Does Donald Trump own the “white working class”?

UMA 1989 from People's World

West Virginia miners on strike against Pittston Coal in 1989. | Scott Marshall / PW

Source: People’s World

Author: Roberta Wood

Emphasis Mine

Defeating the Trump agenda is going to require winning a section of working class voters who supported him – mostly white – undoubtedly influenced by racism. To get there, it’s going to take more than just rejecting that divisive influence; it’s going to take strengthening working class identity.

The election made me remember back to 1989. My husband Scott and I decided to make that year’s family vacation a trip to the mountains of West Virginia, to Camp Solidarity set up by 2,000 striking coal miners. Their employer, the Pittston Company, had eliminated health benefits for retirees and widows, blaming decreasing coal prices. The miners were occupying the mine’s tipple, its coal-loading platform. Camp Solidarity rallied supporters and donations from around the country and around the world. We wanted our kids to see for themselves what solidarity looked like.

As our old van made its way to the top of the mountain, I was struck by how different this work location was from the urban factories and mills Scott and I spent our work lives in. The giant Freeway Flyer buses with New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania license plates that kept passing us looked out of place on a switch-backed, two-lane road. At Camp Solidarity, we found a well-organized operation directing traffic and parking.

“Welcome folks,” said a tall, wiry, middle-aged miner. He leaned into the open driver’s side window and introduced himself as Jim. Taking note of our license plate, he went on, “I see you folks have come a long way, from Illinois. I used to live near there, near Burns Harbor in Indiana. Know it?”

Seeing a connection, I jumped in, “Did you work at Bethlehem Steel?”

“Yup, seven years!” Then why did you leave, we asked. “Well, I came back here when they began to move in, all these…” He paused; nearby hundreds of stiff-kneed travelers were tumbling out of the buses: AFSCME, SEIU, steelworkers, mostly African American. He looked at us; he knew we knew what he had been getting ready to say. “But,” he drew himself up and a little pride entered his voice, “I don’t feel that way anymore.”

picket line in 1989

On the picket line against Pittston Coal in West Virginia, 1989. | Scott Marshall / PW

I wondered about Jim after the Donald Trump election. Did he remember the experience of solidarity? Or was his vote motivated by fear and hate?

Why Trump?

We know that a majority of white voters – in all categories – voted for Trump. Men, women, young, old, and yes, working class. Who are these folks and why did they vote for a conniving billionaire?

Well, it’s undeniable that there is a consistent, hardcore right-wing racist movement with a deep historical base in our country. The liars. The bullies. These haters made up the core of the Trump supporters; they were the rally-goers.  But these hardcore supporters were only a fraction of the Trump voters.

So what about the others? The ones who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. The ones who really take to heart their Sunday school lessons, “Red and yellow, black and white, we are precious in His sight.” The ones who want their daughters to have full equality. The ones who will be warmly welcoming the LGBTQ members of their families at their tables this holiday. The ones who remember their own grandparents were themselves immigrants.

Racial isolation

Statistics show the white voters who supported Trump are concentrated in racially-isolated zip codes. They don’t have day-to-day contact with black people, with immigrants, with people from the Middle East.

They don’t listen to NPR either. Instead, they’re inundated with Fox News, hateful talk radio, and fake online news. “Black Lives Matter thugs attack homeless veteran in Charlotte” was the headline of one such fake “news” video that got over a million views. In it, an elderly white man is kicked by a group of black teens. The footage had nothing to do with BLM; it was years old, filmed in London. But to those who viewed it, those made vulnerable by a culture of racial stereotypes, this horrible image became a fact that influenced their choices.

These Trump voters live in areas where there is little social structure that supports progressive thinking. Churches, with a few heroic exceptions, by and large don’t play a positive role. Often the moral guidance from right-wing evangelical churches is limited to one issue when it comes to voting: abortion. When candidate Trump evoked the mental image of babies being ripped out of their mothers’ wombs, it resonated.

Unions don’t have much of a presence in these racially isolated areas. Nor do other social movements like the Fight for $15. People here – whether in factories or fast food restaurants or call centers – don’t work side-by-side with immigrants or people of other races. Yet the people there face the same anxieties all American families face. What kind of jobs are their kids going to get? The drug scourge. Their health, their retirement. They care about the climate too, and their kids’ education.

A tolerance for the intolerable

Millions made a bad, ill-informed choice in this election. We have to deal forthrightly with the fact that a significant percentage of our working class voted for Donald Trump despite his hateful rhetoric toward African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, and women. Trump got more votes than Romney did in 2012, roughly proportional to the increase in the overall number of voters. This is disturbing, given Trump’s much more extreme, direct, racist, anti-immigrant, and misogynist appeal. The increased vote for Trump is evidence of a troubling tolerance of what should be intolerable.

(N.B.: it has bee observed that education was a bigger factor than income, and in general those with college degrees are less like likely to be prejudice… see https://charlog.blog/2016/11/27/education-not-income-predicted-who-would-vote-for-trump/)

We are repelled by the failure to reject hate, but we can only reverse the Trump agenda by reaching out to these same voters in racially-isolated communities. There’s not four years or even two years to wait.

