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This is the Racist Child Molester Serial Killer theory of America. Racists -- should they even exist -- are not people we know, but people who existed either in some distant history or in a far off cave somewhere.
- Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic Magazine, August 29, 2011
Those of us beyond a certain age, and many of us much younger, do not have to consult history to recall how gay people were looked upon: more specifically, how we looked upon them. They were the very definition of lowlife. The main reason we did not consider that we were the ones on the side of evil is that we did not think of the issue at all.
Anita Bryant, in her Florida campaign against homosexuality, changed some of that. We were forced to examine the unexamined. Sometimes icy darkness melts a little in the harsh glare of the noonday sun. Even then, it can take time.
Some of us inwardly apologize for our own unthinking acquiescence in the demeaning of gay people. We might find it easier to acknowledge at least the possibility of other unexamined biases. Not everyone has that advantage. Not everyone chooses to see it as an opportunity.
Some racism is like that. It is unexamined except superficially. We skim along the surface of a single assumption. Racists are unspeakably evil. We, and those we include in our circles of friends, are not evil. What could be more clear? They, and we, are not touched by racism, except in our rejection of it.
Most bigotry is not binary, turned off and on as you would a light switch. A line drawn between racism and good will can be fuzzy. Sometimes it is so blurred it is not a line at all. It can be more like a rheostat. The light shines and dims in degrees as the dial is slowly turned.
Few of those who hate the President because he simply does not belong in his position would consider their motivations to be racist. Racism is the province of monsters, on a level with child molesters. In the polite company of Fox News viewers, even those who wear tricornered hats at public gatherings, motives are pure.
The President failed to faithfully execute his own laws, including Obamacare, postponing requirements that some employers provide coverage. He did this without Congressional authorization.
Did President Bush delay enforcement of Medicare Part D in 2006? Well, we don't like President Bush, either. In retrospect. So it was wrong back then as well, even though conservatives and liberals and Republicans and Democrats never thought anything about it at the time. We just know a delay of enforcement is wrong because Obama also did it.
President Obama is attacking religious freedom, requiring employers to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives. Some of that has been struck down by the Supreme Court, but a lot of the oppression remains.
Similar requirements long been a part of state law in Arizona, Montana, North Carolina, Colorado, Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas
That's a lot of states.
Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Washington state, Oregon, Wisconsin, West Virginia, New Jersey, California, Maine, Delaware,
That's a lot of states with no religious freedom.
Maryland, Connecticut, New York, Vermont, Rhode Island, Michigan, and Massachusetts?
That's a lot of states with no religious freedom where nobody objected, ever.
Well just because everyone else does it, does that mean Obama has to do it as well? Besides, the issue is states rights. And ...uh... religious rights. Conservatives didn't protest back then because violations of religious freedom were, not exactly okay when done by states, but brought to our conscience because it was Obama.
Immigration! Obama has gone too far on immigration. Sure, deportations are higher than ever, and illegal immigration is lower than in many years. But that doesn't make everything legal.
Does Obama really have the authority to prioritize deportations? Deporting known criminals before innocent school kids who were brought here are babies? Oh. He does?
How about on the influx of South American children? He's following procedures on refugees escaping violence passed during the Bush administration? Signed into law by who? President Bush?
Some of the issues on which conservatives hate President Obama may seem like a sudden double standard. We may try to look below the surface for some deeper explanation, some more basic motive. But we won't find racism there.
After all, bigotry belongs to the scum of the earth, not good folks with good hearts.
Just ask those of us who deeply regret that we once despised gay people.
Sometimes the best answer to a powerful lie is a powerful truth. Democrats just happen to have one handy.
The madcap Republican contradictions are broadly comedic. But very young refugees are paying for the funny business.
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Tommy Christopher, at the Daily Banter, reports on the Catch‑22 responses of Fox News, as President Obama is sandblasted for vacationing during a crisis, then hammered for interrupting a vacation for a crisis. Almost as if they object to something more personal about the President.
