Thursday, March 31, 2016
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
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Rhymer Rigby, telegraph.co.uk; via AK on Facebook
image from article, with caption: The Joker knows the score
Who Are the Angriest Republicans? Note for a lecture, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United"
Thomas B. Edsall MARCH 30, 2016, New York Times [original article contains links]
uncaptioned image from article
Conservatives who once derided upscale liberals as latte-sipping losers now burst
with contempt for the lower-income followers of Donald J. Trump.
These blue-collar white Republicans, a mainstay of the conservative coalition
for decades, are now vilified by their former right-wing allies as a “non-Christian”
force “in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture,” corrupted by the same “sense of
entitlement” that Democratic minorities were formerly accused of.
Kevin Williamson, a columnist for National Review, initiated the most recent
escalation of this particular Republican-against-Republican power struggle. In a
March 13 essay, “The Father-Führer,” Williamson portrays Trump’s struggling
white supporters as relying on their imaginary victimhood when, in fact, he
They failed themselves. If you spend time in hardscrabble,
white upstate New York, or eastern Kentucky, or my own
native West Texas, and you take an honest look at the welfare
dependency, the drug and alcohol addiction, the family
anarchy — which is to say, the whelping of human children
with all the respect and wisdom of a stray dog— you will come
to an awful realization. It wasn’t Beijing. It wasn’t even
Washington, as bad as Washington can be.
Less well-off white voters have only themselves to blame, Williamson
It wasn’t immigrants from Mexico, excessive and problematic
as our current immigration levels are. It wasn’t any of that.
Nothing happened to them. There wasn’t some awful disaster.
There wasn’t a war or a famine or a plague or a foreign
occupation. Even the economic changes of the past few decades
do very little to explain the dysfunction and negligence — and
the incomprehensible malice — of poor white America.
Not satisfied to stop there, Williamson adds:
The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is
that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets.
Morally, they are indefensible. Forget all your cheap theatrical
Bruce Springsteen crap. Forget your sanctimony about
struggling Rust Belt factory towns and your conspiracy theories
about the wily Orientals stealing our jobs.
Finally, determined to blow a hole in the Trump hot air balloon, the columnist
The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish
culture whose main products are misery and used heroin
needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So
does OxyContin. What they need isn’t analgesics, literal or
political. They need real opportunity, which means that they
need real change, which means that they need U-Haul.
Williamson’s bitterness over the refusal of Trump’s supporters to get in line
behind a more acceptable candidate is echoed across the right.
David French, also of the National Review, writes:
I grew up in Kentucky, live in a rural county in Tennessee, and
have seen the challenges of the white working-class firsthand.
Simply put, Americans are killing themselves and destroying
their families at an alarming rate. No one is making them do it.
The economy isn’t putting a bottle in their hand. Immigrants
aren’t making them cheat on their wives or snort OxyContin.
Obama isn’t walking them into the lawyer’s office to force them
to file a bogus disability claim.
In a March 25 post on RedState, Caleb Howe, another frequent conservative
commentator, welcomes the prospect of the departure of Trump supporters from
the Republican Party: “GOOD NEWS! Buchanan Says If Ted Cruz Wins, An ‘Awful
Lot’ of Trump Supporters Will ‘Just Go Home”
The “new Trump voters,” Howe writes,
aren’t motivated by what makes the Republican Party the
Republican Party. They aren’t in this to limit the size and scope
of government. They aren’t coming out to Trump rallies
because he’s talking about reducing the debt.
If Trump is not nominated and his supporters stay home on Election Day,
Howe believes that “there’s really only one response: Bye.”
Glenn Beck joined the chorus of anti-Trump conservatives on March 24, when
he told listeners to his radio show that such Republicans were not real Christians:
We’re not living our Christian faith because no Christian, no
real Christian — I don’t mean a judgmental Christian, I mean
somebody who’s living their faith — no Christian says, “I want
that guy, that guy is the guy for me.”
This repudiation of a whole class of voters has become a source of bitter debate
on the right.
In a prescient January 14 essay, “To Attract Disillusioned Voters, the GOP Must
Understand Their Concerns,” Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public
Policy Center, a conservative think tank, wrote:
America’s self-appointed best and brightest uniformly view the
passions unleashed by Trump as the modern-day equivalent of
a medieval peasants’ revolt. And, like their medieval forebears,
they mean to crush it. That effort is both a fool’s errand for the
country and a poisoned chalice for conservatives and
In Olsen’s view, disparaging Trump’s lower-income white supporters “will
simply intensify the masses’ rage and ensure that their political spokesmen become
more intransigent and radical.” Even worse,
keeping blue-collar white Americans out of political power will
result in exactly what Washington elites have wanted for years:
a series of grand bargains that keep the status quo largely
intact and the Democratic party in power.