When the shit hits the fan with Social Security, Medicare, and VA privatization, lost health care, and declining standards of living, the same lying manipulators who worked the media for Trump in the 2016 election will attempt to direct folks’ anger toward the same scapegoats: African Americans, Muslims, and immigrants. They will use the same narrative to take the Trump agenda out of the line of fire. More on that in a bit.

Half a million missing votes

Trump won the electoral college vote in five Midwest (N.B.: these are actually Great Lakes states, which includes Western PA) battleground states – Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Iowa. A combined total of one million voters who had previously voted Democratic, for Pres. Obama, did not vote Democratic for Hillary Clinton. Half of them added their votes to the Trump total this time. But what about the other half? What did that half million do?

Countless Midwestern (Great Lakes) voters – it’s hard to say how many – who were Democratic voters in 2012 were knocked off the rolls by a methodical GOP suppression campaign in these battleground states.

Of the remainder, there were others too who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Trump but didn’t come out for Clinton either. Some of the former Democratic voters chose third party candidates – either Libertarian Gary Johnson or the Green Party’s Jill Stein. They chose not to vote for Clinton, but nevertheless these former Democratic votes cannot be counted as a vote for racism or xenophobia.

Some may have been driven away by the venom of the campaign and not voted at all. No exit polls are taken of people who don’t vote. It’s important not to exaggerate the Trump vote, especially among the working class.

“Backlash”?

And I find no evidence of a phenomenon cited by other commentators, that Trump’s appeal was primarily based on a backlash to a black president or an increasingly multi-cultural society.

Our challenge is to win the unity of the working class. How do we reach out to these people?

I think first, we have to know that ALL of us, like our coal miner friend Jim, are of two minds about many things. People like him believe in humanity, in being generous, in the brotherhood of man and woman, in peace, in neighborliness. (N.B.: biconceptuals, as Lakoff maintains).

Many embrace the beautiful image of the Statue of Liberty welcoming refugees from poverty and oppression. They are troubled by news reports and videos of unarmed black youth shot in the back by out-of-control police or vigilantes. But they are also influenced by the awful stereotypes they’re inundated with – Islamic terrorists, crime-ridden “inner cities,” dangerous immigrants.

Only working class consciousness – embracing one’s primary identity as a member of that 99 percent majority of Americans who own nothing but their ability to work – fully addresses this challenge. This means identifying with a working class that covers diversity from one end of the beautiful rainbow of humanity to the other.

This is the only foundation that can fundamentally challenge the influence of racism and other ideological influences that undermine working class unity. This kind of consciousness is the protective vaccine needed to resist the poisons of racism, misogyny, and xenophobia.

Lessons from what worked

The working class movement in the U.S. is not starting from scratch in taking on the duality in thinking on matters of class and race. In fact, alongside being the source of the sharpest racist ideology, our country also has a heritage of developing a fight against racism, one that includes winning white Americans, especially white workers, away from that poisonous and suicidal ideology. We also have a long history of fighting for the rights of immigrants and for women’s equality.

There are lessons from our people’s struggle, be it against the 19th century slavocracy or the 20th century Jim Crow, that held the key not only to equality, but to improving of condition of white workers:

  1.  Resist. Don’t sit back and wait to see what happens.
  1.  Defend all targets. Every hate crime and act that goes unchallenged strengthens the base for fascism. On the other hand, engaging folks in the democratic and humanistic struggles against this disunity changes the thinking of the people themselves. Just as a person who has walked a picket line is never the same, a person who has signed a petition, gone to a public hearing, or spoken out against injustice is changed.

Let’s look at the case of the nine African American youth who were being railroaded to a death on a fake rape charge in Scottsboro, Alabama in 1931. Our predecessors, up to their necks in building the CIO industrial unions of steel, auto, and packing house also spent the decade of the 1930s making the case to their co-workers that unionization could not succeed without unity – and their banners read: “Black and white unite and fight.” In the same demonstrations, white and black workers carried placards calling for freedom for the “Scottsboro boys.” For those white workers, fighting racism against the Scottsboro youth helped cement the unity of those workers.

  1.  We need to pay special attention to mass movements that can resonate in racially-isolated areas. For example, the Fight for $15. The majority of those who make less than $15 per hour are white workers. They are fast food workers, Walmart workers, nursing home and, yes, factory workers in towns, suburbs, and rural America. Planned Parenthood has a loyal following and is represented in every state and D.C. Public education is under assault everywhere. There is a basis for national unity there.
  1.  We have to take the initiative in the fights to defend Social Security and Medicare – and Obamacare – to the communities in these areas that are politically vulnerable.
  1. We can’t wait for elections. During elections, tactics demand that efforts be concentrated on getting votes where they are most plentiful, so little door-knocking is done in more challenging areas. Working America has done pioneering work in initiating year-round doorstep conversations.

This is not an easy fight, but look what’s at stake. It’s not enough to analyze and reject the racism, xenophobia, and misogyny of members of our class. Our job is to figure out how to turn it around. But there is no path to unity that doesn’t go through that process. We need all the Jims of the world on our side.

See:http://www.peoplesworld.org/article/does-donald-trump-own-the-white-working-class/

The Media Myth of the Working-Class Reagan Democrats

The numbers don’t lie. The notion that angry blue collar voters could sway the election just may not be true.

Source: AlterNet

Author:Neal Gabler/Moyers and CO

Emphasis Mine

The numbers don’t lie. The notion that angry blue collar voters could sway the election just may not be true.

