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October 22, 2013 9:41 AM   Subscribe

Did Race Play a Role in the Shutdown? Republicans from the House districts that have the highest levels of racial resentment were about 60 percentage points less likely to vote for the deal to end the shutdown than Republicans from districts with low levels of racial resentment.
posted by MisantropicPainforest (92 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Duh?

Sigh, let me try again. Yes, of course race has been a huge component in the opposition to health care reform from the beginning. You have a black president pushing for legislation that will provide low-cost/free health care to (among others) poor black people. The Republican party has through dog-whistles, both subtle and blatant, been courting the racist white voter for decades.

My only surprise is that this didn't get worse. Apart from the rebel flags that appeared at a protest, I don't think we got to the ugly depths that came up toward the end of Obama's first campaign.
posted by Eddie Mars at 9:47 AM on October 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


I invoke Betteridge's Law.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:49 AM on October 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, some white americans are still flipping out about a black president who doesn't agree with them.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:51 AM on October 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Correlation does not prove Caucasian.
posted by bitslayer at 9:51 AM on October 22, 2013 [124 favorites]


Betteridge is tellin' me no! But my body – my body's tellin' me yea-hess!
posted by aw_yiss at 9:53 AM on October 22, 2013 [12 favorites]


The final paragraph of the article:
To be sure, these results do not imply that the shutdown was primarily driven by racial prejudice against the president. Indeed, Republican members’ own ideologies were the strongest predictor of how they voted on the shutdown. At the same time, though, the results suggest that the much publicized divisions within the Republican Party correspond to a divide in their constituents’ racial attitudes.
So, yeah, this isn't really about race. Except maybe it is, but not in the way the headline makes it out to be.
posted by hippybear at 9:55 AM on October 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


I invoke Betteridge's Law.

Did you even read the article? I too, envoke Betteridge's Law. Because the answer is, no, no you did not read the article.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:55 AM on October 22, 2013 [15 favorites]


Shoot, even my Fox New watching, Republican voting Mom acknowledges that a lot of the Obama anger is all about race.
posted by zzazazz at 9:56 AM on October 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


So, yeah, this isn't really about race. Except maybe it is, but not in the way the headline makes it out to be.

So ... race played a role? Like the headline says?
posted by gauche at 9:56 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Could someone explain the Y axis better than the article does? "Probabilities based on logistic regression." This doesn't show how the representatives actually voted, but how probable their vote was?
posted by Snerd at 9:57 AM on October 22, 2013


I think we've found rare exception to Betteridge's law of headlines.
posted by leotrotsky at 9:58 AM on October 22, 2013


Yeah, some white americans are still flipping out about a black president who doesn't agree with them.

Some appear to be flipping out about a black president who has the gall to disagree with them.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:02 AM on October 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


The Y axis is supposed to represent the probability that a representative with a given racial resentment score would vote yes or no (where these probabilities were estimated using logistic regression on the actual data). They then plotted each House district according to their racial resentment score, so no, the Y axis does not show how they actually voted, only how their model predicts they would have. I can't seem to find how their predictions match what actually happened, though.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 10:02 AM on October 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Republican politics is and has been predicated on identity politics and amplifying the fear of a white electorate that feels it's privilege increasingly under threat from an emerging minority majority. It's just a continuing trend of playing the have-nots against each other in this case it's poor and middle-class white voters (increasingly middle-aged or older) against minorities. It's been a very successful electoral strategy for decades especially as racial and class based conflict has increasingly driven the white electorate into suburban enclaves which are intensely segregated in many cases.

Lots of white Americans feel increasingly under threat, really this is just an erosion of privilege but to them especially in light of a disappearing middle class and deindustrialization of the US it's easy for demagogues to point to the "other" as the source of the problem.

Of course it's not just used in the US, right wing identity politics has been successful across much of Europe as fear and distrust of immigrants and minorities has been hand and hand with a decline in white privilege.
posted by vuron at 10:06 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is Betteridge's Law universally applicable?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:07 AM on October 22, 2013 [28 favorites]


Could someone explain the Y axis better than the article does? "Probabilities based on logistic regression." This doesn't show how the representatives actually voted, but how probable their vote was?

The y-axis for the raw data -- how they actually voted -- wouldn't be very informative, since there would only be points at zero or one.

Logistic regression or logit is a way of simultaneously analyzing multiple things that affect a 0/1 binary outcome like voting Aye or not; probit is a slightly different way to do the same thing. Logit or probit look at who voted Aye and who voted Nay, and what the values of the other relevant variables were for them, and arrives at the Best Guess for how different factors affect who votes Aye and who doesn't, all else equal. You get back a big table of coefficients (effects) and standard errors (uncertainty about those effects). One thing you can do with the results is generate predicted probabilities of whatever a "1" means.

