Author: kstreet607

Politics! Politics! I love politics! Unapologetic Barack Obama enthusiast.

The real reasons Bernie Sanders is transforming the election: Here’s why he galvanizes the left

The real reasons Bernie Sanders is transforming the election: Here's why he galvanizes the left

Bernie Sanders (Credit: AP/Evan Vucci)


With Bernie Sanders, it’s leadership on the issues — not a cult of personality — propelling his long-shot bid

CNN dubbed this “the summer of Sanders” as media outlets finally picked up on the large crowds Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has attracted during campaign stops. His rocketing poll numbers in early primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire led to countless stories heralding a Sanders surge — but the story is as much about the issues as it is about the man.

Even Republican candidates have taken notice of Sanders’ rise. Ahead of a recent stop in Madison, Wisconsin, likely 2016 contender and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker welcomed Sanders to the state with a series of tweets attacking the democratic socialist once dismissed as too fringe. Walker may not have taken too fondly to Sanders attracting a record 10,000 people in his home state.

But Sanders’ campaign, surely more so than that of any of the Republican candidates, seems to be gaining traction more for the ideas he espouses than because of a cult of personality.

Granted, many supporters have pointed to Sanders’ straightforward manner and willingness to call out bad actors as refreshingly appealing, but unlike with Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Chris Christie, it isn’t just a brash style that’s being sold. Sanders makes a direct effort to address many of the issues that have arisen since the Hope & Change campaign of 2008 and it appears as though he is tapping into very real and long-simmering sentiments in the Democratic base.

More than a protest vote against Hillary Clinton, as some have suggested, Sanders’ support appears to be support for issues Clinton’s yet to fully address. Here are some of the ways that Sanders is gaining support by leading on issues or movements that other candidates ignore:

VA Scandal

Sanders was chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee when Democrats last controlled the chamber, and following the VA scandal, Sanders worked with Republicans in the House to pass legislation that expands health care access for veterans and makes it easier to fire underperforming officials.

His record and work on veterans’ affairs issues has earned Sanders top awards from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion and the Military Officers Association of America, and now it appears as though that recognition is translating to support for his campaign.

The Boston Globe writes that Sanders’ “surge is partly fueled by veterans,” citing “entire Reddit threads [that] are dedicated to how veterans can best pitch Sanders to other veterans” and “a Facebook page promoting Sanders to veterans.” As the Globe notes, in the early voting state of South Carolina veterans make up about 11 percent of the electorate.

Occupy Wall Street

The short-lived global protest movement suddenly shifted the national debate in the aftermath of the recession from talk of austerity to a focus on growing income inequality by introducing terms like the 1 Percent to national prominence in time for the 2012 campaign. But the Occupy Wall Street movement achieved no great legislative win, and after the encampments were broken down many of the grievances remained unacknowledged, let alone addressed.

Sanders’ 2016 campaign embodies much of the demands of the OWS movement. Speaking to the largest campaign crowd of this cycle in Wisconsin this week, Sanders said, “The big money interests — Wall Street, corporate America, all of these guys — have so much power that no president can defeat them unless there is an organized grassroots movement making them an offer they can’t refuse.” For activists who organized, protested and camped out in Zuccotti Park and squares across America, this message of unfinished business is powerful. The acknowledgement of a continued struggle and willingness to put up a fight is what was galvanized the Draft Warren movement and it has now seemingly shifted to Sanders.

Student Debt Movement

Some Occupy Wall Street activists joined a movement against student debt, which has now surpassed $1 trillion in the U.S. The activists, some of whom had refused to make any more payments on their federal student loans, achieved a major victory this year when Corinthian colleges (you know them by their annoying commercials hawking their schools like Everest, Heald and WyoTech) shuttered the last of their remaining U.S. campuses, and the erasure of $13 million in debt. The movement has successfully overseen the closure of campuses in Canada the year before.

Sanders has proposed the College for All Act, a plan to provide tuition-free education at public colleges funded by a small tax on Wall Street transactions.

Citizens United

Since the 2010 Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited political contributions by corporations and unions saw the rise of the Super PAC in electoral campaigns, Americans are shockingly united in their opposition to such obscene levels of money in politics. The overwhelming majority of Americans, including Republicans, support limits on campaign contributions.

