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Archive for the ‘curent events’ Category

three cheers for libby schaaf – ICE has no right to pick up and deport peaceful people

Last week, news organizations reported that Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf tipped off immigrants in Oakland about an upcoming ICE raid. I approve of this action. Why? There is no moral obligation to obey unjust law. Why is immigration restriction unjust? Immigration law does not protect people from harming each other, as do laws against theft and assault. Rather, it gives permission to the state to forcibly remove people who happen to be born in another country. It is no more moral to demand the removal of Mexicans or Canadians from our country as it is to demand the removal of Blacks or Jews from one’s neighborhood.

I know that Schaaf is in a tough position. It is easy to defer to law enforcement and the mayor of a major American city must be facing a lot of pressure to tow the anti-immigration line. But I hope that she remains steadfast in her position. I also hope that Schaaf will become a model of peaceful non-compliance with the law. I hope more city officials across the country will refuse to enforce cruel anti-immigration laws.  And maybe, one day, they will be abolished.

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Written by fabiorojas

March 5, 2018 at 5:01 am

vote for chelsea manning – anarchist for senate!

The American Conservative has an interesting article by Jason Lee Byas on the senate candidacy of Chelsea Manning. The gist is that Manning will use the senate run as an attempt to inject certain important, but unpopular, ideas into the political system:

If Chelsea Manning were to miraculously win both the Democratic primary and general election, it’s even less likely that she would be able to accomplish any of her main policy goals. Few if any other senators would sign on to immediately abolishing Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), let alone doing the same to prisons and the military. That also doesn’t matter.

What matters is that Chelsea Manning will have greater access to the public ear on those and other issues. While she hasn’t exactly been voiceless since leaving prison with over 320,000 followers on Twitter, her campaign gives her a platform from which her words can be reported by the press as those of a candidate for Senate.

And what might Manning actually propose?

If Chelsea Manning were to miraculously win both the Democratic primary and general election, it’s even less likely that she would be able to accomplish any of her main policy goals. Few if any other senators would sign on to immediately abolishing Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), let alone doing the same to prisons and the military. That also doesn’t matter.

Byas is correct in that Manning’s run is about culture and ideas, and less about tactics and policies. If her campaign acquires any traction at all, it will be a sign that people might want to curtail many of the excesses we’ve seen in recent years.

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Written by fabiorojas

January 31, 2018 at 5:33 am

recent souciant

Over at Souciant, run by my friend Charlie Bertsch, some articles of interest:

Check it out.

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Written by fabiorojas

July 13, 2017 at 4:17 am

zuckerberg 2020

There’s been talk about Mark Zuckerberg running for the Democratic nomination in 2020. I can see why. There’s a lot of good reasons to think that Zuckerberg could win the nomination:

  1. The Democratic party leadership has collapsed at the national level. The biggest names are all done: Clinton 1, Clinton 2, Obama, Kerry, Gore, Biden, Dean and Edwards. The entire crew of the 2000s/2010s is termed out, too old or, in Edwards case, ruined by scandal.
  2. The Democratic party bench is too old or too empty. Sanders is too old, Warren will be 71 if she runs in 2020. Tim Kaine is a non-entity outside Virginia. And it gets worse. Normally, Presidential contenders come from the ranks of the Senate and the Governorships. There are 48 Democratic Senators, which isn’t bad, and New Jersey’s Cory Booker seems to be the one with the most national presence. But the Governor situation is atrocious – there are only 16 Democratic governors!! And some, like Jerry Brown, are old or come from states like New York that chew up governors.
  3. The progressives are unable to take control of the Democratic party. We saw this with the failed attempt by Minnesota’s Keith Ellison to become party chair. Of course, this could change in the future, but so far the 45% of progressive Democrats have been unable to pull people away from the 55% of the party that is more DLC/Clinton oriented.
  4. Trump’s great asset was his ability to drown out other primary contenders in the media, which undermined fundraising and destroyed their campaigns. Then, Trump got lucky in that he faced the first ever Democratic nominee who felt that Wisconsin was not really a priority. A celebrity could rely on luck and media presence.

Add it altogether and it makes an outsider like Zuckerberg think seriously about being president. The leadership is weak, there is no heir-apparent, there is no bench and he’s got the intelligence, discipline, and money to do it. Not any celebrity could pull it off, but Zuckerberg might be one of them.

