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  • Originally published 07/19/2013

    Justyn Dillingham: Jimmy Carter’s Forgotten History Lesson

    Justyn Dillingham is a freelance writer residing in Tucson, Arizona. A former president has given the weight of his voice and reputation to the critics of the National Security Agency’s domestic spying program, blasting the federal government’s “invasion of human rights and American privacy” and suggesting that leaking the program’s existence to the press was “beneficial.” Ordinarily, this might give even the staunchest defenders of the NSA pause, for ordinarily a former president’s opinion carries considerable influence.But this time it will make little difference. For the former president is, of course, Jimmy Carter—the only former president one could imagine making such a statement, and not coincidentally one of the more widely detested former presidents in recent memory.

  • Originally published 07/11/2013

    Joan Walsh: Rand Paul Completely Mangles Lincoln

    Joan Walsh is Salon's editor at large and the author of "What's the Matter With White People: Finding Our Way in the Next America."...[W]hen Paul took on [his social media director Jack] Hunter’s hateful writing about Abraham Lincoln [in an interview with the Huffington Post], including the odious essay “John Wilkes Booth was right,” defending Lincoln’s assassination, that he gave us a picture of his troubling views of Lincoln, which display the toned-down influence of neo-confederates.  He starts off well enough. “I’m not a fan of secession,” Paul told Fineman. “I think the things he said about John Wilkes Booth are absolutely stupid. I think Lincoln was one of our greatest presidents.”But then Paul presents a view of Lincoln that’s actually only a few degrees removed from the neo-confederate revisionist history of our 16th president as a tyrannical hypocrite who was also a racist. Here’s what he said:

  • Originally published 07/03/2013

    Sean Coons: Frederick Douglass -- New Tea Party Hero?!

    Sean Coons is a writer and teacher in Los Angeles. Last week, Frederick Douglass — who escaped slavery at 20 years old and whose words would help bring an end to the institution — was honored with a statue in the U.S. Capitol’s Emancipation Hall in Washington, D.C. In the 1960s and ’70s, far left activists like Eldridge Cleaver of the Black Panther Party and Angela Davis of Communist Party USA incorporated Douglass’ call to agitation in their various causes’ platforms. Yet in a fascinating turnaround, the brilliant abolitionist, writer and orator is developing a new – and perhaps, unexpected – political identity: Tea Party hero.The recent rise in interest in Douglass by conservatives stems from their belief that his life epitomizes the self-reliance they champion, and his writings help provide justification for small government. It may be surprising to some that the fiery, black radical abolitionist of the 19th century, who once called Fourth of July celebrations “a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages,” could be inspiring to a Tea Party patriot. Or that social conservatives could find common cause with the man who bitterly attacked America’s Christianity as “a lie.” But that is exactly what is happening.

  • Originally published 06/27/2013

    Michael Lind: A No-Lose Fix for the Voting Rights Act

    Michael Lind is the author of Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States and co-founder of the New America Foundation.By striking down Section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and thereby gutting the act’s Section 5, the Supreme Court has presented defenders of voting rights in America with a challenge—and a historic opportunity. The challenge is the need to avert a new wave of state and local laws restricting voting rights in the aftermath of the Court’s decision. The opportunity is the chance that Congress now has to universalize Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, to make it apply to all 50 states.

  • Originally published 06/23/2013

    Jonathan Zimmerman: Children are Sexual Creatures

    Jonathan Zimmerman is a professor of education and history at New York University. He is the author of Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory and three other books. In 1985, the founder of modern American sex education gave a controversial speech about erections in fetuses. To Mary Calderone, who had started the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States back in 1964, new evidence about arousal in male fetuses demonstrated once and for all that children were sexual beings.Nonsense, said conservatives. To critics of sex education, childhood was — or should be — a time of sexual innocence. Racy movies, TV shows and magazines made kids prematurely interested in sex. And so did sex education, which robbed them of their natural virtue and replaced it with tawdry thoughts and feelings.I thought of this debate as I read the comments by Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, during the House debate on Monday over a bill that would ban almost all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. According to Burgess, fetuses do not simply experience sexual arousal; they actively arouse themselves.

  • Originally published 06/12/2013

    Michael Lind: Libertarians' Weak Grasp of History

    Michael Lind is the author of Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States and co-founder of the New America Foundation.My previous Salon essay, in which I asked why there are not any libertarian countries, if libertarianism is a sound political philosophy, has infuriated members of the tiny but noisy libertarian sect, as criticisms of cults by outsiders usually do. The weak logic and bad scholarship that suffuse libertarian responses to my article tend to reinforce me in my view that, if they were not paid so well to churn out anti-government propaganda by plutocrats like the Koch brothers and various self-interested corporations, libertarians would play no greater role in public debate than do the followers of Lyndon LaRouche or L. Ron Hubbard....

