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Folks, I've been a bit busy this summer. Those of you who have read my work know I stopped seeking work in the public sector to build a catering and concessions company. With the help of the Kenyan Socialist, the economy is improving and our little business has benefited substantially. It turns out when people have more discretionary income, they buy more BBQ - imagine that.

So the business growth and subsequent project to lay the groundwork for a restaurant have kept me away from writing. I apologize - after reading every diary I could find while I was unemployed, I now find myself planning, cooking or marketing instead. Here's to mixed blessings. I'll return full force in Fall.

But sometimes something is so outrageous, so disturbing, that I just have to make time for a diary - and I heard that something today, out of the mouth of a man I considered a friend.

Wife: "I heard Joe Biden is vacationing down here this weekend."

Husband: [Scowls] "Let me go get my gun."

What followed was their utterly confused versions of the current fake scandals and propagandic nonsense from the right, all sewn into some sort of holy wool to place over the eyes of the next naive victim - and a lesson in why repeatedly distorting truth to produce hate leads directly to serious threats to the fabric of this nation through stochastic terrorism.

Follow me below - I'll try to be short.

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As many of you probably already know, there was a breakthrough yesterday after decades of concern over the concept of homosexuality in the masculine atmosphere of the NFL:

Michael Sam made history Saturday afternoon, as the St. Louis Rams made him the 249th overall choice in the 2014 NFL draft.

The Missouri defensive end became the first openly gay player to be drafted in league history and seeks to be the first openly gay athlete ever to play in the NFL.

Video of Sam receiving the call from the Rams and coach Jeff Fisher revealed the player's emotion while surrounded by friends, family and his boyfriend.

This is, quite obviously, a welcome and promising sign of progress.

But what was included in that emotional response by a man brave enough to out himself to the press? A perhaps equally brave embrace and kiss with his partner during one of the most joyful moments of his life - in front of ESPN cameras.

You didn't hear the pops? Those weren't fireworks. They were bigoted brains exploding across America.

Follow me below for video of the special moment and a taste of the crazy, a brand only men kissing on ESPN can bring out of the woodwork.

Poll

How did Sam's reaction and kiss make you feel?

18%46 votes
4%10 votes
62%155 votes
4%10 votes
10%27 votes

| 248 votes | Vote | Results

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When you grow up in a small town, you are taught to respect the local police force and to expect similar respect in return. When everyone knows everyone, blatant disrespect towards officers and any sort of excessive force by police are both looked down upon and seen as a cause for public scorn.

So you don't expect to be pulled over, removed forcibly from your car, and shot with a taser as you are handcuffed for being someone you are not and committing a crime you aren't in any way associated with. On your birthday, no less.

That happened to a man in my home town in 2011. It was all caught on tape and, for better or worse, an ugly incident in the history of southern Delaware has finally come to a legal end. While the emotional and social ramifications will permeate for decades, its progress.

See the full video below the fold - along with more information and a bit of local insight.

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As a NBA fan since the Magic-Bird days, a sports fan in general, and a human being with enough brain to both notice and deplore racist filth when I see it -

I'm calling for a boycott of all Clipper television games until Sterling is punished.

While I continue to support African American athletes and other teams in the playoffs, I will not let a Clippers game be shown in my household. Additionally, I will purchase no NBA merchandise of any franchise as long as Sterling is an owner in the National Basketball Association.
I ask you to join me, as the NBA investigates the words and actions of a troubled man.

For more information on his numerous issues, old and new, follow me below the fold.

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The Biden has been unleashed in a whole new environment - Instagram Land!

From the News Journal:

Vice President Biden is now an Instagrammer.

Biden joined the photo-centric social media site earlier this afternoon and posted his first photo. (Thankfully, it's not a selfie.)

While President Obama's first Instagram photo in Jan. 2012 was a bland shot showing him during a video conference, Biden went the humble brag route by showing off his spiffy Ray-Ban Aviators.

The Ray-Ban pic is pretty good - worth a click over to the NJ.

If you want to follow the Veep he's now at instagram.com/vp.

Discuss

I've been deeply disturbed by two trends concerning our military and its soldiers over the past decade. Neither has much to do with my tendency towards isolationism or deep distrust of the military-industrial complex that continually bankrupts our country. Rather, these trends disturb me on a deeper, more personal level.

The first was and is the quiet attempts to cut compensation during a time of war and the continued disrespect it shows to our soldiers dutifully fulfilling their mission.

The second is the epidemic of suicides in our military, often attached to PTSD from dutifully fulfilling their mission on our behalf but not receiving proper mental health treatment.

But could these two trends be intertwined? Follow below the fold to find out what got me wondering and then join me in untying the not.

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As covered in news around the region, it appears that legislation to decriminalize marijuana (or at least soften penalties) will be headed to Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's desk! What fate it enjoys once it gets there is currently unclear, although the future of the movement for marijuana reform appears to be bright.  

Falling in with the trend among more progressive governors and legislatures nationwide, it appears Jack Markell (DE-Gov) is also ready to discuss the decriminalization of marijuana, or at least a significant reduction in penalties. Delaware passed medicinal marijuana a few years ago, only to delay implementation of the law amid threats from the feds and other issues.

