charles' log

Biker Gangs, Tamir Rice, And The Rise Of White Fragility

Source: TPM

Author: Aurin Squir

Emphasis Mine

This scenario has repeated itself too many times to be coincidence. An 8-year-old child shot and killed by officers while she slept, a 17-year-old killed by police in his own home, a 22-year-old immediately shot and killed in a Wal-Mart, and many more cases of unarmed African Americans immediately getting shot down and labeled as menaces. While on the other side of reality, the Aurora shooter, Timothy McVeigh, and many other armed mass killers were arrested without a scratch on them.

The most dangerous uprising that’s threatening America’s stability isn’t black protests in places like Ferguson or Baltimore. It’s taking place among an aging white majority that is losing its bearing on reality and destroying the gears of government, media and public welfare. At its center is an inexplicable, illogical and dangerous fear that some sociologists are now defining as white fragility.

I have witnessed this strange phenomenon intensifying over the last several years, but I first became aware of it immediately after the election of Barack Obama.

On the Wednesday after the 2008 election, I drove from Cleveland to Columbus to catch an afternoon flight back to New York City. Out of curiosity I scanned the AM dials until I found a few conservative political talk shows. The sustained and palpable panic was amusing at first, then outrageously funny, before settling into deeply disconcerting. Despite the fact that virtually every poll had shown Obama as the predicted winner for weeks, the election results felt like a political Pearl Harbor for some.

Conservative callers were predicting the end of democracy, how 2008 might be the last election ever held in America, how the economy was going to be destroyed. In some exchanges the radio host egged on the callers’ conspiracies, while other times he warned listeners to be afraid: Taxes were going to skyrocket for the average working family, gas prices would climb. Rush Limbaugh encouraged everyone to start referring to the economic blight rendered by President George W. Bush’s administration as ‘the Obama economy.” And so they did. He proposed that all the issues in Iraq and Afghanistan were now Obama’s fault. And so they are. He predicted the end of American dream. And so they have worked to see the fulfillment of their prophecy.

These callers were borderline hysterical. Even though I couldn’t see what they looked like, I could make a safe guess as to the age and race of the average listener. As I sat in my rental car listening to the unfolding audio riot of an aging generation, it felt like I was at an unveiling of some absurdly humorous and horrific performance art piece. I was watching the polite mask fall away from a hateful, illogical and destructive mindset that has thrived for hundreds of years and is still going strong today: white fragility. 

White fragility is a termed coined by Robin DiAngelo, an associate professor of education at Westfield State University in Massachusetts. In her 2011 academic pedagogical analysis titled “White Fragility,” DiAngelo goes into a detailed explanation of how white people in North America live in insulated social and media spaces that protect them from any race-based stress. This privileged fragility leaves them unable to tolerate any schism or challenge to a universally accepted belief system. Any shift away from that (like a biracial African-American president) triggers a deep and sustaining panic. Racial segregation, disproportionate representation in the media, and many other factors serve as the columns that support white fragility. Professor DiAngelo said she came up with the term when she was a diversity trainer for the state of Washington.

“The participants were mostly white, working [in] offices that were 98 percent white, living lives of never having to see people of color, and they were incredibly hostile and mean when discussing anything about race,” said DiAngelo, who’s white. “Some guys would pound their fists on the table in fury at being in a room where this discussion was taking place, many sulked silently.”

DiAngelo began reframing the conversation in a more constructive way in order to get participants to see how power structures of racial supremacy work in their lives. The misunderstanding was caused by misidentification of what white privilege and power means. Privilege doesn’t mean automatic wealth and health. What “white privilege” means is that society is rooting for one particular segment of the population to succeed over all others, and has installed a disproportionately high amount of institutional and  psychological helpers every step of the way.

Author and public speaker Tim Wise said he has encountered similar confusion.

Part of white fragility is to assume that when we talk about racism, we are calling someone out as being individually a racist,” he said. “So if you say we’re going to talk about racism, white people think you’re going to call them a name. But for most people of color it’s a system. And we’re talking about dealing with a structure so the real problem is the system.”

When separate groups of people are using the same word with different implied meanings then problems will persist. When it comes to racism and increased segregation, both Wise and DiAngelo noted that there seems to be this rigid unwillingness to address any inequality, because it would upset the very people who are both benefiting from the injustice and refusing to acknowledge its existence.

The fear is that if someone seeks to define and fix racism, many white people feel like they’re being directly attacked. So instead of waiting for the attack, white fragility promotes protection by putting punitive restrictions on “the others.”

The Obama era has been an interesting petri dish of white fragility. On the heels of a moderate economic recovery, we’ve seenvoting righ sweeping new state laws aimed at social issues:voting rights restrictions,, defunding of Planned Parenthood, anti-gay legislation, Stand Your Ground bills, and restrictive union laws to weaken their bargaining power. These laws have resulted in a rollback of rights for minorities, women, the LGBT movement, and the working class.