Now that Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, we are likely to get all sorts of mainstream media analysis about how his narrow pathway to Election Day victory runs through white working-class America, the way Ronald Reagan’s did, while the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, must corral young people, minorities and the well-educated.

In case you haven’t noticed, there is an unmistakable media bias in this – one that was framed perfectly in a Newsweekcover story by Evan Thomas eight years ago. It was about Barack Obama’s alleged “Bubba Gap,” and illustrated with a picture of arugula — and beer. Democrats, naturally, were the arugula eaters.

This idea that Republicans are “real” Americans and Democrats aren’t is now a generation-long meme in the media, and it has had tremendous repercussions for our politics. It used to be that Republicans were the effete ones and Democrats the salt-of-the-earth. Then Ronald Reagan came along and pried working-class voters away from the Democrats – the so-called “Reagan Democrats” – and suddenly the media reversed party roles, deciding that America tilted right, and that Democrats were elitists.

I have no idea who will win the election this November, but I can pretty much assure you of this: we will be hearing an awful lot about Trump Democrats who, like those Reagan Democrats, may abandon the Democratic Party because they allegedly find it too high-blown.

But this is what you probably won’t hear: those Reagan Democrats, at least not as we usually think of them — urban, Rust Belt laborers — didn’t last much beyond Reagan. They were a temporary blip who didn’t realign American politics the way the media tell us they did. Trump Democrats might be something of a myth, too – a collaboration of the MSM and the candidate to portray him and his party as the agents of blue-collar, middle America because it fits the media’s stereotype of angry workers blowing gaskets.

Let’s get a few things out of the way when we talk about Republican hegemony and the party’s appeal to disaffected Democrats. Yes, Republicans control both houses of Congress, and, yes, they are dominant at the governor and state legislature levels. This, however, is largely the product of certain peculiarities in the American political system rather than any great Democratic defection or love of Republicanism: things like low turnout in local and midterm elections among minorities and the poor, who are likely to vote Democratic; subsequent gerrymandering of districts to benefit Republicans; absurd disproportions in which Wyoming, with its population of 584,000, gets the same number of senators as California with its 39 million; and the role of money in elections, as money generally flows more freely to Republicans than to Democrats for the obvious reason that the GOP’s benefactors have more to gain from the system.

If you just read newspapers and watch TV news, you would probably never guess that actually there are fewer self-identified conservatives in America than there are self-identified liberals, or that Democrats outnumber Republicans 29 percent to 26 percent in the latest Gallup Poll.

These are, says Gallup, historically low figures for both parties, but they may heavily discount Democratic identification. According to a survey by Republic 3.0, if you add in self-declared Independents who nevertheless lean toward one party or the other, Democrats actually constitute 45 percent of Americans, while Republicans constitute just 33 percent. So if you have been thinking that this is a conservative GOP country, think again.

Which brings us to those Reagan Democrats. As Thomas Frank wrote in his 2004 best-seller, What’s the Matter With Kansas?,the “dominant political coalition” in America is the union of business voters and blue-collar voters, many of the latter one-time Democrats diverted from their economic interests by the bloody shirt of social wedge issues from abortion to gun rights to immigration. That was the great Republican prestidigitation. Now you see economic distress, now you don’t. And the great political realignment that followed was laid at the foot of Ronald Reagan.

But was it true? In 2006, in theQuarterly Journal of Political Science, the brilliant political scientist Larry Bartels, then of Princeton and now at Vanderbilt University, took on this story in a searching analysis of Frank’s thesis. Looking at voting trendlines over a 50-year period, from the 1952 presidential election of Eisenhower to the 2004 reelection of George W. Bush, Bartels found that there was, as Frank and pundits said, a decline in Democratic support — roughly six percentage points; not huge over five decades, but still significant.

But wait! That decline was among white voters without college degrees, which was the demographic Frank chose to use. If you include non-white voters without college degrees, Democrats actually enjoyed a two-point increase.

You may notice that when the MSM talks about the whole Reagan/Trump Democratic conversion, they are focusing on whites, too, even though the share of white voters in the electorate is falling while that of minorities is rising. Basically, it’s the media equivalent of the three-fifths compromise of the Constitution in which slaves, for the purpose of calculating representation, counted for less than whites.

Further, Bartels found that if you look at income rather than education, the results are even more pronounced in favor of Democrats. The percentage of low income voters going Democratic has actually risen since the 1980s. In 2012, Barack Obama received 60 percent of the votes of those with household incomes under $50,000, roughly the American median, and only 44 percent of those over $100,000. And here is something else Bartels discovered. Nearly all the Democratic decline among low-income white voters without college degrees came in the South: 10.3 percent. Outside the South, the Democratic percentages actually increased (11.2 percent) for an overall national increase of 4.5 percent. Again, that is just among whites. The inescapable conclusion: All those blue collar workers who are supposed to have left the Democratic Party for Reagan and then stayed in the GOP, or who might soon be leaving for Trump, didn’t in the first case, and aren’t likely to do so in the second.

I suppose there is a reason why the MSM doesn’t feel comfortable broadcasting those numbers. Doing so would force them to label Republicans for what they are: the party of white, rich, disproportionately Southern folks, as opposed to the Democrats, who are a diverse party racially and economically. When put that way, it inevitably sounds like the media are taking sides, even though it would only be fact-providing.