These moves, as political polling solidifies behind the policy, look to continue slow progress on a key issue. Any time we can save millions on enforcement, millions more on prisons, stop criminalizing non-violent citizens, and do the right thing, count me as down. More importantly, it should soon be both politically and morally imperative in progressive states as polling continues to indicate its time for change.

Follow me below the orange munchie for more info, a few quotes, and a little commentary.

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Here we are in the land of the 1%. It's their world - you just work here.

I'm talking about the world where women make 82% of what men do and where we've stopped improving that number over the last decade. I'm talking about a world where corporate profits return to record levels while school districts, student loan holders, the underemployed, and the unemployed struggle to get by because their bail-out never came. I'm talking about a world where worker productivity is up 80% over 30 years while working wages stagnate and benefits are disappearing. I'm talking about a world where we can spend over 7 billion dollars to subsidize one of the most profitable industries on earth and as much as the next 13 countries combined in defense spending - but somehow can't afford healthcare for citizens or a stable retirement for our elders. Welcome to modern day America.

This is a world where the 1% yell at you to pull yourself up by your bootstraps --

All while systematically cutting the threads that hold those same straps together.

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I went to the doctor for the first time in five years today. Although I'm young, I had neglected a couple of health issues for at least a year. I couldn't afford care and was left hoping none of them developed into anything more serious. As a small business owner who narrowly missed the threshold for buying on the exchanges, I'm enrolled in Medicaid for this year until I can bump my income up a bit. The day my confirmation of benefits and card came was among the best of my life. I nearly broke down in tears.

But that isn't what this diary is about. Today, I went to the doctor for the first time in five years and saw first hand why Republicans have fought tooth and nail for a system that was so broken for every single stakeholder - except the insurers and the politicians who enable them.

What I found made my blood boil. Follow below the fold for a living example of what our "health care system" could have done to me and millions of others before the ACA. Let's just say the cheesy poof holding the fold would have been more than the food in my pantry.

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Two years ago, I drafted a single diary on Daily Kos concerning the troubling impact the recession and conservative economic policy were having on young people. To my amazement, it was received well. But as I implied in that piece, I was pursuing town and city manager positions throughout a relatively conservative region and needed to maintain my neutrality in public. As such, I reluctantly resorted back to lurking amongst some of the brightest progressive minds on the planet. Yes, you! No, not that troll. But everyone else.

Fast forward two years and I feel both an update and announcement are warranted.
I'm walking away from pursuing a career in government. I let my friends and family know of my choice on Facebook yesterday, along with this welcome consequence:

No more neutrality. Silence doesn't help Democratic discourse. Now, I'm here to rejoin this community in an active role and offer my thanks.

Follow me below the fold and through the great orange satanic portal for more.

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A quick belated thank you: I just returned home from a busy day with the family, complete with Super Bowl festivities, and decided to jump on here to read a bit and see if I had got any more responses to this.  I'm humbled to see that it was rescued, hit the rec list, and resulted in a number of very interesting/informative comments.  I apologize for not being around to chat with you all, as I honestly expected little when I threw it on here this morning.  Please know that I sincerely appreciate the feedback and participation.

I've heard it a thousand times.  At least.  The American Dream amounts to an opportunity to succeed. I've heard the President say it: "If you work hard and do the right thing, you will have...". You know the rest.  Of course, the President also says this dream is dying or, at the very least, deteriorating quite rapidly.  We regularly hear the Republican response to this, over whispered murmurs of communism and socialism, that the government can not help one achieve this dream.  Rather, one must "Pick himself up by his bootstraps".  You know, if you aren't too lazy or feeling too entitled then the American Dream is waiting for you and the government has no place in helping you attain it.

Most here understand the ridiculous nature of this meme.  However, it is sometimes difficult to find a story to disprove it.  I've heard decent people repeat the same talking points about how folks can't find work because they're lazy. If people only tried harder, they wouldn't need progressive policies in the government to help.  I've been fortunate to become knowledgeable enough to rebut these claims and explain how our growing income inequality makes moving in the progressive direction not only desirable but critical for the future economic and social health of this nation.  Unfortunately, I've also had a front row seat to what the death of the American Dream would look like and felt how close to the precipice we've crept.  Thus, I've returned to Kos to write a single diary through which I hope to share my perspective.  

You'll understand my hesitance to diary or even comment often when you read the direction I hope my career takes.  Political neutrality is particularly important for a person in my field.  However, providing a glimpse into the heart of America's youth and their prospects for gainful employment is, I have decided, even more important.  

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Fri Jul 02, 2010 at 07:41 PM PDT

Remembering Senator Byrd

by UntyingTheNot

When I was young, literally any problem or concern – be it local, regional, statewide, or national – that was voiced openly in the community or in private amongst friends got the same simple three word response: "Call Bob Byrd".  My Mother, West Virginia resident from the time she was born to the point when we moved away in 1993, had heard the same response her entire life.  A 4 year old doesn’t know what makes a good sandwich, let alone elected representative, but even then I knew Senator Robert Byrd’s name and face.  And I knew if at any point I needed assistance from the government, he was the man to call.

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