Articles and excerpts – September 1 – 24, 2014

Barely Literate? How Christian Fundamentalist Homeschooling Hurts Kids By Kristin Rawls, AlterNet, September 3, 2014

In stunning move, Alaska Democrats and independents form fusion ticket to beat Republican governor by David Nir for Daily Kos Elections Sep 02, 2014

Real Christianity vs. Whatever The Heck It Is Conservatives Actually Follow By Allen Clifton, forwardprogressives.com, August 31, 2014

In Leaked Tape Mitch McConnell Admits The Koch Brothers Are Running The Republican Party By Jason Easley, PoliticusUSA, August, 27, 2014

Eric Cantor’s Opponent Beat Him By Calling Out GOP Corruption by Lee Fang, Republic Report  posted on billmoyers.com, June 11, 2014

The New History Wars By JAMES R. GROSSMAN, The Opinion Pages, New York Times, SEPT. 1, 2014

What Has President Obama Done? Here’s a List of 253 Accomplishments, with Citations It’s 2014, and once again, we have a very important election ahead of us. Yet, there are a lot of very loud progressives who have done nothing but complain since President Obama was inaugurated five and a half years ago. No, he’s not perfect. Adults don’t expect perfection. Bu when they claim that he’s no progressive, well, that’s just an outright lie….one reason Republicans took back the House was because Obama was a “disappointment,” and Democrats were “spineless.” Four years later, we progressives have a chance to reverse our incredible screw-up, and still; many progressives prefer to complain about the imperfection of Democrats than to work to get rid of the right wing GOP.

Obama’s Numbers (April 2014 Update)

Still Time for a Conservation Legacy By THE EDITORIAL BOARD New York Times, Sept 1, 2014  Congress once acted productively in a bipartisan spirit to protect clean air, clean water and endangered species. What happened? Wednesday [9/2/14] is the 50th birthday of two of the nation’s most important environmental statutes: the Wilderness Act and the law establishing the Land and Water Conservation Fund. For those with long memories, it also commemorates a time when Congress could act productively in a bipartisan spirit that yielded not only these two laws but, within a few short years, landmark protections for clean air, clean water and endangered species…

The Revolt of the Weak by David Brooks, New York Times, SEPT. 1, 2014 ….We are not living in a moment of immediate concrete threat, but we are in a crisis of context…the underlying frameworks by which nations operate are being threatened in fairly devastating ways. That is to say, there are certain unconscious habits and norms of restraint that undergird civilization. These habits and norms are now being challenged….Putin and ISIS are not threats to American national security, narrowly defined. They are threats to our civilizational order….they only need to tear things down, and, unconfronted, will do so.  

Fox News is Tearing Us Apart: Race Baiting and Divisiveness Hits a Disgusting New Low By Paul Rosenberg,  Salon, posted on Alternet.org, August 29, 2014  …today’s conservative media were unlike anything in existence in 1992…white victimization — and thus rallying around victim/heroes — is the cornerstone of Fox News’ programming, even as it’s embraced the ideology that racism has been eradicated (never mind the actual facts, and concluded that the real racists are those who still talk about race…There has been a clear strategic calculation here among Republican elites. Better to leverage or at least accept the racism of much of the Republican base than try to clean it up…almost 50 years after Nixon first launched his “Southern Strategy,” …

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell has articulated the most compelling argument for why his party mustn’t take over both houses of Congress in the upcoming midterm elections. McConnell is caught on tape at the Koch brother’s yearly political fest, assuring the assembled billionaires that once they have total control, “we own the budget.” Everyone understood what that meant, as should you: With majorities in both houses, Republicans will be able to pass tax cuts for the super-rich and cut Social Security and Medicare (they’ll need only 51 votes in the Senate, through a process called “reconciliation.”) Obama will veto, but the billionaires will spend a fortune on ads to get the votes of vulnerable Dems, and try to override it. Do you think it’s a realistic possibility? Robert Reich, Facebook, August 29, 2014

The Spirit That Drove Us to Civil War Is Back by Andy Schmookler, Huffington Post, 09/02/2014  …the force that drove us to Civil War more than a century and a half ago, and the force that has taken over the Republican Party in our times…In both cases, we see an elite insisting on their “liberty,” by which they mean the freedom to dominate… the use of the structures of American democracy was combined with a contempt for the democratic values that inspired our founders… the idea of compromise became a dirty word, as the inflamed insistence on getting everything one’s own way took hold of the inflamed side…the powerful elite in the grip of that destructive force refused to accept that in a democracy sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, and sometimes you have to accept being governed by a duly-elected president you don’t like. Today’s Republicans have done everything they could to nullify the presidency of Barack Obama, whom the American people duly elected twice. Like no other opposition party in American history, they have refused to accept the temporary minority status to which American voters have consigned them. Blocking the president from performing the function for which the people hired him has been their top priority.

