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“The Sagebrush Provocateur”: Racist Liberal Media Invent More White Racism

Wouldn’t you figure it would be Adam Nagourney of the New York Times who would ruin the splendid living theater of patriotism being acted out in Nevada by quoting everybody’s hero Cliven Bundy as having views about black folks that might embarrass your local Grand Dragon:

[I]f the federal government has moved on, Mr. Bundy — a father of 14 and a registered Republican — has not.

He said he would continue holding a daily news conference; on Saturday, it drew one reporter and one photographer, so Mr. Bundy used the time to officiate at what was in effect a town meeting with supporters, discussing, in a long, loping discourse, the prevalence of abortion, the abuses of welfare and his views on race.

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.

“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”

Since Nagourney’s story came out late yesterday, you can imagine the consternation in conservative-land, which has for the most part adopted Bundy as a sort of sage-brush counterpart to Duck Dynasty‘s Phil Robertson. What to say? Dean Heller’s staff was smart enough to immediately distance The Boss from Bundy’s racist rant. It took Rand Paul a bit longer to get there. Texas GOP gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbott’s people also disavowed an earlier effort to link his cause to Bundy’s. It’s probably a matter of moments before someone accuses Nagourney of inventing the quote about “the Negro,” and it’s probably crossed more than a few minds that Bundy is an agent provocateur. Seems to me the old cowboy really, really wanted to say what he said; he had to understand he was blowing up his own game.

All I know for sure is that the next ten or a hundred conservative gabbers who claim the only racists in America are liberals who play the “race card” are going to have to deal with Bundy’s example. They, not liberals, made the man an icon. Let them explain how his racism is unconnected with all the other reactionary features of his world view, which are pure as ever.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, April 24, 2014

April 25, 2014 Posted by | Cliven Bundy, Racism | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Welcome To Groundhog Day”: In 2014, It’s Like Deja Vu All Over Again

The New York Times published some new polling yesterday, showing Democrats in better-than-expected shape in U.S. Senate races in the South. Indeed, the results showed Dem incumbents ahead in Arkansas, Louisiana, and North Carolina, and a Dem challenger looking very competitive in Kentucky.

Discouraged Republicans had a few choices. They could argue, for example, that individual polls are less important than larger averages based on multiple surveys. The GOP could also respond that it’s early in the cycle and there are still structural elements in place that still favor Republicans. They could even credibly claim that some of the results may have been an outlier.

But that’s not what happened. Bill Kristol, the Republican National Committee, and conservatives everywhere instead dug into the internals to declare the poll is … skewed. It’s as if 2012 has already escaped their memories.

As a substantive matter, Brian Beutler argued persuasively that the critique is misguided.

The obvious error here is an apples-oranges comparison between Romney’s recorded share of the vote total with this after-the-fact, reported share of the voting-age population. In 2012, just over 30 percent of registered voters in Arkansas and over half of the voting age population didn’t vote in Arkansas. Since the question was asked of all adults, it appears many people who didn’t vote are now actually claiming to have voted for one of the candidates. And many adults, whether they voted or not, are claiming to have voted third party when they actually didn’t. Eight percent of those surveyed say they voted for someone other than Obama or Romney. In reality third party candidates mustered a combined 2.5 percent of the vote (and a much smaller percentage of the voting age population) in Arkansas that year.

And as the Times’ Nate Cohn notes in a strong defense of the poll, “there’s a well-known bias toward the victor in post-election surveys. Respondents who voted for the loser often say that they don’t remember whom they supported, or say they supported someone else.”

In the larger context, though, what matters just as much as the reliability of the data is the right’s instincts – the polling results told Republicans what they didn’t want to hear, so they immediately went with their old standby. Discouraging polls must have a biased sample.

It’s one of several reasons it seems like we’re still stuck in 2012, no matter what the calendar says.

Two years ago, when polls showed Romney trailing, conservatives eagerly pushed the line that news organizations were deliberately skewing the results to bolster the president. Their assumptions were the basis of a remarkable debacle – they were so convinced that the polls were wrong that they were absolutely shocked when Obama won fairly easily.

