250,000 South Carolinians in the "Medicaid Gap." We at Support the Dream Defenders knew this was going to be a problem, so, back in April, we sent a Freedom of Information Act request to Governor Nikki Haley asking her: What are you doing to find out the extent of the damages you are causing? This was her response:


     As you can see, Governor Nikki Haley has pockets empty of fucks to give about Luis Lang or the other 249,999 or so individuals in South Carolina who are one chicken bone or one drunk driver away from personal bankruptcy (or spending the next 20 to 40 years of their lives going to court to explain to the judge why payments for the hospital's bill couldn't be made that month).

     Besides our surprising new ally, Luis Lang, there are other less surprising entities fighting back. One of those fighters is the South Carolina Hospital Association, which stands to lose billions of dollars because Governor Haley wants to be pure (evil). In fact, at the SCHA website, you can sign a petition about Expanding Medicaid in the state. The petition is kind of fun, in a way, as it goes after other big businesses that have received the Governor's largess:

The choice for our future. For decades, our state has doled-out billions of tax credits to companies like BMW and Boeing to grow our economy and enhance the quality of life in South Carolina. We’ve also offered hundreds of millions of dollars to build highways and deepen our ports to build a better future. By accepting the federal dollars offered to our state, the University of South Carolina Moore School of Business projects that the $11.2 billion in new federal dollars will result in 44,000 new jobs. With the positive economic impact and increased health care coverage, the positive return on investment is clear.
    We urge you to sign the petition, or better still, this one from CREDO.  

     Besides all of the other reasons for Medicaid Expansion, including less DEATH, better health, working population able to work more days, fewer bankruptcies, increased jobs, less need for expensive emergency room care, controlling the previously-skyrocketing effects health care had on state and the national budgets, increased revenue from jobs (South Carolina has a state income tax), the Federal Government pays for 100% of the expense until 2016, when it will gradually lower the percentage over time to 90%.

     Here's the problem: South Carolina has seen a huge increase in people who have signed up for traditional Medicaid--and the federal reimbursement rate for that program varies between approximately 50% to 73.05%. As you can see, those numbers are a lot smaller than 100% or 90%. Additionally, many more children are signing up for the Child Health Insurance Program ("CHIP"). These larger numbers will crush the South Carolina budget. As an aside, if the nearly one million children in Texas who are eligible for CHIP, but have not signed up, ever do, Governor Greg Abbott's state will be in dire financial straits. Of course, this acts as a disincentive for red state governments to aggressively seek out children who could use the health care.      

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Fri May 22, 2015 at 04:48 PM PDT

The prurient god of the Duggars

by Onomastic

Reposted from Onomastic by Yasuragi

Full disclosure. I never watched the Duggar's television show. Heard about it, of course. But the show's entire premise left me feeling nauseous. The focus on fertility and a constant state of pregnancy as some kind of prurient proof of religiosity, as if god has his head up everyone's groin, set alarm bells ringing.

Turns out my alarm bells were working just fine, thank you.

According to the police report, Jim Bob and Michelle, paragons of parenting, hid Josh’s crimes from the police and the public. In Touch reports, based on the police report it obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request, that:


Josh Duggar was investigated for multiple sex offenses — including forcible fondling — against five minors. Some of the alleged offenses investigated were felonies. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar were interview [sic] by the Springdale Police department on Dec. 12, 2006. The report says that James told police he was alerted in March, 2002 by a female minor that Josh — who turned 14-years-old that month — had been touching her breasts and genitals while she slept. This allegedly happened on multiple occasions. In 2006, Jim Bob told police that in July, 2002 Josh admitted to fondling a minor’s breasts while she slept. “James said that they disciplined (redacted, Josh) after this incident.” The family did not alert authorities.
The police report reveals that Jim Bob Duggar “met with the elders of his church and told them what was going on” rather than contacting law enforcement. Josh was then sent to “Christian counseling” for three months, which, according to his mother’s admission, was not any sort of licensed counseling facility:
Once again, the religious right's obsession with sexuality, and the control there of, is revealed as deeply twisted. No surprise to those of us who have paid attention through the years, and yet far too many typical responses blame or silence the victims of Josh Duggar's molestations, while excusing his actions and his parent's cover up of the same.
In faith communities like the Duggars, abuse victims are encouraged to be filled with grace. It’s not that simple
As usual, the victims of sexual abuse are being called to forgive and forget, to give grace, while none is being given to them. In the Duggar's Biblical Patriarchy, all things masculine have worth and are redeemable, while all things feminine are not.

Girls and women are reduced to property, to things, whose only virtue is in submitting to men, no matter how harmful those men may be.  

   ...God reveals Himself as masculine, not feminine.
    God ordained distinct gender roles for man and woman as part of  the created order.
    A husband and father is the head of his household, a family leader, provider, and protector.
    Male leadership in the home carries over into the church: only men are permitted to hold the ruling office in the church. A God-honoring society will likewise prefer male leadership in civil and other spheres.
    Since the woman was created as a helper to her husband, as the bearer of children, and as a “keeper at home”, the God-ordained and proper sphere of dominion for a wife is the household and that which is connected with the home.....

