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“Donald Trump Is A Complete Lunatic On Immigration”: But He’s No Crazier Than Much Of The GOP

Through the power of his bizarre brand of charisma, Donald Trump has moved from the sideshow to take up residence in the main tent of the GOP circus. And in the process, he’s bringing all kinds of interesting issues to light. Even as he is getting dropped by one corporate partner after another (how America will survive without its Trump-branded mattresses is a mystery), he has moved toward the front of the Republican pack, at least for the moment. And while I’m guessing he’s surprised that the backlash to his remarks on immigration has been so intense, Trump’s repellent views can help us understand the issue and why it divides Americans the way it does.

In case you missed it, during the free-style spoken-word performance that was his announcement speech, Trump said, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

In the days since, he has not backed down. While most Republicans haven’t rushed to his defense, he got help from National Review editor Rich Lowry, who wrote in what I guess we could consider a refreshingly candid piece in Politico that “there was a kernel” in Trump’s remarks “that hit on an important truth,” which is that Mexican immigrants “come from a poorly educated country at a time when education is essential to success in an advanced economy.”

As it happens, the truth is that immigrants are much less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans, regardless of what Trump or people like Bill O’Reilly might have you believe. But Trump exposes a particular line of thinking that we don’t usually hear from politicians, even as they know it exists and often seek to pander to it in subtle (or not so subtle) ways.

Most of the discussion about immigration is about policy. Are we spending enough on border security? Do we want to build more fences? Can we get the E-Verify system working better? Should undocumented immigrants get a path to citizenship, and how would it work? While all these question are laden with the values we bring to them, they’re essentially practical.

Then there’s the more fundamental question of how we think about immigration, which is where Trump comes in. At its heart, the question is this: Is immigration good or bad?

Pretty much every Democratic politician, and even most Republican ones, would answer that immigration is good. This is a country that was built by successive waves of immigration from all over the world. America is a land blessed in natural resources and with oceans that have kept foreign invasion to a minimum, but the real reason we have led the world in so many areas is that we’re a magnet for immigrants who continually remake the country. Our dynamism — economic, cultural, scientific, and in so many other areas — has always been a product of the fact that we are a society built on constant immigration.

That’s both because of who immigrants are and how they change the nation once they arrive. People who are willing to leave the place, people, and language they know in order to seek out a better life for themselves and their children are always going to be the kinds of people we want. They’re risk-takers, they’re entrepreneurial, they’re hard-working, and they’re willing to defer immediate gains for long-term success. And when you throw people from diverse backgrounds together, you get a country that is always changing, expanding, and progressing, with new foods, new music, new ideas, and new ways of looking at the world.

That’s the pro-immigration perspective. The other perspective fears that they might be criminals, that they’ll drain our resources, and that they’ll make it harder for native-born Americans to find work. And most of all, it doesn’t want our society to change, no matter where its own grandparents may have come from.

You can value immigration and still want to keep it limited, of course. If you asked the Republican candidates to explain their views, this is where almost all of them would say they come down. They want immigration, it just needs to be more tightly controlled.

I have no reason to doubt that this is what they sincerely believe. But they also know that their constituents don’t all feel the same way. Lots of them just want to shut the door.

A Pew poll from last month asked people whether they thought that “Immigrants today are a burden on our country because they take our jobs, housing, and health care,” or that “Immigrants today strengthen our country because of their hard work and talents.” Republicans preferred the first statement by 63-27, while Democrats chose the second statement by 62-32.

If that’s an accurate reflection of a fundamental distaste for immigrants — not just undocumented immigrants, but all immigrants — among the Republican electorate, it means the politicians who lead their party aren’t reflecting their views. That’s true even if the policy solutions Republican candidates propose are extremely hard-line.

Then along comes Donald Trump, who is willing to say forthrightly what a lot of people believe, that Mexicans (currently the largest immigrant group) are a bunch of no-good dangerous criminals, and we need to just keep them out, full stop. The fact that so many corporations are treating him like he has the plague shows that it’s one thing to advocate conservative policies on immigration, but rejecting the fundamental premise that immigration is good is something few want to associate themselves with.

But more than a few Republican voters like what they hear. Knowing Trump, he probably won’t stop saying it.


By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; The Week, July 6, 2015

July 8, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Immigrants, Immigration | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Guns, Race, And Fox News’ Pathological Denial”: Conservative Media Desperately Searching For Political Cover

Like frantic shoppers running down a last-minute list, Fox News talkers last week desperately tried to cobble together an inventory of reasons why racist gunman Dylann Roof may not have been primarily motivated by racism.