Only now are major party leaders and contributors beginning to recognize the
full depth of this intra-party conflict.
On March 28, my colleague Nick Confessore documented in crushing detail
how Republican leaders, donors and strategists disregarded the mounting
discontent of white working class Republicans, thus setting the stage for the Trump
The history, Confessore wrote, is
one of a party elite that abandoned its most faithful voters,
blue-collar white Americans, who faced economic pain and
uncertainty over the past decade as the party’s donors,
lawmakers and lobbyists prospered. From mobile home parks
in Florida and factory towns in Michigan, to Virginia’s coal
country, where as many as one in five adults live on Social
Security disability payments, disenchanted Republican voters
lost faith in the agenda of their party’s leaders.
While white voters with a high school degree or less have steadily declined as a
share of the electorate — from 82 percent of adults 25 and older in 1940 to 29
percent in 2007 — they have repeatedly played a crucial role in determining the
outcome of elections.
In the presidential elections of 1960 and 1964 – both Democratic victories –
John Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson each won 55 percent of the votes cast by
whites without college degrees, according to the widely-cited 2008 Brookings paper,
“The Decline of the White Working Class and the Rise of a Mass Upper Middle
In the next two elections, 1968 and 1972, in the wake of the civil rights
movement, urban riots and a sharp increase in violent crime, white working class
support for the Democratic nominees fell by 20 percentage points, to 35 percent,
according to the paper’s two authors, Ruy Teixeira and Alan Abramowitz. “The
Democrats,” they wrote, “were the party of the white working class no longer.”
These two elections marked the establishment of a conservative majority that
produced Republican presidential victories in 1980, 1984 and 1988 — the only
exception being 1976 when Watergate briefly stalled the ascendance of the right.
White working class voters were crucial later in the 1994 Republican takeover
of the House engineered by Newt Gingrich, now a leading Trump supporter. While
non-college whites supported Republican presidential candidates beginning in
1968, many remained loyal to the Democratic Party in Congressional races until the
Contract With America was on offer. In 1992, 57 percent of white men without
college degrees voted Democratic congressional elections. In 1994, the percentage
shrank by 20 points. Republicans captured the House that year and maintained
control in 8 of the next 10 elections.
The challenges facing the white working class are indeed severe. According to
Teixeira and Abramowitz:
Between 1979 and 2005, the average real hourly wage for those
with a college degree went up 22 percent and for those with
advanced degrees, 28 percent. In contrast, average wages for
those with only some college went up a mere 3 percent, actually
fell 2 percent for those with a high school diploma, and for high
school dropouts, declined a stunning 18 percent.
These setbacks have provided fertile recruiting opportunities for Republicans. David
Wasserman, writing at fivethirtyeight.com in December 2015, found that of five
voting groups (whites with college degrees, whites without college degrees, African-Americans,
Latinos and Asians/others), whites without college degrees are
“Republicans’ best group by far.” In 2008, John McCain carried these voters by 14
points, and in 2012 Mitt Romney won them by “a whopping 26 points.”
The virulent attacks on less affluent Republican voters by Williamson et al raise
the question: As a matter of practical politics, how can a party that is losing ground
in virtually every growing constituency — Hispanics, Asians, single women and the
young — even consider jettisoning a single voter, much less the struggling white
The Republican Party has seen its core — married white Christians — decline
from 62 percent of the population of the United States to 28 percent in 2015,
according to the Public Religion Research Institute.
Trump has won his biggest primary margins among less financially secure, less
educated voters, turning the traditional winning coalition in Republican primaries
upside down. Mitt Romney consistently did best among the most educated and
most affluent Republican primary voters. So did John McCain in 2008.
The accompanying chart [pls. refer to the original article], based on an analysis by the Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies, illustrates aggregated exit poll data from the Republican primaries held through March 21. It shows the demographic groups that have provided Trump with relatively high and relatively low levels of support.
The comparatively low levels of support for Trump among college-educated
Republicans, women, young voters and those with incomes above $100,000 suggest
that these voters are most likely to sit out the election or to vote Democratic if
Trump is the nominee. Conversely, groups that gave him higher than average
support in the primaries — the less well educated, those with incomes below the
median, men and rural voters — are likely to deliver his best margins in the general
If there are two key themes in the election so far, one is Trump’s ability to
enrage; the other is his ability to exceed expectations. The disregard of liberal and
conservative elites for working and middle class voters has manifested itself in a
consistent underestimation of the anger, resentment and pessimism of these voters
— and hence of their electoral power.
A November 2015 WSJ/NBC survey found that 69 percent of respondents
described themselves as “angry because our political system seems to only be
working for the insiders with money and power;” 54 percent said that both the
economic and political systems were “stacked” against them.
The primaries have demonstrated the importance of the primary process in
making unheard voices audible.