I thought at the time that the right would have learned a valuable lesson about confirmation bias and public-opinion surveys. I thought wrong. They learned nothing.

But what else happened in 2012?

* State Republican officials launched a nationwide effort to impose voter-suppression policies in key states.

* National Republican officials complained bitterly about contraception access.

* GOP voices raised the specter of the White House using government agencies to publish bogus data for a political advantage.

* Republicans kept pushing ACA repeal, expecting to ride a wave of anti-Obamacare sentiment to electoral success.

* The right pushed all kinds of Benghazi conspiracy theories.

And what’s happening in 2014? Well, we see even more voter-suppression schemes; Republicans still haven’t changed their anti-contraception posture; conservatives are still convinced the White House is “cooking the books” for a political advantage; Republicans refuse to move on from their anti-ACA crusade; and Benghazi is still the conspiracy theory the right just can’t quit.

Welcome to Groundhog Day.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 24, 2014

April 25, 2014 Posted by | Election 2014, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Slavery Nostalgia Is Real, And It’s Dangerous”: Yearning For The Past Of Segregation And Slavery Is Neither Quaint Nor Harmless

Northerners may be a little shocked that anyone could feel a bit nostalgic for slavery, in the manner of the government-hating Nevada rancher, Cliven Bundy. But in the South, such sentiments are hardly unheard of, even if they are usually muttered in private over a few bourbons rather than spoken at a news conference.

Occasionally, in fact, they are expressed or embraced by public figures. A particularly relevant case started about 14 years ago, when Maurice Bessinger, owner of a chain of South Carolina barbecue restaurants called Maurice’s Piggy Park, began distributing pro-slavery tracts in his stores. One of the tracts, called the “Biblical View of Slavery,” said the practice wasn’t really so bad, because it was permitted in the Bible. It argued that many black slaves in the South “blessed the Lord” for their condition, because it was better than their life in Africa.

When the tract was discovered, Mr. Bessinger was denounced and his restaurants boycotted. Many retail stores pulled his distinctive (to be kind) yellow mustardy barbecue sauce from their shelves.

But one prominent South Carolinian decided to stand up for Mr. Bessinger. Glenn McConnell, then a state senator from Charleston, stocked the sauce in his Confederate “art gallery,” which was loaded with secessionist flags and uniforms, as well as toilet paper bearing the image of Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman. When a local power utility banned its trucks from the parking lots of Piggie Park, Mr. McConnell threatened a legislative vendetta against the company.

Mr. Bessinger died in February. Mr. McConnell is now the lieutenant governor of South Carolina.

In that state, it is not considered a stain to have fought passionately to keep the Confederate flag flying on top of the Capitol dome, or to have appeared on a notorious white-nationalist radio program in 2007. (All of this is meticulously chronicled on the website of the invaluable Southern Poverty Law Center.)

No reputational damage was done even when Mr. McConnell, a well-known Civil War re-enactor and then president pro-tem of the Senate, appeared in a 2010 photograph dressed as a Confederate general, standing between a black man and a woman dressed as slaves. The man was wearing a floppy hat and holding a washboard; the woman wore an apron and a bandanna. When black leaders protested, Senator McConnell said the photo actually showed how far the state had come in race relations.

“If somebody is trying to be politically correct and use a tunnel vision on it and hook in the slavery issue, they’re on a slippery slope toward narrow-mindedness,” he told the Charleston Post and Courier, using a justification that Mr. Bundy might want to try. “They should extend the charity of understanding. Receive it in the spirit that it is presented.”

A few weeks ago, Mr. McConnell was named the president of the College of Charleston, under pressure from likeminded state legislators who have decided the school is taking academic freedom a little too literally. Religious conservatives in the legislature were angry that the college assigned students to read “Fun Home,” a memoir with gay themes by Alison Bechdel, and tried to cut its budget. Despite a vote of no confidence by the faculty, and no experience running an educational institution, Mr. McConnell will take over the presidency of the school in July.