The marketing angle used for many of these legislations is that the white, straight, Christian status quo is threatened. New voter restrictions have been enacted in over 20 states to address fraud issues that did not and do not exist. But the restrictive laws will hurt minority communities. Stand Your Ground was an NRA boilerplate bill aimed encouraging a shoot-first cowboy mentality of murdering another person simply on the appearance of a threat. Anti-gay marriage amendments are passed to “protect traditional marriage.” The goal of defunding Planned Parenthood is to “protect life.

The strangest thing about white fragility politics is that the detrimental policy results are spread out across race and class. Yet, the political results for the conservative movement priming the pump of white fragility and rage is election victories. And why should they change when they can get large sections of an aging white population to consistently vote for policies proven to statistically hurt their economic chances, personal health, their children’s education, and their very safety?

What do you say to a state like Indiana that rolls back Planned Parenthood for political points based in white fragility and then watches as HIV infection rates explode in the community? What can be said of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and the legislators who knowingly bankrupt the state’s treasury to promote an economic philosophy of tax cuts to the wealthy that result in fewer services, broken infrastructure, suffering in schools, and—in the long run—more deaths? These are not rational decisions. These are fear-based politics that create avoidable disasters in which all suffer. This new wave of segregation fear is surging across the country. In response to the continued white fragility panic of 2008, conservative political movements are set to capitalize on the cycles of manufactured hysteria.

“We are watching the repeal of the 20th century,” Wise said.

Despite these social rollbacks, economic doomsday predictions under an Obama administration has turned into a fairly strong recovery. The stock market is soaring, unemployment rates are falling, and gas prices are down. The United States stands as one of the few countries to have not only recovered from the Great Recession, but to be somewhat thriving. It would seem like now would be the perfect moment to push the issue of white privilege and fragility forward. After the Ferguson movement and videotapes of countless unarmed black men and women being murdered by police, it seems like this nation might be headed toward some moment of truth: the start of a movement toward greater justice for all.

“I get emails saying ‘you’re a disgusting human being’ and people are just upset,” Di Angelo said. “They’re upset that they have been challenged and they can’t really handle it.”

When I asked Wise and DiAngelo to give me something hopeful for the future, they both gave me a bleak picture. When I suggested that more facts and evidence could sway people, they disagreed.

“People who are deeply committed to a world view don’t change their opinions when confronted with new facts,” Wise said. “Oddly enough, new facts cause them to dig in more deeply.”

Clarification: This post has been updated to reflect that police would have wanted Tamir Rice to be charged for his conduct prior to the shooting. Rice was not actually charged. It was also updated to reflect that it has not yet been established whether the victims in Waco were killed by bikers or police or both.

Aurin Squire is a freelance journalist who lives in New York City. In addition to being a playwriting fellow at The Juilliard School, he has writing commissions and residencies at the Dramatists Guild of America, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, and National Black Theatre.


Libertarians Go After So-Called ‘Vagina Voters': With Which Body Part Are They Thinking ?

Source: AlterNet

Author: Lynn Stuart Parramore

Emphasis Mine

From polls, libertarians are known to be a fairly homogenous group that skews white, male, young, affluent (i.e. college-educated), and has a reputation for not being particularly gender-inclusive. Far more identify with the Republican party (43 percent) than the Democratic party (5 percent). Is it surprising that they get anxious on the subject of people with vaginas who vote for liberal/progressive candidates?

The latest freak-out comes from libertarian blogger-controversialist Brendan O’Neill, who warns in Reason magazine that “women voting for Hillary because she’s a woman are setting back feminism a hundred years,” hyperventilating that such nefarious activity “confirm[s] the descent of feminism into the cesspool of identity politics.” (In the past, Mr. O’Neill has expressed his concern for feminism by comparing it to radical Islam  and opining that “stupid men, drunken men, thoughtless men and idiotic men” should not be considered rapists if they have sex with non-consenting women; clearly in his view, being a libertarian feminist would be akin to being a theological atheist.)

O’Neill warns ominously of a tsunami of so-called “vagina voters” on the basis of a single blog by Kate Harding who justifies her own vote for Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama in 2008 by pointing to Clinton’s superior experience and the fact that she is female. Harding explains that she felt it unfair she was expected to disregard the candidate’s gender in her selection, “just as those who were excited to vote for an African-American person in the primaries were supposed to pretend they never noticed the color of the candidates’ skin.” Harding acknowledges that while she would prefer Bernie Sanders in 2016, she would ultimately vote for Hillary Clinton against a Republican because she found the Democratic party “less odious” than the other, and she figured that since we’ve had 220 years of white, male presidents, it might be a good thing to have a president who understood the experience of half the population. Shocking!

As Harding put it, we have “the first fucking woman who can win…running for president, and she is at least nominally a liberal! Can we not allow ourselves to get excited about just that?”

