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The Trump effect: Why conservatives are downplaying the coronavirus – Vox.com

Posted: May 24, 2020 at 3:20 pm

In recent years, theres been an explosion of academic work on the psychological foundations of our politics. The basic theory goes like this: Some people are innately more suspicious of change, of outsiders, of novelty. That base orientation will nudge them toward living in the town where they grew up, eating the foods they know and love, worshipping in the church their parents attended. It will also nudge them toward political conservatism.

The reverse is true, too. Some people are naturally more oriented toward newness, toward diversity, toward disruption. That base orientation will push them to live in big cities, try exotic foods, travel widely, appreciate weird art, sample different spiritualities. It will also nudge them toward political liberalism.

In Predisposed: Liberals, Conservatives, and the Biology of Political Differences, John Alford, John Hibbing, and Kevin Smith summarize the evidence:

Numerous studies have linked these personality dimensions to differences in the mix of tastes and preferences that seem to reliably separate liberals and conservatives. People who score high on openness, for example, tend to like envelope-pushing music and abstract art. People who score high on conscientiousness are more likely to be organized, faithful, and loyal. One review of this large research literature finds these sorts of differences consistently cropping up across nearly 70 years of studies on personality research. The punch line, of course, is that this same literature also reports a consistent relationship between these dimensions of personality and political temperament. Those open to new experiences are not just hanging Jackson Pollock prints in disorganized bedrooms while listening to techno-pop reinterpretations of Bach by experimental jazz bands. They are also more likely to identify themselves as liberals.

Researchers have sliced, measured, and analyzed these psychologies through dozens of schemas. NYUs Jon Haidt is known for moral foundations theory, which emphasizes the value structures underpinning our political beliefs. Political scientists Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler study fixed and fluid personalities. Michele Gelfand tracks tight and loose societies. Some scales measure openness. Others measure authoritarianism.

But all of them converge on the same psychosocial cleavage. Put simply, conservatives are psychologically tuned to see threat, and so they fear change. Liberals are tuned to prize change, and so they downplay threat.

Liberalism and conservatism are rooted in stable individual differences in the ways people perceive, interpret, and cope with threat and uncertainty, write Christopher Johnston, Howard Lavine, and Christopher Federico in Open versus Closed.

Of the many factors that make up your worldview, one is more fundamental than any other in determining which side of the divide you gravitate toward: your perception of how dangerous the world is, write Hetherington and Weiler in Prius or Pickup.

Conservatives react more strongly than liberals to signs of danger, including the threat of germs and contamination, and even low-level threats such as sudden blasts of white noise, writes Haidt in The Righteous Mind.

If thats true, though, why is it conservatives who are downplaying the coronavirus, and liberals who are sheltering in fear of it?

A virus isnt just any threat, some researchers say. It is the threat at the root of these psychological cleavages.

Infectious disease has, historically, been humanitys most lethal foe. Our immune systems have evolved to protect us, but so, too, have our cultures, societies, and psychologies. As Haidt writes, Its a lot more effective to prevent infection by washing your food, casting out lepers, or simply avoiding dirty people than it is to let the microbes into your body and then hope that your biological immune system can kill every last one of them.

To some researchers, much of human civilization is a lightly disguised effort at pathogen avoidance: The purity laws of the Old Testament are, from this perspective, a spiritually branded public health campaign. Spicy foods are more common in pathogen-rich areas because they kill bacteria.

How a society treats strangers is of particular importance. Strangers carry novel pathogens, diseases to which you and your community have amassed no immunity. A mix of psychologies helps strike the right balance between being overrun by outsiders spreading infection and reaping the benefits of trade and cooperation.

Dozens of studies have confirmed the relationship between the rate of disease and political attitudes. For example, in a 2008 paper titled Pathogens, Personality, and Culture, Mark Schaller and Damian Murray showed that worldwide, people were less open, less extroverted, and more sexually conservative in regions rich with disease. In another study, Randy Thornhill, Cory Fincher, and Devaraj Aran found that a high prevalence of infectious disease regionally predicted more conservative political values. Gelfand has looked at US states and found the tightest political cultures are in the states with the most disasters and pathogen prevalence.

But here we are, in the midst of a pandemic, and its conservatives seemingly dismissing the danger, opening states and counties prematurely, refusing to wear masks, waving off the deaths of older people as a small price to pay. One day, its like a miracle, it will disappear, said President Trump.

And, more often, it seems to be liberals whore locked in their homes, who are warning the worst is yet to come, who are shaming anyone who dares step foot on a beach or forgets to don personal protective equipment. A recent Pew poll showed 61 percent of conservatives fear that state restrictions wont be lifted quickly enough, while 91 percent of liberals worry theyll be lifted too quickly.

This is the opposite of what a straightforward read of decades of political psychology research would predict. Early in the pandemic, it was plausible to argue that the divide reflected the virus hitting blue cities first, and sparing red counties its punishments. But Covid-19 has made its way into Trump country, and at any rate, studies show that political beliefs are a more powerful driver of views on the virus than personal experience.

So I asked political psychology researchers: Why are liberals more afraid of the coronavirus than conservatives? And what does that say about political psychology more broadly?

In conversations with more than half a dozen political psychologists, three theories dominated.

One is that we arent seeing anything unexpected at all. John Jost, at New York University, suggested that my reading of the reaction was mistaking its psychological foundations. Liberals were acting out of care, not fear. And conservatives are panicked, he suggested, but showing it in odd ways.

The fact that liberals are taking the scientific evidence and medical recommendations seriously does not, in itself, mean that they are more threat sensitive than conservatives, he wrote over email. All of the liberals I know have been self-sequestering to flatten the curve to save other peoples lives.

As for the right, some conservatives are denying and repressing fear, but that doesnt mean they are cool cucumbers. Fears of economic devastation (and the anger by conservative activists in Michigan and elsewhere) may even reflect displacement of the fear. For all we know, Americans who are explicitly denying the problem are experiencing (even) more stress and anxiety than those who are not.

A second camp argued that the tension is real, but it was being swamped by partisanship. Perhaps, in laboratory conditions, conservatives would be more afraid of the virus. But politics doesnt play out in laboratory conditions. Trump is the leader of the Republican Party, and his decision to downplay the threat, his dismissal of masks, and his clear desire to reopen is the stronger signal.

Yes, I would expect conservatives to be more worried about virus X coming in from abroad, said Haidt. When Obama was president and America was threatened by Ebola, it was conservatives freaking out, demanding a more vigorous government response to protect us, while Obama kept steady on following scientific advice.