Sanders is the only candidate to have completely sworn off all Super PAC funds, although a couple of independent political action committees have formed in support of his candidacy.

But Sanders has objected to their existence, saying, “A major problem of our campaign finance system is that anybody can start a super PAC on behalf of anybody and can say anything. And this is what makes our current campaign finance situation totally absurd.”


The Supreme Court may have upheld the Affordable Care Act twice, but the political battle over the health care law promises to rage on five years after its passage. With health care costs rising only marginally more slowly than they before the law’s passage and a continuation of premium increases, even Democrats who support the law have called for marked improvements as millions of Americans are left uninsured because Republican lawmakers refuse to expand Medicaid.

Sanders has promised to return the debate to early 2007, when during the Democratic presidential primary the public option was on the table. Sanders has long called for a “Medicare-for-all” single-payer health care plan similar to what was tossed aside as too radical shortly after the talks began on health care reform once Obama took office.

10 things you need to know today: July 5, 2015

Petros Karadjias/Associated Press


1. Obama will reportedly free dozens of prisoners with nonviolent drug charges
In the next few weeks, President Barack Obama is expected to free dozens of federal prisoners with nonviolent drug charges, aides toldThe New York Times. Many politicians on both sides of the aisle have criticized tough sentences for minor criminals, which disproportionately affect young Latino and black men. More than 30,000 prisoners have applied for clemency. Since December, Obama has freed 30 drug offenders. Officials estimate he may free more than 40 in the next batch of commutations.

Source: The New York Times

2. Greek voters face referendum on eurozone bailout deal
Greek voters are deciding the fate of the eurozone bailout deal at the polls. The referendum is over a bailout deal following the nation missing its Tuesday deadline to make a $1.8 billion loan payment to the International Monetary Fund. A no-vote, which Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras supports, could mean Greece is forced off the euro at least temporarily. The polls close at 12 p.m. EST, with results expected about two hours later.

Source: The New York Times, The Guardian

3. Donald Trump stands by comments on Mexican immigrants
Donald Trump took to Fox & Friends to defend the comments on Mexican immigrants that landed him in hot water this week with companies like NBC, Macy’s, and most recently NASCAR. “The crime is raging and it’s violent. And if you talk about it, it’s racist,” he saidSaturday, referring to the backlash against his comments that many Mexican immigrants are rapists and drug users. He admitted he didn’t realize the backlash would be so severe, calling himself a “whipping post.”

Source: Fox & Friends

4. Russian cargo ship successfully delivers supplies to space station
A Russian cargo ship successfully docked at the International Space Station on Sunday, bringing supplies to the U.S.-Russian team. The delivery comes after two failed resupply missions — one by Russia in April and one by the U.S. in June, when a SpaceX rocket exploded just minutes after liftoff. The Progress M-28M ship, which took off Fridayfrom Kazakhstan, carried 2.5 metric tons of fuel, oxygen, water, food, and other supplies.

Source: The Associated Press

5. Tunisia declares state of emergency following beach attack
Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi declared a state of emergency in Tunisia on Saturday, the state news agency reports. In June, a gunman killed 38 foreigners and injured 39 others in a beachside terrorist attack. Security officers killed the gunman after the attack had stopped. It’s the second terrorist attack Tunisia has seen in three months. The state of emergency allows Essebsi to authorize military operations in Tunisia’s own cities.

Source: The New York Times

6. Washington state has earned $70 million in taxes after a year of legal pot
The legal pot market began in Washington on July 8, 2014, and one year later it’s making bank. The state’s 160 stores earn $1.4 million per day. Between state and local governments, pot sales have rolled in about $70 million in taxes, The Associated Press reports. Business might be good, but all those taxes — on top of federal ones — hurt growers. “I’m basically doing this for free,” James Lathrop, who owns Seattle’s first legal shop, told AP. “Nobody’s gone out of business, but I’m not driving a new truck either.”

Source: The Associated Press

7. Children at detention center given adult dose of hepatitis A vaccine
About 250 children at a Texas detention center were administered adult dosages of the hepatitis A vaccine, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said. No averse side effects have been reported, but the children are being monitored by healthcare professionals at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley. Activists and Democratic politicians have called on Homeland Security to close detention centers, which they say are not safe for children.