While the most obvious way to think of these predicted probabilities is that they're the probability of voting yes, maybe a better way is to think that if you have 100 observations with a predicted probability of Aye of 0.6, you'd expect 55-65 of them to vote Aye. If you have 100 observations with a predicted Aye probability of 0.8, you'd expect maybe 78-82 of them to actually vote Aye.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:11 AM on October 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


Racial biases sadly can be more than a conscious effect. Studies at Harvard's Project Implicit have shown that these feelings can operate at a level outside of our consciousness. Its entirely possible what we're seeing here is related.
posted by Jernau at 10:13 AM on October 22, 2013


The shutdown was the logical conclusion of The Southern Strategy.
posted by Cookiebastard at 10:13 AM on October 22, 2013


Seems to me like an all-around fuck-the-Other attitude oughta be a good predictor both of anti-Obamacare positions and of racial resentment.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 10:13 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Son, it's racism all the way down.
posted by tommasz at 10:14 AM on October 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


The shutdown was the logical conclusion of The Southern Strategy.

Oh man, if only. Conclusion implies it's at an end.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:16 AM on October 22, 2013 [13 favorites]


Yeah, some white americans are still flipping out about a black president who doesn't agree with them.

Some appear to be flipping out about a black president who has the gall to disagree with them


Or just basic cognitive dissonance. Black president does not compute. This can't be America. America has been taken over by blah-blah-blah conspiracy.

and so on
posted by philip-random at 10:17 AM on October 22, 2013 [14 favorites]


Someone will inevitably come along and map any of the ideological drivers of the tea-bagger wing-nuts onto the shut-down because yes, it is "Us against them" all the way down.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:18 AM on October 22, 2013


Seems to me like an all-around fuck-the-Other attitude oughta be a good predictor both of anti-Obamacare positions and of racial resentment.
But wouldn't that require accepting the premise that the shutdown was about the ACA in the first place?
posted by aw_yiss at 10:22 AM on October 22, 2013


If it's America and you ask "Does race play a role?", the answer is yes. How big a role is debatable, but yes.
posted by lumpenprole at 10:29 AM on October 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


"Did Race Play a Role in [Any Aspect of American Society Ever]?"

Yes. Yes, it did.
posted by Etrigan at 10:29 AM on October 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


Way back when the fight for the ACA was in its early stages, I recall some politician from the South -- don't know if he was at the state level or the national level -- saying that he opposed ACA primarily because "there are 30 million black people in my state."

This comment went unremarked upon. (My google-fu is utterly failing to find it, so it may have been memory-holed.)

It's kind of weird (and maybe sad) that I find myself trying to derive comfort from the Stuart Stevens (strategist for Mitt Romney) quote in the article where he acknowledges that "there's certainly racism left in America." I mean...jeez, I guess that's progress since normally the party line is to deny, deny, deny, deny, deny that race is ever a factor in anything except when you want to point out that the Democrats are the "real" racists.
posted by lord_wolf at 10:32 AM on October 22, 2013


People, people, people. All we have to do is leave a voicemail for Andrew Ti, and he'll tell us if this shit is racist or not.
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:33 AM on October 22, 2013


Is the GOP inherently racist?
posted by Artw at 10:38 AM on October 22, 2013


Obamaphobia
noun
The persistent, irrational fear that somebody, somewhere is receiving a government benefit that you are not.
posted by gagglezoomer at 10:39 AM on October 22, 2013 [28 favorites]


Race played a role to the extent that people see Obamacare as a handout, because the "Wellfare Queen" myth is alive and well.
posted by spaltavian at 10:57 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is every question regarding the GOP exempt from Betteridge's Law?
posted by ogooglebar at 11:04 AM on October 22, 2013


The government shutdown and the Republican war on Obamacare: it’s the racism, stupid
Yesterday in this space, Ed Kilgore noted that “Republican House members from districts with poor and black folks—or next door to heavily poor and black areas—are very likely to be more savagely opposed to Obamacare than anyone else.” And that is not a bug, it’s a feature. As Ed explained:
[Y]our average very conservative southern Republican House member doesn’t much think of black folk as “constituents.” And they are elected not to tend to black folks but to keep them from “looting” the resources of the GOP Member’s real constituents, via Obamacare or other socialistic means.
[Snip]
They aren’t really representing those people. They’re keeping them down.
Just this week, pollster Stan Greenberg released a new report on GOP voters, based on focus group research. It’s full of fascinating stuff, but what is most relevant here is what the report has to say about how large racial animus continues to loom in the imagination of the GOP base:
We expected that in this comfortable setting or in their private written notes, some would make a racial reference or racist slur when talking about the African American President. None did. They know that is deeply non-PC and are conscious about how they are perceived. But focusing on that misses how central is race to the worldview of Republican voters. They have an acute sense that they are white in a country that is becoming increasingly “minority,” and their party is getting whooped by a Democratic Party that uses big government programs that benefit mostly minorities, create dependency and a new electoral majority. Barack Obama and Obamacare is a racial flashpoint for many Evangelical and Tea Party voters.
Some things never change, do they?
posted by zombieflanders at 11:06 AM on October 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