Trump, its worth noting, was at the forefront of the Ebola panic. Ebola is much easier to transmit than the CDC and government representatives are admitting, he tweeted in October 2014. Spreading all over Africa and fast. Stop flights.

Here, though, its been the opposite. Trump laid out his view of reality very early: This is nothing to worry about, its a plot to discredit me, and it will magically go away, Haidt continued. Trumps leadership overwhelms the small average difference in disgust sensitivity which would, ceteris paribus, have Republicans more concerned about contagion.

Federico made a similar point. Chronic sensitivity to threat, disgust, and disease is one factor that should influence concern about Covid-19, [but] it is not the only one. Partisanship itself is perhaps the most important factor in shaping how people respond to issues or public concerns.

Gelfand said much the same. Even though groups tighten up under threat, that signal can be weakened. Groups follow their leaders.

This would confirm what weve seen throughout the Trump presidency. A 2018 paper by Michael Barber and Jeremy Pope showed that the more conservative someone believed themselves to be, the more likely they were to follow Trump when he took an unexpectedly liberal position on an issue. Trumps connection with his base has often, well, trumped his heterodoxies.

A third argument, which acts in some ways as a bridge for the first two, is that everyone was scared, but for conservatives, fear was coming out more through acts of xenophobia than epidemiology in part because thats where fear of the virus and Trumps natural politics find harmony.

I cant resist noting that current events are perfectly consistent with my claim that those on the right, and especially the Trumpian right, are not generically more threatened but rather only more attentive to those threats they believe to be emanating from human outsiders (defined broadly to include welfare cheats, unpatriotic athletes, norm violators, non-English speakers, religious and racial minorities, and certainly people from other countries), wrote Hibbing. Thus, disembodied threats such as climate change, Covid-19, and economic inequality are not primary sources of concern for them.

That would explain why Trump oscillates between downplaying the threat of the coronavirus and escalating tensions with China over its response to it. When Trump wants to bludgeon the Chinese, he plays up the threat of the virus; when it comes to domestic governance, he plays it down. More than 70 percent of Republicans now hold an unfavorable view of China, a doubling of anti-Chinese sentiment since George W. Bushs presidency.

In some ways, this pandemic was tailor-built for right-wing xenophobia, and we are fortunate (thus far, at least) that Trumps response was to downplay it solely to keep the stock market from tanking completely, said Jost.

And that thus far is ending quickly. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has sent campaigns a detailed, 57-page memo authored by a top Republican strategist advising GOP candidates to address the coronavirus crisis by aggressively attacking China, reported Politico, and Stephen Miller is using the coronavirus to push a broader anti-immigration agenda.

Heres my view: Political psychology is like the soil in politics. There are differences in the liberal and conservative soil particularly in how they view threat, change, tradition, outsiders, and diversity so different kinds of politicians, tactics, and movements take root on the two sides.

Trump is, at his core, a suspicious, threat-oriented, traditionalist figure hes nostalgic for the way things were, hostile to outsiders, angry over demographic change (hes even, in normal times, a germaphobe). Theres a reason he took root in conservative soil.

By contrast, former President Barack Obama is optimistic, cosmopolitan, and temperamentally progressive he looks at change and sees hope, he looks at other countries and sees allies, he sees diversity as a strength. Theres a reason he took root in liberal soil.

But once a politician captures a party, other dynamics take over. For one thing, partisans trust their leaders and allied institutions. Very few of us have personally run experiments on the coronavirus, or gone around the world gathering surface temperature readings over the course of decades. We have to choose whom to believe, and once we do, were inclined to take their word when describing contested or faraway events.

For another, we all fall prey to motivated reasoning, in which we shape evidence, arguments, and values to align with our incentives. As Upton Sinclair said, It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

Many Republican officeholders, led by Trump, think the coronavirus threatens their reelection because the lockdown threatens the economy. As such, theyre motivated to believe that reopening the economy sooner is better, and attracted to evidence and arguments that support that position. Sometimes that means downplaying the coronavirus. Sometimes that means accepting its risk but suggesting the costs of reopening are worth it. In both cases, the argument is working backward from the desired conclusion.

The political tragedy for the Republican Party, and the actual tragedy for America, is that the politics and the substance here should have been aligned. If Trump had taken the disease seriously from the outset and mounted a competent and consistent response, his approval ratings would be higher today, and the country would be in a better position to reopen safely, and sooner. As it is, Trump has been denied the polling bounce other governors and world leaders have seen, and hes split his own coalition, forcing them to choose between their fear of the disease and their trust in him.

The thing people often miss about moral foundations theory is that the foundations are just foundations, says Haidt. People dont live in the foundation of their house. A house must be built upon those foundations. Moral and political entrepreneurs build structures, over time, and invite people to live in them.

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The Trump effect: Why conservatives are downplaying the coronavirus - Vox.com

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Letter: Does Balentine really hate liberals this much? – Press Herald

Posted: at 3:20 pm

Does John Balentine actually despise liberals so much that he will gloat over the fact that, due to the pandemic, we are all being forced to use plastic bags rather than reusable ones? And does he really want to make it a liberal issue that our garbage dumps are rapidly filling and we can help by using less plastic? He says Heres hoping the bag bans disappear forever, so I guess so. I hope John does not cut off too much nose while spiting his face. And is he really gloating over the fact that mass transit has helped spread the virus faster? I never realized that promoting mass transit was a liberal issue, but live and learn. And apparently living in big cities is a liberal thing and living in rural areas a conservative one and the pandemic will teach those liberals a lesson for living so close together. Its really a shame that good writers like John have to waste their time echoing the moronic right wing edge in these divisive times rather than actually doing some serious independent thinking and finding the intelligent middle ground that might help pull us closer together. He does go there sometimes and its very refreshing when he does.

Peyton HiggisonBrunswick

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Letter: Does Balentine really hate liberals this much? - Press Herald

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Liberal media taking liberties with Jerry Falwell Jr. and Donald Trump narratives – Washington Times

Posted: at 3:19 pm

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Did you hear the good news?

Liberty University, which the media predicted would be Ground Zero for a deadly outbreak of coronavirus, has not reported a single on-campus case. Not one.

This is welcome news to any person of goodwill. But not to the press.

In March, the media went bat crazy, essentially accusing Liberty President Jerry Falwell Jr. of risking mass murder by welcoming some students back from spring break.

The New York Times headline on March 29 was Liberty University Brings Back Its Students, and Coronavirus, Too.

No, it did not. Most students stayed home. Mr. Falwell welcomed back to the dorms those students who would have put themselves more at risk by traveling, especially those from overseas. The college followed strict health guidelines such as social distancing, and recommended that students use online programs.

