Sunday, October 30, 2016

Considering the Republican need for delusions 2016

I tried writing something today, but constant interruptions made it impossible to get anywhere and there's another crowded week ahead.  So I'm going to placate my frustration by sharing some insightful quotes from a few important recent articles regarding our upcoming election.

By Ed Kilgore |

By Anthea Butler |

By Neal Gabler |

By Robert Farley |

By David Weigel | Washington Post

By Nina Burleigh |

Donald Trump and the Religion of White Nostalgia
By Ed Kilgore  |  |  October 26, 2016

… According to a new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute, 74 percent of white Evangelicals think American life and culture “has mostly changed for the worse” since the 1950s. That’s a significantly higher level than the 57 percent of Americans over the age of 65 who feel that way.

… As Anthea Butler observes at Religion Dispatches:

The upshot of this survey is that white evangelicals want to go back to Ozzie and Harriet—in time, behavior, and gender roles. This does not bode well for their influence in the future, and their embrace of Donald Trump and his alt-right followers will hurt them far more than they can imagine politically.

There is also an element of religious peril in this overwhelming tendency to look backward anxiously: the confusion of spirituality with the comforting verities of the recent past. The most prominent conservative Evangelical critic of both the Christian right and its support for Trump, Southern Baptist Convention spokesperson Russell Moore, put it bluntly in a speech this week:

Christians [need] to see that they are indeed “strangers and aliens” to every culture, [and] that their allegiances transcend the political, the tribal, and the cultural.

The temptation to divinize “traditional” culture runs deep. …


BY Anthea Butler | OCTOBER 25, 2016 |

PRRI’s latest major survey, “The Divide over America’s Future: 1950 or 2050,” released just this morning, provides a sobering look at just how divided America remains on issues of race, class, gender and politics. Here’s the upshot: White evangelicals, and white mainline protestants want to go back to the power they had prior to 1954’s Brown V. Board of Education, and the modern day Civil Rights Movement. Some of the highlights (or, for some, lowlights):

The group with the most fatalistic view of American cultural change are white evangelical Protestants, three quarters of whom (74%) say that American culture has changed for the worse since 1950.

A majority of Republicans (55%) believe that America is so off track that we need a leader who is willing to “break the rules,” while 57% of Democrats disagree with that statement.

A majority of white Americans say that Donald Trump is the most trustworthy candidate in the 2016 election (54%) while Blacks and Hispanics say that Hillary Clinton is the most trustworthy candidate (71% and 59% respectively).

Among Americans as a whole Hillary Clinton is perceived to have much stronger religious beliefs than Donald Trump (50% v. 36%), though white evangelical Protestants say that Trump has much stronger religious beliefs (58% vs 28%)

Most Americans reject banning Muslims from the United States (56%), yet a sizable minority (43%) express support for some kind of ban. A Majority of white evangelical Protestants (62%) and white mainline Protestants (54%) favor the temporary ban. White Catholics are split evenly.

The majority of Hispanic Catholics (62%), black Protestants (68%), members of non-Christian religions (70%)  and religiously unaffiliated Americans (74%) reject the ban on Muslims in the United States.

These statistics, along with many others covering immigration, the state of the nation, trade and foreign policy, the criminal justice system, and the state of the nation tell an interesting tale: white protestants, and white evangelicals even more strongly, consistently fall to the right of Blacks and Hispanics on many issues.

White Protestants are also more willing to accept an authoritarian leader who breaks rules in order to fix what they believe is wrong with America. This nostalgia and the sense that America is failing and floundering dovetails well with white Protestant beliefs about persecution, the end times, and the decline of so called “civilization.” 

No surprise that significant portions of these groups perceive Donald Trump, despite three marriages, numerous claims of sexual abuse, and questionable business practices, to be more trustworthy and to possess stronger religious beliefs than Hillary Clinton. …


BY Neal Gabler | Ocdtober 25, 2016 |

Clinton's popularity didn't start to plummet until the press focus turned to her emails.

… This is rampant “bothsidesism,” since everyone knows that even if you despise Hillary Clinton, even if you think every policy prescription of hers is misguided, even if you feel she is a criminal who ought to be imprisoned, she hasn’t degraded our political discourse. If anything, as Shields would say after the debate in contradiction to his own bothsiderism, she is so focused on policy she has yet to provide a larger vision of governance — another tired media narrative, by the way, that is certainly open to challenge.

