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Why Democrats lost the white South

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Kevin Drum has a very clear explanation, with some wrinkles new to me:

Modern conservatives are oddly fond of pointing out that it was Democrats who were the party of racism and racists until half a century ago. There’s always an implied “Aha!” whenever a conservative mentions this, as though they think it’s some little-known quirk of history that Democrats try to keep hidden because it’s so embarrassing.

It’s not, of course. Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican president, and Republicans were the face of Reconstruction after the Civil War. Because of this, the South became solidly Democratic and stayed that way until World War II. But in the 1940s, southerners gradually began defecting to the Republican Party, and then began defecting en masse during the fight over the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

But wait: the 1940s? If Southern whites began defecting to the GOP that early, racism couldn’t have been their motivation. Aha!

But it was. The Civil Rights movement didn’t spring out of nothing in 1964, after all. Eleanor Roosevelt was a tireless champion of civil rights, and famously resigned from the DAR when they refused to allow singer Marian Anderson to perform at Constitution Hall in 1939. FDR was far more constrained by his need for Southern votes in Congress, but the WPA gave blacks a fair shake and Harold Ickes poured a lot of money into black schools and hospitals in the South. In 1941 FDR signed a nondiscrimination order for the defense industry—the first of its kind—and he generally provided African-Americans with more visibility in his administration than they had ever enjoyed before. After decades of getting little from Republicans despite their loyal support, this was enough to make blacks a key part of the New Deal Coalition and turn them into an increasingly solid voting bloc for the Democratic Party.

From a Southern white perspective, this made the Democratic Party a less welcoming home, and it continued to get less welcoming in the two decades that followed. Harry Truman integrated the military in 1948, and Hubert Humphrey famously delivered a stemwinding civil rights speech at the Democratic convention that year. During the 1950s, Dwight Eisenhower was widely viewed—rightly or wrongly—as unsympathetic to civil rights. Conversely, LBJ was instrumental in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1957.

In other words, Southern whites who wanted to keep Jim Crow intact had plenty of reasons to steadily desert the Democratic Party starting around World War II. By the early 60s . . .

Continue reading.

And do read the whole thing. Later:

. . . This history is what makes the conservative habit of pointing out that Democrats were the original racists so peculiar. It’s true, but it makes the transformation of the party even more admirable. Losing the South was a huge electoral risk, but Democrats took that risk anyway. That made it far more meaningful and courageous than if there had been no price to pay. . .

Written by LeisureGuy

25 November 2015 at 11:58 am

Efforts to Rein In Arbitration Come Under Well-Financed Attack

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Corporations very much like arbitration because they pick and pay the arbitrators, whose decisions are thus extremely predictable: arbitrators find against the consumer almost always, since an arbitrator who finds against the corporation tends to be blackballed. Jessica Silver-Greenber and Mike Corkery report in the NY Times:

A television ad during the Republican presidential debate last Tuesday depicted pale bureaucrats rubber-stamping the word “DENIED” on the files of frustrated Americans, beneath a red banner of Senator Elizabeth Warren evoking a Communist apparatchik.

The ad attacks the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal agency created with Ms. Warren’s strong backing after the 2008 mortgage crisis. What the ad did not say: Its sponsor wants to rein in the agency in part because of its efforts to restrict arbitration — the widespread practice in corporate America of requiring customers and employees to resolve disputes not in the courts, but in private proceedings with neither judge nor jury. In fact, arbitration is one of the reasons the ad’s sponsor, American Action Network, wanted to blast the agency with the $500,000 campaign, the group said.

The consumer agency’s stance on arbitration, while difficult to convey in a TV spot, “is a perfect example of how government is taking away the power of individuals and handing it to the trial lawyers,” said Mike Shields, president of the American Action Network and a former top aide at the Republican National Committee.

Last week’s ad is one of multiple efforts across the country in recent weeks by both advocates and opponents of arbitration to revisit the much-debated practice, which, in two powerful decisions beginning in 2011, has been affirmed by the United States Supreme Court. The most significant moves came in Washington, where regulators, lawmakers and the Justice Department pushed for new restrictions on arbitration.

At the same time, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the most powerful business lobby in the country, started a new effort to block the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by lobbying lawmakers to attach a rider to the federal budget bill that would force the regulator to conduct a new study before issuing any rule, according to people with direct knowledge of the strategy.

“If the Chamber of Commerce thinks they are going to slip a provision into a spending bill that cuts off consumer rights without a fight, they are very much mistaken,” Senator Warren said.

Matt Webb, a senior vice president of the chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform, called the bureau’s work “deeply flawed and incomplete.”

