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“Busting Another Myth About Immigration Reform”: Conservative “Reality” Just Happens To Be An Ideological Constructed Fallacy

Conservatives like to complain that immigrants not only take jobs citizens would otherwise do (mostly untrue), but also constitute a drain on social services. It’s not only an inhumane argument but also impractical: if you need people to perform difficult and dangerous jobs, do you really want them not to be able to get medical treatment or for their kids to go uneducated?

But these arguments aren’t just impractical and immoral. They’re also wrong. As it turns out, undocumented immigrants are a net positive to the social security system:

Here’s how the math works. Five percent of the U.S. work force is undocumented, which is some 8.1 million people. Thirty-eight percent of the 8.1 million pay social security taxes, which comes to roughly $12 billion a year, according to CAP estimates. That’s a pretty nice cushion for a graying America.

Stephen Goss, chief actuary for the Social Security Administration, told the Daily Beast, “Even as it stands under current policy, unauthorized immigrants contribute positively to the financing of social security not only in terms of their own contributions, but in the succeeding generations when they have children on our soil that are citizens from day one.”

Bringing them out of the shadows will let them actually collect on the money they have paid into the system, but it would still be a net positive:

Obama’s executive order would allow newly legalized workers to eventually collect benefits when they reach retirement age. But that’s a long way off for many of them, and any potential loss would be more than offset by the millions of young workers who will be brought into the system to pay taxes for three or four decades before they can collect benefits.

Conservative arguments present reasonable people with a quandary: do you attack their arguments for their heartless immorality? Or their functional impracticality? Or their ill-informed simple wrongness? Whether it’s socialized medicine, immigration policy, climate change, social issues, tax policy, foreign policy or so much else, conservatives are constantly pursuing policies that fail basic moral tests, are largely unworkable, and that are proven wrong by actual evidence at every turn. And yet (or perhaps as a consequence) conservatism veers ever further rightward.

It’s not just a political disagreement. We’re living in different realities at this point. Conservative “reality” just happens to be an ideological constructed fallacy.


By: David Atkins, Political Animal, The Washington Monthly, November 29, 2014

December 1, 2014 Posted by | Conservatives, Immigration Reform, Social Security | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Tough Reality Of Politics For Women”: Learning From My 2014 Mistakes; A Year Of Reckoning For Democrats

Thanksgiving is a great time for writers to reckon with whatever we got wrong over the year – and to be grateful that in this day and age we get to write every day, and put mistakes behind us quickly. So with the 2014 midterm election rapidly disappearing in the rearview mirror, I thought I’d reckon with my one big political mistake this past election cycle, as well as one big thing I got, sadly, right.

In July 2013, long before the midterm, I wrote this piece: “Red state women will transform America.” I was pretty darn excited about the prospect of Wendy Davis, Alison Lundergan Grimes and Michelle Nunn stepping up and running in Texas, Kentucky and Georgia. In hindsight – or maybe even at the time – I showed some irrational exuberance. So did a lot of Democrats.

Maybe more significantly, I participated in wishful thinking shared by many more Democrats – believing that the women’s vote is the party’s ace in the hole and that, in addition to solid support from non-white voters, it will give them a lock on the White House, and will even turn red states blue over time. I’m less optimistic about that now. The Democrats’ continuing troubles with white women, and white married women, doomed all three once-promising white female Democratic candidates.

Of course, none of them were perfect candidates. I will always be grateful for Davis’s brave filibuster of horrible Texas anti-abortion legislation. But I overestimated her political skills. Reams have been written about her poor campaign; I don’t need to kick her here. In the days before the election, silly #tcot folks tried to pretend I’d written my Davis praise recently, not more than a year before the race. But I did get overexcited.

Likewise, Grimes wasn’t quite the pro I thought she was, although she had admirable political skills. Michelle Nunn, who actually came closest to being elected of the three, had little to recommend her besides her father’s famous name and her detachment from partisan bickering thanks to a career in business, not politics.

Even at the time, I overlooked what is still the tough reality of politics for women: Frequently, they get their big political breaks only when more experienced men size up a race and find it too dangerous. I still believe Texas will turn blue again, but state and national Democrats knew it wouldn’t happen in 2014. In Kentucky, experienced pols like Rep. John Yarmuth and Gov. Steve Beshear didn’t take on Mitch McConnell. And in Georgia, ambitious Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed knew he was at least a cycle too early for Georgia to turn blue.

I’m not blaming any of these men, by the way, for making the women in question sacrificial lambs or scapegoats. But the truth is, women often get their big “chances” when they run as sacrificial lambs. I should have reined in my optimism about their political potential much sooner.

