Category Archives: Right – too Religous for me

What is the Republican party doing to take the GOP so far off base.

The American Right: Its Deep Story

by Arlie Russell Hochschild, University of California, Berkeley, USA

As in much of Europe, India, China and Russia, the American political right is on the move. In some ways, America’s leftward cultural shift – a first black president, a potential female one, gay marriage – may obscure this rise. But it’s there. Over the last few decades, conservative voices have grown louder: the most popular cable TV channel and the most popular daily talk radio show lean strongly right. Both houses of the federal Congress in Washington D.C. are in Republican hands. Republicans also control far more state legislative chambers than do Democrats, and more state governorships. In 23 of the nation’s 50 states, Republicans control both houses of the state legislature and the governorship; the corresponding number for Democrats is seven. Some twenty percent of Americans – 45 million people – now support the avidly anti-tax Tea Party movement, and in recent months the populist nativist Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump won the most Republican primary votes in history.

What distinguishes the American right from its counterparts elsewhere is hatred of the federal government. The right calls for cuts in government benefits: unemployment insurance, Medicaid, college financial aid, school lunch and far more. Prominent Republican leaders have called for elimination of entire departments of federal government – Education, Energy, Commerce and Interior. In 2015, 58 House Republicans voted to abolish the Internal Revenue Service. Some have even called for abolishing all public schools.

Grassroots supporters of these leaders feel frustrated and angry at the government. The big question which prompted me to begin a five-year ethnographic study in Louisiana – part of the heartland of the American Right – was, why? As I began interviews for my book, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right[1], the puzzle only grew. The country’s second-poorest state, Louisiana has proportionately more failing schools, more sick and obese residents, than nearly any state in the nation. So it needed – and received – federal help; 44 percent of its state budget came from the federal government. So why, I wondered, were so many Tea Party supporters angry? And how does anger – or any emotion – underlie politics?

While many analysts address these questions from outside the personal experience of right-wing individuals, I wanted to understand that experience from inside. So I attended meetings of Republican Women of Southwest Louisiana, church services, and political campaign rallies. I asked people to show me where they’d grown up, gone to school, where their parents were buried. I perused high school yearbooks of my new Louisiana friends, played cards and went fishing with them. Overall I interviewed 60 people – 40 of them white, older, Christian supporters of the Tea Party. I gathered over 4,600 pages of transcribed interviews and field notes.

I also struck upon a method. First I listened. Then I drew up a metaphorical representation of their experience, stripped of judgment and of facts, a feels-as-if account which I call a “deep story.” Underlying all our political beliefs, I believe, lies such a story. In this case, it goes like this:

You are patiently standing in a middle of a long line leading up a hill, as in a pilgrimage. Others beside you seem like you – white, older, Christian, predominantly male. Just over the brow of the hill is the American Dream, the goal of everyone in line. Then, look! Suddenly you see people cutting in line ahead of you! As they cut in, you seem to be being moved back. How can they just do that? Who are they?

Many are black. Through federal affirmative action plans, they are given preference for places in colleges and universities, apprenticeships, jobs, welfare payments, and free lunch programs. Others are cutting ahead too – uppity women seeking formerly all-male jobs, immigrants, refugees, and an expanding number of high-earning public sector workers, paid with your tax dollars. Where will it end?

As you wait in this unmoving line, you’re asked to feel sorry for them all. People complain: Racism, Discrimination, Sexism. You hear stories of oppressed blacks, dominated women, weary immigrants, closeted gays, desperate refugees. But at some point, you say to yourself, you have to close the borders to human sympathy – especially if there are some among them who might bring harm.

You’re a compassionate person. But now you’ve been asked to extend your sympathy to all the people who have cut in front of you. You’ve suffered a good deal yourself, but you aren’t complaining about it or asking for help, you’re proud to say. You believe in equal rights. But how about your own rights? Don’t they count too? It’s unfair.

Then you see a black president with the middle name Hussein, waving to the line cutters. He’s on their side, not yours. He’s their president, not yours. And isn’t he a line-cutter too? How could the son of a struggling single mother pay for Columbia and Harvard? Maybe something has gone on in secret. And aren’t the president and his liberal backers using your money to help themselves? You want to turn off the machine – the federal government – which he and liberals are using to push you back in line.

I returned to my respondents to ask if this deep story described their feelings. While some altered the story here or there (“so we get in another line…” or “that’s our money he’s giving out…”), they all claimed the story as their own. One told me “I live your metaphor.” Another said, “You read my mind.”

What has happened to make this story ring true? In a word, a loss of honor. Tea Party supporters I met were generally not poor, but many had grown up in poverty, and had seen family and friends sink back into it. But wealth was not the only source of wellbeing and honor. As white, heterosexual Christians, many also described their fears of a demographic decline (“There are fewer people like us,” one woman told me), or of becoming a religious minority (“People aren’t churched anymore,” “You can’t say Merry Christmas; you have to say Happy Holidays”). Some felt like a cultural minority (“We’re the clean-living people, people who go by the rules, but we’re seen as sexist, homophobic, racist, ignorant – all the labels the liberals have for us”). If they turned for honor to their beloved home, often in the rural mid-west or South, some felt disparaged as “rednecks.” Behind the deep story, then, was their loss of honor from many quarters – an honor squeeze.

A deep story describes pain (others cut ahead of you). It describes blame (an ill-intentioned government). And it points to rescue (Tea Party politics). It also provides an emotional accounting system, establishing how much sympathy is due those waiting or cutting in line, how much distrust is owed the government, or how much government beneficiaries should be shamed. This system becomes a foundation for feeling rules[2] – which establish what we believe we “should and shouldn’t” feel – now a key target of heated political battle. Explicitly or implicitly, most service jobs require workers to abide by feeling rules (“It’s wrong to get mad at the customer; he’s always right”). Workers learn how to manage their feelings in training, and supervisors monitor how well they do it. Similarly, political ideologies carry feeling rules. Leaders guide sympathy, suspicion, blame, shame, and talk radio hosts and newscasters spread the word, which local and electronic communities monitor through commentary.

Left and right abide by ever-more divergent sets of feeling rules. In general, the left calls for sympathy for underprivileged groups, who are seen as deserving government help; the right does not. The left calls for trust in this part of government, the right suspects and reviles it. The left attaches dignity and entitlement to the receipt of government help, the right attaches great shame to it.

