Friday Night Fun and Culture: Laura Marling

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Intent to Oppress

From Dallas Denny:

By Dallas Denny
22 July, 2012

Reposted with permission

The Letter appeared first here in Chrysalis on 22 July, 2012 and was published on TG Forum the following day. It was reposted last week on the TransAdvocate website.

The anonymous author declares war on me and for that matter on all transpeople. He or she and his or her six compatriots will raise an army of graduate students who will opress me and others like me and render us impotent and invisible– in the name of academic freedom. It’s a peculiarly-worded and most impolite declaration of war based upon an irrational philosophy of who I and others like me are. Happily, he or she is not the arbiter of who I am. I get to say who I am.

Source: Dallas Denny. (2012, 22 July). The letter. Published on Chrysalis Quarterly, and 23 July 2012 on the TG Forum website. Read the Chrysalis version here and the TG Forum version here.  Reposted 20 July, 2013 on the TransAdvocate website (read here


Dallas Denny:

I am writing to let you know that we were all sent a copy of your recent letter to Rutledge Press in reference to Sheila Jeffreys’ forthcoming book, Gender Hurts, and have organized a small but growing group to address the issue. We realize a corrective is urgently needed. We have held preliminary discussions to ensure that as academic women we will confront the questions beginning in the fall semester 2013 and again in the spring semester 2014. Currently, we are in the planning stage of developing correctives that both counter and point up the dangers revealed in the letter to Rutledge Press. In order to highlight the numerous incidents designed to deny women and feminists the right to express critical theories we decided it best to focus on Ms. Jeffreys’ theories specifically.  Her analysis will then serve equally as a touchstone for discussions, and as a frame for historical and political trends.

In researching this situation we have found a deeply disturbing pattern of lies and manipulations coupled with threats and other unsavory tactics, all of which are documented, some even on video. As academics, as researchers and as writers we assert that this tyranny carries us right back to McCarthyism. The letter, a prodigious example of arrogance and bullshit sounded a warning and rallied us from across the curriculum. We recognize the telltale signs of a dangerous movement that feigns legitimacy in postmodern pseudoscience and meaningless jargon—, you catchin’ my cis drift? 

We will continue to coordinate our efforts so that our classrooms will be at the forefront of questioning transgender as a valid political movement—or perhaps that is just a veil for a misogynist hate group.  We will take a holistic approach and posit the distinct possibility of a fatuous diagnosis designed to camouflage less sympathetic and socially accepted issues. Students after they sift through the death and rape threats sent by Transgender “activist” to women and feminists will understand why the syllabi are not posted on-line or on the blackboard, and our decision to procure texts from other than usual sources will make clear sense to them. Such measures are also taken to ensure that we are not personally harassed, threatened or slandered. Needless distractions make it difficult to serve our students, write our research, and apply for grants.

Ideologically, as educators and women, some feminist, others not, we see the classroom as an open space designed for the investigation of controversial ideas and a forum to embrace our commitment equally to academic freedom, women’s rights and free expression.  Our students deserve no less from us. These freedoms that we exercise (even if it really pisses you off) are above all sacred. But so too is teaching, and helping students to make sense of what is going on in the world. We highly doubt any student is so profoundly unsophisticated or uncritical as to accept the canard of hate speech that you attempt to make.  Students know bullshit when it presented. These undergraduates will arrive at more honest and apt conclusions simply by drawing facts into the conversation. In other words you do not get an opportunity to lie like a rug on our watch. We will dismantle the basic claim of “transgender” oppression. Once exposed the list of fraudulent claims that follow falls apart.

The questions students will invariably ask is: why? Why the distinctly male rage? Why the threats and why the attempts to silence women and other academics?  In order to illuminate these questions we will turn attentions toward Michael Bailey’s The Man That Would Be Queen and Dr. Anne Lawrence’s notions on transgender narcissistic rage, as both may serve to posit alternate theories of equal merit that students can understand. An added dimension will be the story behind the entire attempt to silence, harass, menace and threaten Dr. Bailey and then level threats against his children and post their pictures on the internet. Perhaps finally, a critical analysis will reveal not a new civil rights cause but a movement that has unhinged itself from the conventional expected social mores of honesty and integrity so completely as to now only be read as anti-social and unscrupulous—and a danger to women and not above threatening children. We will keep questioning, what would cause this particular pathological compulsive behavior?  Bailey alongside Jeffreys may offer up theories that undergraduate students can make sense of.

