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Paul Krugman Demolishes the ‘Zombie’ Ideas That Have Eaten Republican Brains

April 26th, 2015 by admin | No Comments | Filed in 2016 Election, Budget Debates, safety net, Social Securiy

 

By Janet Allon
Progressive America Rising via AlterNet

April 24, 2015 – Paul Krugman has a little fun in his Friday column [3], using an extended zombie metaphor to express a rather serious point. The question the columnist seeks an answer to: why is it that Republicans and the right refuse to recognize the reality, evidence and facts that discredit their ideas? Must be something supernatural. Or more likely Koch and Adelson money. But more on that in a sec.

"Last week, a zombie went to New Hampshire and staked its claim to the Republican presidential nomination," Krugman begins. "Well, O.K., it was actually Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey. But it’s pretty much the same thing."

Christie gave a speech [4] in New Hampshire once again positioning himself as a roll-up-your-shirtsleeves, tough fiscal conservative. But his ideas are largley, well, zombies. Things that are dead, but somehow refuse to acknowledge they are dead. Christie thought he was being so smart when he proposed that the minimum age for Social Secutiry and Medicare be raised to 69. Here is Krugman’s explanation of the problem with that oh-so-brave idea.

    This whole line of argument should have died in 2007, when the Social Security Administration issued a report showing that almost all the rise in life expectancy [5] has taken place among the affluent. The bottom half of workers, who are precisely the Americans who rely on Social Security most, have seen their life expectancy at age 65 rise only a bit more than a year since the 1970s. Furthermore, while lawyers and politicians may consider working into their late 60s no hardship, things look somewhat different to ordinary workers, many of whom still have to perform manual labor.

    And while raising the retirement age would impose a great deal of hardship, it would save remarkably little money. In fact, a 2013 report from the Congressional Budget Office [6] found that raising the Medicare age would save almost no money at all.

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How It Usually Works: Deconstructing a Media Police Coverup

April 9th, 2015 by admin | No Comments | Filed in Civil Rights, Media bias, Police Crimes

Media Had Already Bought Police’s Fantasy Version of Walter Scott Killing Before Video Surfaced

By Adam Johnson

FAIR via Alternet

April 8, 2015  – The New York Times (4/7/15 [3]) released a video of a black South Carolina man Walter Scott being shot, casually and without apparent mercy, eight times in the back by white police officer Michael T. Slager. The media’s outrage [4] after the video’s publication was righteous and swift. The state of South Carolina followed suit, filing murder charges [5] against Slager. Indeed, the video offers no ambiguity whatsoever:

Before this shocking video surfaced, however, most of the local press coverage, per usual [6], followed the police’s official narrative and amplified a storyline that, in retrospect, was entirely made up.

The Scott shooting, as Think Progress’s Judd Ledgum pointed out [7], provides unique insight into the way the police use inherent asymmetry of information to assert their narrative:

Between the time when he shot and killed Scott early Saturday morning and when charges were filed, Slager — using the both the police department and his attorney — was able to provide his “version” of the events.

He appeared well on his way to avoiding charges and pinning the blame on Scott.

Then a video, shot by an anonymous bystander, revealed exactly what happened [8].

In all police killings, one side–the victim–is, by definition, dead. So the “both sides” type of reporting we’re so often used to almost invariably becomes a one-sided airing of accounts, facts and selective details from the police side that the corporate media repeats without question. Indeed, Charleston’s local ABC affiliate would begin [9] their report with, what turned out to be, an outright lie:

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — A man involved in a traffic stop that turned into a physical altercation with a North Charleston police officer died Saturday after being shot by the officer.

But the New York Times video shows there was no “physical altercation.” There was someone being shot in the back eight times while trying to run away. The report would go on to mix up police assertion with fact again, seemingly inventing witnesses [10] who weren’t there:

Police and witnesses say Scott tried to run from Slager before turning to fight for the officer’s taser. It was during that scuffle that the officer fired his service weapon, fatally wounding Scott.

But what witnesses? I have asked the reporter, Greg Woods, to name the witnesses he documented; as of press time, he has not responded. Woods did not, in any of his reports, actually quote any witnesses saying they saw a “fight.” What appears to have happened is that Woods was told by police there were witnesses and he reported it, uncritically.