The College of Charleston had no black students until 1967, having gone private in the 1950s to avoid integration. Even now, once again a public institution, only 6 percent of its students are black, one of the lowest percentages for a college or university in the state. Nostalgia for a past of segregation and slavery is neither quaint nor harmless; it remains a very present danger.

By: David Firestone, The Opinion Pages, The New York Times, April 24, 2014

April 25, 2014 Posted by | Confederacy, Slavery | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“It’s Time For The Right Wing To Stop Lying”: Six Studies That Show Everything Republicans Believe Is Wrong

The great 20th-century economist John Maynard Keynes has been widely quoted as saying, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” Sadly, in their quest to concentrate economic and political power in the hands of the wealthiest members of society, today’s Republicans have held the opposite position – as the evidence has piled up against them, they continue spreading the same myths. Here are six simple facts about the economy that Republicans just can’t seem to accept:​

1. The Minimum Wage Doesn’t Kill Jobs.

The Republican story on the minimum wage takes the inordinately complex interactions of the market and makes them absurdly simple. Raise the price of labor through a minimum wage, they claim, and employers will hire fewer workers. But that’s not how it works. In the early Nineties, David Card and Alan Krueger found “no evidence that the rise in New Jersey’s minimum wage reduced employment at fast-food restaurants in the state.” Since then, international, national and state-level studies have replicated these findings – most recently in a study by three Berkeley economists. Catherine Ruetschlin, a policy analyst at Demos, has argued that a higher minimum wage would actually “boost the national economy” by giving workers more money to spend on goods and services. The most comprehensive meta-study of the minimum wage examined 64 studies and found “little or no evidence” that a higher minimum wage reduces employment. There is however, evidence that a higher minimum wage lifts people out of poverty. Raise away!

2. The Stimulus Created Millions of Jobs.

In the aftermath of the 2007 recession, President Obama invested in a massive stimulus. The Republican belief that markets are always good and government is always bad led them to argue that diverting resources to the public sector this way would have disastrous results. They were wrong: The stimulus worked, with the most reliable studies finding that it created millions of jobs. The fact that government stimulus works – long denied by Republicans (at least, when Democrats are in office) – is a consensus among economists, with only 4 percent arguing that unemployment would have been lower without the stimulus and only 12 percent arguing that the costs outweigh the benefits.

3. Taxing The Rich Doesn’t Hurt Economic Growth.

Republicans believe that the wealthy are the vehicles of economic growth. Starting with Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, they tried cutting taxes on the rich in order to unleash latent economic potential. But even the relatively conservative Martin Feldstein has acknowledged that investment is driven by demand, not supply; if there are viable investments to be made, they will be made regardless of tax rates, and if there are no investments to be made, cutting taxes is merely pushing on a string. Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, two of the eminent economists of inequality, find no correlation between marginal tax rates and economic growth.

In fact, what hurts economic growth most isn’t high taxes – it’s inequality. Two recent IMF papers confirm what Keynesian economists like Joseph Stiglitz have long argued: Inequality reduces the incomes of the middle class, and therefore demand, which in turn stunts growth. To understand why, imagine running a car dealership. Would you prefer if 1 person in your time owned 99% of the wealth and the rest of the population had nothing, or if wealth was distributed more equally, so that more people could purchase your cars?

Every other country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has far lower levels of inequality than the United States. Since there are no economic benefits of inequality, why hasn’t the right conceded the argument? Because it’s based on class interest, not empirical evidence.

4. Global Warming is Caused by Humans.

Even as global warming is linked to more and more extreme weather events, more than 56 percent of Republicans in the current congress deny man-made global warming. In fact, the infamous Lutz memo shows that Republicans have actually created a concerted campaign to undermine the science of global warming. In the leaked memo, Frank Lutz, a Republican consultant, argues that, “The scientific debate is closing [against us] but not yet closed. There is still a window of opportunity to challenge the science.”

