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“Whites Will Abandon The GOP”: Having Alienated Every Racial And Ethnic Group, Republican Party Will Be The Party Of True Equality

As you are certainly aware, the new consensus among most Republicans and conservatives is that they don’t need no stinking Latinos (don’t get huffy on me; this is OK, because it’s a clever movie reference, and in any case it’s aimed not at Latinos, but at stupid Republicans) and will soar to victory on the strength of the white vote. People like me have spent a lot of airtime and ink these past couple of weeks arguing over whether this can work. But what’s interesting is this. There’s an assumption embedded in the argument that no one disputes: namely, that whites will always be as conservative as they are now and will always vote Republican in the same numbers they do now. This assumption is wrong. White people—yep, even working-class white people—are going to get less conservative in coming years, so the Republicans’ hopes of building a white-nationalist party will likely be dashed in the future even by white people themselves.

We already know all about the creative-class white voters, the well-educated and higher-income people who have shifted dramatically to the Democratic column over the past generation. Those voters are increasingly lost to the GOP. True, Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama among college graduates (of all races) 51 percent to 47 percent, but Obama won going away among postgrads. Combine that with a Democratic lock on a huge chunk of a growing minority vote, and that’s why the Democratic Party goes into presidential elections now with a massive presumed Electoral College advantage (in recent elections, Democratic candidates have regularly won states totaling 263 electoral votes, just seven shy of the magic number).

Everyone knows and concedes all this. And everyone counters it by saying that the Republicans will just goose the less-educated white vote. As I noted above, everyone agrees that that vote is theirs for the goosing. But what if it isn’t?

Back in March, the Brookings Institution and the Public Religion Research Institute released a big poll on immigration. Those findings are interesting as far as they go, but the questions and results went beyond that. It’s the first poll I’ve seen that breaks the white working class into four distinct age groups (65-plus, 50 to 64, 30 to 49, 18 to 29) and asks respondents attitudes about a broad range of social issues. And guess what? White working-class millennials are fairly liberal!

Click on the above link, scroll down to page 44, and look at the charts. On most questions, white working-class respondents in all three other age groups yielded results that were pretty similar to one another’s, but the youngest cohort was well to their left.

White working-class young people back gay marriage to the tune of about 74 percent. Another 60 percent say immigrants strengthen the United States (the totals for all three other age groups are below 40 percent). About 56 percent agree that changes immigrants have brought to their communities are a good thing. Nearly 40 percent agree that gays and lesbians are changing America for the better (more than double the percentages in the other three age groups).

They have different views because they’re different people: only 22 percent of white working-class millennials are evangelical, compared with 32 percent as a whole and 42 percent of seniors. And an amazing 38 percent of the group call themselves religiously unaffiliated.

All in all, not your father’s white working class. Sure, their views will become a bit more conservative as they age and have kids and own property. More will start attending church, undoubtedly. But the striking differences between their views and those of the three older groups are consistent, they are uniform, and they are pretty vast. (The poll did not ask about their attitudes toward African-Americans, about which I’m curious; I would expect less though still meaningful departure from the older cohorts.)

Which suggests to me that some views won’t change. These young people grew up in the America of Will and Grace and the relentlessly multi-culti Sesame Street just as surely as children in Berkeley and Takoma Park did. They won’t vote like their counterparts who grew up in Berkeley and Takoma Park, but they—and certainly their kids—just aren’t going to be carrying around a lot of the racial resentments that their grandparents shoulder every day.

So let’s hand it to the Republicans. They make the strategic decision to go all 1980s South Africa on us at a time when a sizable and sure-to-be-growing chunk of one of the most Republican-friendly segments of the white vote isn’t going to want that anymore. So, far from the GOP share of the white vote sailing up toward 70 percent as Sean Trende so giddily predicts, it seems just as likely to decrease as we enter the 2020s and see the sprouting of a more liberal (or less conservative) white working class. Finally, the Republican Party will be the party of true equality, having equally alienated every racial and ethnic group in America.


By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, July 10, 2013

July 11, 2013 Posted by | GOP, Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Mean Team Piles On The Jobless”: Our Nation’s Corporate And Political Elites Have Developed An Immunity To Shame

“Come on, team, let’s get mean!”

