The new monthly jobs numbers are out and the United States added a paltry 80,000 jobs in June. That’s nowhere near the 100,000 to 125,000 per month we need to create to keep pace with economic need. So it’s not good for any side.
But pay attention in the news and you’ll see Republicans bragging, happy to have one more arrow in their quiver to fire at President Obama.
According to a recent poll, a plurality of Americans — and a majority of independent and moderate voters — believe that Republicans are actively sabotaging the United States economy in order to hurt President Obama’s re-election prospects in the fall. So don’t chock my sentiments up to liberal talking points. The American people believe that Republicans want our economy and working families to suffer so that their party can succeed.
Though President Obama poorly chose his words and timing when he said last month that the private sector is “doing fine”, the fact is that private sector job growth remains steady — not robust by any stretch of the imagination, but consistent with what we might hope in an economic recovery coming out of the hole we’ve been in. As of June, America created 4.3 million private sector jobs in 27 straight months. That’s nothing to sneeze at. BUT the fact is that public sector jobs have been slashed at record levels. In this chart, the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein looks at the rates of public sector employment during the last four major recessions in America. Note how much lower is is now:
Klein computed that if you restored the 600,000 public sector jobs cut by Republicans in the last four years, the unemployment rate today would be 7.8% instead of 8.2% it actually is. And if the country had added public sector jobs in the last four years at the same rate as when George W. Bush was president, the unemployment rate would fall to 7.3%.
Notably, June jobs numbers were just adjusted to clarify that while only 100,000 net jobs were created, 176,000 private sector jobs were generated. The lesser net jobs growth is mainly the result of public sector layoffs.
Republicans like to pretend that firefighters, police and teachers aren’t hardworking, middle class Americans who contribute to our communities and our economy but rather blood-sucking leeches taking advantage of the public teet. But even the Wall Street Journal agrees the biggest impediment to businesses hiring in America today is a lack of customer demand. And public sector workers don’t just put out wildfires, keep our streets safe and educate our children for the economy of the future. They also buy stuff and spur demand. Killing 600,000 public sector jobs hurts the economy.
Of course, it’s distinctly possible that Republicans believe that trickle-down economic policies that give more and more money and power to big business and the super-rich while starving public sector jobs and small businesses actually will rescue our economy, despite the overwhelming evidence that those policies got us into this mess in the first place. More likely, it seems to me, is that Republicans realize full well their attacks on public sector jobs and their stonewalling on every jobs proposal the President puts forward (including tax cuts!) are very deliberate and self-aware actions to tank the economy with the hopes that President Obama will suffer politically. The fact that our economy not to mention hundreds of thousands of hard working Americans and the small businesses that rely on them are also suffering doesn’t seem to trouble Republicans in Washington one bit.
Fox News asked me to write the liberal response to the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act. I wrote that, thanks to Justice Roberts’ refreshing objectivity, the health care reform law stands. But conservatives will not be sated:
Chief Justice Roberts’ vote is so striking precisely because it bucks the recent trend of conservatives contorting their own past beliefs and principles to attack President Obama in any way possible….
It’s one thing to not like a law. It’s another to suggest that the highest court in the land should overturn centuries of precedent, not to mention the clear tax and commerce power enshrined by our Founders in the Constitution, in order to serve a partisan political agenda.
You can read my entire response here. And please share it around!
Scott Walker and the Republicans won. Democrats lost. But there are ominous lessons for both Democrats and Republicans in the Wisconsin recall race, both for the November presidential election and beyond. Everyone is trying to spin the outcome, but frankly both sides have cause for concern.
In my latest Fox News column, I present three “curds of wisdom” each for Democrats and Republicans coming off of the recall campaign. Read it here.. And please spread it around and share your reactions to the disappointing recall results.
Published May 29, 2012 in ColorLines
“The secret of Republican political success since the rise of the right is not, as many liberals believe, that they play no-rules hardball. Instead, it’s their skill at projection—at accusing Democrats of doing what they are doing themselves, or are planning to do, or have done.”