Source: Los Angeles Times

8. Packers tight end Andrew Quarless arrested for allegedly firing gun
Green Bay Packers tight end Andrew Quarless was arrested in Miami Beach on Saturday for discharging a gun in public. He reportedly fired two shots after arguing with a group of women near a parking garage, according to a police report. Quarless tried to hide outside a restaurant and stashed his gun in a potted plant. The Packers have said they were aware of the matter.

Source: Miami New Times, ESPN

9. Matt Stonie edges out 8-time champ Joey Chestnut in hot dog eating contest
Eight-time defending champion Joey Chestnut met his match Saturdayin Matt “Megatoad” Stonie, who won Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island. Stonie downed 62 dogs and buns in 10 minutes, two ahead of Chestnut. “I trained hard for this, and I came prepared,” Stonie said. Chestnut still has claim to the contest record, though, since he polished off 69 dogs in 2013.

Source: ESPN

10. U.S. women will take on Japan in World Cup final
The U.S. women’s national soccer team will seek their first FIFA World Cup win in 16 years versus Japan on Sunday night. Four years ago, Japan defeated the U.S. in a shootout, but the U.S. got revenge with a 2012 Olympic victory. Watch Abby Wambach and the gang in Vancouver starting at 7 p.m. EST on Fox.

Source: ESPN

Julie Kliegman

Sunday Talk: The GOP’s id, personified

attribution: The Simpsons


If you’re surprised by the fact that DonaldTrumpTrump is now a leading contender for the GOP nomination for president, well then, clearly, you haven’t been paying attention.

Trump is, without a doubt, the biggestrichest, fastest, classiest, most elegant star in the Republican universe

When he speaks, he doesn’t just speak for himself—he speaks for people like Sheriff Joe Arpaio; and for Rich Lowry*; and for Rep. Steve King; and for Monica Crowley; and for Sen. Ted Cruz.

Truth be told, Trump gives voice to what millions of Republican primary voters are thinking, but dare not say out loud (for fear of ending up in one of President Obama’s FEMA camps).

Now, I’m not a (self-certified) psychiatrist, man, but I sometimes play one on the internets.

In that capacity, let me say this: You do you, GOP.

Morning lineup:

Meet the Press: Sen.Ted Cruz (R-TX); Roundtable: Chris Cillizza (Washington Post),Kathleen Parker (Washington Post), Carolyn Ryan (New York Times) and Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele.

Face the Nation: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA);Roundtable: Ruth Marcus (Washington Post), Mike Allen (Politico), Peter Baker (New York Times) and Talk Show Host Fernando Espuelas.

This Week: Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R); Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR); Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD); Roundtable: Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), Anne Gearan (Washington Post) and Bill Kristol (Weekly Standard).

Fox News Sunday: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R); Kelly Shackelford (Liberty Institute); Evan Wolfson (Freedom to Marry); Roundtable: Brit Hume (Fox News),Jackie Kucinich (USA Today), George Will (Washington Post) and Juan Williams (Fox News).

State of the Union: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R).

Evening lineup:

60 Minutes will feature: a report on errors to the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File which can result in fraudulent payments costing taxpayers billions (preview); a report on a controversial procedure that could stop the spread of dangerous genes that have stalked families for generations (preview); and, an interview with actor Steve Carell (preview).

Seen on the Internet: 7-4-2015

Just sayin’…

  • In 2009, a man married a video game character

  • In 2007, a woman married the Eiffel Tower

  • In 2008, a man married a life-sized doll

  • Also in 2009, a woman married a roller coaster

  • And in 2005, a woman married a dolphin

Please explain to me why people still say that gays shouldn’t be able to be married…in order to preserve the sanctity of marriage?

