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“A Handy Way To Shift The Discussion”: How Republicans Will Use Scott Walker’s Lack Of A College Degree To Stir Class Resentment

Since we’re now all fascinated by Scott Walker, there’s been some discussion in the past few days of the fact that Walker would be the first president in many decades who didn’t have a college degree. He left Marquette after four years, and though he apparently was quite a few credits short of graduating, most people would regard it as an unwise career move when you’ve come that far. Nevertheless, Walker did fine for himself, and some conservatives are now holding up his example as a triumphant rebuke to liberal elitism. Anticipating the scorn Walker will receive from those elitists, they rattle off lists of the high-achievers who didn’t get a degree, like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg.

From what I can tell, the only liberal who has actually said that Walker’s lack of a degree is problematic was Howard Dean, in an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. But Dean’s one comment keeps getting cited (see Glenn Reynolds or Deroy Murdock or Charles C.W. Cooke or Chris Cillizza) as evidence that “liberals” are looking down their snooty noses at Walker, and by extension, at the majority of Americans who don’t have a college degree.

Which leads me to believe that this is a vein Republicans may be tapping into repeatedly, particularly if Walker becomes the GOP nominee. It wouldn’t be anything new, though if he himself indulged in it, Walker could come by resentment of pointy-headed intellectuals a little more honestly than, say, George H.W. Bush, graduate of Phillips Andover and Yale, who sneered in 1988 that Michael Dukakis represented the “Harvard boutique.” Walker also recently started battling the University of Wisconsin (beloved within the state, but about which voters in Iowa have no similar feelings, I’m guessing), which should help him portray himself as a crusader against the tenured enemies of real Americans.

Anti-intellectualism has often been an effective way for Republicans to stir up class resentment while distracting from economic issues. It says to voters: Don’t think about who has economic power and which party is advocating for their interests. Don’t aim your disgruntlement at Wall Street, or corporations that don’t pay taxes, or the people who want to keep wages low and make unions a memory. Point it in a different direction, at college professors and intellectuals (and Hollywood, while you’re at it). They’re the ones keeping you down. You got laid off while the CEO took home $20 million last year? Forget about that: The real person to be angry at is a professor of anthropology somewhere who said something mean about Scott Walker because he doesn’t have a degree.

There are going to be more than a few Republicans who see in that argument a handy way to shift the discussion away from economic inequality while still sending the message that they’re on the side of ordinary folks. Here, for instance, is Rush Limbaugh yesterday:

The stories are legion of all the great Americans, successful, who have not graduated from college. And of course the two names that come to people’s mind right off the bat are me and Steve Jobs. And then some people throw Gates in there. So there are three people who have reached the pinnacle, who have not gone to college, and those two or three names get bandied about all the time in this discussion.

But it doesn’t matter. To the elites, that doesn’t matter, it doesn’t mean that they are qualified to be in the elite group. And the elite group in Washington is what we call the ruling class or the D.C. establishment, both parties, or what have you. And it’s especially bad in the Drive-By Media. That is one of the most exclusive and I should say exclusionary groups of people that you can imagine.

If you look at it as a club and look at the admittance requirements, it is one of the most exclusives things to get into. It doesn’t matter how successful you are, doesn’t matter how much money you make, whether you’re more successful than they are, whether you earn more than they do, whether you have a bigger audience than they, doesn’t matter, you are not getting in that club.

Something tells me that somewhere at the RNC there’s an intern who just got an assignment to monitor every bit of mainstream and social media she can for any moment where a liberal says something condescending about Walker. Then Republicans can wave it about like the bloody shirt of liberal elitism. It’s a lot easier than coming up with an economic plan that doesn’t involve upper-income tax cuts.


By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect, February 17, 2015

February 20, 2015 Posted by | Education, Republicans, Scott Walker | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“New Report Details Kochs’ Plan To Target Latino Voters”: Just Another Flashy Way For The Koch Brothers To Try To Con Latinos

Late last month, news broke that the network of political organizations tied to Charles and David Koch was developing plans to spend nearly a billion dollars in the 2016 elections.

Given that unprecedented investment, it’s essential to understand precisely what the Kochs and their front groups are doing. Yesterday, People for the American Way released a new report exploring one of these groups: the Libre Initiative, which aims to win over Latino voters for Republicans.

With much of its funding coming from the Kochs, Libre has the resources it needs to try to run an aggressive campaign aimed at making inroads in the Latino community. As Politico reported recently, “Libre, which already has a presence in eight states, plans to expand to Wisconsin and North Carolina this year and increase its staff by about 30 percent ahead of 2016.”

