In America, white terrorists are the deadliest kind

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Robert Lewis Dear is accused of opening fire at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood, killing three.

Around the globe, Muslims carrying out jihad are responsible for tens of thousands of deaths. Americans are occupied with what to do about the problem. Terrorism is a permanent fixture of the media cycle and our politics, but the deadliest terror threat to Americans is neither foreign nor Muslim: It’s the terror from a homegrown insurgency of angry white men.

Two atrocities, both bearing the grim stamp of white terror, bookended Thanksgiving week. In Minneapolis on November 23, four white men opened fire on a crowd of Black Lives Matter demonstrators, injuring five. And in Colorado Springs on November 27, Robert Lewis Dear opened fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic, killing two civilians and a police officer. Continue reading

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Trump’s extremism further divorces Republican base from reality

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After being ganged up on by civilian Trump supporters, a Black Lives Matter activist is ejected from a Trump campaign event.

When Donald Trump formally launched his presidential campaign on June 16, he brought out a seemingly contradictory response in commentators. The most straight-faced of news commentators thought he was a joke and didn’t expect him to last. Only the cynics, Sarah Palin fresh in their memory, worried that he had a real chance. Five months later and the cynics were right: Trump remains on top in the GOP primary.

According to Nate Silver, the analyst who famously predicted nearly every state in the 2008 and 2012 elections, Trump’s prospects of actually winning the nomination – let alone the presidency – remain slim. Silver may well be right, but it doesn’t mean Trump will be disappearing off American TV sets anytime soon. His mere presence in the race has already done enormous damage to our national conversation. Continue reading

Bernie Sanders gives speech defining democratic socialism

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Bernie Sanders lays out his vision of democratic socialism to a crowd at Georgetown University.

Millennials might be willing to embrace socialism, but the word has been a liability for self-defined democratic socialist Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign. It was the focus of his first question at the first Democratic debate. To his credit, Sanders has not tried to distance himself from the word. Instead, on November 19 Sanders delivered a powerful, campaign-defining speech at Georgetown University outlining his vision of democratic socialism and the future of the nation. Continue reading

ISIL thrives on mayhem – don’t give it to them

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The Brandenburg Gate is lit in solidarity with Paris on Saturday, Nov. 14 in Berlin, Germany. ignacionimo/Instagram

On Friday, November 13, the city of Paris was laid siege by a small band of terrorists from the Islamic State who raided a theater, a concert hall, a soccer stadium and other venues using AK-47s and suicide bombs to. No final tally has been released and many victims remain hospitalized, but at least 129 are known to have died. In terms of death toll, it’s the worst attack in France since World War II.

In addition to the French massacre, ISIL is responsible for downing a Russian airplane carrying 224 tourists to Egypt. The day before the Paris attack ISIL detonated bombs in Beirut, Lebanon, claiming dozens more lives. These attacks are in addition to many smaller ones, the group’s destruction of culture, and the atrocities committed against women, hostages and apostates in ISIL-controlled territory.

After the attacks, French President Francoise Hollande called for the eradication of the Islamic State and declared France at war. France has since launched several air strikes against the Islamic State in Raqqa, Syria, which has served as a capital since roughly 2013. Among the targets were an Islamic State “command post, jihadist recruitment center and weapons and ammunition depot,” as well as a “terrorist training camp.” Continue reading

Election season highlights the shallowness of American democracy

Charles and David Koch are interviewed by MSNBC anchors "Morning" Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.

Charles and David Koch are interviewed by MSNBC anchors “Morning” Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.

No serious scholar of history or political science considers the United States a democracy. Nor is the country a Constitutional Republic, which is sometimes given as the technical term. We like to think of ourselves as democratic, but America is, more or less officially, an oligarchy. This means the people have very little influence over policy, which is instead implemented by and in favor of private concentrations of wealth.

With election season in full swing, this simple fact gets overlooked and the platitudes about democracy are pushed harder than ever by pundits and politicians. Ironically, no time in America reveals more about our democracy deficit than the presidential election cycle. Between campaigns that are bought wholesale by billionaires and a news media that frames the election in the perspective of big business, Americans really aren’t invited to participate in the process much at all. Continue reading

Exploited college faculty join Fight for $15

Students, faculty and low-wage workers march in solidarity in downtown Chicago.

Students, faculty and low-wage workers march in solidarity in downtown Chicago.

Students aren’t the only ones feeling the financial pinch of college. Faculty members are, too, particularly adjunct professors and recent hires. According to Service Employees International Union analysis, “31 percent of part-time faculty members and 14 percent of all faculty are living near or below the federal poverty level.”

But nationwide, a growing movement is attempting to change that. In solidarity with Fight for $15 and with the support of labor organizers like SEIU, faculty are calling attention to the crisis of poverty wages and demanding solutions. Continue reading

Threats against Tarantino highlight extreme police mentality

Tarantino's short speech at a Black Lives Matter rally invited strong criticism from police unions. --- Image by © M. Stan Reaves/Demotix/Corbis

Tarantino’s short speech at a Black Lives Matter rally invited strong criticism from police unions. — Image by © M. Stan Reaves/Demotix/Corbis

Following his brief speech at a demonstration against police brutality last month, director Quentin Tarantino has experienced a backlash from police unions. In particular, Fraternal Order of Police executive director, Jim Pasco, issued vaguely worded threats about surprising Tarantino and harming him economically. Perhaps he’s bluffing. But threats from police, even nonviolent ones, against a private citizen who has broken no law are totally unacceptable. Pasco highlights just how paranoid and reactionary police culture has become.

Tarantino’s remarks were not even especially controversial. USA Today reported that Pasco’s threats were in retaliation for Tarantino’s “inflammatory remarks against police brutality.” Such a premise is difficult to understand. It’s like accusing someone of making inflammatory remarks against child abuse. What’s inflammatory is police officers going on the attack against anyone who calls out their brutality. Continue reading

South Park is having its best season in years

Historic SodaSopa, located in South Park's most desirable neighborhood, Kenny's House.

Historic SodaSopa, located in South Park’s most desirable neighborhood, Kenny’s House.

A staggering 19 seasons in and South Park is as poignant, sharp and funny as it’s ever been. It hasn’t been entirely smooth sailing for the show. Heavy-handedness bogged it down for a few seasons and somewhere along the line, episodes began revolving around single jokes. But it’s back in top form now, tackling political correctness and 2015 America with the appropriate amount of both cynicism and affection. Continue reading

Ohio rejects historic marijuana legalization initiative

Medical marijuana growing at a facility in Denver. (Anthony Souffle/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

Medical marijuana growing at a facility in Denver. (Anthony Souffle/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

Citizens of Ohio overwhelmingly rejected Issue 3, a proposal that would have legalized marijuana for both medicinal and recreational use. The results are a textbook example of the messiness that ensues when business, interest groups and government all get together in the legislative process. Squirrely as Issue 3 and its corollary, Issue 2, were, the state still missed an opportunity to set a historic precedent. Continue reading

How the Sanders campaign can increase its momentum

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders sits down with the host of Real Time, Bill Maher.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders sits down with the host of Real Time, Bill Maher.

With over a million small contributions from 700,000 ordinary Americans, the Bernie Sanders campaign has remarkable popular support. He’s accomplished this despite some notable handicaps: he self-applies the label democratic socialist; he refuses to take money from Super PACs; and he’s up against Hillary Clinton, a member of one of America’s royal families whose nomination in the Democratic primaries is often treated as inevitable. As inspiring as it is to see him doing well, there are some things his campaign could do even better. Continue reading