This isn’t to say that in 1980, when it came to union households, Reagan didn’t cut seriously into the lead Carter had over Ford in 1976. And he made some inroads into the working class as defined by income as well. But the real story of the so-called post-Reagan Republican tilt is that white Southerners, who had long been departing the Democratic Party, until one of their own, Carter, stanched the flow in 1976, were the primary defectors. And presumably they were leaving not over economics but over race.

That’s another story neither the MSM nor the Republicans are eager to tell because it makes the GOP out to be overly dependent on racist troglodytes. For the MSM to tell the truth this way would, again, seem to be picking on Republican salt-of-the-earth rank and file, and the MSM won’t risk doing that. Picking on allegedly Democratic elitists? That’s OK.

None of this is to say that Trump won’t attract lots of angry, white working-class voters. It is to say that it’s highly unlikely he will draw many working-class voters away from the Democrats, in large part because there probably aren’t a whole lot of white Democratic votes left in the South to take away, and because most blue-collar workers still identify with the Democratic Party. So get ready to hear about all those angry, blue-collar white guys who love Trump and might hand him the election. But when you do, remember this: Democrats drink beer too, even though the MSM has you thinking they’re all sipping chablis as they munch their arugula.

Neal Gabler is an author of five books and the recipient of two LA TImes Book Prizes, Time magazine’s non-fiction book of the year, USA Today’s biography of the year and other awards. He is also a senior fellow at the Lear Center for the Study of Entertainment and Society and is currently writing a biography of Sen. Edward Kennedy.

 

See:http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/media-myth-working-class-reagan-democrats

Ted Cruz’s Dark, Twisted World: Why His Far-Right Social Views Are Even Scarier Than You Think

It will come as no shock that the Texas senator is an extremist. But it might surprise to learn just how extreme he is.

Source: AlterNet

Author: Heather Digby parton

Emphasis Mine

Probably one of the most unlikely scandalettes of the 2016 primary has to be the National Enquirer “exposé ” of Senator Ted Cruz’s alleged serial infidelity. Nobody knows to this day where the story originated, although some reporters suggested after it was run that the Rubio campaign had shopped it to them earlier in the cycle. But Donald Trump is known to be quite close to the publisher of the Enquirer (a man aptly named David Pecker) so it’s always possible the story was run for his benefit. Cruz denied it and it faded in the excitement of the campaign, at least for now.

But whatever its provenance, the story was interesting not so much because it’s unbelievable that any politician might have a zipper problem (it’s almost a requirement for office) but because it was the very pious Cruz being accused. This is the man, after all, whose first victory speech began with “God bless the great state of Iowa, let me first of all say, to God be the glory.”

Cruz announced his candidacy at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University where he laid out his vision for the country. And he told a story that he tells on the trail all the time:

When my dad came to America in 1957, he could not have imagined what lay in store for him. Imagine a young married couple, living together in the 1970s, neither one of them has a personal relationship with Jesus. They have a little boy and they are both drinking far too much. They are living a fast life.

When I was three, my father decided to leave my mother and me. We were living in Calgary at the time, he got on a plane and he flew back to Texas, and he decided he didn’t want to be married anymore and he didn’t want to be a father to his 3-year-old son. And yet when he was in Houston, a friend, a colleague from the oil and gas business invited him to a Bible study, invited him to Clay Road (ph) Baptist Church, and there my father gave his life to Jesus Christ.

And God transformed his heart. And he drove to the airport, he bought a plane ticket, and he flew back to be with my mother and me.

There are people who wonder if faith is real. I can tell you, in my family there’s not a second of doubt, because were it not for the transformative love of Jesus Christ, I would not have been saved and I would have been raised by a single mom without my father in the household.

It may seem odd that his “testimony” is his father’s story but it makes sense. Cruz himself was a very smart kid who grew up in Texas and went to Princeton and then Harvard Law which doesn’t provide quite the same pathos as his daddy’s tale of sin and redemption. And his dad is definitely important to his career—he’s a genuine evangelical preacher and wingnut firebrand, well known on the conservative speaking circuit. He brings with him all the authentic street cred his son could possibly need in this crowd.

Cruz’s campaign strategy was built on the foundation of support from the ultra-conservative evangelical base of the Republican partythis recent Pew Poll shows that nearly half of his total voters are white observant evangelical Christians, most of whom attend Church at least weekly. By contrast Trump gets a share of evangelicals but more mainline protestants and Catholics who attend church less than once a week. (This article by Jeff Sharlet in the New York Times Magazine about Trump and prosperity gospel types is fascinating. I’m not even sure they’re really social conservatives.)

I wrote about Cruz’s original strategy (based upon Carter’s peanut brigade) a while back, in which he had planned to sweep the southern states and build up a big lead, just as Hillary Clinton has done on the Democratic side. It didn’t work out for him because it turns out that a lot of the southern conservatives he was counting on were mesmerized by a decadent, thrice married New Yorker. Who would have ever guessed? But he has shown tremendous tenacity, hanging on long after all the Big Boys of the Deep Bench fell by the wayside and it’s now a two man race to the finish.