According to Rachel Held Evans, the biblical patriarchy movement is "committed to preserving as much of the patriarchal structure of Old Testament law as possible."[8]

Apparently the defining characteristic of god and men is the phallus, and the right to wield it. In an act of supreme hubris, the Biblical Patriarchal movement compresses a supposedly infinite god into the size and shape of a penis. That is the supreme definition of God and man. Not empathy. Not insight. Not creativity. Not caring. Not wisdom. Mind boggling, isn't it?

But in the world of the Phallus Cult, anything goes. Including molesting young girls, even one's sisters. Including excusing it all away, because - "God."

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Fri May 22, 2015 at 01:01 PM PDT

Black Kos, Week In Review

by Black Kos

Reposted from Black Kos community by Denise Oliver Velez

Marijuana - The Playing Field is not Level

Commentary by Black Kos Editor JoanMar

I don't smoke. I have never lit up a joint in my life. But I know a lot about the good ol'  Mary Jane. I can smell it a mile away. My mother smoked like every day; my father, I have been told, smoked; my older brother smokes, my younger sister smokes (or smoked - she claims she no longer does - I have heard that before), I have had boyfriends who smoked, and I had smelled it on my son's breath a couple times.
I was not going to be my mom, so that meant no smoking and no heavy drinking.

Given all of the above, you may wonder why I am so bothered by seeing that documentary by CNN, Cashing in on the 'green rush.'  The series celebrate (the best word to describe what I saw) the "trailblazers" who are making use of the opportunity provided to them in the wake of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado.

I am not merely bothered by what I saw, I found it to be downright obscene. To be fair, those people did not invent the problem. They are merely doing what any true entrepreneur would do. I ain't really mad at them as much as I'm mad at yet another piece of evidence of just how our two-tiered justice system works.

See for yourself:

The idea that these people could be so joyously celebrating their new found wealth, even as hundreds of thousands of people have suffered and continue to suffer for trying to do what they are doing, leaves a nasty taste in my mouth

In talking about their "pioneering" business, the young (white) couple featured in the series, spoke about a conversation they had with their grandmother. Apparently they mischaracterized the nature of their business and then were forced to come clean to grandma. The wife explains that conversation this way:

"She thought we were just your stereotypical drug dealers."  
Stereotypical drug dealers. Who are those, pray tell?
Maybe someone like Vincent Winslow? Let's take a look at his case:
On September 5, 2008, Fate Vincent Winslow watched a plainclothes stranger approach him. Homeless and hungry, on a dark street rife with crime, the 41-year-old African American was anxious to make contact, motivated by one singular need: food.
Police arrested Winslow, drove him to prison, and locked him up. Six months later, a jury found him guilty of distribution of a schedule I substance (marijuana). Three months after that, a judge sentenced him to life imprisonment with hard labor, without the benefit of parole.

For a transaction that involved a whopping $25.00, Mr. Winslow got a life sentence, and with hard labor to boot.
He is just one example of thousands...if not millions. Whether selling or using, African Americans are more likely to be targeted, arrested, and convicted.
Whites and blacks  use marijuana at roughly the same rates; on average, however, blacks are 3.7 times more likely than whites to be arrested for possession, according to a comprehensive 2013 report by the A.C.L.U.
In Iowa, blacks are 8.3 times more likely to be arrested, and in the worst-offending counties in the country, they are up to 30 times more likely to be arrested. The war on drugs aims its firepower overwhelmingly at African-Americans on the street, while white users smoke safely behind closed
Another ACLU report details the long lasting, life-changing effect of being arrested for keeping company with mary jane:
When people are arrested for possessing even tiny amounts of marijuana, it can have dire collateral consequences that affect their eligibility for public housing and student financial aid, employment opportunities, child custody determinations, and immigration status.
It seems to me that there is something sad and downright immoral about how the ganja god has chosen to distribute his/her blessings. In the same state, in the same country, in the same world, some people experiencing great fortune while others are  behind bars for doing the exact same thing. If we can't have a level playing field, at least show a little awareness about what's happening around you.

One law for everyone; those in Buk-in-hamm palace, and those standing in the shadows furtively scratching at the edge of the sumptuous pie.

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Fri May 22, 2015 at 12:03 AM PDT

In Defense of Shaun King

by Steven D

Reposted from Steven D by dopper0189

Let's begin by being honest.  Shaun King is a polarizing figure.  

He has a very specific point of view when it comes to American police forces and their dealings with African Americans, and he is not afraid to express himself is the strongest possible terms.  In short, he's outraged at the overt and covert racism he sees in our society as epitomized by the disproportionate and excessive force used by police forces across the country when it comes to how they deal with people of color.  

And he doesn't sugar coat that outrage, nor does he pull his punches.  On the contrary, compared to other well known and prominent spokespersons on this issue (e.g., Charles Blow of The New York Times or Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic) who are just as outraged but approach the subject in a more measured, intellectual manner, Shaun's writing is the equivalent of "shock and awe."  