  • Originally published 05/23/2013

    Michael Lind: Voting is Not a Right

    Michael Lind is the author of Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States and co-founder of the New America Foundation. Is it time, at long last, for the citizens of the United States to enjoy the constitutional right to vote for the people who govern them?Phrased in that way, the question may come as a shock. The U.S. has waged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan justified, at least in rhetoric, by the claim that people deserve the right to vote for their leaders. Most of us assume that the right to vote has long been enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.Not according to the Supreme Court. In Bush v. Gore (2000), the Court ruled that “[t]he individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States.” That’s right. Under federal law, according to the Supreme Court, if you are a citizen of the United States, you have a right to own a firearm that might conceivably be used in overthrowing the government. But you have no right to wield a vote that might be used to change the government by peaceful means....

  • Originally published 05/06/2013

    North America’s forgotten plague

    A LEAN FIGURE cast in bronze kneels beside a child, a tiny lancet in his hand poised to strike at the girl’s left shoulder. Another patient waits her turn, upper arm revealed. The memorial, outside the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, celebrates the global conquest of smallpox in 1980, a milestone that belongs on any list of reasons to be cheerful: Variola major gorged on our species for thousands of years, blazing a trail of hideous pustules that disfigured victims’ bodies and faces and wiped out communities. Children and the elderly were especially vulnerable, and those not felled by the disease were sometimes blinded by it.The Geneva memorial honours the physician as warrior in the eradication of smallpox. On a Pfizer campus in Pennsylvania, a twin statue tells a different story, positioning Big Pharma as the hero. Neither monument, however, recalls the many casualties of smallpox, and this says a great deal about what we choose to remember.One of the last major outbreaks in Canada began in the spring of 1862 when a ship from San Francisco arrived in Victoria and patient zero stepped ashore. Throughout the summer and autumn, smallpox raced north and east, up the coast and inland through canyons of tightly packed settlements that were perfectly suited to its appetite....

  • Originally published 05/06/2013

    Steve Yoder: It’s Time for Democrats to Ditch Andrew Jackson

    Steve Yoder is a frequent contributor to The Crime Report. He writes about criminal justice, immigration, small business and real estate. His work has appeared in The American Prospect, Good, The Fiscal Times and elsewhere. Spring means that appeals for money are bursting forth from both major political parties. It also means Democratic officials in states and counties around the country are busy getting people out to their major fundraiser, the Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner. And they’re bringing in the big guns: Vice President Joe Biden will keynote the South Carolina Democrats’ dinner tonight.But after an election in which Democrats rode a wave of minority support to keep the White House and Senate, party activists should wonder about one of the founders for whom that event is named. If branding matters, then the tradition of honoring perhaps the most systematic violator of human rights for America’s nonwhites should finally run its course.

  • Originally published 04/23/2013

    Michael Lind: The World is Actually More Peaceful than Ever

    Michael Lind is the author of Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States and co-founder of the New America Foundation. In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, it is important to keep things in perspective, by emphasizing what the mass media tend to neglect — namely, the fact that the world has become much more peaceful in recent decades and is getting more peaceful all the time.It does not diminish the horror of mass casualty attacks on civilians, in this and other countries, to point out that today’s terrorist incidents provide a counterpoint to a declining arc of political violence worldwide. Both violence among states and violence within states have diminished dramatically in the last few generations.If we look at battle deaths in the last century, the spurts in the Cold War, associated with the Korean, Indochina and Soviet-Afghan wars, were dwarfed by the huge spikes of slaughter associated with the world wars. And with the end of the Cold War came a steep decline in political violence worldwide — mainly because the two sides no longer kept local conflicts going by arming and supplying opposing sides from Latin America to Africa to Asia and the Middle East.

  • Originally published 04/01/2013

    Neil Gross: Why Conservatives Hate College

    Neil Gross is author of "Why Are Professors Liberal and Why Do Conservatives Care?" (Harvard University Press; April 9), a professor of sociology at the University of British Columbia and a visiting scholar at New York University's Institute for Public Knowledge. This post is an excerpt from a longer excerpt of "Why Are Professors Liberal and Why Do Conservatives Care?" published on Salon.

  • Originally published 04/01/2013

    Michael J. Gerhardt: How Jimmy Carter Imperiled Roe v. Wade

    Michael J. Gerhardt is Samuel Ashe Distinguished Professor in Constitutional Law & Director, Center for Law and Government at the University of North Carolina Law School.Jimmy Carter had significant impact on judicial selection in several ways. The first involved the Supreme Court. The fact that he had no Supreme Court appointments made it easier for President Reagan to build directly upon the four appointments made by President Nixon to thwart Warren Court decisions expanding minority and criminal defendants’ rights at the expense of state sovereignty.An obvious target for Reagan was the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade. Initially, there was no Republican backlash to the opinion. Indeed, the initial, public response to Roe was largely silence. When, for instance, the Senate held confirmation hearings on President Ford’s nomina­tion of John Paul Stevens to replace the retiring William O. Douglas, not a single senator asked Stevens about  Roe. Yet, by the time Reagan was campaigning for the presidency, the Republican platform had called for overruling Roe; and as president, Reagan made Roe a principal example of the Court’s liberalism and pledged to appoint justices who would overturn Roe, among other cases. The question is what had happened in the meantime.