The group’s millions go to promoting conservative causes to the Latino community and using deceptive ads to attack Democrats. Civil rights leader and People for the American Way board member Dolores Huerta described Libre best: “This is just another flashy way for the Koch brothers to try to con Latinos into supporting a party that’s run by anti-immigrant, anti-Latino, anti-environmental extremists. We won’t be fooled; the group has the wrong priorities on the issues that matter most to us.” Though the group is doing all it can to push GOP priorities like blocking an increase in the minimum wage and rallying against clean energy development, poll after poll has shown that the majority of Latinos and Libre aren’t on the same page when it comes to these and other issues.

If Libre stuck to debating the issues, that would be one thing. Libre’s real threat — both to Democrats and to the Latino community — is that it uses its considerable financial resources to say one thing and do another.

In typical Koch fashion, Libre has made vicious, often dishonest attacks against Democrats. It’s ironic, albeit unsurprising, that the Democrats Libre attacked in 2014 included some of the strongest Latino voices in Congress, like former U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego (D-Texas). And based on Libre’s actions in the past, we can count on Libre to pay only lip service to supporting immigration reform. So far, the Libre playbook has gone like this: Claim to support immigration reform, applaud Speaker Boehner for making vague remarks somewhat supportive of immigration reform, and — here’s the kicker — run attack ads against Democrats who actually vote in favor of immigration reform.

Activists shouldn’t hold our breath hoping that the Kochs and other deep-pocketed conservatives will stop their lies. Instead, it’s up to us to push back. PFAW’s doing that by reaching out to Latino voters with a focus on the issues that matter and calling out Republicans when their promises just don’t match up with their votes.

Despite Libre’s deep coffers and its apparent desire to win over Latino voters to the GOP, that party’s offensive anti-immigrant rhetoric and actions continue. Just look at the current Congress, where Republicans are hijacking funding for the Department of Homeland Security to block the president’s executive actions on immigration even though, as Ted Hesson wrote at Fusion, “only a small minority of Americans think that’s the best way to approach the issue” in Congress.

As long as Republicans keep opposing policies that most Latinos and Americans as a whole support, it’s unlikely the Libre Initiative will have much success. But given the deep support and huge bank accounts of its two most important funders, the threat posed by Libre is one that we should all take seriously.


By: Michael B. Keegan, President, People For the American Way, The Blog, The Huffington Post, February 19, 2015

February 20, 2015 Posted by | Election 2016, Koch Brothers, Latinos | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Rudy Giuliani Is A Cretinous Dirtbag”: ‘Obama Never Praises America’ May Be The Single Dumbest Criticism Republicans Have

Not that you needed a reminder that Rudy Giuliani is a contemptible jerk, but the former New York mayor has managed to find his way back in the news in the only way he can, which is to say something appalling. I’m going to try to take this opportunity to explore something meaningful about the way we all look at our allies and opponents, but first, here’s what Giuliani said at an event for Scott Walker:

“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Giuliani said during the dinner at the 21 Club, a former Prohibition-era speakeasy in midtown Manhattan. “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”

O.K., so we’ve heard this a million times before, though usually from talk radio hosts and pundits, but less often from prominent politicians. Offered a chance to clarify later, here’s how Rudy explained himself:

“Well first of all, I’m not questioning his patriotism. He’s a patriot, I’m sure,” the former mayor of New York said on Fox and Friends Thursday morning. “What I’m saying is, in his rhetoric, I very rarely hear the things that I used to hear Ronald Reagan say, the things that I used to hear Bill Clinton say about how much he loves America.”

Obama is different from his predecessors in that respect, Giuliani said.

“I do hear him criticize America much more often than other American presidents,” he told the morning show hosts. “And when it’s not in the context of an overwhelming number of statements about the exceptionalism of America, it sounds like he’s more of a critic than he is a supporter.”

He’s not questioning Obama’s patriotism, he’s just saying he doesn’t love America. Got it—thanks for clearing that up. I’m not saying Rudy is foolish and immoral, I’m just saying he’s a cretinous dirtbag. So no offense.

But what I’m really interested in is Giuliani’s explanation that he “very rarely hear[s]” Obama say patriotic things, but he “do[es] hear him criticize America.” It’s safe to say a lot of conservatives feel the same way. They hear these criticisms of America all the time from Obama! But never a word of praise for this country!

It would be great if the next person who interviewed Rudy (or anyone else making the same claim) asked him to name some of these many criticisms of America that he has “heard” from Obama. Because my guess is that he wouldn’t be able to come up with any. What he has heard, however, is other people saying that Obama criticizes America. If you spend a day watching Fox News, you’ll probably hear that assertion a dozen times. The idea that Obama constantly criticizes America, like the fictitious “apology tour” assertion from Obama’s first term, is something conservatives say over and over but almost never back up with any actual evidence.

