Barney Frank on Log Cabin Republicans: Endorsing Discrimination

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Russell Means, Who Revived Warrior Image of American Indian, Dies at 72

From The New York Times:

Published: October 22, 2012

Russell C. Means, the charismatic Oglala Sioux who helped revive the warrior image of the American Indian in the 1970s with guerrilla-tactic protests that called attention to the nation’s history of injustices against its indigenous peoples, died on Monday at his ranch in Porcupine, S.D., on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He was 72.

The cause was esophageal cancer, which had spread recently to his tongue, lymph nodes and lungs, said Glenn Morris, Mr. Means’s legal representative. Told in the summer of 2011 that the cancer was inoperable, Mr. Means had already resolved to shun mainstream medical treatments in favor of herbal and other native remedies.

Strapping, ruggedly handsome in buckskins, with a scarred face, piercing dark eyes and raven braids that dangled to the waist, Mr. Means was, by his own account, a magnet for trouble — addicted to drugs and alcohol in his early years, and later arrested repeatedly in violent clashes with rivals and the law. He was tried for abetting a murder, shot several times, stabbed once and imprisoned for a year for rioting.

He styled himself a throwback to ancestors who resisted the westward expansion of the American frontier. With theatrical protests that brought national attention to poverty and discrimination suffered by his people, he became arguably the nation’s best-known Indian since Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.

But critics, including many Native Americans, called him a tireless self-promoter who capitalized on his angry-rebel notoriety by running quixotic races for the presidency and the governorship of New Mexico, by acting in dozens of movies — notably in the title role of “The Last of the Mohicans” (1992) — and by writing and recording music commercially with Indian warrior and heritage themes.

He rose to national attention as a leader of the American Indian Movement in 1970 by directing a band of Indian protesters who seized the Mayflower II ship replica at Plymouth, Mass., on Thanksgiving Day. The boisterous confrontation between Indians and costumed “Pilgrims” attracted network television coverage and made Mr. Means an overnight hero to dissident Indians and sympathetic whites.

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Free To Be

From Slate:

By Posted Monday, Oct. 22, 2012

Free to be … who? All the musicians, artists, feminists, and other figures mentioned in this series.

“Why are your toes painted like that?”

The question came from the neighbors’ kid Cam, a fourth grader friendly with my children, as a group of us parents sat in his living room drinking wine one afternoon in June. He was sprawled on the couch, sweaty and red-faced from wrestling with his little brother, and he’d noticed that each of my toes sported a different bright color of nail polish.

“I painted them!” my younger daughter exclaimed.

“It’s true, she did,” I said. “Harper really likes painting nails, so I let her do mine.”

I’ve modeled Harper’s salon skills for the past few summers. I like that she takes the task so seriously, choosing colors from a Ziploc bag of polish we keep on a high shelf in the bathroom and applying them carefully to my big, gross toenails.

“But …” Cam began, pausing to consider what his question really was. He seemed torn between viewing me as an object of pity and a key to unlocking life’s mysteries. “But don’t your friends make fun of you?”

“Oh,” I said, putting on a casual air, even though the conversation seemed unexpectedly important all of a sudden. “No, not really. When you get older, you have a different relationship with your friends than you do when you’re a kid.” Now I paused to consider. “Or maybe when you’re a grown-up, you just choose friends who understand the things you do.”

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Stories from an insurrectionary childhood

From Waging Non-Violence:

October 19, 2012

Seamus Philip celebrated his three month birthday on Thursday. It was just like every other day — nursing and pooping, laughing and cooing, chewing on his hands and slobbering. He giggles and smiles and looks deep into your eyes now. He can hold his head up and has mounted an aggressive conditioning regime with the goal of turning over and crawling ASAP. Watching him, loving him, caring for him, living with his constant changes — all of this provides daily opportunities for me to reflect on my own early years and upbringing.

I wonder how his dad and I will impart our values and core beliefs, I wonder what kind of man he will grown up to be; I wonder what stories he will tell his friends and his children about his childhood. I already know they won’t be the same stories I tell.

I was born into and brought up at Jonah House — a nonviolent resistance community grounded in its founders’ Catholic faith and built for the express purpose of nurturing and sustaining resistance. It was formed in the early 1970s, when the war in Vietnam was effectively off the front pages and effectively over in the minds of most people as a result of Nixon’s Vietnamization of the war. The anti-war movement had been killed off, bought off, turned off or sent off to jail.

My parents — Elizabeth McAlister and Philip Berrigan — and their friends looked around. They saw the continuation of war in Southeast Asia, thousands of nuclear weapons and new wars on the horizon, and they wondered who was preparing the next anti-war movement as the war planners at the Pentagon prepared for the next war. They concluded that it was them.