—Michael Tomasky, Daily Beast
Nothing stirs up white racial anxiety in an election year like a black-against-white race war. Never mind the fact that there isn’t one. When has that ever stopped the inventive right wing?
Those of us living in the world of objective facts and reality might be mistaken for thinking that the United States remains an at best well-intentioned, but nonetheless deeply hostile nation toward its communities of color. In New York City, reports have shown that in 2011, police conducted 685,724 street stop and frisks (up from 97,000 in 2002). Young black and Latino men between the ages of 14 and 24 accounted for 41.6 percent of those stopped—although they are only 4.7 percent of the city’s population. In Missouri, a black man named George Allen has been in prison for almost 30 years for allegedly murdering a white woman, a crime that mounting evidence suggests Allen did not commit. Last month, a black woman named Marissa Alexander was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a single warning shot into the kitchen ceiling of her home to warn off her abusive husband and protect her three children.
But according to conservative media, exactly the opposite is occurring. Conservatives allege there is a growing but underreported black-versus-white race war in America.
There’s no data, of course, just some strung together anecdotes—namely, one about two white newspaper reporters who, while driving through Norfolk, Va., were attacked by a group of young black kids. The media didn’t pounce on the story—even the reporters’ own newspaper, the Virginian-Pilot, only mentioned the incident in an opinion piece two weeks later. Conservatives, who actually love to talk about race and racism when they can do so with their fingers pointing at people of color and liberals, pounced on the story as evidence of media bias. The lamestream media was all over the Travyon Martin story but ignored the beating of whites by black kids. That, conservatives screamed, is racial bias.
Mind you, the two reporters in the Virginia incident weren’t hospitalized for their injuries, let alone killed. Local police moved quickly to investigate and three days after the incident was first reported by the paper, police arrested one teen, charging him with throwing a rock at the reporters’ car (a felony) as well as related misdemeanors. By comparison, George Zimmerman wasn’t arrested until almost two months after he shot Trayvon Martin, and only then as a result of community pressure. Only those desperate to distract from productive conversations about racial bias and injustice and return American attention to reinforcing racial stereotypes and hierarchies could manage to find anything comparable between the Trayvon Martin case and the Virginia incident.
Even most white conservatives know better than to use the term “race war” to describe this concocted, black-against-white threat. Fortunately, conservatives have Thomas Sowell. In a widely circulated, syndicated column for the National Review entitled “The Censored Race War,” the black conservative wrote:
What the authorities and the media seem determined to suppress is that the hoodlum elements in many ghettoes launch coordinated attacks on whites in public places. If there is anything worse than a one-sided race war, it is a two-sided race war, especially when one of the races outnumbers the other several times over.
Sowell is either intentionally feeding the idea that blacks like himself are more dangerous and violent than whites or unwittingly providing cover for those who seek to do so.
The root of inequality is the simple but sinister idea that some people are inherently inferior to others. I’ll give Sowell and other conservative media figureheads the benefit of the doubt that they do not personally believe young black men are inherently more dangerous and violent, but that’s all the more reason not to play into such biases and fan the flames of white racial anxiety. Sowell and others should understand that, in America today, this is how racism operates—not primarily through explicit epithets and force but through subtle winks and nods to the prejudices on which our society remains built.
The Virginia case specifically and the manufactured race war in general conveniently feed a larger conservative narrative this election year—reminding white America of how dangerous and scary black men are and how white people, especially white men, are the victims. Despite the fact that, yes, a lot of white folks voted for President Obama in 2008, most didn’t and according to a post-election study by a researcher at Harvard, racial animus cost Obama anywhere from three to five percentage points in the 2008 popular vote. In what is shaping up to a be a tight re-election battle, a few percentage points can really matter.
In addition, the 2012 election will likely be less about independent voters (who polls indicate may split fairly evenly between Romney and Obama) than about voter turnout in each party’s base. Republicans know they have an enthusiasm gap—even now that the primaries are over, Republicans say the main reason they support Romney simply because he’s “not Obama.” Yet in 2008 exit polling, 24 percent of American voters said they were “scared” by the prospect of Barack Obama being elected president. Of those, 95 percent voted Republican. Gin up fear, win the election.