In another piece [11]–that, in fairness, did have interviews with the victim’s family–local CBS affiliate WCSC effectively handed the report over to North Charleston police for their uninterrupted retelling of events:

Slager deployed his taser weapon to detain the driver but was unsuccessful, Pryor said.

Police say an altercation then began between Slager and Scott, resulting in a fight for the officer’s taser.

During the fight, Scott gained control of the taser to use it against the officer who then fired his service weapon at the suspect, Pryor said.

While en route, the sergeant reported that he heard Slager say that he deployed his taser and was requesting for back up units, and seconds later reported “shots fired and the subject is down, he took my taser.”

We now know, by the sheer accident of someone filming the event, this narrative was false. We know Scott never “gained control” of a taser, and we know Scott only received medical attention from police minutes after they planted a weapon on him and handcuffed him as he lay dying. But the media, in an effort to report “both sides,” ends up transcribing the deceptive police report verbatim.

While providing an initial qualifier of “spokesman said,” NBC affiliate News 2, would do one better and go on [12]to drop this modifier altogether and simply report the police account as fact: (Continued)

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The Weak Link: Winning State Elections

April 7th, 2015 by admin | No Comments | Filed in 2016 Election, rightwing, Voting Rights

By Gloria Totten

Campaign for America’s Future

April 7, 2015 – This has not been a positive year in state legislatures, and there’s a good chance that, for progressives, this may be the worst session in decades.

Wisconsin imposed “right-to-work.” Nevada suspended prevailing wage rules for school construction projects. South Dakota lowered the minimum wage by a dollar an hour for workers under age 18. Many states are slashing funds for public education and social services. Several are legalizing the carrying of guns on college campuses or abolishing the 80-year-old requirement of a permit to carry a concealed firearm. Utah brought back firing squads as a means of execution. Even the Indiana “religious liberty” battle didn’t have a happy ending: the law they passed is not a good one, it’s just less bad.

The reason for the states’ lunge to the right is clear—the GOP gained more than 300 state legislative seats in the 2014 elections. Republicans now control 69 of the 99 state legislative bodies in the U.S. (if we include Nebraska, where lawmakers are technically nonpartisan but effectively Republican), while Democrats control only 30. That’s the most legislative chambers Republicans have ever held.

Put another way, there are now 25 states where both the legislative and executive branches are entirely controlled by Republicans, if we include Nebraska and Alaska (where the governor ran as an independent but is effectively a Republican). In contrast, there are only seven states with a Democratic legislature and governor: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont. In four additional states (Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey), Democrats control the legislature but progress is stymied by a GOP governor.

It should be obvious that progressives desperately need to engineer a strong comeback in 2016. It’s not just that 150 million Americans living in GOP states are subject to regressive rule. The longer the right wing holds power, the more “gamechanger” policies they enact—like voter ID and union busting—designed to rig the electoral game for the long term. Even more important, it’s nearly impossible to take back the congressional redistricting process in 2021-22 unless we start winning state legislative seats in 2016. Progressives need to put in place strong incumbents who can withstand a difficult 2018 election cycle. It would be sheer folly to wait until 2020 to try to win back legislative chambers for reapportionment.

The old saying goes, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” In state politics, progressives have some very strong links indeed. Over the years, our movement has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in terrific policy research, excellent polling, and a lot of hardworking grassroots organizations and activists. But because of one glaring weak link, conservative majorities block good policies and enact bad ones. Progressive investments at the state level are stymied by a distinct lack of focus on winning elections there.

The good news is that our movement could do very well in 2016. We could conceivably move legislatures from split to Democratic control in seven states: Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, and Washington. And we could possibly move legislatures from Republican to split control in eight others: Arizona, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Wisconsin (although half of these are longshots). Read the rest of this entry »

Year-Round, Locally Based Precinct Organizing Is Essential for Moving the Democratic Party (Or Any Other Group) Leftward

March 22nd, 2015 by admin | No Comments | Filed in Democrats, elections, Organizing, Voting Rights

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and his wife Loretta chat with precinct captain Joe Poelsterl

"The most important job I ever had was Precinct Captain." —Harry S Truman

By Meteor Blades
Progressive America Rising via DailyKOS

March 22, 2015 – In the past few months, starting shortly before Christmas, the founder of this blog has several times made comments about future elections that make me grind my molars.