Certainly not all women are excited about that; some sense that Hillary Clinton is not the person to challenge the largely unimpeded advance of the oligarchy, vagina or not. But to imagine that many women — and men, for that matter — should not feel that the election of a female president would be a positive sign of political inclusion is both disingenuous and stupid. The cries of vagina voting, of course, also raise the question of whether the nearly 40 percent of men polled who say they would vote for Clinton in 2016 are somehow voting against their penises. Or whether women who vote libertarian are anti-vagina.

Perhaps the vagina voter freak-out is only meant to distract us from that fact that many conservatives and libertarians have a great deal of trouble with women in general and females daring to assert themselves in positions of power in particular. Such a figure is libertarian presidential candidate Rand Paul, often hard-pressed to keep his woman-anxiety in check, whether he is making dismissive, sexist remarks to female television personalities, mocking Hillary Clinton with a Valentine’s Day tweet directing readers to a Pinterest page imagining a White House redecorated with pink hearts and girly furniture, or suggesting that low-income, unmarried women should just stop having kids if they don’t want to be poor.

This last bit is especially hypocritical, considering that Rand Paul has described himself as “100 percent pro-life” and introduced the Life at Conception Act in 2013, which “declares that the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being beginning at the moment of fertilization, cloning, or other moment at which an individual comes into being.” In this assertion, he follows in the footsteps of his rabidly anti-choice father, Ron Paul, who once described abortion as the “ultimate State tyranny” and compared federal support of the right of a woman to terminate a pregnancy to Hitler’s gassing of Jews. Ron Paul is known for pronouncing that the “rights of unborn people” is the “greatest moral issue of our time,” despite the fact that libertarian guru Ayn Rand stated that abortion is a moral right, end of story.

Dealing with people who possess vaginas is clearly a dilemma for would-be anti-government crusaders. As many as 40 percent of the libertarian-leaning can’t seem to reconcile their political philosophy with the horrifying specter of female autonomy and frequently resort to preposterous arguments about embryonic emancipation to justify their belief that freedom is okay as long as it does not extend to women. For all their posturing about rationality, many libertarians are clearly irrational on the subject of women, their vaginas and their freedom. Dare we say they are thinking with some other part of their body than their brains?

Libertarians tend to embrace a tired strain of 19th-century economic thought that correlates with 19th-century attitudes concerning women (witness the libertarian-leaning James Poulous making a Victorian argument that the “purpose” of women is to temper the barbaric tendencies of men). Such positions, of course, crumble when confronted with the real exigencies of the modern world. Libertarians love to talk about free markets and rational economic actors, and yet show them a woman who makes a rational decision to keep herself and her family from sliding into poverty by terminating a pregnancy and many will respond with fits of patriarchal moralistic frenzy. They have a hard time recognizing that abortion is an economic issue, even thoughpolling shows that the public increasingly understands it is.

Many Americans living in the real world, especially those who are not wealthy, get it that a woman cannot effectively participate in the modern workforce without being able to plan pregnancies and limit the number of children she bears. Ongoing pregnancy discrimination on the job, inadequate family leave, and unaffordable child and healthcare (the U.S. is the most expensive place in the world to give birth) are among the many reasons that a woman, acting rationally, would decide to terminate a pregnancy.

Quite rationally, women tend to support candidates who appreciate their economic and social concerns, as do many men who understand that the wellbeing of women extends to their families and the rest of society. They do not appear to be lining up behind female candidates like Carly Fiorina, who do not (Fiorina is anti-choice and does not tend to support equal pay). That’s in part why Republican men, after losing ground among women voters in the 2012 elections, are scrambling to change/soften their positions on issues like abortion. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who once opposed legal abortion even in cases of rape and incest, has lately been backtracking, telling Fox News that he “cannot change the federal law that gives women the choice whether or not to have an abortion,” a view which angered anti-choice activists. Is Walker a vagina campaigner?

It is too bad that so many libertarian and conservative men who bray about freedom do not seem to be in favor of a world in which women are free to decide what to do with their bodies without being coerced by a largely male government, or free to get the affordable access to childcare or healthcare that would certainly expand their possibilities in the world. By treating women as brainless “vagina voters,they reveal the contempt for anyone who is not, well, exactly like them.

Lynn Parramore is contributing editor at AlterNet. She is cofounder of Recessionwire, founding editor of New Deal 2.0, and author of “Reading the Sphinx: Ancient Egypt in Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture.” She received her Ph.D. in English and cultural theory from NYU. Follow her on Twitter @LynnParramore.


Paul Krugman Drops Epic Truth Bomb on Latest Round of Lies About Iraq War

Source: AlterNet

Author: Janet Allon

Emphasis Mine 

“Mistakes were made” just doesn’t get at the truth about how America was coerced into the disastrous war in Iraq,and the horrific consequences that are still unfolding. Paul Krugman sets the record straight in Monday’s column, beginning with the ironic statement, that “there’s something to be said for having the brother of a failed president make his own run for the White House.”