The flurry of activity follows the publication by The New York Times of athree-part series showing how corporations across the spectrum of the American economy — phone companies, credit card providers, nursing homes — use mandatory arbitration to circumvent the court system and derail legal claims alleging predatory lending, wage theft, discrimination and other violations. The reporting detailed how arbitration proceedings tend to favor businesses over individuals. In some instances, arbitrationclauses require disputes to be settled in Christian arbitration, a process governed by the Bible rather than state or federal law.

Proponents of arbitration, who say it provides an efficient alternative to courts, view the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as among its biggest threats. They say a new rule proposed by the consumer agency, which would prevent financial services companies from including class-action bans in consumer contracts, could in effect kill arbitration altogether.

On Wednesday, the Justice Department issued a proposal to protect military service members from arbitration requirements. Earlier this month, Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota and a longtime opponent of arbitration, renewed his push for Congress to pass a bill he introduced this year that would prevent companies from requiring employees to go to arbitration.

Several Democrats are expected to introduce bills intended to more widely curtail the use of arbitration clauses, according to the people. But with Congress deeply divided, some Democrats are calling on President Obama to use his executive authority to prevent federal contractors from including arbitration clauses in their contracts with customers and employees.

San Francisco’s city attorney, Dennis Herrera, sued American Express this month over what he claimed were “illegal and anti-competitive rules, policies and practices.” The lawsuit, filed in Superior Court, will probably help small businesses whose contracts with the credit card company prevented them from filing a class-action lawsuit. . .

Continue reading.

Bernie will put a stop to this (if he has a Democratic Congress).

Written by LeisureGuy

15 November 2015 at 3:24 pm

Bernie Sanders Files Bill to End Federal Marijuana Prohibition

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High time. (Forgive me.) Report here in Drug War Chronicles.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 November 2015 at 2:21 pm

The pro-Clinton Center for American Progress doesn’t look so good in its emails

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Glenn Greenwald has a lengthy report in The Intercept that includes several of the emails. The charges are serious, and the undermining of open discussion is shameful. I encourage you to read the whole thing.

Leaked internal emails from the powerful Democratic think tank Center for American Progress (CAP) shed light on several public controversies involving the organization, particularly in regard to its positioning on Israel. They reveal the lengths to which the group has gone in order to placate AIPAC and long-time Clinton operative and Israel activist Ann Lewis — including censoring its own writers on the topic of Israel.

The emails also provide crucial context for understanding CAP’s controversial decision to host an event next week for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. That event, billed by CAP as “A Conversation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” will feature CAP President Neera Tanden and Netanyahu together in a Q&A session as they explore “ways to strengthen the partnership between Israel and the United States.” That a group whose core mission is loyalty to the White House and the Democratic Party would roll out the red carpet for a hostile Obama nemesis is bizarre, for reasons the Huffington Post laid out when it reported on the controversy provoked by CAP’s invitation.

The emails, provided to The Intercept by a source authorized to receive them, are particularly illuminating about the actions of Tanden (right), a stalwart Clinton loyalist as well as a former Obama White House official. They show Tanden and key aides engaging in extensive efforts of accommodation in response to AIPAC’s and Lewis’ vehement complaints that CAP is allowing its writers to be “anti-Israel.” Other emails show Tanden arguing that Libyans should be forced to turn over large portions of their oil revenues to repay the U.S. for the costs incurred in bombing Libya, on the grounds that Americans will support future wars only if they see that the countries attacked by the U.S. pay for the invasions.

For years, CAP has exerted massive influence in Washington through its ties to the Democratic Party and its founder, John Podesta, one of Washington’s most powerful political operatives. The group is likely to become even more influential due to its deep and countless ties to the Clintons. As the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent put it earlier this year: CAP “is poised to exert outsized influence over the 2016 president race and — should Hillary Clinton win it — the policies and agenda of the 45th President of the United States. CAP founder John Podesta is set to run Clinton’s presidential campaign, and current CAP president Neera Tanden is a longtime Clinton confidante and adviser.”

The recent CAP announcement of the Netanyahu event has generated substantial confusion and even anger among Democratic partisans. Netanyahu “sacrificed much of his popularity with the Democratic Party by crusading against the Iran nuclear deal,” the Huffington Post noted. Netanyahu has repeatedly treated the Obama White House as a political enemy. Indeed, just today, Netanyahu appointed “as his new chief of public diplomacy a conservative academic who suggested President Obama was anti-Semitic and compared Secretary of State John Kerry’s ‘mental age’ to that of a preteen.”

A core objective of Netanyahu’s trip to Washington is to re-establish credibility among progressives in the post-Obama era. For that reason, the Huffington Post reported, “the Israeli government pushed hard for an invite to” CAP and “was joined by [AIPAC], which also applied pressure to CAP to allow Netanyahu to speak.”