How the euro caused the Greek crisis

This video breaks down the Greek Economic crisis thoroughly…


Greece is in a state of economic and financial crisis that’s dominated global headlines this week, but the real roots of the crisis lie over a decade ago in the misguided idea of uniting a very diverse group of European countries into a single currency:

Vox – by Matthew Yglesias on July 2, 2015

OUR BERNIE SANDERS MOMENT: This July 4, remember only true independence and revolution ever brings change

Our Bernie Sanders moment: This July 4, remember only true independence and revolution ever brings change

Bernie Sanders (Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin/Salon)


Tectonic change comes when people are hopeful and sense something new is possible. Here’s how we build on victories

One of the things progressives often get wrong has to do with how fundamental change comes about. The standard reasoning is that people are stirred when they hit the bottom of the bottom—a condition of diminished expectations. It takes an economic depression, or a lot of political repression, to prompt people to rise. We need things to get worse before they get better. Let the suffering come.

This appears to be an entirely logical dialectic. But politics as desperation, as we might call the thought, rarely, if ever, proves out. Almost always it turns out to be an error.

Follow this line, and you want the Kochs to smash what remains of the political process to smithereens. You want the Supreme Court handing down ever more irrational judgments, you want more cops-in-camo shooting African-Americans, you want more unemployment and more reckless ambition among the foreign policy cliques. Then, you declare, people will be stirred out of the stupefied apathy that grips this nation.

We ought to ask ourselves this July 4 the extent to which we are given to this argument. Speaking only for myself, I made the mistake too many times too many years ago not to have learned how wrong it is.

Those who, in another time, made revolution their work knew better. It is amid rising expectations, not falling, that people are most likely to exert themselves in pursuit of authentic change.

The key to this truth, I have always thought, lies in a people’s consciousness of themselves. It is when they get some worthy things done, and so realize the power they possess, that they use it to effect change with true dedication. Nineteenth century Europe offers many examples making the point. If I have my history right, the Russian revolution is a classic case. (And so is the Berlin Wall’s fall.)

But there is no need to go further than the event we now celebrate, thoughtfully or thoughtlessly as the case may be, to find an irrefutable demonstration of the point.

Let’s ask ourselves this July 4: What exactly was on the minds of the signers gathered in Philadelphia 239 summers ago this weekend? Was George III’s boot on the colonists’ necks the primary sensation? The Declaration was the original American case of politics as desperation? It was all about the Stamp Act, the taxes on tea, the Boston Massacre?

Wrong read, obviously. The Declaration was a statement of principle reflecting the confidence of people who had the Boston Tea Party, the First Continental Congress, the battles of Lexington and Concord, the Second Continental Congress and Bunker Hill immediately behind them. In Jefferson’s handwriting they read of a future that they understood would belong to them. The document exudes determination in its very cadences.

I mention this for a reason that may be plain by now. As anyone who pays attention knows, we have just witnessed at least two very significant political advances and probably a third. Suddenly, the expectations of many millions are rising.

The gay marriage and health care decisions, handed down by the worst, most corruptly biased Supreme Court to sit in my lifetime, suggest that those judges who are nothing more than creatures of conservative ideology and corporate interests recognized that they would risk a national revolt had they ruled the other way on these questions. This is my read.

What will come of the Charleston murders is still to be determined. But we have already seen an extraordinary display of solidarity and restraint as a forms of power among South Carolina blacks close to the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and it looks like this could eventually drive the worst of Old Dixie down.

The point not to be missed: We reach this national day with the wind at last at our backs and the road coming up to meet us, as the Irish say. I see a momentum in the cause of a progressive redefinition of what it means to be American that seemed little more than delusion or a faded memory but a few years ago, so thoroughly did the American right appear to triumph in the name of a perverse notion of patriotism.

Expectations rise. Returning to my original thought, a chance to get still more done, created by way of a lot of sacrifice and hard work, presents itself. What will people do with it? This is our question—not least because the 2016 election draws near, and I will return to these.

A little autobiography here. In many years abroad I often looked back and thought I saw some salutary impulse to resist the marketization of the political process and the commodification of all culture at the hands of corporations possessed of a conscienceless greed. It seemed just under the surface, waiting to break through.

Then I would return on home leave and find everyone kicking the dirt. Talk about diminished expectations. An assumption of powerlessness was everywhere I looked. I found it hard to be around. I had to put what I thought I saw from afar down to illusion, or an incurable streak of optimism wholly in the American grain.

