Strategy for Privatizing Public Schools Spelled out by Dick DeVos in 2002 Heritage Foundation Speech
Rachel Tabachnick printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Nov 23, 2016 at 08:30:33 PM EST
This post about the long term strategy for privatizing the public schools takes on fresh importance in light of the nomination of Betsy DeVos to be the Secretary of Education. -- FC

Right-wing think tanks have determined that school vouchers are key to eradicating public education and Dick and Betsy DeVos lead the way in execution of the well-funded plan. The money is tracked in two extensive reports on Talk2action [1 and 2]. DeVos video excerpt below fold.

"We need to be cautious about talking too much about these activities," Dick DeVos warned in a December 2002 speech at the Heritage Foundation. DeVos was introduced by former Secretary of Education William Bennett and then proposed a stealth strategy for promoting school vouchers in state legislatures.  DeVos and his wife Betsy had already spent millions promoting voucher initiatives that were soundly rejected by voters.  Pro-privatization think tanks had concluded that vouchers were the most politically viable way to "dismantle" public schools; the DeVoses persevered.  Dick DeVos introduced his 2002 Heritage Foundation audience to a covert strategy to provide "rewards or consequences" to state legislators, learning from the activities of the Great Lake Education Project (GLEP) initiated by Betsy DeVos. Vouchers should be promoted by local "grass roots" entities and could not be "viewed as only a conservative idea."  DeVos added, "This has got to be the battle.  It will not be as visible."

(12 comments, 1755 words in story)
Did God Engineer Trump's Win?
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Nov 14, 2016 at 10:30:40 AM EST

Political analysts have postulated a number of theories to explain the victory of Donald J. Trump in the presidential election: Hillary Clinton failed to energize the Democratic base, Trump tapped into a vein of hidden supporters, angry Rust Belt voters rose up, etc.

But some activists in the Religious Right have their own explanation: It was divine intervention.

(114 comments, 591 words in story)
Some thoughts for a Sunday post-election reflection:
Chip Berlet printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Nov 13, 2016 at 05:33:20 PM EST
Emancipation, Reconstruction, Redemption, the Ku Klux Klan,
Jim Crow

The struggles of the Civil Rights Movement took us two steps forward

Now the "Second Redemption" yanks us back

Racism, White nationalism, misogyny, heteropatriarchy, xenophobia, militarism, authoritarianism, neofascism, Alt-Right

(14 comments, 140 words in story)
Election 2016 is a win/win for the Christian Right
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Nov 08, 2016 at 11:08:53 PM EST
I was interviewed by the Free Speech Radio Network on Tuesday, election day.

Here is the transcript:

    After more than a year and a half of presidential campaigning, Election Day has finally arrived in the U.S.  With the popular vote looking much closer than projections for the electoral college spread, the divisiveness and acrimony has highlighted deep social and political rifts in the country. Some say the outcome will benefit the Christian Right -- irrespective of who wins the White House.  FSRN's Shannon Young spoke with Frederick Clarkson, Senior Fellow at Political Research Associates a progressive, social justice think tank in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Download Audio

    Shannon Young: Frederick Clarkson, you've said that the 2016 election will be a win/win for the Christian Right. Explain what you mean by that.

    Frederick Clarkson: If the Trump-Pence ticket wins, they will be viewed as kingmakers because polling has shown that conservative evangelicals have been his most loyal base of support, much to many people's surprise. And, of course, Mike Pence is by far the most conservative Christian leader we've had as part of a national ticket, ever.

    But if they lose, they go into resistance mode, which is where they are very strong. They can really rally against Hillary Clinton and build their movement - engaging in fundraising - in much they way that they did during the previous Clinton's administration. And I think that we'll probably see a strong rise in armed militia movements and other extreme expressions, as well. So, for a social movement on the scale and virulence of the Christian Right, it's a win-win day.