I'm not saying that his style is necessarily a good or bad thing, or that Messrs. Blow and Coates are better advocates for the cause of racial justice than Shaun.  But his writing on this issue differs in tone, if not in substance, from many others who advocate for a change in the way our society deals with the issue of racism.  His focus is also narrower (at least here on Daily Kos) because his writing primarily addresses police violence and other abuses suffered by African Americans at the hands of the criminal justice system.

Indeed, if you've ever wandered into the comment threads of Shaun King's posts here at Daily Kos, inevitably you have come across a number of folks who dislike the way in which he covers the rash of police killings, racial profiling, etc. of African Americans, and the utter lack of accountability by police for their wrongful behavior.  Let me list just a few of the typical complaints I've seen whenever I scroll through the comment threads tom one of his posts here at Daily Kos.

1.  The "Click Bait" Argument:

The complaint here is that his titles are sensational, misleading, and exaggerate the facts in order to get people to read his posts.

2.  The "You're Shooting Yourself in the Foot" Argument:

This particular complaint is usually posed by those who say that they are concerned that Shaun's use of overly inflammatory language hurts the "cause" of making people aware of racist police conduct.  In effect, these commenters claim that Shaun's use of the rhetoric of outrage damages the validity of his arguments.  In other words, he turns people off.

3.  The Semantics Argument:

Basically, this boils down to the claim that Shaun gets the "legalese" wrong. It's often espoused by those who claim to be lawyers who say they support Shaun's efforts to call attention to police misconduct regarding minorities, a but who then spend paragraphs explaining why his use a particular word or phrase was inappropriate from a legal standpoint, thus undercutting his credibility.

4.  The "Unprofessional Journalist" Argument:

This claim is one made by people upset that with Shaun over some alleged breach of the proper ethical standards required of journalists.  Generally, its based on the notion that he should be more objective when he writes about these matters and less confrontational and opinionated - more nuanced as they say in his treatment of this subject.  More willing to see "both sides" of the problem.  More balanced.

It's ironic, but almost every objection I've seen to Shaun posts here at Daily Kos can just as easily be made to most of the other front page posters over the years.  

Click bait titles?  Excuse me, but isn't that a Hunter "speciality?"  In fact, most of the front pagers here have at one time or another posted stories with titles that "play to the choir," that "push our buttons," that - yes - seek to draw attention to the post they've written.  It's hardly a new phenomenon.  Major newspapers and magazines have a rich tradition of using headlines to "frame" the story so as to encourage media consumers to want to read what follows.  Many diaries here employ the same tactic to attract readers.  You have the discretion to click on those diaries or not, but singling Shaun out for this particular "sin" is rank hypocrisy in my view.  Daily Kos was built on click bait.

As for being excessively inflammatory? Child please.  Again, this is a political blog, not a news service.  Every day people post diaries, front page stories and comments regarding the outrage du jour.  No one beats them over the head with the way they express themselves, at least not to the extent that they do with Shaun.  Again, let's be honest with ourselves.  That is why many of us come here - to read stories that inflame our passions and reinforce our worldview, stories we can often find no place else.  Not to pick on diarists who cover gay rights, but I don't recall seeing a great deal of concern that stories exposing bigoted conservative Christians were too "mean" or too excessive in their condemnation of said "Christians" or somehow harmful to the cause of LGBT rights in general.

I contend that the majority of the anti- Shaun King sentiment here at DKos is based on the false premise that Shaun represents himself as a journalist.  He's not. He doesn't pretend to be one, either.  Does he cover events such as the Ferguson protests over Michael Brown's death?  Yes, but not as a journalist or a reporter for a major media company.  He covers these events from his own point of view, as a black man and an activist for social justice.  Unlike many "journalists" he doesn't try to hide his bias behind weasel words or false equivalencies.  Agree or disagree with him, but don't use the the claim that he's a not a proper journalist to argue that his message is wrong, or the manner in which he expresses himself not credible.

Shaun is an advocate for his cause.  He's a civil rights activist.  He's never claimed to be a journalist.  He writes and posts to the "front page" at Daily Kos, which is a political blog, not a news outlet, such as the Associated Press, Reuters, etc..  He has an agenda, and he hasn't been shy in telling us about it.  Read what he has to say about himself right here, in this interview by Autumn Alson.

Q: A recent study from PEW,has shown that most whites do not feel that the Michael Brown shooting has raised important racial concerns. This is overwhelmingly different than how most blacks seem to feel. How can you explain this dichotomy?

Shaun: Those numbers were stark, but not surprising. Even though it’s 2014, that study showed that culture and life experiences truly determine how you see the world. For me though, I think it is really about empathy. Because almost no white people have ever been brutalized by the police, they innately see the police very differently. Almost 100% of African Americans can describe a personal negative encounter with the police and this informs their perspective on this case and all others regarding police violence.

Q: Privilege comes up a lot in discussions of race. How can we get white people to understand this concept? How can we get them to accept their privilege without feeling a sense of guilt?

Shaun: Some of how we get all people to understand privilege is simply to tell our story – one story at a time. I try to do that on Twitter and share stories of others I know. You can never truly understand how others feel, but at least being aware is a good start.