Yep, Jeb Bush has unwittingly ushered in the chance to have an honest discussion about the invasion of Iraq. About time.

Of course, Bush and a whole lot of other people would prefer not to have that honest discussion, or if they do, to make excuses for themselves (Judith Miller.) ,

The Iraq War was no innocent mistake based on faulty intelligence, Krugman argues compellingly. “America invaded Iraq because the Bush administration wanted a war,” he writes. “The public justifications for the invasion were nothing but pretexts, and falsified pretexts at that. We were, in a fundamental sense, lied into war.”

And we knew it—or certainly should have. Krugman:

The fraudulence of the case for war was actually obvious even at the time: the ever-shifting arguments for an unchanging goal were a dead giveaway. So were the word games — the talk about W.M.D that conflated chemical weapons (which many people did think Saddam had) with nukes, the constant insinuations that Iraq was somehow behind 9/11.

And at this point we have plenty of evidence to confirm everything the war’s opponents were saying. We now know, for example, that on 9/11 itself — literally before the dust had settled — Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, was already plotting war against a regime that had nothing to do with the terrorist attack. “Judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] …sweep it all up things related and not”; so read notes taken by Mr. Rumsfeld’s aide.

This was, in short, a war the White House wanted, and all of the supposed mistakes that, as Jeb puts it, “were made” by someone unnamed actually flowed from this underlying desire. Did the intelligence agencies wrongly conclude that Iraq had chemical weapons and a nuclear program? That’s because they were under intense pressure to justify the war. Did prewar assessments vastly understate the difficulty and cost of occupation? That’s because the war party didn’t want to hear anything that might raise doubts about the rush to invade. Indeed, the Army’s chief of staff was effectively fired for questioning claims that the occupation phase would be cheap and easy.

The harder question is why? Here, Krugman can only speculate. Enhancing American power? Building the Republican brand? It is impossible not to ascribe cynical motives.

So politicians and many in the media don’t want to talk about it. But Krugman argues we should hold their feet to the fire. Some may have been duped. Others bullied. Many were downright complicit. “The bigger the lie, the clearer it is that major political figures are engaged in outright fraud,” Krugman writes. “And it doesn’t get much bigger — indeed, more or less criminal — than lying America into war.”

The media, Krugman concludes, has an obligation to get the story right. Right now.



Three Charts to Email to Your Right-Wing Brother-In-Law — Updated

Source: daily kos

Author: davej

Emphasis Mineby davejFollow

Problem:  Your right-wing brother-in-law is plugged into the FOX-Limbaugh lie machine, and keeps sending you emails about “Obama spending” and “Obama deficits” and how the “stimulus” just made things worse.

Solution: Here are three “reality-based” charts to send to him.  These charts show what actually happened.



Government spending increased dramatically under President Bush.  It has not increased much under President Obama. This is just a fact.



Note that this chart starts with Clinton’s last budget year for comparison.

The numbers in these two charts come from Budget of the United States Government: Historical Tables Fiscal Year 2015.  They are just the amounts that the government spent and borrowed, period,  Anyone can go look them up.  People who claim that Obama “tripled the deficit” or increased it or anything of the sort are either misled or are trying to mislead. President Obama inherited a budget deficit of $1.4 trillion from President Bush’s last budget year and annual budget deficits have gone down dramatically since.

The Stimulus and Jobs


In this chart, the RED lines on the left side – the ones that keep doing DOWN – show what happened to jobs under the policies of Bush and the Republicans. We were losing lots and lots of jobs every month, and it was getting worse and worse.  The BLUE lines – the ones that just go UP – show what happened to jobs when the stimulus was in effect. We stopped losing jobs and started gaining jobs, and it was getting better and better.

The leveling off on the right side of the chart  shows what happened as the stimulus started to wind down: job creation leveled off at too low a level.

It looks a lot like the stimulus reversed what was going on before the stimulus. We have gone from losing around 850,000 jobs a month to gaining over 200,000 jobs a month.


More False Things

These are just three of the false things that everyone “knows” because places like Fox News repeat them over and over and over.  Some others are (click through): Obama bailed out the banks, businesses will hire if they get tax cuts, health care reform cost $1 trillion, Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme or is “going broke”, tax cuts grow the economy, government spending “takes money out of the economy.”

Actually This Reduced Spending And Lower Deficit Have Hurt The Economy

Government spending is literally, by definition, the things that government does to make our lives better. People have been tricked into thinking that government spending is somehow bad. The billionaires and giant corporations spread this nonsense around because they are greedy and just want their taxes lower. The top income tax rate used to be more than 90 percent and the top corporate tax rate used to be more than 50 percent. That was back when we built this country’s great infrastructure, had good schools and defended the world against the Soviet Union. We also had higher economic growth and a growing middle class.

