Religion = politics in America

Even as overall party identification trends in the U.S. have shifted over the past six and half years, the relationship between religion and party identification has remained consistent. Very religious Americans are more likely to identify with or lean toward the Republican Party and less frequently identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party, compared with those who are moderately or nonreligious.

images-1

Gallup classifies Americans as “very religious” if they say religion is an important part of their daily lives and that they attend religious services every week or almost every week. That group constituted 41% of all U.S. adults in the first half of 2014. “Nonreligious” Americans (30% of Americans in 2014) are those who say religion is not an important part of their daily lives and that they seldom or never attend religious services. The remaining group, 29%, are classified as “moderately religious.” These people say religion is important in their lives but that they do not attend services regularly, or that religion is not important but that they still attend services.

From 2008 to June 2014, nonreligious Americans have been the most Democratic of the three religious groups, with a net Democratic value ranging between +38 and +19 over that period. Those who are moderately religious have also tilted Democratic, with net values ranging from +23 to +1. Those who are very religious are least Democratic, with net values in the negative range, meaning that on average, this group identifies with or leans toward the Republican Party more than the Democratic Party. Continue reading “Religion = politics in America”

The Obama divide

The American public remains split by gender, race and age in how they view the 44th President as Barack Obama begins his sixth year in the White House and bones up for Tuesday’s State-of-the-Union speech, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.images

As the Seattle PI, summarizes, “Overall, 51 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Obama, while 45 percent share an unfavorable opinion of Obama. Michelle Obama remains more popular than her husband with a 68-24 percent advantage to the “favorables.” But then the divisions begin.

“GENDER — Obama has a 54-41 percent favorable advantage among women, but is viewed unfavorably 49 percent of men.  Just 47 percent of men have a thumbs-up view of the president.

“AGE — Obama is strongest among America’s young people, seem favorably by a 55-42 percent margin by those aged 18 to 29, with a 52-43 percent favorable margin among voters 30 to 49 years in age. By contrast, among those over 65, he gets a thumbs down from 52 percent while only 44 percent take a favorable view.

“RACE:  Obama is seem favorably by 90 percent of African-Americans polled along with 62 percent of Hispanic Americans.  Among whites, however, just 41 percent view him favorably, and 56 percent unfavorably.

“The 44th president gets lower marks on the job he is doing:  Just 43 percent approve, with 59 percent disapproving. The poll gives little comfort to the Republican opposition. By a 54-35 percent margin, Americans view Republicans as the more extreme of the two political parties, according to Pew. A 52-27 percent margin see Democrats as the party more willing to work across the aisle and get things done. On which party is more concerned with the problems of “people like me,” Democrats enjoy a 52-32 percent advantage. Continue reading “The Obama divide”

England’s politics: The Art Party

Big names from British art have been at the inaugural Art Party Conference, an alternative political party conference that saw delegates chew

imgres

 over the state of culture in the UK and throw missiles at a likeness of Education Secretary Michael Gove, as reported by the BBC:

“Where are we going?” called the artist Bob and Roberta Smith. “Scarborough!” came the enthusiastic reply from a couple of hundred artists, students and art teachers. They were in Scarborough already, in fact, marching along on the beach with colourful placards. “What are we going to do when we get there?” called Smith, who is one man but uses both names Bob and Roberta.

“Breakfast!” shouted a voice. “Party!” replied another. The mob had not got the hang of the response Smith has been training them to shout: “To better advocate the arts to government!” They were on their way to the first Art Party Conference, an artists’ alternative to the annual political party conferences that always used to be held in such seaside resorts. An adapted coconut shy has busts of Michael Gove instead of coconuts Organised by artists, the event had an appropriate air of anarchy and oddness, but with serious intent and indignation at its heart. It was, the venerable sculptor Richard Wentworth remarked, like “a cross between a Navajo gathering and an Irish horse fair”. In the main hall, a Salvador Dali impersonator acted as the compere as figures from the arts world mounted a kind of pulpit to deliver short sermons on the state of the arts.

Continue reading “England’s politics: The Art Party”

Alice Walker uninvited

Why did the University of Michigan withdraw an invitation to Alice Walker?images

Apparently wealthy donors pressured the university to do so.