As the conservative media anxiously and collectively searched for political cover, Fox News hosts and guests offered up an array of illogical explanations: Maybe the Charleston, S.C. church killing was an attack on Christians. Maybe it was an attack on South Carolina. Maybe political correctness was to blame. Or “diversity.” Maybe pastors should be armed. (In any case, Fox Newsers agreed, President Obama was being very, very “divisive” regarding the matter.)

On and on, the alternative explanations were offered up in the face of overwhelming evidence that Roof allegedly had set out to kill as many black people as possible because he wanted to start a “race war.” Period. And the way Roof allegedly chose to do that was to open fire, and then reload, in the basement of the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, killing the pastor and eight parishioners.

Like so many Americans, Fox News has been reeling in the wake of the massacre, except reeling in a different way. While Americans recoiled from the raw hate behind the gun rampage, Fox News wrestled with bouts of pathological denial.

Indeed, for Fox News and much of the conservative media, the horrific killings in South Carolina represented a political challenge because the act of mass murder revolved around two topics Fox News has long insisted don’t really afflict America, or don’t require pressing action: Racism and gun violence. That denial has made it nearly impossible for Fox to address the shooting in any coherent way.

For years, Fox News and conservatives have routinely tried to underplay gun violence and even horrific bouts of mass murders — like the Sandy Hook school massacre — insisting the issue represents a “distraction” or a “red herring” touted by liberals to shift the nation’s attention away from truly pressing problems, like the national debt.

But the “distraction” spin is absurd. As Chuck Todd noted on Meet The Press, “50 Americans since 9/11 have been killed in terrorist attacks. We’re up to nearly 400,000 people since 9/11 have been killed by firearms.”

Meanwhile, if current projections hold, for the first time modern American history more people will die in 2015 from gun violence than from automobile accidents. Roughly 20,000 Americans kill themselves each year using firearms. And as Bloomberg News reported, the financial cost of U.S. gun violence in terms of lost work, medical care, insurance, court costs and pain and suffering amounted to nearly $175 billion in 2010.

Despite the avalanche of data, Fox News has led the charge to dismiss the importance of addressing gun safety, and has been especially ruthless in attacking advocates trying to pass new legislation. That hardened political opposition helps explain why the cable channel has been desperately searching for ways to explain away the shocking South Carolina mass murder.

Fox and conservatives have been even more adamant over the years in insisting that Democrats, liberals and minorities over-hype the issue of racism. For instance, on his blog, Peter Ferrara of the Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based conservative think tank, reported in 2013 that “racist attitudes” no longer “have any power or influence in American society.” Indeed, The Wall Street Journal editorial page last week casually announced that institutionalized racism no longer exists.

Racism, like climate change, is denied as part of the larger conservative political reality.

Like Prohibition and the Wild West, racism apparently represents a distant chapter in America’s past and is now filed under “archaeology,” as Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin dismissively put it last year while attacking Obama for addressing the issue at all. (Rubin claimed Americans are “held prisoners forever in a past that most Americans have never personally experienced.”)

Why the rising chorus of racism deniers under Obama? It fits a larger, right-wing political agenda. “Some on the right are deeply invested in the idea that anti-black racism is no longer much of a problem in the United States, and certainly not a problem on the scale of false accusations of racism,” wrote Michelle Goldberg at the Daily Beast.

Added Zack Beauchamp at Vox last week: “basically, the fact that America’s got a Democratic, black president means Republicans have grown more skeptical that structural racism is a huge, enduring problem.” The result? “It’s very difficult for Republicans to talk about racism as a serious, enduring problem without alienating a real part of the base.”

The same, of course, goes for Fox News and not wanting to alienate its loyal viewership base. And so in recent years we’ve heard Bill O’Reilly announce, “We are not a racist nation. […] Fair-minded Americans should be deeply offended, deeply offended that their country is being smeared with the bigotry brush.” Steve Doocy declared, “I don’t know that Barack Obama could have been elected president if he was living in a racist nation.”

And there was this from Fox’s Eric Bolling [emphasis added]:

It’s getting tiring. We have a black president, we have black senators, we have black heads of captains of business, companies. We have black entertainment channels. Where — is there racism? I don’t think there’s racism. The only people perpetuating racism are people like this gentleman from the NAACP, are the Al Sharptons of the world. Let’s move on. Let’s move on.

Let’s move on? Tell that to the people of Charleston.