Government spending does not “take money out of the economy.” In fact it puts money into the economy, creates jobs and lays the foundation for future prosperity. The decline in government spending shown in the charts above is the reason that the economy remains sluggish and jobs are still hard to get. Just look at that chart showing what the stimulus spending did for the job situation. But since the stimulus ended, Republicans have obstructed every effort to continue to use our government to help our economy.

For example, this chart from The Atlantic, “The Incredible Shrinking U.S. Government,” shows how government spending to create government jobs helped us get out of the 1981, 1990 and 2001 recessions. But since the 2007 “Great Recession,” we instead have laid off hundreds of thousands of government employees, obviously making unemployment even worse.


This chart shows only the loss of government jobs. Never mind the job losses in the stores where all of these people were shopping. The Atlantic article says this, “EPI argues that “these extra government jobs would have helped preserve about 500,000 private sector jobs.”

And never mind the millions of jobs lost or not created because of “austerity” cutbacks in government spending on things like maintaining (never mind modernizing) our infrastructure! And beyond that, what if we had spent some money (public investment) to retrofit every building and home in the country to be energy efficient, or built high-speed rail around the country? How many millions more would have been hired to do those things – and how much would we be saving on energy and other costs from now on?

This chart from Roger Hickey’s post, Continued Jobs Growth. But Highway Bill Shows Austerity Still Hurts., shows how “conservative budget cutting has undermined growth from mid-2010 through 2014″:


“As you can see, the impact of austerity on the economy is projected to be reduced over the next two quarters, but the next budget is not expected to be expansionary – and Republicans are still writing budgets under the mistaken conservative theory that spending cuts somehow stimulate growth.”

Family Budget?

They say that government is like a family budget – when the money isn’t coming in you have to cut back. That’s just nonsense if you think about it. First of all, if we make the big corporations and billionaires pay their fair share of taxes again, the money would be coming in. And anyway, families do invest in a mortgage, student loans and car loans so they can have a place to live, a good education to get a better job, and a car to get to and from work.

So don’t fall for the nonsense the big corporations and billionaires are spreading through their right-wing outlets. When you look a little deeper, that stuff just falls apart. A country needs to invest to create jobs and have a better future.

Why This Matters

These things really matter.  We all want to fix the terrible problems the country has.  But it is so important to know just what the problems are before you decide how to fix them.  Otherwise the things you do to try to solve those problems might just make them worse – just as laying off government workers in a recession makes unemployment worse.

If we get tricked into thinking that Obama has made things worse and that we should go back to what we were doing before Obama – tax cuts for the rich, giving giant corporations and Wall Street everything they want, when those are the things that caused the problems in the first place – then we will be in real trouble. Note: This is an updated version of the 2011 post, “Three Charts To Email To Your Right-Wing Brother-In-Law.” This post has updated charts using more recent data, and has been rewritten somewhat, partially to note the disastrous effect of austerity (budget cuts) on people and our economy.


This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.  Sign up here for the CAF daily summary and/or for the Progress Breakfast.

See: ttps://

Al Hunt: Republicans Face Tough Questions with Rise of Nonreligious

Source: Newsmax

Author: Al Hunt

Emphasis Mine

Don’t expect any official “Atheists for Hillary” outreach, but political progressives are cheered by a study showing a rise in the number of nonreligious Americans.

It’s not because top Democrats are irreligious; both President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are persons of faith. But liberals welcomed the findings of the 2014 Religious Landscape Study, released last week by the Pew Research Center, which showed a country growing less religious. Republicans consistently do well among voters with strong religious beliefs, and Democrats score better with voters who don’t express religious views.

The huge study — a 35,000-person sample — reveals that over the past seven years, there has been a 10 percent decline in self-identified Christians, though they still are more than 70 percent of the population. At the same time, the religiously nonaffiliated, or “nones,” have increased by about one-third and now account for about 23 percent of American adults.  This trend could have political implications. In the last presidential election, Mitt Romney easily won among Christian voters, and Obama carried 70 percent of the unaffiliated. This divide was even more apparent in the 2014 congressional elections.

Evangelical Protestants, the core of the Republican base since Ronald Reagan, have held steady over the past seven years, according to the study, though their share of the population has declined somewhat. In the last presidential and midterm elections, evangelicals made up more than a quarter of the electorate and voted Republican by a four-to-one ratio.

The number of Catholics also has declined slightly. They are about a quarter of the electorate and constitute a political swing group. White Catholics vote are more likely to be Republican, and their non-white counterparts are mainly Democrats.

The growth of the “nones” — designating “people who self- identify as atheists or agnostics, as well as those who say their religion is ‘nothing in particular,'” is most pronounced among younger Americans. More than a third of millennials– 18 to 33 year-olds — have no religious affiliation. This, experts say, probably is fueled by issues such as gay rights and racial tolerance. A quarter of whites are unaffiliated religiously, along with 20 percent of Hispanics and 18 percent of blacks.

