TBJE 27: What is DACA and why it Matters

Today’s episode is the audio of Juhem’s talk at the American Humanist Association (Washington, DC) on October 12, 2017.

Links:

Key facts about unauthorized immigrants enrolled in DACA (Pew Research Center)

The Dream Act, DACA, and Other Policies Designed to Protect Dreamers (American Immigration Council)

Public Support for Basic Policies of DACA Program Edges Up (PRRI)

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Episode 22(2): Demócratas, valores familiares y Charlottesville

En nuestro segundo episodio Juhem y Luciano discuten varios temas. El primer segmento se enfoca en la estrategia de los líderes del partido Demócrata para ganar las elecciones del 2018. El segundo segmento trata de apropiación del término “valores familiares” para el uso de la población no religiosa. El programa cierra con una discusión de los eventos en Charlottesville el mes pasado.

What I’m Reading

A Requiem for Florida, the Paradise That Should Never Have Been (Michael Grunwald, Politico.com) Interesting story of urban development, water management, and human hubris in the creation of modern Florida.

Can You Be Good Without God? (Brandon Withrow, TheDailyBeast.com) An article about negative stereotypes about atheists that goes beyond the usual Angry White Dudes (you know who they are) and interviews some fresh and reasonable atheist voices.

The First White President (Ta-Nehisi Coates, TheAtlantic.com) Long-ish read about white rage and the rise of Trump.

TBJE 21: Charlottesville

Luciano and Juhem recap the tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia last month. They argue about what to do with Confederate monuments and disagree about what’s the best way of contextualizing those artifacts. They also discuss President Trump’s response. The show closes with observations about weaponizing vehicles and the GOP enablers of this practice.

Links:

After Charlottesville Rally Ends in Violence, Alt-Right Vows to Return (Sarah Posner, Rolling Stone)

Update: US President Trump’s Response to Charlottesville Events (Human Rights Watch)

Legislation, Cars, And Protesters: How Laws Can Be Affected By Tragedy (Luciano GonzalezSin/God)

Be Not Constrained: James Croft on Humanists’ Responsibility to Fight Oppression (Point of Inquiry)

“A date which will live in infamy”

August 29 is the date when two of my best buddies from high school were born, so it used to be a happy day and to some extent it is. But on this day 9 years ago, the day Michael Jackson celebrated his last birthday on Earth, the 2008 Republican candidate for President of the United States, Arizona Senator John McCain decided to celebrate his 72nd birthday by introducing his running-mate: then-governor of Alaska Sarah Palin.

She has now faded from memory, a political has-been that should’ve been a never was. But she’s not gone because our country became wiser and realized the horror that would’ve been having the most ignorant person to have a real shot at national office in recent memory a heartbeat away from the Presidency.

No, the country didn’t get wiser. It decided that it needed someone who was even more ignorant, someone who had less finesse, someone who didn’t even have the semblance of experience. They voted for Donald Trump. A man with Palinesque levels of ignorance but with money and name recognition.

Like Palin, he didn’t even fake having any interest in policy, at least Paul Ryan plays a policy wonk on TV. Like Palin, Trump weaponized resentment toward people of color and immigrants. She used her “real America” phrase to convey the sentiment that Trump converted into “make America great again.” And like Palin, Trump seems uninterested in the process of governing considering public service a moneymaking scheme. After her and McCain’s unsuccessful bid to run the Executive Branch, she quit the position of Governor halfway through her term to try a career in reality television, leveraging her new national profile. She failed to become Donald Trump, while Trump was able to become and exceed Sarah Palin.

When my friends ask why I don’t like the “maverick” McCain, this is why. At some point in the 2000s I bought the maverick image. Frustrated with the G.W. Bush years I wondered what would have been if John McCain had won that primary in early 2000. Never mind that his maverick schtick is all pose and no substance. Even after derailing the whatever the name of the last Republican health care plan earlier this summer I still can’t forgive him for his recklessness. He ruined my memory of 8/29 as the happy day when tow of my best buddies from my school days get temporarily older than me. I hope it did the same to his. Nine years ago a Donald Trump wannabe became potentially the Vice-President of the U.S., today her image mentor is the President. Thanks for nothing John McCain.

Image: Left to right: Todd Palin, Sarah Palin, Cindy McCain, and John McCain. Rally in Fairfax, Virginia on September 10, 2008. Photo by Rachael Dickson. CC license Wikimedia Commons

What I’m Reading…

Can we just stop fantasizing about the South winning the Civil War? (Sean O'Neal The A.V.Club)A new alternate-reality show wonders what would have happened if the South had won the Civil War. If black people need to get over slavery, shouldn't white people get over the Civil War (or the Nazis, for what is worth).