They concluded that the anti-war movement that confronted the war in Southeast Asia had tended to be episodic, reactive and too intense to sustain a long-term commitment from most individuals. People tuned in, turned on and burnt out — in a tightly orchestrated cycle that went way too fast to build the kind of opposition that lasted. Then they looked at the Catholic Worker, which has been plodding along — sometimes huge and vibrant, sometimes small and on the margins, but comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable since the 1930s. Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin had created a place where it was “easier for people to be good,” where laypeople could practice the works of mercy, serving the poor while resisting the forces of war, racism and capitalism that create poverty. How had they kept going? The answer: community. Shared purpose, shared prayer, shared study, shared work.

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Complete Third Presidential Debate on Foreign Policy 2012

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Do the Math: Party Matters in the Fight for LGBT Equality

From Huffington Post:


From the standpoint of legal equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, the upcoming elections will be the most important in our history. In decades, there has not been a sharper distinction between the two parties on any issue than there is today on LGBT legal equality. President Obama, the Democratic platform and the overwhelming majority of Democrats in Congress support abolishing the restriction on federal recognition of same-sex marriages in states that recognize them and support an employment nondiscrimination act that is fully transgender-inclusive. Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, the Republican platform and more than 90 percent of congressional Republicans strongly oppose them.

I have been asked by many people why I inject partisanship into the effort to advance our rights. The answer is statistically very clear: It is not those of us who support LGBT equality who have made this a partisan issue; it is the modern Republican Party in its current extremely conservative mode that has done so. If you take Mitt Romney, Speaker John Boehner and Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell at their word, no legislation advancing our rights has any chance of passage if these men control any of the three branches of the federal government. And if Mitt Romney is president, and especially if he has a compliant Republican majority in the Senate, we can expect Supreme Court vacancies to be filled with more Antonin Scalias. Romney’s decision to make Robert Bork one of his primary advisors on judicial issues guarantees this; Bork is the only person I can think of who has held federal judicial office who outdoes Scalia in his venom against us.

Given that, if you care strongly about LGBT issues, the case for voting Democratic is very clear. I recognize that there are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who put LGBT rights behind other issues in deciding how to vote. Some wealthy gay men and women who live in states where there are many protections apparently feel that their lives are already well-protected against prejudice and that it is more important to pass new tax cuts for the rich, block action on climate change or oppose reductions in military spending. But the facts are clear: There is simply no logical basis whatsoever for arguing that voting for Republicans this year is a good way to advance LGBT legal equality.

Yet the Log Cabin Republicans argue exactly that. Given the stakes for our rights in this election, it is important to examine their rationale.

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Billionaires take lead in conservatives’ self-pity parade

From Al Jazeera:

Paul Rosenberg
21 Oct 2012

America’s billionaires are up in arms! Sure, they’ve made out like bandits, while tens of millions of Americans are still suffering – out of work, in bankruptcy, or owing more on their mortgages than their houses are worth. Along with the rest of the 1 per cent, they’ve captured 93 per cent of income gains in the US in the first year of lopsided economic recovery. But that’s not the point! The point is: They’re the most oppressed people in the history of the world! What’s happening to them in America today is reminiscent of Nazi Germany under Hitler!

Believe it or not, that’s the message coming from a veritable parade of self-portrayed victims at the pinnacle of the 1 per cent of the 1 per cent, who are very angry at President Obama supposedly saying mean things about them. These men are so spectacularly wealthy that it’s literally impossible to understand them in the context of other people’s economic lives, to make sense of what they’re saying. They’re like elephants in the midst of a leper colony, complaining about a gnat bite in a dream they just remembered.

They’ve also been treated so well by Obama that it’s likewise impossible to grasp. He could have gone after them immediately after taking office, breaking up the big banks and pursuing criminal charges against those responsible for destroying the economy based on multiple interlocking forms of fraud. Obama did none of that. There’s simply no understanding their hatred of him in purely objective terms.

But their self-pitying portrayal as victims is another thing altogether. It’s not just commonplace, it’s virtually mandatory among the ranks of American conservatives today – particularly when there’s little or no basis in fact. Indeed, it’s sometimes even quantifiable, as I explained in a column occasioned by Herman Cain’s slow, self-pitying exit from the presidential race.

Increasing taxes slightly

For example, there’s a widespread belief in certain evangelical Christian circles that 146,000 Christians a year are martyred worldwide, when the real figure is almost certainly less than five a year (possibly even zero) – which would yield what I dubbed a “conservative victimology ratio” of 28,600 to one. Likewise, voter fraud cases are similarly scarce, but conservatives imagine they number into the millions – and voter suppression in various forms actually does keep millions from voting. Using a variety of different approaches and examples, I came up with victimology ratios ranging from 30.4 million to one down to 22,010 to one.

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