The New Jim Crow
posted by stbalbach at 11:20 AM on October 22, 2013


If I may quote the spiritual father of current Republican strategy, Lee Atwater:

Atwater: You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can't say "nigger" — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger."
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:39 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


It may be more subtle than that. Even if you don't believe that those who perpetuated the shutdown were themselves motivated out of racism -- and at this point I think it's a more widespread xenophobia that includes people of different sexual orientation, religion, sex, cultural background and education level in addition to race -- it seems entirely logical to me that those areas of the country with the highest levels of xenophobia will tend to elect politicians with extreme regressive partisan philosophies. So, while it may not be the case that those who voted against ending the shutdown did so because they were racists, it's certainly the case that racism played a part in how they got elected in the first place. Some of them may be xenophobes, some of them may be cynically using xenophobia to get elected and/or further some agenda, and some of them may simply be proponents of political and economic philosophies that are informed by and/or appealing to xenophobes.
posted by slkinsey at 11:39 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is the GOP inherently racist?

I think
Andrew Ti has this question covered.
posted by Cookiebastard at 11:40 AM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


What does this have to do with the new jim crow?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:40 AM on October 22, 2013


The root cause of the Shutdown was gerrymandering- creating Congressional districts primarily composed of isolated, angry, reactionary, crazy people.

Racism is certainly in the mix; that's impossible to deny. But "racism" is not a simple, cut-and-dried answer every time anyone anywhere disagrees with Obama. Specifically, this is something certain members of Congress did, for a variety of reasons, and they should be held personally responsible. Blaming an abstract boogyman like "racism" does not get at the real causes of what happened here. Loony racists waving Rebel flags are idiotic and repugnant, but they're not Congressmen, they're not lobbyists, they're not funneling money into Congress, they're not organizing the Tea Party caucus for their personal gain.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:50 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


drjimmy is closer to the truth. Thing is, race was what got Obama elected in the first place. Do you honestly think a resume as thin as his would have caught fire in 2008 if Obama had been white?

(Of course, it helped enormously that McCain/Palin was the opposition. What would have been really interesting is if the Republicans had managed to talk Colin Powell into running in '08.)
posted by IndigoJones at 11:58 AM on October 22, 2013


The root cause of the Shutdown was gerrymandering- creating Congressional districts primarily compared, of isolated, angry, reactionary, crazy people.

I don't really get how that works.

Usually the way you gerrymander is to "lose big, win small". Ideally you want to win all your districts with say 51% of the vote, while your opponent wins all his with 99% of the vote. That way you maximize your voter numbers. You opponent meanwhile wastes his voters on already safe districts.

Gerrymandering done well surely ought to produce less-extreme districts for the gerrymanderers.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 12:01 PM on October 22, 2013


But "racism" is not a simple, cut-and-dried answer every time anyone anywhere disagrees with Obama.

Is ANYONE, at all, saying this?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:01 PM on October 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


Thing is, race was what got Obama elected in the first place.
Yes, that explains ALL the Black Presidents.

Do you honestly think a resume as thin as his would have caught fire in 2008 if Obama had been white?
Yeah, if only he had owned a baseball team.
posted by Cookiebastard at 12:06 PM on October 22, 2013 [24 favorites]


Thing is, race was what got Obama elected in the first place. Do you honestly think a resume as thin as his would have caught fire in 2008 if Obama had been white?

Oh, please, not this Foxbabble. Ronald Reagan had been an elected official for 8 years when he was elected President. Dubya served for 6. Obama had been an elected official for 11 years when he became President.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:08 PM on October 22, 2013 [33 favorites]


but cowboy actors trump sitting senators every time! "all hat and no cattle" doesn't apply because HE WORE A COWBOY HAT PEOPLE GEEZ how can you not fall in line behind a guy like that!
posted by radiosilents at 12:20 PM on October 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


The root cause of the Shutdown was gerrymandering- creating Congressional districts primarily composed of isolated, angry, reactionary, crazy people.

In retrospect, this was Obama's biggest mistake, not putting much effort into the 2010 election.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:30 PM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, "Obama".
posted by Artw at 12:35 PM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


The root cause of the Shutdown was gerrymandering- creating Congressional districts primarily composed of isolated, angry, reactionary, crazy people.

Nah. At most, gerrymandering was a very minor component.

Seth Masket just pointed out a useful comparison -- the Congressional Black Caucus. The CBC represents districts that are about as far to the left of the average Democratic district as the Teabagger districts are to the right of the average Republican district, and just as gerrymandered.

The differences are first that CBC Representatives don't use shutting down the government or defaulting on national debt as bargaining chips; instead, they extract boringly normal concessions from the Democratic mainstream when votes are close. And, second, when CBC members do crazy-seeming things (Seth uses the example of Maxine Waters and "Crack is a CIA plot!"), they get somewhat marginalized and aren't given plum committee assignments and don't tend to appear as Democratic spokespeople. But when Teabaggers do their loopy shit, Republicans run to normalize or even outdo them because of their worries about conservative purity.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:47 PM on October 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


Do you honestly think a resume as thin as his would have caught fire in 2008 if Obama had been white?