News Corpse looks into the latest outrage expressed by the right. It seems the rescue effort ordered by President Obama in Iraq has not been given an operational name. Pretty much makes it worthless, I guess.
The Intersection of Madness and Reality takes the call, now withdrawn, from Yochanan Gordon for genocide against Palestinians and suggests that author got it partly right, that the US is funding terrorism against Palestinians.
Mad Mike's America brings us a new episode in the Ann Coulter saga. This time, the lovely soul reveals the real reason Christian medical experts are trying to end the ebola epidemic in Africa.
- Jonathan Bernstein, writing for Bloomberg, covers the latest evidence of voter fraud. There is none. Conservatives are trying to cure a non-existent problem with a convenient cure: make it harder for those people to vote.
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The pastor led prayer for every country including our own, for wisdom among world leaders, for peace. Then the church went to silent prayer. A fly buzzed near my head and landed on an open hymnal of a fellow member of the choir. As the congregation went quiet, he slammed the hymnal shut on the fly. The noise went out to the startled parishioners like a shot, followed by his loud, excited exclamation, "Got him."
I got to thinking of my hymnal slamming friend from a few years ago as I re-read the post-election report generated by Reince Priebus after President Obama's re-election. You didn't find many prominent Republican going on camera to say explicitly the party had to find ways to appeal to Latino voters, or at least to avoid expressing bigotry against them.
It was in writing:
It does not matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies.
- Page 8 of the Growth and Opportunity Project (pdf) published by the National Republican Committee in March, 2013.
On television, Reince Priebus talked about going "into the communities." John Boehner discussed the need to reach ... uh ... ordinary people. But the message was clear. The party had to appeal to Spanish speaking voters, and those whites who would be alienated by bigotry.
But Mo Brooks kind of disturbed the piece. His bit of hymnal slamming concerned Obama waging a war on whites. Then it was the Democratic Party. Then it was the Republican Party who, after all was trying to get a few non-white votes.
A lot of white folks believe a war is being waged on them. A lot of white folks are right, at least according to many on my side of the stream. It isn't Obama, though. And it isn't based on race.
Folks like me think the war is waged by those who are descendants of the malefactors of great wealth. Remember the opponents of progress of Roosevelt decades? Their spiritual children are still around: the Koch brothers, Richard Mellon Scaife (okay - recently around), Sheldon Adelson, and the like.
A lot of hatred is generated by the divide and conquer strategy of the evil overlords of corporate greed. But the war is against everyone not on the upper rungs of the ladder. Right?
There are problems with that worldview.
One is that a cynical top-down manipulation may not be entirely cynical. Personal race considerations cannot be entirely unknown to many of great wealth. A sizable segment of the rich and famous come by their prosperity and power through global warming denial, a denigration of the 47 percent, and a celebration of opulence as a value unto itself.
It strikes me as plausible, even likely, that humans whose unimaginably massive paychecks depend on the promotion of absurd beliefs would accept those beliefs with unwavering ferocity. The ragged edge of the dark side of conservatism does find itself interwoven with historical hostility to minorities.
The fact that a Rupert Murdoch promotes bigotry implies a likelihood that a Rupert Murdoch may embrace that same bigotry with sincerity himself. How could he help it?
Another problem with the populist view of top-down manipulation is that so much wingism has grown to be uncontrolled, unfunded, and independent. It comes from the bottom up. The great conservative movement toward extremism has historic roots.
Mo Brooks and his assertion that white people are suffering as a result of minority advancement, not as a result of a playing field tilted toward the wealthy, comes from a zero-sum view of the world. That view is as common in history as influenza. It is especially identified with conservative reactions to every surge of progress since slavery days.
It isn't hard to exploit that view, especially when it is reinforced by an economy that has been slowed by a Congress dominated by the enemies of equality. A war against white people is a powerful lie to those who feel the effects of economic hardship.
Although demographics is a powerful force, conservatives have played the divide and conquer strategy for generations. There seems little actual moral outrage among conservatives against ethnicity based hostility to immigration, hostility to children fleeing violence, or voter suppression laws aimed in part at Hispanic voters. The anger seems generated by another concern.