As InsideHigher Ed, reported today, “Walker is an author best known for The Color Purple, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1983. That work and others by her are widely taught at many colleges. Walker is also a political activist and her criticism of Israel has been condemned by many groups supportive of Israel. She supports the boycott of Israel and the Anti-Defamation League said her book published this year, The Cushion in the Road, contained an “80-page screed against Israel and Jews” in which she repeatedly compared Israel and Nazi Germany.

“The University of Michigan apparently invited Walker because of her literary reputation, but she says she was disinvited because her politics offended donors. She had been invited to speak at an event marking the 50th anniversary of the university’s Center for the Education of Women. On her blog, Walker posted an e-mail from her agent telling her that the university had rescinded the invitation.

“The agent’s e-mail said: “I’m saddened to write this because I’m a proponent of free speech and have been brought up to allow everyone to have their say. But I also realize that there are other considerations that institutions are faced with. This afternoon I was contacted by the University of Michigan instructing me to withdraw their invitation due to the removal of funding from the donors, because of their interpretation of Ms. Walker’s comments regarding Israel. They are not willing to fund this program and the university/Women’s center do not have the resources to finance this on their own.” Continue reading “Alice Walker uninvited”

Stay out of politics, kid

By a 2-to-1 margin, 64% to 31%, Americans would not like their child to go into politics as a career. The results are the same whether the question is asked about a “child,” a “son,” or a “daughter.” There has been little change in the percentage of Americans who would favor a political career for their son or daughter over the past two decades.

imgres

The results are based on a June 20-24 Gallup poll, and find generally little change in the desirability of politics as a profession even as trust in government and confidence in political institutions, particularly Congress, are low.

The largest demographic differences among major subgroups are by race, with nonwhites much more likely than whites to say they would like to see their son or daughter go into politics. This is not a reaction to the fact that the current president is black, as Gallup has found that same racial difference when the question was asked in the 1990s when George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton were president.

The racial differences may be behind the slight tendency for Democrats to favor a political career for their sons and daughters more than Republicans do, with a larger party difference for daughters. There are also small, but not necessarily meaningful, differences by gender and being a parent of a young child.

The 31% of Americans who favor a political career for their son or daughter can be seen as an average because respondents answer the questions differently depending on the order in which they are asked. Specifically, Americans are significantly more likely to say they would like both their daughter and son to go into politics when they are asked about a daughter first.

When Gallup asks about a daughter going into politics first, 37% say they would like to see their daughter go into politics. But 37% also say they would like to see their son go into politics when asked about it after being asked about a daughter going into politics.

In contrast, when Gallup asks about a son going into politics first, the percentage wanting to see their son go into politics is 12 percentage points lower, at 25%. And the percentage wanting their daughter to go into politics is lower, at 26%, when asked after the question about a son going into politics.

 

More at Gallup: http://www.gallup.com/poll/163373/child-avoid-career-politics.aspx?utm_source=tagrss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=syndication

Giroux: The War on Youth

In his new book America’s Education Deficit and the War on Youth?, Henry A. Giroux  exposes the apostles of education “reform” who mistake corporatizing the classroom for preparing young people for a robust, productive democracy.  Giroux is interviewed in TruthOut, as briefly excerpted below:imgres-1

Leslie Thatcher for Truthout: You have authored over 50 books, all of which deal with education in one form or another and most of which deal with the problems of youth; how would you define the specific focus of America’s Education Deficit and the War on Youth?

The focus of this book is on the growing economic, political and cultural gap that has emerged in the United States between political leaders elected to govern and the citizenry whom they represent. It is also about the pernicious gap between ruling financial and corporate elites and the rest of society and how it has intensified the growth of a political and cultural landscape that is as anti-intellectual and devoid of a culture of questioning as it is authoritarian. I argue in this book that the deepening political, economic and moral deficit in America is inextricably connected to an education deficit, which is currently impacting young people most of all by starving them of both the economic resources and the formative educational experiences required to help them develop into knowledgeable and engaged citizens. The book begins with the premise that the crisis of schooling cannot be disconnected from the economic crisis – fueled by endless wars, a bloated military-industrial complex, and vast disparities in wealth and income. I argue throughout the book that as the United States proceeds headlong on a reckless course of civic illiteracy, which serves to legitimate and bolster a malignant gap in income, wealth and power, the end point is sure to entail the destruction of current and future possibilities for developing the educational institutions and formative culture that advance the imperatives of justice and democracy. Continue reading “Giroux: The War on Youth”

Most in U.S. think government too strong

Fifty-four percent of Americans say the federal government today has too much power, reports Gallup. “Despite the recent controversies facing federal agencies such as the IRS, these views are only marginally higher than in 2012, and slightly lower than in 2010 and 2011. At least half of Americans since 2005 have said the federal government has too much power, whereas in the three years prior to that, Americans were more inclined to believe federal power was “about right.