The class war in American politics is over. The rich won. By Nick Carnes, September 3, 2014 1) Our political institutions are packed with rich people 2) Yes, the big problems do divide America by class 3) Rich politicians tend to support policies that rich people like 4) It’s getting harder for lower-income and working-class people to influence our political institutions from the outside 5) Money and power is good at protecting money and power…reforms ask politicians who are succeeding in the current political system to change that system so they’re less likely to succeed in it. That’s the reality of the political “class war”: the only people left to fight it are from the class that already won it.

10 Most Inhumane Laws Courtesy of Southern Republicans By Alex Henderson, AlterNet, September 3, 2014  The extreme right has been in a state of maximum anxiety during the Barack Obama era. Between growing acceptance for same-sex marriage, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, troubling economic conditions (which they blame on the left even though the September 2008 crash occurred under George W. Bush’s failed presidency) and being constantly whipped into a frenzy by Fox News and AM talk radio, far-right Republicans and the Tea Party believe they are “losing their country.” Instead of moving more to the center, the Republican Party and the Tea Party have resolved to “rally the base” by doubling down on their insanity, especially in the Deep South and Texas, where it is much easier to push a far-right agenda than it is in more centrist or liberal-leaning parts of the United States. And in a mid-term election year like 2014, railing against their usual targets—African Americans, gays, immigrants, atheists, women seeking abortions and pretty much anyone else who isn’t a white male Christian fundamentalist over 50—is an all-too-familiar GOP get-out-the-vote strategy for the Bible Belt. Here are 10 examples of Republicans showing their “southern hospitality” in 2013 and 2014 with oppressive laws, bills and official platforms in the Deep South and Texas.

1. Mississippi Anti-Abortion Law 1390

2. Tennessee Law SB 1391: The Tennessee Pregnancy Criminalization Law

3. Bill 2566: Tennessee’s “Turn Away the Gays” Bill

4. Alabama and Louisiana Admitting Privileges Laws

5. North Carolina Voter ID Law

6. Fetal Heartbeat Bills in Alabama and Arkansas

7. The Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act, Tennessee

8. “Reparative Therapy” For Gays, Texas-Style

9. Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act

10. Obscene Device Laws in Alabama and Sandy Springs, Georgia

6 Habits of Highly Empathic People By Roman Krznaric, Greater Good, posted on Alternet.org, September 1, 2014 Empathy is not just a way to extend the boundaries of your moral universe. According to new research, it’s a habit we can cultivate to improve the quality of our own lives. But what is empathy? It’s the ability to step into the shoes of another person, aiming to understand their feelings and perspectives, and to use that understanding to guide our actions…The big buzz about empathy stems from a revolutionary shift in the science of how we understand human nature. The old view that we are essentially self-interested creatures is being nudged firmly to one side by evidence that we are also homo empathicus, wired for empathy, social cooperation, and mutual aid…. psychologists have revealed that we are primed for empathy by strong attachment relationships [9] in the first two years of life.  But empathy doesn’t stop developing in childhood empathic personalities over the past 10 years — reveals how we can make empathy an attitude and a part of our daily lives [6], and thus improve the lives of everyone around us. Here are the Six Habits of Highly Empathic People!

Habit 1: Cultivate Curiosity about Strangers

Habit 2: Challenge Prejudices and Discover Commonalities

Habit 3: Try Another Person’s Life

Habit 4: Listen Hard — and Open Up

Habit 5: Inspire Mass Action and Social Change – We typically assume empathy happens at the level of individuals, but HEPs understand that empathy can also be a mass phenomenon that brings about fundamental social change…Empathy will most likely flower on a collective scale if its seeds are planted in our children…the big challenge is figuring out how social networking technology can harness the power of empathy to create mass political action…This will only happen if social networks learn to spread not just information, but empathic connection.

Habit 6: Develop an Ambitious Imagination – We also need to empathize with people whose beliefs we don’t share or who may be “enemies” in some way…Organizations, too, should be ambitious with their empathic thinking…in an era of rapid technological change, mastering empathy is the key business survival skill because it underpins successful teamwork and leadership….

The 20th century was the Age of Introspection, when self-help and therapy culture encouraged us to believe that the best way to understand who we are and how to live was to look inside ourselves. But it left us gazing at our own navels. The 21st century should become the Age of Empathy, when we discover ourselves not simply through self-reflection, but by becoming interested in the lives of others. We need empathy to create a new kind of revolution. Not an old-fashioned revolution built on new laws, institutions, or policies, but a radical revolution in human relationships.

 

 

The wave has failed to materialize By Eugene Robinson Opinion writer, Washington Post, September 1, 2014 you still have to give the edge to the GOP. But it is a surprisingly narrow and tenuous advantage in a year when some analysts were predicting a wave election in favor of Republicans…Democrats have an uphill fight, even if it’s not nearly as steep as the GOP hoped. To hold the Senate, segments of the Democratic coalition who often skip midterm elections — African Americans, Latinos, younger voters — will have to turn out. And polls show that Republicans maintain an edge in enthusiasm…

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