“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'” — Isaac Asimov
“I’m not that much of a socialist compared to Eisenhower.”
The three Democratic presidential candidates met for their second debate on Saturday evening in Des Moines, Iowa. Following the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday night, the CBS News moderators scrambled to focus the first segment of the debate on terrorism and foreign policy—issues that gave former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a chance to demonstrate her foreign affairs expertise.
Both Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley have largely focused their campaigns on domestic policy—and both garnered significant applause from the audience when it came to these issues. Sanders’ attacks on Wall Street and the campaign finance system, and his call for a raising the minimum wage were met with big approval from the crowd. O’Malley hit several of those same notes, though his biggest applause line came when he called Donald Trump an “immigration-bashing carnival barker.”
Though the debate remained civil, Sanders and O’Malley did attack Clinton on several issues, including the donations she has received from Wall Street over the years. Her strategy for rebutting such attacks came into focus during the debate.
Here are some of the night’s top moments.
Sanders says he’s not as big a socialist as Dwight Eisenhower
Sanders wants to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure, make public college free, and expand Social Security. If his plan is to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans to pay for these investments, CBS’ Nancy Cordes asked him, how high would they be?
“We haven’t come up with an exact number yet, but it will not be as high as the number under Dwight D. Eisenhower, which was 90 percent,” Sanders promised. The crowd laughed almost nervously at the high number. But Sanders quickly reassured them.
“I’m not that much of a socialist compared to Eisenhower.” The audience roared.
Why the rise of death rates among Caucasians is way more complex than the pundits would have you believe.
Some critics have taken a deeper dive into a recent study looking at the rising rate of death among white, middle-aged Americans.
By now even casual observers of the news know that the rate of death among white, middle-aged Americans is rising – a trend that isn’t seen in similar countries. The news followed a widely circulated paper published online Nov. 2, and members of the media were quick to attribute the trend to several factors, from despair to a lack of social services to economic opportunity.
Pundits on both sides of the political aisle used the study to further their own narratives. From the left came the cry that this was a result of pro-business policies that have engendered a new era of income inequality. The right used the study to repeat the mantra that the decline of the prototypical, husband-wife, two-child family was to blame.
But it’s hardly that simple or singular. A closer look at the study and other surrounding data on mortality show that initial reports may have missed the mark on identifying which people are most affected by rising death rates, and that extenuating factors such as gender, educational attainment or geography may offer additional context to the headline-grabbing report.
Written by Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton, the report found mortality rates for whites began rising in 1999 and continued to do so through 2013. The rise was driven by drug and alcohol overdoses, suicide, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis.
“A serious concern is that those currently in midlife will age into Medicare in worse health than the current elderly,” Case and Deaton wrote in the paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the Immigration and Nationality Act — the law that created the US immigration system as we know it today.
What the Immigration and Nationality Act did
The INA replaced the overtly racist immigration regime of the mid-20th century, which fully banned immigration from Asia or Africa and set strict national quotas designed to limit immigration from southern and eastern Europe. The quotas were based on the ethnic balance of the 1890 Census — when, in the opinion of the Congress of the time, the United States was still a properly “white” country and wasn’t in danger of being overrun with Italians and Jews.
The Immigration and Nationality Act replaced this with the legal immigration system we still use today. There’s a flat cap on how many immigrants per country can immigrate each year, but individual immigrants aren’t approved or denied based on where they come from. Instead, they’re admitted largely through family members in the US; temporary work permits for specific employers; or refugee status or asylum (along with assorted other, smaller categories).
You can see the results in the chart above, which displays the number and origins of immigrants — naturalized citizens, legal immigrants, and unauthorized immigrants — living in the United States during the 1960 Census (before the INA) and during each decade after.
In 1960, immigrants to the US were overwhelmingly European. Furthermore — at least partly because so few eastern and southern Europeans had been allowed into the country under the quota system — Jewish and Italian Americans had largely assimilated into the US, and were considered white in a way they weren’t in the 1920s. But really, there were relatively few immigrants in the US at all.
The “outreach” candidate takes a page from Mitt Romney to insult black voters in one of the worst possible ways
Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush (Credit: AP/M. Spencer Green/LM Otero) `
Ah Jeb. You just can’t help yourself.
Again, on another historic day when Pope Francis quoted Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in a speech to Congress, the Catholic convert likewise tried to reach and empathize with African Americans. Only this is how he did it.
