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Friday, November 27, 2015

RNC Oppo

Elizabeth Williamson reports at The New York Times:
The vast right-wing conspiracy Hillary Rodham Clinton once cited in 1998 works from cluttered offices on Capitol Hill, led by a man who was in high school when she first made the charge.
Raj Shah runs the Republican National Committee’s opposition research arm, a beehive of two dozen tech-savvy idealists who have already spent two years searching through decades of government documents, tax filings, TV footage and news archives. One of their colleagues in Arkansas turns up every day in the Clinton presidential library to probe the Clintons’ accumulated past. More than 330 Freedom of Information Act requests have netted 11,000 pages of records, and counting. The R.N.C. has also retained Mark Zaid, an attorney who also is representing the Gawker website in suing the State Department over records from Mrs. Clinton’s time as secretary of state.

Today, presidential candidates start campaigning two years before the first primary vote is cast. That gives researchers a head start in finding flip-flops, fibs and perhaps most damaging of all, moments when politicians are caught being themselves.
Both political parties conduct opposition research — for proof of the Democrats’ prowess, there’s the “macaca moment” in 2006 that torpedoed the re-election of Senator George Allen in Virginia. In this political cycle Republican investigators have been given a rare gift: a clear front-runner with a long and public history.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving 1863

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Professional Diversity and Politics

At The Baltimore Sun, my coauthor John-Clark Levin writes about Congress and professional diversity:
While there are 60 percent more men in Congress than in the general population — to the outrage of many — trained lawyers are overrepresented by about 6,021 percent: 213 members hold law degrees. About another 130 spent most of their careers in business or finance. By contrast, there are just eight engineers, two scientists, one economist and less than a dozen career military officers. The result is a massive skew toward the ways of thinking and problem solving taught in law and business schools.
Whether in legislatures or executive government, the core of policymaking is setting agendas and collaboratively making informed decisions. The legal profession instills reliance on adversarial process — wherein two sides present arguments to an impartial arbiter. On the other hand, scientists are taught to prioritize quantitative evidence, economists to study incentives and journalists to suppress personal bias. In government, these approaches can shape how politicians gather information, which experts they trust, and what solutions they favor. Diversity helps ensure that policies are based on the strongest evidence possible.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

White Christians and Party Coalitions

Many posts have dealt with religion and party politics.

At National Journal, Ronald Brownstein notes that white Christians dominate the GOP but not the Democratic Party:

Monday, November 23, 2015

"Blatant Anti-Semitism" at UC Santa Cruz

KSBW-TV reports:
This week, the student council voted for the University to divest from companies which profit from what they say is Israel's occupation of Palestine.

UC Santa Cruz student Daniel Bernstein, is an elected representative from the school's Stevenson College.
This week, he posted on his Facebook page a text message he received from the chair of the Stevenson student council officer.

Click HERE to see the Facebook post.

"The climate on campus has changed. Constituents from my own college have told me to abstain because of my Jewish agenda. So I am being personally discriminated against," Bernstein said.

"How did you take that?" "I was incredibly offended. It's blatant Anti-Semitism," UC Santa Cruz Student Daniel Bernstein said.

"I'm not shocked that it happened. I'm shocked that it happened directly to me, but you know I'm dealing with it the best way I can." Bernstein added.

The UC Santa Cruz Administration won't confirm or deny whether or not they're conducting an investigation into the offending text.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Attitudes Toward Refugees

Historically, Americans have been skeptical about accepting refugees.  Below, Gallup supplies data going back to the 1930s.

Americans did welcome the Vietnamese boat people  One exception was California Governor Jerry Brown, as Kerry Picket reported last year:
In 1975, Jerry Brown complained, that the federal government wanted to “dump Vietnamese on” California. “We can’t be looking 5,000 miles away and at the same time neglecting people who live here,” Newsweek reported at the time. According to The Washington Post, Larry Engelmann’s Tears Before the Rain: An Oral History of the Fall of South Vietnam, writes that Julia Vadala Taft, who led the interagency task force for refugee resettlement, remembered Brown’s opposition.
“The new governor of California, Jerry Brown, was very concerned about refugees settling in his state. Brown even attempted to prevent planes carrying refugees from landing at Travis Air Force Base near Sacramento. . . . The secretary of health and welfare, Mario Obledo, felt that this addition of a large minority group would be unwelcome in California. And he said that they already had a large population of Hispanics, Filipinos, blacks, and other minorities.”


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Supporting Censorship

Teresa Watanabe reports at The Los Angeles Times:
Zach Young, a junior majoring in ethics, politics and economics, had joined the Yale student "march of resilience" against discrimination this month. But he helped spearhead the letter after he saw the subsequent student demands — especially the call to fire Erika Christakis, a faculty member who had challenged the costume warning from the Yale Intercultural Affairs Council, asking whether there was no longer room for students to be "a little bit obnoxious … a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive."
The letter defended Christakis' free speech rights and called the training and curriculum demands "a menace to the cause of liberal education because they are clearly driven by a particular political agenda devoted to conversion instead of intellectual exploration."
"I thought there needed to be an organized, vocal opposition to give [Salovey] an instrument to oppose the demands," Young said. Salovey announced Tuesday that he supported Christakis.
Young and [Oxy student Alton] Luke said they have never been threatened with physical violence for their views — unlike some protesters, who have reported receiving anonymous threats on the Yik Yak social media site.
Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education in Philadelphia, said students had always been the most reliable allies in his 14 years of defending free speech rights in higher education. But no longer, he said.
"It's disheartening to see how they are now using freedom of speech to demand there be less freedom of speech," said Lukianoff, whose foundation supported Christakis.
American Millennials are far more likely than older generations to say the government should be able to prevent people from saying offensive statements about minority groups, according to a new analysis of Pew Research Center survey data on free speech and media across the globe.
We asked whether people believe that citizens should be able to make public statements that are offensive to minority groups, or whether the government should be able to prevent people from saying these things. Four-in-ten Millennials say the government should be able to prevent people publicly making statements that are offensive to minority groups, while 58% said such speech is OK.
Even though a larger share of Millennials favor allowing offensive speech against minorities, the 40% who oppose it is striking given that only around a quarter of Gen Xers (27%) and Boomers (24%) and roughly one-in-ten Silents (12%) say the government should be able to prevent such speech.
In Europe, where long-simmering racial tensions are of a different nature, compounded by the recent flow of migrants from North Africa and the Middle East, people are more willing than Americans to accept government controls on speech against minorities. A median of 49% across the six EU nations surveyed say this compared with 28% of Americans.
Among Europeans, there is a wide range of opinion on whether the government can prevent statements that are offensive to minorities. Seven-in-ten Germans say this should be the case (where there are clear laws against hate speech), as do 62% of Italians and half of Poles. The French are divided, with 48% saying that the government should have the ability to prevent speech that is offensive to minority groups, while 51% say people should be able to say these things publicly. In contrast, the balance of opinion in the UK and Spain is to allow people to say statements that might offend minorities.