What about Obama’s victory in 2008, you ask. Yes, it seemed at the time a confirmation of the perceptions I describe. I have said this before in this space: I wept tears of joy when McCain capitulated—11 in the morning where I was. But soon enough, the cold, hard judgment rendered by the late, estimable Alex Cockburn seemed more the case: The junior senator was too pretty for his own good, Cockburn wrote before the election, and would never get his hands dirty.

A revised, altogether complicated take on Obama will have to get written, given how things have just turned, but it no longer seems I was so wrong as all that. What I thought I saw now takes form. The events of the past couple of weeks have been crystallizing in this respect.

I leave the foreign side out of this, you will note. It is the dark side of Obama’s moon by any reasonable reckoning.

At writing, there are one and a half exceptions.  Yes, the opening to Cuba is a triumphant stroke. (I wept the morning that was announced, too, half a century’s suffering at American hands finally ended.) Iran may come good, depending on how Secretary of State Kerry does in the final days of negotiations on a deal governing the Iranian nuclear program.

But Cuba is as nothing next to the truly strategic blunders—Russia, Ukraine, Iraq redux, a god-awful misinterpretation of China and its intent and now NATO unbound. By the same token, any Iran deal will be purposely shorn of its proper significance: An agreement with Tehran should open out to a broad rapprochement, so altering numerous dysfunctional relationships, not least Washington’s with Israel. But the White House is already clear that no such potential is to be explored. What Obama wants is primarily to assuage the Israeli right wing, and that is the wrong ambition. It has already cost Egyptians their first attempt at democratic government.

So the Cold War ends in Cuba and begins again on Russia’s western border and across the Pacific. Status quo in the Middle East. This is the Obama record on the foreign side. I count it an appalling legacy.

I do not think we can forget this when celebrating the past couple of weeks’ good news at home. In this there is a lesson in the Obama presidency, and I will return to it shortly.

For now, a couple of things that should be considered next to the crystallizing events of the past couple of weeks.

One is the unexpected (at least among many of us) success of Bernie Sanders since the Vermont senator announced he would run for the Democratic nomination. The other, of considerable importance if of somewhat lesser magnitude, was a remarkable piece published recently on this site called “Hillary Clinton is going to lose: She doesn’t even see the frustrated progressive wave that will nominate Bernie Sanders.”

Numerous students of American politics argue now that Sanders cannot win the nomination and is even further from carrying the election next year; he is important because he shows how weak Hillary is. As of now, both of these judgments seem right.

But I hold to “as of now.” One, Sanders trails Clinton by a startlingly small margin in one poll after another. Two, you do not want to underestimate the power of rising expectations. Think again of the signers in Philadelphia and the events that propelled them there over a very short period. Political landscapes can change very quickly.

Listen to what Sanders has to say. To me it is perfectly clear, and I doubt he would be so shy of the language as American politicians customarily are: He is talking about a social democratic America, which is not a new idea. It is a 19th century idea buried and made “un-American” by very bad Americans posing as patriots.

In terms deployed previously in this space and in the books noted at this column’s end, Sanders is talking about a demythologized America, a nation free of its exceptionalist tradition, one wherein we understand ourselves and what we do in historical terms. Myth or history: In my view, absolutely no distinction is more important now. At bottom, it is putting this question in front of us, if only implicitly, that makes Sanders important.

As to the Salon piece just noted, it is remarkable not only for its argument but also for who makes it. Read it here. Bill Curry was an adviser to Bill Clinton and twice ran for governor on the Democratic ticket in Connecticut. And here he is asserting, “There’s a rumbling out there, but most Democrats are a long way from hearing it, let alone joining in.”

Continue reading here>>>

Christian Bakers Fined $135,000 For Discriminating Against Gay Couple Throw Embarrassing Tantrum


Unable to accept defeat, an Oregon Christian-owned bakery found guilty of discriminating against a lesbian couple has vowed to keep “fight[ing] back” against the government despite having lost a massive lawsuit that will require the owners to pay $135,000 in damages.

You may recall the story of “Sweetcakes,” the Oregon bakery owned by Aaron and Melissa Klein that in 2013 flat-out refused to bake a cake for the wedding of a lesbian couple because it was against their Christian beliefs. The couple took the bakery to court and, thanks to the state’s forward-leaning laws protecting the LGBT community from discrimination, the bakery was quickly found guilty of violating the couple’s rights in the same way that it would had they discriminated against customers based on race, religion, or gender.