(11 comments, 1286 words in story)
On The Ridiculous Charge Of Clinton Anti-Catholicism
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Nov 07, 2016 at 01:06:35 PM EST
Julian Assange has been busy lately trying to sabotage Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's run for the Presidency. As part of his vendetta, he has released a series of hacked e-mails, one of which was highlighted with the apparent intent of suppressing Catholic support for the Democratic nominee.  But by any reasonable standard, it would take some interpretations of convenience to make it so.
(9 comments, 932 words in story)
From Russia Without Love
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Oct 31, 2016 at 09:18:26 PM EST
It was less than two years ago but it now seems like a lifetime ago that I wrote about how Russia appeared to be encouraging secessionist groups in the United State. In light events of the past few months, it seems worth reprising part of my story -- adapted from the blog of Political Research Associates.

Groups and individuals involved in the wider movements of the Christian Right and contemporary libertarianism, have advocated varying degrees of nullification and secession; and have envisioned varying degrees of political tension, violence and civil war. None other than former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) spoke at a gathering in January 2015 at the Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, called “Breaking Away: The Case for Secession”.

“I would like to start off,” Paul declared, “by talking about the subject and the subject is secession and, uh, nullification, the breaking up of government, and the good news is it’s gonna happen. It’s happening.”

While its not clear how far along Ron Paul’s vision may be, one of those who is seeking to put boots on the ground is Michael Hill, head of the theocratic and White supremacist Alabama-based League of the South.

(8 comments, 716 words in story)
Northwest Arkansas, A Hotbed for Anti-Semitism
wilkyjr printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Oct 19, 2016 at 02:05:52 PM EST
Three organizations in Northwest Arkansas are deeply interwoven into the most rabid Anti-Semitic teachings in the nation.  Gerald Smith, buried at the base of the statue of Jesus of the Ozarks, founded the Passion Play in Eureka Springs.  Smith ran for President under the platform of "We got to do something about the Jews."  Harrison, Arkansas is the headquarters for a Christian Identity group who teaches Jews are really descendants of Satan copulating with Eve in the garden.
(9 comments, 743 words in story)
Joseph Cella is Back - Taking the Opposite Tack from Pope Francis
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Oct 19, 2016 at 08:38:01 AM EST
Joseph J. Cella has had a change of heart since he joined with those conservative Catholic activists who signed a declaration during the Republican primary season, urging Catholic voters not to nominate Donald Trump.
(26 comments, 627 words in story)
Radcliffe Sucker Punched by Right-Wing Propagandists
Chip Berlet printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Oct 10, 2016 at 11:58:06 PM EST
The prestigious Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard College will host a panel on Monday, Oct 17, titled "Righting the Record: Conservatism and the Archives."

According to the press release:
Over the past half-century, grassroots activists and organizations both left and right have focused on women's roles, family values, homosexuality, and reproductive policy, transforming modern American life. Yet the collections of major public repositories, especially those housed at universities, tend to document only one side of this complicated history: the left side.

This claim is absent any evidence, and is part of a longstanding (and fraudulent) whine from the Right that campuses are hostile to right-wing ideas. No surprise to find out nemesis here at Talk to Action, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, moderating the event.
(7 comments, 916 words in story)
Celebrating Banned Books Week
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Sep 24, 2016 at 10:22:09 PM EST
Banned Books Week is the venerable annual celebration of the right to read and the highlighting of efforts by cultural vigilantes of various sorts (but usually the Christian Right) to restrict or eliminate access to targeted works in public libraries and beyond.  Although challenged books have, over the years run from Catcher in the Rye to Fifty Shades of Grey to the Bible, more typically, challenged books are by or about racial, sexual or religious minorities.  And this year is no exception. Oh, except that the Bible made the list of the Ten Most Challenged Books of 2015.

Banned Books Week is sponsored by the
American Library Association and the American Booksellers Foundation, and many other publishing and free speech organizations, which host thousands of cool and inspiring events in person and online including a week's worth of events at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library.

