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    Black Super Heroes Matter

    Charles Conley is The Batman

    This was originally posted on Facebook by the amazing Charles Conley:

    So DragonCon this year was the first time I wore my Batman armor to a major con. As many of you know I’ve had to deal with issues regarding bigots who can’t seem to wrap their mind around the idea of a black guy cosplaying Batman, because “Batman is historically white, there are plenty of black characters you could do instead”. Well I cosplay batman because I love the character and because representation matters.

    When I say it matters let me tell you what happened on the Saturday of DragonCon this year. I was walking around posing in my Dark Knight when I happened upon a little (POC) boy in a black and yellow batman costume. He couldnt have been more than 5 or 6. With him was his mother. This little boy saw me approaching and immediately stopped dead in his tracks, tugging at his mother’s hand. I could see him point at his hand (the skin) and then pointing to me. I approached and he was a little intimated at first as any little kid is when meeting a lifesized armored character. I knelt down and reached out my hand for a high five. With all the force he could muster he slapped my hand, with the biggest smile on his face. He told me he wanted to ask me something so, still kneeling I leaned in with my ear. “Batman” he said timidly “You’re brown, just like me! Does that mean that I can be a real superhero someday too? I don’t see a lot of brown superheros…”

    If you know me, you know that I don’t ever break character but I broke down when he said that. His words touched the deepest part of my soul. I then ignored my #1 batman rule and removed my cowl so he could see my face. His face lit up and I teared up even more. I looked this kid dead in the eye and said “you can be any superhero you want to be and don’t ever let anyone tell you different. Being a brown superhero is a very special thing and I know you’re going to make a great one.” He nodded, still grinning. I put my cowl back on, wiping away the remaining tears and trying to get back in to character.

    Charles Conley of Ebony Warrior Studios
    Charles Conley of Ebony Warrior Studios

    The boy’s mother was moved by the exchange as well and let me know that I had made her son’s day by doing what I did. Think about this. These kids are growing up in a country where you can so easily feel like “less than” because your skin is darker. Police brutality and racism are being made ever so visible by today’s multimedia outlets and these kids aren’t blind, they take that in. For kids like this little boy, the idea that you can one day be a superhero, no matter what your skin color is, opens up a whole new world for them. This is why I cosplay. This is why I’m The Batman.

    #RepresentationMatters

    Not only is he an amazing person, he is crazy talented at making some hyper realistic costumes! Here is a video showing some of his magic!

    Check out Charles’ website at Ebonywarriorstudios.com

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    The 1% Are Coming For Their Tax Cuts

    The White House and its corporate allies have undertaken a coordinated campaign to ensure the passage of a tax code rewrite that stands to fatten the pockets of the wealthiest. (Photo: Timothy Krause/cc/flickr)

    Though some suggest the Republicans’ effort to push through “tax reform” will likely fail like their effort to repeal Obamacare, the White House and its corporate allies have undertaken a coordinated campaign to ensure the passage of a tax code rewrite that stands to fatten the pockets of the wealthiest.

    Launching Wednesday, for example is a $2.5 million TV ad from American Action Network (AAN), a conservative group linked to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), which claims “America’s tax code is sabotaging our economy.” The spending on the ad, which will run on national cable and air in 24 Republican-held congressional districts, marks half of the $5 million the group pledged to spend on its “full-scale campaign” to push the effort during the August recess.

    The high-powered group, CNN notes, is just “one of many right-leaning organizations pushing Congress to act on the issue.”

    Indeed, the ad comes amidst promotional efforts by Koch brothers-affiliated groups to bolster the GOP tax cut endeavor, including an ad blitz of their own and a line-up of events in 36 states.

    There’s also a more stealth effort underway far closer to the Oval Office.

    According to new reporting by Bloomberg, the White House has taken a page from the George W. Bush’s administration by gathering a “Red Team” to strategize a successful tax code rewrite.

    “We stopped TrumpCare,” Indivisible declared, “and now it’s time to stop these tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations paid for by taking away Medicare, Medicaid, and education.”The heart of this “tightly orchestrated process,” write Justin Sink, Jennifer Jacobs, and Sahil Kapur, “is a weekly, all-hands-on-deck meeting to coordinate the campaign by the president and his allies to win passage of sweeping changes to individual and corporate tax laws, according to four White House officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss internal plans.”

    The members of these “Ted Team” gathering, led by White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short, “include representatives of major power centers within the administration: the Office of American Innovation, led by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, the Treasury Department, headed by Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Vice President Mike Pence’s staff and Gary Cohn’s National Economic Council,” the reporting continues.

    Buttressing that effort are weekly conference calls with groups including the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity and the Heritage Foundation, as well as the White House dispatching to local town halls and media events “corporate chief executives and leaders of conservative groups and trade associations.”

    “White House officials acknowledge a major failure in the healthcare fight was getting outflanked by Democrats in organizing the public and activists,” Bloomberg reports.

    With this new agenda item on the docket, the Indivisible team is gearing up, writing on Twitter Wednesday morning: “Trump’s tax cuts for the rich are what’s next,” and linking to a “toolkit” that offers a handful of questions constituents can ask their representatives on the issue during this month’s recess.