The adultery accusations don’t seem to have hurt Cruz with his base voters, although it’s possible we haven’t yet seen the effects in more socially conservative states. But Cruz has built up a lot of credibility in that crowd over the years. He’s won the straw poll at the Values Voter Summit three years in a row. Two years ago he made a huge splash in anticipation of announcing his run for president by giving a rousing speech in which he declared, “We stand for life. We stand for marriage. We stand for Israel!” which sums up the foundation of the evangelical right’s philosophy.

Cruz is an anti-abortion warrior of the most strident kind. He wants to ban abortion with no exception for rape or incest. He unctuously explains it this way:

“When it comes to rape, rape is a horrific crime against the humanity of a person, and needs to be punished and punished severely. But at the same time, as horrible as that crime is, I don’t believe it’s the child’s fault. And we weep at the crime, we want to do everything we can to prevent the crime on the front end, and to punish the criminal, but I don’t believe it makes sense to blame the child.”

He holds the same view of a 12-year-old girl being forced to give birth to her own sister: tough luck.

He has led the charge against Planned Parenthood in the Senate, urging a government shutdown if the president didn’t agree to defund it. And he’s gone farther than that:

“If I’m elected president, let me tell you about my first day in office. The first thing I intend to do is to rescind every illegal and unconstitutional executive action taken by Barack Obama. The next thing I intend to do is instruct the Department of Justice to open an investigation into these videos and to prosecute Planned Parenthood for any criminal violations.”

Ted Cruz is a lawyer and ex-attorney general of Texas who has argued cases before the Supreme Court. Unlike Donald Trump when, he makes a statement like this, he cannot claim to be ignorant of the fact that the president instructing the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation on anyone would be the very definition of abuse of power and quite likely an impeachable offense.

His dismissive comments on contraception, meanwhile, are insulting to every woman:

“Last I checked, we don’t have a rubber shortage in America. Look, when I was in college, we had a machine in the bathroom, you put 50 cents in and voila. So, yes, anyone who wants contraceptives can access them.”

He’s equally adamant about gay marriage, and insists that he will work to overturn last year’s landmark Obergefell ruling, which legalized same-sex marriage across the country, just as he will work to overturn Roe vs Wade. He says:

“It’s not the law of the land. It’s not the Constitution. It’s not legitimate, and we will stand and fight.”

Again, this is a man who argued cases before the Supreme Court and presumably knows very well that marriage equality is the law of the land.

He has defended a ban on late term-abortions and a display of the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the state capitol. He argued that the pledge of allegiance should include the words “Under God.”  According to this astonishing article by David Corn in Mother Jones, he even defended a state ban on dildos, arguing the state had an interest in “discouraging…autonomous sex,” comparing masturbation to hiring a prostitute or committing bigamy and declaring that no right exists for people to “stimulate their genitals.” (His college roommate tweeted a hilarious reaction to that story yesterday.)

He’s all in on the “religious liberty” legal theory as defined by the Manhattan Declaration and enjoys keeping company with some of the most radical dominionists in the nation, including David Bartonthe junk historian who also runs Cruz’s number one super PAC, Keep the Promise. That super PAC is funded by a couple of Cruz’s megabucks donors, Texas energy barons Farris and Dan Wilks, both of whom are ultra conservative Christians. He’s even tight with the bigots who spearheaded the recent sweeping anti-LGBT legislation in North Carolina, congressional candidate and evangelical pastor Mark Harris and the former HGTV twins the Benham brothers, whose show was cancelled over their anti-gay activities. And then there is his father Rafael Cruz, who is counted among the most militant extremist preachers in the country and who believes his son was sent by God to turn America into a theocracy.

Ted Cruz’s confrontational political philosophy is revolutionary. His policy agenda is at the farthest edge of conservative movement thinking, even including gold buggery and the abolition of the IRS and half a dozen other agencies and functions of the federal government. His foreign policy advisers include anti-Muslim cranks like Frank Gaffney. His ideology is doctrinaire right wing conservative. And he is a fanatical conservative evangelical Christian whose beliefs place him at the fringe of an already non-mainstream worldview.

It’s not surprising that people would have a hard time believing that such a man would be a serial adulterer. But when you think about it, he would hardly be the first conservative Christian leader to be undone in such a way. (In fact, it’s so common you have to wonder if it isn’t an occupational hazard.) So far, he’s weathered the storm. But he is a fully realized right wing radical deeply embedded in the conservative Christian right.  If any of it turns out to be true, Cruz will have a very long way to fall.

Heather Digby Parton, also known as “Digby,” is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

See: http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/ted-cruzs-dark-twisted-world-why-his-far-right-social-views-are-even-scarier-you-think?akid=14170.123424.9lSTbc&rd=1&src=newsletter1054631&t=18

Ted Cruz’s Radical Supporters: He Won Iowa on the Back of the Scariest Bible-Thumpers in the Business

Cruz came on top in the Iowa caucus by presenting himself as a messiah and winning over the radical religious right.

Source:AlterNet

Author: Amada Marcotte/Salon

Emphasis Mine

(N.B.: based on 2008 and 2012, the Iowa Republican caucus may not be a good predictor of the Republican nominee…)

Ted Cruz’s victory in Iowa doesn’t mean he’ll get the nomination — history shows the Republican caucus in that state is a poor predictor of eventual outcome — but for the religious right, especially the most skin-crawlingly creepy folks in the religious right, Cruz’s edging Donald Trump out at the polls represents a huge victory. Because Monday night meant that while their influence might seem to be on the decline, the religious right proved, once again, that they are still a powerful force on the right. Unfortunately, the Republican Party will still have to pay tribute to the nasty crews that use Jesus as a cover to push their lifelong obsession with controlling other people’s sex lives, especially if those people are female or queer.

