We are told, for example, that conservatives are against big government and high spending. Yet even as Republican governors and state legislatures block the expansion of Medicaid, the G.O.P. angrily denounces modest cost-saving measures for Medicare. How can this contradiction be explained? Well, what do many Medicaid recipients look like — and I’m talking about the color of their skin, not the content of their character — and how does that compare with the typical Medicare beneficiary? Mystery solved.
Or we’re told that conservatives, the Tea Party in particular, oppose handouts because they believe in personal responsibility, in a society in which people must bear the consequences of their actions. Yet it’s hard to find angry Tea Party denunciations of huge Wall Street bailouts, of huge bonuses paid to executives who were saved from disaster by government backing and guarantees. Instead, all the movement’s passion, starting with Rick Santelli’s famous rant on CNBC, has been directed against any hint of financial relief for low-income borrowers. And what is it about these borrowers that makes them such targets of ire? You know the answer.
One odd consequence of our still-racialized politics is that conservatives are still, in effect, mobilizing against the bums on welfare even though both the bums and the welfare are long gone or never existed. Mr. Santelli’s fury was directed against mortgage relief that never actually happened. Right-wingers rage against tales of food stamp abuse that almost always turn out to be false or at least greatly exaggerated. And Mr. Ryan’s black-men-don’t-want-to-work theory of poverty is decades out of date.
In the 1970s it was still possible to claim in good faith that there was plenty of opportunity in America, and that poverty persisted only because of cultural breakdown among African-Americans. Back then, after all, blue-collar jobs still paid well, and unemployment was low. The reality was that opportunity was much more limited than affluent Americans imagined; as the sociologist William Julius Wilson has documented, the flight of industry from urban centers meant that minority workers literally couldn’t get to those good jobs, and the supposed cultural causes of poverty were actually effects of that lack of opportunity. Still, you could understand why many observers failed to see this.
But over the past 40 years good jobs for ordinary workers have disappeared, not just from inner cities but everywhere: adjusted for inflation, wages have fallen for 60 percent of working American men. And as economic opportunity has shriveled for half the population, many behaviors that used to be held up as demonstrations of black cultural breakdown — the breakdown of marriage, drug abuse, and so on — have spread among working-class whites too.
These awkward facts have not, however, penetrated the world of conservative ideology. Earlier this month the House Budget Committee, under Mr. Ryan’s direction, released a 205-page report on the alleged failure of the War on Poverty. What does the report have to say about the impact of falling real wages? It never mentions the subject at all.
And since conservatives can’t bring themselves to acknowledge the reality of what’s happening to opportunity in America, they’re left with nothing but that old-time dog whistle. Mr. Ryan wasn’t being inarticulate — he said what he said because it’s all that he’s got.
If nobody else will take action and the government of Uganda refuses to see reason, Anonymous will adopt a scorched earth policy towards Uganda’s network infrastructure. You should expect us, for we do not forgive and we will not forget.
The Eleventh Circuit is the second youngest federal court of appeals in the country. It was created in 1981 when Congress removed Alabama, Georgia, and Florida from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and placed them under the umbrella of a new appellate court. (For this reason, Fifth Circuit cases decided before 1981 remain binding precedent in the Eleventh Circuit.) Because the United States Supreme Court hears so few cases, the Eleventh Circuit is effectively the court of last resort in these states, and has the final word in all areas of federal law. For most of its history, judges appointed by Republican Presidents have held a majority among the Eleventh Circuit’s members (when President Barack Obama took office in 2009, Republican-appointed judges held a 7-5 majority). In addition, the party of each nominating president only partly explains the court’s composition, because some judges appointed by Democrats have ruled with a conservative judicial philosophy, at least on certain issues. The result is a body of law that tends to limit the rights of those who most depend on the fair provision of justice—employees and consumers, criminal defendants, victims of discrimination—and that favors wealthy and more powerful litigants.
The court’s membership also has a striking lack of racial diversity. Although 25% of people who live within the Eleventh Circuit are African American (more than any other circuit), the court has only one African American judge, Charles R. Wilson. In fact, Judge Wilson’s predecessor, Judge Joseph Hackett, is the only other African American to ever sit on the Eleventh Circuit, and he had been reassigned to the court at its creation in 1981. That means that Judge Wilson is the only African American ever appointed to the Eleventh Circuit, and that the Eleventh Circuit has precisely the same number of black judges now, in 2014, that it did over 30 years ago.
In the Eleventh Circuit, the President has nominated three people so far to fill the four current vacancies: Robin Rosenbaum from Florida, and Jill Pryor and Julie Carnes from Georgia. Jill Pryor was nominated in February 2012 to a seat that has been empty since 2010, but Georgia’s Republican Senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, have withheld their support and stalled her nomination. Julie Carnes, a U.S. District Judge in the Northern District of Georgia, was first appointed to the federal bench by Republican President George H.W. Bush. Her elevation to the court of appeals is part of a nomination package that includes four nominees to district court vacancies in Georgia, and that would reportedly let Jill Pryor’s nomination move forward. Some advocacy groups, along with members of Georgia’s Democratic congressional delegation, have argued that this package lacks sufficient diversity (only one of the six nominees is African American), and have publicly criticized some of the district court nominees for their records as state judges, legislators, and lawyers. The fourth vacancy, for which there is not yet a nominee, is an Alabama seat that opened when Judge Joel Dubina took senior status last year.