In 2008? In 2008, the Democrats could have run a ham sandwich or Pauly Shore and beaten the shit out of McCain.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:51 PM on October 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


What is the ham sandwich's position on drones?
posted by desjardins at 12:58 PM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mayonnaise and a little mustard.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:07 PM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Please note: so far the ham sandwich seems to have a more nuanced platform than does Pauly Shore.
posted by Cookiebastard at 1:09 PM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I wonder if the Republicans even really know why they hate Obama anymore. I mean OMG Black President! is old news, and no reeducation camps have been forthcoming. Maybe that's why they are ascribing all sorts of evils to ACA, because until it's implemented, you can fantasize that this was his sinister secret plan all along, and everyone who uses it will get the Mark of the Beast, or find themselves shuttled off to a death panel.
posted by emjaybee at 1:20 PM on October 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Mayonnaise and a little mustard.

American mayo and mustard.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:25 PM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is probably an exceedingly obvious thought, but I think I've just realized something. People oppose the President's policies not only because he is black, but also that that think he will favor black people over white people?

And so the underlying idea is there that presidents favor those citizens of their own race.

So, since all the other presidents were white, the people who think President Obama will naturally favor black people believe that all the other presidents favored white people more, so they accept that we live in a racist culture and only object when they think that it doesn't benefit them.

I had understood all the dots before, but I'd just not lined them up.
posted by winna at 1:28 PM on October 22, 2013 [12 favorites]


Sometimes I wonder if the Republicans even really know why they hate Obama anymore.

I don't think all that many of the politicians really do hate him (although it benefits them to have their constituents hate Obama). What I think it is, is that the Republicans have shaped the political and economic landscape of the United States for the last 50 years to such an extent that someone like Obama (right of center by any realistic measure) can be unironically portrayed by them as a raving socialist and viewed as very left-leaning by most of the electorate. This history has resulted in many Republicans thinking that they are entitled to get things their way. Their response to any political setback in the White House has therefore been outrage and the resolution to fight with every dirty trick at their disposal and resist cooperating at all costs in order to thwart the Democratic president to the maximum extent in the hopes that his term will be short and his influence minimized. One reason they are fighting so hard over the ACA is because it is probably the most left-leaning piece of major economic legislation passed in this country since the New Deal and the Social Security Act.
posted by slkinsey at 1:34 PM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


... the underlying idea is there that presidents favor those citizens of their own race...

This is true (and also true for gender) except that White Male presidents are by definition lawful neutral and thus color/gender blind. Check your Monster Manual for more details.
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:34 PM on October 22, 2013 [12 favorites]


People oppose the President's policies not only because he is black, but also that that think he will favor black people over white people?

IIRC, when John F. Kennedy was president there was lots of grumbling over the fact that he was Catholic and, therefore, the pope would now be running things.
posted by Melismata at 1:43 PM on October 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


but cowboy actors trump sitting senators every time! "all hat and no cattle" doesn't apply because HE WORE A COWBOY HAT PEOPLE GEEZ how can you not fall in line behind a guy like that!

Obama did all of Erkel's stunts. ALL OF THEM!
posted by srboisvert at 1:49 PM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, last time the Dems had a white Prez he got impeached after a witch-hunt and watched the government shut down and didn't even pass healthcare reform, so I'm not convinced that this is all about race.

I do think no one would be attributing Obama's success to his race if he were (fully) white, which is odd since the African-Americans in US history who have enjoyed a tiny fraction of his electoral success can be counted on one hand (or maybe two).
posted by leopard at 3:13 PM on October 22, 2013


just to pile on from the previous thread: Obamacare Foes Using Shutdown Echo South's Nullifiers

also btw...
-Jesus Wasn't A Republican
-The Tea Party As A Religion
-The Sabotage Of American Democracy
posted by kliuless at 3:48 PM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


"their worries about conservative purity."

At least when the left gets all het up about purity, we end up with wanks over GMO, chemicals and vague health scares. When the right gets het up about purity, we get shit like White Pride.
posted by klangklangston at 4:26 PM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


...I do think no one would be attributing Obama's success to his race if he were (fully) white...

Actually a lot of people attribute the fact that the prior 43 presidents of the USA have been white at least partly to race. It's rather an unlikely coincidence.
posted by Cookiebastard at 4:51 PM on October 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's not just about Obama. It's that the government shutdown disproportionately affected the most economically vulnerable, who are disproportionately poor. Whether or not the government shutdown was because the teabaggers can't deal with a Black president, the affect it had was primarily to disrupt the lives, incomes and services of the poor, and the poor are overwhelmingly people of color.

It doesn't matter, in my opinion, whether they were motivated by racism or not. If they're doing something that makes the division between whites and POC larger, they're taking a racist action.

