About Greg

Greg (contributor) is a public health policy professional and a recurring guest commentator on the Arsenal For Democracy radio show.

November 11, 2015 – Arsenal For Democracy 150

Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.


Topics: Big Ideas for Reforming American and Global Governance — Health Care Reform and Economic Orthodoxy. People: Bill, Kelley, Nate, Greg. Produced: November 8th, 2015.

Episode 150 (56 min):
AFD 150

Discussion Points:

– What’s next in U.S. health reform?
– Are the orthodoxies of mid-century economics trapping us on 21st century problems?

Related Links

Last week’s episode on state single-payer campaigns
AFD, July 2014: Wall Street wants to make money off “urgent care”
Compare Your Country Health Care Spending
“Kaiser Report finds state budget savings in some Medicaid expansion states”
Washington Post: “US once again has most expensive, least effective health care system in survey”
Naked Capitalism: “Wait: Maybe Europeans are as Rich as Americans”


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And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video game blog of our announcer, Justin.

July 22, 2015 – Arsenal For Democracy 135

Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.


Topics: Wages in America; Iran nuclear deal. People: Bill, Kelley, Nate, and Greg. Produced: July 20th, 2015.

Discussion Points:

– A unified econo-moral argument for the necessity of dramatically higher U.S. wages tied to productivity gains.
– Why the Iran deal is a good one (and why Iran’s nuclear program is not our biggest concern in the region).

Episode 135 (55 min):
AFD 135

Related Links

The Globalist: “Americans Need Better Pay Before Longer Hours”
Mic: “How Many Hours You Need to Work Minimum Wage to Rent an Apartment in Any State”
– Clinton Campaign on Twitter: “Hillary called on companies to share profits with workers…”
LA Times: “Who gave up what in the Iran nuclear deal”
New York Times: “Congress to Start Review of Iran Nuclear Deal”
Haaretz: “Lapid: Knesset must investigate Netanyahu’s failure to thwart Iran deal”


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And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.

How we talk about the racists among us

On Saturday morning, Twitter users HenryKrinkle and EMQuangel discovered the website of Dylann Storm Roof, the right-wing domestic terrorist responsible for the murder of 9 people at a historic Black church in Charleston, SC days earlier.

Their discovery of Roof’s website, The Last Rhodesian, was fairly straightforward; it required only the knowledge of how to run a reverse whois look-up for websites registered to a “Dylann Roof” and the wherewithal to pay $49 for the ensuing report. This report lead them to a website which contained a folder of photos of Roof posing menacingly with guns and the Confederate Flag (a flag that flies over the statehouse in Roof’s home state of South Carolina and has since 1962). It also contains a short manifesto (this terminology seems quite generous, but is the prevailing choice) where Roof laments the sorry state of the country and espouses racist rhetoric about the minority groups, most notably “Blacks,” but also “Jews,” “Hispanics,” and “East Asians,” responsible for it.

Mainstream media picked up on this story within a few hours — and criticism of this story came almost as quickly.

One can break down the criticism into three categories (and rebut each):

1. “We need more verification.”

This is perhaps theoretically the most reasonable of all the criticisms leveled at this story. It suggests that is too early to pin “The Last Rhodesian” on Dylann Roof and that we must wait for more confirmation before attributing these writings to him.

Of course, it ignores the trove of photos of Roof on the website (or ridiculously suggests that there must be forensic confirmation that he is the man pictured in the photos), the photos of him that had already surfaced wearing a patch of White-rule Rhodesia, and that the writings on this website are consistent with the racist views he expressed to a survivor of the massacre and to his friends.

It is also a suspiciously rare call for caution in reporting in the age of the internet where immediacy and scoops on information outweigh getting it exactly right the first time. Most telling, it is a call for restraint in reporting — about a White shooter — at a time when even Black victims are not given this deference.

The media rush to uncover similarly salacious information from the pasts of Black victims like Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner, to label them as “no angels,” juxtaposed with the soft profiles of Dylann Roof who is described as a “loner,” “quiet,” and “smart” reveals itself to be no more than tidy narrative-building based on racist stereotypes.

The revelation of this website destroys this convenient narrative. Were these voices calling for “responsible journalism” doing so consistently, for both suspects and victims, White and Black, it is possible they would have an argument, but they are not, so they do not. This criticism is merely a derailing tactic and a double-standard.

2. “A journalist did not report this first.”

The second criticism is that Twitter users HenryKrinkle and EMQuangel are not journalists, at least in the traditional sense. Thus, the criticism goes, we must view the information they uncovered with skepticism.