This is not the chant of rabid football fans, egging on their favorite team to crush the opponents. Rather, it’s the raucous war cry of far-out right-wing ideologues all across the country who’re pumping up Team GOP to pound the bejeezus out of America’s millions of unemployed workers. Far from a game, this is real, and it’s a moral abomination.

I’ve been unemployed before, and I can tell you it’s a misery — all the more so today, when there are far more people out of work than there are job openings. This leaves millions of our fellow Americans mired in the debilitating misery of long-term unemployment.

But that’s not miserable enough for a feral breed of Ayn Randian political zealots who are lobbying Republican governors, legislators and congress-critters to punish the jobless for … well, for their joblessness. In this perverse universe, the conventional wisdom asserts that unemployment benefits and other poverty-prevention programs are sapping our nation’s vitality by allowing “moochers” to live the Life of Reilly and avoid work.

The GOP’s budget demigod in the U.S. House, Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), expressed this dogma in a fanciful homily deriding America’s safety net as “a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency.” This from a guy whose family’s wealth was gained from government contacts and who has spent practically all of his adult life in the sweet-swaying hammock of congressional privilege, presently drawing $174,000 a year from Old Uncle Sugar.

As ridiculous and just plain mean as this attitude is, it plays well in the insanity that now defines “the debate” in Republican primary elections. So, state after state (as well as Congress) is succumbing to this pound-the-poor, right-wing screed by frenetically slashing unemployment benefits.

Behind this faux-philosophical push are the smiling barons of corporate America. Without jobless payments, you see, desperate millions will be forced to whatever low-wage, no-benefit, dead-end jobs the barons design.

What’s at work here is a profoundly awful ethical phenomenon that has seeped into the top strata of American society: Our nation’s corporate and political elites have developed an immunity to shame.

It has become morally acceptable in those lofty circles to enrich themselves while turning their backs on the rest of us. Even more damning, they feel free to slash America’s already tattered safety net, leaving more holes than net for the workaday majority of Americans who’ve been knocked down by an ongoing economic disaster created by these very elites.

For a look at how shameful these privileged powers have become, turn to North Carolina. Until recently, this Southern state maintained a fairly moderate government with a populist streak, taking pride in its educational system and other public efforts to maintain a middle class. No more. A shame-resistant political leadership has recently taken hold, consisting of corporate-funded Tea Party extremists who loathe the very idea of a safety net.

The new bunch has been gutting everything from public schools to health care, and now they’ve turned on hard-hit citizens who’re out of work. In a state with the fifth highest jobless rate in the country, and with no recovery in sight, the right-wing governor and legislature recently whacked weekly unemployment benefits by a third, leaving struggling North Carolinians with a meager $350 a week to try to make ends meet, while simultaneously eliminating millions of consumer dollars that those families would otherwise be putting into the state’s economy. Then, just to give the jobless another kick, the petty politicians cut the number of weeks people can receive unemployment aid.

This official stinginess automatically disqualified the state from getting $700 million a year for long-term jobless payments from the federal government. Yet Gov. Pat McCrory issued a cockamamie, Kafkaesque claim that the gut-job ensures that “our citizens’ unemployment safety net is secure,” while providing “an economic climate that allows job creators to start hiring again.”

Yeah, we’ll all hold our breath until those “job creators” get going. Meanwhile, the GOP wrecking crew doled out a fat tax break for the corporate elites — for doing nothing. Take from the poor, give to the rich: backward Robin Hood. If ignorance is bliss, McCrory must be ecstatic.

Meanwhile, his shameless immorality has unleashed a growing storm of weekly demonstrations known as “Moral Mondays.” For information about this remarkable citizens’ uprising, link to the North Carolina Justice Center:


By: Jim Hightower, The National Memo, July 10, 2013

July 11, 2013 Posted by | Jobs, Unemployment | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“New Revelations Imperil Virginia’s Governor”: It’s Becoming Increasingly Difficult To Imagine How Bob McDonnell Stays In Office

Just last night, while reporting on Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s (R) efforts to address one aspect of the scandal surrounding him, Rachel noted that the governor’s term in office ends officially in January, but “smart bookmakers everywhere are taking bets on whether or not he makes it that far.”

In light of a new Washington Post report, published this morning, the odds of McDonnell’s political survival are considerably worse.

A prominent political donor gave $70,000 to a corporation owned by Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and his sister last year, and the governor did not disclose the money as a gift or loan, according to people with knowledge of the payments.