My faith that white Democratic women could win over red state white women voters was particularly misplaced. CNN exit polls showed that Michelle Nunn lost white women to David Perdue 69-27; Wendy Davis lost them 66-31; Alison Grimes lost them 55-41. For now, the Democrats’ oft-touted advantages with “women” – which should always be described as “all women except for white women” — are outweighed by their difficulties with whites.

Right now, for complicated historical, cultural and racial reasons, white women vote more like “whites” – mostly Republican, though less than white men – and less like other women. Single white women and college-educated white women defy that trend more than others, but any 2016 prognosticating that relies on white women as Hillary Clinton’s secret weapon shouldn’t be trusted unless there’s data behind it. And I haven’t seen any.

What did I get right? Well, lots of things, if I do say so myself, but the most obvious late-cycle story was that Republicans and Fox News were ginning up a minimal Ebola threat as a powerful political weapon  – and too many mainstream media outlets, and even Democratic politicians, participated. In the post-election mayhem, this seemed like too small a point to raise, but as we start bidding goodbye to 2014, I couldn’t resist it. I’d like to say Democrats learned from this one, too, but again, I’m not sure.

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes looked at media overkill on Ebola, especially at Fox and CNN (and also at the fact that it did nothing for ratings, which is heartening). Of course the right was disgusting, with Michael Savage dubbing Obama “President Obola” (the genteel Daily Caller settled for “President Ebola,” trusting their readers to get the African association with the Kenyan Muslim president’s unusual name).

Mainstream media skipped the name-calling, but went along with the hysteria: ABC News dubbed Ebola “the official October surprise,” and on CNN Don Lemon asked if it was “Obama’s Katrina.” Within a few weeks, though, Ebola was gone from our shores (though not from West Africa), the few American cases successfully contained by competent public health officials – but the story of its disappearance (let alone the media’s malpractice) went virtually uncovered.

In the end, CNN exit polls showed that while the public, early on, thought the federal government was doing an adequate job handling the threat, by election night that had shifted – 50 percent of voters polled disapproved of the federal government’s handling of Ebola, while 44 percent approved. Democrats lost so badly it’s unlikely that Ebola made the difference in any race. Still, it’s worth remembering how conservative and even supposedly moderate Republicans used Ebola politically – and how the media let them get away with it.

Sure, Senators-elect Tom Cotton and Thom Tillis were particularly insane on the topic, suggesting terrorists with Ebola might cross the Mexican border and combining the GOP’s three primal fears: terror, disease and swarthy illegal immigrants. But let’s take a moment to remember 2016 contender Gov. Chris Christie’s craven posturing, quarantining “Ebola nurse” Kaci Hickox when she came back from a trip treating Ebola patients. Christie dared Hickox to sue him: “Whatever. Get in line. I’ve been sued lots of times before. Get in line. I’m happy to take it on.”

The dignified humanitarian health worker won the round, getting released to her home in Maine and declaring Christie’s move not the “abundance of caution” he said it was, but “an abundance of politics.” Democrats could learn from Hickox; too many cowered in the face of GOP (and media) demagoguery on the small threat posed to Americans by the disease. Vulnerable Democrats Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Udall of Colorado and Mark Pryor of Arkansas all defied Obama and came out in favor of travel restrictions on people coming from Ebola-plagued nations; all lost their races anyway.

Even in real time it was obvious what Ebola panic was designed to do, but voices who said exactly that were drowned out by hysterics. And when hysteria prevails, the GOP wins. That dynamic trumps the Democrats’ demographic advantages and will for a while. Democrats lose when they’re overconfident about demography and underestimate the power of fear. I was one for two on those issues last cycle; I’ll try to do better next time around.


By: Joan Walsh, Editor at Large, Salon, November 28, 2014






December 1, 2014 Posted by | Democrats, Politics, White Women | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“What Does ‘Black-On-Black Crime’ Have to Do With Ferguson?”: The Issue Isn’t Us; It’s How White America Views Blackness

The answer to the question posed in this post’s title is nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not one thing. Nada. Zip. Zero.

The “Black-on-Black crime” moniker is racist rhetoric functioning under the guise of concern for the state of Black America. People of all races — Blacks included — seemingly love to discuss how not killing our own and being more respectable will alleviate the effects of racism.

It’s dangerous, however, to tell Black people to dress better, work harder or be respectable because it diverts attention from the gaze of the oppressor to the behavior of the disenfranchised. It showcases how deep anti-blackness runs within our society. This highly misinformed line of thinking negates the complex historical implications surrounding a white cop killing an unarmed Black teenager.