One of the greatest strengths of Twitter is that it allows anyone, especially those previously marginalized from mainstream media outlets, the platform to disseminate information to a large audience. Thus a “professional wrestling fan” who jokes about fiat currency and a communist were able to, on a lark, unearth important information about Dylann Roof which circulated widely enough to grab the attention of mainstream media.

It is the responsibility of this mainstream media to use its power, capital, and access verify this information in a way two people with $50 tweeting can not, before proceeding to publication. Whether they can do so — in light of shrinking budgets and the shuttering of fact checking departments — is a topic for another essay. However, it is undoubtedly not the responsibility of people who are essentially just sources to confirm information in ways that would go beyond their status as sources (e.g. speaking with members of Roof’s circle of friends, family, or Roof himself to confirm that the website is his) because they do not have this access.

That multiple mainstream media outlets published this information suggests that they found it compelling and convincing enough upon review to warrant publication (whether this is a naïve heuristic consumers of information employ to make sense of a confusing and, increasingly information dense world, is the topic for yet another essay). So, this criticism can also be dismissed.

3. “Roof lacks the education/intelligence to write the contents of his alleged website”

The third criticism veers quickly into conspiracy theory territory. Dylann Roof dropped out of school in the 9th grade. After reading his website, some suggest that the contents are too coherent and grammatically correct for a high school dropout to have written it.

There are two different flavors of these conspiracy theorists. The first suggest that both the website and the attack itself are a “false flag” that the government orchestrated to enact stricter gun laws. When we consider the increase in firearm sales in the aftermath of mass shootings and the fact that very little substantive legislation has passed to control the sale and distribution of guns in the aftermath of previous mass shootings it is easy to dismiss those theories.

The second group to suggest conspiratorial authorship appears to be coming from the opposite end of the political spectrum. Like their right-wing counterparts, they suggest the writing level on the Last Rhodesian (such as the author’s ability to use quotation marks correctly) is beyond the capabilities of a ninth grade dropout, thus someone else “must” have written it.

The purpose of such a hypothesized conspiracy is less clear in this variation. The “theory” may suggest that Dylann Roof was acting under the tutelage of a racist, educated individual or group of individuals whose work he took and posted as his own on a website registered in his name. The fact that the photos on his website were not selfies suggests he at least had access to a willing photographer — someone complicitly aware of his extremism. (But we already knew that from his friends and acquaintances.) Following this logic, the conspiracists suggest that Dylann Roof may have also been influenced by this individual or group to plan and carry out his attack on AME Emanuel church.

Such a scenario is also convenient in the sense that it would partially absolve Roof of those nine lives he took because it paints him, somewhat sympathetically, as a crazy, ignorant, dullard who was manipulated by “the real racist(s)” (still unidentified) into carrying out a heinous crime. The notion of a “crazy” shooter who fell in with an unspecified “bad crowd” that took advantage of him is a common trope used to excuse or explain mass murders in a vague and nominally comforting way. This is a less political explanation. It doesn’t force us to confront the reality that an ordinary individual walking among us could research and develop a personal ideology that would motivate him to kill multiple unarmed people without being in the throes of some clinical psychosis.

Bill wrote at Arsenal For Democracy about our society’s frequent assumption that such an individual is “crazy,” in the aftermath of the UC Santa Babara shooting 13 months ago: Read more

May 6, 2015 – Arsenal for Democracy 126 Baltimore

Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.

ArsenalForDemocracy.com contributors join host Bill to debate the Baltimore riots and whether peaceful protest can even achieve change in America anymore. Panel: Bill, De Ana, Greg, and Nate. Produced: May 3rd, 2015.

Episode 126 (52 min):
AFD 126

Related Links

“After Baltimore: In defense of riots” by De Ana
“After Ferguson: In defense of non-peaceful resistance” by Bill
“Non-violence has cost at least 2.7 million Black US lives” by Bill


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July 23, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 93


Topics: Big Ideas in U.S. Reform — Is health care a human right? Central American unaccompanied children. People: Bill, Nate, Greg. Produced: July 20, 2014.

Discussion Points:

– Is health care a fundamental human right? Why or why not?
– What should be done about the wave of unaccompanied children arriving in the United States from Central America without permission?

Part 1 – Health care:
Part 1 – Health care – AFD 92
Part 2 – Unaccompanied children:
Part 2 – Unaccompanied children – AFD 93

To get one file for the whole episode, we recommend using one of the subscribe links at the bottom of the post.

Related links

AFD: Central American toddlers are existential threat to USA, say militias
AFD: Unaccompanied minors forced to defend themselves in court


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And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.

