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Erin Aubry Kaplan tells the story of an American child and an American family.

All of which brings us directly to Trayvon Martin. The 17-year-old was killed because he was seen by Zimmerman and many others as a potential threat, a conflation of racial fact and fantasy that obscured the more critical fact that he was a child and somebody's son — a loved member of a family.

The battle lines were drawn long before the trial even started. Zimmerman supporters circulated images of Trayvon as a wannabe bad guy and lone predator who seemed much older and harder than 17, complete with a gold grill on his teeth; Trayvon supporters emphasized the dignity and caring nature of his parents in an attempt to counter not just those stereotypes but the bigger assumptions that broken black families produce broken and potentially dangerous kids.

Trayvon's parents were divorced, hardly uncommon in America, but viewed through a racial lens, that was seen as just one more bit of black pathology. But the truth is that black families, whether nonnuclear or traditional, poor or middle class, are all subject to damning stereotypes and to a deeply rooted belief that they are somehow lesser.

Leonard Pitts delivered his thoughts on the Zimmerman trial earlier this week, but it bears repeating.
Four words of advice for African Americans in the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal:

Wake the hell up.


We are living in a perilous era for African-American freedom. The parallels to other eras have become too stark to ignore.

Every period of African-American advance has always been met by a crushing period of push back, the crafting of laws and the use of violence with the intent of eroding the new freedoms. Look it up:

The 13th Amendment ended slavery. So the white South created a convict leasing system that was actually harsher.

The 14th Amendment guaranteed citizenship. So the white South rendered that citizenship meaningless with the imposition of Jim Crow laws.

The 15th Amendment gave us the right to vote; it was taken away by the so-called “grandfather clause.” The Supreme Court struck that down, so the white South relied on literacy tests and poll taxes to snatch our ballots all over again.

Our history is a litany: two steps forward, one step back.

Let's step past the break and see what other pundits are talking about this morning.

Eugene Kane looks at a question of justice in a different case.

While most of the nation mulled the not-guilty verdict in a Florida murder trial last week, people in Milwaukee were closely watching another case involving the shooting death of an innocent black teenager.

Unlike George Zimmerman — who was acquitted in the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in a highly controversial decision — a local jury decided that killing a black boy just because someone suspected him of wrongdoing isn't what justice is supposed to look like.

John Henry Spooner, 76, was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide for shooting 13-year-old Darius Simmons at point-blank range after accusing the boy of stealing from him. An insanity plea was rejected by the jury, which concluded that Spooner knew what he was doing and knew that it was wrong when he shot Simmons.


Zimmerman's acquittal revealed deep fissures in the racial gap between black and white and a confounding disconnect between the races about society's realities. And even though folks are relieved at the Spooner verdict, they also remain acutely aware of this fact: It was a good thing a video showed exactly what happened.

Dana Milbank believes he's discovered hope for a fresh wind blowing in saner GOP candidates. You know, like that sane, moderate, Liz Cheney.
Liz Cheney’s Senate candidacy gives me hope.

I’m not hopeful because I’d like the former vice president’s daughter to become a senator, though my job would surely be more entertaining if she were to dislodge the unexciting incumbent, Sen. Mike Enzi, in Wyoming’s Republican primary.

What fills me with hope is the instant denunciation of her run — by conservative Republicans. ...

The race won’t be about ideology (Enzi is as conservative as they come) but about temperament: Enzi is agreeable, and Cheney is, well, not. The opposition to her candidacy, particularly among Senate conservatives, is therefore an encouraging sign that the tea party fever may be breaking — and that the Senate may be recovering from its paralysis.

So, what Milbank is really excited about is that hateful, vindictive, and vile are no longer regarded as positive attributes in a Republican candidate. At least in one case. I guess that's something.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board shakes its collective head over the idiocy of the million and one efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The old adage that “it’s easier to tear something down than it is to build it” has never been on more vibrant display than during the current debate on implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The health care law’s critics, who have spent more than three years trying to gut it, are now gleefully predicting that as more of its provisions are rolled out next year, “Obamacare” will be seen as an expensive flop. It’s as if someone spent three years tearing parts off a car and then predicted it wouldn’t run very well.

On Thursday President Barack Obama — who has embraced the once-pejorative term “Obamacare” — surrounded himself at the White House with people who already are benefiting from the law and declared that it “is doing what it’s designed to do: (delivering) more choices, better benefits, a check on rising costs and higher quality care.”


