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AZProgressive's Journal
AZProgressive's Journal
December 21, 2021

Coal miners' union urges Manchin to reconsider opposition to Biden plan

The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), which represents West Virginia coal miners, urged Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Monday to revisit his opposition to President Biden's Build Back Better plan.

The labor union noted that the bill includes an extension of a fund that provides benefits to coal miners suffering from black lung disease, which expires at the end of the year. The UMWA also touted tax incentives that encourage manufacturers to build facilities in coalfields that would employ thousands of miners who lost their jobs.

“For those and other reasons, we are disappointed that the bill will not pass,” Cecil Roberts, the union’s president, said in a statement. “We urge Senator Manchin to revisit his opposition to this legislation and work with his colleagues to pass something that will help keep coal miners working, and have a meaningful impact on our members, their families, and their communities.”


As countless interest groups call on Manchin to reverse course, the statement from the mine workers’ union might be the most impactful. Manchin was born into a coal mining family and for decades has worked closely with the UMWA, which named Manchin an honorary member last year.


December 19, 2021

Leftist millennial wins election as Chile's next president

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — A leftist millennial who rose to prominence during anti-government protests was elected Chile’s next president Sunday after a bruising campaign against a free-market firebrand likened to Donald Trump.

With 68% of 46,887 polling stations reporting, Gabriel Boric had 55% of the votes, compared to 45% for his opponent, lawmaker José Antonio Kast.

Kast recognized defeat and called his opponent to congratulate him on his “grand triumph” as supporters of Boric gathered in downtown Santiago to celebrate.


December 1, 2021

How Conservatives Manufacture Ghost Stories to Protect the Powerful

The illiberal authoritarian left. Antifa. Violent BLM protesters. Critical race theory. Social justice warriors. Cancel culture. Radical trans activists. Open borders advocates. Cultural Marxists. The country faces a number of terrifying threats, and unless we act quickly, we will lose Western civilization as we know it.

This story plays 24/7 on Fox News and PragerU, where right-wing politicians and commentators stress that a dangerous left is producing violence in the streets and trying to indoctrinate children with poisonous ideas and immorality. There are now dozens of books with titles like The Enemy Within: How a Totalitarian Movement is Destroying America, The Dictatorship of Woke Capital, Woke, Inc., Bad News: How Woke Media Is Undermining Democracy, The Authoritarian Moment: How the Left Weaponized America’s Institutions Against Dissent, Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy, Suicide of the West, American Marxism, American Crusade: Our Fight To Stay Free, and United States of Socialism: Who’s Behind It. Why It’s Evil. How to Stop It. Each argues that the country faces a threat from the political left, one that is correctly called totalitarian, authoritarian, or dictatorial. David Brooks, reporting from the 2021 National Conservatism Conference, says that the consensus on the right is that “the left controls absolutely everything.” All of the other major conference speakers adopted a similar “apocalyptic tone”:


In reality, the left is far more reasonable than it is made out to be; leftist policy positions such as Medicare for All and the Green New Deal enjoy popular support from voters across the political spectrum. Right-wing policies, in fact, tend to fall on the wrong side of history. Thus the stories these commentators tell are a kind of delusion. This delusion is dangerous because it erodes the humanity of the people being talked about and avoids a serious engagement with ideas that challenge simplistic and nationalist myths inherent in the right-wing world view. Right-wing commentators distract us from things that matter, like climate change, healthcare, and racial injustice. The right’s distractions end up benefiting the rich and powerful, who don’t want to see changes put in place around climate change, healthcare, or racial injustice. These distractions prevent us from having intelligent conversations about politics, about the issues that average people care about. These distractions suck ordinary people into a make-believe world of terrifying phantoms from which it can be hard to escape, especially if one never hears a more compelling story in its place. Let’s look, then, at how these ghost stories are put together, so that we can help people to avoid becoming spooked by them, and so that we ourselves never accidentally find ourselves swallowing and then regurgitating crafty right-wing propaganda.

I. The Common Structure of Conservative Arguments

In 1991, economist Albert Hirschman published a book called The Rhetoric of Reaction. Hirschman identified some common species of right-wing arguments. He called these arguments perversity, futility, and jeopardy.


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