It's right there - Shaun tells us he is a story teller, and one with a very different perspective than the majority of people who read this blog and/or participate in the various discussions on diaries and front page posts that address the issue of police violence and racism.  It's a perspective based on his own personal experience of racism that few if any white people in America can truly understand.
The oppression of others by people in power is a very real thing. I’ve experienced it, witnessed it, and fought against it, publicly and privately, for my entire life. That won’t end, but today I want to talk with you about a widespread form of oppression that crushes dreams and ideas at their root, all over the world. Like a firehose to a small candle with a barely flickering flame, the oppression I want to talk about now is the self-inflicted type. It’s in your heart and mind. [...]

... High school in rural Versailles, Kentucky was brutal for me. In middle school I had starred in the school play, was Vice President of the Student Council, had a ton of friends, kept a girlfriend, and was pretty much the happiest 13 year old on earth. High school was a rude awakening for me. I quickly found myself in the middle of decades old racial tensions and became the focus of constant abuse of the resident rednecks of my school. I had half a dozen fights my freshman year, had a jar of tobacco spit thrown on me in the middle of the school day, and came a few feet away from being run over by a pickup truck full of guys who chased me down and nearly mauled me as I walked home from a school dance. I reported it to the school, having saw each guy in the car, but they did nothing about it.

A few months later, a group of guys in the school beat me within a few inches of my life. I missed the next 18 months of school recovering from three spinal surgeries and fractures to my face and ribs. I won’t even try here to explain the depths and extent of my physical and emotional pain, but it was brutal. [...]

The pain and the ugliness of my past impacted me in immeasurable ways, but I refused to be held captive by it.

So far as I can tell the worst thing he's allegedly done is use inflammatory language and hyperbole to criticize the actions of police officers who have killed unarmed black males.  He's angry at the injustice he sees, and he has a right to be angry.  He's never held himself out to be a neutral observer or an objective reporter when it comes to this topic, a topic that so many people in America want to sweep under the rug.  Police violence against black people demonstrates the impact of societal racism at its most basic, brutal and destructive level. People of color experience overt and systemic racism by law enforcement personnel and the criminal justice system in ways that are difficult for many among the majority white population to grasp. I am not going to condemn Shaun for doing his best, as he sees fit, to make the rest of us feel his own outrage at the oppression of people of color by the police.

Shaun King is at heart a muckraker. His goal is to wake people up to what has been an under reported and ongoing atrocity, one to which few major media outlets have ever bothered to devote significant resources because its a story their predominately white readers don't want to hear.  He tells the truth as he sees it, based on the facts he discovers from first hand or secondary sources.  He doesn't parse words, or have an editor review his copy.  You know where he's coming from.  

You can disagree with him all you like.  And criticisms of his posts based on incorrect facts or faulty analysis of those facts is fine by me.  But don't hold him to standards to which hardly anyone else here at Dkos is held because you don't like how he writes about racism.  Don't employ trivial, and to my mind, frivolous arguments, to condemn him and what he has to say.

Frankly, we have far more to be worried about from the media elites than people like Shaun, if you ask me.  You know what type of "reporting" I find outrageous, and more importantly, dangerous?  So-called professional journalists and pundits who pretend to be neutral and unbiased in their reporting, but are the exact opposite.

I'll give you the best example I can off the top of my head - Judith Miller's practice of "journalism" regarding about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein in 2002 and 2003.  Her reporting in the NY Times, the single most influential media publication in the country, aided and abetted war criminals.  She reported as fact lies told by key members of the Bush administration to her, lies that directly led to a war of aggression by the American government.  The consequences of her actions?  The deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, Iraqis and Americans combined.  A refugee crisis involving millions more. Trillions of dollars wasted.  A quagmire that continues to threaten the security of the Middle east and our own country.  So much for journalistic ethics and good practices.

Save your outrage for people like Judith Miller.  And if you believe Shaun King is too bombastic, or his writing puts you off, or if you believe his posts are "dangerous" then here's an easy solution for you - don't read him.

Reposted from thirty three and a third by Denise Oliver Velez

Today in Ferguson 150 years after the Civil War we see "ghastly remnants of our great shame emerging still"/Lincoln warned of "national suicide" if we neglect to be a "nation of freemen"/Mark Twain's Huck Finn deciding to "go to hell" instead of turning in the "property" of his runaway slave friend Jim "may be the finest moment in all of American literature"/Our insistence on "Exceptionalism" blinds us to making necessary fixes/BlackLivesMatter because we have not achieved a post-racial society when institutional racism is still enshrined.

If you like to get a little history now and then from your tv on these United States (which I do and enjoy as a supplement to reading books) and are not a cave dweller in New Mexico or something then Ken Burns needs no introduction. He is an icon of documentary film-making, with techniques that have revolutionized the art of historical story-telling. His style is so well-known and vaunted in documentary film-making that one could say he's as much a standard as The Beatles "Sgt. Pepper" was to serious album-making (even the I-Photo program of Apple Mac's has a "Ken Burns effect" feature). Which is probably why he's been an exclusive part of a legacy that values nuanced and critical story-telling (PBS), rather than one that pumps out sensational and often jingoistic pap for the undiscerning (The History Channel).