At a campaign stop in Mount Pleasant, S.C., a voter noted the event was all-white, and asked Bush how Republicans can appeal to African Americans. At first Bush seemed like the compassionate conservative he’s supposed to be. He touted the African Americans on his leadership team staff, discussed his outreach to black ministers, pivoted to the issue of Latino voters, and offered a feisty defense of speaking Spanish on the campaign trail:
If someone asks me a question in Spanish just for the record, don’t take offense that I answer it in Spanish. It’s not an offense to you, it’s respect for others. You campaign in a way that draws people to your cause. That’s what you do.
So far, so good. Then Bush totally blew it. Turning back to the issue of black voters, he said:
Think about it this way, Republicans get 4-7 percent of the African-American vote…If you double that, you win elections in Ohio, Virginia. And we should make that case, because our message is one of hope and aspiration. It isn’t one of division, “get in line, we’ll take care of you with free stuff.” Our message is uplifting, that says, “You can achieve earned success. We’re on your side.”
“We’re on your side,” black voters, though we’re not sure you’ve really achieved “earned success.” You’ve been relying a little too much on “free stuff” from Democrats, but we’re here to change that. The level of condescension and negative stereotyping in Bush’s statement is stunning, but not surprising.
After all, Mitt Romney said essentially the same thing – directly to the NAACP, in July of 2012. “Your friends who like Obamacare, you remind them of this: If they want more stuff from government, tell them to go vote for the other guy — more free stuff. But don’t forget nothing is really free.”
For years now, China has faced the daunting challenge of managing its roughly 260 million “domestic immigrants,” or migrant workers. They flow itinerantly from countryside to cities, where they dwell as second-class citizens and temporary guests with no formal urban status because of a system, known as hukou, that prevents them from settling and easily accessing basic services such as health care, social security, primary education for their children, and decent housing.
At nearly 20 percent of the population, China’s migrants, if they were to form their own country, would constitute the world’s fourth most populous nation. It is a demographic that has grown 30 times over the past 30 years, according to figures from an official Chinese Communist Party (CCP) journal, Seeking Truth, even as total population growth has increased by less than one percent over the same period. Relative to the overall population, the migrant demographic is younger, more mobile, and not particularly smitten with the status quo.
What’s more, a rising generation of “millennial migrants” aspires to the same lifestyle and opportunities afforded their urban contemporaries. As a result, their expectations are shifting rapidly, increasing the possibility that their accumulated discontents will turn into a volatile force that catalyzes social instability.
MAO’S URBAN BIAS
The irony of the migrant predicament is that it is the direct result of the CCP’s attempt to ensure stability back in the 1950s, when Chairman Mao Zedong implemented the hukou, or household registration system, to control the ballooning population. It broadly categorized the Chinese population into rural and urban and was strictly enforced to prevent rural farmers from flooding the cities. Under Mao’s statist economy, the rigid form of control was designed in part to keep abundant labor on the farms in order to produce enough food for one billion–plus mouths.
Still, the politics at the time—and which remain today—favored the cities, with the government allocating significantly more resources and benefits to urban China, usually at the expense of rural farmers. It’s what political scientists call “urban bias,” a well-worn strategy that authoritarian governments tend to apply to maintain a tacit alliance with their urban constituencies out of concern that they would be the most likely troublemakers.
Mao, who grew up in rural China, understood that the CCP’s power base resided in urban China. And in fact, the party began organizing vigorously in major Chinese cities early in its existence. Ensuring that the urbanites were happy and satisfied was key to the political system’s staying power and ability to maintain order. As for the rural folks, they tend to be easier to control and have a harder time engaging in collective action that can threaten the regime.
According to Jeremy Wallace, a professor at Cornell University, that’s because unlike rural populations, “urban areas have high population densities, reducing the costs of large-scale collective action. Proximity to the locus of economic development and industry renders urban protest more politically relevant.” Mao, like authoritarian leaders elsewhere, seemed to intuitively grasp that fact.
The inflexible hukou system may have worked relatively well when China was largely an agrarian economy, at least in terms of imposing control and stability. But it began to creak under the weight of economic reforms in the 1980s, which demanded a more flexible labor market as China focused on industrializing and building a massive manufacturing sector—a growth model that banked on its comparative advantage: abundant labor.
As a result, Beijing had little choice but to relax its restrictions on population movements in tandem with economic reforms, because it needed to tap the rural labor pool to serve the gargantuan infrastructure and manufacturing expansion along the coast. As parallel reforms on Chinese farms freed up labor, workers left rural China in droves and started filling up the factories that dotted the Pearl River and Yangtze River Delta regions. They were the first wave of migrants that came to be known as the “floating population,” which also included the migrant laborers that built Shanghai’s gleaming skyline.