A lot of attention has been paid to Trump’s oversized ego, but Cruz’s may be even worse. While Trump likes to portray himself as a “winner,” Cruz clawed his way to victory in Iowa by implying — well, more than implying — that he’s a religious messiah, a prophet who is the next best thing to the second coming of Jesus. While denouncing Barack Obama for his supposed “messiah complex,” Cruz has been suggesting that he is the real deal, and that he will win because “the body of Christ” will “rise up to pull us back from the abyss.”

Cruz has been portraying his campaign, in fact, as a religious war in which the true believers will assert themselves as the rightful rulers of this nation. “Strap on the full armor of God, get ready for the attacks that are coming,” he told supporters, who are treated more like believers, at a campaign stop in Iowa.

Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, has gone even further in suggesting that his son is quite literally God’s emissary sent to turn America into a Christian nation (which tends to be defined as a nation that keeps heavy tabs on what you’re doing with your genitals, instead of one that makes sure there’s enough loaves and fishes for everyone). In an interview on Glenn Beck’s show, the senior Cruz and Beck both pushed this notion that Cruz is a prophetic figure come to save us all.

“Everybody was born for a reason,” Beck told Rafael Cruz, while sitting in — no joke — a replica of the Oval Office built for his show. “As I learned your story and saw the fruit of that story, now in your son, I am more and more convinced in the hand of divine providence.”

“Oh, absolutely,” Cruz replied. Who doesn’t want to be the father of the messiah? The last one was literally God himself, after all.

This Jesus-walks act of Ted Cruz’s worked like a charm, as Cruz sucked up a veritable rogue’s gallery of every creepy straight guy who claims he loves Jesus but has his eyes fixed firmly on the crotches of America. As Cruz noted in his victory speech Monday night, Bob Vander Plaats and Rep. Steve King are national co-chairs for his campaign. King, of course, is a notoriously loony right wing nut who has argued that legalizing same-sex marriage means people will now marry lawnmowers and has equated undocumented immigration with the Holocaust.

Vander Plaats, who heads up Iowa’s religious right behemoth, the Family Leader , has argued that his interpretation of “God’s law” should trump the actual laws of our country, that gay marriage will lead to parents marrying their children, and that Vladimir Putin was right to sign a law criminalizing those who speak out for gay rights.

Right before the caucus, Cruz launched“Pro-Lifers for Cruz,” a group that is also a magnet for the most radical elements of the Christian right. It’s chaired by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, a group that is so virulently anti-gay that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has declared it a hate group.

Troy Newman, the head of Operation Rescue, is on the board as well. Newman is beyond a radical anti-choicer, a man who believe that abortion doctors should be executed and women who abort pregnancies, which is about 30 percent of American women by age 45, should be jailed for murder. Newman’s single-minded obsession with abortion has led him to blame everything from the California drought to HIV to 9/11 on the fact that we have legal abortion.

Cruz also enjoys the support of David Barton, a powerful crank who rose in the ranks of the religious right by feeding the masses totally false but pleasing stories about American history, designed to create the illusion that our country was basically formed as a theocracy. Barton’s willingness to lie and deceive on behalf of this claim is truly breath-taking, as the SPLC demonstrates:

Another Barton whopper is his repeated claim that John Adams supported religious control of the U.S. government. To make that point, Barton quoted the following Adams passage: “There is no authority, civil or religious — there can be no legitimate government — but what is administered by this Holy Ghost. There can be no salvation without it — all without it is rebellion and perdition or, in more orthodox words, damnation.” But Barton conveniently omits the next part of the quote, in which Adams makes it crystal clear he is mocking those with this belief.

Right before the caucus, Cruz launched“Pro-Lifers for Cruz,” a group that is also a magnet for the most radical elements of the Christian right. It’s chaired by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, a group that is so virulently anti-gay that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has declared it a hate group.

And so on and so forth. Cruz has been rolling out a dizzying array of endorsements of the absolute worst of the religious right, which was enough to help push him over the top in Iowa.None of this means that Cruz will be the eventual nominee. But, as history shows, campaigns like his — and like Mike Huckabee’s and Rick Santorum’s in the past — show that the fire-breathing fundies have a lot of political power. This, in turn, means that the Republican Party will still feel obliged to pay fealty to  those who believe that it’s the government’s solemn, Jesus-instructed duty to punish you for having sex outside of their very narrow prescription of what it should look like (straight, married, only for procreation).

If there was one good thing to come out of Trump’s candidacy, it was that his apparent pull with evangelical voters suggested that the single-minded obsession with the underpants of America was finally starting to fade on the right. But the fact that Iowa voters, who are heavily evangelical, broke at the last minute to support the guy who is supported by the sex police shows that we are not quite done with these lunatics. Which is something they’ll be happy to remind party leaders of, even if Cruz eventually loses the nomination.