Given that he occupies such strata through his lifetime devotion to history, his decision to lay bare the moment we find ourselves in, with respect to America perhaps finally coming to terms in grappling with, after a very long avoidance of, the malignancy of systemic racism, was a very powerful and instructive deed.

Powerful and salient he was in this remarkable commencement speech at Washington University in St. Louis. His choice of historical anecdotes and geographical context, perfectly harmonized with the events of today.  Of that he didn't mince words either, telling these young folks that he was "drafting them into a new Union Army." In that sense he is very much an advocate, an activist, if you will.

That's an important distinction. Where are our civic leaders, elected officials, journalists, celebrities, who are willing to unequivocally confront systemic institutional racism, enough to instigate the painful discussion and in turn force the subsequent legislation needed to once and for all remedy this?

There are so few amongst us willing to put themselves forward. It's an era of craven sellout, self-promotion and celebrity gossip. The vast majority of media outlets have made it clear too, that they're not in business to honor such a quaint idea as the Fourth Estate of journalism providing the checks and balances which quite literally are the lifeblood of democracy. Instead the landscape is littered with fear-mongering trash such as Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck et all, but also folks such as Wolf Blitzer, and the subservience of Meet The Press, CNN and the rest of network news.  

It is all the more significant that Burns chose to use his platform to courageously put the hard conversation front and center. For this he should be roundly applauded, and more importantly, imitated.

Here are some highlight of this poetic tour de force, in which he calls upon on the young graduates to respond collectively to this moral carpe diem, instead of the death of "careerism," by answering "the angels of our better nature" so we can fulfill at last the American promise of freedom and equality (all emphasis mine):


Over the years I've come to understand an important fact, I think: that we are not condemned to repeat, as the cliché goes and we are fond of quoting, what we don't remember. That's a clever, even poetic phrase, but not even close to the truth. Nor are there cycles of history, as the academic community periodically promotes. The Bible, Ecclesiastes to be specific, got it right, I think: "What has been will be again. What has been done will be done again. There is nothing new under the sun."

What that means is that human nature never changes. Or almost never changes. We have continually superimposed our complex and contradictory nature over the random course of human events. All of our inherent strengths and weaknesses, our greed and generosity, our puritanism and our prurience parade before our eyes, generation after generation after generation. This often gives us the impression that history repeats itself. It doesn't.

Lincoln's Springfield speech also suggests what is so great and so good about the people who inhabit this lucky and exquisite country of ours (that's the world you now inherit): our work ethic, our restlessness, our innovation and our improvisation, our communities and our institutions of higher learning, our suspicion of power; the fact that we seem resolutely dedicated to parsing the meaning between individual and collective freedom; that we are dedicated to understanding what Thomas Jefferson really meant when he wrote that inscrutable phrase "the pursuit of Happiness."

But the isolation of those two mighty oceans has also helped to incubate habits and patterns less beneficial to us: our devotion to money and guns; our certainty -- about everything; our stubborn insistence on our own exceptionalism, blinding us to that which needs repair, our preoccupation with always making the other wrong, at an individual as well as global level.

Before the enormous strides in equality achieved in statutes and laws in the 150 years since the Civil War that Lincoln correctly predicted would come are in danger of being undone by our still imperfect human nature and by politicians who now insist on a hypocritical color-blindness -- after four centuries of discrimination. That discrimination now takes on new, sometimes subtler, less obvious but still malevolent forms today. The chains of slavery have been broken, thank God, and so too has the feudal dependence of sharecroppers as the vengeful Jim Crow era recedes (sort of) into the distant past. But now in places like -- but not limited to -- your other neighbors a few miles as the crow flies from here in Ferguson, we see the ghastly remnants of our great shame emerging still, the shame Lincoln thought would lead to national suicide, our inability to see beyond the color of someone's skin. It has been with us since our founding...

But the shame continues: prison populations exploding with young black men, young black men killed almost weekly by policemen, whole communities of color burdened by corrupt municipalities that resemble more the predatory company store of a supposedly bygone era than a responsible local government. Our cities and towns and suburbs cannot become modern plantations.

It is unconscionable, as you emerge from this privileged sanctuary, that a few miles from here -- and nearly everywhere else in America: Baltimore, New York City, North Charleston, Cleveland, Oklahoma, Sanford, Florida, nearly everywhere else -- we are still playing out, sadly, an utterly American story, that the same stultifying conditions and sentiments that brought on our Civil War are still on such vivid and unpleasant display.

Twain, himself, writing after the Civil War and after the collapse of Reconstruction, a misunderstood period devoted to trying to enforce civil rights, was actually expressing his profound disappointment that racial differences still persisted in America, that racism still festered in this favored land, founded as it was on the most noble principle yet advanced by humankind -- that all men are created equal. That civil war had not cleansed our original sin, a sin we continue to confront today, daily, in this supposedly enlightened "post-racial" time.