The irony of the migrant predicament is that it is the direct result of the CCP’s attempt to ensure stability back in the 1950s, when Chairman Mao Zedong implemented the hukou, or household registration system, to control the ballooning population.
This morning, Vox published a comic strip by Terry Blas that explains the different meanings of “Hispanic” and “Latino.” Some Latino writers took issue with the illustration, particularly with the claim that people from Spain are Hispanic.
I began responding to some of these concerns on Twitter. But I quickly realized that 140 characters is not enough to hash out some of these complex issues of identity, some of which I’ve dealt with in my own life.
This might seem like a semantic debate (and, technically, it is). But it also reflects a broader debate about how people identify themselves, and the complications that arise from trying to fit people from dozens of countries into one or two labels.
As someone who was born in Venezuela and whose dad is from Spain, I agree with the comic. I think Latino refers to anyone from Latin America, including Brazil (which primarily speaks Portuguese) and Caribbean countries (some of which primarily speak English, French, and Dutch, among other languages). And I think Hispanic refers to people from Spanish-speaking countries, including Spain. So I personally identify as 100 percent Hispanic and 50 percent Latino, since I’m half Venezuelan and half Spaniard.
The federal government, according to the Pew Research Center, also agrees with the comic: The official definition of Hispanic is “Americans who identify themselves as being of Spanish-speaking background and trace their origin or descent from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Central and South America and other Spanish-speaking countries.” (The government does, however, let people identify however they want in their census form, which lets the feds avoid the need to adjudicate some of these issues.)
But not everyone agrees. Some Latinos and Latinas think Latin American countries that don’t primarily speak Spanish — so a bunch of Caribbean countries and Brazil — aren’t Latino, even though they’re technically part of Latin America. Some Hispanic people think Spaniards shouldn’t be considered Hispanic, since they argue the term should refer only to countries that Spain colonized. Some people from both groups think it’s totally fine for anyone to identify as Hispanic or Latino as long as they have some Spanish or Latin American ancestry. Some people from Caribbean countries don’t relate to Latino or Hispanic at all. Others prefer choosing another term, such as Chicano.
And a lot of people just don’t care, as a Pew survey found:
Call it pandering, but Nixon made an effort to win over African Americans. And it worked.
The starting gun of the 2016 presidential election has quickly been followed by Republican candidates stumbling over how to talk to, and about, voters of color—the examples are almost too many to count. There was Donald Trump calling Mexican immigrants rapists; some cringe-worthy refusals to label the Charleston shooting a hate crime; plus the awkward flailing over the question of the Confederate flag (until Nikki Haley jumped in to the rescue). Then came the first debate. Seventeen candidates, more than three hours, only two direct questions about race and only one candidate—Rick Perry—able even to utter the word “African-American” or “black.” Instead, the candidates opted to change the subject. When Carson was asked about race, he went on a tangent about neurosurgery, and Walker decided to spend his time talking about proper police training on the use of force.
It’s clear they could each use some messaging advice. And if they are serious about learning how to approach and appeal to black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters—a necessary endeavor if they have any notions of sustained electoral success, present and future—then they should look to the only Republican in the past 50 years who purposively, and successfully, courted black voters. That would be Richard Nixon.
You may be thinking Nixon is the worst possible model for outreach across racial lines. He was hardly a model for racial reconciliation, a man who frequently let rip racist comments in private company. And it was the 1972 election in which Nixon, through his “Southern strategy,” schemed to break up the Democrats’ national coalition by exploiting the division between Northeast and Deep South Democrats on the issue of race. With a messaging strategy and policy platform that capitalized on thinly-veiled racial code, the Nixon campaign wooed the nearly 10 million voters in the American South who had voted for third-party candidate and segregationist George Wallace in the previous election. For generations since, Republican politicians have won elections by completely circumventing black voters—a strategy, it would seem, the candidates still embrace today.
In Iraq, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s bold plan to revitalize a country ravaged by war may provide stability – or it could undo it all.
More than a decade after being invaded by the U.S., Iraq is moving away from the democracy the West tried to establish in the country.
On the streets of Baghdad, and in other corners of Iraq where locals have endured almost unimaginable chaos and tragedy over the last decade, two popular phrases capture the complexities of modern life.
“We used to have one Saddam Hussein, now we have a thousand,” one saying goes. The other: “The patch is small, and the hole is big.”