 

See:http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/ted-cruzs-radical-supporters-he-won-iowa-back-scariest-bible-thumpers-business?utm_source=Amanda+Marcotte%27s+Subscribers&utm_campaign=51b931879e-RSS_AUTHOR_EMAIL&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f2b9a8ae81-51b931879e-79824733

 

GOP Chair: No Evidence Of Misconduct By Planned Parenthood

Source:Patheos.com

Author:Michael Stone

Emphasis Mine

The Republican case against Planned Parenthood has collapsed: Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Chair of the House Oversight Committee, admits there is no evidence of wrongdoing by the family planning agency.

Rep. Chaffetz (R-UT) said Thursday that the GOP’s investigation into Planned Parenthood’s use of federal funds hasn’t turned up anything of significance.

Speaking during a Judiciary Committee meeting on Thursday, Chaffetz said:

Did I look at the finances and have a hearing specifically as to the revenue portion and how they spend? Yes.

Was there any wrongdoing? I didn’t find any.

Late last month Chaffetz grilled Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards during a five-hour hearing. During that hearing, Chaffetz was rude and belligerent, and repeatedly interrupted Richards as she tried to answer his questions in front of the House Oversight Committee.

However, in the end Richards had the last word, telling the belligerent congressman to “check your source” after Chaffetz was caught lying about a deceptive chart he was using in a failed attempt to discredit the women’s health organization.

Chaffetz, a candidate for House speaker, has been leading an expensive and misguided investigation into the business practices of Planned Parenthood after deceptive and misleading videos were released that allegedly showed company executives discussing the sale of fetal tissue.

Recently Planned Parenthood has been the victim of a well financed and cynical campaign to smear the organization dedicated to healthy family planning and women’s reproductive health.

The Center for Medical Progress, a front for radical, anti-abortion, forced-birth extremists, has been running a highly orchestrated campaign to discredit Planned Parenthood and ultimately undermine legal and safe abortion.

The group recently released heavily edited, deceptive and dishonest videos about Planned Parenthood designed to generate political support to defund the organization.

 

See:http://www.patheos.com/blogs/progressivesecularhumanist/2015/10/gop-chair-no-evidence-of-misconduct-by-planned-parenthood/

The GOP still has nothing to show for its anti-Planned Parenthood campaign

Source:WashPost

Author:Dana Milbank

Emphasis Mine

At this point Republicans may wish to consider aborting to protect the health of the party.

They have been going after Planned Parenthood over the past few months like so many Captain Ahabs. They threatened to shut down the government to defund the group. Their insistence on a Planned Parenthood showdown drove House Speaker John Boehner to resign. They’re about to appoint a special committee to investigate Planned Parenthood. The party’s presidential candidates have made Planned Parenthood a central part of the campaign, and House Republicans are manufacturing new legislative vehicles to cut off the group.

And what do they have to show for it?

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds that Americans have a more favorable view of Planned Parenthood than of any other entity tested, including the Republican Party and presidential candidates. The group’s favorable/unfavorable impression, 47 percent to 31 percent, is actually up slightly from July. What’s more, 61 percent oppose eliminating federal funding of Planned Parenthood. Even among the 35 percent who support defunding, only9 percent favor shutting down the government to do it.

Yet House Republicans pressed ahead with their quest Tuesday, hauling Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards before the Oversight and Government Reform Committee for more than five hours of hectoring and finger-wagging about, among other things, her salary and the group’s travel expenses.

The hearing came about because of videos released in July purporting to show that Planned Parenthood was harvesting body parts from aborted fetuses for profit. In their memo announcing the hearing, committee Republicans proclaimed that the “disturbing content” of the recently released videos “raises questions about [Planned Parenthood’s] use of taxpayer funding.” But the videos turned out to be doctored, and committee Republicans declined Democrats’ requests to have the video maker, David Daleiden, appear before the panel. The committee didn’t get the full unedited videos, Chairman Jason Chaffetz (Utah) said, because of California court proceedings.

Two hours into the hearing, Chaffetz made the startling confession that “without the videos, we can’t have a good discussion about them.”

But we can shut down the federal government over them?

Dispensing with the videos, members of the panel got down to the larger purpose of the hearing: harassing Richards and her group.

Chaffetz flashed a chart on the screens showing that since 2010, the number of abortions at Planned Parenthood has surpassed the number of its “cancer screenings and prevention services.”

But no such shift occurred. The fine print on the chart showed that the number of abortions (327,000 in 2013) never came close to reaching the number of cancer screenings (935,573 in 2013) at any point.

The bogus graph didn’t seem to matter to Chaffetz, who drew the witness’s attention to the crossing lines showing abortions overtaking screenings.

Richards said the chart “absolutely does not reflect what’s happening.”

“I pulled those numbers directly out of your corporate reports,” the chairman said.

In fact, the chart said the source was the antiabortion group Americans United for Life — which Richards pointed out to Chaffetz.

“Then we will get to the bottom of the truth of that,” the chairman said.

The truth? Planned Parenthood gets money for women’s birth control, STD screenings and the like, not abortions — which Richards calmly reminded her inquisitors. She left it to Democratic lawmakers to proclaim their (exaggerated) outrage. “The misogyny!” wailed Rep. Gerald Connolly (Va.).

Republicans tried to inoculate themselves against the inevitable “war on women” charges. Chaffetz admitted three Republican women to participate in the hearing (there is only one GOP woman on the panel) and he started his own remarks by emotionally invoking his wife’s work with breast-cancer patients. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) thought it helpful to say that “I’m wearing a pink tie in solidarity with women’s health issues.” The majority dodged an awkward moment when Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), a pro-life lawmaker who, according to court records,encouraged his wife and mistress to have abortions, yielded his time to a colleague.