By: Eric Boehlert, Sr. Fellow, Media Matters for America; The Blog, The Huffington Post, June 22, 2015

June 23, 2015 Posted by | Fox News, Gun Violence, Racism | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Family Values Creeps Have A Tough Week”: Josh Duggar, Bill O’Reilly & The Sickening Hypocrisy Of The Sanctimonious Right

“19 and Counting” could be the name of a reality show on the 2016 GOP presidential field. (Poor Reince Priebus.) But it’s actually the name of that TLC show you never watch on the bewildering Duggar family, headed by Jim Bob and Michelle, who have 19 children (and counting?) because they claim that’s what God wants. There was always something off about them, but now comes news that oldest son Josh Duggar, executive director (until Thursday) of the Family Research Council’s political arm, sexually molested at least five young girls, including, it seems, his sisters, when he was a teenager.

As the details come out, it seems Jim Bob Duggar knew about his son’s abuse for at least a year, and tried to address the problem by taking him to talk to church elders, including a session with an Arkansas state trooper who later went to jail for child pornography. No, I’m not making this up. Then they sent him for “counseling” to a program that consisted of remodeling homes. When police investigated three years later, they wouldn’t let them talk to young Josh. No charges were brought against him.

We don’t know all the details of the wrongdoing of Josh Duggar, who was a minor at the time. We do have a lot of details about what his parents did, and it’s safe to say they handled the problem abysmally, for Josh and their daughters. By the way, it was observed on Twitter that the family’s sanctimonious statement mentions God six times, “daughters” none.

This comes on the heels of court transcripts revealing that bullying patriarch Bill O’Reilly, another purveyor of right-wing family values, used to return to his family and “go ballistic,” in his words, once dragging ex-wife down the stairs by the neck in front of his daughter. The daughter called his outbursts “scary and demeaning,” but also told a counselor she didn’t have much of a relationship with him because he was “never around.”

Of course, that didn’t stop O’Reilly from lecturing African Americans on how to raise their families, blaming black community troubles on “no supervision, kids with no fathers.” Now we know that instead of taking care of their own children, O’Reilly and the Duggars were out telling other people how to take care of theirs.

Or in the case of the Duggars and LGBT folks, telling them they couldn’t have any. With 19 biological kids of their own, the Duggars should have been way too tired for that level of homophobic activism, but they made time for it. And yes, a staple of their screechy preaching has been that LGBT people…wait for it…molest children.

Stellar mom Michelle Duggar made a robocall pushing the repeal of a local anti-discrimination ordinance, arguing that it would allow “child predators” to threaten “the safety and innocence of a child.” Maybe she had a guilty conscience.

Josh himself claimed anti-discrimination laws “protect one group of people over another” and make it hard to “protect the well-being of women and children in our cities.” (Think Progress has a handy guide to “9 times Josh lectured the world on family values before admitting he was a child molester.” Enjoy.)

On the campaign trail in 2012, Duggar told reporters “Our family is like the epitome of conservative values. People connect to us in that way.” Much of the 2016 GOP presidential field has connected to Josh, at least, who seems to have a vanity photo with a most of the 19 (or so) and counting GOP presidential contenders. The entire Republican field is united on the inferiority of gay families, but hails parents like the Duggars, who let their son prey on his sisters for a year without going to authorities.

Meanwhile, Fox News remains silent about the behavior of O’Reilly, because his angry white patriarch shtick is the core of its brand. The NFL is now more sensitive to the concerns of women’s rights advocates than Fox is. It was a tough week for sanctimonious creeps, but it wasn’t so great for the rest of us, either.


By: Joan Walsh, Editor at Large, Salon, May 22, 2015

May 23, 2015 Posted by | Family Research Council, Family Values, The Duggars | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Our God Wins!”: Is Blatant Islamophobia Becoming Mainstream Inside The GOP?

Conservatives are deeply troubled by President Obama’s reluctance to use the words “Islam” and “Islamic” often enough when talking about terrorism. We saw this when many conservatives reacted with condemnation to the White House’s Summit to Counter Violent Extremism, which wrapped up yesterday.

But the importance many on the right are now placing on repeating terms like “Islamic extremists” as much as possible raises a possibility that ought to trouble the GOP: There’s a strain of anti-Muslim sentiment within their party that is growing stronger; what we don’t know yet is whether there’s anyone in the party with the guts to arrest its progress.

Obama doesn’t dismiss such language choices as irrelevant; he has made clear his position that if he uses terms like “Islamic extremism” or “Islamic terrorism” he would be implying not just that groups like ISIS are motivated by their religious beliefs, but that there’s something inherently Islamic about this particular brand of violence. He worries that we would be doing ISIS’ work for them, validating their claim that there is a clash of civilizations going on, with Islam on one side and the west on the other.

I haven’t seen conservatives address this argument directly enough. Do they really think that using the word “Islamic” more to talk about threats to the United States would make those threats easier to defeat? Who knows? What’s apparent, though, is that they want Obama to admit and proclaim exactly what ISIS is trying to convince every Muslim of: that this is indeed a clash of civilizations.