The law isn’t even particularly hard to understand. There is absolutely no way that the Kleins could have misinterpreted it to justify their refusal of service.

Under Oregon law, businesses cannot discriminate or refuse service based on sexual orientation, just as they cannot turn customers away because of race, sex, disability, age or religion.

The Oregon Equality Act of 2007 includes an exemption for religious organizations and schools, but does not allow private business owners to deny service and unlawfully discriminate against potential customers. [source]

Consequently, it was not hard for an Oregon judge to award a total of $135,000 in damages to the victims, Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer – and the Kleins have promptly lost their minds.

Not content to just cut their losses and get back to baking cakes (for everybody), the owners seem dead set on turning their cupcake war into a holy one. Speaking with Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, they vowed to fight on while playing the victim of mean old godless liberals.

“He wants to silence anyone who opposes his point of view,” Klein told The Blaze, speaking specifically about Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, who has spearheaded the case against the couple. “Unfortunately, he’s doing this with the wrong Christian, because I fight back.”

Klein also delivered a message to Americans and business leaders about why he believes that his case is monumentally important.

“For years, we’ve heard same-sex marriage will not affect anybody,” he said. “I’m here firsthand to tell everyone in America that it has already impacted people. Christians, get ready to take a stand. Get ready for civil disobedience.”

As entertaining (and lucrative) as it would be to watch Christian store owners across the nation refuse service to gay people and subsequently get fined tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars a piece, the idea that Christians need to “fight back” against gay people is an unsettling thought within the context of an already hostile climate that exists towards the LGBT community.

As conservative homophobes continue to suffer historic losses in their fight against progress, the fantasy that they are the victims of religious discrimination for not being allowed to discriminate is growing. Even mainstream conservatives, including several Republican presidential candidates, have expressed the opinion that things like the Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage is an assault on Christianity. In this respect, the Klein’s aren’t at all different from their mainstream counterparts in the Republican Party.

As for the Kleins recent court loss, they say they will appeal the decision because the payout could “financially ruin [their] family” and believe they will win because the judgment “flies in the face of the Constitution.” It’s the ultimate irony, because, of course, the Supreme Court just used the 14th Amendment of the Constitution to validate a law meant to protect people from being discriminated against based on their sexual orientation. In other words, good luck with that defense. But hey, I guess if you’ve already lost $135,000 on hate, what’s a bit more down the drain in lawyer fees in a hopeless bid to prove a long-lost point.

The Paragraph On Slavery That Was Cut From The Declaration Of Independence


Thomas Jefferson – attribution: None

TPM Cafe: Opinion

If we push beyond those divided perspectives, however, we can find a trio of more complex intersections of race and the Declaration, historical moments and figures that embody both the limitations and the possibilities of America’s ideals. Each can and should become part of what we remember on the Fourth of July; taken together, they offer a nicely rounded picture of our founding and evolving identity and community.

For one thing, Jefferson did directly engage with slavery in his initial draft of the Declaration. He did so by turning the practice of slavery into one of his litany of critiques of King George:

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation hither … And he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of whichhe had deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.

Like so much in the American founding, these lines are at once progressive and racist, admitting the wrongs of slavery but describing the slaves themselves as “obtruding” upon and threatening the lives of the colonists. Not surprisingly, this complex, contradictory paragraph did not survive the Declaration’s communal revisions, and the final document makes no mention of slavery or African Americans.

Yet the absence of race from the final draft of the Declaration did not keep Revolutionary-era African Americans from using the document’s language and ideals for their own political and social purposes. As early as 1777, a group of Massachusetts slaves and their abolitionist allies brought a petition for freedom based directly on the Declaration before the Massachusetts legislature. “Your petitioners … cannot but express their astonishment,” they wrote, “that it has never been considered that every principle from which America has acted in the course of their unhappy difficulties with Great Britain pleads stronger than a thousand arguments in favor of your petitioners.”