On March 30, The Washington Post ran an editorial, Irresponsible decisions like Jerry Falwell Jr.s put untold numbers of people at risk. The Post cited The New York Times contention that about a dozen Liberty students were sick with symptoms that suggested COVID-19.

It turns out that the students had common colds or the flu or something other than COVID-19. Only one student tested positive, and he was living off-campus.

Several other universities, such as Rutgers, Pepperdine, Valencia and Texas A&M, introduced similar policies, but only Liberty was singled out for a press whipping.

Well, why not? The media have hated the college since 1971, when Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell Sr. established it to give Christians an alternative to mainstream academia. The sad truth is that most colleges have morphed into Marxist hothouses where U.S. history courses have given way to transgender studies, multiculturalism and identity politics, and where students learn to despise their country.

Liberty offers a traditional curriculum, attracting students from all over the United States and abroad, making it one of the largest private universities in America. With 15,000 students on campus and 100,000 students online, Jerry Falwells dream has become a nightmare for the progressive left.

Added to the mix is Jerry Falwell Jr.s outspoken support of President Trump, before and after his election. Mr. Trump was Libertys commencement speaker in 2017. On the other hand, Mr. Falwells sometimes Trump-like retorts to critics may indicate that the New York wise guy could be influencing Mr. Falwell more than the other way around.

But we cant get into either mans head and see their actual mindset. Unlike the press, that is.

On May 17, Washington Post editors looked into their handy replica of Mr. Trumps right-hand palm, read the lines, and came up with this in the Sunday Outlook section: Coronavirus testing is about saving lives. Trump thinks its just about numbers, says journalist Fintan OToole.

In the same edition, fellow soothsayer Ruth Marcus column was headlined: To Trump, winning is all that matters. Really? He has no other motives? And he only thinks about numbers?

Well, what do you expect from a very bad man with orange hair, as hes depicted each week in The Post comics section by Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau, who is hopelessly locked in a Hate Nixon mode updated to the Trump era?

To underscore Mr. Trumps assumed moral turpitude, The Post (and were still working on the May 17 edition here) sent reporters all the way to West Java, Indonesia, so they could produce a two-page spread with a big color picture of a construction site. The headline: Trumps business partner digs up graves to build resort.

Perhaps this is actually newsworthy. Its usually the Democrats who commune with the dead, especially around Election Day.

Well, if the Russian collusion smear didnt work, and the Ukraine phone call impeachment attempt is collapsing into a Biden disaster, why not go for guilt by association? Talk about digging for a scandal.

Back on Page One, The Post accused Mr. Trump of a retaliatory purge because he fired the State Department inspector general who had apparently been more at home when Mr. Obama was in the White House.

Finally, the lead editorial on May 17, The absurd cynicism of Obamagate, claims that Mr. Trump would like to rewrite history, making it seem as though the Russian investigation lacked firm grounding and that a sinister Obama administration plot explains the misdeeds that his own people committed.

Why, yes, thats where the evidence has led, with the FBI being exposed for its persecution of Gen. Michael Flynn and its Crossfire Hurricane plan to prevent or cripple the Trump presidency.

If you thumbed all the way through the May 17 edition of The Post, you would be convinced that we are in the grip of a power-mad authoritarian president. But what a difference a day makes.

On May 18, The Posts front page had this: Trump seems poised to let others lead on reopening: Governors, businesses make key calls as critics see shrinking presidency. Shrinking presidency?

Well, which is it? Is he an overreaching authoritarian or a shrinking president?

Likewise, will we ever learn whether Jerry Falwell Jr. has psychic powers like a Post writer, or was he just lucky that he was right about the coronavirus policy?

Inquiring readers may never know.

Robert Knight is a contributor to The Washington Times. His website is roberthknight.com.

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Liberal media taking liberties with Jerry Falwell Jr. and Donald Trump narratives - Washington Times

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Former prime minister speaks about the liberal bias in Canadian media – The Post Millennial

Posted: at 3:19 pm

Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Dennis Prager discussed the extreme media bias in Canada, making it more difficult for conservatives to get a foothold in Canadian politics.

Harper began by addressing what he felt was one among many reasons he lost in the last election.

The primary reason is that he did not have the media coverage on the same level as his opponent, drawing out the idea "that every TV network [in Canada] is MSNBC."

Harper told the story of one of his former communications directors, and how he set out to make a Fox News equivalent in Canada, called Sun News.

Harper said the founder hired "virtually all of the right-of-center journalists in the country. He hired them all and promptly went bankrupt. And then I went into the last campaign with virtually no right-of-center journalists in any outlet in the country."

He then continued by comparing Canada with the UK, and having those in the UK tell him that Canada does not have the BBC. Harper went on to say that if Canada had the BBC, it would be the "farthest right network by a country mile."

"They [the TV networks] would not cover my announcements. They would not cover any gaff of my opponent, they scrubbed it out. They actually met every day to coordinate the coverage. They would not run any ad I had that showed footage, depicting my opponent in an unfavorable light... so we were literally censored out of the coverage."

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Could the ‘liberal’ Dutch have learned from Taiwan’s approach to coronavirus? – The Guardian

Posted: May 21, 2020 at 6:50 am

The whole world has been struggling to contain the coronavirus and flatten the curve, but Taiwan has had no curve. Out of a population of 24 million, only 440 people have tested positive for Covid-19, and there have been just seven deaths. Compare that with the Netherlands: while it is similar in size to Taiwan with a population of 17 million, well over 5,000 lives have been lost to the virus.

What has made the difference? Clearly, the Netherlands is not an island that could cut itself off from the rest of world, lock down completely and thus contain the disease. Taiwan is but Taiwan didnt do that either.

Public spaces in Taiwan, restaurants, shops and schools, have all remained open since the initial Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan. Life in Taiwan has continued pretty much the same as before. What Taiwan did however, was opt for a complex tradeoff involving virus containment strategies and information gathering, while balancing individual autonomy with trust and control.

But lets first consider the Dutch situation. As Covid-19 hit the Netherlands in March 2020, the public was simply advised to restrict travelling to and from affected areas. When the crisis rapidly worsened, almost all subsequent efforts were directed at minimising the spread of the disease and reducing the influx of patients into hospitals.

The Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, appeared on television and said that as he trusted citizens to behave responsibly, it would suffice to request that people remained at home as much as possible, observed the 1.5-metre distance protocol, and self-quarantined or self-isolated when feeling unwell. Since no mass testing for Covid-19 took place, the number of infected people and information about who they were or where they had been was anybodys guess.

