Let’s Talk about the Caravans…

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Study Shows Trump Voters Were Motivated by Fear of Losing Privileged Status—Not Economic Anxiety This wasn’t about the stagnant wages.

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Much has been made about Trump’s support from the “forgotten men and women” who elected him to throw a “flash-bang grenade” at the elites in Washington. Usually, this framed as an issue concerning “economic anxiety,” and the fact that middle-class white Americans are less prosperous than they were in past generations.

But a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that this narrative is flawed. Trump supporters aren’t angry about off-shoring, they’re resentful about their possible loss of status.

“It’s much more of a symbolic threat that people feel,” study author Diana C. Mutz from the University of Pennsylvania, told the New York Times. “It’s not a threat to their own economic well-being; it’s a threat to their group’s dominance in our country over all.”

Mutz’s research casts doubts on the economic anxiety explanation, which researchers call the “left behind” theory. People who lost jobs or came from cities where off-shoring ravaged the local economy weren’t more likely to support trump than people who didn’t.

“It wasn’t people in those areas that were switching, those folks were already voting Republican,” Mutz said.

The actual correlation she uncovered involved a “social dominance orientation,” which measures whether people see hierarchy as a good and natural way to organize society. White people who had that view gravitated towards Trump.

“It used to be a pretty good deal to be a white, Christian male in America, but things have changed and I think they do feel threatened,” Mutz said.

Read the study here or the Times story here.

By Martin Cizmar / Raw Story

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Billy Graham and the Gospel of Fear

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Billy Graham was a preacher man equally intent on saving souls and soliciting financial support for his ministry. His success at the former is not subject to proof and his success at the latter is unrivaled. He preached to millions on every ice-free continent and led many to his chosen messiah.

Graham also left behind a United States government in which religion plays a far greater role than before he intruded into politics in the 1950s. The shift from secular governance to “In God We Trust” can be laid squarely at this minister’s feet.

Graham’s message was principally one of fear…fear of a wrathful god…

More from CounterPunch News

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Make America Afraid Again

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Trump’s “slice and dice” rhetoric about brown-on-white violence has a single purpose.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump took a reprieve from the chaos engulfing his administration, traveling to Youngstown, Ohio, to commune with his fans and supporters in a campaign-style Make America Great Again rally. The event was typical Trump fare: exuberant and improvisational, with the occasional feel of a tent revival. And Trump brought his greatest hits, blasting Democrats, the news media, and other opponents for the crowd’s enjoyment.

The president also addressed immigration, and there his rhetoric took a darker turn. Trump has always described unauthorized immigrants in harsh, disparaging terms. But here he went further, spinning a lurid and explicit tale of extreme violence against innocent people.

“You’ve seen the stories about some of these animals,” said the president.

It’s easy to file this under Trump’s usual anti-immigrant demagoguery, specifically his preoccupation with crime committed by Hispanic immigrants. Recall his presidential announcement speech, where he assailed the Mexican government for sending criminals and “rapists” to the United States, as well as his (and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’) recent fixation on MS-13, a gang with origins in Central America. In a June rally in Iowa, the president stated that they “like to cut people,” and on Thursday, he mentioned them in a tweet: “Big progress being made in ridding our country of MS-13 gang members and gang members in general. MAKE AMERICA SAFE AGAIN!”

Despite the connection to those earlier statements, the Youngstown riff was different. It was especially detailed and graphic. And while the racial content of this kind of rhetoric has always been clear—the immigrants are always nonwhite, the victims are typically white—this was unusually explicit. Trump wasn’t just connecting immigrants with violent crime. He was using an outright racist trope: that of the violent, sadistic black or brown criminal, preying on innocent (usually white) women. Even considering his 1989 jeremiad against the Central Park Five—where he demanded the death penalty for the five black and Latino teenagers wrongly convicted of raping a white woman—the Youngstown rhetoric was sensational and excessive.

What it wasn’t, however, was unique. Rhetorically, Trump’s Youngstown speech recalls the openly racist language found in the early 20th century among white reporters, pamphleteers, and politicians who expressed the prejudices of the era. In Southern newspapers, for example, writers described the alleged crimes of black offenders with gruesome and sensational detail, usually to justify lynchings and other forms of extrajudicial violence. “A miserable negro beast attacked a telephone girl as she was going home at night, and choked her,” reads a 1903 report from a newspaper in Greenville, Mississippi. The writer of a 1914 pamphlet titled “The Black Shadow and the Red Death” spun terrible tales of black crime, including one where “cocaine and whiskey” led a “half-drunken negro beast” to kill a “little school girl” with a “pretty head.”