In the cultural battle between these two codes, the Tea Party supporters I studied felt dominated by the feeling rules of the left and resented it bitterly. “We’ve had enough P.C. [Political Correctness]” Donald Trump has often yelled, echoing a sentiment adamantly held on the right. One man told me, “Liberals want us to feel sorry for immigrants and refugees. But mostly I see a bunch of people saying poor me, poor me, poor me…” Another said, “Liberals get something from the government and we don’t – and I’m glad not to take if I’m not in need. But they want us to feel grateful for what they’re getting.” And many attached great shame to getting government help, and felt utter contempt for cheaters. “I know guys who put in for unemployment during hunting season.” Or, “A lot of people in that trailer park got on disability by claiming to have seizures. I don’t know how they hold their heads high. But they do, and the government encourages it.” Most Tea Party supporters strongly resisted the idea that anyone should feel sympathy with line cutters, gratitude toward government, or release from the shame of getting a “government hand-out.”

But not everyone I spoke to agreed. Indeed, it was as if two factions of those I interviewed heard different endings to the deep story. Traditional Tea Party supporters wanted to cut both the practice of cutting in line, and government rewards for doing so. Followers of Donald Trump, on the other hand, wanted to keep government benefits and remove shame from the act of receiving them – but restrict those benefits, implicitly, to native-born Americans, preferably white.

Trump’s pronouncements have been vague and shifting, but pundits have noted that he has not called for cuts to Medicaid. Rather he plans, he says, to replace Obamacare, which extends medical coverage to the uninsured, with a new program that will be “terrific.” Significant, too, is Trump’s distribution of shame. Though he has disparaged ex-POW hero John McCain, a disabled journalist, a female Fox News commentator, undocumented Mexicans, an American-born judge of Mexican heritage, all Muslims, and all his Republican adversaries, he has never shamed recipients of Medicaid or food stamps.

But in order to legitimize welfare for white men, Trump had to masculinize the act of receiving it. This may be a secret and potent source of Trump’s appeal. He applauds men who brawl, own guns, stand tough, act macho. Most welfare recipients are women, children and men of color. But there are many poor, or almost poor or afraid-of-becoming poor white men. If such a man needs it, Trump intimates, getting a government benefit can be a guy’s thing to do. You can slap a gun decal on your pick-up, start brawls, be macho, Trump implies, and also apply for unemployment or food stamps – stigma-free.

Importantly, many of Trump’s blue-collar white male followers face the same grim economic fate earlier visited on blacks: disappearing jobs, low wages, evidence of despair. Among such men, there are proportionately more single dads than among their richer white male counterparts, more split marriages, more children, and harder times. If they aren’t on Medicaid now, they might be in the future – and so they face the contradiction of needing the very government help which the right, and they themselves, have long disparaged. Detachment from welfare was a key status marker, distinguishing “real men” from the “real bottom.” In my interviews with Louisiana Trump supporters, talk of his support for government benefits did not arise, at least at first. But, asked about his view of a safety net for “regular people,” one auto mechanic noted, “Trump’s not against that. If you use food stamps because you’re working a low-wage job, you don’t want someone looking down their nose at you.”

Trump tacitly absolves blue-collar white men from shame, but not non-native or non-white men. Indeed, responding to the deep story, Trump has created a movement much like the anti-immigrant but pro-welfare state right-wing populism on the rise in Great Britain, Germany, France, Austria and much of Eastern Europe. All these right-wing movements are, I believe, based on variations of the deep story, the feelings it evokes, and the strong beliefs that protect it.

Direct all correspondence to Arlie Hochschild <>

[1] Arlie Hochschild (2016) Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right. New York: New Press.

[2] See Arlie Hochschild (1983) The Managed Heart: the Commercialization of Human Feeling. Berkeley and Los Angeles: The University of California Press.


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Media Hide Facts, Call Everyone Else a Liar

Ann Coulter Letter

Ann Coulter  | Wednesday Jul 1, 2015 4:59 PM

Media Hide Facts, Call Everyone Else a Liar

When Donald Trump said something not exuberantly enthusiastic about Mexican immigrants, the media’s response was to boycott him. One thing they didn’t do was produce any facts showing he was wrong.

Trump said: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems to us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

The first thing a news fact-checker would have noticed is: THE GOVERNMENT WON’T TELL US HOW MANY IMMIGRANTS ARE COMMITTING CRIMES IN AMERICA.

Wouldn’t that make any person of average intelligence suspicious? Not our media. They’re in on the cover-up.

A curious media might also wonder why any immigrants are committing crimes in America. A nation’s immigration policy, like any other government policy, ought to be used to help the people already here — including the immigrants, incidentally.

It’s bad enough that immigrants, both legal and illegal, are accessing government benefits at far above the native rate, but why would any country be taking another country’s criminals? We have our own criminals! No one asked for more.

Instead of counting the immigrant stock filling up our prisons, the government issues a series of comical reports claiming to tally immigrant crime. The Department of Justice relies on immigrants’ self-reports of their citizenship. The U.S. census simply guesses the immigration status of inmates. The Government Accounting Office conducts its own analysis of Bureau of Prisons data.

In other words, the government hasn’t the first idea how many prisoners are legal immigrants, illegal immigrants or anchor babies.

But there are clues! Only about a quarter of California inmates are white, according to a major investigative piece in The Atlantic last year — and that includes criminals convicted in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, when the vast majority of California’s population was either black or white.

Do immigration enthusiasts imagine that more than 75 percent of the recent convicts are African-American? Blacks have high crime rates, but they make up only about 6 percent of California’s entire population.

A casual perusal of the “Most Wanted” lists also suggests that the government may not have our best interests in mind when deciding who gets to live in America.

Here is the Los Angeles Police Department’s list of “Most Wanted” criminal suspects:

– Jesse Enrique Monarrez (murder),

– Cesar Augusto Nistal (child molestation),

– Jose A. Padilla (murder),

– Demecio Carlos Perez (murder),

– Ramon Reyes (robbery and murder),

– Victor Vargas (murder),

– Ruben Villa (murder)

The full “Most Wanted” list doesn’t get any better.

There aren’t a lot of Mexicans in New York state — half of all Mexican immigrants in the U.S. live in either Texas or California — and yet there are more Mexican prisoners in New York than there are inmates from all of Western Europe.

As for the crime of rape specifically, different groups have different criminal proclivities, and no one takes a backseat to Hispanics in terms of sex crimes.

The rate of rape in Mexico is even higher than in India, according to Professor Carlos Javier Echarri Canovas of El Colegio de Mexico. A report from the Inter-American Children’s Institute explains that in Latin America, women and children are “seen as objects instead of human beings with rights and freedoms.”

All peasant cultures have non-progressive views on women, but Latin America happens to have the peasant culture that’s closest to the United States.

The only reason our newspapers aren’t chockablock with reports of Latino sexual predators is that they are too busy broadcasting hoax news stories about non-existent gang-rapes by white men: the Duke lacrosse team (Crystal Gail Mangum), University of Virginia fraternity members (Jackie Coakley) and military contractors in Iraq (Jamie Leigh Jones).

