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Let me tell you the stories of three homeschooled children.  Then, see if you can guess which ones are real, and which ones are made up.

Child A received a wonderful education from loving parents with advanced degrees who homeschooled for secular reasons.  He went to college on scholarship with the full support of his parents.  He's now a college professor.
Child B was homeschooled by loving parents who were Christian fundamentalists and who participated in the Quiverfull movement; she had a dozen siblings.  Although she also received a great education and went to college on scholarship, her parents virtually disowned her when she began dating a man they didn't approve of and questioning her religious faith.  She's now a graduate student with a successful career, but her relationship with her parents remains strained.
Child C was adopted from Ethiopia at ten years old by a homeschooling family of Christian fundamentalists.  Her new parents soon classified her as rebellious and began beating and starving her to teach her compliance.  Eventually, when she was thirteen, they locked her outside until she froze to death.  The parents are now in jail, and their other children are in foster care.
Follow me over the fold to see if you guessed correctly!
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(Note: the following text was written, mostly, by my friend Sean.  I was involved in some of the brainstorming behind this, and I've tweaked the prose a bit to make it more appropriate for Daily Kos, but the idea and most of the work are Sean's.  I'm posting it here with his permission.)

On April 29th, 2011, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels announced that he would sign a bill denying Medicaid funding to any organization that provides abortions -- no matter where the funds for those abortions come from.

By signing this bill, Daniels is not only attempting to curtail a legal medical procedure. He is compromising the ability of poor people in Indiana to access health care, including STI screenings, birth control, breast exams and many other vital services.

What can you do about this?  You can donate to Planned Parenthood of Indiana in honor of our dear governor!

Here's what to do:

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Thu Apr 28, 2011 at 09:35 AM PDT

What Could Obama Have Done?

by Nonpartisan

Well, I'm glad you asked.

Many progressives believe Obama has been a very good president who has done the best he could despite being hamstrung by Republicans in the Senate.  The crux of this argument is that Obama could not pass any more progressive legislation than he did because he did not have any way to block Senate Republicans from filibustering it.  What was he supposed to do, these people ask, force the bills through at gunpoint?  What could Obama have done?

I respect this viewpoint, but I think Obama could have done a lot.  And in this diary, I'll explain how -- how Obama muffed the best chance in a generation to put America back on a progressive path because he wasn't willing to play political hardball with members of his own party.  Fair warning: in doing so, I'll be explaining why I am extremely angry at and disappointed in Obama.  Readers should know, however, that I will vote for him in November 2012.  I recognize that no better option is likely to emerge.  In fact, that is why I am so angry at Obama; because in muffing this chance for a progressive America, he ensured that it will not come again for a long time, if ever.

Admittedly, all this is water under the bridge now.  But I think it is worthwhile to analyze it anyway, because 2009-2010 will be looked at as the critical political turning point of these years, the moment when American politics "failed to turn."  The next time Democrats get a chance like this, I want to know exactly what happened over the past two years, exactly what went wrong.  What could Obama have done?

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Tue Apr 26, 2011 at 02:30 PM PDT

Rick Perlstein and the Nixon Myth

by Nonpartisan

Former Nixon aide, now nice and thoughtful guy (yes, true story), John Taylor has a new blog post about Rick Perlstein's book Nixonland (2008).  (H/t Maarja Krusten for the link.)  In his post, Taylor takes issue with Perlstein's portrayal of Nixon.  Taylor writes:

In Nixonland, historian Rick Perlstein argued that Richard Nixon's class resentments inspired him to bait the privileged elites he hated (plus win a whole bunch of elections) using wedge issues such as anti-communism, race, and law and order, igniting the hyper-partisanship that roil our politics today.

That was and remains hard for Nixonites to swallow, since today's mainstream conservatives are far to Nixon's right.

I haven't presented much of Taylor's argument here, because my disagreement isn't with his argument, but with his portrayal of Nixonland.  I think a lot of readers of the book have missed its point, and constructed a strawman Nixonland to agree with or to attack.

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In 1994 and 1999, Frank Ninkovich published two seminal works of American foreign policy history, Modernity and Power and The Wilsonian Century.  In these volumes, Ninkovich brilliantly reinterpreted the domino theory as a metaphor for twentieth-century American foreign policy going back to Woodrow Wilson.  According to Ninkovich, Wilson interpreted World War I as proof positive that any war, anywhere, could escalate into a world war involving the United States; America therefore had to prevent wars all over the world in order to ensure its own safety.  Transmuted into the domino theory, this idea became the defining and tragic thrust of American cold war policy in the second half of the twentieth century, despite the fact that the dominoes never seemed to fall even where (as in Vietnam) the United States failed to stop them.