I’m not saying racial animus is the only way to stoke white conservative fear in an election. But it’s sure a popular choice, one we have already seen that Republican Super PACs are pursuing. And we can see this at play in other campaigns too, including the fact that Scott Brown has tried far harder to portray Elizabeth Warren as a person of color than she ever did herself, desperately hoping to increase his own margin of the racial animus vote.
Things really are bad for most white men in America today, just like they are for the rest of us. Jobs are disappearing and so are the public benefits that have traditionally supported them in times of need. And if the present seems bad, the future seems even worse, as public schools implode and college tuition gets further out of reach. Anger is a powerful motivator.
Republicans can’t risk white voters realizing that conservative policies have caused their suffering. And though President Obama’s own record isn’t strong, for the majority of voters middle class tax cuts, affordable health care and fairly centrist policies from education reform to the military aren’t exactly the stuff of fire and brimstone. But the president is black. I’m not arguing that conservatives are attacking the president only because of his race, but they are certainly guilty of tapping into and fanning racial resentment to ignite their critiques. In that sense, sadly, by inventing a fake black-versus-white race war, conservatives are reinforcing and exploiting the divisive white-versus-black racial dynamics in America that they should be instead helping to fix.
In an op-ed for Reuters, I argue it’s time for Republicans to get on the right side of history and stand up for marriage equality, too.
Republicans should be ashamed enough that theirs is the party that stood in the way of interracial marriage and civil rights. Is that really a legacy the GOP wants to continue into the 21st century? It seems to me the GOP has a choice between courting the open-minded next generation of voters, or continuing to be marred by scandals in which anti-gay Republican after anti-gay Republican is embarrassingly outed and shamed. Apparently this is a tough choice for the GOP, which would rather keep implicitly firing up bigotry than stand firm for equality.
You can read the entire essay here.
Let me see if I have this right: Republicans don’t think that people who have served time in prison for felonies should have their voting rights restored, but they are damn keen on current inmates being able to run for President — so long as they’re running against Obama?
Today, the GOP put out this “news”:
Meanwhile, Republicans have firmly stood against restoring the voting rights of felons. During the Republican primary, a SuperPAC supporting Mitt Romney ran an ad attacking Rick Santorum for supporting felon re-enfranchisement.
Republicans have also long supported the practice of counting people for Census purposes (and, thus, the apportionment of Members of Congress and federal benefits) in the usually red districts in which they are incarcerated, instead of the usually blue districts in which they live.
In other words, Republicans don’t want people who have served their time to vote — let alone be allowed to vote while in prison. BUT Republicans are happy to exploit inmates to boost conservative representation in Congress or to stage political stunts that take jabs at the President. Seems to me that kind of blatant hypocrisy is what’s criminal.
The always incredibly un-credible Ann Coulter has a new column out and it’s a doozy. Coulter argues that Democrats have historically been anti-gun rights because they have wanted to keep guns out of the hands of blacks who wished to defend themselves from the KKK (which, Coulter argues, began as part of the Democratic establishment). In her concoction column even claims that the National Rifle Association is “America’s oldest and most august civil rights organization.” That statement right there would give most reasonable people pause, but knowing how these sorts of crazy Right wing arguments tend to corrupt and corrode our public discourse, I thought a few facts would be in order:
1. Coulter’s celebrated Republicans are now called Democrats!
This has got to be a big face palm for anyone with even a lick of historical knowledge reading Coulter’s piece. Until the Civil War, the Democratic Party was the major political party in America. But in the mid 19th Century, anti-slavery Democrats fled the party and the Republican Party emerged. Abraham Lincoln, he of the Emancipation Proclamation and social liberal attitudes of the time with respect to abolishing slavery, was a Republican. White Southerners burning with racial resentment indeed backed the Democratic Party in Reconstruction. But then, as any eighth grader can tell you, as the 20th Century emerged, Republicans shifted to become the party of big business, white industrialists while Democrats became the party of the New Deal and Civil Rights legislation.