Wrong-headed or not, none of this explains Clinton’s July 2015 plunge; it only certifies it. What makes that plunge somewhat baffling is that Clinton made several major policy pronouncements that month – two laying out the broad strokes of her economic policy, and another discussing race. Again, whether you agreed with these pronouncements or not, she was being a serious candidate. It certainly couldn’t have accounted for the sudden turn by voters. …

… And that wasn’t all. As reported in a study by Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on media coverage in the pre-primary period, Clinton received especially negative coverage — overwhelmingly negative. … 

… Shorenstein found there was a ratio of 45 negative stories to one positive story on the emails, much of them generated by Republicans and Fox News and picked up by mainstream media, who readily quoted the Republicans. Eighty-four percent of Clinton’s coverage in this period was negative in tone. Moreover, her coverage in the primary period, as studied by Shorenstein, continued to be disproportionately focused on emails and continued to be heavily negative — 10 negative stories for every positive one. …

… So let me also award orchids (H/T Winchell) to two pundits who have bucked the narrative: Paul Krugman of The New York Times and Ezra Klein of Vox. Klein said last week that Hillary Clinton won the debates not only because her opponent is unhinged, but also because she destroyed him through preparation, strategy and smarts. Krugman goes even further, writing that Clinton, warts and all, is a worthy candidate without needing Trump to put her worthiness in relief. “She’s a formidable figure and has been all along.”  A decent and formidable candidate. Now that’s a revelation.


By Robert Farley | October 19, 2016 |

Donald Trump is citing unsubstantiated urban myths and a contested academic study to paint a false narrative about rampant voter fraud in the U.S. and the likelihood of a “rigged” election.

Trump claimed “people that have died 10 years ago are still voting,” citing a report that found 1.8 million deceased people remain on voter registration rolls. But the report did not find evidence of wrongdoing, and numerous studies have found such voter fraud is virtually nonexistent.

Trump claimed there is a massive problem with “illegal immigrants [who] are voting,” citing research by Old Dominion professors who say noncitizen voters may have benefited Democrats in 2008. But a Harvard professor who manages the data used in the Old Dominion study said the data was misused and the study’s conclusions are wrong.

Finally, Trump broadly claimed that “voter fraud is very, very common,” and he has called for poll watchers to look for people impersonating voters or voting numerous times. However, numerous academic studies and government inquiries have found in-person voter fraud to be rare.

For weeks, Trump has been warning about rigged elections. He urged his supporters in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, on Oct. 10 to monitor polls and “watch other communities, because we don’t want this election stolen from us.”
In a speech in Wisconsin on Oct. 17, Trump provided some detail and purported evidence to back up his claims about the prevalence of voter fraud, particularly by noncitizens and people casting ballots on behalf of deceased voters. But we found that his evidence is lacking.

Dead People …
Noncitizens …
Is Voter Fraud ‘Common’? …


Than there’s post election.

By David Weigel  |  October 26, 2016  |  Washington Post

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (Md.), the ranking Democrat on the Oversight Committee and the Select Committee on Benghazi, said that new Clinton investigations based on the scandals vetted since 2013 would amount to waste.

“Republicans are pretending like they haven’t been investigating Secretary Clinton for years ever since she announced that she was running for president, including everything from Benghazi to emails to the Clinton Foundation,” Cummings said in a statement. “It’s no exaggeration to say that on the first day Secretary Clinton walks into the White House, Republicans will have already investigated her more than any other president in history.” …

“We still have tens of thousands of missing documents,” he said. “That ranges from everything from the missing boxes [of subpoenaed emails] to the David Petraeus emails, to [State Department Undersecretary] Patrick Kennedy’s communications.”

Chaffetz also suggested that coming Clinton hearings would touch on issues that had not been vetted. …


As for the base malicious dishonesty of the Republican political machine, what about this piece of unfinished business.  

By Nina Burleigh | 9/12/16 |

For 18 months, Republican strategists, political pundits, reporters and Americans who follow them have been pursuing Hillary Clinton’s personal email habits, and no evidence of a crime has been found. But now they at least have the skills and interest to focus on a much larger and deeper email conspiracy, one involving war, lies, a private server run by the Republican Party and contempt of Congress citations—all of it still unsolved and unpunished. 

Clinton’s email habits look positively transparent when compared with the subpoena-dodging, email-hiding, private-server-using George W. Bush administration. Between 2003 and 2009, the Bush White House “lost” 22 million emails. This correspondence included millions of emails written during the darkest period in America’s recent history, when the Bush administration was ginning up support for what turned out to be a disastrous war in Iraq with false claims that the country possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and, later, when it was firing U.S. attorneys for political reasons. …

Like Clinton, the Bush White House used a private email server—its was owned by the Republican National Committee. And the Bush administration failed to store its emails, as required by law, and then refused to comply with a congressional subpoena seeking some of those emails. “It’s about as amazing a double standard as you can get,” says Eric Boehlert, who works with the pro-Clinton group Media Matters. “If you look at the Bush emails, he was a sitting president, and 95 percent of his chief advisers’ emails were on a private email system set up by the RNC. Imagine if for the last year and a half we had been talking about Hillary Clinton’s emails set up on a private DNC server? …

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