Let’s look at what we’ve been hearing lately. Bill O’Reilly of Fox News is now calling on American clergy to preach “holy war” against the Muslims who threaten our way of life. “President Obama is flat-out wrong in not describing the terrorist threat accurately,” he says. “Muslim fanatics want to kill us. And there are millions of them.” He offered this under a headline reading, “Judeo-Christian Values vs. the Jihad.”

“When I hear the president of the United States and his chief spokesperson failing to admit that we’re in a religious war, it really bothers me,” says Lindsey Graham.

And the war isn’t just about what’s happening in Syria and Iraq, it’s about whether there are too many Muslims here in America as well. Last month, Bobby Jindal went to England to lecture the British about the utterly fictional “no-go zones” that he imagines are blanketing Europe, where sharia law is in force and non-Muslims are not permitted. No matter how many people tell Jindal that the “no-go zones” he’s heard about don’t actually exist, he’s sticking to the story, and warning that they’re on their way to America.

It’s a message that many Republican voters are apparently eager to hear. As Byron York reported, to Republicans in Iowa, “Jindal was warning about the danger of enclaves of unassimilated Muslim populations in an age of Islamic radicalism, a problem they fear could be in store for the United States.” Jindal returned from his trip to hold a prayer rally, explicitly advertised as an event to celebrate Christianity (“There will only be one name lifted up that day — Jesus!” Jindal wrote in a letter inviting other governors to come). At the rally, Jindal triumphantly declared, “Our god wins!”

But as Peter Beinart reminds us, Jindal isn’t even the most nakedly anti-Muslim candidate in the group of possible GOP contenders; that would be Mike Huckabee. Here are some colorful comments he made in 2013:

“Can someone explain to me why it is that we tiptoe around a religion that promotes the most murderous mayhem on the planet in their so-called ‘holiest days’? You know, if you’ve kept up with the Middle East, you know that the most likely time to have an uprising of rock throwing and rioting comes on the day of prayer on Friday. So the Muslims will go to the mosque, and they will have their day of prayer, and they come out of there like uncorked animals — throwing rocks and burning cars.”

Not a lot of ambiguity there. And even people who wouldn’t say that kind of thing are clear about what they do want everyone to say: that terrorism is Islamic. “They won’t even call the threat what it is. How can you talk about defeating an enemy you cannot name?” said Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, in response to the White House Summit.

This is a common refrain: we can’t defeat Islamic terror if we don’t call it “Islamic” at every opportunity. But I wonder what McCaul and the many Republicans who share his opinion think would happen if President Obama jumped up and down and shouted, “Islamic Islamic Islamic!” Would there be some difference in our military or diplomatic strategy? Would we get more help from Muslim countries? What would change?

It’s obviously important to understand how ISIS’ ideas, actions, and decisions grow out of their particular interpretation of Islam. But that’s very different from saying that in order to defeat them, we have to declare to the world that we’re fighting Islam (and of course, there’s nothing ISIS would want more).

What Republicans are now demanding is that we once again make our thinking as simplistic as possible. When Obama says that we need to understand the complex forces — economic, political, religious — that produce the cadre of disaffected young men on which ISIS relies, they shake their heads and say: No, we don’t need to understand anything. This is about Them and Us, and if we just say we’re fighting Them, then we’re halfway to victory.

Every Republican politician, particularly those running for president, should be thinking very carefully about how they want to address this issue in the coming days, because they’ll have to. Particularly given the widespread beliefs within the GOP base about President Obama — that he’s too solicitous of Muslims or may be a secret Muslim himself, that he hates America and sympathizes with terrorists — there will be a great deal of pressure on presidential candidates to show that they’re as alarmed and angry about the Muslim threat as the guy at the next podium.

The real test of how mainstream this kind of anti-Islamic sentiment has grown within the GOP isn’t so much what those like Huckabee and Jindal say — they’ve obviously decided that advocating for religious war is the path to becoming the favored candidate of Christian conservatives (though they seem to have forgotten that the candidate who wins that mantle almost never gets the GOP nomination). The test is whether we see candidates like Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio, who are looking to appeal to a wider group of voters, dipping their toes in those rancid waters.

One Republican candidate has done the right thing in response to this question. In 2011, Chris Christie appointed Sohail Mohammed to a state judgeship, a decision for which he was attacked by some conservatives in the most blatantly bigoted ways you can imagine. The critics called Mohammed, an accomplished attorney, a terrorist sympathizer and someone who would attempt to impose sharia law on the citizens of New Jersey. Christie treated the criticisms with the contempt they deserved. “This sharia law business is crap,” he said. “It’s just crazy and I’m tired of dealing with the crazies.”