It is into this disorienting and sometimes disappointing world that you now plummet, I'm afraid, unprotected from the shelter of family and school. You have fresh prospects and real dreams and I wish each and every one of you the very best. But I am drafting you now into a new Union Army that must be committed to preserving the values, the sense of humor, the sense of cohesion that have long been a part of our American nature, too. You have no choice, you've been called up, and it is your difficult, but great and challenging responsibility to help change things and set us right again.
Let me apologize in advance to you. We broke it, but you've got to fix it.

Let me speak directly to the graduating class. (Watch out. Here comes the advice.)

Remember: Black lives matter. All lives matter.

Reject fundamentalism wherever it raises its ugly head. It's not civilized. Choose to live in the Bedford Falls of "It's a Wonderful Life," not its oppressive opposite, Pottersville...

Don't confuse monetary success with excellence. The poet Robert Penn Warren once warned me that "careerism is death"...

Read. The book is still the greatest manmade machine of all -- not the car, not the TV, not the computer or the smartphone.

Do not allow our social media to segregate us into ever smaller tribes and clans, fiercely and sometimes appropriately loyal to our group, but also capable of metastasizing into profound distrust of the other...

Convince your government that the real threat, as Lincoln knew, comes from within. Governments always forget that, too. Do not let your government outsource honesty, transparency or candor. Do not let your government outsource democracy...

Insist that we support science and the arts, especially the arts. They have nothing to do with the actual defense of the country -- they just make the country worth defending...

And if you ever find yourself in Huck's spot, if you've "got to decide betwixt two things," do the right thing. Don't forget to tear up the letter. He didn't go to hell -- and you won't either.

Reposted from Onomastic by Onomastic

                      photo Cedwyn ImageFromTheMarti_ChildCloudButterfly_zps8lq9fgjm.jpg

Celebration of Cedwyn                    
Saturday May 23                          
At The Crest, West Side of Mt. Tabor Park.
Portland Oregon

                     Message to all of you from Cedwyn’s Mom

Tribute to Cedwyn
A bright shining star who faded much too early

I want to thank all of her Kos friends and others as well for their kindness, thoughts, and prayers during her finals weeks and days.  I’m looking forward to meeting all of you.

If you will be attending please bring your favorite beverages and some food to share.

I invite everyone to participate in her memorial (either in person or virtual) by wearing hippie dippie flowing purple paisley clothing and other hippie attire – put on your favorite albums especially The Grateful Dead– there is nothing better than great old albums – love them !!!!

Cedwyn (Terry) loved butterflies so I will be wearing vintage jeweled butterfly jewelry.  Cedwyn (Terry) is like her beloved butterflies – unique, beautiful, and fluttering about the universe.  So let your spirit soar.

               photo purple butterfly picture_zpsngvv9i8k.jpg

Cedwyn - Terry Alice Thompson was born on December 22, 1969 in Bryan, Texas. She came home in a Christmas stocking that the hospital ladies auxiliary made for all the Christmas babies. It was so precious and I still have that stocking. She died on January 31, 2015 much too soon. She’s an eternal fairie now.  

                 photo Cedwyn purple fairy_zpsfalx63wv.jpg          

Her favorite color was purple (mine too) and she loved anything paisley and hippie dippie flowing dresses and anything hippie oriented.  She was a misplaced child – she was such a hippie and yet she loved to shop at Macy’s.  

She loved butterflies and fairies and the mystical elements of this world - she also loved Winnie the pooh and Eyeore’s birthday – she also loved science fiction and Stephen King and other horror stories.

                   photo Cedwyn Eeyore with a butterfly_zpsq0qrdeik.png

Her favorite band was the Grateful Dead - she loved the song Ripple  

She loved anything vintage  - hippie long dresses and clothes, record albums, lava lamps, jewelry.   I share those same interests with her.    When she was visiting Austin we went to all of the vintage shops here and found her a purple furry coat – it was so perfect for her and on sale for half price.   We both loved that.

She was a Texas born girl but raised as an Army brat – as was I – military children go where their parents are stationed.   These children learn to think outside the box and usually develop a wonder lust for travel and adventure.   We (army brats) adapt to change and are always willing to experience new things.   Cedwyn fit that profile perfectly, she was so uniquely herself and so unconventional.

As a child she was bold, adventuresome, curious, and a tomboy and always going full throttle   I tried dressing her like a girl, but she always looked like a ragamuffin.  Her hair was always a mess and she had bruises from her many adventures.   Her school pictures looked like we made no effort at all to dress her properly.   We did but by the time she got to the school pictures, she was a mess, but still her pictures were so cute.  The camera was kind to her.

One of my favorite pictures of her at college shows her and a cute guy standing in front of a bathroom sink with the old fashioned medicine cabinet – and it is stocked with booze – that’s medicine of sorts.   Military children also learn to drink because drinking is a part of the military life and culture.    So everyone in our family enjoys their liquor.