To minimise transmission of the virus, schools, offices, restaurants and bars were closed. Work that could not be contactless was suspended, and all public gatherings were cancelled. But no complete lockdown, as in Italy or Spain, was deemed necessary. This was seen as too much of an invasion of our Dutch privacy. When the day-to-day numbers of Covid-19 deaths started to drop below 100 per day, it was considered a vindication of the policy of intelligent lockdown.

Taiwans decisions have been partly motivated by its lack of trust in the information shared by China and by Taiwans exclusion from the World Health Organisation at Chinas insistence. These factors have required it to be self-contained and to insist, within a democratic framework, on a policy of maximum health information transparency, both with and from the Taiwanese population. Taiwans history and culture means there is a strong emphasis on the collective over the individual. But its longstanding experience with epidemics such as Sars in 2003, and bird flu in 2013 have also been influential in shaping the response.

From the outset, Taiwans president, Tsai Ing-wen, took aggressive steps to prevent a possible epidemic, such as a travel ban on visitors from China and other epidemic regions (Europes travel bans came much later).

Taiwans approach relies essentially, however, not on its citizens anonymous individual responsibility, but on a completely transparent form of supervised self-discipline. And although the Taiwanese measures are considerably more intrusive, paradoxically, they result in a remarkably liberal policy.

A centralised epidemic command centre (the CECC) was quickly activated to provide immediate information, including detailed surveillance of the movements of infected people.

If anyone reports to a hospital with Covid-19 symptoms, the hospital is obliged to report to the CECC, which then traces the patients recent whereabouts and draws up an anonymised footprint for them in public spaces, such as supermarkets or restaurants. Mobile phone service companies are asked to send out text warnings to anyone else who may have been in these spaces at the time. A typical message reads:

Epidemic Alert. You have been in the proximity of an infected person. Please maintain self-health management, keep to social distancing rules, wear a mask in public and wash hands regularly. If you have any physical complaints, please contact your local healthcare provider.

All this is done on the basis of confidentiality; the infected person is never identified.

Taiwan has also introduced an electronic fence system. This allows local authorities to monitor the whereabouts of a quarantined person. It uses mobile phone signals to detect if an individual leaves their designated quarantine area; if they do, the authorities are immediately notified.

While Taiwanese citizens are aware that intensive monitoring involves an invasion of their privacy, the vast majority acquiesce in the use of personal data and are willing to comply with government regulations. Equally, mask-wearing in Taiwan has become a cultural norm. It is considered a moral virtue to protect others from ones own infection, so as to break the chain, for the benefit of all.

So could a country like the Netherlands have learned from the Taiwanese approach? The Dutch government contemplated the voluntary use of a coronavirus tracking app to alert a user if they had been in contact with a confirmed case, but dismissed it after a national debate about privacy and security. Meanwhile, Rutte and his cabinet have started to implement a four-month plan to relax restrictions.

A key difference, though, is that the western emphasis on autonomy and liberal values, so solidly rooted in Dutch culture, assigns responsibility for the collective health of a nation to the individual, whose behaviour is neither especially informed nor monitored. Ironically, Dutch residents have paid for this unsupervised self-governance with heavy restrictions on their right to free movement, considerable uncertainty and a high death toll. In contrast, Taiwan has demanded more monitoring and compliance of its people, but the result is a healthier population, greater certainty, and ultimately more liberty.

Cha-Hsuan Liu is a lecturer in social policy and public health at Utrecht University; Jaap Bos is associate professor at the department of interdisciplinary social science at Utrecht University

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The Pandemic Has Pushed Biden to the Left. How Far Will He Go? – FiveThirtyEight

Posted: at 6:50 am

Six weeks ago, when Sen. Bernie Sanders dropped out of the presidential race, it seemed like the Democratic Partys left wing suffered a major and potentially long-lasting defeat. Not only had Sanders lost, but former Vice President Joe Biden had won while casting many left-wing ideas as both unrealistic and detrimental to Democrats chances of winning elections.

But if Biden is elected in November, the left may get a presidency it likes after all or at least one it hates less than anticipated. The coronavirus outbreak and the resulting massive surge in unemployment has moved American political discourse to the left: Ideas that would have been considered too liberal for most Democrats a few months ago are now being proposed by Republicans. And if American politics is moving left, expect Biden to do the same. Biden was often cast as a centrist or a moderate during the Democratic primaries, but those labels dont really describe his politics that well he doesnt really seem to have any kind of set ideology at all.

Instead, Bidens long record in public office suggests that he is fairly flexible on policy shifting his positions to whatever is in the mainstream of the Democratic Party at a given moment. So if Biden wins the presidency and his fellow Democrats are still clamoring for more government spending to help the pandemic recovery, Biden is likely to be a fairly liberal president, no matter how moderate he sounded in the primaries.

Biden is a centrist in a certain way he has historically positioned himself in the center of the Democratic Party, between the partys most liberal and most conservative members. (And he does that positioning generally on foreign policy, economics and social issues.) The center of the party is a moving target of course.

The best way to understand Biden is as a reflection or reaction to the partys main planks throughout the last 40 years, rather than leading or shaping it, said Lily Geismer, a history professor at Claremont McKenna College who has written extensively about the Democratic Party and liberalism. I dont see Biden as embodying any of the ideological terms or positions of centrist or liberal, certainly not center-left and not really neoliberal either. Instead I see his ideology as first and foremost a Democrat. He has throughout his career toed the party line rather than an ideological one.

Serving in the Senate from 1973-2009, Biden was always more liberal than at least 44 percent of his Democratic colleagues but always less liberal than at least 43 percent of his colleagues, according to DW-Nominate scores of his Senate votes. Put another way, he ranged between the 44th and 57th percentile in terms of liberalism among Democratic senators in his Senate years smack dab in the middle of the party.

Liberal Democrats have been sharply critical of some of Bidens votes in the Senate, mostly notably his support for the 1994 anti-crime bill that increased penalties for some offenses and the 2002 resolution to authorize war with Iraq. But on both issues, Biden was within the Democratic Party consensus at the time. Nearly all Senate Democrats (54 of 56) backed the crime bill, as did 188 of the 252 House Democrats who voted on the measure, which was signed into law by a Democratic president (Bill Clinton). A majority of House Democrats (126 of 207) opposed the Iraq War resolution, but the majority of Bidens Senate Democratic colleagues were in favor of it (28 of 49).

Bidens tenure as vice president also suggests that he would govern from the middle of the Democratic Party. There is not a clear record akin to Senate roll call votes of the positions Biden took in internal policy debates within the Obama administration. And the role of a vice president essentially requires him to publicly praise whatever decision the president ultimately makes. But Biden has described himself as an Obama Democrat and strongly defended the administrations record. And while Obama himself and the Obama administration are somewhat hard to categorize ideologically, the former president and his team generally took approaches that did not satisfy the most liberal elements of the party but were fairly liberal.