On March 14, 1968, less than a month before he was assassinated, the Rev. Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr. gave a speech, “The Other America,” in which he contrasted
white America with black America.
In the former,
millions of people have the milk of prosperity and the honey of
equality flowing before them. This America is the habitat of
millions of people who have food and material necessities for
their bodies, culture and education for their minds, freedom
and human dignity for their spirits.
The latter, the “other America,” has
a daily ugliness about it that transforms the buoyancy of hope
into the fatigue of despair. In this other America, thousands
and thousands of people, men in particular walk the streets in
search for jobs that do not exist.
It is an irony of history, then, that King’s language perfectly describes the
conflict today between the privileged establishment and the hard pressed rank and
file of the overwhelmingly white Republican Party — a conflict between haves and
have-nots that is taking the Republican Party to a place it has never been.
By AMANDA HESS MARCH 29, 2016, New York Times
image from article
We are witnessing a great explosion in the way that human beings are allowed
to express their gender identities. We are also hearing a lot of awkward
conversations. What are we supposed to ... call everyone? A recent scene on
HBO’s “Girls” riffed on this problem, drawing a linguistic fault line down a
Brooklyn street. On one side is a no-frills coffee joint run by Ray Ploshansky,
the show’s resident grumpy old man. (He’s, like, 38.) Across the street, a hip
new cafe springs up and instantly hoovers up Ray’s clientele.
When Ray crosses the road to eyeball the competition, he encounters a
barista he can’t quite size up. First he calls the barista “sir,” and the barista
balks, “Why’d you feel the need to call me ‘sir’?” So Ray tries “female?” and the
barista says: “Oh, ‘female’? You a biologist? You a biological essentialist? Are
you a detective?” So Ray asks, “What’s going on here?” and a second barista
steps in to explain: “What’s going on here is that you offended they, and you
offended me, so I think it’s best that you leave.” He does. The baristas
The cafe clash took the language debate of the moment and personified its
most extreme positions. On one side are people like Ray, who come off as
clueless and offensive for failing to recalibrate their language to accommodate
people who don’t identify as “he” or “she.” On the other side are “theys” like
the barista, who can sound unreasonable and absurd when they try to police
new rules of language that are still in flux. But in the subtext of the scene, a
third figure emerged. The barista character was played by the younger sibling
of Lena Dunham, the creator of “Girls”: Grace Dunham, a young queer writer
and performer who identifies as a “trans person with a vagina” and recently
wrote on Twitter, “I hate, fear and am allergic to binaries” — and is also game
for joking about how hard it can be to get everybody on the same page.
This registers as a modern problem, but gender-neutral pronouns have
been proposed for centuries. In 1808, Samuel Taylor Coleridge suggested
repurposing “it” and “which” “in order to avoid particularizing man or woman,
or in order to express either sex indifferently.” But only recently has
mainstream pop culture entertained the idea of a neutral pronoun for referring
to trans, genderqueer and even some feminist folks who either don’t identify
as “he” or “she” or are interested in demolishing that binary in speech. A flurry
of totally new constructions has emerged to bridge the gap. On Tumblr, it’s
now typical for young people to pin their preferred pronouns to their pages:
The writer behind a blog called “The Gayest Seabass” identifies as “Danny,
xe/xim/xir or he/him/his or they/them/their, taken-ish, 20.”
Lynn Liben, a psychologist at Penn State, has studied the effects of
gender-coded language — English weaves it in by way of pronouns (she, his)
but also identifying nouns (girl, uncle) and honorifics (Mr. and Mrs.) — for
about 15 years. In a pair of studies conducted in preschool classrooms in 2008
and 2010, Liben found that when teachers emphasize a gender divide in
speech — like saying, “Good morning, boys and girls” — children adopt more
intense stereotypes about what boys and girls are supposed to do, and become
less likely to play with children of a different gender at recess. “When they see
adults talk about gender as a category system,” Liben says, “kids become more
vigilant about making the distinction themselves.” Jill Soloway, creator of the
Amazon series “Transparent,” is a fan of “they” as a corrective to that
phenomenon. “A really interesting thought exercise is to say ‘they’ and ‘them’
for all genders,” she told The New Yorker recently. “The promise of this
revolution is not having to say, ‘Men do this, women do this.’ ”
These gender-neutral constructions, which not so long ago may have
sounded odd or even unthinkable to traditionalists, are becoming accepted as
standard English. The Washington Post is one of the first to have taken up the
cause, welcoming the singular “they” into the paper’s stylebook late last year.
And in January, the American Dialect Society voted the singular “they” its
2015 Word of the Year, noting its “emerging use as a pronoun to refer to a
known person, often as a conscious choice by a person rejecting the traditional
gender binary of he and she.”