But that was then. We’ll see what the candidates do when someone at an Iowa town meeting stands up and says something grossly anti-Muslim, because that absolutely will happen. Will they agree? Will they just try to change the subject? Or will they say, “Now hold on there”? That’ll show us what they’re really made of.


By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, February 20, 2015

February 22, 2015 Posted by | Conservatives, GOP Presidential Candidates, Islamophobia | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Choice Is Yours”: Demand That Those Who Ask For Your Vote Stand Up For Choice As Well

December 30, 1994 was the second day of infamy in this country.

That day, a radical anti-abortion activist named John Salvi murdered two employees–Shannon Lowney, 25, and Lee Ann Nichols, 38–at two Planned Parenthood facilities in Brookline, Massachusetts, and shot and wounded five others. He was later apprehended in Norfolk, Virginia after attacking another women’s health clinic.

This domestic terrorist was found guilty of murder in March 1996; he hanged himself in his prison cell just a few months later. (In 1997, his conviction was posthumously vacated on a technicality.)

Salvi was one of many depraved anti-abortion zealots who couldn’t stand the fact that women had the right to choose in this country. As MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow noted earlier this year:

Some of the people who were witnesses to [the Salvi] shooting were people who were there at the clinic working as clinic escorts because of the hostile and intimidating and occasionally violent intense protests that had been happening regularly outside of those clinics.

That day when John Salvi went into the two clinics in Brookline and opened fire and he shot all those people, there were antiabortion protesters right outside the clinic when he did it, as he did it. At the Brookline Planned Parenthood where he killed a 25-year-old receptionist that day, the protesters outside the clinic [attempted] to intimidate people [by] filming everybody as they arrived to work at the clinic, filming people as they arrived to volunteer, filming people who were working as escorts for patients coming into the clinic. And they filmed the patients, themselves, including taking great pains to be seen videotaping their license plates, trying to be very intimidating and very scary to people so they wouldn`t go into that clinic.

But that day when John Salvi got into that clinic and shot it up and he killed the receptionist and wounded other people, as they brought the bodies of the wounded and the killed out of that clinic that day, the antiabortion protesters in the parking lot, they kept filming. They filmed that, too.

I was seventeen years old when the Salvi shooting happened, and it rattled me to the core. Growing up in Massachusetts, I frankly took legal abortion for granted; in the Bay State, even the Republicans were pro-choice (and still are, as it turns out). I was stunned to learn that there were so many folks who were still angry over the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling…so angry that they would actually result to murder in order to effectively overturn the ruling.

As Maddow has noted over the years, the radical anti-abortion movement has seemingly grown stronger and stronger in the years since Salvi’s terrorist attack. Anti-abortion radicalism has also been legitimized in our media: remember Bill O’Reilly’s crusade against Kansas physician George Tiller, a crusade that only ended when Tiller was assassinated in 2009?

Every day that we allow access to legal abortion to be restricted anywhere in this country, we give aid and comfort to these radicals. Every day that we choose not to stand up in absolute defense of a woman’s right to choose, we give another victory to these deranged deviants. Every day that we turn a blind eye to the importance of defending Roe, we help the haters.

The Salvi shootings were a savage signal that a woman’s right to choose is literally under assault in this country. The radical anti-abortion terrorist network in the United States is far more dangerous than ISIS. These people want to murder democracy just as much as they want to murder doctors who provide reproductive services.

We need to defend women’s reproductive rights with renewed intensity in this country. We need to demand that every man and woman we elect pledge allegiance to the sacred right to choose. We need to insist that Roe v. Wade be accorded the same respect we accord to Brown v. Board of Education.

Twenty years ago, my heart broke for Shannon Lowney and Lee Ann Nichols, two bright, beautiful, bold young women who were mercilessly slaughtered by a right-wing fiend who decided to do with a bullet what he could not do with a ballot. Twenty years later, my heart breaks again, because I know I haven’t been as vigilant in defending a woman’s right to choose as I should have been. I know I let choice slip way down on my list of political priorities. I know I didn’t remember their heroism and their legacy.

Although they are gone, felled by a fanatic, I apologize to Shannon Lowney and Lee Ann Nichols for not being as vigilant as I should have been in defending a woman’s right to choose. I ask their families for forgiveness. I promise that I will stand up for choice, and I will demand that those who ask for my vote stand up for choice as well.


By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, December 27, 2014

December 28, 2014 Posted by | Reproductive Choice, Roe v Wade, Women's Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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