When Biden did publicly separate himself from the Obama administration, it was to stake out a position that was within the Democratic mainstream. Take Bidens announcement in 2012 that he supported same-sex marriages though Obama had not yet come out publicly for legalizing same-sex unions, the majority of Democratic voters already held this position. And Biden also supported the Obamas administration push for more lenient criminal justice policies, even as Sen. Biden had been a key figure in the Democrats tough on crime posture in the 1980s and 1990s.

That willingness to change with the times was also evident in Bidens 2020 primary platform. Biden adopted fairly liberal policies not as liberal as those of Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, but more liberal than his pre-campaign record suggested. The Democratic Party is more liberal now than it was when Bill Clinton took office, or even when Obama was inaugurated, and Bidens platform reflects that shift. Some of Bidens 2020 policy proposals are notably to the left of the Obama administrations stances when it left office in early 2017, including Bidens support for the abolition of the death penalty, halting nearly all deportations of undocumented immigrants in his first 100 days as president and free four-year college for Americans in households with incomes up to $125,000 a year.

Its hard to measure the precise center of American politics and how it has changed over the last few months. But its certainly moved left in response to the COVID-19 crisis toward way more federal spending. Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican, recently proposed using federal dollars to temporarily boost the pay of grocery store clerks and others in essential jobs by $12 per hour. Republicans in Congress supported a $2 trillion economic stimulus provision, which gave many Americans a one-time payment of $1,200 and boosted unemployment benefits by $600 per week. More moderate House Democrats, usually wary of being cast as too liberal, backed the $2 trillion bill and a subsequent $3 trillion economic stimulus bill .

Mirroring the shift in his party, Biden and his advisers are now reimagining his candidacy and presidency rolling out more liberal policy plans, speaking in increasingly populist terms and joining forces with the most progressive voices in the party. Biden himself has invoked the idea that he might be entering the Oval Office facing a crisis on the scale of the Great Depression.

He recently told Politico that he supported a stimulus that was a hell of a lot bigger than the $2 trillion provision passed in March and that he was annoyed with Wall Street firms because this is the second time weve bailed their asses out. The former vice president is also reportedly considering Warren as a potential running mate more seriously than before because of her experience on economic issues. Last week, he appointed some of the partys most prominent liberal figures, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal, to a team advising him on policy.

What Ive heard the vice president say over and over again is this crisis is shining a bright, bright light on so many systemic problems in our country, and so many inequities. It is exacerbating and shining a light on environmental-justice issues, racial inequalities, so many other problems, Stef Feldman, a top Biden policy adviser, recently told New York magazine.

It seems clear that Biden gets the seriousness of the moment and the need to change directions in an American economy that was systemically unfair even before it was broken to pieces by a pandemic, said Jeff Hauser of the left-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank whose proposals are generally more in line with Sanders and Warren than Biden.

We should note three important caveats here. First, some of these shifts leftward from Biden are probably best explained by his need to woo Sanderss supporters, rather than as a response to COVID-19. Sanders handily won very liberal voters and voters under the age of 45 during the Democratic primary and Biden probably wants those two blocs to be enthusiastically behind him in the general election. Its likely that Biden, for example, would have tried to appeal to Ocasio-Cortez in some way even if the coronavirus outbreak had never happened.

Secondly, its not clear how notable or long-lasting these shifts are. You could argue that Biden is calling for a bigger federal response to a massive pandemic and elevated unemployment levels, and that this leftward shift isnt particularly striking. And since the former vice president often calibrates his views to match the current consensus, you could see him backtracking from his newfound liberalism when the crisis recedes and/or if polls start showing a majority of Americans are leery of more government intervention to help with the COVID-19 recovery. Those are two fairly unlikely scenarios right now, but at some point more moderate Democrats might shift away from supporting more federal spending in the wake of the coronavirus. If a big bloc of Democrats shifted right, I would expect Biden to follow suit.

Thirdly, Bidens leftward shifts will likely be constrained by both his own instincts and those of his top advisers. Both Biden and his inner circle are perpetually worried that the Democrats will move too far left on policy issues and scare off swing voters. Some of his top advisers, electoral politics aside, are just somewhat centrist and wary of liberal ideas. Biden himself seems deeply invested in the idea that he can cut deals with Republicans and tamp down the partisan divide in Washington, a vision that is probably in tension with a more leftish presidency.

Does he stay on the 50-yard line, splitting the difference between anti-government conservatism and progressive populism, and cutting bipartisan deals, David Dayen of the left-leaning The American Prospect wrote recently. Or does he surge toward the end zone with Roosevelt written on it, transforming the nation through bold, persistent experimentation that fills in all the cracks the coronavirus exposed?

Joe Biden is running on the most progressive platform of any Democratic nominee in recent history. But given the pandemic, he has to look at the New Deal and Great Society traditions in the Democratic Party and go bigger, said Waleed Shahid, the communications director for Justice Democrats, a left-wing group aligned with Ocasio-Cortez and other very progressive Democrats.

All that said, it seems fairly likely that Biden, if he wins, will enter the Oval Office with Americans struggling through a recession and the public and his party clamoring for the federal government to do more to help those who are struggling. In that scenario, we might look back at how Biden won the Democratic primary by emphasizing his moderation and marvel that he became the most liberal president in recent history.

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The Pandemic Has Pushed Biden to the Left. How Far Will He Go? - FiveThirtyEight

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China is not just a challenge to the liberal World Order, but an existential threat to humanity – WION

Posted: at 6:50 am

Usually, Australian newspapers are hardly read in India. However, recently, the Australian portal The Daily Telegraphs article, in a befitting reply to the Chinese Consul Generals letter alleging it of ignorance, prejudice, and arrogance, in its reports and opinions on Chinas response to Covid-19, went viral in Indian social media circles. It unleashed debates on the post-corona world order among the Indian intellectuals generally obsessed with Pakistan and its jihadist wars in India. It seemed as if the article awakened the usually insular Indian masses from their civilizational slumber and got them seriously thinking about the threat posed by China to the rules-based world order.

The western world got its taste of the world order with the Chinese Characteristics only in the recent past as they came to know of the horrors of Xinjiangs vocational training centers, muscle-flexing by Chinese Navy in the South China Sea, and Chinas unfair trade practices. However, India tasted the bitter pill in 1962 only, when Maos China backstabbed Indias statesman-philosopher PM Nehru, hell-bent on harnessing the strengths of Indo-Chinese civilizational ties, by starting a war in Himalayan peaks that not only brought Indias growing global stature to a grinding halt, but also shattered Nehru from within, ultimately leading to his untimely demise, leaving Indias nascent democracy leaderless.