He has said Democrats likely will win the elections of 2016, but we will lose in 2018 because "our voters" turn out for presidential elections but not in the midterms. He has said we will be stuck in this conundrum until we figure out how to change the dynamic.

I hate this message. Because Markos is right. And making him wrong will require lots of what used to be called shoe leather and what my grandfather called "organizational calluses." 

We are stuck in a rinse-repeat cycle in which a relatively large percentage of Democratic and Democrat-leaning voters turn out in presidential election years followed by a steep fall-off in said voters every midterm year. Nobody needs persuading that this has massive and massively damaging consequences for the progressive agenda and the vast number of rank-and-file Americans who would benefit if that agenda were turned into policy.

It’s true that the older, whiter, richer, more conservative, more male cohorts in America who turn out big in presidential years also don’t vote in as high of percentages in midterm elections. But their fall-off is not as precipitous. This Republican advantage is added to (and helps make possible) other right-wing advantages. Two of those: the impact of gerrymandering, which is analyzed here here by Jeff Singer using a Daily Kos-developed metric premised on the "median district"; and the impact of a move away from split-ticket voting, analyzed here by Steve Singiser.

These aren’t the only advantages for a Republican Party that has become increasingly right wing. For instance, young people when they do vote, are more likely to choose candidates who campaign for liberal rather than conservative policies. But young people are the least likely age cohort to be contacted to vote.

As we know all too well, chief among the right wing’s advantages is the deluge of money—much of it now delivered from secret sources, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court. While it’s not, of course, going to be true in every contest, overall the Democrats will never be able to outspend the Republicans. Plenty of examples show that money—even well-spent money—doesn’t always win a race. But it confers a big edge. So, to win more races, we need to engage in an asymmetric electoral approach. In blue states and red ones.

Don’t get me wrong. There is no silver bullet. Good candidates at every level of government for every office are a must. And we definitely have too few of those. Good policy ideas are crucial. We’ve got them, but it’s hard to get some elected Democrats to support them. Those are problems to be solved.

But year-round, locally based organizing in each of the nation’s 176,000 precincts is a crucial element for the future success of the Democratic Party. Not the party as we now know it, but one that is more progressive and more willing than it has been to fight vigorously for the economic, social, and environmental interests of the working classes that make up the vast majority of Americans. (Continued)

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The Christian Right Still dominates the GOP — Is There Any End in Sight?

March 19th, 2015 by admin | No Comments | Filed in 2016 Election, Fascism, GOP, rightwing

 

By Amanda Marcotte
Progressive America Rising via AlterNet

March 18, 2015 – In a recent interview on Fox, Christian right writer [3] James Robison went off on a rant about how Christian conservatives need to take over the government: “There are only 500 of you,” Robison said of Congress. “We can get rid of the whole bunch in one smooth swoop and we can really reroute the whole ship!”

He added that this takeover would cause "demons to shudder" and the "gates of hell to tremble," but what was really delusional about it was the idea that Congress is somehow devoid of Christians. In reality, 92% of Congress people identify [4] as Christian. More to the point, nearly every Republican, regardless of their sincerity in saying so, aligns with conservative Christianity, whether Catholic or Protestant, an affiliation reflected in their policy preferences. (One solitary Republican is Jewish.) The Christian right might not own all 535 members of Congress, but with Republicans in the majority, the Christian right is also in the majority.

And yet, as New York Times writer Jason Horowitz explained in a recent profile piece about evangelical organizer David Lane, Lane feels quite similarly: “For Mr. Lane, a onetime Bible salesman and self-described former “wild man,” connecting the pastors with two likely presidential candidates was more than a good day’s work. It was part of what he sees as his mission, which is to make evangelical Christians a decisive power in the Republican Party.”

Say what, said any reader who has cracked a newspaper, the New York Times or otherwise, in the past four decades. Making the Republican Party beholden to the Christian right is like making the sky blue or making cats stubborn. Can you really make something be what it already is?