In truth, the science of global warming is not up for debate. James Powell finds that over a one year period, 2,258 articles on global warming were published by 9,136 authors. Of those, only one, from the Herald of the Russian Academy of Sciences, rejected man-made global warming. That one article was likely motivated by the Russian government’s interest in exploiting arctic shale. Another, even more comprehensive study, examining 11,944 studies over a 10-year period, finds that 97 percent of scientists accepted the scientific consensus that man-made global warming is occurring.

This is not an abstract academic debate. The effects of climate change will be devastating, and poor countries will be hurt the worst. We’ve already seen the results. Studies have linked global warming to Hurricane Sandy, droughts and other extreme weather events. More importantly, doing nothing will end up being far more expensive than acting now. One study suggests it could wipe out 3.2% of global GDP annually.

5. The Affordable Care Act is Working

President Obama’s centrist healthcare bill was informed by federalism (delegating power to the states) and proven technocratic reforms (like a board to help doctors discern which treatments would be most cost-effective). Republicans, undeterred, decried it as Soviet-style communism based on “death panels” – never mind the fact that the old system, which rationed care based on income, is the one that left tens of thousands of uninsured people to die.

From the beginning, Republicans have predicted disastrous consequences or Obamacare, none of which came true. They predicted that the ACA would add to the deficit; in fact, it will reduce the deficit. They claimed the exchanges would fail to attract the uninsured; they met their targets. They said only old people would sign up; the young came out in the same rates as in Massachusetts. They predicted the ACA would drive up healthcare costs; in fact it is likely holding cost inflation down, although it’s still hard to discern how much of the slowdown was due to the recession. In total, the ACA will ensure that 26 million people have insurance in 2024 who would have been uninsured otherwise.

It’s worth noting that every time the CBO estimates how much Obamacare will cost, the number gets lower. Odd how we’ve never heard Republicans say that.

6. Rich people are no better than the rest of us.

Politicians on the right like to pretend that having money is a sign of hard work and morality – and that not having money is a sign of laziness. This story is contradicted by human experience and many religious traditions (Jesus tells a graphic story about a rich man who refused to help the poor burning in hell). But it’s also contradicted by the facts – more and more rich people are getting their money through inheritances, and science shows that they are no more benevolent than others.

More and more, the wealthy in America are second or third generation. For instance, the Walton family, heirs to the Walmart fortune, own more wealth than the poorest 40 million Americans. Thomas Philippon and Ariell Reshef have found that 30 to 50 percent of the wage difference between the financial sector and the rest of the private sector was due to unearned “rent,” or money they gained through manipulating markets. Josh Bivens and Larry Mishel found the same thing for CEOs – their increased pay hasn’t been correlated to performance.

If rich people haven’t really earned their money, are they at least doing any good with it? Studies find that the wealthy actually give less to charity as a proportion of their income than middle-class Americans, even though they can afford more. Worse, they use their supposed philanthropy to avoid taxes and finance pet projects. Research by Paul Piff finds that the wealthy are far more likely to exhibit narcissistic tendencies. “The rich are way more likely to prioritize their own self-interests above the interests of other people,” Piff recently told New York magazine. “It makes them more likely to exhibit characteristics that we would stereotypically associate with, say, assholes.”


By: Sean McElwee, Rolling Stone, April 23, 2014


April 25, 2014 Posted by | Economy, Republicans | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Guns In Bars, What Could Go Wrong?”: Let’s Hope It Makes Southern White Guys Feel Manlier

Georgia’s new law allows them everywhere—in libraries, at school—and permits felons to claim a Stand Your Ground defense. Let’s hope it makes Southern white guys feel manlier, at least.

To paraphrase a former National Rifle Association president, “You finally did it! You maniacs!”

That’s right, on Wednesday, in a fit of perfectly logical preparation for Sherman’s next march to the sea, Peach State Gov. Nathan Deal went ahead and signed a gun bill. Not just any gun bill, mind you, but one with so much stupid in it, it’s a wonder it hasn’t been renamed Bieber or Gohmert.