In the classroom the first order of the day will confront the ever ubiquitous over used manipulative claim of “transphobia”—which sounds hollow when students see that the primary victims are natal women who happen to hold opinions and write things that you and others do not happen to like. Again we will address, why? The claim of transphobia, once undressed and parsed is revealed as a bullying and shaming tactic used specifically against natal women. A point-by-point analysis of all the false analogies will speak to the ever-worsening manipulations of a misogynistic movement.  The classroom will be a platform to pursue truth, and students will have opportunities to check facts and question the use of statistics and finally realize that movements lie and some are bigger bullshit masters than others.

Be cognizant that any reasonable undergraduates will question a movement that lies and plays fast and loose sans accepted ethical considerations. As educators, researchers, and theorists we value critical thinking and cherish the opportunity to enable our students to ask hard questions even when those questions risk making people uncomfortable. That’s called education. It will not go over students’ heads that certain forms of contemporary thought push toward Orwellian conformity and can be understood best as tools of the privileged, by which they manipulate the uninformed into imagining the victimizer is the victim.  Even the least critical undergrad will have at least one “ah ha” moment and that’s what education is all about.

We are not using anything by which any our identities are accessible to you or any other person that has demonstrated a past inclination and criminal like pathology to threaten or slander women. You both have demonstrated this pathology clearly. This is not only a logistical decision; the choice is made in consideration of our physical safety—yes “die cis scum” has a kind of scary ring to it. Simply put, we’re “stealth”. We’re confident that you realize this piece of correspondence is not meant in anyway to be interpreted as part of dialogue. It is meant to let you know that you just secured Sheila Jeffreys another generation and your attempts to censor her are a case study in:  the reach exceeds the grasp. By the time we are done the transgender movement and those names attached will be more accurately seen as like carnival hucksters and boss man thugs and Sheila Jeffreys will drop a note on personal stationary thanking you for the spike in sales.

Thank you for your time and attention, and most specifically for the inspiration and the opportunity to show another generation what academic freedom really means on the ground and in the classroom. We wish you all the best in your future endeavors to delude people, and yes we’re flippin’ you the bird. Take this as the “fuck you” it is intended to be.


Women For Academic Freedom





M.S. -IN



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“She’s a survivor”

From Salon:

Laverne Cox on her “Orange Is the New Black” character and the need for more portrayals of trans women on TV

Thursday, Jul 25, 2013

With the possible exceptions of Jennifer Hudson, or the girl from the first season of “Survivor” who once played the love interest in a Rob Schneider movie, former reality TV stars are not renowned for their acting chops. Laverne Cox, however, is not your typical reality star. An actor, writer and transgender advocate, Cox became the first African American transgender woman to appear on a reality TV show when she starred on the first season of VH1’s “I Want To Work For Diddy” in 2008. In 2010, she became the first trans woman to produce and star in her own television show, the VH1 makeover series “TRANSform Me,” earning a GLAAD Media Award nomination in the process.

Now Cox is making television history again, delivering a stirring, nuanced performance as transgender inmate Sophia Burset on Netflix’s highly acclaimed “Orange Is The New Black.” Unlike most non-gender-normative characters in the media, who tend to be portrayed as sex workers, glitzy camp queens, or “Crying Game”-esque con artists, Sophia is a former New York City firefighter with a wife and son who was arrested for credit card fraud while trying to fund her transition. During her time in prison, Sophia grapples with harassment from prison guards and misgendering by her fellow inmates, jumping each hurdle of prison life with flair and dignity. Salon got in touch with Cox to discuss her performance on the show, her role as a trans activist and the pleasures of Netflix binge-watching.

Is there anything about Sophia’s storyline that resonated with you and your own experience, or anything you felt like you really had in common with her? 

I think, honestly, the biggest piece was her family. The biggest piece was this fear of letting down the people in your life. That’s the piece that really spoke to me, because I think there’s something so profoundly human about – there’s the struggle with being true to who you are, and knowing that you have to do what you have to do to be your authentic self, and then the possibility of that letting down people in your life and disappointing people who you love. That sort of conflict that Sophia has is really what touched me the most in terms of her as a character, and her resilience as well. She’s a survivor. A lot of trans women of color who are dealing with all kinds of crazy circumstances are survivors like Sophia. They’re figuring out how to make it work.

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White-Supremacist Mythology Pushed by Bill O’Reilly

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The Brief, Tragic Reign of Consumerism—and the birth of a happy alternative

From Post Carbon Institute:

by Richard Heinberg
Posted Jul 24, 2013

You and I consume; we are consumers. The global economy is set up to enable us to do what we innately want to do—buy, use, discard, and buy some more. If we do our job well, the economy thrives; if for some reason we fail at our task, the economy falters. The model of economic existence just described is reinforced in the business pages of every newspaper, and in the daily reportage of nearly every broadcast and web-based financial news service, and it has a familiar name: consumerism.