If pressed, they might be able to come up with times when Obama has said that prior administrations have made mistakes, like the Bush administration enacting a policy of torturing prisoners. But these aren’t criticisms of America per se, any more than Republicans are criticizing America when they say we shouldn’t have passed the Affordable Care Act. If criticizing something the American government did means you’re aren’t a patriot, then the Republican Party is the most anti-American organization in the world today. Al Qaeda has nothing on them.

Perhaps even more revealing is Giuliani’s assertion that he rarely hears Obama praise America. The truth is that like all presidents, Obama heaps praise on America constantly. For instance, here’s a bit of vicious America-hating from his last State of the Union address:

I know how tempting such cynicism may be. But I still think the cynics are wrong. I still believe that we are one people. I still believe that together, we can do great things, even when the odds are long.

I believe this because over and over in my six years in office, I have seen America at its best. I’ve seen the hopeful faces of young graduates from New York to California, and our newest officers at West Point, Annapolis, Colorado Springs, New London. I’ve mourned with grieving families in Tucson and Newtown, in Boston, in West Texas, and West Virginia. I’ve watched Americans beat back adversity from the Gulf Coast to the Great Plains, from Midwest assembly lines to the Mid-Atlantic seaboard. I’ve seen something like gay marriage go from a wedge issue used to drive us apart to a story of freedom across our country, a civil right now legal in states that seven in 10 Americans call home.

So I know the good, and optimistic, and big-hearted generosity of the American people who every day live the idea that we are our brother’s keeper and our sister’s keeper. And I know they expect those of us who serve here to set a better example.

Look at any major speech Obama has given, and you’ll find similar passages. But Giuliani isn’t lying when he says he doesn’t “hear” that. The words pass through his ears into his brain, but they don’t register, because he decided long ago that Barack Obama is incapable of such thoughts.

And if you read that passage or any of a hundred like it directly to Giuliani, how would he respond? He’d probably say that, sure, Obama spoke those words, but they weren’t an expression of his real feelings; they were artifice, meant to conceal the sinister truth lying deep within. The words tell us nothing. On the other hand, when Obama says something critical about a Bush administration policy, the words reveal his hatred of America.

To a certain degree we’re all prey to this tendency. Once we’ve made our conclusions about who our political opponents are deep within their souls, we want to accept at face value only their statements that reinforce the view we already have of them. But you’ll notice that Giuliani wasn’t only stating his opinion about what lies in Obama’s heart, he attempted to justify that opinion with a statement of fact. Giuliani’s argument is that he concluded that Obama doesn’t love America because he assessed that Obama so seldom says nice things about America. That’s like saying that you think Tom Brady is a bad quarterback because he hasn’t won any Super Bowls. Maybe you have some other reason why you think Tom Brady is a bad quarterback, or maybe you just don’t like him, but if what you offer as the basis of your opinion is his lack of Super Bowl wins, there’s no reason why anyone should take you seriously.

Not that there was much reason to take Rudy Giuliani seriously to begin with. But he’s expressing beliefs that are not just common but absolutely rampant on the right.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Writer, The American Prospect, February 19, 2015

February 20, 2015 Posted by | American Exceptionalism, Republicans, Rudy Giuliani | , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Came Off Like A Confused Former Governor”: Jeb Bungles Facts, Pronunciation In His Big National Security Speech

Likely presidential candidate Jeb Bush delivered a nervous, uncertain speech on national security Wednesday, full of errors and confusion.

Seeking to differentiate himself from his father and brother, both former presidents, the former governor of Florida asserted, “I am my own man.”

But the man who emerged on stage at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs did not sound well-versed in foreign policy.

Bush’s clunky, rushed delivery paled in comparison to the hazy facts in the speech and vague answers he gave during a Q&A session following his remarks.

Speaking of the extremist group based in Nigeria that has killed thousands of civilians, Bush referred to Boko Haram as “Beau-coup Haram.” Bush also referred to Iraq when he meant to refer to Iran.

Further, Bush misrepresented the strength of ISIS, saying it has some 200,000 men, which is far greater than the U.S. intelligence community’s estimates. Last week National Counterterrorism Center Director Nicholas Rasmussen pegged the fighting strength of ISIS at between 20,000 and 31,500.

“Governor Bush misspoke,” Bush aide Kristy Campbell told The Daily Beast after the speech. “He meant 20,000.”

Referring to the leader of the so-called Islamic State, Bush referred to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as “the guy that’s the supreme leader or whatever his new title is—head of the caliphate.”

Bush was also short on describing how he might combat the threat of ISIS. “Taking them out” in partnership with regional allies was about as specific as he got.

“We have to develop a strategy, that’s global, that takes them out,” Bush said. “First, the strategy, you know, needs to be restrain them, tighten the noose, and then taking them out is the strategy.”