That the evangelical right already controls the GOP shouldn’t really be in dispute. Not only do the Republicans do exactly as the Christian right tells them on every social issue, such as reproductive rights or gay rights, but Republicans also pay fealty to the Christian right by targeting Muslim countries with their hawkish posturing or using [5] Christian language to rationalize slashing the social safety net. If you were trying to come up with a quick-and-dirty description of the Republican Party, “coalition of corporate and patriarchal religious interests” would be it. (Continued)

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Conservatives May Control State Governments, But Progressives Are Rising

March 14th, 2015 by admin | No Comments | Filed in 2016 Election, safety net, Voting Rights

By George Goehl, Ana María Archila, Fred Azcarate
Progressive America Rising via Common Dreams

March 13, 2015 – Progressive activists flooded the rotunda of the State Capitol building in Springfield, Illinois as part of the ‘We Rise’ national day of action on Wednesday, March 11, 2015. (Photo: National People’s Action/flickr/cc)

In November, conservatives swept not only Congress, but a majority of statehouses. While gridlock in Washington is frustrating, the rightward lurch of statehouses could be devastating. Reveling in their newfound power, state lawmakers and their corporate allies are writing regressive policies that could hurt families by exacerbating inequality, further curtailing an already weakened democracy, and worsening an environmental crisis of global proportions.

From a law that would censor public university professors in Kansas to a governor who prohibits state officials from using the term “climate change” in Florida, ideologues in state capitols are wasting little time when it comes to enacting an extreme agenda. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Wisconsin officially enacted right to work legislation on Monday, a policy that’s shown to lower wages and benefits by weakening the power of unions. Missouri, New Mexico, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Illinois are all entertaining various versions of the law. In states like New York and Ohio, legislators are considering severe cuts to public education, while vastly expanding charter schools.

"We will continue rising to challenge corporate power and win the policies that put people and planet first – not last."

Of course, a look at key 2014 ballot initiatives shows voters held progressive values on issues like the minimum wage, paid sick days, and a millionaires tax. And just 36.4 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots in 2014, meaning that there is surely a silent majority sitting on the sidelines.

The path to policies that put families first is not short, but a bold coalition across the country took an aggressive step forward this week.

On March 11th, under the banner “We Rise,” thousands of people joined more than 28 actions in 16 states to awaken that silent majority and call their legislators to account. A joint project of National People’s Action, Center for Popular Democracy, USAction and other allies across the country, the message of the day was simple: our cities and states belong to us, not big corporations and the wealthy. We can work together and push our legislators to enact an agenda that puts people and the planet before profits. And at each local action, leaders unveiled their proposals for what that agenda would look like in their cities and states.

In Minnesota, grassroots leaders are fighting for a proposal to re-enfranchise over 44,000 formerly incarcerated people. In Nevada, our allies are agitating for a $15 minimum wage. In Illinois, we are organizing for closing corporate tax loopholes and a financial transaction tax (a “LaSalle Street tax”) that would help plug the state’s budget hole. With each of these proposals, we are moving from defense to offense and changing the conversation about race, democracy and our economy.

We’ve seen over and over again in American history, change starts close to home – in our towns, cities and states. On March 11th, we saw a fresh reminder of the power of local change. Our families and communities are defining this new front in American public life, and we will continue rising to challenge corporate power and win the policies that put people and planet first – not last.

If November was a wave election, then this Spring will be a wave of bottom-up people power activism. (Continued)

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2016′s Untold Story: How The Election Could Bring A New Wave Of Progressive Warriors

March 10th, 2015 by admin | No Comments | Filed in 2016 Election, PDA, safety net

 

While the presidential contest consumes much of our attention, down-ballot races could power a liberal revival

By Luke Brinker
Progressive America Rising via Salon.com

March 10, 2015 – As America marches inexorably toward a presidential election that will almost certainly feature another Clinton, possibly pitted against yet another Bush, a sense of resignation and fatalism has taken hold among many observers on both the progressive left and the anti-establishment right.

While Jeb and Hillary would trade barbs on such perennial wedges issues as abortion and same-sex marriage, and Clinton may be more supportive than Bush of what passes for a social safety net in this country — just don’t mind that bit about ending welfare as we knew it, and try not to focus on that pesky vote for bankruptcy “reform” — neither Wall Street-friendly candidate poses a threat to the plutocratic powers that be. Indeed, the masters of the universe can’t quite decide which of the two they’d prefer to see elected. Either way, they rest assured, they win.

