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 'A PROMISE IS A PROMISE'

Special to CityWatch: Can Jorge Ramos Save The American Immigrant Dream?

Tony Castro
TONY CASTRO’S LA- President Barack Obama’s disappointing failure to champion immigration reform, what The Washington Post called his “immigration train wreck,” may be the consummate example of the failure of the Obama presidency on Latino issues. It is also a tell-tale sign of the potential trouble the Democratic Party could find itself in…

Museum Row’s Billion Dollar Block Party

Tim Deegan
EXCLUSIVE TO CITYWATCH--City planners, developers, community members and other stakeholders are having a block party in the Miracle Mile: no champagne but plenty of stress served to order, depending on who you're aligned with. Issues with development: take a seat. Raising hundreds of millions of dollars for development, take several seats. Here…

What Is It About The Homeless That Makes Us So Angry?

Bob Gelfand
GELFAND’S WORLD--It was a long public hearing at my neighborhood council the other night. Outraged, obviously frightened homeowners were pitted against advocates for the homeless. At least that's how it started, but it's not how it ended. It's curious, but in this contentious culture of ours, it turned out to be possible to have a meeting of the…

Kill the Transit Tax, Kill the Olympics

Ken Alpern
ALPERN AT LARGE-You know, it's indeed possible that there will be enough voters who won't remember (or care about) the current shenanigans and budget games in the City of LA--enough to allow a 2/3 vote to pass a new sales tax measure in November 2016. Then again, maybe enough voters will remember, and the initiative will (like its predecessor…

Headlines Don’t Lie – LA Needs Leadership

Dennis Zine
JUST THE FACTS-I’m talking to you as a man who policed Los Angeles streets for over 30 years and established policy for another 14 years -- two years as an elected Charter Reform Commissioner and 12 years as an elected Los Angeles City Councilman. Take a look at the latest Los Angeles News and Breaking Headlines. They tell a frightening story…

Airbnb Just Floats by the PLUM Committee

Tony Butka
THE CITY-I was going to do my usual flip and cynical kind of a piece on the Airbnb hearing, but the issue is too important, and just maybe, all is not lost. The Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee hearing was scheduled in the Public Works Hearing Room, but so many people attended that they had to move it to City Council Chambers…

Bikeshare Comes to Los Angeles … Sort Of

Richard Risemberg
WAITING ON LA--Here’s photographic confirmation that bikeshare has arrived in LA: Not the City of Los Angeles, though; not quite yet. That’s a live bikeshare station in Santa Monica, on Main Street, next to one of the two bike corrals that grace the block south of Ashland. (There’s another and very busy bike corral two blocks north.) This is a…

The Summer of My Discontent ... LA Version

Denyse Selesnick
MY TURN--I think there is such a thing as the "Dog Days of Summer" since my usual sunny disposition ... glass half full demeanor ... seems to be out of sorts of late. There is a litany of things that are annoying me, aside from the heat. I am disappointed in our local government ... not all of them, but a majority. Like many of you I studied the…

Marilyn Who? Ask Councilman Krekorian or Mayor Garcetti

Richard Lee Abrams
PRESERVATION POLITICS-Who doesn’t like Marilyn Monroe? Councilmember Krekorian, that’s who! Why else would Councilmember Paul Krekorian support the demolition of one of the most significant homes of Marilyn Monroe? With the blessings of Mayor Garcetti, who believes in eradicating as much of Hollywood’s history as possible, and with the support of…





Record Breaking! Josh Groban sings Trump


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When the Big Lie Works

POLITICS - If you wonder why a desperate Mitt Romney rushed to lie about President Obama’s handling of crises in Cairo and Benghazi and make the ugly claim that Obama’s first response was “to sympathize with those who waged the attacks,” the latest poll from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life helps fill in the blanks.

 

Unbelievably, the poll finds that the percentage of Republicans who believe that Barack Obama is Muslim, not Christian, has doubled since October, 2008. It was actually a little higher in August, 2010, right before the GOP administered its midterm “shellacking.”

But in the most recent Pew poll on the topic, in July 2012, an astonishing 34 percent of “conservative Republicans” and 30 percent of all Republicans described the president as Muslim.Overall, 17 percent of registered voters say Obama is Muslim while 31 percent say they don’t know what religion he is; only 49 percent know the truth, that he is Christian.

How is it possible that almost four years after we elected Obama president, the number of Republicans who think he’s Muslim could double, and that less than half of all registered voters know what religion he professes (in a country where religion matters)? Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because virtually every Republican has either encouraged or tolerated the far-right lunatic fringe, from crackpot “birthers” who insist the president wasn’t born here, to Romney campaign surrogates like John Sununu who just last month insisted the president “needs to learn what it means to be an American.”

When House Speaker John Boehner dismissed evidence that a growing number of Republicans believe Obama was a Muslim, telling NBC’s David Gregory “it’s not my job to tell the American people what to think;” when presidential candidate Rick Santorum refused to correct a supporter who called Obama “an avowed Muslim,” saying “the President’s a big boy, he can defend himself and his record;” when Romney likewise remained silent when an audience member accused Obama of “treason” and later told reporters, “I don’t correct all of the questions that get asked of me;” and of course, when Romney “joked” that “nobody’s ever asked to see my birth certificate” – well,  moments like those reinforced the big lie and encouraged the right wing to continue to believe it.

On one level, though, you can understand it, because it turns out that playing up fears about Obama’s religion may be the GOP’s only chance to beat him. It  may not even be enough that the president is black: even some white southerners are telling pollsters that they’d rather vote for the black guy than for the rich guy. To be fair, some anti-Mormon prejudice also factors into that equation. But you don’t see Obama or his surrogates playing up fears about Romney’s Mormon beliefs to gain votes.

I’ve said it before: Romney and Republicans have every right to criticize the president’s handling of the aftermath of uprisings in Egypt and Libya, as do Democrats who have reservations about Obama’s Middle East policies. But they don’t have the right to lie about it. It’s impossible to ignore the way that Romney’s accusation not-so-subtly plays into that pervasive GOP belief that the president shares a religion with our enemies. Obama is not merely weak in dealing with them, in the Romney narrative; he actively “sympathizes” with them and delivered “an apology for America’s values” instead of a rebuke.

I wrote yesterday that “Mitt Romney will never be president” because Americans will be appalled by his deceit. I still think that. But Alex Pareene had a smart rejoinder, noting that the backdrop of rioting Muslims attacking American embassies (which continue in Yemen today) “is the sort of thing that will make certain voters more, shall we say, sympathetic to the candidate who is more shameless about hating Muslims. Romney understands this and is willing to capitalize on it.” He’s right. I’m counting on more Americans being appalled by Romney’s shamelessness than reassured by it, but it’s always risky to bet against the effectiveness of GOP fear-mongering.

Romney has made clear that he’s never going to pivot to the middle to win over independent voters; he obviously thinks his only path to victory is firing up the backward, racist and xenophobic elements of the GOP base. Now we know that strategy has succeeded in doubling the percent of conservatives who think the president shares a religion with people they see, one dimensionally, as the enemy. Well played, Mr. Romney. We’ll see where it gets you in November.

(Joan Walsh is editor at large Salon.com … where this column first appeared … and the author of "What's the Matter with White People: Why We Long for a Golden Age That Never Was.")
-cw




CityWatch
Vol 10 Issue 74
Pub: Sept 14, 2012

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