China and Corona have shaken our notions of stability and made us all apprehensive and fearful of the world order with the so-called Chinese characteristics. The world communitys faith in Chinas intentions, institutions, innovations, inventions, and investments has shattered almost beyond redemption. World leaders have raised the pitch in favour of finding new alternatives to reduce the economic dependence on China and new alliances to protect the rules-based order against the depredations of revanchist China. However, the current state of frenzy and panic may mislead even the sanest minds and lead us to blame the country China and its people for all the mayhem.

However, anyone with primary exposure to Asian history will understand that not China and its people, but Chinas Communist Party (CCP) is an existential threat to rules-based world order, standing firmly on the twin pillars of liberal democracy and free and fair trade. Any systematic thought about deterring China has to begin with differentiating between China and the Chinese Communist Party, the two entities primarily at ideological and foundational crossroads. Hence, we must all refrain from any frenzied racial outburst against China as a country, and its people as it is likely to play into the hands of CCP, giving it a powerful weapon to mobilize popular support by rousing nationalist sentiments.

At the most fundamental level, the CCP has devastated Chinas great civilizational legacy and ethos. The great Chinese civilization derives its vibrancy and soul from the spiritual legacy of the Buddhist and Confucious thought, preaching peace, a quest for spiritual purity, love, and respect for contrary thoughts and belief-systems. Despite its lofty claims to restore Chinas rightful place in the world, CCPs totalitarianism and extremism, in essence, is a complete undoing of all the paramount values Chinas glorious civilization stands for. Not long ago, CCPs Mao-led party-state massacred Buddhists and decimated their monasteries in Tibet, and implemented the great leap forward, leading to the death of tens of millions of its people in the devastating famines that followed it. Later, insecurities emanating from the fears of a popular revolt against his authority due to the devastating famines, Mao brought cultural revolution to get rid of all the bourgeoisie elements. However, in effect, the despot wanted to silence all the dissidents and critiques, leading the purges of millions of his ideological opponents. And, with them, Chinas break with its spiritual and cultural refinements of Buddhist-Confucious past was complete. Today, CCPs mind-games with complex jargons like whole-process democracy and benevolent rule, which it also calls democracy with Chinese characteristics, are simply to counter the western challenge to its dictatorial political system by orchestrating ideological foundations to prove its political system, superior to the western one. However, such expressions are mere outer trappings to protect a corrupt political system and governance model existing under fragile foundations and a perpetual threat of popular revolt, for being inherently anti- Chinese.

CCPs world order stands for forced disappearances and displacements, politically-motivated purges, persecution of ethnic and religious minorities, fake news and disinformation campaigns, supporting despots and rogue states, and encouraging their nuclear blackmail, and shielding UN-designated terrorists and terror-sponsoring nations at the UN bodies, and crushing human rights. Its economic aggression strategy includes theft of trade secrets and intellectual property, unfair trade practices hindering the access of foreign companies to Chinese markets, and forced technology transfers.

At home, CCP has created the most intrusive public monitoring and Orwellian high-tech surveillance state. With the state-controlled media, rigid internet censorships, face recognition technology, and draconian restrictions on a free debate on religious and political issues in the Universities, the CCP silences public criticism and maintains a firm grip on the information flow in China. It has prevented the exposure of Chinese society to all outside influences by denying access to foreign intellectuals, media persons, and independent observers from the UN bodies and global NGOs. The respect for privacy is anathema for CCP. Not long ago, CCPs repressive state machinery massacred thousands of students demanding democracy in Tiennman square. In Xinjiang province, home to around 13 million Muslims of Turkic, Uyghur and Kazakh ethnicities, CCP runs the most sophisticated and high-tech detainment camps, in the name of vocational education centers, where the inmates are subjected to rigorous indoctrination to rid them of all Islamic influences. CCP treats Islam like a mental illness. Those observing fundamental Islamic practices such as Namaz, Rozas, and beards find themselves in the detainment camps.

CCPs hatred for democracy and human rights does not stop at its frontiers. In the last few years, CCP has brazenly extended its vision of anti-human rights and anti-democratic political and governance model beyond its borders. Chinas party-state uses its economic clout to silence all those entities, including companies, countries, individuals, NGOs, and academic institutions, who criticize its human rights record. OIC countries, usually vocal about the Muslim causes across the globe, conveniently turned a blind eye to Xinjiang and applauded Chinas counter-terrorism measures that have led to a stronger sense of fulfilment, happiness, and security. Hence, what happens in Xinjiang, stays in Xinjiang, thanks to the overriding economic interests of OIC nations. Major BRI-recipient Pakistans PM Imran Khan often frets and fumes on twitter over sporadic incidents of Islamophobia in India. However, he preferred to keep silent over Xinjiang, while his diplomats lauded China for providing care to its Muslim citizens, thanks to Chinas no-strings grants and diplomatic support.

Chinese business organizations can hardly dare to ignore the dictates of CCP. When Houston Rockets General Manager displeased the Chinese government by supporting Hongkong protesters on social media, all of the 11 official Chinese business partners of the National Basketball Association suspended ties with the league. Similarly, the sheer number of Chinese students and on Western campuses and large research grants are powerful enough to dissuade them from displeasing China by allowing debates and seminars on Chinas human rights abuses and repression, with the participation of Chinese dissidents. Recently, a powerful person in the Harvard management stopped Teng Biao, a Chinese dissident and a visiting fellow at Harvard Universit, from holding an event on his and other dissidents experiences of human rights abuses in China.

CCPs state is selling high-tech surveillance technology to 60 states with weak privacy protections, including dictatorships such as Zimbabwe, Philippines, and Kyrgyzstan. China also intimidates UN member countries to support its position in international bodies. At UNHRC, China has been consistent in obstructing the passage of UN resolutions and sanctions against its cohorts like Venezuela, Myanmar, and Saudi Arabia, for gross human rights violations.

In its BRI ambit, China is supporting corrupt and ruthless dictators with no-strings-attached loans, in complete disregard for their track-record of environmental safety and human rights abuses. Such dubious and clandestine loans also come easy in return for the recipient countrys support and silence over Chinas repression and Human Rights violations. China has invested 62 billion dollars in CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor), a part of BRI, Chinas multi-trillion dollar infrastructure project. Its terror-sponsoring ally Pakistan has displaced the local Shia Muslims in PoJK (Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan), opposing Chinese investments and encroachment of their lands. In one of the most shameless attempts at demographic engineering, they have colonized the area with Wahhabi extremists, Pak army veterans, and terrorist cadres, quite expectedly, China has been a supporting accomplice in such heinous crimes against humanity. Those who oppose are silenced through a plethora of ISIs (Pakistans dreadful spy agency), covert measures including tortures and targeted killings. At the UNSC and FATF, in addition to supporting dreaded terrorists like Hafiz Saed and Masood Azhar, China has shielded Pakistan with impunity, preventing the global bodies action against it for financing and sponsoring terrorism in Kashmir. Further, Chinese loans have sent many countries into a never-ending debt trap.