Politically, what President Trump was doing in Ohio has a clear antecedent in the racial demagoguery common in the Jim Crow South. Rather than campaign on what they would do for voters, Southern politicians fanned flames of race hatred. This “nigger baiting”—labeled as such by observers at the time—was how they built emotional connections with their audiences and tarred their (often equally racist) opponents as unacceptable proponents of racial equality. “You people who want social equality vote for Jones. You men who have nigger children vote for Jones,” declared South Carolina Gov. Coleman Livingston Blease in his 1912 re-election campaign against state Supreme Court Justice Ira Jones, blasting his opponent as a supporter of rights for black Americans.

170727_POL_Political-Jim
A 1950 Senate campaign flier for Willis Smith. Jesse Helms was Smith’s publicity director.

Creative Commons

Lawmakers like James Vardaman in Mississippi and “Cotton Ed” Smith of South Carolina earned national notoriety for their vicious advocacy of white supremacy on the campaign trail. This style of politics did not end as the 20thcentury progressed; in 1958, Alabama Attorney General James Patterson ran for governor and won—beating a fresh-faced George Wallace—as a staunch opponent of civil rights, backed by the state’s Ku Klux Klan. In two re-election races, one in 1984 and the other in 1990, North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms ran race-baiting campaigns. Against then–Gov. Jim Hunt, he distributed literature warning of black registration drives and black political figures such as Jesse Jackson. And against Harvey Gantt, the black mayor of Charlotte, Helms ran one of the most breathtakingly racist ads of the modern era.

Trump isn’t yet running for re-election, but he is in dire political straits. According to FiveThirtyEight’s aggregate measure of his popularity, just 38.5 percent of Americans approve of his presidency, compared with 55 percent who disapprove. He’s caught in a feud with his attorney general, there’s in-fighting among his senior staff, and he’s facing backlash from within the armed services on account of a cynical attempt to stoke anti-transgender bias for political gain. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, that the president’s riff in Youngstown was just another digression, a rant that emerged from the stew of resentments and prejudices that seem to form Trump’s psyche.

But the additional timing of his statement on transgender service members suggests otherwise. On Friday Trump will visit Long Island, where 15 members of MS-13 were arrested—a trip that would fit a political plan to demagogue Hispanic immigrants as imminent threats to white Americans, and white women in particular. Trump is aware that he’s flailing, and to rebuild support—to re-establish that bond with his voters—he’s turning to an old, crude, and dangerous rhetorical well.

By Jamelle Bouie/Slate

Posted by The NON-Conformist

 

 

Why Is It So Hard to Reduce the Pentagon Budget?

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Until Americans let go of the urge to go and do whatever they want with the military, overspending is here to stay.

It’s not that that budget has never been reduced. At pivotal moments, like the end of World War II as well as war’s end in Korea and Vietnam, there were indeed temporary downturns, as there was after the Cold War ended. More recently, the Budget Control Act of 2011 threw a monkey wrench into the Pentagon’s plans for funding that would go ever onward and upward by putting a cap on the money Congress could pony up for it. The remarkable thing, though, is not that such moments have occurred, but how modest and short-lived they’ve proved to be.

More from Alternet

Posted by  The NON-Conformist

Two remarkable and disturbing truths about yesterday’s special discrimination session in North Carolina

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Image: NC Policy Watch

There were a lot of horrific aspects to yesterday’s right-wing blitzkrieg on Jones Street. There were the hateful and ignorant speeches, the frequently even more hateful social media posts and tweets from the virtual storm troopers supporting the discriminators in the Legislative Building and then, of course, there was the truly absurd and outrageous lack of process that accompanied the passage of major legislation that will bring derision upon our state for years to come.

More from NC Policy Watch

Posted by Libergirl

Slager’s actions not only devastate a family, but an entire city

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When Michael Thomas Slager fired eight shots at Walter Scott’s back Saturday morning, he not only killed a man — he wounded an entire community.

And it is going to take North Charleston a long time to heal.

For years, the North Charleston Police Department has been accused of racial profiling, of treating black suspects much more harshly than whites.

Some people scoffed at these charges. There are, after all, a lot of good men and women — black and white — on the force, and most of them are just trying to keep people safe. They have a job that carries great risk for modest pay.

More from Brian Hicks at the Post and Courier

Posted by Libergirl

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