Authority has a long history of not respecting Black people so why some folks think becoming more respectable will solve anything is confusing. Our respect means nothing to those who see no value in Black life. They don’t care for or want our respect — they want our compliance. They want our submission.

“Black-on-Black crime” highlights the fear surrounding Black masculinity, the lack of Black femininity, and perceived inherent Black criminality. And, when Black people are shamed for committing the same crimes at almost the same rates as whites, it illustrates how much the white supremacist gaze has been internalized.

The term, which originated in the 1980s, cites Black people as a problem as opposed to poverty, poor educational opportunities, proximity and other factors that lead to increased crime rates within all communities — regardless of color.

Research conducted by David Wilson explains how the media picked up on a new wave of violence within Black communities — which was undoubtedly fueled by job loss, debased identity and “rampant physical decay”– and constructed the misperception that intraracial crime was a malady only plaguing Black America.

But racial exclusivity is apparent in the majority of violent crimes. Around 91 percent of Black victims are murdered by Black offenders while 83 percent of white victims are killed by another white person, based on the most recent FBI homicide statistics.

The “Black-on-Black” crime argument alludes that there’s nothing normal about Black intraracial crime. “White-on-white” violence is simply called crime. Why is Black intraracial violence depicted as some rare Pokémon in crime discussions when it is only slightly more prevalent?

Flawed white perception is not assuaged is these talks — Black behavior is, instead, attacked. This places Black folk in a “Catch 22.” No matter how “respectable” we are or become, as long as our skin is Black we will never amount to white standards though we are expected to be a reflection of them.

Respectability will never be a solution because the issue isn’t us; it’s how white America views blackness.

Mike Brown’s death, and the subsequent lack of justice, isn’t about the myth of “Black-on-Black crime.” It’s about how Blacks are disproportionately, and often unjustly, targeted by law enforcement. It’s about how systemic racism frames the way in which Black people, especially men, are viewed. It’s about how Black corpses are criminalized and put on trial but their white killers often go unindicted.

The circumstances surrounding Mike Brown’s death represent a much larger racially oppressive government and police structure that excuses white killers but refuses to humanize black victims due to the inherent guilt attributed to black people and blackness.

And when you tell Black people to be more respectable and not kill one another, you’re identifying us as savage brutes who deserve to be gunned down due to this assumed lack of humanity.

The protests in Ferguson do not show the supposed intrinsic animalistic nature of Black people. They showcase a community — and reflect a nation of people — tired of constantly being at the mercy of a justice system that sees no value in their livelihood.

Ferguson is illustrating what happens when people are fed up with being targeted. Ferguson is spearheading a movement. Stop detracting from that with baseless “Black-on-Black crime” discussions.


By: Julia Craven, The Blog, The Huffington Post, November 30, 2014

December 1, 2014 Posted by | Black Americans, Criminal Justice System, White Americans | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The GOP’s Color Bind”: Something Tells Me There’s A Glass Ceiling Above This New Crowd Of Diverse Republicans

Beyond noting the irony of an anti-affirmative action party promoting diversity, a New York Times report on successful efforts by state-level Republicans to recruit and elect candidates of color compels us to ask a few questions.

As Republicans took control of an unprecedented 69 of 99 statehouse chambers in the midterm elections, they did not rely solely on a bench of older white men. Key races hinged on the strategic recruitment of women and minorities, many of them first-time candidates who are now learning the ropes and joining the pool of prospects for higher office.

They include Jill Upson, the first black Republican woman elected to the West Virginia House; Victoria Seaman, the first Latina Republican elected to the Nevada Assembly; Beth Martinez Humenik, whose win gave Republicans a one-seat edge in the Colorado Senate; and Young Kim, a Korean-American woman who was elected to the California Assembly, helping to break the Democratic supermajority in the State Legislature.

In Pennsylvania, Harry Lewis Jr., a retired black educator, won in a new House district that was expected to be a Democratic stronghold; he printed his campaign materials in English and Spanish. Of the 12 Latinos who will serve in statewide offices across the nation in 2015, eight are Republican.

“This is not just rhetoric — we spent over $6 million to identify new women and new candidates of diversity and bring them in,” said Matt Walter, the executive director of the Republican State Leadership Committee. “Most of these chambers were flipped because there was a woman or a person of diverse ethnicity in a key targeted seat.”

That the GOP, on a state level, appears to recognize the merits of racial and ethnic diversity is good thing. What about the benefits of ideological diversity?