2. One can’t ascribe the attitudes of the 1800s racist Democratic Party to today’s Democratic Party
Yes, the so-called Democrats of the mid-1800s were rabidly racist and tied to the Ku Klux Klan. But given the profound ideological flip-flop between the two parties over the last two centuries, it’s about as absurd to attribute 1800s Democratic Party attitudes to today’s Democrats as it is to suggest that the Republican Party is “the Party of Lincoln”. If people like Ann Coulter are so damned proud of what anti-slavery Republicans stood for back then, why aren’t they standing up for those same values now?
3. The “civil rights hero” Coulter hangs her argument on exiled himself to Cuba and China and inspired the Black Panthers
This is the best part. Coulter writes about Robert F. Williams, author of the book “Negroes With Guns” (from which Coulter takes the title of her piece), who apparently formed the Black Armed Guard in Monroe, NC, with a charter from the NRA. In other words, ignoring about a hundred year gap in her narrative, Coulter tries to portray Williams as a Republican joining forces with the NRA to fight against the Democrats’ KKK. Ms. Coulter must not have known that one of Williams formative experiences was, at age 11, witnessing a black woman being dragged and beaten by a police officer named Jesse Helms, Sr. (father to future Republican Senator Jesse Helms, Jr.). And she must have missed the part where Williams delivered a speech at the 1965 International Conference for Solidarity with the People of Vietnam Against U.S. Imperialist Aggression for the Defense of Peace. Doesn’t sound like a Republican, eh Ann?
4. The “Negroes With Guns” premise assumes a persistent racism in America that Ms. Coulter and Republicans are otherwise quick to deny.
Let me see if I get this straight: The existence of persistent, implicit racial bias in America is a sufficient argument to exploit when making the case for the NRA and 2nd Amendment rights but when making the case for everything from equal funding for public schools to ending racial profiling to affirmative action, suddenly racism is a thing of the past that liberals are inventing?
5. And lastly, does Ann Coulter really want to arm black folks now?
It seems to me, the leading argument that conservatives make for lax gun laws is that “criminals” (read: black people) have guns and, therefore, law-abiding citizens (read: white people) need guns to protect themselves. By seemingly embracing Robert F. Williams’ arguments, is Ms. Coulter seriously suggesting she wants to see more black folks take up arms today? Apart from being refreshing if true, is she aware that a resurgence of Mr. Williams’ Black Armed Guard-type movement today would likely go after not the Democratic establishment but Republicans — the party that repeatedly suggests problems in the black community are the fault of “black culture” and not deep-seated history and public policy, the party that wants to cut food stamps to give more tax breaks to the rich, the party that won’t even pass the Violence Against Women Act because it might help immigrants and gay people? Oh, yeah, and the party that is constantly blowing its dog whistle about the “New Black Panther Party”?
Perhaps Ann Coulter thinks she can pick and choose from history and biography and tell only the parts of political party history and Robert F. Williams’ life that fit her narrative. And perhaps Ann Coulter also thinks that unicorns poop glitter.
What’s the matter with Florida? First, the insane “Stand Your Ground” law leading to hundreds of allegedly “justifiable” slayings like that of Trayvon Martin. But wait, there’s more! Florida Republicans have also voted to strip workers of wage theft protections and restrict the voting rights.
In my latest essay for the American Prospect, I write:
Had enough of Republican presidential candidates spinning vague ideas for America’s future? In the Florida state house, Republican legislators are being far more concrete with their plans. Rather than focusing on laws to support working families and small business growth, Florida Republicans are hell-bent on protecting big businesses and discouraging participation in our democracy.
Read the full essay here to understand how Florida’s dystopia is the Republican road map for America.
In my latest essay for Fox’s opinion page, I detail the (very long!) list of things Republicans have done in the last year to undermine women’s health and welfare and conclude:
While women voters might rather focus on jobs and the economy, watching Republicans jeopardize women’s health and reproductive freedom while slandering those who try and stand in their way is enough to make women demand not only good jobs and fair pay but political leaders who respect the liberty and rights of women in America.
President Obama’s campaign may be paying for fliers and advertisements to attract women voters, but in this regard, Republicans are giving him the kind of help that money can’t buy.
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