Ron Fournier and others have spoken out against Mo Brooks, not because his view is inherently immoral. It is because it is tactically ineffective. Little mention is made that ethnic bigotry is plain old, easy to understand, wrong. The objection is that expressing bigotry won't work.
Most analysts seem to think Democrats will win electorally just by waiting for outraged minorities, and those white people whose sensibilities are offended, to reach a combined majority.
A more immediate remedy may be a full throated expression of the truth. We ought to point out the truth because it is the right thing to do. In this case, it is also the smart thing to do.
A responsible populism on behalf of those working hard and still hurting would be justly aimed against those who dominate the halls of power and influence. A powerful falsehood can sometimes be met by a powerful truth.
The demographic ally of truth doesn't hurt. Republicans softly whisper their dismay. Be circumspect. Rethink things. Let us pray. For the sake of all that's holy, be quiet.
But the silence is broken. Folks like Mo Brooks loudly slam the book shut. The value of minorities is to be considered as that of the occasional fly.
His shouts of triumph might awaken the congregation.
And Elizabeth Warren can preach the Word.
“One would not presume that Bob Marley, who wrote the well-known song ‘I Shot the Sheriff,’ actually shot a sheriff,” wrote Justice Jayne LaVecchia, “or that Edgar Allan Poe buried a man beneath his floorboards, as depicted in his short story ‘The Tell-Tale Heart,’ simply because of their respective artistic endeavors on those subjects.”
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From Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post:
It's odd to say but the Wisconsin governor's race may be one of the sleeper contests in the country.
Odd to say because Wisconsin -- and its Gov. Scott Walker (R) -- spent the better part of two years in the national political spotlight after he pushed legislation that stripped public sector unions of collective bargaining rights and then faced down a recall effort in 2012.
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Even as Republicans keep bringing up impeachment, the media is asking White House advisers why they keep making up all this impeachment talk.
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After five years of investigation, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is about to release a 6,300 page report that concludes that the CIA misled government officials and the public about its War on Terror interrogation program by downplaying its methods and overstating the value of prisoners and the intelligence gathered from them.
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There were three of us. One was a gentleman I took to be a little older than I was, although I am now at an age where such a comparison has become hard to judge. And there was a young girl, a high school student. We were to perform a reading from Exodus. Moses encounters the burning bush.
We had only a few minutes to prepare. We sat together at a table and read our parts aloud to each other. I was a sort of narrator, reading the parts of scripture that were not in quotes. I remember that he was Moses.
I wanted to read my part with a sort of calm authority I associate with John Huston late in his career when he turned to acting. I felt the older fellow was a little too dramatic. I hoped he would dial it back a bit.
The girl spoke her part. She was hesitant, stumbling over the word "taskmaster." I asked if she knew what it meant and she asked me to explain. I told her as best I could about slaves and beatings and forcing those working hard to work harder. "I guess you could say a taskmaster was paid to be mean."
She nodded and repeated, "paid to be mean."
Others were in the large meeting room by then. The three of us sat in silence, reading our parts to ourselves. When we were called forward and introduced, I was separated from the other two by a large supporting column. That seemed natural. They were quoting and I was narrating.
The older man did speak less dramatically, more naturally. He was a pretty good Moses. Quite credible. I thought I did my John Huston competently enough.
I could not see the girl as she spoke. The column was in the way. Her words were firm and strong, and she spoke as the voice of God. She began. "I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know their sufferings."
Later, the three of us had a chance to talk for a few minutes. We asked her what school she attended and where she might continue in college. She told us and then added, "if they don't deport me by then."
I don't know what I would have expected. An accent, maybe? Some other cultural difference? She had been brought to America as a baby. St. Louis County was the only home she had ever known. She was simply an American.
I asked if she was in any immediate danger of being taken. No, she had a card allowing her to stay for the next few months. Then another hearing was scheduled, one of many she went through over time.
I thought of her as I read about Congress last week. Conservatives were irritated. Liberals were gleeful. Republicans were all over the place.