The first adage helps personify what has become endemic corruption in Iraq, giving rise to massive protests against public officials’ exploiting their positions to steal money and the government’s failure to stop it. The second represents the inherent fear among Iraqis that no leader, particularly in the current government, possesses the vision to see beyond the country’s existing problems and come up with a proactive solution in service of Iraq’s future.
Abadi’s Bold Plan for Iraq
The sentiments reflect the concerns of demonstrators who have taken to the streets in recent days in frustration over the government’s inability to deliver basic services like a reliable flow of electricity at a time when summer temperatures have topped 120 degrees. The largely peaceful and nonsectarian protests, set against the urgency of war with the Islamic State group, prompted Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to announce a bold set of anti-corruption reforms over the weekend aimed at making the government more effective. The seven-point plan attacks fraud and waste in key areas of the political, national security and leadership infrastructure where Abadi, a Shiite Muslim, sees some of the most flagrant abuses.
Some consider it the beginning of a labyrinthine path to actual reform. For others, it suggests a power grab by Abadi, who may have just laid the foundation to oust encroaching rivals, consolidate power and build his base of support.
Regardless, in a country defined by autocrats, the move almost certainly marks the official death of the model of democracy the U.S. attempted to impose over a decade of war.
“Iraqis in general blame the U.S. government [for choosing to] fund, train and support the present, corrupt Iraqi government,” says Kamal Jabar, an Iraqi-American human rights activist and journalist who recently returned to the U.S. from Baghdad and has been closely monitoring the tenor of the protests in and around the capital city. Many of the protesters on the streets celebrated the news, he says, but Iraqis have learned to temper their optimism.
Apple is trying to make itself a more diverse company. In an open letter accompanying the release of its latest diversity figures, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company’s hiring practices are changing. He writes that in the past year, Apple hired over 11,000 women globally, 65 percent more than in the previous year. And in the US, he says, Apple hired more than 2,200 black employees—a 50 percent increase over last year—and 2,700 Hispanic employees, a 66 percent increase.
“In total, this represents the largest group of employees we’ve ever hired from underrepresented groups in a single year,” Cook says. In the first six months of this year, he said, nearly half of the people Apple has hired in the US are women, black, Hispanic, or Native American.
That may sound like a whole lot of progress. But a closer look at the actual composition of Apple’s workforce tells a more dismal story. In 2015, a vast majority (69 percent) of the company is still male, a figure that budged a mere 1 percent from one year ago. Apple’s US workforce is also mostly white (54 percent). And at the leadership level, Apple is 72 percent male and 63 percent white. According to its Equal Opportunity Employment (EEO-1) report filed for 2014, sixty of the eighty-three people on Apple’s leadership team were white men.
That said, the company did move the needle in some small ways. The company has more Asians (18 percent compared to 15 percent one year ago) and African Americans (8 percent versus 7 percent). The number of Hispanics at the company hasn’t changed, however; the group still represents only 11 percent of the company.
Governor’s races in South and Midwest could be lost if party brand becomes too liberal.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. — Centrist Democrats were wiped out in the 2014 elections and in their absence emerged a resurgent liberal movement, embodied most recently by the surprisingly competitive presidential campaign of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
But the suddenly ascendant left — its populist overtones becoming part of the mainstream Democratic pitch — is worrying Democrats who want to compete on Republican-leaning turf. The party lost every competitive gubernatorial and Senate race in the South last year. And Democrats didn’t fare much better in the heartland.
Now, as Bernie Sanders’ surge foreshadows a new burst of progressivism, moderate Democrats are looking to their counterparts in Washington with a plea: Don’t freeze us out.
“The national Democratic Party’s brand makes it challenging for Democrats in red states oftentimes and I hope that going forward, the leaders at the national level will be mindful of that and they will understand that they can’t govern the country without Democrats being able to win races in red states,” said Paul Davis, who narrowly failed to unseat Republican Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback last year.
Davis and his ilk were partly victims of a historically dismal year for Democrats, who saw their gubernatorial ranks fall to 18. Their candidates were weighed down by perceptions that President Barack Obama was too liberal. Now, Democrats in red states are worried that the party’s shift toward an even more polarizing, populist tone could turn off the swing voters they need to mount a comeback in 2015 and 2016, when a handful of GOP-tilted states with Democratic governors are on the ballot.
“It’s important that the Democratic party be ‘big-tent,’” said Vincent Sheheen, who lost last year to South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. “So if the result of that kind of rhetoric is an antagonism toward or a hostility toward the moderate elements of the Democratic Party then yeah, it’s big trouble and big problems.”
“We’ll never take back Congress unless we can win in the South. We’ll never take back governorships unless we can win in the South,” he added.