We discussed this “guns everywhere” and “felons have the right to shoot you” bill in this space only last month, but now that it’s law in the land of cottonold times they are not forgotten—perhaps it’s time for a refresher course.

The legislation will allow guns in places of worship, sporting events, bars, and yes, schools. Clearly they’ve learned nothing since Newtown, or since any of the approximately 50 school shootingsmore than three a month—in the last 17 months. Of course those attacks happened because those schools were “gun-free zones.” We can’t go blaming the easy access to guns for any yahoo with a Ted Cruz tattoo, which is clearly why we’re seeing the same epidemic of school shootings in, say, the Netherlands or Australia.

It’s the logic that gave us such successful past plans as putting more drunk drivers on the highways to cut down on accidents or electing George W. Bush to improve on the Clinton years.

You gotta give Gov. Deal and the state Legislature some credit, though. It was a nice touch, allowing Georgians to bring guns into libraries, too, which is where I think they’re keeping armored cars full of money these days in the Empire State of the South. Also, lord knows when you might not be able to reach that book on Tupperware on the top shelf—but hell, if you can load it full of enough lead, it may well fall down of its own accord.

Problem solved!

As a reminder, the Georgia bill also gives criminals—who are barred by law from possessing guns but still allowed easy access to them on the secondary market by bought-off legislators—to claim a Stand Your Ground defense in court.

Because why shouldn’t a portly, addle-brained white guy wearing an “I’m with stupid” T-shirt who likes to hit his wife not be able to buy a firearm at a gun show with no questions asked? Also, why shouldn’t he or she (but mostly he) be able to shoot you because he was “scared” you looked like you were in the “wrong” neighborhood?

That, of course, is what the new law is really about. It allows Southern white guys to “feel so manly, when armed,”superior to “others” who won’t be able to use Stand Your Ground as a defense and aren’t afraid to crawl out from under their bed without an AR-15 like Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s foaming mouthpiece and executive vice president. (Isn’t he a little too French to be allowed to carry? Just sayin’.)

Based on a bastardized version of the Second Amendment, Georgia’s new law also allows a modern industrialized society to become a shooting gallery—one that only serves to enrich American arms dealers who not only don’t care a whit about American bloodshed but welcome it as part of their business model. There’s a word for that. It rhymes with “hater.”

In a recent op-ed in The Washington Post, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens laid out what the Second Amendment meant to historians and jurists who use common sense and intellect to arrive at their findings.

Laws like the one in Georgia have zero to do with the Second Amendment, Stevens wrote, unless you think the next Whiskey Rebellion or Battle of Lake Erie is likely to commence at a preschool in Athens or spring forth from a garden party in Savannah.

But the Hollywood Hillbillies sure are gonna be stoked when they return home during the offseason from the Polanski-esque plot twists that must define their reality show.

Otherwise, here’s what we’re talking about in layman’s terms. This bill, passed by greedy, slack-jawed Georgia legislators and signed by the Right as rain Mr. Deal, isn’t just about guns but the same toxic brew of anarchy, resentment, and white privilege that led Justice Antonin Scalia to encourage sedition in between attacks on voting rights and affirmative action. That leads Cliven Bundy, the taker occupying public land in Nevada—and primo space on the wall of Sean Hannitys man-cave—to threaten violence against the federal government unless he gets, as Mitt Romney once put it—totally coincidentally!—to the NAACP, “free stuff.”

It doesn’t matter to extremist officeholders in Georgia that the vast majority of Georgians and every law enforcement organization oppose this crazy bill, much as it doesn’t matter to the rodeo clown, right-wing Republicans trying to burn down Congress what most of us around the country want them to do. It also doesn’t matter that this legislation flies in the face of all public health statistics, common sense, and modernity. Or that more people will now die.

In fact, that’s the point.

They have a war to fight that didn’t end at The Appomattox Courthouse. And it seems to be getting less civil all the time.


By: Cliff Schecter, The Daily Beast, April 24, 2014

April 25, 2014 Posted by | Gun Violence, Guns, Mass Shootings | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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