Democrats Are Trying to Win the 2018 Midterms in All the Wrong Ways (Steve Phillips The Nation) White working class obsession among Democratic Party leaders has not reached its peak yet. Phillips shows why they are wrong about the strategy to bring back WWC voters, when they need to make sure the working class voters they do have (and who are not white) don't stay home come election time.

We Are Living in the Coen Brothers’ Darkest Comedy (Jeet Heer The New Republic) If you haven't seen the Coen Bros brilliant "Burn After Reading" you should. They may be suing the Trumps soon over copyright issues.

You Keep Using That Word… (Sincere Kirabo The Humanist) A very meta piece in which he reviews James Croft's review of Anthony Pinn's latest book. All are an excellent read about how humanism can become the greatest force of good in American politics. My words, not theirs.

The Benito Juárez Experience #15 (America Last)

This week Luciano discusses how the world view’s America in the Trump era looking at a recent Pew Global poll conducted around the G20 meeting where Trump ranks last among the 4 main leaders of the G20 (China, Germany, Russia) in terms of confidence. Juhem analyzes some of the global public opinion while also finding time to discuss global First Ladies.
Download this episode (right click and save)

Related Links

U.S. Image Suffers as Publics Around World Question Trump’s Leadership (Pew Global Attitudes & Trends)

Tracking U.S. favorability and confidence in the U.S. president, 2002 to 2017 (Interactive Chart by Pew Global)

First Lady Incidents

Poland (Vanity Fair)

Japan (The Hill)

USA (Boston Globe)

Conservatives Like the Police State

A new Gallup Poll finds that confidence in the police is returning to its historical average, something that does not bode well for any type of reform of police practices. According to Gallup: 

Confidence in police … dropped to a record-tying low of 52% in June 2015, as the Black Lives Matter movement gained national attention with a series of protests against police shootings of unarmed blacks in New York City; Ferguson, Missouri; and North Charleston, South Carolina. (Emphasis mine)

Two years ago confidence dropped as some people started realizing that maybe, just maybe police forces should be held to some sort of accountability. But not anymore. After Trump’s victory and the confirmation of former Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General in the new administration has restored the confidence in the police among certain types. You know the types. Gallup gives a snapshot of who they are. 

Confidence among Republicans and Republican leaners, whites, conservatives and those aged 55 or older has been stable or has increased slightly.

That’s not the case among young people, particularly those who are people of color as this table published by Gallup shows.

Source: Gallup

Confidence among conservatives has increased since 2015. Basically when confidence was dropping nationally because the reports of abuse were being documented in film, conservatives decided that shooting unarmed black people is what police should be doing.

Gallup further reports that in the June 2017 survey they base most of their analysis on, conservative confidence in the police is 73 percent, the highest it has been since 2000. Not surprisingly, an era where mass incarceration and abuse was reaching its apex and the type of policies that AG Sessions wants to return to. Since the only institutions conservatives have more confidence on are the military and businesses, we can be pretty confident that they are pretty cool with fascism as well.

American Exceptionalism in Climate Change Opinion

This week in The Benito Juárez Experience we digest the news from earlier this month about the United States withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreements. Luciano does an excellent job explaining the importance and the limitations of the Paris agreements. I pitch in with some comments about the complexity of American public opinion regarding climate change.

I draw from two main data sources: the Religion, Values, and Climate Change Survey published by Public Religion Research Institute and the American Academy of Religion on November 2014 (I worked on the design and analysis of this poll back when I was at PRRI); and the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Survey from the Spring 2015. The PRRI poll says a lot about what Americans think about climate change while the Pew poll puts some of those opinions in a global context.

The PRRI survey developed three categories of attitudes about climate change: believers (who think it is happening), sympathizes (who agree it is a thing but not very concerned), and skeptics (who doubt CC is an actual thing). Luckily, the largest group is the “believers.” Unfortunately, less than half the USA population fits in this category.

We know that most Americans do not fully believe climate change is an actual event worth acting upon. But it gets worse. Even those who are classified as “believers” are not particularly concerned. This second chart, from the same poll, shows that when asked about their level of concern, less than half of believers say they are very concerned. Only 3-in-10 Americans are very concerned about climate change. Among “sympathizers” just 4-in-10 have some level of concern (a combination of “very” and “somewhat” concerned).