In fact, the main way we find out about Hispanic rapists is when the media report on dead or missing girls — hoping against hope that the case will never be solved or the perp will turn out to look like the rapists on “Law and Order.” When it turns out to be another Latino rapist, that fact is aggressively suppressed by the media.

New Yorkers were horrified by the case of “Baby Hope,” a 4-year-old girl whose raped and murdered body turned up in an Igloo cooler off of the Henry Hudson Parkway in 1991. After a 20-year investigation, the police finally captured her rapist/murderer in 2003. It was Conrado Juarez, an illegal alien from Mexico, who disposed of the girl’s body with the help of his illegal alien sister.

New York City is the nation’s media capital. But only The New York Post reported that the child rapist was a Mexican.

In 2001, the media were fixated on the case of Chandra Levy, a congressional intern who had gone missing. All eyes were on her boss and romantic partner, Democratic congressman Gary Condit. Then it turned out she was assaulted and murdered while jogging in Rock Creek Park by Ingmar Guandique — an illegal alien from El Salvador.

There was a lot of press when three Cleveland women went missing a decade ago. By the time they escaped in 2013 from the sick sexual pervert who’d been holding them captive, it was too late for the media to ignore the story. The girls hadn’t been kidnapped by the Duke lacrosse team, but by Ariel Castro.

Now, get this: While investigating Castro, the police discovered that he wasn’t the only Hispanic raping young girls on his block. (All in all, it wasn’t a great street for trick-or-treating.)

Castro’s erstwhile neighbor, Elias Acevedo, had spent years raping, among many others, his own daughters when they were little girls. The New York Times’ entire coverage of that case consisted of a tiny item on page A-18: “Ohio: Life Sentence in Murders and Rapes.”

The media knew from the beginning that the monstrous gang-rape and murder of Jennifer Ertman, 14, and Elizabeth Pena, 16, in Houston in 1993 was instigated by Jose Ernesto Medellin, an illegal immigrant from Mexico. But over the next decade, with more than a thousand news stories on that case, the fact that the lead rapist was a Mexican was not mentioned once, according to the Nexus archives.

Only when Medellin’s Mexican-ness was used to try to overturn his death sentence did American news consumers finally find out he was an illegal alien from Mexico. (After years of wasted judicial resources and taxpayer money being spent on Medellin’s appeals, he will now be spending eternity way, way south of the border.)

Who is this media cover-up helping? Not the American girls getting raped. But also not the Latina immigrants who came to the U.S., thinking they were escaping the Latin American rape culture. So as not to hurt the feelings of immigrant rapists, the media are willing to put all girls living here at risk.

No wonder the media is sputtering at Trump. He broke the embargo on unpleasant facts about what our brilliant immigration policies are doing to the country.

 Steve Benson for 7/1/2015

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Redefining the word

Examining a racial slur entrenched in American vernacular that is more prevalent than ever.

Written by Dave Sheinin, Krissah Thompson

Contributed Lonnae O’Neal Parker

Published on November 9, 2014

This season, the National Football League is attempting the impossible, a reasoned but dubious mission that has already tripped up an institution as venerable as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, municipalities as large as New York City and countless parents of teenagers across the land. The goal: banning the n-word within the chalk-lined borders of its purview.

As with the previous attempts, the NFL’s “zero tolerance” policy — which gives referees leeway to issue a 15-yard penalty for a first offense and ejection for a second — comes with good intentions: to establish a field of play free of the most racially charged word in American history.

ABOUT THE N-WORD PROJECT: Following several incidents involving players using the n-word, the National Football League this year instructed game officials to penalize players who used the word on the field of play. The policy, though, was widely criticized as being heavy-handed and out of touch. As the league wrestled with the issue, a team of Washington Post journalists examined the history of this singular American word, its spread through popular culture and its place in the vernacular today.

But like the others, it is almost certainly doomed to fail; to be ignored, at best — or mocked and flouted, at worst.

If there is one thing certain about the modern n-word — a shifty organism that has managed to survive on these shores for hundreds of years by lurking in dark corners, altering its form, splitting off into a second specimen and constantly seeking out new hosts, all the while retaining its basic and vile DNA — it is that it defies black-and-white interpretations and hard-and-fast rules.

The word is too essential as an urban slang term to be placed in a casket and buried, as NAACP delegates attempted to do in a 2007 mock “funeral” for the word. It is too ingrained in youth culture to be eliminated from city streets, as the New York City Council attempted with a symbolic resolution banning the word the same year. And more than likely, it will prove too complex and nuanced to be policed by football referees wielding yellow flags and penalties. Never mind the troublesome optics of a group of mostly white NFL executives dictating the language rules of a majority-black player pool.

If anything, in 2014, it is the very notion of banning the n-word that appears dead and fit for burial. It was a long and noble fight waged largely — but not exclusively — by an older generation for which the word is inseparable from the brutality into which it was born. If there is still a meaningful n-word debate left to have, it is over context, ownership and the degree to which it should be tethered to its awful history — or set free from it.

A diverse set of Americans discuss the nuance of a word that is seen as both hateful and colloquial.

View Interactive Project

A word that is used 500,000 times a day on Twitter — as “nigga” is, according to search data on the social media analytics Web site — is almost by definition beyond banning. By comparison, “bro” and “dude” — two of the terms with which the n-word is synonymous to many people younger than 35 — are used 300,000 and 200,000 times, respectively. For many of this generation, the word is tossed around unthinkingly, no more impactful than a comma.

“It’s such a regular part of my vernacular. It’s a word I use every day,” said comedian/actor Tehran Von Ghasri, a 34-year-old D.C. native of African American and Iranian American heritage. “I’m a ‘nigga’ addict.”

Though the word has long been entrenched in American vernacular, by all accounts it is more prevalent than ever — expanding into new corners of the culture, showing up in places (college debate, Christian rap, video-game culture) where it would have been almost unimaginable a generation ago and no longer following any clear rules about who can say it and who can’t.

“People are integrating on a faster level today than ever before in history, [so] it’s unfathomable to me to think that with everything that we have crossing over, the language would not have crossed over as well,” Von Ghasri said. “I’m still uncomfortable with [a] white guy saying, ‘You’re a cool nigga.’ But in 25 years, I would hope that my kid’s not uncomfortable — because that white guy wouldn’t mean it in a demeaning, degrading way. He would mean it as a positive thing.”

The NFL’s move to ban the n-word — technically, a directive from the league to game officials to aggressively enforce an existing rule barring racial slurs on the playing field, with a particular emphasis on this specific one — came in the wake of a series of high-profile incidents involving the n-word and the league.

In July 2013, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper was recorded on video yelling the word menacingly at a country music concert.

