A profile of Dan Choi, a gay Iraq combat veteran who became a media star after his public push to repeal "don't ask, don't tell." Since the victory, Choi has found it difficult to figure out what to do next:
In late August, I was on my way to interview Dan at his apartment when he messaged me that a big protest was shaping up at the White House. President Barack Obama had just announced that he would ask Congress for authorization to use force in Syria. I raced to meet him at the north entrance, but all I found were tourists snapping photos and Dan circling around on his bike. He hung out for a while, texting a friend to ask for an update. She didn’t respond. After 20 minutes of scouring his contacts for people who might have more information, he looked up from his phone and gave me a sideways grin. He was being a good sport, but he looked crestfallen. I sensed—or maybe I just imagined it—he was asking himself the same question I had been: Who is Dan Choi without “don’t ask, don’t tell”?
PUBLISHED: Dec. 2, 2013
LENGTH: 28 minutes (7175 words)
A bleak picture of working in the United States. Meyerson points to 1974 as the pivotal year in which worker pay stopped rising in accordance with productivity, and traces all the changes have since wiped out the American middle class:
All the factors that had slowly been eroding Americans’ economic lives over the preceding three decades—globalization, deunionization, financialization, Wal-Martization, robotization, the whole megillah of nefarious –izations—have now descended en masse on the American people. Since 2000, even as the economy has grown by 18 percent, the median income of households headed by people under 65 has declined by 12.4 percent. Since 2001, employment in low-wage occupations has increased by 8.7 percent while employment in middle-wage occupations has decreased by 7.3 percent. Since 2003, the median wage has not grown at all.
PUBLISHED: Nov. 17, 2013
LENGTH: 21 minutes (5289 words)
Jim Gilliam was a precocious young conservative Christian who grew up in Silicon Valley and became a talented programmer. After fighting cancer, he lost his faith in God and found a passion for progressive causes. NationBuilder, a piece of software he built to—in his own words—help "democratize democracy," has had some of his progressive friends consider him a traitor:
"Before he’d written a single line of code, Gilliam had decided that NationBuilder would be nonpartisan. Aaron Straus Garcia, a field organizer on Obama’s 2008 campaign who briefly worked at NationBuilder, recalls a conversation he had with Gilliam early on. 'What happens when the Tea Party comes knocking on our door?' Garcia asked. Gilliam’s response was immediate: 'There’s no way we close doors, or we start picking or choosing. This is what will set us apart.'
"It was always going to be a controversial strategy. Gilliam’s activist friends saw him as both a leader and a product of the netroots; the liberal Campaign for America’s Future had even given him an award for being an unsung progressive hero. Now he was courting Republicans, trying to persuade them to use his product to defeat Democrats. In June 2012, NationBuilder announced that it had signed “probably the largest deal ever struck in political technology” with the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), whose primary mission is to elect GOP candidates at the state level. His competitors scoffed at the claim, but the agreement potentially put NationBuilder into the hands of several thousand Republican politicians."
PUBLISHED: Oct. 9, 2013
LENGTH: 26 minutes (6590 words)
Our story picks this week include Newsweek, Rolling Stone, The American Prospect, Seattle Times, The New Yorker, and a guest pick by Kristen Majewski.
Three undocumented activists from the National Immigrant Youth Alliance intentionally get arrested to expose injustices in immigrant detention centers:
"Before they stood up and announced they were undocumented, before they started putting themselves on the line and getting arrested, before they started making plans to infiltrate detention centers, Abdollahi, Saavedra, and Martinez were like hundreds of thousands of other Dreamers across America: scared of admitting to anyone they were undocumented. But when they hit their late teens and early twenties, they’d begun to run up against the limits that their status placed on their future. The only way to get their lives on track would be to fight to change immigration policy."
PUBLISHED: June 21, 2013
LENGTH: 34 minutes (8643 words)
Our picks this week include The Washington Post, American Prospect, ESPN, Tampa Bay Times, Wired, and a guest pick by Todd Olmstead
Hundreds of immigrant corpses are found along the U.S.-Mexico border every year. Most are buried without being identified, but groups are emerging to work on identifying the remains of missing migrants:
"Compared to Arizona, which identifies most of its unknown remains, Texas lets the corpses pile up. Autopsies are rarely conducted, DNA samples are not taken, and bodies are buried in poorly marked graves. Shortly after medical examiner Corinne Stern started working in Laredo, she found a 12-year-old skull from an unknown Hispanic man sitting on a shelf in the evidence room of the sheriff’s office. It was devoid of any information about where it came from or how it ended up there. Mercedes Doretti of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, which is working to identify the remains of missing migrants, calls the region from Houston to San Antonio and south to McAllen the 'Bermuda Triangle' for bodies."
PUBLISHED: June 11, 2013
LENGTH: 25 minutes (6265 words)
Inside the lives of homeless families who are staying at a Ramada Inn in the Colorado suburbs:
"At any given time, roughly 20 to 40 guests are staying long term. Since they pay by the week, they call themselves 'weeklies.' To score the cheap rates, $210 for individuals and slightly more for families, they must pay in advance. Residents sign a form that lists the activities that could get them kicked out (mostly involving drugs) and warns that they won’t get reimbursed if they leave early, no exceptions. Some families stay only for a few weeks, some for months, giving the hotel the feeling of a dormitory. A rotating cast of front-desk clerks sells candy and rations towels and washcloths. Though some of the clerks are kind and helpful, the guests think of them as enforcers, and the clerks tend to treat the weeklies less as customers than as undergraduates stealing toilet paper and sneaking in hot plates."
PUBLISHED: March 27, 2013
LENGTH: 29 minutes (7360 words)
A secession movement has been blossoming in the liberal state of Vermont:
"In Vermont, Bryan says, there is 'a commonality of people opposed to large distant bureaucracies telling them how to live their lives. It’s the decentralist commonality of the libertarian right and what I’d call the communitarian left. The right opposes big government, the left opposes big business. It’s really about governing on a human scale.'
"As Bryan notes, Vermont has radical genes, a history rife with alternative thinking. Ethan Allen fought against the British Crown as fiercely as he would fight the Americans. Vermont under Allen produced, in 1777, the first constitution in English to outlaw slavery and allow citizens without property to vote. Nearly two centuries later, Scott Nearing chose Vermont to escape what he called 'the American Oligarchy, the American Way of Life, the American Century, the American Empire.' When he published Living the Good Life in 1954, it became a touchstone for the first generation of the simple-living movement, the hippies and Luddites who in the 1960s flooded into the state to follow Nearing’s example. Vermont went almost overnight from a right-wing backwater to a leftist mecca that eventually put in office America’s only avowedly socialist senator, Bernie Sanders."
PUBLISHED: March 19, 2013
LENGTH: 22 minutes (5645 words)