The fact remains that even though some big insurance companies have refused to sign up, states that have created insurance exchanges have seen the “magic of the marketplace” — once a favorite phrase of Republicans — drive down the cost of individual health insurance policies. In New York, Oregon and California, rates have fallen as much as 50 percent.

Consider this your Read It Then Make Your Conservative Friends Read It pick of the week. I particularly like this part.
The Affordable Care Act is not perfect and may never be. Inevitably, economics will force it to give way to a single-payer national health care system. But in the meantime, it’s saving lives, saving money and making health care available to those who, as in parable of the Good Samaritan, were left to suffer at the side of the road.
Sometimes, the home town paper does good.

Robert Kraig digs through some of the lies spread in defense of Scott Walker by columnist Christian Schneider, in the process tearing through the usual GOP attack on the Affordable Care Act.

In last week's Crossroads, Christian Schneider tried to defend the practically indefensible, Gov. Scott Walker's immoral and fiscally irresponsible decision to reject hundreds of millions of federal dollars to strengthen Wisconsin's popular BadgerCare program.

In the process, Schneider deploys every propaganda trick he can muster to defend Walker's controversial decision. In so doing, he provides a textbook example of the right-wing conspiracy to confuse public opinion about the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) as we approach its critical full implementation phase.

Schneider begins his diatribe by making light of a public statement I made that if Walker succeeds in turning down enhanced federal funding to strengthen Badgercare "there is no doubt that many Wisconsinites will die as a consequence." Schneider tries to laugh off my grave conclusion by making flippant remarks about police reports, chainsaw-wielding madmen and even Mao and Stalin. These weak attempts at humor can't cover the fact that Schneider has no facts to refute the public health research establishing a higher premature death rate for people without health coverage. Access to affordable health coverage is no laughing matter; it is a matter of life and death.

Though Kraig does a good job of going through the particulars, it's always tough to win an argument when your opponent has no interest in facts.

Richard Friedman looks at the impression that as you get older, time seems to pass more quickly.

Don’t despair. I am happy to tell you that the apparent velocity of time is a big fat cognitive illusion and happy to say there may be a way to slow the velocity of our later lives.

Although the sense that we perceive time as accelerating as we age is very common, it is hard to prove experimentally. In one of the largest studies to date, Dr. Marc Wittmann of the Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Health, in Germany, interviewed 499 German and Austrian subjects ranging in age from 14 to 94 years; he asked each subject how quickly time seemed to pass during the previous week, month, year and decade. Surprisingly, there were few differences related to age. With one exception: when researchers asked the subjects about the 10-year interval, older subjects were far more likely than the younger subjects to report that the last decade had passed quickly. ...

On the whole, most of us perceive short intervals of time similarly, regardless of age. Why, then, do older people look back at long stretches of their lives and feel it’s a race to the finish?

Here’s a possible answer: think about what it’s like when you learn something for the first time — for example how, when you are young, you learn to ride a bike or navigate your way home from school. It takes time to learn new tasks and to encode them in your memory. And when you are learning about the world for the first time, you are forming a fairly steady stream of new memories of events, places and people.

Want those lazy days of summers past to return? It's simple: go spend some time learning something new.

Fred Pearce looks at the increasing prevalence of "blocking highs" and their effect on weather.

After the cold, the heat. High pressure spreading across the UK from Siberia last spring brought record cold temperatures. Now more high pressure, this time from the tropical Atlantic, is bringing a sweltering heat wave. These high-pressure zones are blocking the jet stream which usually brings the country's normal changeable weather. "Blocking highs" are an increasing theme of North American weather reports too, bringing concern of a long-term shift. ...

This is the first significant heatwave in the UK for seven years. Older British readers may remember the long, hot summer of 1976, which saw five days with temperatures above 35°C, which is still a record. That year also brought water shortages, standpipes in the streets and widespread forest and heathland fires. But the current heatwave is not far behind. ...

Jennifer Francis at Rutgers University, New Jersey, reported last year that the jet stream appears to have slowed down, by about 14 per cent in the past three decades. It is also meandering more, looping north towards the Arctic and south towards the tropics – perfect conditions for blocking highs. The weather, she says, is getting "more stuck".

Is climate change to blame?

It could be. It is well established that the jet stream is sustained by the temperature difference between Arctic and lower latitudes. And because the Arctic is warming faster than elsewhere, that temperature difference is declining. So we should expect a weakening jet stream and more blocking highs in the decades ahead.

Originally posted to Devil's Tower on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 09:10 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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