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Written by fabiorojas

May 9, 2017 at 2:33 am

what to expect from the upcoming pence administration

A lot of Americans are asking: What will a Pence Administration look like? He’ll be sworn in any day now,  so it is important to get ready. I’ve lived in the great state of Indiana for thirteen years and here is what I’ve learned about the 46th President:

As with any soon-to-be President, I want to give Mr. Pence the benefit of the doubt. I urge him to steer the Republican party from it’s nationalist state and reform the immigration system. Already, it’s rumored that he’ll reverse the Department of Education’s recent decision to de-fund Spanish classes and require Russian for high school seniors. That’s a good start.

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Written by fabiorojas

March 31, 2017 at 12:03 am

open thread on election 2016

What is the “sociological” take on election 2016? Use the comments. Tell us what you think! A selection of orgtheory related election posts:

Predictions:

  • Readers – HRC  53%
  • The Real Clear Politics average is shooting for 46% HRC, 44% Trump, 5% Johsnon, 2% Stein.

Tomorrow: No matter what, the GOP has a real serious problem on its hands.

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Written by fabiorojas

November 7, 2016 at 5:01 am

can hillary turn the page?

Hillary’s challenge last night was to articulate her case for why she should be the President. For me that means articulating her governing philosophy. So far — and this includes last night — she has not really done that. She has built her case almost entirely in opposition to Trump. She is right to do so of course. Trump cannot be allowed to occupy the White House. And her safest course to victory may be simply to assert that the alternative is too frightening to contemplate.

Maybe that will be enough. But I actually hold to the idea that the winning candidate for President is always the one who has a clearer view of the challenges and opportunities facing the country and articulates a viable roadmap for how to navigate them. Despite the fact that he is a clown, I am convinced that if Trump wins it will not be because people are blindly enamored of his celebrity but because they are persuaded by the governing philosophy that many of my friends on the left refuse to acknowledge he has. He has one. And so I don’t think it is enough to paint him as a mad man. His ideas need to be taken seriously and countered.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by seansafford

July 29, 2016 at 8:12 pm

don’t be fooled: trump gave a remarkably effective speech 

I woke up this morning and started reading the post-mortems on Trump’s speech.  Andrew Sullivan pronounced it boring and lacking substance. Michael Barbero in the New York Times called it a missed opportunity.  People are getting comfortable that Hillary’s point-spread will hold and we will ride Trump out.

Those people are wrong. First, I’ll say this up front and as clearly as I can: I do not support Trump for President of the United States. His temperament, his instincts, his tactics and his values are antithetical to mine and I cannot support him. But having said that, I will also say that he gave a remarkably effective speech. And I think it will get him elected. Let me be specific: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by seansafford

July 22, 2016 at 4:58 pm

the coming progressive explosion in the democratic party

Right now, it is clear that the Republican party is experiencing internal conflict. But I believe that there is a coming blow up in the Democratic party. Maybe not this cycle, but definitely by 2020. Right now, the Clinton-Sanders competition is being framed as Clinton’s successful defense against a challenge from the base.

There’s a good chance that this narrative will turn out to be correct. But it overlooks some serious trends that indicate the DLC coalition, Bill Clinton and other centrist Democrats of the 1990s, is slowly losing its grip on the Democratic party, in much the same way that the Nixon-Bush establishment lost its grip in 2016.

For example, look at the Massachusetts’ 2016 Democratic primary. Correctly, it is described as a much needed, but narrow, win for Hillary Clinton. But look at the long term trend:

In sense, 2016 is even worse than it appears in that Hillary Clinton got only 50% of the vote  against a single far left candidate. But the pattern is clear. Massachusetts, the bastion of Democratic party liberalism, is slowly sliding away from the establishment and toward challengers.

I don’t know why. It might be cohort change or a Tea Party style anger toward the establishment. But the trend is clear – the progressives aren’t going to take it anymore. The only question is how long it will be until the storm arrives.

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Written by fabiorojas

March 3, 2016 at 4:03 am

the democratic primary is going exactly as planned

Long time readers know that I made an incorrect prediction in 2007 – I was convinced that Barack Obama would lose to Hillary Clinton. I made that prediction not out of spite, but merely based on the correct premise that those supported by party elite do well and the incorrect assumption that Hillary Clinton was prepared to fight off a challenger if she did poorly in a few of the early states.