It is not clear yet where the new Republican elected officials fall on the ideological spectrum. Several who were interviewed for this article, including [newly elected New Mexico State Representative Sarah Maestas Barnes], said they were focused on economic issues like job creation, not social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. Ms. Barnes said that she had made it clear to party leaders that she would entertain good ideas no matter which party floated them, and that she had been promised the freedom to vote her conscience.

Is that promise valid? What happens if these Republicans of color embrace views that might offend certain special interests or donors? What if they take a position ALEC doesn’t approve of? Will they be run out of town, the way heterodox Republicans are on a federal level (think ex-US Representatives Wayne Gilchrest and Bob Inglis)? What if they call out racism in the party?

Something tells me there’s a glass ceiling above this new crowd of diverse Republicans. If any of them step out of line ideologically, they will be bloodied by the shards of that ceiling as it falls on top of them.


By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal, The Washington Monthly, November 29, 2014

December 1, 2014 Posted by | Diversity, GOP, Race and Ethnicity | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Ideology Of Policing”: After Ferguson, Can We Change How American Police React To Potential Threats?

The story of Michael Brown and Ferguson, Mo., is not over, even if the city is calmer today than it was just after the decision not to try officer Darren Wilson was announced. As we look for lessons about race, power and justice, we also have to ask some fundamental questions about the ideology of policing in the United States.

One of the defenses people have offered of Wilson’s decision-making on that day is that if a police officer fears for his safety, he is allowed to use deadly force. And that is indeed a standard, in one form or another, used by police departments around the country. But that standard is near the heart of the problem that Brown’s death has highlighted.

American police kill many, many more citizens than officers in similar countries around the world. The number of people killed by police in many countries in a year is in the single digits. For instance, in Britain (where most officers don’t even carry guns), police fatally shot zero people in 2013 and one person in 2012. Germany has one-quarter the population of the United States, and police there killed only six people in all of 2011. Although official figures put the number killed by American police each year around 400, the true number may be closer to 1,000.

The most common explanation is that since we have so many guns in America, police are under greater threat than other police. Which is true, but American police also kill unarmed people all the time — people who have a knife or a stick, or who are just acting erratically. There are mentally disturbed people in other countries, too, so why is it that police in Germany or France or Britain or Japan manage to deal with these threats without killing the suspect?

This is where we get to the particular American police ideology, which says that any threat to an officer’s safety, even an unlikely one, can and often should be met with deadly force. We see it again and again: Someone is brandishing a knife; the cops arrive; he takes a step toward them, and they fire. Since Brown’s death, at least 14 teenagers have been shot and killed by police; the weapons they were wielding included knives, cars and a power drill, all of which can be obtained by European citizens, at least as far as I know.

If you’ve read parts of Wilson’s account of his confrontation with Brown, you know that the justification so commonly made in cases like this — I was afraid for my safety, and therefore I killed him — is the basis of his defense. You don’t have to be convinced that Wilson should be tried for murder to find his version of events absurd at every level, starting with the assertion that he politely inquired if Brown and his friend might consider walking on the sidewalk, only to be met with a stream of invective and an unprovoked assault from this “demon” with superhuman strength.

Maybe that really is what happened. But it seems much more likely that, as the account of Brown’s friend goes, Wilson began the encounter by shouting at them to “Get the [expletive] on the sidewalk” — in other words, seeking to establish his authority and dominance. This, too is part of police ideology: that one way to keep safe is to make clear to those you interact with that you are the one in control and that they should fear you.

Two months ago I interviewed an expert in police training procedures around the world, and she pointed out that in many other countries, particularly in Europe, future police officers go through much more extensive training than American police do, a large part of which is learning how to calm down agitated people and defuse potentially dangerous situations. American cops, she said, average only 15 weeks of training before getting their badges. Even after they’re on the job, they continue to be inculcated with the idea that in a situation with a potentially dangerous individual, they need to be ready to kill to protect themselves.

Much of the focus of discussions about Ferguson has been, quite properly, on race. And race matters to this question as well; we know that cops are more likely to see black people as potential dangers to their safety. But the question is whether, even beyond the differences in how different groups are treated, we can change the way so many American police approach confrontations, both actual and potential.

Of course, this is easy for me to say. Nobody’s going to wave a knife at me while I sit in front of my computer every day. Being a cop is hard and dangerous work, particularly in places where crime is common. Most officers are never going to fire their guns in the line of duty. Even in Ferguson itself, there are officers trying to approach people as people and not as potential threats. But the fact that police all over the world manage to do the same job while killing barely anyone, while American cops kill hundreds of people every year, means that something is wrong with American policing.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect; The Plum Line, The Washington Post, November 28, 2014

December 1, 2014 Posted by | Ferguson Missouri, Gun Violence, Police Officers | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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