Its time to confront China

Until the last year, the strategists were concerned about the Chinese threat to the world order. However, after COVID-19 killing thousands across the globe, CCP has revealed itself as not merely a threat to the world order. Instead, in its new or real avatar, it comes out as an existential threat to the entire humanity. As I am writing this piece, China has already found a berth at UNHRC despite its blemished human rights record, aggressed in the Sikkims (India) Naku La, and intruded with its coastguard into the waters of Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands.

Further, the way CCPs party-state has spread disinformation about the origin of the virus, manipulated WHO, influenced or maybe coerced prestigious media houses and influential think-tanks to project it as a savior in its corona-mitigation efforts, vehemently resisted an independent investigation into the origins of the virus, threatened Australia with trade sanctions for advocating an inquiry into the virus origins, and intimidated the EUs external action service to drop the reference to its global disinformation campaign to improve its image, in its report, hardly leaves any doubt about CCPs future intent to upset the world order and methods it will employ to achieve that.

With Xi Jinpings eternal presidency, the CCP has gone back to the era of Mao-styled strong man rule. This time it commands robust economic strength, state-of-the-art technology in communications and defense, and a revanchist desire; hence, the tremors are spreading across the globe. Corona is just a glimpse into what lies ahead. Also, China braces the worlds fastest declining population, corona crisis and economic slowdown, which will result in job losses and a fall in the standards of living. It will result in public protest and outrage against the government, demanding more political participation. Most likely, Xi-led CCP will double down with more repression, censorships, purges, and a hyper-nationalist foreign policy. In the international arena, it may result in China firming up its ties with despots and terror-sponsoring nations by giving them nuclear technology, aggressive incursions in the South China Sea, and brazen subversion of international conventions, treaties, and institutions.

Hence, it is time to confront CCP. Moreover, the confrontation has to be holistic. From a principled stand against its human rights abuses and strategically thought-out efforts countering its economic and military aggression to a systematic campaign exposing CCP and its inhuman side, the world community has to deter CCP on every front. It has to be a united effort. With Americans in a self-imposed diplomatic quarantine mode, Australia, Japan and India have a lot to contribute, in saving China and the rest of the world, from a revanchist regime that refuses to respect life and play by the rules.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)

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Liberals embrace super PACs they once shunned | TheHill – The Hill

Posted: at 6:50 am

Progressives are embracing super PACs with newfound vigor as they look to put their political influence and organizing tactics to use in the aftermath of Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPoll: National Latino support for Biden sees slight increase Trump congratulates daughter on law school graduation: 'Just what I need is a lawyer in the family' Mellman: Just how important are the issues? MOREs (I-Vt.) presidential campaign.

A handful of new liberal outside groups have cropped up in recent weeks, many of them founded by former aides and allies of Sanders and other prominent progressives. Their goals range from boosting the presidential campaign of former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump takes pandemic fight to Michigan MSNBC political analyst Karine Jean-Pierre joins Biden campaign Poll: Older voters slip from Trump; younger voters turn away from Biden MORE to patching what they see as electoral holes in the Democrats organizing strategy.

But the proliferation of super PACs has come at a cost for some in the progressive movement, which has long denounced the existence of such groups and the influence of money in politics.

Sanders himself has privately expressed frustration with one such super PAC, originally called Future to Believe In PAC after the Vermont senators campaign slogan. The group was formed late last month by a handful of former aides to Sanderss campaign, including senior adviser Jeff Weaver, to boost Biden among progressives.

Sanderss displeasure with the formation of the super PAC prompted its founders to change its name this week to Americas Promise PAC to avoid the appearance that it is tied to Sanders or his campaign.

For Weaver and others, the decision to form a super PAC appears to stem more from a sense of urgency than a genuine comfort with such groups, which can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money so long as they do not coordinate with a candidate or campaign.

In a memo issued on Friday, Weaver warned that lagging support and enthusiasm for Bidens candidacy among progressives has the potential to sink the former vice presidents chances of ousting President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump taps Brooke Rollins as acting domestic policy chief Trump takes pandemic fight to Michigan Trump to celebrate Memorial Day at Baltimore's Fort McHenry MORE in November. Americas Promise PAC, he wrote, could help Biden make up that ground.

[D]espite best intentions, the Biden campaign and the [Democratic National Committee] are far behind on digital organizing, Latino outreach and progressive coalition building all critical to reaching and winning over Sanders supporters, Weaver wrote.

Chuck Rocha, a former senior adviser to Sanders who is involved in Americas Promise PAC and is spearheading the creation of another group, Nuestro PAC, said that super PACs are simply a means to an end: helping Democrats and progressives win up and down the ballot.

Unlike traditional political action committees and political nonprofits, super PACs can act as a partisan hammer, Rocha said, a role that traditional campaigns and PACs cant necessarily fill.

I am anti all this money in politics and if we can operate without super PACs, I would vote for that everyday, Rocha told The Hill. But Ive got to do something right now. I dont have the privilege to be able to wait around until there arent super PACs on either side.

Rocha and his political consulting firm Solidarity Strategies launched Nuestro PAC last month to turn out Latino voters in the fall using the same playbook that helped Sanders win broad support among Latinos during his primary campaign. Rocha himself is currently the largest donor to the super PAC. He said that hes courting other progressive and Democratic-leaning groups to help fund the effort.

Rocha said he wont accept contributions from corporate interests or business executives.

Super PACs arent the problem. The problem is corporate money in super PACs, he said. I dont know any corporations who would give Chuck Rocha or Nuestro Pac any donations anyway.

Still, the move towards super PACs has received blowback from some progressives. Rocha said he has lost thousands of followers on Twitter since started Nuestro PAC last month. And after Americas Promise launched in late April, the grassroots collective The People for Bernie Sanders advised its followers: Dont give them a dime.

One of the basics of the Bernie campaigns was a refusal to go there in terms of anything like a super PAC, Norman Solomon, a longtime activist and the co-founder of the progressive online initiative RootsAction.org.

I think thats in harmony with the politics that if youre opposed to huge money running the political show then you dont take huge money in super PACs.