Dispiriting as the coming national contest can be, however, it should not obscure one of the less-discussed dynamics of the 2016 elections: Across the country, a crop of unapologetically progressive candidates promises to infuse a new populist energy into the fight for the U.S. Senate, and may well transform the terms of debate within a Democratic Party that has spent the better part of the past three decades reconciling itself to the Reagan Revolution and embracing neoliberalism.

Rep. Donna Edwards (D-The Elizabeth Warren Wing) is the latest progressive to toss her hat into the Senate ring, announcing today that she will seek the seat being vacated by Maryland Democrat Barbara Mikulski. Though she has served in Congress for six years now, Edwards is fundamentally an insurgent: The community activist won her seat after toppling a hawkish, centrist incumbent in the Democratic primary, and as a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Populist Caucus, she’s been at the forefront of the effort to move the Democrats leftward on issues like austerity, a living wage, foreign policy, and civil liberties. Befitting her congressional service, Edwards plans to run as an unabashed progressive populist.

“The corporate interests are gonna come at me with all their money,” Edwards tells voters in her announcement video. “But if you’ll join me in this fight there’s no way we can’t win. and when I step into Barbara Mikulski’s shoes as your next senator, you’ll always know where I stand — with you.”

Edwards won’t enjoy a clear Democratic field: Fellow Rep. Chris Van Hollen has already launched his bid for Mikulski’s seat, and he has secured the backing of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

Though Van Hollen has put forth some worthy proposals on economic issues, he’s hardly the most progressive nominee Democrats could field in a race their candidate is almost certain to win: Liberals haven’t forgotten, for instance, that he backed the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction framework, which would have cut Social Security benefits. Edwards, by contrast, supports Sen. Warren’s proposal to expand the program. The congresswoman has also staked out more civil libertarian positions than Van Hollen; whereas she supported the Amash-Conyers amendment to overhaul the National Security Agency’s surveillance practices, Van Hollen voted against it.

While the Edwards-Van Hollen contest sets up a potentially epic clash, former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold is unlikely to face any serious Democratic challengers as he vies to reclaim his old job next year. Feingold recently stepped down from his role as an African envoy for the State Department, stoking speculation that he’ll seek a rematch with Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), the man who ousted him in the 2010 Tea Party wave election. The former senator has done nothing to discourage such speculation, pointedly referring to his “once, current, and I hope future chief of staff” in his final State Department speech and planning a “listening tour” of his state.

Feingold’s return would mark a particularly sweet victory for progressives, whose 2010 defeat ranked among the most devastating blows for Democratic liberals. (Continued)

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Real-Life Frank Underwoods: Netflix, ‘House of Cards’ and Third Way

March 3rd, 2015 by admin | No Comments | Filed in Democrats, elections, safety net

 

By Richard Eskow
Progressive America Rising via Campaign for America’s Future

March 3, 2014 – Frank Underwood is known for deceiving people into acting against their own best interests. (We’ll miss you, President Walker.) Now we learn that this trait may extend to the series that features him.

The greatest betrayals on “House of Cards” can be found in the misleading arguments, presented as “truth,” that suggest that cutting “entitlements” is a necessity and raising taxes isn’t even an option.

The fact that Netflix has insisted upon heavy tax breaks for filming the show in Maryland may be merely coincidental. Here’s what’s not: We have learned that the series hired a leading “new Democrat” (read, “corporate Democrat”) as a consultant for the show’s most misleading episode.

The audience loves watching Frank Underwood deceive other characters. It’s less likely to appreciate being deceived itself, especially as some real-life Frank Underwoods are launching an attack against the party’s populist wing.

The Spoiler

If you’re like me, “House of Cards” has been a binge-watching guilty pleasure, a chance to set aside the burden of idealism for a dark but engaging worldview that is half Machiavelli and half telenovela.

But who knew that the show itself – not the characters, but the show – had a hidden agenda? It’s already taken on teachers. Now comes the anti-“entitlement” tirade from Frank Underwood in Episode One of the new season. Frank, despite his evil ways and means, has an ambitious dream, which is introduced during a lengthy scene in which he lectures his staff, and the audience, on some highly misleading “facts.”

How did that happen? How did the “AmericaWorks” fictional plot point come to be built on real-world lies?