The lawsuit John Boehner was filing, the one voted on by House Republicans, accused President Obama of using Executive Orders in place of legislation. They didn't like his delaying parts of Obamacare to give employers more time to comply.
Then, Republicans went on to disagree on just how to get tough against refugee children. They failed the first couple of times to pass legislation on the influx of kids trying to escape gang related death in South America. The administration needs to finance hearings under laws passed during the Bush administration. Children who are in actual danger have a legal right to stay.
Republicans couldn't get enough votes to pass a bill dealing with the kids. John Boehner and other Republican leaders issued a statement shifting responsibility to President Obama. They demanded that he use his executive authority, since Congress couldn't act.
Conservative newsmakers were dismayed. Some wanted the US to get crazy tough with the kids. Ann Coulter suggested the government take the same approach with the children running away from violence that Israel was taking with Hamas. Actually, she was functioning as an echo. A spokesman for the Ku Klux Klan had, a few hours before, already advocated a shoot-to-kill policy against the kids.
Charles Krauthammer spoke for many in expressing his own disappointment on another count.
It is ridiculous to sue the president on a Wednesday because he oversteps the law, as he has done a dozen times illegally and unconstitutionally, and then on a Thursday say that he should overstep the law, contradict the law that passed in 2008 and deal with this himself.
- Charles Krauthammer, July 31, 2014
It did look silly and non-conservatives had some fun with it. It accentuated the foolishness of suing the President over actions the authority for which the law provided him. The fact that the administration does not have funding for judges and hearings, in accord with what law requires, made Republicans look like they were taking both sides against themselves.
On Friday, House Republicans worked into the wee hours. They finally passed legislation whittled down to a fraction of what was intended to deal with the border problem. Anti-immigrant Congressional Representatives Michele Bachmann and Steve King proudly tweated photos of themselves working together to approve language they had demanded.
Inserted into the final Republican version were provisions that would immediately force the refugee kids back to the violence they had fled; that would investigate anyone who volunteered to take the children in, feeding and sheltering them; and that would track down all other children who had been transported here years ago as babies, kids who had grown up here, and take them right away to countries they knew only from textbooks.
I know there is humor to be had in Republicans needing approval from extremists for extremist legislation, and it can seem funny that conservatives demand that President Obama issue Executive Orders exactly one day after filing suit against him for issuing Executive Orders.
Obama vs the Republican Lawsuit becomes Obama vs the Empty Suit.
But, as I think of that high school girl from last year, it's hard for me to dwell on the humor.
She did read very well, as the Lord spoke about the people of ancient times, the ones who suffered.
And the ones who were paid to be mean.
Who wins when bumper stickers come out against complex truth?
Republicans work toward removal from office for crimes and misdemeanors which will be determined at some later date.
Immigration - Demonstrations of Empty Souls (6:05) - Click for Podcast
For Original Text
Immigration: The mirror image of Paul Ryan's prediction comes true. The tragic result of full stomachs and empty souls.
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At Mad Mike's America, Mike seems skeptical, but he did hear it from Michelle Bachmann her own self. The real reason Obama manufactured the border crisis.
At The Moderate Voice Tina Dupuy suggests that the stream of children fleeing from violence are not, in accord with the law, illegal immigrants.
PZ Myers, writing for Pharyngula, has figured out, with a little help, why science is hard for ordinary people. It's largely because so many scientists find distasteful those who can communicate with lower life forms. Like the rest of us.
The ever entertaining Tim McGaha at Tim's Thoughtful Spot continues teaching us technological history. His latest story is how the development of astonishing automotive speed hit the Holy-Mother-of-GOD problem, and won.
- Oldest lame story ever (mine). Last Of The Millenniums brings us an amazing optical illusion. Stare long enough, you'll be able to make out a giraffe. I'm so ashamed.
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Most citizens have the same approach toward economics that they have toward politics. They act as if they have their own lives to lead, quite independent of Washington.