Four months later, details began to emerge in the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal, in which a white lineman, Richie Incognito, at one point called Jonathan Martin, a black teammate, a “half-nigger” in a voice mail. The NFL suspended Incognito for three months.

That same month, Washington Redskins tackle Trent Williams, who is black, was accused of directing the word at an African American official who was attempting to intervene in a dispute between opposing players that included similar abusive language. Williams denied using the slur to the official, and the official, umpire Roy Ellison, was suspended for one game for using derogatory language toward Williams.

Taken together, the incidents might have signaled to some an n-word problem in the NFL. The Fritz Pollard Alliance, a group that advises the league on diversity issues, certainly thought so, pushing the NFL to adopt its “zero tolerance” stance toward racial slurs — a policy that was met by a firestorm of criticism, with many players and pundits blasting the rule as unfair, or even inherently racist.

This season, several players — including the San Francisco 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick, a mixed-race quarterback who is one of the game’s top young stars — have been penalized and fined by the league for saying the word to an opponent.

But any larger exploration of this subject leads to the inevitable conclusion that it isn’t just the NFL that has an n-word problem. It’s all of America.

An enduring toxicity

One of the biggest problems in confronting the n-word is that, for decades now, there have existed two n-words, one that ends in “er” and one that ends in “a.” For many, they have distinctly different meanings — the “er” version linked to the word’s hateful, racist origins, the other more a term of endearment.

But it isn’t quite that simple. There are those who argue that the versions are not so much distinct words as they are different pronunciations of the same word, with the same vile underpinnings. “You change a vowel or two. It doesn’t change the meaning,” said Dineytra Lee, a dancer and youth advocate in Los Angeles who is of African American and Puerto Rican heritage.

At its essence, the word — in either form — remains inseparable from its basic, historic meaning. Even if you believe the form that ends in “er” and the one that ends in “a” are two distinct words, the latter would not exist were it not for the former. And the former would not exist were it not for the scourge of racism.

There is no better proof of its enduring toxicity than the fact that, in polite society, it is spoken and written only in its euphemistic shorthand — “the n-word” — than its full, spelled-out form.

“It’s impossible to separate the word from various manifestations of white supremacy,” said Jabari Asim, an Emerson College literature professor and author of “The N Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn’t, and Why.” “Racist violence against black people has seldom been implemented without the recitation of the n-word at the same time.”

At its core, the word has always been about power: the power whites held over blacks for centuries, and the power that some in the black community once sought to regain by “reclaiming” the word for itself in hopes of lessening, or eliminating, its sting — an argument others never fully bought.

“The n-word was created to divest people of their humanity,” the poet Maya Angelou once said on the Sundance TV show “Iconoclasts.” “When I see a bottle — [and] it says ‘P-O-I-S-O-N,’ then I know [what it is]. The bottle is nothing, but the content is poison. If I pour that content into Bavarian crystal, it is still poison.”

Banning the word, in a sense, is an attempt to exert another degree of power over it. It is a laudable thought in theory, but one that in practice is seemingly impossible, given the word’s vast reach. Even worse, it raises the question of who, exactly, has the right to ban it.

“Y’all birthed the word,” said D.C.-based educator Gabriel Benn, rhetorically addressing white America. “You can’t kill it.”

But many would argue the word doesn’t need to be banned as much as it needs to be policed. A straight ban affords no room for the nuances and contextual variations of the word — for example, the way the word might be used as a neutral term of familiarity or community between two competing football players in the heat of battle.
“If I ran a double move on [an opposing defensive back] and he grabbed me, I would say something like, ‘Nigga, quit holding me,’” said former NFL wide receiver Donté Stallworth. “He wouldn’t care about that. He’d be upset about me saying he’s holding. It’s nothing negative. It doesn’t hurt my feelings. It doesn’t hurt his feelings. It’s not meant to incite. [But] now, that [word] would get me a [penalty] flag.”

Unlike a strict ban on the word, policing it allows a community to set its own ground rules and check those who stray outside the lines.

The problem is, policing the word has become more difficult in an America where the lines between white and black have become grayer, where the use of the word is expanding all the time, and where the bar for what is outrageous and provocative continues to rise.

“One should have a lot of responsibility when using the word,” said Patricia Wilson, a Los Angeles-based television producer who is African American. “When [non-black] people say, ‘Well, you hear it in rap music. . . . Is it okay for others to use?’ And the answer is hell no. It’s not okay, and I don’t think it will ever be okay. Because when others use it, it’s more dehumanizing, and they don’t take on the historical responsibility. Anybody can be checked at any time, [and told], ‘Look, that’s not cool. You can’t use it like that. I don’t give a damn what you hear on the radio.’ ”

The word still possesses its power to rend. Wielded indelicately, it can destroy careers and reputations. It still divides the country, even within African American communities, on the question of whether it should be banished to the dark corners of history or embraced as a term of endearment. None of that is new.

But what is new is the growing acceptance and use of the word in different settings and among different groups. That growth has been fueled by the generation — more multicultural and tolerant than any before it — that came of age during the 1980s and 1990s, as the n-word exploded anew in popular culture.

But this generation has almost no personal connection to the civil rights struggle and doesn’t equate the word, at least not exclusively, with racism. Perhaps these Americans had parents or grandparents who felt strongly about the inappropriateness of the n-word, but they grew up themselves with a level of comfort with it, and wouldn’t be as stringent in raising their own children.

“I’m empathetic to the older generation because they lived it — [but] why are we still attaching ourselves to that word?” said Stallworth, the former NFL wide receiver. “Let it go. I’m not saying let the emotions go or let what happened [in the past] go, but that word – let it go. To me it’s a word of the past. I’m not downplaying the significance of it. But today, in 2014, it’s time for us to let go of the baggage that word comes with and just start looking at ourselves as a different type of people.

“Let evolution happen. Let pop culture take that word away to the ocean, and let anyone use it. . . . That word’s not meant for us anymore. ‘Nigga’ is a part of pop culture. It’s just a word, but it shouldn’t be chained to us, for lack of a better word. It shouldn’t be a part of who we are.”

Re-appropriating a slur

Removed from its loaded context, and viewed only through the lens of linguistics, the n-word is a marvel of modern language — springing from the Latin word for black (“niger”), obtaining its awful power during the era of slavery, retaining that power through a century of lynchings and Jim Crow segregation, then splitting off into a second, distinct word that means pretty much the exact opposite of the original.

There is no other word like it in the English language, encompassing both the ugliest sort of hate and a communal, if subversive, sense of love and affection, depending upon who is saying it and in what context. It can be wielded as a tool of both white racism and black empowerment. Its most accomplished practitioners can drop it into conversation as a noun, adjective, verb or interjection.