Continue reading here>>>

10 things you need to know today: July 4, 2015

Yannis Behrakis/Associated Press


1. Greek prime minister calls bailout deal ‘blackmail,’ urges ‘no’ vote
In a short televised address Friday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras asked Greece to vote “no” on Sunday’s bailout referendum. “I ask you to say no ultimatums, blackmail, and fear-mongering,” he said. Polls show both sides neck-and-neck, and many Greeks are reportedly confused by the technical language of the referendum, which is over a bailout deal that is reportedly off the table. Greece’s financial conundrum hit new levels when it missed its Tuesday deadline to make a $1.8 billion loan payment to the International Monetary Fund.

Source: The New York Times

2. U.S. officials ramp up security in light of July Fourth terror threats
Governors and law enforcement officials are increasing securitySaturday in light of State Department warnings of a heightened risk for a July Fourth terrorist attack. Authorities didn’t have one specific threat to highlight, but are especially mindful of any threats from suspected ISIS supporters in the country. In particular, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday he is upping security statewide for various holiday celebrations. “We are keenly aware that New York State remains a top target for terrorists,” he said.

Source: CNN, ABC News

3. Head of Vietnam’s Communist Party to visit Obama at White House
Nguyen Phu Trong will become the first leader of Vietnam’s Communist Party to ever visit the United States when he meets with President Obama at the White House next week. They will reportedly discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that would foster closer relations between the U.S., Vietnam, and 10 other Pacific Rim nations, as well as security concerns with China. The meeting is seen as a sign of growing ties between the two countries, and will mark the 20th anniversary of the opening of diplomatic relations following the Vietnam War.

Source: AFP

4. Iran, world powers reportedly reach agreement on sanctions relief
Iran has reached a tentative agreement on with the U.S. and five other world powers on lifting economic sanctions, a key part of a nuclear deal, anonymous diplomats told The Associated Press on Saturday. The tentative agreement, which hasn’t yet been signed, is expected to relieve some international economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbing their nuclear program. Negotiators face a July 7 deadline, extended from June 30 after more than a year of talks. Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a YouTube video Fridaynegotiations had “never been closer to a lasting outcome.”

Source: The Associated Press, BBC News

5. JetBlue first major airline to offer direct NYC-Cuba flights
JetBlue ran its first official direct flight from New York City’s John F. Kennedy Airport to Havana’s José Martí International Airport on Friday, the first in a planned series of weekly charter flights. It’s the first major airline to do so, though smaller outfit Sun Country was the first to start servicing the two cities. JetBlue also runs flights to Cuba from Florida cities following the easing of travel restrictions earlier this year as the two nations work to restore diplomatic ties.

Source: Time

6. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker will ‘make changes’ to GOP’s open records restriction
Wisconsin Gov. and expected presidential primary candidate Scott Walker (R) said Friday he’d work with legislators to make changes to a Republican-backed, committee-passed measure that would prevent the public from accessing most public records created by elected officials. “Prior to the budget going to the full Legislature for action, Gov. Walker plans to work with legislative leaders to make changes to the provisions included in the current proposal related to the state’s open records law,” his spokeswoman wrote.

Source: The Capital Times

7. 400-foot Ferris wheel strands 66 riders
The 400-foot Orlando Eye Ferris wheel shut down after a technical glitch Friday, stranding 66 riders. No one reported injuries, and all were rescued from the attraction in an hours-long procedure. The wheel shut down as a safety precaution, and rescuers used a backup generator to restore power and help passengers off two at a time. The ride, known for Nik Wallenda’s nerve-wracking walk across earlier this year, has had several technical difficulties since opening to the public in May.

Source: The Associated Press, The Orlando Sentinel

8. Reddit in turmoil after reported firing of administrator
Reddit users shut down hundreds of the site’s sub-sections Fridayfollowing the alleged removal of Victoria Taylor, the online discussion board’s director of talent and supervisor of the popular Ask Me Anything function. Moderators, often Reddit community members as opposed to employees, set subreddits to private in protest. “I want to apologize to our community for yesterday,” interim CEO Ellen Pao said Friday. “We handled the transition in a way that caused some disruption, and we should have done a better job.”