There is a debate over the direct political effects.

“We have not yet felt the impact of the religiously unaffiliated at the ballot box,” said Robert P. Jones, chief executive officer of the Public Religion Research Institute. The “nones,” he said, register and vote less than committed Christians. But “there is untapped potential.”

David Campbell, a political scientist at the University of Notre Dame and co-author of “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us,” suggests the “nones” are becoming more active. He pointed to the recent backlash after Indiana and other states tried to remove barriers to discrimination against same-sex couples based on religious beliefs.

He believes that continuing efforts by conservative factions on gay rights and issues that they consider matters of religious freedom will galvanize the nonreligious.

“The single greatest mobilizing force for secularists is the religious right, especially among millennials,” Campbell said. Even at Notre Dame, the most famous U.S. Catholic institution, “there is almost no sympathy for the religious right’s traditionalist’s views.”

Political leaders of the evangelical movement don’t dispute Pew’s findings, but question the implications. They argue that the ascendancy of nonbelievers would energize their base on issues ranging from same-sex marriage to the “war on Christmas” and even, for some, mixed-religion marriage.

Moreover, they doubt the unaffiliated can coalesce behind any agenda.

“Secular voters are simply harder to organize because unbelief historically is not as animating in terms of political engagement as deeply held religious faith,” said Timothy Head, executive director of the conservative Faith and Freedom Coalition.

With two polarizing camps playing off each other, faith may become like Congress: dominated by the wings with little room in the middle.


Clinton is banking on the Obama coalition to win

Source: washpo

Author: Anne Geraan

Emphasis Mine

Hillary Rodham Clinton is running as the most liberal Democratic presidential front-runner in decades, with positions on issues from gay marriage to immigration that would, in past elections, have put her at her party’s precarious left edge.

The moves are part of a strategic conclusion by Clinton’s emerging campaign: that it can harness the same kind of young and diverse coalition as Barack Obama did in 2008 and 2012, bolstered by even stronger appeal among women.

Her approach — outlined in interviews with aides and advisers — is a bet that social and demographic shifts mean that no left-leaning position Clinton takes now is likely to hurt her when she makes her case to moderate and independent voters in the general election next year.

The strategy relies on calculations about the 2016 landscape, including that up to 31 percent of the electorate will be Americans of color — a projection that may be overly optimistic for her campaign. It factors in that a majority of independent voters already support same-sex marriage and the pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants that Clinton endorsed this month.

The game plan also hinges on a conclusion by Clinton strategists that the broad appeal of issues such as paid family leave, a higher minimum wage and more affordable college will help outweigh any concerns about costs.  

The campaign’s overall calculus relies on a mix of polling — including both internal and public surveys — internal focus groups and what advisers described as gut feelings about the national mood. It also reflects what Clinton backers say are her firmly held personal convictions and her pragmatism.

“Her approach to this really is not trying to take a ruler out and measure where she wants to be on some ideological scale,” Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said. “It’s to dive deeply into the problems facing the American people and American families. She’s a proud wonk, and she looks at policy from that perspective.”

Clinton’s full embrace of same-sex marriage in the first days of her campaign was followed by clear statements in favor of scrapping get-tough immigration and incarceration policies — many of which took root during her husband’s administration. She has also weighed in with liberal takes on climate change, abortion rights and disparities in income and opportunity between rich and poor.

All are issues that have been divisive in the past for both Democrats and Republicans. But none are now judged to be radioactive for Democrats, which gives Clinton more elbow room.

By taking such positions, aides and advisers hope Clinton will not only inoculate herself against a serious challenge from the left in the primaries, but that she also will be able to push on through the general election. Her campaign believes American public opinion has moved left not only since Bill Clinton won election in 1992 on a centrist platform, but also since Barack Obama won on a more liberal one.

Republicans — as part of a broader critique of her trustworthiness — accuse Clinton of flip-flopping on some positions and hiding on others, such as free trade, to cater to the liberal base.

“Clinton’s already moved her position leftward on numerous hot button issues to the base, including immigration, gay marriage, Wall Street and criminal justice reforms,” conservative America Rising PAC director Colin Reed wrote in a position paper Friday.

“Clinton’s moves reinforce all her worst attributes as a candidate and hurt her image among voters of all stripes,” Reed said. “Progressive voters know that she’s not truly one of them” while swing voters “see a desperate politician staking out far-left positions that are outside of the mainstream of most Americans.”

Many political strategists also say Clinton will be hard-pressed to re-create Obama’s winning coalition and that the 30 percent to 31 percent non-white turnout that some of her outside backers are projecting may be out of reach. Exit polls show non-white turnout was 28 percent in 2012 and 26 percent in 2008. Clinton will have to expand Hispanic support, increase turnout among independent women and still hold onto a large share of black voters drawn to the first African American major party nominee.