“Americans’ views of federal power have become a renewed focal point in recent weeks with allegations that the IRS used its power to selectively audit certain types of organizations, and news reports of Justice Department imgresinvestigations into Associated Press and Fox News records and emails. It does not appear, however, that these news stories have dramatically altered Americans’ views of the federal government’s power. The 54% who now say the federal government has “too much power” is in the same general range as it has been since 2005.

“Only 8% of Americans say the federal government has “too little” power, while 36% say the government has about the right amount of power.

“As would be expected, there is a major gulf between Republicans’ and Democrats’ views on this issue. More than twice as many Republicans (76%) as Democrats (32%) say the government has too much power, with a majority of independents coming down on the same side as Republicans.”

 

More at: http://www.gallup.com/poll/162779/views-gov-powerful-little-changed.aspx?utm_source=tagrss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=syndication

The Billionaire Boy’s Club

Billionaires with an axe to grind, now is your time, writes Andy Kroll in Le Monde. “Not since the days before a bumbling crew of would-be break-in artists set into motion the fabled Watergate scandal, leading to the first far-reaching restrictions on money in American politics, have you been so free to meddle. There is no limit to the amount of money you can give to elect your friends and allies to political office, to defeat those with whom you disagree, to shape or stunt or kill policy, and above all to influence the tone and content of political discussion in this country.238037998_d44fcd7ffb

“Today, politics is a rich man’s game. Look no further than the 2012 elections and that season’s biggest donor, 79-year-old casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. He and his wife, Miriam, shocked the political class by first giving $16.5 million in an effort to make Newt Gingrich the Republican presidential nominee. Once Gingrich exited the race, the Adelsons invested more than $30 million in electing Mitt Romney. They donated millions more to support GOP candidates running for the House and Senate, to block a pro-union measure in Michigan, and tobankroll the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other conservative stalwarts (which waged their own campaigns mostly to help Republican candidates for Congress). Continue reading “The Billionaire Boy’s Club”

The new politics of obesity

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie acknowledged on Monday that he recently underwent lap band surgery to help him lose weight, reports Slate.com.  images-1“The governor says personal health motivated his decision, but his heft—Christie reportedly topped 300 pounds—could also complicate a 2016 presidential bid. William Howard Taft was at least as obese as Christie. Did his doctors tell him to lose weight?

“Yes. Doctors at the turn of the 20th century advised patients to carry a 20- to 50-pound reserve in case of prolonged illness, a reasonably sound recommendation at a time when pneumonia, tuberculosis, and diarrhea each killed more Americans than heart disease or diabetes. Extreme obesity, however, has long been recognized as a problem. Eighteenth-century medical journals associated obesity with drowsiness, gout, and difficulty breathing. Taft, who weighed as much as 340 pounds during his presidency, suffered from all three. Taft publicly acknowledged his weight problem—it was probably difficult to ignore after the president of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals called on him to give up horseback riding—noting that “too much flesh is bad for any man.” (“Extra flesh” was the common euphemism for obesity at the time.) Taft implied that his ideal weight was 270 pounds, though, which indicates how much standards for body weight have changed. Even at that weight, a man of Taft’s height would today be considered severely obese according to hisbody mass index. Continue reading “The new politics of obesity”

Check out “Recaps”

RECAPS is a wonderful online magazine, bearing the subtitle: “Reclaim Culture Art Politics Sexuality.” As editor Martabell Wasserman (among others) writes in the “about” page:

“RECAPS Magazine is a forum for conversation. Our mission is to explore what emerges when content from different historical, geographical, methodological, aesthetic and political vantage points is brought together. The magazine includes work that ranges from the canonical to the provisional, the abstract to the polemical, the timely to the archival. RECAPS explores the relationship between virtual community and embodied activism. The (re)print section is the most literal example but this line of inquiry structures the entire project.

RECAPS attaches uses the prefix “re” in categorizing the content because the magazine is built on the ideas that resistance is a process of repeating ideas, reworking strategies and reimaging what seems possible. “Re” reflects the belief that ideas are collectively produced and an engagement with the political present requires looking backward”. Continue reading “Check out “Recaps””