This year Banned Books Week runs from September 25-October 1.

(7 comments, 681 words in story)
Birthers, Birchers and Lee Harvey Oswald
wilkyjr printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Sep 19, 2016 at 12:01:12 PM EST
"It would be more accurate to say that Oswald was his own agent, that he was moved to act by dint of his own inclination.  That inclination was born of a fragmented and peripatetic youth, adolescence, and early adulthood, but ultimately Oswald was self-propelled.  The mysterious and fictional heart of darkness residing somewhere in America did not murder the mythical hero-president.  Oswald did." Peter Savodnik
(11 comments, 686 words in story)
Are Civil Rights and Religious Liberty Mutually Exclusive?
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Sep 18, 2016 at 05:10:40 PM EST
The question posed in the title might seem merely rhetorical:  but its not.  All sides, not to mention the media, often frame contemporary controversies over calls for religious exemption from various laws in ways that cast these two foundational ideas of our society as starkly at odds.

While recognizing the current tensions, the United States Commission on Civil Rights does not think civil rights and religious liberty are mutually exclusive. But their new report on the subject seeks ways forward to allow for them to "peacefully coexist."  The majority report sensibly recommends limiting the exemptions sought by the Christian Right from contemporary laws and regulations. They also recognize that when exemptions are are sought, any that are granted should be both clearly necessary and narrowly tailored to the matter at hand. In order to limit the current expansionism, the Commission' recommends, for example, that Congress and state legislatures amend state and federal Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA) to ensure that they do not undermine civil liberties and civil rights protections.

The Commission's report Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles with Civil Liberties (PDF) is an important resource for anyone seeking to understand and to keep up with the state of these issues as they relate to everything from labor laws to marriage equality.  It is only 27 pages long, but it is supported by more than 300 pages of related documentation.  And its free.

(5 comments, 945 words in story)
The Final Repudiation Of Phyllis Schlafly
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Sep 07, 2016 at 08:12:08 AM EST

Monday night around 9:40 I received an email with a curious subject line. "The Greatest American Woman, R.I.P.," it read.

"Who could that be?" I wondered as I opened the message. Came the answer: Phyllis Schlafly.

(4 comments, 964 words in story)
Is This the Dawning of the Age of Vulgar Demagoguery?
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Sep 05, 2016 at 10:19:43 AM EST
Before the end of GOP primaries, I wrote about how Catholic neo-conservatives couldn't bring themselves to support Donald Trump. Even now that he is the Republican nominee, he even seems to be a bridge too far for their tastes.

But Catholic neo-cons are not unanimous about Trump.  Former U. S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) is one of Trump's most prominent supporters.

(7 comments, 1263 words in story)
Dominionism Hiding in Plain Sight
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Aug 23, 2016 at 11:48:33 PM EST
Dominionism has been an evolving movement for a half century. Fed by two main streams, it has becoming a roaring current, tearing through American public life.  It has advanced far more rapidly and on a scale far greater than its early proponents imagined.  This has been facilitated by far too many of us who clung to an attitude that `it can't happen here' and the consequent denialism that dominionism is much of a threat or even exists.  Thus we have been handicapped in our efforts to cobble together much of an agreed upon common body of knowledge and terms to go with it, reducing our capacity to have much in the way of coherent strategic conversations. Plus the subject is so emotionally fraught.

That's why I spent the past few months crafting a revised, refreshed and updated retelling of the story of dominionism that seeks to incorporate what we have learned over the years, so that we can better understand what it is and is not about -- the denial and pooh poohery not withstanding.    The result is a just published story in The Public Eye magazine, which specializes in taking the long view of the Right in long form.  The magazine has been covering dominionism since 1992, followed by major stories in 1994, 2005, 2007, 2013, and 2015.  I'm glad to have been able to contribute Dominionism Rising: A Theocratic Movement Hiding in Plain Sight to this body of work.

(13 comments, 905 words in story)

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