The bold stance on immigration is widely seen as one way to jump-start the expansion of Hispanic support Clinton will need, although advisers say she had already made up her mind about citizenship and there was no reason to put off an announcement. When outlining her position in Nevada, where 1 in 4 residents is Hispanic, she made a point of saying that no Republican would go as far — and alleged the GOP wanted immigrants to have “second-class status.”

“People often talk about the electorate moving left,” said Clinton senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan. “I think it’s more that the electorate is just getting more practical. For Hillary Clinton, that matches her evidence-based approach. The arguments that persuade her are evidence-based and progressive.”

He cited the growing consensus that mass incarceration is expensive and unworkable, and that the country is never going to deport all of the more than 11 million people who are here illegally.

Advisers do not dispute that Clinton has a finger to the wind of the national mood, but they insist the timing and substance of her positions are not driven by polling. The still-cautious candidate has declined to make clear her position on two key proposals that many liberals oppose: the Keystone XL Pipeline and Obama’s free-trade deal.

Sullivan also noted that some of Clinton’s early proposals “cut against the grain” of political liberalism, such as her emphasis on improving the playing field for American small businesses.

Clinton will debut policy proposals to ease lending bottlenecks for small businesses on campaign trips to Iowa and New Hampshire this week. The impetus came largely from conversations Clinton had in the run-up to the campaign and a six-month policy review led by Sullivan that looked at how Clinton might address a range of national concerns.

“The thing she is most interested in is not what position is most popular, it’s what do people worry about,” Sullivan said.

Clinton’s 2008 campaign was so focused on polling data and the consequences of saying the wrong thing that it sometimes appeared paralyzed. Some of that campaign’s infamous staff battles focused on the advice from senior adviser Mark Penn, a pollster, to avoid more liberal positions in the primary that year for fear they would hurt her in a general election contest.

This time is different, backers say. “The strategic advantage the Democrats have is that the distance between our base and the middle is shorter than for Republicans,” said Neera Tanden, president of the liberal Center for American Progress and a longtime Clinton confidant.

In other words, Clinton’s strategists say, she does not face the same whiplash as Republican candidates who seek to dial back hard-right positions on issues such as abortion or immigration adopted during a competitive primary.

Senior campaign officials acknowledged that trade is a divisive and fraught issue for Democrats and for her. Clinton’s past support for the Asia free trade pact makes her current silence awkward at best, but her advisers are gambling that the issue won’t leave an enduring rift within the party.

Clinton campaign leaders and outside loyalists also bridle at the perception that she is less of a progressive politician than, say, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). They point to Clinton’s early career as a crusading lawyer in Arkansas and lifelong professional commitments to improving women’s lives.

Warren has said she isn’t running but has declined so far to endorse Clinton. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is running a strongly populist challenge to Clinton, and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley — who has suggested Clinton is too hesitant and poll-driven — is expected to enter the race this month.

“If Clinton and other candidates are not seen as standing with Warren on the TPP trade deal and a number of other economic issues critical to working families, it could create an even greater sense of urgency” to get Warren into the race, said Gary Ritterstein, an adviser to the support group Ready for Warren.

The clearest shift in national attitudes, and Clinton’s own, has come on same-sex marriage. She moved from saying she considered marriage to be between a man and a woman when she was first lady to backing civil unions as an alternative to marriage in 2008 to full support of gay and lesbian marriage now.

Public opinion polling suggests she is on safe ground, despite ongoing legal fights in several states. The firmest opposition to gay marriage is centered in red states and among Republican voters unlikely to consider voting for Clinton.

Pew Research polling shows that in August 2008 — when Clinton endorsed Obama as the Democratic nominee — 52 percent of Americans opposed legal same-sex marriage and 39 percent supported it. The same poll now shows 54 percent support for such marriages while 39 percent are opposed.

Shifts on criminal justice issues are less dramatic, but there are bipartisan efforts now to repeal some of the harshest and least flexible laws on the books for two decades. Outrage and revulsion over police killings of black men over the past year made the issue more urgent for many young, African American and socially liberal voters.

Last month, Clinton gave an address calling for dramatic changes in policing and prosecution to lessen the rate of incarceration. The remarks echo similar calls among both Democrats and some Republicans, such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

“Two or three years ago,” said Clinton policy adviser Ann O’Leary, “that speech might have been seen as a very left-leaning speech.”

Peyton Craighill contributed to this report.

Anne Gearan is a national politics correspondent for The Washington Post.