The law is breathtaking in its scope. It gives bigotry against us gays and lesbians a powerful and unprecedented weapon. But your mean-spirited representatives and senators know this. They also know that it is going to be struck down eventually by the courts. But they passed it anyway, just to make their hateful opinion of us crystal clear.
So let me make mine just as clear. If your Governor Jan Brewer signs this repugnant bill into law, make no mistake. We will not come. We will not spend. And we will urge everyone we know–from large corporations to small families on vacation–to boycott. Because you don’t deserve our dollars. Not one red cent.
But flip either mailer over, and you’ll discover a color photograph of a slightly smiling, young Latina identified as “Tania Hernandez—Democrat.” Above her head, in the photo’s azure sky, appears the quote, “David Alvarez doesn’t understand the needs of most communities. Unless you live in one of his three chosen neighborhoods, he’s written you off.”
In the picture, the late-afternoon sun gleams on her face, as well as off the chain-link fence and tree stump behind her. Beyond that, there’s another tree and a dirt lot occupied by a camper next to a faded-blue shed.
For weeks, Spin Cycle has searched for Hernandez, curious about how she’d formulated such a strong opinion of the first-term District 8 council member. This week, Spin received a tip that Hernandez appeared to be a resident of National City. An address was provided, and Spin reopened Operation Pinpoint Photo Location.
Lo and behold, less than half a block away from the address Spin found the spot where the mailer photo was taken. Again, in National City.
Spin Cycle tried to get a comment from the Lincoln Club, whose anti-Alvarez independent-expenditure committee—Working Together for Neighborhood Fairness—paid for the mailer (along with a group calling itself Stuck in the Rough LLC, which is battling residents to develop homes on the former Escondido Country Club).
Through a spokesperson, Lincoln Club President and CEO T.J. Zane told Spin: “The Club doesn’t discuss its tactics or strategy in the middle of a campaign, sorry.” Zane declined further comment.
Was Arizona’s “papers please” SB1070 law racially motivated and in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution? A federal judge says the only way to find out is to look at the emails and letters exchanged between the Arizona GOP and groups such as ALEC that were advocating passage of the law.
The Arizona GOP is fighting to avoid disclosure even though, as Judge Susan Bolton pointed out, communications to public officials are public records under Arizona law. What do Republicans have to hide? Could it be that terms such as “illegals,” “wetbacks,” “undocumented,” and “Mexicans” were used in the correspondence, and would thus show a racial intent behind the law?
Throughout the months of September, October, and November, Minnesota Vikings special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer would use homophobic language in my presence. He had not done so during minicamps or fall camp that year, nor had he done so during the 2011 season. He would ask me if I had written any letters defending “the gays” recently and denounce as disgusting the idea that two men would kiss, and he would constantly belittle or demean any idea of acceptance or tolerance. I tried to laugh these off while also responding with the notion that perhaps they were human beings who deserved to be treated as human beings. Mike Priefer also said on multiple occasions that I would wind up burning in hell with the gays, and that the only truth was Jesus Christ and the Bible. He said all this in a semi-joking tone, and I responded in kind, as I felt a yelling match with my coach over human rights would greatly diminish my chances of remaining employed. I felt uncomfortable each time Mike Priefer said these things. After all, he was directly responsible for reviewing my job performance, but I hoped that after the vote concluded in Minnesota his behavior would taper off and eventually stop.
On Oct. 25, I had a poor game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Vikings brought in several punters for a workout to potentially replace me. I do not believe this was motivated by my speaking out on same-sex equality, though I do not know for sure. During the special-teams meeting the following day, Mike Priefer berated me in an incredibly harsh tone the likes of which I’ve never heard a coach use about my abilities as a punter (and I have been berated before). The room went silent after he finished speaking, in a way that normally does not happen during meetings when someone is being called out. The Vikings kept me on as their punter.
Near the end of November, several teammates and I were walking into a specialist meeting with Coach Priefer. We were laughing over one of the recent articles I had written supporting same-sex marriage rights, and one of my teammates made a joking remark about me leading the Pride parade. As we sat down in our chairs, Mike Priefer, in one of the meanest voices I can ever recall hearing, said: “We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows.” The room grew intensely quiet, and none of the players said a word for the rest of the meeting. The atmosphere was decidedly tense. I had never had an interaction that hostile with any of my teammates on this issue—some didn’t agree with me, but our conversations were always civil and respectful. Afterward, several told me that what Mike Priefer had said was “messed up.”
More about Mike Priefer.