Politics is a zero sum game. For every winner there is a loser. With primaries and third parties, there are usually several losers. So the backbiting is prolific. Even policy decisions that may come from deep seated conviction are interpreted routinely with an assumption of nefarious motive.
I wish I remembered the name of the host of a late night public affairs broadcast on POTUS, a part of Sirius Satellite Radio. She has a delightfully irreverent cynicism. As one guest remarked on some politician's political beliefs, she reacted. "That is soooo cute!" she said gently. "You actually think they act out of principle."
Her casual, and funny, dismissal of honor is at the heart of American political skepticism. I don't share it, at least not completely. I am sure many Democrats are concerned with civil rights, poverty, and middle class opportunity.
Sincere motivation is not all on one side. Many Republicans appeal to bar stool conservatives because they themselves don't allow mere factual ignorance to interfere with intoxicated opinion.
Politics tends to be boring for the same reason very bad daytime dramas are boring. They are long periods of predictability occasionally broken up by vitriolic creativity. How many ways can one vile thug twist every jot and tittle to smear another borderline psychopath?
Policy isn't any better. There aren't many Ronald Reagans or Elizabeth Warrens around to break down policy arguments into digestible bites. I hate it when some expert, especially one with whom I agree, goes into policyspeak. Acronyms make my teeth itch. You won't persuade people about policy if your real objective is to convince them you know all the intricate crevices of wonkdom.
Even the basic basics of basic economics escape us. Most accepted, proven, economic approaches that have worked since GDP has been measured are counter-intuitive. They are overtaken by the easy-to-understand formulations that have not worked. Bumper stickers will always rule when they oppose documented studies.
If families have to tighten their belts during hard times, then government should as well. That's easy to understand, even easier to support. It may lead us into recession that borders on depression, but that's in the future, unknown except to those who dwell in the Olympian heights.
Towers of ivory have their expert denizens, but their message is difficult, even when the virtue of clarity is attempted. Government should run deficits during hard times, the bigger the better. Government should pay it back during the resulting times of prosperity. That's the way real mainstream economics works.
What politicians don't understand, especially liberal politicians, is that you can't straddle the fence on some policies. The only way folks will vote for a policy they don't understand is if it is working so well it is not worth thinking about.
After the thump and scorch brush fire of the final Bush years, Democrats had barely enough votes to pass an economic stimulus that could keep American from the canyon floor. Economists told us that the stimulus needed to be substantial.
Much later, when firm data came in and the numbers were revised for the last time, it turned out the economy had been falling almost three times as fast as everyone had thought. We had already gone off the cliff. We just hadn't gotten to the bottom yet.
On the night of President Obama's inaugural, Republicans had decided on their own plan. This is documented, acknowledged by organizers of the meeting of high level conservatives. Their plan was to work like dogs against everything the new President might propose, no matter what it was.
That left Democrats to deal with the crisis.
A few national Democrats got scared of the stimulus. They insisted on a centrist approach. They felt that voters would be comforted if the stimulus was cut back from 900 billion dollars to 750 billion.
What voters eventually reacted to was what seemed like a massive stimulus that Republicans insisted had not worked. It still looked massive, and certainly looked like it hadn't worked. Unemployment was better, but it was still horrible compared to what we were used to.
Cutting back the stimulus was bad policy and worse politics. Democrats lost their majority in the House of Representatives, and their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Most of those defeated were the timid centrists.
A new survey through the University of Chicago brings in new evidence. 37 economists offered their separate analyses. 36 concluded that the American people were in better shape by the end of 2010 than they would have been without the stimulus. More people were employed as a direct result. Those separate conclusions came from 36 recognized experts. Only one economist differed.
Comparing what happened to what would have happened if... That is not an easy demonstration. But the pattern is clear. The stimulus, weakened as it was, kept us from a catastrophe that would have been epic.
The facts won't change the politics much. The economy is coming back to life years later than it should have, and would have if the stimulus had been what it started out to be. The whittled down program is still thought of as massive.
And most of us still read those bumper stickers on the way to the jobs we might not have had if Republicans had gotten their way.