A Fraternity of Failure: Paul Krugman On How Neocon Ideology Rewards Being Wrong

source: AlterNet

author: Adam Johnson

Emphasis Mine

Friday morning, Paul Krugman looked past the 24-hour 2016 media cycle to examine the true mechanisms behind Jeb Bush’s week of backtracking and Iraq War revisionism. Krugman argues, quite convincingly, that Bush’s inability to articulate a coherent position on Iraq – or the economy – is due to the fact that the GOP establishment, still held captive by the neoconservative clergy class, are constantly trying to fit a rigid ideological square peg into the round hole of reality.

W’s Iraq War was a categorical and unquestionable failure in every sense. Moral, strategic, legal, political: the wrongheadedness of the 2003 invasion isbroadly seen as one of the few black and whites in contemporary politics, despite recent attempts to “rebrand” the Bush presidency as anything other than a total disaster. Nevertheless, here we are. Little brother must at once acknowledge that the Iraq War was a bad idea while simultaneously not rejecting the American Enterprise Institute orthodoxy that makes up his inner circle and their entire foreign policy ethos. Krugman would call it what it was, total sleaze:

Then he tried to walk it back. He “interpreted the question wrong,” and isn’t interested in engaging “hypotheticals.” Anyway, “going back in time” is a “disservice” to those who served in the war.

Take a moment to savor the cowardice and vileness of that last remark. And, no, that’s not hyperbole. Mr. Bush is trying to hide behind the troops, pretending that any criticism of political leaders — especially, of course, his brother, the commander in chief — is an attack on the courage and patriotism of those who paid the price for their superiors’ mistakes. That’s sinking very low, and it tells us a lot more about the candidate’s character than any number of up-close-and-personal interviews.

Wait, there’s more: Incredibly, Mr. Bush resorted to the old passive-voice dodge, admitting only that “mistakes were made.” Indeed. By whom? Well, earlier this year Mr. Bush released a list of his chief advisers on foreign policy, and it was a who’s-who of mistake-makers, people who played essential roles in the Iraq disaster and other debacles.

Seriously, consider that list, which includes such luminaries as Paul Wolfowitz, who insisted that we would be welcomed as liberators and that the war would cost almost nothing, and Michael Chertoff, who as director of the Department of Homeland Security during Hurricane Katrina was unaware of the thousands of people stranded at the New Orleans convention center without food and water.

But this unchecked hubris wouldn’t be limited to just foreign policy. As Krugman would explain:

Take my usual focus, economic policy. If you look at the list of economists who appear to have significant influence on Republican leaders, including the likely presidential candidates, you find that nearly all of them agreed, back during the “Bush boom,” that there was no housing bubble and the American economic future was bright; that nearly all of them predicted that the Federal Reserve’s efforts to fight the economic crisis that developed when that nonexistent bubble popped would lead to severe inflation; and that nearly all of them predicted that Obamacare, which went fully into effect in 2014, would be a huge job-killer.

Given how badly these predictions turned out — we had the biggest housing bust in history, inflation paranoia has been wrong for six years and counting, and 2014 delivered the best job growth since 1999 — you might think that there would be some room in the G.O.P. for economists who didn’t get everything wrong. But there isn’t. Having been completely wrong about the economy, like having been completely wrong about Iraq, seems to be a required credential.

The craven team that made up W’s White House sits in waiting. Backed by the same toxic mix of free-market ideologues, religious extremists, and pseudo-centrist apologists, Jeb is trying the same lay low strategy his brother did in 2000. The only problem, politically, is that he must carry the baggage of a Presidency so inept and corrupt it’s become shorthand for what one doesn’t want in a President. Americans notoriously have short memories, but, as Bush is finding out, there are limits to our collective amnesia. As Krugman would note:

What’s going on here? My best explanation is that we’re witnessing the effects of extreme tribalism. On the modern right, everything is a political litmus test. Anyone who tried to think through the pros and cons of the Iraq war was, by definition, an enemy of President George W. Bush and probably hated America; anyone who questioned whether the Federal Reserve was really debasing the currency was surely an enemy of capitalism and freedom.

It doesn’t matter that the skeptics have been proved right. Simply raising questions about the orthodoxies of the moment leads to excommunication, from which there is no coming back. So the only “experts” left standing are those who made all the approved mistakes. It’s kind of a fraternity of failure: men and women united by a shared history of getting everything wrong, and refusing to admit it. Will they get the chance to add more chapters to their reign of error? Krugman hits the nail right on the head. The same arrogance and rigidity that refused for years to change course when it was clear Iraq was a lost cause are plaguing Jeb’s campaign, already. How to acknowledge you’re wrong without ever doing so? How to acknowledge you’ve made a mistake when you’re surrounded by people who think their brand of colonial adventurism is, quite literally, handed down by God? You can’t. The scars of Iraq are too deep. The pieces still being picked up. The PR strategists behind the Bush family’s latest attempt at the White House were counting on the American public to be ignorant of history. But with the ever-present war against ISIS that resulted from a chaos they helped create, it appears Bush’s team may have underestimated how deep the wounds they inflicted upon the body politic really are.





Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,897 other followers