But central to the appeal of the singular “they” is that it’s often deployed
unconsciously. It’s regularly repurposed as a linguistic crutch when an
individual’s gender is unknown or irrelevant. You might use it to refer to a
hypothetical person who, say, goes to the store and forgets “their” wallet. That
casual usage has a long history — it has appeared in Chaucer, Shakespeare,
Austen and Shaw. It wasn’t until 1745, when the schoolmistress-turned-grammar-expert
Ann Fisher proposed “he” as a universal pronoun for a person
of unknown gender, that the use of “they” in the same circumstance was
respun as grammatically incorrect. “The Masculine Person answers to the
general Name, which comprehends both Male and Female; as, any Person who
knows what he says,” she wrote.
It’s precisely the vagueness of “they” that makes it a not-so-ideal pronoun
replacement. It can obscure a clear gender identification with a blurred one.
Think of genderqueer people who are confident in their knowledge of their
own gender identity as one that simply doesn’t fit the boxes of “he” or “she”:
Calling all of them “they” can make it sound as if someone’s gender is
unknowable; it’s the grammatical equivalent of a shrug. In December, the Post
copy editor Bill Walsh called “they” “the only sensible solution to English’s
lack of a gender-neutral third-person singular personal pronoun,” with
“sensible” being the key word. The singular “they” gained favor with The Post’s
standard-bearer partly because the presumptive “he” “hasn’t been palatable
for decades,” but also because a generic “she” feels “patronizing” and
“attempts at made-up pronouns” — like “xe,” “xim,” and “xir” — strike Walsh
as “silly.” The New York Times hasn’t officially adopted “they,” but The
Times’s standards editor, Phillip B. Corbett, thinks it’s likely to earn a place in
the paper’s stylebook as usage evolves. “Eventually, I assume, certain forms
will become widely adopted, and that’s the point when it would make sense for
us to set out formal style rules,” he told me. “My guess — just a guess — is that
‘they’ is far more likely to become the default pronoun in these cases, rather
than ‘xe’ or other neologisms.”
A 2014 dispatch in The Economist in favor of “they” argued that
“pronouns (unlike nouns and verbs) are a ‘closed class’ of words, almost never
admitting new members.” (The Economist’s style guide, by the way, still calls
the honorific Ms. an “ugly” word.) If the point of the gender-neutral pronoun
is to get hulking institutions like The Washington Post and The Economist to
become comfortable with a concept that currently strikes traditional folks as
incomprehensible — the rejection of the gender binary — then “they” feels a
little bit like a shortcut on the way to acceptance. It represents a third option
outside the binary, sure. But it doesn’t compel people to make mental room for
a new word.
The media guide for “transgender issues” by Glaad, a lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender advocacy group, advises reporters to use whatever
pronoun their subjects prefer. If they don’t prefer “they,” using it anyway feels
like an erasure of their own identity in favor of society’s new standardized
label. In a very real way, accepting the fluidity of gender requires rejecting
standards in general. It means opening our “closed class” of pronouns. In “The
Argonauts,” Maggie Nelson’s memoir of gender and language, she acknowledges
“the Aristotelian, perhaps evolutionary need to put everything into
categories,” but embraces another need “to pay homage to the transitive, the
flight, the great soup of being in which we actually live.” It’s hard to sum it all
up in a word.
Amanda Hess is a David Carr Fellow at The New York Times
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
[Note: Perhaps the great increase in non-tenured "adjuncts" on USA campuses and grade inflation could be correlated. Adjuncts have the most to gain (or, better said, lose, like their underpaid temporary job) from critical student evaluations.]
The waters of Lake Wobegon have flooded U.S. college campuses. A’s — once reserved for recognizing excellence and distinction — are today the most commonly awarded grades in America.
Let American "public diplomacy" publicize the below to the world, as to stress another indication of USA "values" ...
Washingtonians, inhabitants of the so-called capital of the free world, don't have a voting member in Congress ...
Can you imagine how Parisians, Londoners, Moscovites, Mexico-City Mexicans -- name your capital, anywhere in the world -- would react if they were treated as second-class citizens?
The last votes of the 2016 presidential primary cycle will be cast by Democrats in Washington, D.C., on .
|The timing is fitting because the city’s residents were among the last groups to gain the right to vote in presidential elections, granted on this day in 1961.|
|That’s when Ohio ratified the 23rd Amendment, giving the measure the required approval of three-fourths of all states.|
|Washingtonians became entitled to three electoral votes in the election of the president, and beginning with Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, they’ve been reliably awarded to the Democratic candidate ever since.|
|Another breakthrough came in 1973, when President Richard M. Nixon signed a home-rule law empowering Washington, the nation’s first predominantly black large city, to elect a mayor and council.|
|But Washingtonians have only a nonvoting delegate in Congress.|
|Many residents, including President Obama, use cars that signal a frustration over that.|
|“Taxation Without Representation,” their license plates say.|