The donor, wealthy businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr., also gave a previously unknown $50,000 check to the governor’s wife, Maureen, in 2011, the people said.

The money to the corporation and Maureen McDonnell brings to $145,000 the amount Williams gave to assist the McDonnell family in 2011 and 2012 — funds that are now at the center of federal and state investigations.

Making matters slightly worse, the Post also reports this morning on a $10,000 “gift” the Star Scientific CEO gave to McDonnell’s eldest daughter, intended to help defray costs of her May 2013 wedding. You might be thinking, “Wait, didn’t we already know about Jonnie Williams helping pay for one of the governor’s daughter’s wedding?” We did, but this is another daughter — Williams gave $15,000 to help pay for Cailin McDonnell’s wedding in 2011 and then $10,000 to help finance Jeanine McDonnell’s wedding this year.

All of the extravagant gifts coincided with McDonnell and his wife working to promote Star Scientific and its products.

The governor may have a very good attorney, but it’s increasingly difficult to imagine how the governor stays in office. Indeed, one angle to keep an eye on in the coming days is how quickly Virginia Republicans begin to distance themselves from McDonnell as the scandal grows more serious. For one noteworthy GOP official in particular, that’s likely to be tricky.

The University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato said last night that we should expect state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, for example, to “break openly and sharply” with the governor “very soon.” And that would certainly make sense — Cuccinelli is in a competitive race to replace McDonnell, and won’t want to be tarnished by the allegations.

But that may be more difficult for Cuccinelli than is commonly known. Star Scientific’s Jonnie Williams may have been almost criminally generous to McDonnell, but he also directed over $13,000 worth of gifts to Cuccinelli, too — gifts the right-wing state Attorney General did not disclose.

On several occasions, Cuccinelli even vacationed in Williams’ beach house, despite the fact that Cuccinelli was ostensibly overseeing Star Scientific’s $1.7 million tax dispute with Virginia at the time.

Cuccinelli may want to start backing away from McDonnell in light of the scandal, but that’s easier said than done.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 10, 2013

July 11, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“What Does Justice For Trayvon Look Like?”: A Guilty Verdict Is Only A Consolation

The murder trial of George Zimmerman for the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin is nearing its end, with the defense expected to rest its case today. It’s time to prepare for what happens if Zimmerman is acquitted.

I believe strongly in his guilt, but I’ve also watched the trial closely, and between the second-degree murder charge, where the prosecution must prove ill will or malice, and Zimmerman’s crafty defense, it is entirely plausible that he’ll walk. The special prosecutor assigned to this case, Angela Corey, originally charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder denying that it was because of “public pressure,” but because of “special evidence” that supported the charge. Legal analyst Dan Abrams, writing for ABC News, said:

I certainly sympathize with the anger and frustration of the Martin family and doubt that a jury will accept the entirety of George Zimmerman’s account as credible. But based on the legal standard and evidence presented by prosecutors it is difficult to see how jurors find proof beyond a reasonable doubt that it wasn’t self defense. Prosecutors are at a distinct legal disadvantage. They have the burden to prove that Zimmerman did not “reasonably believe” that the gunshot was “necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm” to himself. That is no easy feat based on the evidence presented in their case. Almost every prosecution witness was called to discredit the only eyewitness who unquestionably saw everything that occurred that night, George Zimmerman.

It’s heartbreaking to think that Zimmerman killed Trayvon and may never face punishment, but it’s possible. And for those of us deeply affected by Trayvon’s death, we have to think carefully about what comes next.

Because even a guilty verdict is only a consolation. It would send a one-time message that a black child’s life had value, but it would hardly shift the tide from the constant dehumanization. We would still be up against the same system—not only our criminal justice system but a larger cultural sytem—in which it was prudent to test Trayvon for drugs but not Zimmerman, that would ask a grieving mother if her son did anything to cause his own death, and that didn’t see fit to make an arrest for nearly a month and a half.

This requires us to wrestle with this question: What does justice for Trayvon look like?

Because if you’re like me, you don’t see prison as the answer. The prospect of Zimmerman sitting behind bars for twenty-five years doesn’t invoke a sense of justice. That just means they’ll be another person languishing in our broken prison system. Our carceral state doesn’t work, and relying on it to bring justice for any of us is a fool’s errand. We need a new outlook.