Here’s a clue: Episode One’s credits list Jim Kessler as a consultant. Kessler is, as his IMDB biography notes, the co-founder of Third Way. That’s a Wall Street-funded, so-called “centrist” Democratic organization with a mission: to promote neoliberal economics and make the world safe (at least financially) for its wealthy patrons.

Third Way has consistently misrepresented the financial condition of Social Security, misdirected the public debate about Medicare, and generally promoted the socially liberal but fiscally conservative worldview of its patrons.

Kessler and co-founder Jon Cowan carefully tiptoed their way through the minefield of public opinion for years, pretending to be technocrats rather than de facto lobbyists for powerful interests. They finally lost their balance last year. When confronted with the rise of Elizabeth Warren and the populist wing of the Democratic Party, they lashed out at Sen. Warren with an intemperate Wall Street Journal op-ed. (Continued)

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How Class Struggle Emerges Under the Democratic Tent

March 2nd, 2015 by admin | No Comments | Filed in 2016 Election, Democrats, poverty, safety net, Wall Street

Centrist Dems Ready Strike against Warren Wing

By Kevin Cirilli
Progressive America Rising via The Hill

March 2, 2013 – Centrist Democrats are gathering their forces to fight back against the “Elizabeth Warren wing” of their party, fearing a sharp turn to the left could prove disastrous in the 2016 elections.

For months, moderate Democrats have kept silent as Sen. Warren’s (D-Mass.) barbed attacks against Wall Street, income inequality and the “rigged economy” thrilled the base and stirred desire for a more populist approach.  

But with the race for the White House set to begin, centrists are moving to seize back the agenda.

The New Democrat Coalition (NDC), a caucus of moderate Democrats in the House, plans to unveil an economic policy platform as soon as this week in an attempt to chart a different course.

"I have great respect for Sen. Warren — she’s a tremendous leader,” said Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.), one of the members working on the policy proposal. “My own preference is to create a message without bashing businesses or workers, [the latter of which] happens on the other side."

Peters said that if Democrats are going to win back the House and Senate, "it’s going to be through the work of the New Democrat Coalition."

"To the extent that Republicans beat up on workers and Democrats beat up on employers — I’m not sure that offers voters much of a vision," Peters said.

Warren’s rapid ascent has highlighted growing tensions in the Democratic Party about its identity in the post-Obama era.

Caught in the crossfire is the party’s likely nominee in 2016, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose husband took the party in a decisively centrist direction during his eight years in office. (Continued)

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The Dangerous Candidacy of Scott Walker

February 26th, 2015 by admin | Comments Off | Filed in 2016 Election, GOP, rightwing

By John Cassidy

Progressive America Rising via the New Yorker

Feb 24, 2015 – Let’s stipulate up front that Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, is an odious politician whose ascension to the Presidency would be a disaster.

Set aside, for a moment, his repeated refusal, in the past few days, to say whether he believes that President Obama loves America, or whether he believes that the President is a Christian, and look instead at Walker’s record running what used to be one of America’s more progressive states. Having cut taxes for the wealthy and stripped many of Wisconsin’s public-sector unions of their collective-bargaining rights, he is now preparing to sign a legislative bill that would cripple unions in the private sector. Many wealthy conservatives, such as the Koch brothers, who have funnelled a lot of money to groups supporting Walker, regard him as someone who’s turning his state into a showcase for what they want the rest of America to look like.

But just how threatening is he? If you’ve been following the political news during the past week, you may well have the impression that he’s stumbling in his campaign for the 2016 G.O.P. nomination. Among the political commentariat, the consensus of opinion is that Walker’s repeated refusal to distance himself from Rudy Giuliani’s incendiary comments about Obama, and his subsequent encounter with the Washington Post’s Dan Balz and Robert Costa, during which he appeared to question Obama’s religious faith and took some shots at the media for asking him silly questions, weren’t merely reprehensible: they were serious gaffes that raised questions about Walker’s political abilities.

It wasn’t just liberal columnists who piled on. In a column at the Daily Beast, Matt Lewis, who also writes for the Daily Caller, said that Walker’s comments raised the question of whether he “might not be ready for prime time on the national stage.” Lewis went on: “Conservatives should be worried that Walker hasn’t proven capable of navigating these land mines.” MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, who is a former G.O.P. congressman, wrote at Politico: “Good candidates know how to make dumb questions look, well, dumb.”

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