Oh and if I hear "Obama was elected because he was Black" one more time I'm going to fucking scream. Reverse racism is bullshit and anyone who thinks that we're racially biased the one time we elect a Black person but not the 43 times we elect white people is out of their fucking gourd.
posted by NoraReed at 9:40 PM on October 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


"and the poor are overwhelmingly people of color."

Actually, that's not accurate. People of color are disproportionately poor, but poor people are overwhelmingly white in large part because America is overwhelmingly white. People living in poverty also tend to be rural more than urban, though we hear more about the urban poor.

A lot of rhetoric of Republicans depends on the assumption that poor people are mostly minorities, but that's not reflected in the census. But poor white people will vote against policies that would help them because even they think that people of color overwhelmingly comprise people in poverty.
posted by klangklangston at 8:07 AM on October 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


Dick Durbin: GOP leader told President Obama "I cannot even stand to look at you"

It's not about race. It's never about race.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:03 AM on October 23, 2013


Wow.

Well, I guess that's what you get when all the racist states elect their dumbest hick as Tea Party candidate.
posted by Artw at 10:08 AM on October 23, 2013


OK, so Dick Durbin is just an idiot, then.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:32 AM on October 23, 2013


Well, I guess that's what you get when all the racist states elect their dumbest hick as Tea Party candidate.

The Tea Party's Mississippi senate candidate recently addressed a conference hosted by the Jones County Rosin Heels, a pro-secession Neo-Confederate group (they are, to no-one's surprise, the local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans). Mother Jones reports that their billboards run such messages as "Happy birthday, President Jefferson Davis" and "Fort Sumter was fired on when Lincoln tried to reinforce his customs house for tax collection" and their newsletter's "June issue compared Obama's policies to the ravages of Reconstruction: 'Our people have had to put up with for the last FIFTEEN DECADES!!!'"

Meanwhile, Mississippi's Tea Party-affiliated governor is holding firm on refusing to expand Medicaid in relation to the ACA, even though this leaving hundreds of thousands of the working poor uninsured, just like in Texas, Florida, Kansas, Alabama, Louisiana, and Georgia. Is it a coincidence that in those states, the poor are disproportionately black or Latino?

But no, it's not about race. It's never about race.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:34 AM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dick Durbin: GOP leader told President Obama "I cannot even stand to look at you"

Seriously? I can't even stand to look at you? How drama queen can you get? It's not like Obama hooked up with somebody at a party and didn't call them the next day.
posted by jonp72 at 6:34 PM on October 23, 2013


You should have kept reading. Durbin wasn't at the meeting where he claims somebody said that, nobody who was there has verified it, and a couple of people who were there have denied it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:49 AM on October 24, 2013


The thick plottens on can't-stand-to-look-at-you-gate.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:42 AM on October 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Rep. Pete Sessions (the alleged can't-stander) once said of a Princeton basketball game that it was nice to see white guys playing basketball, even though they played under the rim. So it wouldn't be too unexpected to hear that from him, but at the same time, he's a convenient person to hang an apocryphal story on.
posted by Etrigan at 8:57 AM on October 24, 2013


The plick thottens!
posted by zombieflanders at 9:54 AM on October 24, 2013


Heckuva job, Democratic PR droids.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:32 AM on October 24, 2013


The White House is denying because the full quote from Sessions is, "I cannot even stand to look at you… you are too damn sexy."
posted by klangklangston at 10:34 AM on October 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Or maybe he was just rocking out to The Police's Can't Stand Losing You and they misunderstood.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:37 AM on October 24, 2013


The POTUS, the subject, of congress fantasies.
posted by klangklangston at 10:38 AM on October 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


to pile on some more...

Thinking Like a Conservative (Part Three): On Shutting Down Government
Many movement conservatives are driven, if implicitly, by a terrifying intellectual foundation not even present in Goldwater’s day: the Christian Reconstructionist view that, since the family is the basic unit of God’s covenant, the secular humanist state is a false idol held up by minions like Obama (and you) in order to mock all that is godly—a well-nigh Satanic rival for the redemption of the world. Though there is also, if you’re not a particularly theological conservative (or if you believe theology, Leo Strauss–ishly, is bread and circuses for the rubes), a pragmatic motivation to draw from as well. Consider William Kristol, in his infamous 1993 memo “Defeating President Clinton’s Healthcare Proposal.” As I wrote a couple of years ago, for Kristol “the notion of government-guaranteed health care had to be defeated, he said, rather than compromised with, or else: ‘It will revive the reputation of the party that spends and regulates, the Democrats, as the generous protector of middle-class interests. And it will at the same time strike a punishing blow against Republican claims to defend the middle class by restraining government.’ Kristol wrote on behalf of an organization called the Project for a Republican Future. The mortal fear is that if government delivers the goods, the Republicans have no future.”
Why a war on poor people?
This tenor of our politics indicates an overt hostility and animus towards poor people. How is it possible to explain this part of contemporary politics on the right? What can account for this persistent and unblinking hostility towards poor people?

