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“A Legacy Of The Old Democratic Pre-Civil Rights South”: Reagan Democrats Of Kentucky, Oklahoma And West Virginia

To no one’s surprise, Bernie Sanders won the Democratic presidential primary in West Virginia yesterday and has so far picked up 16 delegates to Clinton’s 11. While that is not enough to change the trajectory of the race, it produced some interesting information.

As exit polls were released, there was some surprise in a couple of categories. Thirty-five percent of voters in the Democratic primary plan to vote for Donald Trump in the general election. Of those, 63% voted for Sanders. Similarly, a plurality of voters (41%) want the next president to be less liberal than Obama. Of those, 51% voted for Sanders.

Initially pundits attempted to ascribe these results to Clinton’s remarks in March about how she’d “put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” But given that Sanders’ position on coal is the same as Clinton’s, that doesn’t seem plausible. Rye Spaeth provided some information that is probably more pertinent.

“No state has lower approval ratings for the president than West Virginia,” Philip Bump pointed out in February. And unlike embattled Democrats in West Virginia, Clinton has embraced Obama’s legacy and diverse coalition.

It is also worth noting that the population of West Virginia is 93% non-Hispanic white.

Nate Cohn provides some data suggesting that Reagan Democrats (a term that has been dismissed by a lot of people, including me) are actually a large part of the electorate in states like West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky (which holds its primary next Tuesday).

Coal County, Okla., is one of the most extreme examples. There, 80 percent of voters are registered Democrats, yet President Obama won just 27 percent of the vote in 2012. Mrs. Clinton has performed very poorly where the share of voters who are registered Democrats is much greater than the share of voters who supported Mr. Obama…

These conservative Democrats are a legacy of the old Democratic strength among white voters in the South, where many white conservatives nonetheless remain registered as Democrats.

Cohn provided this map to demonstrate.

The conservative registered Democrats helping Sanders have helped him elsewhere, especially Oklahoma pic.twitter.com/MpFfilnwHo

— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) May 11, 2016

These voters have tended to remain registered as Democrats and support local candidates like Sen. Joe Manchin in West Virginia. But they mostly resemble white Democrats of the pre-Civil Rights South. When it comes to presidential elections, they ensure that their states are firmly red. That’s a pretty classic definition of the term Reagan Democrat.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 11, 2016

May 13, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Big Coal, Reagan Democrats | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Protecting Conservative Principles”: Alabama Blocks Local Control On Minimum Wage

It’s been nearly two years since Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) announced that her state would not only ignore calls for a higher minimum wage, but also that the state law would block any effort by local Oklahoma communities to raise wages at the municipal level. In other words, if a city in Oklahoma wanted a higher minimum, the state would effectively declare, “Too bad.”

Last year, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) made the same move, prohibiting local control over minimum-wage increases. And last week, MSNBC’s Zack Roth reported on the identical circumstances playing out the same way in Alabama.

Birmingham, Alabama, raised the city’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour on Tuesday. Two days later, the state took it away.

Alabama passed a bill Thursday, largely along party lines, that bars cities and counties from raising the minimum wage or requiring employers to provide leave or other benefits. Because the law applies retroactively, it wipes out Birmingham’s raise.

Republican legislative leaders fast-tracked the bill in order to pass it before Birmingham’s raise was set to take effect March 1. The GOP enjoys super-majorities in both houses. Within an hour or so of the bill’s passage, Gov. Robert Bentley (R) announced he had signed it.

It’s amazing how quickly Republican policymakers can move when they feel strongly about an issue. In this case, their zeal applied to blocking a city that wanted to raise its own minimum wage.

The L.A. Times reported that there are now 17 states that prohibit their own cities from raising a local minimum wage – because if there’s one thing the right believes in as a bedrock principle of their entire ideology, it’s the importance of local control, except when Republicans decide they actually believe the exact opposite.

As we discussed the last time this came up, contemporary conservatism generally celebrates the idea that the government that’s closest to the people – literally, geographically – is best able to respond to the public’s needs.

But when communities consider progressive measures Republicans don’t like, those principles are quickly thrown out the window.