July 2, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 90


Topics: Buffer zones, search and seizure, recess appointments, and Detroit water shutoffs, plus Jameis Winston and the flaws of college athletics. People: Bill, Sasha, Persephone, Greg, Nate. Produced: June 28-30, 2014.

Discussion Points:

– Detroit begins shutting off water for thousands of poor people
– The Supreme Court rules against abortion clinic buffer zones
– The Supreme Court rules that cell phone searches require warrants
– The Supreme Court blocks President Obama’s unconstitutional recess appointments
– Is Jameis Winston everything that’s wrong with college athletics in America — but not the way people think?

Part 1 – Supreme Court:
Part 1 – Supreme Court – AFD 90
Part 2 – Detroit Water Shutoffs:
Part 2 – Detroit – AFD 90
Part 3 – Jameis Winston:
Part 3 – Jameis Winston – AFD 90

To get one file for the whole episode, we recommend using one of the subscribe links at the bottom of the post.

Related links
Segment 1

– Reuters: U.S. high court curbs state limits on abortion clinic protests
– AFD: Supreme Court says cell searches require warrants
Flashback to Salinas v. Texas (2013) on “right to remain silent”
– NYT: High Court Finds Against Obama in Recess Case
– Previous coverage on AFD Radio – Recess appointments case: AFD Ep 36 (Jan 29 2013)

Segment 2

– Detroit News: Groups seek UN aid for Detroit water shut-offs
– Rep. John Conyers: Detroit’s Water Cutoffs: Counterproductive and Coldhearted
– Michigan Radio: Welfare rights group backs UN criticism over Detroit water shutoffs
– CityLab: Outraged Canadians Report the Detroit Water Authority to the UN for Human-Rights Violations
– Michigan Live: U.N. panel calls Detroit water disconnection ‘violation of international human rights’

Segment 3

– Deadspin: Who Does Jameis Winston Think He Is—Joe Namath?
– Deadspin: FSU Athlete Explains Why Jameis Winston Allegedly Stole Food


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And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.

What took so long? Washington NFL team loses trademark for racial slur.

Past Arsenal For Democracy co-host Greg on the significance of today’s trademark ruling against Washington’s NFL team.

This morning, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) ruled in favor of Amanda Blackhorse, a psychiatric social worker and Navajo woman who, along with four other Native Americans, challenged the “Washington Redskins” trademark in court this Wednesday. The ruling cancels six federal trademarks registered by the professional football franchise from Washington, D.C. between the late 1960s and 2000.

Blackhorse, et al. challenged the trademark under Section 2(a), 15 U.S.C. §1052(a) which prevents the issuance of trademarks that “may disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.” That the name “redskins” is disparaging has been fairly well established over the past several decades–the USPTO had already cancelled the “redskins” trademark in 1992 because of its disparaging nature, a decision that was only reversed in federal appeals court because of a technicality–and does not warrant reexamination here (you either get it or you don’t). More telling are the USPTO’s selections from this enormous evidence body of evidence:

Some highlights from the official 177 page opinion document include…

Offensive cheerleaders

Offensive marching bands

Offensive programs

Multiple dictionary definitions.


And many more.

Far from tyrannical (as some in the #tcot echo chamber on Twitter have suggested today), this decision is well within the purview of the federal government, the guarantor of Intellectual Property. Protection of intellectual property, that is, in a manner that prevents individuals from using others’ proprietary ideas to make money, is not an inalienable right. The government has not banned Washington’s football franchise from calling themselves the “Redskins.” Instead, they have reevaluated the value of protecting such a trademark and determined that its harm (the marginalization of an entire race) exceeds its benefit (preventing individuals from profiting from ideas that are not their own).

It is unlikely that this decision alone will precipitate a name change. The team will, undoubtedly, appeal the decision and there is a chance an appeals court could once again rule in its favor. However, the movement to change the name is near critical mass. Now that the USPTO will no longer enforce the “Redskins” trademark individuals are free to create their own Redskins merchandise to sell for profit.

In fact, they have always been free to do so, but the Washington Redskins now have fewer tools at their disposal to go after trademark infringement. Which is not to say we condone or recommend such an action. Not only is still remarkably offensive, but Washington Redskins owner, Dan Snyder, has never been one to shy away from a lawsuit.

Unfortunately, loss of revenue from unofficial merchandise sales are probably of little concern to an organization worth a reported $1.7 billion. Yet the USPTO decision is one of great symbolic importance and illustrates an ongoing trend: if public opinion continues to move against using an obvious racial slur as a mascot, Washington owner, Dan Snyder, may need to reconsider the declaration he made in May 2013:

“We’ll never change the name…It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”