That colleague, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), told Richards “you’re profiting off death.” Likewise, Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) proclaimed himself a “champion for the unborn,” while Walberg said “we’ve been brought into a frenzy and a concern about what happens to our babies,” and Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) asked what happens if “a child survives an abortion attempt.”

This would appear to justify Richards’s contention that the controversy “isn’t about Planned Parenthood. It’s about allowing women in this country . . . to make other decisions about their pregnancies.”

As if to confirm Richards’s suspicion, 28 minutes after the hearing ended, lawmakers went to the House floor to vote on legislation restricting abortion — for the 14th time this year.

See:https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-gop-still-has-nothing-to-show-for-its-anti-planned-parenthood-campaign/2015/09/29/1c79bd02-66e9-11e5-9223-70cb36460919_story.html?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_opinions

5 Amazing Ways Pope Francis Made Republicans Squirm Yesterday

In his speech to Congress, the pope made one thing very clear: Republicans aren’t acting very Christian.

Source: AlterNet

Author:Patricia Miller

Emphasis Mine

Despite all the talk that Pope Francis’ address to Congress wouldn’t be political or partisan, it turns out it was both. And, as I predicted here in Salon, it definitely leaned to one side of the aisle. In fact, if you were a conservative Republican, Thursday morning in the Congress was not your finest moment, as Pope Francis laid bare all the ways that the Republican agenda counters Catholic social teaching, from its harsh treatment of immigrants to its fossil fuel-burning disdain for the natural world.

And Francis’ call for politicians to work for the common good was an implicit rebuke to the do-nothing, obstructionist GOP agenda that’s in service to their corporatist, Chamber of Commerce overlords. “Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation. …You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics,” he said.

Here are the five key moments in Francis’ speech that made conservatives squirm more than any others:

The shout-out to Dorothy Day.Francis commended four Americans in particular, whom he held up as examples of pursuing the common good: Abraham Lincoln, for his pursuit of liberty; Martin Luther King Jr., for his commitment to nonviolence and pluralism; Trappist monk Thomas Merton, for his commitment to dialogue and peace; and Dorothy Day, for her “social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed.”

None of them are exactly conservative, but Day in particular is noted as a radical social activist. She founded the Catholic Worker Movement, which took root during the Great Depression, and urged Catholics to form small, autonomous communities to lead simple lives devoted to the gospel and serving the poor. In addition to being a socialist, Day was outspoken in her support of pacifism and labor rights. “I think it was extraordinary that he cited her as one of the most important people in recent American history. This would be one of the very, very few times that somebody as radical as Dorothy Day was mentioned,” Sen. Bernie Sanders told the Washington Post.

The abortion switcheroo. In defiance of the specific guidance not to try to score political points by clapping at partisan applause lines in Francis’ speech, congressional conservatives leapt to their feet the moment Francis delivered the Vatican’s standard coded language about abortion, mentioning “our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.” Imagine their shock when he immediately followed that with, “This conviction had led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty.” Psych.

Catholic social teaching has long put opposition to the death penalty on the same plane as opposition to abortion, most famously with Chicago Archbishop Joseph Bernardin’s “seamless garment” doctrine, which held sway in the mid-1980s as progressive bishops reminded Catholics that opposition to the death penalty and nuclear war was just as important as abortion.

Calling arms deals “money drenched in blood.” Speaking of death, what about all those arms deals the Republicans are so fond of? Francis wanted to know who is selling the bad guys all these weapons and why: “Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society?” The answer, according to the pontiff, is “money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.” I’m sure the GOP and all the defense contractors who give them money will get right on that.

Reminding the GOP we’re all foreigners. As in his speech at the White House on Tuesday, Francis felt the need to once again remind those who are making intolerance toward immigrants their political stock-in-trade that they, like him, are likely the descendants of immigrant families. “[M]illions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom,” he said, adding, “We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants.”

Catholic social teaching reminds Catholics of their duty to “welcome the stranger.”

In one of the most moving passages of his speech, Francis said, “Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities.”

Confronting the climate naysayers. Francis made it clear that combating climate change, development and technology can coexist. He explicitly rebuked many conservative critics of his climate change encyclical “Laudato si,” who claim that he is anti-commerce and wants to stifle development or reduce the world to subsistence-level farming to stop climate change. “The right use of natural resources, the proper application of technology and the harnessing of the spirit of enterprise are essential elements of an economy which seeks to be modern, inclusive and sustainable,” he said, adding, “In this regard, I am confident that America’s outstanding academic and research institutions can make a vital contribution in the years ahead.”

On the plus for conservatives side, Francis did talk about the need for “the voice of faith to continue to be heard,” but in the case of this particular voice, conservatives probably wish he would just be quiet.

Patricia Miller is the author of “Good Catholics: The Battle Over Abortion in the Catholic Church.” Her work on politics, sex and religion has appeared in the Atlantic, the Nation, Huffington Post, and Ms. Magazine.

 

See:http://www.alternet.org/5-amazing-ways-pope-francis-made-republicans-squirm-yesterday?akid=13519.123424.ixFPZ6&rd=1&src=newsletter1043006&t=10