If you want to know my mental model of presidential politics, it is the Democratic primary of 2016. A low turnout primary has resulted in two major wins for the insider candidate, including a 50% blow out, and one marginal win. As of today, Hillary Clinton will have a delegate lead in the race that I suspect will just grow and grow.

This is the way it is supposed to play out. If you look at the South Carolina primary wiki, you see that “insider” candidates usually win by huge margins. In contested primaries, the GOP insider has won 6 out of 8 elections. The Democratic insider candidate has won 3 out of 6 contests. Hillary Clinton’s win is only surpassed by Al Gore’s whumping of Bill Bradley in 2000 with over 92% of the vote.

This is not Sander’s “fault,” though the South Carolina result is definitely a sign of poor planning. This is the way the system is designed.

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Written by fabiorojas

February 29, 2016 at 12:02 am

#bern out?

To defeat Hillary Clinton in a Democratic primary, a challenger has to do the following:

  • Push HRC’s solid support from about 45% of Democratic voters to about 40%.

Obama did that by swaying Black voters and some educated professionals. #Bern has not moved an inch on that 45%. Without losing HRC’s base, it is relatively easy for HRC to acquire  few more undecideds and win. So far, the difference between Obama and Sanders is that “last yard.”

Also, this time around, HRC is prepared. I still think she is a horrible campaigner, as she’s now losing the fund raising battle and has blown big leads. Amazing, since she’s the person that sitting vice presidents have made space for. Still, though, HRC now understands the importance of caucuses and has held up in two caucus states. We are not seeing a repeat of 2008 when HRC bungled by leaving caucuses and later primary states uncontested.

So the writing is on the wall, #Bern needs to win caucuses AND needs to move a much larger portion of the Black vote. We haven’t seen either yet.

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Written by fabiorojas

February 22, 2016 at 12:04 am

understanding the bernie strategy

2008primary

Source: RealClear Politics.

A lot of people have wondered how Bernie Sanders will prevail over Hilary in the upcoming primary. I wouldn’t be surprised if he were planning to attack Hilary in much the same way that Obama did. First, indirectly attack Hilary’s framing as a candidate. Frontal assaults seem to fail. Obama offered a counter-frame of “newness.” Sanders, probably, is trying a counter framing strategy that focuses on inequality, which resonates with the Demcoratic party electorate.

Second, focus on tipping points. As the chart above shows, Obama did not became the national favorite until after he won Iowa, Nevada, and South Carolina. In other words, don’t worry about national averages and focus on early states. If you win, then worry about national polls. Third, should you actually win a few early states, you need a deep on the ground strategy that maximizes delegates according the DNC’s arcane rules. This is how Obama won despite falling behind in the popular vote count when he lost big states (like California).

It is clear that Bernie is working on the first two points, which makes sense. You won’t dent Hilary’s national numbers so there is no point in trying. The goal isn’t winning national polls or even decreasing Hilary’s popularity, but boxing in Hilary’s support in between 40% and 50% and attracting all undecided voters. Currently, he’s succeeding in that Hilary is still in the low 40% range in the RCP rolling average. He’s also making gains in Iowa.

The problem for Bernie is that he might not have the infrastructure needed to fight in later rounds. Astute readers know that the Clintons have done poorly in early states only to make up ground in large states where you win through media and name recognition (see 1992 – Bill Clinton lost nine out of ten early primary/caucuses before steaming ahead in the March round). I suspect that Hilary 2016 will replay like Bill 1992 and Hilary 2008. The only question is whether the Bernie can win Iowa and then pad the delegate count before Clinton’s machine picks up steam.

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Written by fabiorojas

October 15, 2015 at 8:01 am

scott walker and the entertainment theory of the GOP

You will read a lot of insightful and nuanced discussion of Scott Walker’s campaign for president. Here, I want to offer an additional analysis – the “entertainment” theory of the GOP and its primary process. Normally, what you’ve seen in American politics is that various factions, or coalitions, put up candidates and that each coalition gets a fair share of the vote (e.g., liberals have Bernie Sanders now) and primaries are fought between a small number of candidates.