Linguistically, the phenomenon of a community taking a word meant as a slur and re-appropriating it as a term of endearment is called semantic inversion or semantic looping. The word’s use by African Americans, wrote linguist Andrew T. Jacobs in 2002, “is a strategy for asserting the humanity of black people in the face of continuing racism, a strategy that celebrates an anti-assimilationist vision of African-American identity.”

Other oppressed communities have similarly re-appropriated slurs, seen perhaps most vividly in the gay community’s adoption of terms such as “dyke” and “queer.” But the comparisons between those words and the n-word are imprecise; “dyke” and “queer” have never moved outside the gay community to become universal.

Perhaps more than any other word, the n-word is dependent upon context. Other words may be influenced by context, but this one is totally inseparable from it. It scarcely exists outside of context. Its meaning is never fixed. Was it said by a black man to other black men? By a white person in a multi-racial group? Were they in a locker room? At a rap concert? A change in setting alters the entire dynamic.

“To me, it’s just a word, a word whose power is owned by the user and his or her intention. People give words power, so banning a word is futile, really,” rapper Jay Z wrote in his memoir, “Decoded.” “ ‘Nigga’ becomes ‘porch monkey’ becomes ‘coon’ and so on if that’s what in a person’s heart. The key is to change the person. And we change people through conversation, not through censorship.”

A Jay Z concert is like a social experiment on the reach of the word in modern culture. At his show at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium in July — where he shared the spotlight and the stage with his wife, Beyoncé, on their “On the Run” tour — the sold-out crowd was a healthy mix of black, white, Asian and Hispanic fans. The rapper invited everyone to sing along to “Jigga My Nigga,” and the lyrics, which helped take the song to the top of the rap charts in 1999, echoed throughout the crowd in melodious unison. Beyoncé joined in on a later track, mouthing the words “I’m the nigga” as her husband performed.

Janeace Slifka, a 27-year-old white woman who self-identifies as a feminist and works as a digital strategist in the District, stood in the upper deck with her husband, swaying side to side as Beyoncé and Jay Z performed. She sang along at times, but when “nigga” appeared in the lyrics she let her voice drop out, while thousands of others kept singing.

“I didn’t find myself uncomfortable at all, but I can’t imagine signing along, either,” she said. “I wouldn’t even do it in my car, let alone in a crowd of 50,000 people — even if I was being encouraged.”

Some artists, including superstar Kanye West, have been known to grant white concertgoers permission to keep singing along even when the lyrics contain the word — an offer that is frequently accepted wholeheartedly.

“He said, ‘Okay, white people — this is your only opportunity. So I want you to sing at the top of your lungs,’ ” Benn, the D.C. educator, recounted about a recent West concert. “And they did it.”

For decades, a debate has raged within the hip-hop community about the extent to which the prevalence of the n-word among youth of all races is connected to its rise in hip-hop — and the debate has perhaps never been more relevant. When N.W.A. — short for Niggaz with Attitude — first appeared on the scene in the late 1980s, its use of the word felt revolutionary. Now, to achieve the same effect, it requires more effort — and more n-words. The 2013 hit song “My Nigga” by YG used the word a whopping 128 times.

“The word has staying power because we keep saying it, period,” said acclaimed African American opera singer Denyce Graves, a Washington native. “The issue of reclaiming the word and taking ownership — I reject that entire idea. My mother used to tell us when we were kids, ‘The shackles had been taken off the ankles and wrapped around the mind.’ And she would say that we were continuing the oppressors’ work. . .

“I know we will never be rid of this word, [but] I would love to see it just vanish.”

But as hip-hop has aged and evolved as an art form, so, too, have its practitioners. They don’t necessarily hold the same views in their 30s and 40s that they did in their teens.

“We have indirectly given a pass to a lot of people — to just say it and sing along,” said Benn, a rapper who, under the stage name Asheru, released a song called “Niggas.” “We let that happen on our watch. . . . The problem is, white people want to be able to say it, and they want somebody to give them that permission.”

It isn’t difficult to imagine how a white teenager, perhaps lacking a deep understanding of the United States’ racial history, could be left wondering whether it is okay to use the word — when it is a constant presence in his generation’s music and in the hallways of his school, and when African American peers sometimes give him a “pass” to use it.

Nathan Brandli, a white University of Maryland senior majoring in African American studies, said he wrestled with those “gray areas” during high school. His three best friends, all African Americans, gave him permission to use the word with them, he recalled, but he never did so. However, he did use the word occasionally, and always privately, with a white friend.

“We kind of used the word to each other as a friendly sort of word, like, ‘That’s my nigga,’ ” Brandli said. “But eventually I became more and more uncomfortable with that . . . just because I was aware that, as a white person, maybe you shouldn’t use that word, [since] that would make people get the wrong idea.”

‘We’re fighting a losing battle’

At the University of Oklahoma this year, a pair of African American debaters won eight rounds in the prestigious National Debate Tournament, before losing in the semifinals, by employing an argument that made liberal use of the n-word — a strategy intentionally tailored to challenge existing norms in debate.

In Atlanta, Christian rapper Sho Baraka reached the top of the U.S. gospel music charts (and peaked at 12th on the rap charts) with an album, “Talented 10th,” that makes judicious use of the n-word — a development that roiled the world of Christian pop music.

The Web site Gamers Against Bigotry, launched in 2012 as a movement to combat widespread racist and sexist language and behavior in the video-gaming community, was attacked by hackers within a week and defaced with, among other things, slogans containing the n-word.

In Orlando; Forsyth County, Ga., Killeen, Tex.; and King County, Wash., graduating high school students — some of them white — hung banners last summer featuring the phrase “nigga we made it,” made popular by the anthemic song “We Made It,” by the Canadian-born hip-hop star Drake.

Spend some time in the hallways of a high school and you are likely to hear not only African Americans using the word among themselves, but also Asians, Latinos and whites. They probably don’t mean any harm, but it is jarring to anyone with the perspective of an older generation.

“Kids today lack the historical perspective,” said Michael Nesmith, head football coach at Paint Branch High School in the Maryland suburbs of Washington. “That, plus its use in hip-hop, is why it’s so prevalent. They’re desensitized to it. I hear kids using it all the time — whites to other whites, Latinos to other Latinos.” Nesmith said he doesn’t allow his players (roughly 90 percent of whom are black) to use the word, but he added, “We’re fighting a losing battle.”

These days, it might make more sense to ask which groups aren’t using the word than which groups are.

John McWhorter, a Columbia University linguistics professor and contributing editor at the New Republic, peers into the future and envisions a day when the word is omnipresent and universal. “Frankly, we’re just going to have to get used to it,” he said. “It’s a generational shift, and it’s permanent. There will be potbellied middle-aged white men calling each other ‘nigga’ in 30 years.”