  • Originally published 03/28/2013

    Faulkner’s medal, writing up for auction

    When Nobel Prize-winning writer William Faulkner’s works went on sale in 2010, auction house Christie’s said the collection of 90 items “was nearly a complete representation of Faulkner’s work,” according to the Huffington Post. But last year, Lee Caplin, executor of Faulkner’s literary estate, and others discovered a “treasure trove of these literary papers” in the Faulker family barn in Virginia. Now, the papers, which include a story Faulkner wrote in college, along with Faulkner’s Nobel medal, are going up for auction with Sotheby’s....

  • Originally published 03/21/2013

    Michael Lind: Private Sector Parasites

    Michael Lind is the author of Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States and co-founder of the New America Foundation. You don’t have to be a Tea Party conservative to believe that the economy is threatened when there are too many “takers” and not enough “makers.” The “takers” who threaten the dynamism and fairness of industrial capitalism the most in the twenty-first century are not the welfare-dependent poor—the villains of Tea Party propaganda—but the rent-extracting, unproductive rich.

  • Originally published 03/21/2013

    Hacker releases paintings by GWB

    Guccifer, the notorious hacker who shared George W. Bush’s magnificent nude portraits with the rest of the world, is at it again, having released six more paintings in Bush’s seemingly expanding collection. Since images of the paintings first surfaced, the nation has learned that the former president is also an accomplished dog painter, having painted more than 50 dogs....

  • Originally published 03/19/2013

    BBC gets heat for censoring Elvis Costello’s 1979 hit “Oliver’s Army”

    The BBC is fielding complaints for editing the 1979 Elvis Costello hit “Oliver’s Army” on a 6 Music radio broadcast last week. The Mail reports that BBC censored the “one more widow, one less white n****r” lyric, despite the fact that the song has generally played uncensored on the radio for more than thirty years.According to the Telegraph, one listener said, “‘Although it is not a nice phrase and I wouldn’t condone the use of the word these days, it is an anti-war song as far as I believe, arguing against British colonialism and the word would be appropriate for that song.”

  • Originally published 02/05/2013

    Michael Lind: The White South’s Last Defeat

    Michael Lind is the author of Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States and co-founder of the New America Foundation. In understanding the polarization and paralysis that afflict national politics in the United States, it is a mistake to think in terms of left and right. The appropriate directions are North and South. To be specific, the long, drawn-out, agonizing identity crisis of white Southerners is having effects that reverberate throughout our federal union. The transmission mechanism is the Republican Party, an originally Northern party that has now replaced the Southern wing of the Democratic Party as the vehicle for the dwindling white Southern tribe....

  • Originally published 01/29/2013

    Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg: No Red States, No Blue States

    Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg are professors of history at LSU and coauthors of "Madison and Jefferson," now a Random House paperback. When Virginian Thomas Jefferson provocatively wrote that the tree of liberty would have to be refreshed periodically with the blood of patriots and tyrants, he did not reckon on tyranny arising in the midst of the Virginia state Legislature from a creeping faction of smarmy hooligans primed to convert Democratic districts into Republican ones overnight. It’s in the news this week. But it’s been brewing ever since Bush v. Gore.Someone’s always talking about dumping the general ticket plurality system – the way we have tallied the votes of the states in presidential elections since 1789 – in favor of the district system. By this means we would be tallying electoral votes one congressional district at a time rather than awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to a single candidate. Article Two, Section 1 of the Constitution says that each state legislature determines on its own how its presidential electors (i.e., those who comprise the Electoral College) are to be chosen.

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    Jeffrey Frank: The Secret Story of Richard Nixon’s First Scandal

    Excerpted from “Ike and Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage” by Jeffrey Frank. Copyright © 2013 by Jeffrey Frank. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Richard Nixon’s Checkers speech — delivered just five days after the New York Post reported wealthy backers had set up a fund for his day-to-day expenses — was seen by some 58 million people, or about a third of the population of the United States. It lasted thirty minutes and was to be forever identified by its reference to a cocker spaniel named Checkers. It was like nothing ever seen in American politics, set apart by its intimacy, its pathos, the apparent revelation of a private life from a public man, and its use of television. Its structure was a trial lawyer’s closing (or, perhaps, opening) argument, which ranged from the explanatory to the exculpatory to the defiant; buried within it was not only Nixon’s defense of himself, but occasional jabs at his opponents and probably at General Dwight Eisenhower, his running mate. It is still a remarkable document....

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