Justice needs to be more proactive. It should consist of an entire society doing everything it can to ensure that what happened to Trayvon never happens again. This includes a commitment to seeing the humanity in black men and boys, and letting go of the entrenched idea of their inherent criminality. It means divesting from the racist ideology that would have us believe black men are preternaturally violent creatures seeking to wreak havoc on America. Justice is black boys not having to grow up with that hanging over their heads. Justice is support for their potential. Real justice is this country truly believing that the killing of black boys is a tragedy.

When Trayvon’s father was on the witness stand, it was clear, more than a year later, he was still trying to process his son’s death. Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda was asking him about the 911 call where you can hear the gunshot that killed Trayvon. He started his question: “You realized that that was the shot…” and before he could finish, Tracy Martin chimed in, “That killed my son, yes.”

Justice is making sure no parent ever has to say those words again.


By: Mychal Denzel Smith, The Nation, July 10, 2013

July 11, 2013 Posted by | Zimmerman Trial | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Edward Snowden Is No Hero”: Civil Disobedience Is, Almost By Definition, An Act Of Faith In Vindication

Mohandas Gandhi went to Yeravda Central Prison.

Martin Luther King Jr., went to Birmingham jail.

Nelson Mandela went to Robben Island.

Edward Snowden is going to Venezuela.

Or not. His destination was up in the air as these words were written. A Russian lawmaker tweeted on Tuesday that Snowden, the fugitive former U.S. contractor, had accepted asylum from Venezuela. Then the tweet was deleted and the official word was that there was no official word.

Whatever happens, one thing is obvious. Wherever Snowden goes, he has no intention of coming home to answer for what he did.

One struggles to know how to feel about that.

Many of us, after all, believe he struck a blow for freedom in leaking classified information revealing the breadth and depth of government spying on private citizens. But he seems not to have thought through the implications and likely outcomes of that act. How else to explain the fact that he has wound up trapped in the international transit zone at the Moscow airport, unable to enter the country, yet unable to leave because he has nowhere to go?

Well, that’s not quite accurate. Snowden is reported to be fielding offers of asylum from several nations, including, besides Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua. It is worth noting that these would-be benefactors all have problematic recent relations with his own country. Surely that plays a part in their eagerness to get their hands on him.

One wonders if he understood what he was getting into. Civil disobedience is never without risk and one accepts this going in. To practice civil disobedience is, after all, to break the law in the conviction that doing so serves a higher moral law.

A visitor from China once asked Dr. Bernard Lafayette with some amazement how such a thing could be justified. Was that not a recipe for chaos? If every citizen can choose for himself or herself which laws to obey and which to ignore, does that not show disrespect for the very rule of law? Lafayette, a hero of the civil rights movement, said no, because civil disobedience does not seek to evade punishment. One shows one’s respect for the rule of law, he said, by submitting to the penalties prescribed for breaking it.

Dr. Daniel Ellsberg would likely disagree; he supports Snowden’s flight to elude U.S. authorities. Ellsberg famously leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971 and faced a possible 115-year sentence for doing so. Charges were dismissed in 1973.

In an op-ed published Sunday by the Washington Post, he argued that Snowden’s situation cannot be compared to his — different circumstances, different era. Snowden, he writes, would likely be disappeared into solitary confinement if returned to these shores and have little chance to contribute to the debate on government surveillance.

Perhaps. But here’s the thing: Civil disobedience is, almost by definition, an act of faith. Not faith in government, nor even faith in law, but faith in vindication. It is an act that says, I am right, so I refuse to obey this law and will take my medicine until you see that I am right.

Snowden is not willing to do that, not willing to stand, with head held high, upon the courage of his convictions. There is something unseemly about that. It makes his action feel unfinished. And undermined.

Yes, there’s also something unseemly about some guy sitting safely behind his desk smugly advising some other guy to put the rest of his life at risk for the sake of principle. But consider the alternative. Should he go to some unfriendly nation and become a propaganda tool against his own country? No. There are no seemly options here — only a narrowing range of unseemly ones.

So Snowden should come home. You may say that is the worst possible choice, and you’d be right. It is the worst.

Except for all the rest.


By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., The National Memo, July 10, 2013

July 11, 2013 Posted by | National Security | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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