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I remember the sort of helpless feeling many of us had in those days of conservative ascendancy. The early 1970s were a sort of tug of war between despair and retrenchment. Endless conflict in Vietnam, a rollback of Civil Rights, the disrespect for individual rights.
It wasn't that we hadn't felt the rumblings.
We had all heard of the Watergate break-ins. Low level operatives of the Republican campaign had gone renegade and, unknown to managers, had burglarized the offices of the Democratic National Committee. Another burglary was less well known. Someone had broken into the offices of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist.
But very few of us thought any of that would lead to anyone who worked in the White House. That President Nixon would have been directing it - breaking and entering or covering up or anything else - was unthinkable to those of us who imagined ourselves on the sane side of the lunar orbit.
The degree of certainty that was required to imagine President Nixon as a guilty party was higher than the clouds. The sky eventually got closer as evidence became hard to avoid.
But only when tapes were discovered, when the President himself could be heard directly ordering crimes, did the dominoes fall. Some orders were carried out: break-ins, cover ups. Some of the President's orders were received but were never actually acted upon. The Brookings Institution, for example, was never actually firebombed as President Nixon had directed.
As astonished lawmakers listened for themselves, conservatives eventually led the way. President Nixon became former President Nixon.
Here in Missouri, young dynamic Governor Kit Bond and his crusty old Lieutenant Governor Bill Phelps, both Republicans, had yet another falling out.
Kit Bond was part of the new Republican generation, open minded, pro-civil rights. He supported the Equal Rights Amendment for women. He rooted out old discriminatory laws. He led education reform involving parent participation.
Bill Phelps was older, crusty, and suspicious of anything newer than the Hoover Dam.
The split on Nixon was a surprise. Crusty old Bill Phelps demanded the President resign. Now! Young Kit Bond defended Nixon to the bitter end.
Two decades later, impeachment didn't work so well for opponents of President Bill Clinton. In 1998, Republicans became the first opposition party in 176 years to lose congressional seats.
At least they had a modicum of legality to hang themselves on. President Clinton had lied in a legal deposition. He was told to give the identities, for the record, of all women with whom he had a romantic contact while in public office.
As I saw it, he should have suggested the interrogator perform an anatomical improbability. Instead of refusing to answer such a question, he lied on the record. That was then.
Today, the attitude of the Republican base toward President Obama is transparent. The polite fiction is that he is opposed for policy reasons. In fact the evidence supports a different conclusion. From the top down and from the base up, the record is one of motivations that are far less pristine.
For many of us, the election of our first black President was a healthy repudiation of the most shameful parts of our history. It seemed like evidence the page had turned to a new chapter.
But, from the beginning, that was not a universal view. There are many, too many for comfort, who regarded Obama as someone who simply did not belong, as a usurper, an outsider, an alien, as some sort of horrible accident.
The most visible part of that opposition comes from an incautious Republican membership. Racist signs at protests are not an aberration. They are a fact of conservative life. They are part of the Republican foundation - the base.
And the view from that base seems to mirror the view from the top. The idea that opposition to the President is a natural result of some flaw in his own policy or personality is counter to documented evidence.
On the very night of President Obama's first inauguration, a group of top Republican lawmakers and strategists met. The country was in peril, teetering on the edge of a mammoth economic depression rivaling that of Herbert Hoover.
Hours into the new presidency, the conservative group decided to bring Obama down, no matter what it took. They determined they would obstruct, in every way possible, anything and everything the new President would ever, could ever, propose. It did not matter what, they would oppose it.
The newest mantra from the base is coming slowly to the surface of public discussion in Republican circles. This time, impeachment needs nothing more than a vague sense that something is wrong. There are no specifics. But the feeling is strong that all of the debunked scandals must still contain something of substance: Benghazi, the IRS, Obamacare, the economic bailout, something has to provide grounds for removal from office. The impostor must be turned out.
The case for impeachment, when it is attempted, will follow a familiar pattern:
President Obama is guilty.
The only decision left is: Guilty exactly of what?