7 things @ 11 o’clock (7.19)

7 things @ 11 o’clock (7.19) July 19, 2013

1. You can get killed just for living in your American skin.

2. Republican House members Pete King, Michael Grimm, Christopher Gibson, Richard Hanna, Tom Reed II, and Chris Collins are going to have a hard time explaining to their constituents in New York state why they all voted 37 times to repeal a law that will mean considerable savings in health insurance costs for those same constituents. “Health Plan Cost for New Yorkers Set to Fall 50%The New York Times reports:

State insurance regulators say they have approved rates for 2014 that are at least 50 percent lower on average than those currently available in New York. Beginning in October, individuals in New York City who now pay $1,000 a month or more for coverage will be able to shop for health insurance for as little as $308 monthly. With federal subsidies, the cost will be even lower.

3. The final, official confirmation of the legalization of marriage equality in England and Wales is a big freaking deal. The queen’s “Royal Assent” is bound to have a ripple effect throughout the Commonwealth and even to stir things up a bit in the Anglican communion. It wasn’t major screaming-headline news, though, in part because all the major hurdles had already been cleared and we knew this was coming, but also because we’re all getting more used to this. It’s no longer earth-shaking, paradigm-shifting news, but more like one more in a growing list of milestones on a long, still-incomplete journey on which we seem to be gaining momentum.

So once again it’s kind of Big News that this story isn’t bigger news. Opponents of marriage equality barely had the energy to rend their garments and proclaim that the sky will fall. We heard a few perfunctory lamentations from the usual suspects, but that was it.

The Texas Freedom Network has another dog-that-didn’t-bark story on San Antonio’s efforts to “pass a non-discrimination ordinance that, among other things, says businesses can’t tell prospective patrons to take their business elsewhere simply because they’re gay or lesbian.” The city’s most vocal and visible Catholic and evangelical leaders, TFN notes, “have been somewhat mum on the matter.”

It’s not that San Antonio mega-church pastor and “Bible prophecy scholar” John Hagee has renounced his virulently anti-gay preaching, but as TFN writes, “In a few short years he went from the intolerant rhetoric of blaming Adam and Steve for the worst natural disaster to strike this country to ‘no comment’ when approached by a reporter. And that is, um … progress?” Yes, it is.

4. Here’s another, more tangible bit of progress, and excellent news for 99 percent of Americans: “Senate Confirms Richard Cordray as Consumer Watchdog.” They’ve got all the money, but we’ve still got a few laws and rights to defend ourselves. And now we’ve got the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in place to ensure those laws and rights actually mean something.

Related, from Consumerist: “5 Sample Letters That Get Debt Collectors Out of Your Face.” And from the CFPB: “New ways to combat harmful debt collection practices.” I hope you never need that information, but there it is just in case. It’s useful stuff in a country where money is power and where nearly all of the church continues to ignore the first thing Jesus ever preached: Jubilee is everything.

5. Seriously, here is everything you need to know about American Christianity: Leviticus 20:13 is widely known and discussed as a clobber text and the litmus test for any Christians’ fidelity to the Bible. Deuteronomy 15:1 is not.

Sometimes I think we almost need a Westboro-style protest group with signs that say “God hates banks.” But instead we got Dave Ramsey and the perverse notion that debt is immoral only for the debtors.

6. Eric Bradenson courageously challenges his fellow Republicans to stop “denying the science” of climate change and to “admit that 97 percent of scientists just might be right.” Bradenson thinks small-government conservatives “have better answers than the other side” when it comes to the challenge of climate change and he boldly urges the GOP to change course — to lead rather than to obstruct in meeting that challenge.

Bradenson’s words are brave, but, as Steve Benen reports, the writer himself is a bit more prudently cautious. “Eric Bradenson” is actually a pseudonym, used “for job security reasons” to protect “his boss and himself.”

“In other words,” Benen says, “to write a piece making the case that Republicans can ‘win the climate debate’ by pushing conservative solutions to a real problem, is to put one’s job in Republican politics in jeopardy. This really isn’t healthy.”

7. The kids are all right. (And they’re also kind of adorable.)

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