Others would question whether such a universal acceptance could ever occur. Despite its expansion, the n-word hasn’t really joined mainstream American culture — just mainstream American youth culture. That it is growing in volume doesn’t necessarily mean it is growing in influence. As has happened throughout history, young people grow up, they take jobs, they have kids and their viewpoints change.

The sheer number of prominent artists who went from using the n-word frequently to disavowing it — a group that includes comedians Richard Pryor, Paul Mooney and Chris Rock — suggests a coming of age or an awakening to the word’s powers to harm.

Indeed, the most effective form of policing the word may be self-policing. When Ayana Evans, a 24-year-old Howard University student, gave up the word for Lent this year, she said it was almost like an epiphany.

“I was motivated because I was listening to someone speak, and they said, ‘What you say, you become,’ ” she said. “And I thought, ‘Wow, I say this [word] to my friends all the time — and then tell them to get their lives together. It’s a contradictory statement. So [in using the word] I’m perpetuating this state of ignorance.”

The story of the n-word, in many ways, parallels the overall story of race in America — from the bloody circumstances of its birth to the messy state of its present. The word is visible almost anywhere there is racial conflict: the lawless realm of social media, the vast landscape of pop culture or the streets of Ferguson, Mo.

There are some who would say that debating the merits of the n-word is missing the bigger picture. The problem isn’t the n-word. The problem is racism. But it’s easier to fight a word than a complex, institutionalized system of oppression.

If life were as simple as the National Football League would like us to believe, the United States could simply police the word with yellow penalty flags, as if everyone were referees. A yellow flag on the hip-hop artist with the egregious lyrics. Another flag on the white kids at the mall, dropping the word on one another with no thought to its history. Another, if you wish, on the NFL for trying to ban in the first place a word used largely by African American players to other African American players.

A United States where everyone is using the n-word at will — where it contains no deeper, outside meaning at all — is difficult to imagine. But no more unimaginable than a country where the word is completely gone. What is far more likely is that the word continues to exist for generations to come — and continues to vex us with the same issues of history, context and ownership that it does now.

Comments from the Noosphere:

Recently I listened as an American with a Hispanic background used the “N word” frequently around a mixed racial group without anyone questioning his use. Apparently the use of this word has become Popular to use by other races than the Negro.  It seems to me that I could not be offended if I was called a Honky.  But that term has no meaning to me and was never used against me by anyone. Now we can all use the N word like it is just a piece of candy and the generation coming of age holds no negative images of a simple word. Perhaps we all need to remember that use of a language is always dynamic and words that were common when i was coming of age in the 60s is no longer defined as a cigarette but as a negative term for a male homosexual: fag.

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The Supreme Court swallows faked global warming data

EDITORIAL: Rigged ‘science’

By THE WASHINGTON TIMES – Monday, June 23, 2014

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Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

A fractured Supreme Court on Monday largely upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s radical rule designed to shut down the power plants that produce the most affordable electricity. The justices continue to accept the EPA’s labeling of carbon dioxide as a “pollutant.” This harmless gas, the agency insists, is melting the planet.

Only the brave deny man’s responsibility for super-heating the globe in precincts where the wise and wonderful (just ask them) gather to reassure each other than they know best. “We know the trends,” President Obama told the graduates at the University of California at Irvine the other day. “The 18 warmest years on record have all happened since you graduates were born.”

The charts and graphs devised by NASA and the government’s other science agencies back up the president’s words. And well they should, because the charts, like the “science,” were faked.

The “Steven Goddard Real Science” blog compares the raw U.S. temperature records from the Energy Department’s United States Historical Climatology Network to the “final” processed figures, to demonstrate how the historical data have been “corrected,” using computer modeling.

The modifications made to the past temperature record had the effect of cooling the 20th century, which makes temperatures over the last 14 years appear much warmer by comparison. Such changes don’t square with history, which shows the decade of the 1930s the hottest on record. The Dust Bowl storms were so severe they sent clouds of debris from Texas and Oklahoma to the East Coast, even darkening the skies over the U.S. Capitol one day in 1934.

In an inconvenient article from 1999, written before the data had been “corrected,” James Hansen, then a NASA scientist, acknowledged that the climate had held steady after the Dust Bowl storms. “In the U.S.,” wrote Mr. Hansen, “there has been little temperature change in the past 50 years, the time of rapidly increasing greenhouse gases — in fact, there was a slight cooling throughout much of the country.” Mr. Hansen, recognized as a godfather of the global warming doom criers, then predicted that the first decade of the 21st century would be even hotter than the 1930s.

To produce this hotter result, the scientists “adjusted” the temperature records to make it appear so. NASA redrew the temperature chart Mr. Hansen used in 1999, and the new chart shows a dramatically cooled 1930s. The 1990s that Mr. Hansen once said were not so hot became warmer than the 1930s.

With the global warming scam unraveling before his very eyes, President Obama and his administration want action now. “The question is not whether we need to act,” says Mr. Obama. “The overwhelming judgment of science, accumulated and measured and reviewed over decades, has put that question to rest. The question is whether we have the will to act before it’s too late.”

Too late for what? The planetary thermometer hasn’t budged in 15 years. Wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes and other “extreme” weather events are at normal or below-normal levels. Pacific islands aren’t submerged. There’s so much ice the polar bears are celebrating.

Opinion polls show the public figured out that global warming was all hype years ago, but the judges still haven’t heard the news. The usually unflappable Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the Monday opinion, joined by the four liberal justices and assorted conservatives who agreed only in part, and disagreed in other parts of the opinion. The high court justices missed an opportunity to reverse the EPA premise that all humans are “polluters” because they exhale. It’s not supposed to be easy to dupe a judge, but the global warming scientists have done it.

Read more:

PdC – The issue called Climate Change after first being called Global Warming is a classic example of both sides convinced they are right and “the other side is wrong.” There are articles supporting both sides with scientific data supporting both arguments as well. That is sad because the world’s population suffers through the argument of the “fools” and has no immediate impact on the argument.

I firmly believe that we need to protect Mother Earth and take care of her. Yet I read examples where allowing the native wolf population back into an area allowed the habitat to regenerate and soil erosion was reduced because the over grazing from the wildlife was reduced directly relating to the decrease is the deer and elk population in the habitat.

The Left presents all the science and claims that mankind is destroying the planet with an increase in C02. Yet I have seen data supporting the claim that CO2 levels are consistent with previous measured CO2 levels of previous centuries. Who are we to believe? Can we believe anyone? I know for a fact that I cannot believe anything president Obama claims about Global Climate Change. One primary reason for that is he is a politician and has no background supporting his knowing anything about Climate Change. I have more credibility in climate change assessment simply because I have a degree in Engineering and know and understand the scientific process. Yet I will be the first to admit that I do not have the climate knowledge or the data that I trust to make any claim regarding Climate Change. Yes, I am skeptical that we have too much CO2 in the atmosphere. But I have no idea who to trust telling me that the CO2 levels are changing drastically. The above article is biased.