As a young adult she traveled to New Zealand to work on an organic farm – what an exciting adventure.   She also traveled to Alaska and Hawaii

Love to All


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Tue May 19, 2015 at 01:21 PM PDT

Black Kos, Tuesday's Chile

by Black Kos

Reposted from Black Kos community by Denise Oliver Velez

I still tear up every time I watch this video. But even then, we knew that it was not enough. Far from it.

Is "Black Leadership" Enough? Not For These Young Adults
by Chitown Kev

Like many other people, I cried when it was announced that my United States Senator, Barack Hussein Obama, was projected to become the 44th President of the United States of America.  

Still, I did not fully "get" the symbolic power of that moment, of that event until early in 2009.

At the time, I was working for an educator who is also a longtime acquaintance of the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Hussein Obama. I was in a school auditorium with mostly black and Latino high school students. One of the students had done a short film life about...teenage life, in general, I suppose. For a moment, the Shepherd Fairey "Hope" illustration of President Obama appeared on the screen.

The kids cheered and jumped up and down and whooped it up as if it were the old Chicago Stadium and Michael Jeffrey Jordan had just hit a buzzer-beater.

Mind you, I doubt that any of the kids were even eligible to vote. Nevertheless, I think fondly of that day in a school auditorium and that moment it remains one of the most moving and powerful moments.

It is now 2015, over six and a half years into the administration of the first black president.

And while I can't pin down an exact and definitive number of black elected officials in this country (I'm working on that), I do know that as I write this, there are over 10,000 black elected officials in the United States.

Recently, I had the pleasure of hearing "the kids" sound off again.

If, as Dr. King maintained, "a riot is the language if the unheard" (and I believe that it is), then I do believe that when those who "rioted" (or their social peers, in this case)  do speak, we should listen to them.

This "town hall" of the African-American young adults and teenagers of Baltimore comes in at about an hour and a half; I've already watched in its' entirety twice.

While I have a number of thoughts, opinions, and even criticisms of this program, I'm going to shelve them for the time being and let the participants speak for themselves.

Well...I will note this...Clearly, these audience participants did not take kindly to their elected mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, and the President of the United States calling them and their peers "thugs" before national television audiences.

In fact, "the kids" are not particularly happy with "black leadership."

But I'll allow them to speak in their own words.

Thank you for reading.

h/t Truthdig

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Reposted from Monday Night Cancer Club by Yasuragi

I didn’t really think I’d be rich either, except for a very small part of my brain that thought I’d be rich and famous when I grew up. Like, you know maybe I’d grow up to be a band.

I guess I thought I’d be middle class like my parents. My dad was a fireman and on his off days he had a house painting business. I don’t know what they do now but when I was a kid, firemen worked 24 hours a day. Work a day, off a day, work a day, off 3 days, so most of them worked another job as well. My mother was a secretary.

They did ok. We had a nice house, my parents each had their own car, we had a housecleaner and we went on vacation every year. That was with 5 kids.

Things haven’t worked out that way for me, I’m poor.

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Reposted from David Harris-Gershon (The Troubadour) by Yasuragi
Originally published in Tikkun Daily

A major in Israel's infantry, who fought in the Northern Gaza Strip during Israel's assault in the summer of 2014, talks of devastation. He talks of endless barrages, buildings collapsing, city streets being razed by bulldozers, entire neighborhoods erased.

Then he says, You want to hear a joke? You're reading his words in a report, so you have no choice but to nod as he explains, This is a joke that was popular in the army during the war:

Why do Palestinians only sing the chorus? Because they have no verses left.
The punchline only makes sense if you know that in Hebrew, the word for houses (בתים) is the same word for verses.

The solider tells you this anonymously because he must. You don't know his name—only that he is "01"—nor do you know the names of the over 100 Israeli soldiers who recently gave testimony to Breaking the Silence, an organization which normally works with soldiers who wish to reveal the ugly truths of Israel's occupation.

Now, in a report released this month entitled, "This is How We Fought in Gaza," Israeli soldiers, their identities hidden, have given the world a window into what life fighting in Gaza often looked like.

The overriding theme is destruction. Pure, unrelenting destruction motivated by fear, by the justifiable desire to minimize military casualties at almost any cost.

No House Was to Be Left Standing

The U.N. has estimated that 89,000 homes were damaged during the summer of 2014, many of them severely, and that 7,000 were completely demolished, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless. (Today, nine months later, not a single demolished house has been rebuilt.)

When you read the Breaking the Silence testimonies, it becomes clear how such devastation occurred. It wasn't just buildings collapsing under the weight of laser-guided missiles. It was unrelenting razing on the ground.

Soldier after soldier described the same operational process: after an area was taken by the IDF and 'sterilized'—a process which often involved encouraging civilians to flee with leaflets coupled with heavy, targeted air strikes—individual houses were sequentially shelled by tanks, cleared by soldiers firing everywhere inside, and finally demolished by Caterpillar D9 bulldozers.

This last part, the intentional razing of family homes on the ground, is what shocked me the most, the extent of which I had never fully comprehended.