Solomon is among a group of advisers to the newly-formed Once Again PAC, a traditional political action committee focused on helping Sanders win delegates in upcoming Democratic presidential primaries in order to exert influence over the partys platform and rules at its national convention this summer.

Also involved in that effort is Nina Turner, a former co-chair of Sanderss presidential campaign, and Winnie Wong, a former adviser to Sanders.

While Solomon said that most activists on the left share Bernies detest for super PACs in general, he also emphasized that progressive super PACs are a relatively small part of the terrain, especially given the massive outside groups funded by ultra-wealthy donors that often back Republicans or more centrist Democrats.

Its David vs. Goliath, he said. Even David needed a slingshot and I think thats how some people see it.

Sanderss former aides arent the only ones formingoutside political groups. Earlier this month, Justice Democrats, the progressive groupaligned with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezThe continuous whipsawing of climate change policy Budowsky: United Democrats and Biden's New Deal Merger moratorium takes center stage in antitrust debate MORE (D-N.Y.), filed paperwork with the Federal Election Committee (FEC) to create a hybrid PAC also called a Carey Committee similar to a super PAC.

Sanders himself has benefited from super PACs in the past. Vote Nurses Values PAC, the super PAC funded by the nurses union National Nurses United, spent more than $700,000 in support of the Vermont senator during the 2020 presidential primaries.

To me, theres a big difference between a labor lobbyist who is an advocate for working people versus a corporate lobbyist for Goldman Sachs or General Electric, said Jonathan Tasini, a progressive strategist and former surrogate for Sanderss 2016 presidential campaign. I sort of see super PACs the same way.

Tasini said that the end goal for Democrats should be to get rid of all this money in the U.S. political system. But he added that progressives should be practical in their approach to super PACs.

I dont think we should be so ideologically rigid about this, he said. Everyone would love to get rid of all this money. But that isnt the reality today.

One of the draws of super PACs in addition to being allowed to raise and spend unlimited sums of money is that they promise political operatives freedom that they often dont get within the rigid and bureaucratic structure of traditional campaigns, said Linh Nguyen, a former presidential campaign staffer for Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerOn The Money: GOP senators heed Fed chair's call for more relief | Rollout of new anti-redlining laws spark confusion in banking industry | Nearly half of American households have lost employment income during pandemic Hillicon Valley: Trump threatens Michigan, Nevada over mail-in voting | Officials call for broadband expansion during pandemic | Democrats call for investigation into Uber-Grubhub deal Democratic senators call on regulators to investigate potential Uber-Grubhub deal MOREs (D-N.J.) and former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergLiberals embrace super PACs they once shunned .7 billion expected to be spent in 2020 campaign despite coronavirus: report Bloomberg wages war on COVID-19, but will he abandon his war on coal? MORE.

Nguyen and other former campaign staffers filed paperwork with the FEC late last month creating PAC That A$$ (PTA), a super PAC aimed at boosting Democrats up and down the ballot, while aggressively mocking GOP incumbents. The group isnt tied directly to the progressive movement, but is "very much anchored in the idea that we are trying to fix the system," Nguyen said.

In an interview this week, Nguyen said the group isnt only going to be run by political operatives, but is also hiring writers and comedians particularly black and brown creatives with the goal of reaching young voters and communities of color online ahead of the 2020 election.

Our donors that are funding this have specifically said we want you all to try different things, Nguyen said. Experiment and figure out how to break through the noise.

Nguyen said that PTA is built around the notion that super PACs are detrimental to the political process. The groups website touts that if their efforts to get Democrats elected are successful, there wont be any more Super PACs.

We want to fight fire with fire. This is something that Republicans are very, very comfortable in, and as Democrats, we shy away from it or we take the higher road, she said. We want to lean into it. Were going to get a lot of criticism, but we dont want to shy away from it.

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@Home with SF State: Adjusting to Remote Learning | College of Liberal & Creative Arts – SF State News

Posted: at 6:50 am

Lyn Bafour, a Cinema and Chinese major, has used her nightstand as a desk for online classes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If I just reorient myself on my bed, I feel like thats enough mentally to make the switch of, this is where you sleep versus this is where you work, Bafour said in a new video series exploring how students have adjusted to online learning this semester.

Despite the challenges with taking classes from home, the Trader Joes employee has found a way to prepare herself every day: Wake up, get in the mindset and shake everything off and just start doing the work.

Cinema major Nithin Kumar said keeping his workspace clean and simple has helped him stay on task.

I have my monitor. I have a keyboard. Basically, I have [my workspace] set up for maximum productivity with as little distractions as possible, he said.

Sabrina Mota, a Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts major, said students shouldnt be too hard on themselves, especially during this unprecedented crisis.

Forgive yourself if this isnt going to be your best semester, Mota said. Understand that a lot of people, they take a long time to go through school and they still end up being able to get to their aspirations and make change.

The pandemic and shelter-in-place ordinances have made Bafour value the importance of human interaction more than ever.

Whats going on right now is very isolating, and during the first few days, I was very lifeless. I didnt know what to do with myself, said Bafour, an employee at Trader Joes grocery store. But talking to somebody really did help feel like things are normal and reaffirmed that other people are going through the same thing.

Video produced by Sreang Hok and Kavin Chan

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@Home with SF State: Adjusting to Remote Learning | College of Liberal & Creative Arts - SF State News

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Liberals vow to resurrect Roe 8 if elected next year – WAtoday

Posted: at 6:50 am

Opposition transport spokeswoman Libby Mettam said the Liberal Party was still committed to Roe 8 and the Perth Freight Link.

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If necessary it is a decision we would most certainly reverse and we are comfortable fighting the government on this issue given it has the support of the community of the southern suburbs, she said.

Ms Mettam said WA needed big ticket infrastructure projects to help the state recover from the coronavirus pandemic and with $1.2 billion in federal funding still on the table, now was the time to get it started.

Were finding it is quite extraordinary that 62,000 people have lost their jobs in the past four weeks and the McGowan government would come out with a plan to block Roe 8, she said.

The Perth Freight Link was envisioned to connect Fremantle Port with Perths southern suburbs but it was scrapped after the Labor party won the 2017 election in a landslide with stopping the road as a headline commitment.

The Liberal Party maintains the road would reduce congestion and remove trucks from Leach Highway while future proofing the Fremantle port.

Ms Saffioti said the McGowan government had been given a clear mandate to stop the freight link.

It was a deeply flawed, controversial project that I am pleased has now been laid to rest, she said.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the land that was cleared to make way for the freight link was already being rehabilitated which would ensure the Beeliar Wetlands and its conservation values would remain for future generations.

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