Yes, the climate is changing. It has changed from the creation and will continue to change long after man is dead and gone. Mother Earth is a living breathing entity that changes every day depending on factors outside our atmosphere as well within our atmosphere. Sun Spots affect many climate variations on our beloved Mother Earth. Yet, are the Global Warming people clamoring to alter the sun to prevent Sun Spots?

I do believe that legislating a carbon tax is something that is based not on reality but on hearing Chicken Little scream “the sky is falling” and we need a carbon tax to finance preventing the sky from falling. In the fable Chicken Little was deemed crazy and therefore not credible. We have the Global Warmers running around much like Chicken Little and the issue has become politicized and therefore one side is claiming the issue is relevant while the other side says they are running around with their heads cut off and falsifying data.

So we have the Deniers claiming that there is absolutely not climate change as this article purports. Each side has its base of supporters.

Then there is Joe the Plumber stuck in the middle and trying to understand what is really happening.

It is clear that Global Climate Change is a political issue and therefore both sides are extreme in their perspectives. Where is reality? Somewhere in the middle and the only way that we will ever find out is to work for compromise. In today’s political environment that will not happen. Hopefully we the voting population will keep the Congressmen and President in different political parties preventing one party from gaining power and forcing bad law down our throats.

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The Collapsing Obama Doctrine

Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.


Updated June 17, 2014 7:34 p.m. ET

As the terrorists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) threaten Baghdad, thousands of slaughtered Iraqis in their wake, it is worth recalling a few of President Obama’s past statements about ISIS and al Qaeda. “If a J.V. team puts on Lakers’ uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant” (January 2014). “[C]ore al Qaeda is on its heels, has been decimated” (August 2013). “So, let there be no doubt: The tide of war is receding” (September 2011).

Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many. Too many times to count, Mr. Obama has told us he is “ending” the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—as though wishing made it so. His rhetoric has now come crashing into reality. Watching the black-clad ISIS jihadists take territory once secured by American blood is final proof, if any were needed, that America’s enemies are not “decimated.” They are emboldened and on the march.

The fall of the Iraqi cities of Fallujah, Tikrit, Mosul and Tel Afar, and the establishment of terrorist safe havens across a large swath of the Arab world, present a strategic threat to the security of the United States. Mr. Obama’s actions—before and after ISIS’s recent advances in Iraq—have the effect of increasing that threat.


An Iraqi soldier in Baghdad with volunteers to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, June 17. Reuters

On a trip to the Middle East this spring, we heard a constant refrain in capitals from the Persian Gulf to Israel, “Can you please explain what your president is doing?” “Why is he walking away?” “Why is he so blithely sacrificing the hard fought gains you secured in Iraq?” “Why is he abandoning your friends?” “Why is he doing deals with your enemies?”

In one Arab capital, a senior official pulled out a map of Syria and Iraq. Drawing an arc with his finger from Raqqa province in northern Syria to Anbar province in western Iraq, he said, “They will control this territory. Al Qaeda is building safe havens and training camps here. Don’t the Americans care?”

Our president doesn’t seem to. Iraq is at risk of falling to a radical Islamic terror group and Mr. Obama is talking climate change. Terrorists take control of more territory and resources than ever before in history, and he goes golfing. He seems blithely unaware, or indifferent to the fact, that a resurgent al Qaeda presents a clear and present danger to the United States of America.

When Mr. Obama and his team came into office in 2009, al Qaeda in Iraq had been largely defeated, thanks primarily to the heroic efforts of U.S. armed forces during the surge. Mr. Obama had only to negotiate an agreement to leave behind some residual American forces, training and intelligence capabilities to help secure the peace. Instead, he abandoned Iraq and we are watching American defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.

The tragedy unfolding in Iraq today is only part of the story. Al Qaeda and its affiliates are resurgent across the globe. According to a recent Rand study, between 2010 and 2013, there was a 58% increase in the number of Salafi-jihadist terror groups around the world. During that same period, the number of terrorists doubled.

In the face of this threat, Mr. Obama is busy ushering America’s adversaries into positions of power in the Middle East. First it was the Russians in Syria. Now, in a move that defies credulity, he toys with the idea of ushering Iran into Iraq. Only a fool would believe American policy in Iraq should be ceded to Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.

This president is willfully blind to the impact of his policies. Despite the threat to America unfolding across the Middle East, aided by his abandonment of Iraq, he has announced he intends to follow the same policy in Afghanistan.

Despite clear evidence of the dire need for American leadership around the world, the desperation of our allies and the glee of our enemies, President Obama seems determined to leave office ensuring he has taken America down a notch. Indeed, the speed of the terrorists’ takeover of territory in Iraq has been matched only by the speed of American decline on his watch.

The president explained his view in his Sept. 23, 2009, speech before the United Nations General Assembly. “Any world order,” he said, “that elevates one nation above others cannot long survive.” Tragically, he is quickly proving the opposite—through one dangerous policy after another—that without American pre-eminence, there can be no world order.

It is time the president and his allies faced some hard truths: America remains at war, and withdrawing troops from the field of battle while our enemies stay in the fight does not “end” wars. Weakness and retreat are provocative. U.S. withdrawal from the world is disastrous and puts our own security at risk.

Al Qaeda and its affiliates are resurgent and they present a security threat not seen since the Cold War. Defeating them will require a strategy—not a fantasy. It will require sustained difficult military, intelligence and diplomatic efforts—not empty misleading rhetoric. It will require rebuilding America’s military capacity—reversing the Obama policies that have weakened our armed forces and reduced our ability to influence events around the world.

American freedom will not be secured by empty threats, meaningless red lines, leading from behind, appeasing our enemies, abandoning our allies, or apologizing for our great nation—all hallmarks to date of the Obama doctrine. Our security, and the security of our friends around the world, can only be guaranteed with a fundamental reversal of the policies of the past six years.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan said, “If history teaches anything, it teaches that simple-minded appeasement or wishful thinking about our adversaries is folly. It means the betrayal of our past, the squandering of our freedom.” President Obama is on track to securing his legacy as the man who betrayed our past and squandered our freedom.

Mr. Cheney was U.S. vice president from 2001-09. Ms. Cheney was the deputy assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs from 2002-04 and 2005-06.