Unlike senators who have more opportunities to delve into international affairs, governors tend to have a steeper learning curve on foreign policy ahead of a presidential run.

And for all his bluster about being different from his brother and father, Bush didn’t really espouse a particularly unique worldview.

The similarities in doctrine shouldn’t come as a surprise. A list of his advisers in The Washington Post reads like a who’s who of hawks from the George W. Bush and Reagan administrations.

Bush did coin a new term—“liberty diplomacy”—and spoke of the need for the United States to be engaged around the world. He also endorsed the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance of Americans, which began under his brother following 9/11, as “hugely important.”

At times Bush veered into talk about trade and the economy—two topics he was obviously more comfortable speaking about than issues of national security. As Bloomberg noted Wednesday, Bush has exposure to foreign markets as an adviser to Barclays PLC, he lived in Venezuela, and led trade missions to dozens of countries as governor.

The best-received lines from Bush were the gauziest.

“We shouldn’t be as pessimistic as we are. We’re on the verge of the greatest time to be alive,” Bush said. “We’re in our ascendancy as a nation, we just have to start acting like it again.”


By: Tim Mak and Jackie Kucinich, The Daily Beast, February 18, 2015


February 20, 2015 Posted by | Foreign Policy, GOP Presidential Candidates, Jeb Bush | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Racial Animus, Unconcealed And Unapologetic”: Rudy Giuliani Dives Into Dinesh D’Souza’s Anti-Obama Dumpster

Through a particularly nasty tweet sent Wednesday morning, Dinesh D’Souza once again proved that he excels at being a race-baiting political provocateur who hates President Obama. By Wednesday evening, Rudy Giuliani once again proved that D’Souza’s long-held and wrong-headed suspicions of the president are firmly rooted among right-wing Republicans.

With Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) in attendance at a dinner at the 21 Club in Manhattan, the former New York mayor baldly questioned Obama’s patriotism. “I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Giuliani said, according to a story in Politico. “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.” This folderol is courtesy of D’Souza.

In a 2010 Forbes piece headlined “How Obama thinks,” the rumored philanderer currently serving five years of probation for campaign finance violations wrote that the president’s worldview was inherited from his father. “[T]o his son, the elder Obama represented a great and noble cause, the cause of anticolonialism,” D’Souza scribbled. “From a very young age and through his formative years, Obama learned to see America as a force for global domination and destruction. He came to view America’s military as an instrument of neocolonial occupation,” he later added. “Obama grew to perceive the rich as an oppressive class, a kind of neocolonial power within America….For Obama, the solutions are simple. He must work to wring the neocolonialism out of America and the West.”

So noxious was D’Souza’s argument that David Frum, the neoconservative commentator and senior editor at the Atlantic who served as a speechwriter to President George W. Bush, criticized the author and the magazine that published the screed when he ran his own blog.

Nothing more offends conservatives than liberal accusations of racial animus. Yet here is racial animus, unconcealed and unapologetic, and it is seized by savvy editors and an ambitious politician as just the material to please a conservative audience. That’s an insult to every conservative in America.

The ambitious politician Frum refers to is Newt Gingrich, who also parroted D’Souza’s nonsense in a September 2010 interview with the National Journal that can no longer be found online. That Giuliani is spouting the same nonsense unchallenged nearly five years later says as much about him as it does about the Republican Party. Don’t dismiss Giuliani’s questioning the president’s patriotism because he is an unaccountable private citizen. Have a listen to what Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) said about Obama’s request for authorization to use military force against the Islamic State during a panel discussion last week. Keep in mind that Perry is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and oversight chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.

The conundrum for people like you, people like me and people out in the homeland that feel the same way is that we feel duty bound to do something…..We have a commander in chief who seems not only not ready, not unwilling, but really working collaboratively with what I would say is the enemy of freedom and of individual freedom and liberty and Western civilization and modernity. And in that context, how do you vote to give this commander-in-chief the authority and power to take action when…you know in your heart that, if past performance is any indicator of future performance, that he won’t, and that he actually might use it to further their cause and what seems to be his cause and just drag you as a complicitor in it.

Perry later backed off his treasonous assertion against Obama, saying, “Of course he isn’t collaborating with our enemies.” Yeah, okay.

Perry, Giuliani, D’Souza and countless others are part of a larger problem in American political discourse: the constant questioning of whether Obama not only loves this country, but also whether he would do everything in his power to protect it. Those engaging in this destructive discussion are the ones who “don’t love America.”


By: Jonathan Capehart, Postpartisan Blog, The Washington Post, February 19, 2015

February 20, 2015 Posted by | Conservatives, Racism, Rudy Giuliani | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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