Source: Mashable, Time

9. The Confederate flag on The Dukes of Hazzard car will be painted over
Golf champ Bubba Watson announced on Thursday that he’ll swap the Confederate flag atop his General Lee, the iconic car from the TV showDukes of Hazzard, for an American one. In 2012, he purchased the car used in the show’s first episode. Watson’s tweet comes on the heels of TV Land’s announcement that it would stop airing reruns due to the flag’s prominence in the show. After murders at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, the Confederate flag has been increasingly shunned.

Source: Talking Points Memo

10. Solar-powered plane makes historic flight
The Solar Impulse made history on Friday when it landed without incident in Hawaii. Flying 5,000 miles from Japan and spending 118 hours in the air, the Impulse set records in distance and time for manned, solar-powered planes. The pilots Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, who switch off flying legs of the trip, are on a quest to circumnavigate the globe. Next stop: New York.

Source: BBC News

Julie Kliegman

NASCAR tells fans not to bring Confederate flags to races

Confederate flag waving on the wind (Shutterstock)

Confederate flag waving on the wind (Shutterstock)


NASCAR wants to limit the Confederate battle flag’s presence at its tracks after the murder of nine black worshippers in South Carolina, but getting U.S. motor racing fans to comply may prove difficult.

On the eve of a big holiday race weekend in Daytona Beach, David Childress was among those who ignored the call and packed a t-shirt festooned with the Civil War-era flag for his trip to the world-famous Florida racetrack.

“I don’t think you’re supposed to cherish it, but don’t forget it,” said Childress, 61, from Mississippi, who said he owns six Confederate flags.

The June 17 killings at a Charleston bible-study group have prompted politicians and businesses to try to banish the flag, widely viewed as a symbol of slavery, after photos of the white man charged in the shooting showed him posing with it.

NASCAR and track owner Daytona International Speedway Corp have not banned the flag at the track where it remains popular among motor racing’s strongly southern, White and conservative fan base.

Instead, race organizer and owner NASCAR and its 30 affiliated tracks on Thursday asked fans not to bring the flags to races.

“This is an opportunity for NASCAR Nation to demonstrate its sense of mutual respect and acceptance for all who attend our events,” it said.

For fans who ignore the request, NASCAR is offering to exchange Confederate flags for the stars and stripes to honor U.S. Independence Day at Daytona Beach.

Confederate flags typically dot the infield at Daytona but are far thicker at other NASCAR facilities such as the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama, fans say.

“You ain’t going to tell them boys they’re not going to fly their flags ‘cause they’re Alabama rednecks,” said Childress’ friend Debbie Dionne, 57, a cook from Pascagoula, Mississippi.

NASCAR’s attempt to get rid of the flags comes at the same time the organization and Daytona track owner have been announcing major new corporate sponsors including General Motors, Fifth Third Bank, and Microsoft.

Daytona Speedway needs sponsorships to help pay for a $400 million renovation of the aging track’s grandstand to turn it into racing’s first modern stadium.

“Companies are very careful of their brands,” said Hank Fishkind, an Orlando-based economic consultant.

While some fans will take umbrage at not being able to wave their Confederate flags, “NASCAR has the opportunity to broaden its base a bit by being more family friendly and more up to date in the positioning of their product,” he added, noting that it had struggled with declining TV ratings and empty seats in recent years.

GM didn’t immediately respond to calls for comment, but Fifth Third’s North Florida president and CEO Brian Lamb said in an emailed statement that the company did not support the use of the flag at the races.

In a statement Microsoft said it agreed with NASCAR and others that the flag is a symbol that “does not represent the future of our country, and that we should remove this symbol from our culture.”

Bob Almeida, 58, a fuel company manager from Cape Coral who was camping outside the track, said he’s noticed a decline in the flags over the past 10 years he’s been attending Daytona races.

Several fans Thursday saw NASCAR’s attempt to eliminate the flag as a capitulation to corporate sponsors.

“It’s all about the American dollar. But I can see why a company doesn’t want to lose hundreds of millions over a flag,” Childress said.

David Fraley, 54, of New Port Richey, a tennis court contractor, said he thinks NASCAR is in a difficult position.

“NASCAR’s selling a product. How can it be held responsible for what its customers believe in?” Fraley said.