It's worth asking what impact the current wave of Middle Eastern revolutions has for Ninkovich's theory.  After all, the revolutions are in fact a wave, aren't they?  Doesn't that mean that the dominoes are falling this time, and that the domino theory is more useful than Ninkovich would like to admit?  To answer that question, I want first to distinguish between two types of domino theory in a way that Ninkovich doesn't.  The result, I think, bolsters Ninkovich's view while simultaneously salvaging a very different version of the domino theory that can help explain current events in the Middle East.

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Warner Bros. has announced it will begin streaming films on Facebook.  In some ways, this is a good move for the studio, allowing them entrance into a market that could potentially put rivals such as Netflix and iTunes out of business.  Unfortunately, Warner has agreed to led Facebook users pay them with Facebook Credits rather than actual currency.  If they, or Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, were paying any attention to history, they'd know why that's a bad idea.

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Fri Feb 18, 2011 at 02:51 PM PST

My Man Mitch: Major Medicare Moxie?

by Nonpartisan

(Cross-posted from The Crolian Progressive.)

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R), a potential 2012 Presidential contender, has some interesting things to say about Medicare and Social Security.  Let's listen:

"In the cause of national solvency, [earmarks] are a trifle," he said. "Talking much more about them, or 'waste, fraud, and abuse,' trivializes what needs to be done and misleads our fellow citizens to believe that easy answers are available."

Instead, Daniels proposed focusing on the biggest components of future deficits, including defense spending and entitlements for seniors.

How refreshing to see a Republican leader being realistic about what it will take to cut the deficit.  That hasn't happened, really, since before Ronald Reagan.  More from Daniels:

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Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 08:47 PM PST

The Elizabeth Edwards I Remember

by Nonpartisan

(Cross-posted, with slight edits, from The Crolian Progressive.)

When we talk, for a brief moment, with celebrities, we have no way of knowing whether our snap impressions of them reflect the whole person.  I once had a conversation with then-Senator Paul Sarbanes about homeschooling; the Senator was respectful and kind and seemed interested in what I had to say.  On another occasion, I sat next to the French Consul-General in New York at a $75-a-head banquet (long story); the Consul-General spoke to his friends in French and ignored me.  I'm left with a good impression of Sarbanes and a poor impression of the Consul-General, but who's to say that my experiences with them reflect who they really are?

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Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 11:02 AM PDT

The Myth of Karl Rove

by Nonpartisan

Cross-posted from ProgressiveHistorians.

"The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist."  -- Kevin Spacey, The Usual Suspects

The greatest trick Karl Rove ever pulled was convincing the world he was the Devil.

The real Karl Rove was a political strategist of decidedly ordinary ability.  I'll never dispute his ruthlessness, but it's equally indisputable that not a single one of his masterstrokes achieved any tangible results.

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Cross-posted at ProgressiveHistorians and BooMan Tribune.

BooMan sez:

You'd think I'd be more interested in the campaign of Joe Sestak to defeat Arlen Specter and win the Democratic nomination for one of Pennsylvania's two senate seats. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to muster a whole lot of enthusiasm for the race. ... I might be geared up for such a battle [with the establishment], if only I thought of Joe Sestak as a sincere progressive. But, I don't. I can almost assure progressives that if he wins a stunning upset and becomes the next senator from Pennsylvania, we'll wind up preferring Bob Casey on every issue that isn't related to reproductive rights and stem-cell research.

I quote BooMan not because I disagree with his analysis of the Sestak-Specter contest -- I don't -- but because I think he misapprehends the reason it's so important for the Left to back Sestak strongly in this race.

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Cross-posted from ProgressiveHistorians

 If you want to understand President Obama's soul, read his books.  But if you want to understand his beliefs, read John Rawls.  The Harvard academic, who died in 2002, was the most important philosopher of liberalism in the twentieth century, mostly because, in so many ways, Rawls' ideas describe the world we live in.  That has never been more true than today, when our President has, consciously or unconsciously, exalted Rawlsian ideas to the position of the greatest possible good.

Care to hear more about this explanatory model that is so central to Obama's thought, whether he acknowledges the influence or not?  Read on.

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A week ago, I told you about Energize Clinton County, a grassroots organization run by two recent college graduates (Mark Rembert and Taylor Stuckert) who want to turn their economically devastated community of Clinton County into a Green Enterprise Zone (an idea created by Obama green jobs czar Van Jones).

Mark and Taylor's non-profit organization is currently one of ten candidates for five $10,000 Energize Your Community grants administered by Mountain Dew.  They have one week left to win this grant, which is awarded based on which of the ten community organizations get the most online votes.  I'll let Taylor and Mark take it from here, from an e-mail they sent me this evening:

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