One piece of the puzzle seems to come down to ideology and a passionate and unquestioning faith in "the market". If you are poor in a market system, this ideology implies you've done something wrong; you aren't productive; you don't deserve a better quality of life. You are probably a drug addict, a welfare queen, a slacker. (Remember "slackers" from the 2012 Presidential campaign?)

Another element here seems to have something to do with social distance. Segments of society with whom one has not contact may be easier to treat impersonally and cruelly. How many conservative legislators or governors have actually spent time with poor people, with the working poor, and with poor children? But without exposure to one's fellow citizens in many different life circumstances, it is hard to acquire the inner qualities of compassion and caring that make one sensitive to the facts about poverty.

A crucial thread here seems to be a familiar American narrative around race. The language of welfare reform, abuse of food stamps, and the inner city is interwoven with racial assumptions and stereotypes...

Finally, it seems unavoidable that some of this hostility derives from a fairly straightforward conflict of group interests. In order to create programs and economic opportunities that would significantly reduce poverty, it takes government spending -- on income and food support, on education, on housing allowances, and on public amenities for low-income people. Government spending requires taxation; and taxation reduces the income and wealth of households at the top of the ladder. So there is a fairly obvious connection between an anti-poverty legislative agenda and the material interests of the privileged in our economy.

These are a few hypotheses about where the animus to the poor comes from. But there is an equally important puzzle about the political passivity of the poor. It is puzzling to consider why the millions of people who are the subject of this hostility do not create a potent electoral block that can force significant changes on our political discourse. Why are poor people in Texas, Florida, and other non-adopting states not voicing their opposition to the governors and legislators who are sacrificing their health to a political ideology in the current struggles over Medicaid expansion?

Two factors seem to be relevant in explaining the political powerlessness of the poor. One is the gerrymandering that has reached an exact science in many state legislatures in recent years, with unassailable majorities for the incumbent party. This means that poor people have little chance of defeating conservative candidates in congressional elections. And second are the resurgent efforts that the Supreme Court enabled last summer to create ever-more onerous voting requirements, once again giving every appearance of serving the purpose of limiting voter participation by poor and minority groups. So conservative incumbents feel largely immune from the political interests that they dis-serve.
Polarization
So where does the extremism come from? There is a fairly direct hypothesis that comes to mind: racism and racial resentment... Another possibility is that it's really and truly about ideology. The right really hates the president because they think he advocates an extreme left set of policies. The problem with this idea is that the President is in fact quite moderate and centrist...

So where do these trends seem to be taking us? I used the word "polarization" to describe the situation, but perhaps that is not quite accurate. The percentage of the electorate represented by the extremist faction is small -- nothing like a plurality, let alone majority, of the population. So the extremism in our politics is being driven by a fairly small segment of our society. Because of the extreme degree of gerrymandering that exists in many Congressional districts, though, these legislators are secure in their home districts. So we can't have a lot of hope in the idea that their own electorates will turn them out.

Maybe this society will cycle back to a more moderate set of voices and values. Maybe the public will express its displeasure with the extremist voices, and like good political entrepreneurs they will adapt. Maybe. But we don't seem to see the signs of thaw yet.
The Decline And Fall Of Christianism
The fusion of politics and religion – most prominently the fusion of the evangelical movement and the Republican party – has been one of the most damaging developments in recent American history. It has made Republicanism not the creed of realists, pragmatists and compromise but of fundamentalists – on social and foreign policy, and even fiscal matters. And once maintaining inerrant doctrine becomes more important than, you know, governing a complicated, divided society, you end up with the extremism we saw in the debt ceiling crisis. When doctrine matters more than actually doing anything practical you end up with Cruz cray-cray...

But there is some light on the horizon. The Catholic hierarchy has been knocked sideways by the emergence of Pope Francis and his eschewal of their fixation on homosexuality, contraception and abortion. That fixation – essentially a Christianist and de facto Republican alliance among Protestants and Catholic leaders – has now been rendered a far lower priority than, say, preaching the Gospel or serving the poor and the sick... But perhaps a more powerful shift against Christianism is now taking place among evangelicals, especially the younger generation... And so the pendulum swings back. We do not yet know what a more apolitical, Gospel-centered, life-centered Christianity will achieve, how popular it may be, or whether it will lead to higher levels of commitment to God than at present. But I suspect even Pope Benedict finally realized it is the only way forward – hence his resignation in the face of his papacy’s near-total failure. What matters now and always is truth, not usefulness, faith, not politics. The next generation gets this.
How Faith Becomes An Ideology
My favorite post of the weekend was Pope Francis’ homily on faith and ideology – and the difference between them being prayer. And by prayer, Francis meant opening oneself to God in silence, wordless, doing nothing, merely – merely! – being-with-reality...

And when Francis says ideology, he means (I think) both a neurotic and public fixation on a set of truths or doctrines – and also a fusion of religion and politics. This is the distinction I have tried to make between Christianism (an ideology) and Christianity (a faith). Ridding the latter of the former could do a huge amount to improve public life – and politics – in America.
posted by kliuless at 11:45 PM on October 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Nevada Assemblyman: I'd Bring Back Slavery If Constituents Wanted
A Nevada assemblyman came under fire Monday after a YouTube video surfaced in which he told a Republican gathering he would vote to allow slavery if that is what his constituents wanted him to do.