So, let this be a lesson to everyone: when officials in Washington tell states what to do, it’s an outrageous abuse and clear evidence of government overreach. When states tell cities what to do, it’s protecting conservative principles.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, February 29, 2016

March 1, 2016 Posted by | Conservatism, Conservatives, Minimum Wage, State and Local Governments | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Cop Used Whiteness As His Weapon To Rape Black Women”: He Thought His Badge And His Race Would Protect Him

“Is this the first time you sucked a white cock?” Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw asked as he bent over his victim. “You’re gonna have to give me head or ass or go to jail.”

Holtzclaw was found guilty Thursday night on 18 of 36 counts, including first-degree sexual assault. He now faces up to 263 years in prison.

What’s more remarkable than a police officer being convicted of crimes on duty is that Holtzclaw is “white” and all but one of his 13 known victims were black, including a 17-year-old runaway and a fiftysomething grandmother.

Technically, Holtzclaw is biracial: born to a white veteran police officer and a Japanese mother—but, make no mistake, Holtzclaw claimed to be white.

Don’t take my word for it. Holtzclaw is the most reliable witness to his own life.

He used that “whiteness” as a weapon to ridicule and demean his black victims (“Bet you never ducked white dick,” he told one). He wanted them to know that he was white. He wanted them to know that they were black and therefore powerless. He wanted them to know that nobody—not police, not investigators, not the media, not a jury—would believe them. He wanted them to know that his badge and his “whiteness” placed him among a privileged class to which they did not and could not belong; that it meant he could subjugate them with all manner of defilements with impunity.

The fact that this jury was able to sort through the physical evidence and direct witness testimony to return guilty verdicts on 18 counts is an indication of measurable progress. Historically, all-white juries have almost always meant that there would be no justice for a black defendant or victim. Together, this jury panel spent 45 hours weighing, questioning, and deciding. As the hours stretched on, many began to believe that Holtzclaw might walk away a free man.

It almost never got this far, though. Despite other accusers who previously stepped from the shadows, it wasn’t until a grandmother went to police the night she was assaulted that the wheels of justice began to turn. She testified that she was on her way home from a game of dominoes with friends, when Holtzclaw pulled her over and forced her to perform oral sex. She thought he was going to kill her, she told the courtroom.

Ultimately, the jury believed her and seven other victims. The message from the prosecution team to the victims was clear: Black women’s lives matter.

“We’re going to ask the judge to make sure that this defendant never sees the light of day,” District Attorney David Prater told CNN. “And we’re going to ask him to run consecutive, every count.”

However, five of his victims left the courtroom without justice. We do not know if they were the same women who were forced to come to court in jailhouse shackles. We do not know if they were among those allegedly engaged in prostitution or drug possession. But what we do know is the jury did not believe them—at least not beyond a reasonable doubt.

All too often, how much justice one receives depends largely on the social strictures of wealth, race, and gender. In that regard, even a predator like Holtzclaw probably thought he was walking into a county courthouse holding a pocket full of aces. In his estimation, he was everything they were not: middle class, white, and male.

Based on his own words, Holtzclaw embraced some of the most unfortunate aspects of that privilege. Despite his mixed racial heritage, he bought into and used that sense of supremacy to sexually violate his victims and the oath he swore to serve and protect them. In the end, likely based in part on that, he believed he would get away with it. He was counting on this jury to see his victims the same way he saw them—black, poor, and without value.

He wagered the house on that. The jury called him on the bet.

 

By: Goldie Taylor, The Daily Beast, December 11, 2015

December 12, 2015 Posted by | Black Women, Daniel Holtzclaw, Police Abuse, Violence Against Women | , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Please Do Not Feed The Animals”: State GOP Equates Food-Stamp Recipients, Wild Animals

On the right, it’s not unusual for conservatives to take great offense to accusations that they don’t like people in poverty. It’s not personal, Republicans argue; their opposition to social-insurance programs is about conservative economic theory and the scope of government. There’s no animosity or ill will.

But once in a while, evidence to the contrary rips off the mask. The NBC affiliate in Oklahoma City reported today:

The Oklahoma Republican Party is under fire after a controversial Facebook post.

In the post, the Oklahoma GOP compared providing food stamp benefits for Americans in need to feeding animals at national parks…. The post has received more than 1,400 comments and 1,600 shares.

The state Republican Party’s message is every bit as offensive as one might think. It began by saying the federal “food stamp program … is proud to be distributing this year the greatest amount of free Meals and Food Stamps ever.”