What happened so that the GOP has now fielded 16 contenders? The answer is that one of the major coalitions inside the GOP (the populists) has abandoned normal  political practice, which usually entails vetting a small number of candidates from the ranks of the party elites. Instead, they are directing attention at candidates for their entertainment value. In other words, a significant chunk of the GOP now judges candidates not on what they’ve done or their political connections, but how amusing they are on television.

Why does this matter? It matters because the dynamics of entertainment are very different than the dynamics of traditional politics. In traditional politics, people spend a career building a reputation and social capital. You help people and they help you back. That means a certain level of stability. In contrast, if you judge people on entertainment value, then you create an unstable environment. Candidates get stale, and you move from one to the other.

The entertainment theory of the GOP does imply that eventually establishment candidates have the upper hand because entertainment does not get people out to the polls and caucuses. Organization and personal attachment to the party and candidate gets people to the polls. Scott Walker was victim of this dynamic. Tough talk got him attention, boredom set in, and now we have Fiorina, Trump, and Carson.

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Written by fabiorojas

September 23, 2015 at 12:01 am

internet shaming and african american studies

This post is a commentary on the controversy around Saida Grundy’s tweets. Recently, Grundy, posted tweets about the legacy of racism. The gist of Grundy’s tweets was that there is a legacy of racism and privilege that is not addressed in American society. At the AAUP blog, Arianne Shavisi summarizes the tweets well: “Grundy … an incoming sociology faculty member at Boston University, tweeted a set of remarks and rhetorical questions regarding white supremacy, slavery, and misogyny in the US.” The tweets generated controversy because they were written in an informal fashion and were interpreted by some as racist.

I want to focus on a few issues that have so far have not received much attention. Before I do, I want to be explicit about my own views. There is nothing wrong in asking if the majority in this country have enjoyed privilege or if people have truly acknowledged the history of racism in America. It is also not controversial to note that some ethnic groups, such as Whites, may be over represented on some issues. In terms of style, I would have been more careful. Twitter is the type of media where things can easily be taken out of context. What is funny, or witty, in person can go bad online. There is also a bit dispute over the administration’s response. My view is that university administrators should support an environment of academic free speech, but remain agnostic on particular faculty members.

There are two issues that I’d like to address: the history of controversy in African-American Studies and internet shaming. I’ve written previously in the Teachers College Record, and a little in my book, about the pattern of controversy around African-American Studies. This is relevant since Grundy is jointly appointed in African-American Studies and sociology. Since the beginning, the field has been the target of conservative critics who periodically use African-American Studies as an example of all that is wrong on higher education. During the 2012 Naomi Schaefer Riley incident, a journalist plucked titles of incomplete dissertations and made fun of them. One can go through the pages of conservative opinion journals and books to see periodic critiques of African-American Studies from the likes of John Derbyshire and Dinesh D’Souza (see page 238p, note 5 of the book). In an earlier era, scholars like Martin Kilson would go to the mainstream press to air complaints.

What is new is that these critics now have access to the social media output of African-American Studies scholars. An enterprising critic could comb Facebook, Twitter, and blogs to find the most outrageous things. They can quickly go viral and trigger a wave of outrage overnight. Still, one should keep in mind that it still fits an overall pattern of external critics obsessing over African American Studies as a symbol of the liberal rot of academia. The only difference is the speed at which this can happen. Thus, as I noted above, it is wise to exercise prudence in such a hostile environment.

Second, there is an element of Internet shaming happening here. The journalist Ron Jonson has a new book called “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” that describes how in the modern age people can use comments and social media to instantaneously tarnish a person’s reputation. The normal punishment for an off-color joke or poorly worded remark is a mild reprimand. Now, the very same minor offense can lead to losing one’s job and a potentially irreparable mark on one’s reputation. Jonson also notes that Internet shaming often is highly unequal in that Internet rage is often directed at women. Here, the insult is compounded. Grundy is an early career scholar and this incident has already been a serious burden.

This incident reflects a number of factors coming together. Twitter can translate wit into rancor; social media magnifies mistakes; and there is a ready to go outrage machine just waiting for the jarring statement from an ethnic studies professor. I hope in the future that we can better deal with this phenomena and that this scholar can start a fruitful research career.

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Written by fabiorojas

May 22, 2015 at 12:01 am