    Indivisible explained:

    Here’s the first thing to know: this is not going to be true tax reform. Calling it “tax reform” suggests they intend to close corporate loopholes or address the growing wealth inequality that the current tax code fuels. But that’s not what Republicans have in mind.

    Instead, they want tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations paid for by taking away Medicare, Medicaid, and education funding. Since they want to pass their tax cut plan through the Senate with only 51 votes, they have to follow the rules of reconciliationOne of the rules is that the legislation can’t add to the deficit after ten years—meaning that, in order to make their tax cuts for the wealthy permanent, they intend to make deep cuts to entitlements to offset them. One of the rules is that the legislation can’t add to the deficit after ten years—meaning that, in order to make their tax cuts for the wealthy permanent, they intend to make deep cuts to entitlements to offset them.

    “We stopped TrumpCare,” the group declared, “and now it’s time to stop these tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations paid for by taking away Medicare, Medicaid, and education.”

    This post first appeared on Common Dreams.

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    Wells Fargo Just Got Busted Scamming Its Customers. Again.

    A cartoon drawing of the Wells Fargo stagecoach, but it's overflowing with dollar bills

    Deceit, thy name is Wells Fargo.

    The bad behavior of mega-bank Wells Fargo has hugely negative effects on vast swaths of people. With upwards of 70 million customers, when Wells Fargo screws its customers over, it screws over a lot of people!.

    We have now learned this lesson, oh, umpteen times with Wells Fargo.

    Having previously been busted opening unauthorized checking accounts for its customers without their knowledge, it was revealed two weeks ago that the bank also spent years employing its bag of dirty tricks on people taking out car loans. An internal report sent to Wells Fargo executives shows that more than 800,000 customers ended up with insurance they didn’t want or need between 2012 and late 2016.

    Wells Fargo’s own investigators concluded that the insurance scheme resulted in nearly 300,000 customers having delinquent accounts as Wells drained them of money they didn’t have. On top of that, the consultants determined that nearly 25,000 wrongful vehicle repossessions occurred, with active duty service-members among the victims.

    When the American public learned in 2016 that Wells was creating millions of fake accounts in consumers’ names, it opened our eyes to how sleazy this bank could be. The fake accounts brought along unexpected fees that damaged credit scores for years on end. Regulators eventually forced the bank to pay hundreds of millions in damages and restitution.

    On top of all this, Wells Fargo has been abusing those who have given up the most for our country: veterans.

    In the early 2000s, Wells charged veterans hidden fees when refinancing their mortgages, and lied to the federal government about doing so. The bank was sued for this in 2006, and is now doing a curious thing where it denies any wrongdoing while agreeing to pay $108 million to make the case go away. Wells also settled a separate but related $10 million class-action lawsuit from veterans in 2011.

    You’d think that Wells would know to clean up its act in the wake of all this, but you’d be wrong.

    Wells Fargo has been attempting to downplay their misbehavior in recent weeks. Contesting some details from the report, the bank put out a press release said that 570,000 customers “may have been impacted”, and that the scheme “could have contributed” to 20,000 wrongful repossessions instead of 25,000. That makes it ok?!

    In a recent interview, Wells Fargo’s Head of Consumer Lending spoke about the situation and said that they had “made the right business decisions” by stopping with this fraudulent practice. “Business decisions!” That one tiny phrase reveals a mindset exemplifying everything wrong with Wells Fargo and the big Wall Street banks in our country.

    “Business decision”? Is that honestly how they see their obligation to right this kind of wrong? Not rebuilding trust with their betrayed consumers, not making amends with the defrauded, but a “business decision”? It looks like they still don’t get it at Wells Fargo.

    First it was the fake accounts, then it was forcing the victims of that scheme into arbitration, which deprived them of their day in court. Then it was the car insurance scheme where Wells caused innocent Americans to lose their cars by secretly charging them for car insurance. And all the while Wells has been abusing veterans who wanted nothing more than financial security and safe homeownership?

    As Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), said, it’s just “one thing after another” from Wells Fargo. And throughout all of this, Wells and its allies in Congress have been demanding less regulation. Better to spend our time wondering: What creative fraud are we going to read about next?

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    #GOPDnD is my new favorite hashtag

    OK, if you are as nerdy as I am you will love the new hashtag that is going around: #GOPDnD. It basically takes the GOP world view and political strategy and applies them to the iconic game Dungeons and Dragons loved by Nerds across the Earth.

    For those of you who didn’t waste years of your adolescence rolling dice in a fictional world of Drow, Druids and Bugbears, think ‘Game of Thrones’ meets ‘House of Cards’ as kind of a geeky board game.

    Proof that nerds are the funniest folks on Twitter:

    Maybe it’s me, but I could read these all day. I’m sure #RedneckDnD could gather up some perfect tweets as well. The Democrats need one for their party too:

    DM: Paladin with battle armor +10 has joined your team
    Democrats: Cast fireball to destroy Paladin
    DM: but he just swept in and saved almost half your party
    Democrats: Let’s get him nice and toasty!

    I crack myself up.

    Ready for some more #GOPDnD tweets?

    😂 😂 😂

    You can check out even more of them on this Twitter feed.

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