"If that's what they wanted, I'd have to hold my nose ... they'd probably have to hold a gun to my head, but yeah," Assemblyman Jim Wheeler told members of the Storey County Republican Party at a meeting in August.
[...]
Wheeler, a freshman lawmaker representing District 39, said his remarks were taken out of context and that he was trying to make a point that he was elected to represent his constituents.

At the August GOP meeting, Wheeler referenced a blog post from conservative activist Chuck Muth, who in June 2010 wrote about Wheeler's candidacy and said, "what if those citizens decided they want to, say, bring back slavery? Hey, if that's what the citizens want, right Jim?"

Wheeler told his audience he responded to Muth and said, "yeah, I would."

Reached late Monday, Wheeler said he was falsely being portrayed as a bigot.

"Anyone who knows me knows that I could never vote for something like that," he said of slavery. "It's disgusting. It's beyond disgusting."
posted by zombieflanders at 6:26 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


"C'mon, everybody knows I'd say anything to get elected. It's all bullshit! You can't take it seriously!"
posted by klangklangston at 8:19 AM on October 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


A huge victory for GOP’s “whites-only” coalition
Any time momentum is building for anything in the House, it’s worth asking if it’s pointed anywhere other than the abyss of Republican incompetence. Can Boehner pass more than one or two draconian, enforcement-oriented immigration bills without help from Democrats? Will Democrats help him pass less controversial piecemeal bills if Republicans are truly foreclosing on comprehensive reform?

Now that immigration reform is in Boehner’s hands, it’s easy to imagine him and his conference flubbing even the modest task of passing a conservative position. Does Boehner really want the GOP’s answer to the Senate’s bill, including its pathway to citizenship, to be a narrow plan to militarize the border? Can he he even get that through the House? What affirmative steps can he take to distinguish the party’s position on immigration from Mitt Romney’s call for incentivizing immigrants to self-deport?

If Boehner can’t make any progress on his own, conservative reform advocates will have one last opportunity to press him to partner with Democrats, even if it means abandoning the Hastert rule yet again.

But this is a highly optimistic scenario. The conservative reformers I spoke with on Monday don’t think that’s what’s happening. At this point, they see it as a question of whether Democrats will sign on to help Republicans pass something truly marginal or whether nothing will pass at all.

The result in either case will be the consequence of Boehner’s decision to let conservative hard-liners kill comprehensive reform. Some of these members are motivated more by spite than by the sum of their concern for the national welfare, the interests of their constituents, and their own partisan allegiances. Others oppose reform more earnestly. But together they comprise a faction that’s pulling the Republican Party in a whites-only direction. Rubio’s latest move suggests they’ve won the tug of war.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:36 AM on October 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


TBogg: Ted Cruz advises Trayvon Martin’s mom to just chill and take one for Team Black
posted by tonycpsu at 1:40 PM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Man, just shutting the fuck up really isn't an option for these idiots, is it?
posted by Artw at 1:47 PM on October 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why should they? They've realized that the moron vote is the single largest constituency in America, and they're determined to prove their bona fides.
posted by klangklangston at 2:55 PM on October 29, 2013


27 GOP Senators 'Disapprove' Of Their Own Vote To Raise Debt Ceiling

posted by tonycpsu at 6:47 PM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Libertarians: The Great White Hope
If this anti-establishment libertarianism has broad appeal, you should see hints of it in the demographic make-up of self-described libertarians; the ideology should have some appeal to more than a narrow slice of the public. But it doesn’t. Of those who identify as libertarian or who have views that mark them as such, 94 percent are non-Hispanic whites, and 68 percent are men, according to the poll. As for libertarian leaners, 81 percent are white, and 53 percent are men.

Let’s start with the push to expand the GOP’s appeal through smart application of libertarian ideology. The thinking is that libertarian populism has political appeal beyond the GOP and its traditional constituencies. “Americans look at Washington and know the game is rigged against them. Conservatives can promise to level the field by getting the bureaucrats and politicians out of it,” wrote the Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney after last year’s election. “Every small businessman, ambitious immigrant, and would-be-entrepreneur should be a Republican.”

Indeed, there’s little that distinguishes libertarians from ordinary Republicans. Fifty-seven percent identify as conservative, and close to half (45 percent) say that they’re Republicans, compared to the 5 percent who identify as Democrats. Thirty-five percent say that they’re independent, but odds are good they vote Republican—if political science is clear on anything, it’s that most “independents” behave like partisans. To wit, 39 percent of libertarians say they identify with the Tea Party, which makes them less supportive than Republicans, but far more than Americans overall.