The reason for why even those Americans who think that climate chants an issue are not very concerned about the issue is due to a very weird strand of “American Exceptionalism.” In this case, most Americans think that climate change is a problem that the rest of the world has to deal with because it is not an American problem. The figure below shows how this plays out.

A majority of Americans think that “people in poorer developng countries” will be impacted “a great deal” by climate change. Only one-third of Americans think that climate change will climate change will impact people in the USA a great deal. It is a very selfish and foolish position. On one level, it is quite arrogant to believe that your country will be spared of the effects of something that will affect the whole damn planet. On another level it is also very foolish…in what ways is our country insulated from something that’s going on globally? 

The Pew poll provides some context of how out of line Americans’ opinions are compared to the rest of the planet. As Luciano points out in the podcast, the USA is one of the largest polluters in the planet. So, we bear a lot of the responsibility for this problem. And that’s what the rest of the planet thinks. A majority of people in the rest of the world think that rich countries should bear more of the cost of addressing the climate change crisis compared to developing countries. Only in the USA more people say that developing countries should bear more of the cost. This suggests that Americans are just afraid that they’ll have to give up their gas guzzlers and all-night Christmas lights.


The USA is also a bit of an outlier in how imminent the harm caused by climate change will start affecting people. Only the Middle East (an oil-producing region, I may add) is less likely to say the danger is “now” than “in the next few years”. Moreover the USA and the Middle East also have the largest proportions of denialism since just about 7-in-10 gave an answer that indicate they think climate change is a threat.

I hope this post puts some of my comments in a better context. These charts and the reports they come from (as well as other public opinion data) also stress the need for more action, including political organization around this issue. While the Peoples’ Climate March was a great idea, these opinion patterns precede the Trump presidency. And I fear they will get worse.

Trump Returns Evangelicals the Favor

Over the weekend Donald Trump addressed the graduating class at Liberty University, the fundamentalist college founded by the late Jerry Falwell and now led by his son Jerry Jr. It was Trump’s first commencement speech and the venue indicated that he was there to pay a favor. White evangelical Protestants supported Trump like the had not supported other GOP candidates in recorded history. His speech should concerns all of us who cares about the secular state and maintaining the growth that the secular population has enjoyed in the last decade.

David Niose and Rob Boston, two of the best and most experienced voices on issues of church-state separation have very gloomy reactions to the speech. While there’s some overlap in their assessments, they highlight some separate issues.

Niose highlights the transactional nature of the Religious Right and how Trump, an expert in trasactional relationships, brags about the “deal.”

In speaking to his Christian audience, Trump was brazen in his you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours rhetoric, reminding evangelicals that their policy goals are his. “I am so proud as your president to have helped you along over the past short period of time,” he said, referring to last week’s controversial executive order instructing the IRS to do everything possible to allow churches and religious groups to participate in politics. Turning to his host Jerry Falwell, Jr. (son of the college’s founder), he bragged, “I said I was going to do it, and Jerry, I did it. And a lot of people are very happy with what’s taken place. . . We did some very important signings.”

Of course, here Trump refers to his infamous executive order on religious freedom. As Mark Silk notes, the EO really amounts to not a lot in practice. This doesn’t mean that we should take our guard down. The Religious Right has the Johnson Amendment on the cutting board and Republicans hold power in all three branches of the federal government.

The Benito Juarez Experience discusses the Johnson Amendment (Part 1; Part 2)

 

 

Boston focused his concerns on Trump’s view of the role of God in America, and in American history.

“America has always been the land of dreams because America is a nation of true believers,” Trump declared. “When the pilgrims landed at Plymouth they prayed. When the founders wrote the Declaration of Independence, they invoked our creator four times, because in America we don’t worship government, we worship God. That is why our elected officials put their hands on the Bible and say, ‘So help me God,’ as they take the oath of office. It is why our currency proudly declares, ‘In God we trust,’ and it’s why we proudly proclaim that we are one nation under God every time we say the Pledge of Allegiance. The story of America is the story of an adventure that began with deep faith, big dreams and humble beginnings.”

He’s right to be concerned. With the Religious Right-led GOP in power many issues of church-state separation are already coming up and will continue to come up. It is possible that we will get into a social and political environment where people on the fence, such as many nones, will stop identifying as such and return to their old religious labels. This could happen because people may fear the social, economic, and political consequences of not identifying as or been seen as religious.

We are in for a wild ride in the 3 3/4 years we have left in this mess. Trump may not be an evangelical, but he knows they got him elected. More important, they know it.