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Be brave, Republicans – Republicans must not misunderstand the meaning of Eric Cantor’s defeat

Republicans must not misunderstand the meaning of Eric Cantor’s defeat

Jun 14th 2014 | From the Economist print edition


ERIC CANTOR is by most standards a fairly conservative American. The House majority leader’s commitment to cutting government spending has survived an earthquake and a hurricane: when both hit his Virginia district in 2011 he insisted that any federal disaster relief be offset by budget cuts elsewhere. He is also credited with, or blamed for, scuppering a grand bargain between House Republicans and the president that was meant to shrink the deficit by cutting spending a lot, on the grounds that it raised taxes a bit.

Yet the Republican voters in his June 10th primary were not convinced of his bona fides. Though he had helped to block a recent proposal for immigration reform in the House, he had once talked of a limited amnesty for some migrants who arrived as children. And he had suggested that perhaps, on this, a compromise with Barack Obama might be possible. Mr. Cantor also voted to reopen the government in October and to avoid a disastrous technical default on America’s sovereign debt. Faced with such infamy the primary voters backed David Brat, a professor of economics at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland who is rock solid on opposing immigration—effectively ejecting Mr. Cantor from Congress. “God acted through people on my behalf,” Mr. Brat told Fox News.

But if God intervened in the race, he is clearly a Democrat. Mr. Brat’s victory is bad for both the Republicans and America, for it increases the chances that a party beginning to recover a bit of its vim will veer off once again to the right, as incumbents scramble to make themselves primary-proof.

No you Cantor

After Mitt Romney’s defeat in the 2012 presidential election, the Republican National Committee concluded that the federal wing of the party was “increasingly marginalising itself”. Young voters, it said, are “rolling their eyes at what the party represents, and many minorities wrongly think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country.” This newspaper, which has often backed Republicans in the past, shared some of those emotions: the sunny small-government optimism of Ronald Reagan had given way to the party’s moralising southern-fried wing, with its disdain for immigrants, gays and economic solutions not composed wholly of tax cuts.

Before Mr. Cantor’s ouster, the party seemed to be making some progress. The Republicans looked increasingly likely to take the Senate in the mid-term elections in November, partly because of Barack Obama’s unpopularity and partly because mid-terms are low turnout elections. Voters who are old and white are more likely to turn out, and Republicans do well with both. A smaller share of eligible voters showed up in the 2010 mid-terms than for the widely derided elections to the European Parliament.

To be fair, though, the party had also made an attempt to learn from its presidential defeat. In several primaries this year, more moderate old-timers beat Tea Party candidates who had condemned them for their culpably conciliatory attitude towards Democrats. This opened up the possibility of a much more Republican America this November, with the party, which also controls the House of Representatives and most state legislatures, in charge of everything but the presidency. The stage would then be set for someone with experience of running a state—Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, John Kasich—to wrestle Hillary Clinton for the White House in 2016.

Mr. Cantor’s defeat was partly a reprimand for laziness: he did not spend enough time in his district. But it is also a reminder of how far the party still has to go. The gap between the Tea Party activists and the pragmatists remains immense. And the issues on which Republicans can agree these days—opposition to abortion and tax increases, passionate enthusiasm for guns and the constitution—are too narrow to address America’s problems. Too many primary races are still purity contests. A victory in the Senate could exacerbate that problem: some Republican strategists fear that it would drive the party towards the extremes once more, and the voters towards Mrs. Clinton.

Wages, work and welfare

That would be a shame. America needs a decent opposition—one which argues for unleashing the country’s entrepreneurial side, not for the urgency of arming teachers. An important debate is under way about the role of the state in which the Republicans—at heart a small-government party—have a lot to say. Most of America’s governorships are now held by Republicans, usually of a problem-solving sort. From New Jersey to Wisconsin and Nevada, they have got elected by spending more time fixing things than fighting culture wars and have been experimenting with pro-business policies, introducing competition to America’s lacklustre schools, and cutting both red tape and taxes. A good bit of “the America that works” is in their hands, and their governments compare well with the bureaucracy created by some of Mr. Obama’s well-intentioned but lazily assembled laws.

In Washington too there are Republicans with good ideas, many of which are aimed at voters beyond the party’s base. Marco Rubio, a senator from Florida, is focusing on poorer workers, whose pay has stagnated in recent decades: he counters the Democrats’ proposal for much higher minimum wages with one to boost low incomes with wage subsidies. John Thune, a senator from South Dakota, wants to build a relocation allowance into unemployment benefits to help the long-term jobless move to where there are jobs. Such policies do not fit easily onto a bumper-sticker, but they could help persuade voters that the Republicans take the business of government seriously.

In the wake of Mr. Cantor’s defeat, there is a danger that the pragmatists will hunker down. Already immigration reform is being pronounced dead. Abandoning attempts to address America’s real problems would be a grave mistake for the party. Mr. Obama may be unpopular, but he is not running in 2016. If the Republicans present themselves to the electorate yet again as a bunch of angry, old, white men, they will lose—and deservedly so.

From the Economist print edition: Leaders

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Dem Congressman: ‘We’ve Proved That Communism Works’


Brendan Bordelon

Democratic Florida Rep. Joe Garcia — fresh off being caught eating his own earwax on camera — was caught red-handed (or is it yellow-fingered?) in another gaffe this week, claiming that low crime rates in border cities with lots of federal immigration workers is proof that “Communism works.”

Garcia made the comment during a Google hangout he convened last week to talk about comprehensive immigration reform with supporters. The Democrat attempted to point out how, for all their talk about limited government, many Republicans are fine spending loads of government money on border security.

“Let me give you an example, the kind of money we’ve poured in,” he said. “So the most dangerous — sorry, the safest city in America is El Paso, Texas. It happens to be across the border from the most dangerous city in the Americas, which is Juarez. Right?”

“And two of the safest cities in America, two of them are on the border with Mexico,” Garcia continued. “And of course, the reason is we’ve proved that Communism works. If you give everybody a good government job, there’s no crime.”

“But that isn’t what we should be doing on the border,” he continued. “The kind of money we’ve poured into it, and we’re having diminishing returns.”

The video was uploaded to YouTube by the America Rising PAC, a Republican PAC founded in 2013 and dedicated to opposition research. It’s also the same group that originally uploaded Garcia’s earwax snafu.

Garcia, who is of Cuban descent along with many of his south Florida constituents, told the Miami Herald he never meant to espouse Communism — and was instead taking a tongue-in-cheek shot at his GOP opponents.

“This is an absurdity, accusing the son of Cuban immigrants of believing in Communism is just ridiculous,” he declared.

But Garcia’s district is already rated a toss-up by the Cook Political Report, and with their second attack on the congressman in a week America Rising clearly senses an opening in the south Florida district.

Coupling the “ew” factor of the earwax video with Garcia’s chirpy endorsement of Communism, Republicans now have a rather robust chest of opposition material to deploy in Florida this fall.

WATCH (video via America Rising):

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