True to their ideology, the vast majority of libertarians oppose the Affordable Care Act (96 percent), a higher minimum wage, and tougher environmental regulations. All of these views place them at odds with most Americans, who aren’t as hostile toward Obamacare (44 percent support the law, and a significant percentage opposes it because it doesn’t go far enough), favor raising the minimum wage to ten dollars (71 percent), and want stronger laws and regulations to protect the environment, even if they raise prices or cost jobs.

The wide assumption is that libertarians balance their free market economic views with social permissiveness, but this is only somewhat true. On abortion, 57 percent oppose making it more difficult for women to access the procedure. Seventy percent support physician-assisted suicide, and 71 percent favor marijuana legalization. Fifty-nine percent, however, oppose same-sex marriage, and while this is significantly less than Republicans overall, it’s also a deal-breaker for most progressives, who see marriage equality as a core issue.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:51 PM on October 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Paul Krugman: A War on the Poor
posted by Artw at 10:16 PM on November 2, 2013


Charlie Pierce: The Five Minute Rule Is In Effect
Crazy Uncle Liberty (!) was out spoutin' liberty on behalf of...holy crap, The Cooch! CUL (!) apparently has been vacationing in 1857.
"Jefferson obviously was a clear leader on the principle of nullification," [Ron Paul,] the former Texas congressman said of the third president. "I've been working on the assumption that nullification is going to come. It's going to be a de facto nullification. It's ugly, but pretty soon things are going to get so bad that we're just going to ignore the feds and live our own lives in our own states."
Nullification is a dangerous and idiotic theory that should have been put to rest by the post-Civil War amendments, especially the 14th. Jefferson was deadly wrong in this regard, as he was in so many others. (So, it should be said, was Mr. Madison, who at least spent the rest of his life trying to distance himself from what he came to regard as a pernicious doctrine, to the point where Andy Jackson brought the old guy out of the bullpen to kick John C. Calhoun in the teeth on the subject.)
posted by zombieflanders at 10:57 AM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Right’s Slavery Obsession
Slavery was so terrible, in fact, that people who lack perspective are tempted to use it as a shorthand for anything they don’t like. Hence, Sarah Palin, in a speech this past weekend, compared the federal debt to, yup, slavery:

“Our free stuff today is being paid for by taking money from our children and borrowing from China,” she said at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition’s fall fundraiser at the State Fairgrounds Saturday night. “When that money comes due—and this isn’t racist, but it’ll be like slavery when that note is due. We are going to beholden to the foreign master.”

Nothing about this statement is accurate. Yes, at $1.28 trillion, China is the largest foreign holder of U.S. debt. But the vast majority of American debt is owned by Americans. We’re borrowing from ourselves, and in the current economic environment of mass unemployment and sluggish growth, this isn’t a huge concern.

What’s most important to note, however, is that owing debt is nothing like slavery. Let’s say we lived in a world where China owned most of our debt and we had to take drastic actions to pay our obligations. Even then, it would be a far cry from enslavement, where everything produced is stolen by an outside power.

But the stupidity of these analogies haven’t stopped them from gaining currency on the right wing of American politics. In just the last year, conservatives have invoked slavery in opposition to gun control—Glenn Beck attacked universal background checks as part of an effort to enslave Americans—affirmative action, and federal spending. To wit, in his opinion attacking the admissions policy at the University of Texas, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas compared affirmative action supporters to slaveholders and segregationists. “Slaveholders argued that slavery was a ‘positive good’ that civilized blacks and elevated them in every dimension of life,” wrote Thomas. “A century later, segregationists similarly asserted that segregation was not only benign, but good for black students.”

I’m sure Thomas saw the moral difference between discrimination to oppress blacks and discrimination to ameliorate historical wrongs, but I don’t think he cared. For him, attacking his opponents was more important than giving a fair and truthful account of their views.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:01 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


‘We are still a racist state’
Jason Zengerle takes a deep dive into Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) re-election bid this week in a long, fascinating piece. It’s tough to summarize a 6,000-word article, but I would like to highlight one portion that stood out for me.
“No one likes McConnell. No Republicans even like McConnell,” says one Kentucky GOP strategist. “But McConnell makes you dislike the other person so much, you’re like, ‘Holy crap, there’s no way I can vote for that person!’”

The most likely way McConnell will try to bring [challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes] down is by associating her with Obama, and already he has attacked her on Obamacare and the president’s “war on coal.” Linking a Kentucky Democrat to national Democrats is always a smart play in Kentucky, but linking one to Obama – who lost the state by nearly 23 points to GOP nominee Mitt Romney in 2012 – is particularly potent.

“We are still a racist state, I hate to admit it,” says the Kentucky GOP strategist.
It’s rare that we see this kind of candor from political professionals. It makes the remarks that much more powerful.

A prominent Kentucky Democrat added, “The only way they can beat [Grimes] is to paint her skin a different color than it is and make her gender a different gender than it is. They’re going to have to make her Barack Obama. If we’re talking about Mitch McConnell, he doesn’t win.”
posted by zombieflanders at 8:06 AM on November 15, 2013


America’s angriest white men: Up close with racism, rage and Southern supremacy
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:08 PM on November 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


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