It added, “Meanwhile, the National Park Service … asks us “Please Do Not Feed the Animals.” Their stated reason for the policy is because “The animals will grow dependent on handouts and will learn to take care of themselves.”

The Oklahoma GOP concludes, “Thus ends today’s lesson in irony.”

Let’s unwrap the argument, because it’s offensive on more levels than one.

First, the Oklahoma Republican Party believes food-stamp distribution has reached an all-time high. That’s factually incorrect. In fact, GOP lawmakers have already successfully cut food aid to the poor.

Second, comparing poverty-stricken families to wild animals suggests that for some Republicans, hostility towards the poor is personal. It is about animosity and ill will. Forget the high-minded explanations about economic theory – equating the poor and wild animals is evidence of contempt.

And third, that’s not what “irony” means.

ThinkProgress noted that the state GOP took down the post, posting a classic non-apology apology in which the Oklahoma Republican Party said it was sorry “to those who were offended” and “for any misconceptions that were created.”

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) published a Facebook message of her own, adding that she accepts the state party’s explanation “that he was not intentionally disparaging any group of people.”

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 14, 2015

July 15, 2015 Posted by | Food Stamps, Oklahoma Republican Party, Poor and Low Income | , , , , | 1 Comment

“Killing Experiments”: It’s Time For A Nationwide Moratorium On The Death Penalty

We still don’t know where the drugs came from.

We know they used midazolam and hydromorphone. We know the combination was experimental. And now we know that instead of working, the drugs took nearly two hours to kill Joseph Wood, as he snorted and gasped for air 660 times.

Within a couple hours of Mr. Wood’s death, the state of Arizona started damage control. Last night, Governor Jan Brewer called for an investigation into why the execution had taken so long, but she also released a statement saying: “by eyewitness and medical accounts he did not suffer.”

That’s not what the reporters who were in the room have written. “It was very disturbing to watch… liked a fish on shore gulping for air,” Troy Haydentold The Arizona Republic.

One hour and 57 minutes is horrifically long, even when compared to the recent botched execution of Clayton Lockett, who writhed in pain for 45 minutes while the state of Oklahoma struggled to kill him in May.

It’s time to ask the question: How is it possible that, in 2014, state after state is utterly failing at lethal injection? How can it be, given modern medicine, that it could take hours instead of minutes for states to kill someone?

The answer is that the death penalty simply has no place in this country. As method after method of state-sponsored killing has been deemed barbaric and archaic, states are left scrambling to invent new ways to execute.

Lethal injection started as a seemingly more humane alternative to the gas chamber, the electric chair, and firing squads. But as companies both in the U.S. and in Europe have refused to let the drugs they produce be used in executions, lethal injection has become what is essentially medical experimentation, with novel drugs and doses leading to botched execution after botched execution.

Lethal injection is not modern medicine. Executioners do not have proper training, leading to some prisoners being conscious but paralyzed as they slowly asphyxiate. States are fumbling to find drugs, concocting different combinations every time. In the case of Mr. Wood’s execution, the state used a two-drug combination that had been used only once before, when the state of Ohio took 25 minutes to kill Dennis McGuire.

And these killing experiments are being carried out in secrecy. The hours before Mr. Woods was strapped to the gurney were a frenzied attempt to figure out where the drugs came from before they could be shot into his vein. We still don’t know.

The greater problem underlying the horrific executions we have recently seen is not lethal injection or a matter of simply getting the drugs right. The execution of the innocent, the shameful role of race, mentally ill defendants, poor defense lawyering, and prosecutors who hide the truth — these are the problems that make the death penalty completely inappropriate in the modern world. Yet we continue to slowly pick off killing methods that are simply too barbaric to condone, but the truth is that there is no way for states — for our government — to kill someone that is in line with the type of country we want to be.

Today, my heart is with Jeanne Brown and all of those who loved Debra Dietz. My thoughts are with the executioners who will have to live with the horrific botch they carried out yesterday. This entire story is a tragic one, and it should push us to admit that the path to justice simply cannot include more gruesome violence.

It’s time for a nationwide moratorium on the death penalty.

 

Brian Stull, Senior staff attorney with the ACLU Capital Punishment Project; The Huffington Post Blog, July 24, 2014

July 25, 2014 Posted by | Death Penalty, Executions, Lethal Injections | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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