The article quoted several former CAP staffers angered by the group’s capitulation to the demands of the Israeli government and AIPAC; said one: Netanyahu is “looking for that progressive validation, and they’re basically validating a guy who race-baited during his election and has disavowed the two-state solution, which is CAP’s own prior work.” Matt Duss, a former foreign policy analyst at CAP, said “the idea that CAP would agree to give him bipartisan cover is really disappointing” since “this is someone who is an enemy of the progressive agenda, who has targeted Israeli human rights organizations throughout his term, and was re-elected on the back of blatant anti-Arab race-baiting.” Yet another former CAP staffer, Ali Gharib, published an article in The Nation noting that Netanyahu has all but formally aligned himself with the GOP, writing: “That a liberal institution feels the need to kowtow to AIPAC in a climate like this speaks volumes about either how out of touch or how craven it can be.”

But none of this should be surprising. The Nation previously investigated CAP’s once-secret list of corporate donors, documenting how the group will abandon Democratic Party orthodoxy whenever that orthodoxy conflicts with the interests of its funders. That article noted that “Tanden ratcheted up the efforts to openly court donors, which has impacted CAP’s work. Staffers were very clearly instructed to check with the think tank’s development team before writing anything that might upset contributors.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 November 2015 at 5:07 pm

The mote in Clinton’s eye and the beam in Bush’s

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The lede to a NY Times report today:

Republican lawmakers sharply questioned Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday, seeking to build a case that the former secretary of state had been derelict in her duty to secure the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, in the months before the 2012 terrorist attacks that resulted in the deaths of four Americans.

That’s quite a line of inquiry. I wonder what this committee thinks of George W. Bush’s dereliction of duty is totally ignoring the many explicit warnings he got in the months before the 9/11 attacks. To refresh your memory, take a look at Elizabeth Drew’s succinct summary.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 October 2015 at 12:44 pm

Terrific account of the ins and outs of the Biden decision: Well worth reading

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And written extremely well (by Evan Osnos in the New Yorker).

UPDATE: And this, too, is worth reading: about Jim Webb and the American political landscape, by Ryan Lizza in the New Yorker.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 October 2015 at 4:37 pm

Hillary Clinton shows ignorance or cowardice in her incorrect Snowden comments

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Jenna McLaughlin of The Intercept provides details, which show quite clearly that Clinton’s statements were utterly false—and Clinton should have known that:

Hillary Clinton twice this week has insisted, contrary to the facts, that former NSA contractor Edward Snowden could have accomplished his goals and avoided punishment if he’d raised his concerns through the proper channels.

Clinton first made that assertion at Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate, and again at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire on Friday.

“I firmly believe that he could have gone public and released the information about the collection of information on Americans under whistleblower protections, and he could have done it within the tradition in our country that shields people that come forth acting out of conscience to present information that they believe the public should have,” she said on Friday.

Snowden was asked about Clinton’s comments in an appearance, by videolink from Moscow, at a Bard College privacy symposium Friday afternoon.

Snowden said her statement was “false” and he decried “a lack of political courage.”

“Truth should matter in politics, and courage should matter in politics,” he said.

During Tuesday’s debate, Clinton said Snowden “could have been a whistleblower. He could have gotten all of the protections of being a whistleblower. He could have raised all the issues that he has raised. And I think there would have been a positive response to that.” (She also innacurately claimed that the Snowden files had “fallen into a lot of the wrong hands.”)

But media outlets and advocates quickly noted that Snowden was not in fact entitled to whistleblower protections, which do not apply to contractors.

Snowden has also maintained that he did try going through established channels, to no avail. And the official response to his leaks strongly suggests that no one in his chain of command was interested in letting his concerns reach the public.

“Hilary Clinton is wrong and misinformed,” said Anna Myers, the executive director of the Government Accountability Project, in an e-mail to the Intercept. “No NSA whistleblower had been listened to in 13 years of trying.  It is disingenuous for any informed current, or past, public official dealing with such matters to assert that whistleblowers in national security had a way to safely report their concerns about illegal and overreaching surveillance through official channels.”

Politifact rated Clinton’s claim as “mostly false”.

Snowden on Friday noted that his fellow NSA whistleblower, Thomas Drake, tried to go through channels, but wasn’t heard until he approached a reporter. “He used the traditional whistleblowing process,” Snowden said. And in the end “they prosecuted him for a number of years.” . . .

Continue reading.

Clinton looks very bad in this: either she is ignorant, or she is deliberately deceptive. Neither is good to see.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 October 2015 at 3:47 pm


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