Witness the three testimonies below, which are representative of dozens captured by Breaking the Silence:

bts12 - text has more on beauty of D9 destroying houses
A D9 razes a lone Palestinian home in Gaza.
While some of this destruction was motivated by soldiers searching for tunnels or a desire to minimize the risks of urban warfare by, well, removing the urban environment, tactical goals didn't always precipitate such razing by the D9s. Indeed, houses and farms were sometimes destroyed simply because they could be. Because they were there. Because they were Palestinian.

Nobody Is a Civilian

Aside from the destruction, another major theme which emerged from this report is the looseness of the IDF's rules of engagement in Gaza. Many soldiers testified that they were told to shoot anything which moved, with no consideration given to whether civilians might be present, which some felt was a clear violation of the military's rules of ethics.

Now, it should be stated that the IDF made real efforts, from 'roof knocking' to dropping leaflets, to clear areas of civilians before invading. This process of 'sterilizing' an area had an operational effect: nobody who remained in a 'sterilized' area was considered by commanding officers as civilians. Indeed, soldiers repeatedly remarked that how to deal with civilians was never mentioned, for the overriding assumption was that anyone left behind, anyone who chose to stay behind, was a combatant.

This shoot first, ask questions later engagement strategy was to protect Israeli soldiers in urban environments. However, the practical and tragic problem, of course, was that many civilians had nowhere to flee, were unable to evacuate, or simply chose to stay in their homes rather than expose themselves to an open, uncertain march.

A few soldiers recalled encountering families while clearing a house 'wet' (with live fire), and many more remarked on how they would often shoot anything which moved in houses, regardless of being able to identify who, or what, they were shooting.

The following excerpts (from soldiers 02, 03, 08, and 22) reveal this clearly:

The above words, along with the words of every soldier contained in this report, have been maligned by those who fear what they have to say. Their anonymous characters have been slandered to discredit them. Breaking the Silence has been attacked for not producing a real work of journalism.

However, this report is not an act of journalism. It is a moment of activism by (mostly) Israeli Jews who want their country to be better, who demand that Israelis face the unjust in order to create a just society.

That propagandists are attacking these soldiers' words is not surprising. After all, their job is to protect the state and its leaders by shielding it from critique. However, when the state in question is a Jewish one, such propaganda-led shielding often turns into a dishonest game of spot-the-anti-Semite.

You critique Israel's conduct in Gaza? You're critiquing the Jewish people.

However, I reject this conflation of Israel and all Jews—itself an anti-Semitic trope. And as a Jew who desires a better, just Israel free of occupation and oppression, I reject the notion that my concern for Palestinians in Gaza is anti-Semitic.

On the contrary. It makes me Jewish.


What Do You Buy For the Children
David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, recently published by Oneworld Publications.

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Reposted from Max's Home for Inconvenient Facts and Impertinent Opinions by Yasuragi

Honest answer to a reader's question

No snark, no smartassery. This is one of the finest responses I've ever seen to this kind of question.

Setup: The Charlotte Observer's Taylor Batten wrote a piece about "Honesty Day," which "requires" you to honestly answer a question if it is posed to you. (Sidebar: The Observer is a McClatchy newspaper.) He was asked: "Question? Why do you support such a liberal agenda? Remember you’re supposed to answer honestly."

It would have been easy to respond defensively ("We're not liberal!") or with much snark and smartass ("Here's why we're not conservative...") or, easiest of all, to just ignore it -- with or without the high drama and pearl-clutching. Instead, Batten and the Observer chose to respond with a simple, elegant, and perfectly thought-out response. I'm not easily impressed by this kind of thing. Batten's words did so. This will resonate with me for, quite probably, the rest of my days.

Let's go see what he wrote.

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Reposted from Scout Finch by a2nite
Two armed open-carry activist treated very differently
One of these things is not like the other.
The video below shows two open-carry activists, both "demonstrating" their Second Amendment rights. Both were approached by police, but the reactions from police could not have been more different. To be fair, the first was filmed in Oregon and the second in Nevada. Police training can vary, but the contrast is something to see for yourself. White men politely asked for identification, black men held at gun point and six police cars arrive on the scene within a minute or two.
And let's not forget that Nevada, where the young man was held at gunpoint, is the very same state where anti-government, open-carry advocates flocked to Cliven Bundy's side for weeks and actively pointed weapons at law enforcement, never being charged with a single crime:
Protester Eric Parker from central Idaho aims his weapon from a bridge next to the Bureau of Land Management's base camp where seized cattle, that belonged to rancher Cliven Bundy, are being held at near Bunkerville, Nevada April 12, 2014.  REUTERS/J
Protester Scott Drexler carries a rifle on a bridge next to the Bureau of Land Management's base camp where seized cattle, that belonged to rancher Cliven Bundy, are being held at near Bunkerville, Nevada April 12, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
Reposted from shaunking by a2nite
Arrested after 9 people are killed
Nine people shot to death at a family restaurant.

Dozens of others stabbed, beaten, and seriously injured.

Over 100 guns recovered.

Sounds like one of the worst crimes in modern American history, right?

Then why do the men above look like they are tailgating? Smoking cigarettes, others using their cell phones, nobody in the world could guess that these men were even associated with such a horrible crime.

Instead, you'd think the man below was involved.

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