Consumerism also has a history, but not a long one. True, humans—like all other animals—are consumers in the most basic sense, in that we must eat to live. Further, we have been making weapons, ornaments, clothing, utensils, toys, and musical instruments for thousands of years, and commerce has likewise been with us for untold millennia.
What’s new is the project of organizing an entire society around the necessity for ever-increasing rates of personal consumption.
This is how it happened
Consumerism arose from a unique historic milieu. In the early 20th century, a temporary abundance of cheap, concentrated, storable, and portable energy in the form of fossil fuels enabled a dramatic increase in the rate and scope of resource extraction (via powered mining equipment, chain saws, tractors, powered fishing boats, and more). Coupled with powered assembly lines and the use of petrochemicals, cheap fossil energy also permitted the vastly expanded manufacture of a widening array of commercial products. This resulted in a serious economic problem known as overproduction (too many goods chasing too few buyers), which would eventually contribute to the Great Depression.
Industrialists found a solution. How they did so is detailed a book that deserves renewed attention, Captains of Consciousness by social historian Stuart Ewen (1976). Ewen traced the rapid, massive expansion of the advertising industry during the 20th century, as well as its extraordinary social and political impacts (if you really want to understand Mad Men, start here). Ewen argued that “Consumerism, the mass participation in the values of the mass-industrial market . . . emerged in the 1920s not as a smooth progression from earlier and less ‘developed’ patterns of consumption, but rather as an aggressive device of corporate survival.”
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The Original American Dream Was Not About Getting Rich

From Alternet:

Our nation was formed because our founding fathers wanted to escape the clutches of British royalty and nobility.

By Thom Hartmann
July 24, 2013

This week, the British royal family welcomed its newest member, when Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to a baby boy.

And while the baby boy may not realize it now, he’s been born into a family of extraordinary wealth and status.

While their positions are mostly ceremonial today, Prince William, Kate and the rest of the British royals still represent nobility, the same nobility that our founding fathers fought to escape from nearly 250 years ago.

When George Washington and the rest of our nation’s founding fathers first stepped foot on American soil, their wealth was nothing compared to that of European royalty.

In fact, America didn’t have a millionaire until the middle of the George Washington administration.

Our nation was formed because our founding fathers wanted to escape the clutches of British royalty and nobility, and build a nation that was free to govern itself and thrive on its own, without royal dictatorship.

That’s why, time and time again, there have been efforts made to control royalty and nobility in America. From Lincoln’s land-grant colleges, to Roosevelt and Taft’s trust-busting, and FDR’s new deal, the goal of America has always been to ensure that everyone has an equal chance at living a happy and comfortable life.

In fact, while the Mitt Romney’s and Donald Trump’s of the world – who each inherited millions from daddy – may argue otherwise, the real American Dream isn’t about being a billionaire business man or mega-rich oil tycoon. It’s about being a part of a flourishing middle-class, which allows you to live comfortably your entire life until you die.

And, for many years, Americans thrived under this vision of the American Dream. Forty years ago, a strong and stable middle-class was a reality in our country.

But everything changed when Reagan came to Washington, and as a result, nobility is alive and well in the United States.

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Consumer Frugality Adds to Woes in France

Such is end stage Capitalism when so much wealth has been transferred to a tiny minority that the majority of people can barely survive much less lavishly and ceaselessly consume more and more junk.

From The New York Times:

Published: July 11, 2013

PARIS — On a recent Sunday at the sprawling Marché aux Puces de St. Ouen, France’s largest and most famous flea market, crystal chandeliers glinted in a rare patch of Parisian sun.

An ornate Napoleon III-era clock perched on a marble mantelpiece, and sales signs peeked from vintage clothing, vinyl LPs and other curios that have long drawn throngs of shoppers here, jostling for a bargain.

But something seemed amiss on this afternoon, as it has almost every weekend for more than a year. As with so much else now bedeviling France, the economy is to blame. French consumers simply are not spending the way they used to, and that is an impediment not only for the merchants of the Marché aux Puces, but also for the country’s ability to emerge from recession.

“It used to be elbow to elbow here,” said Hamidou Debo, a shoe vendor who sat quietly in his outdoor stall as a handful of people browsed through silver-hued sandals and black leather high-tops before shuffling away without buying. “Now the crowds are around half what they used to be.”

For Mr. Debo and 2,500 other merchants in the 17-acre market on the northern edge of Paris, an economic slowdown has gripped business, and there is no telling when things might turn around. Last year, he said, he regularly made 300 to 400 euros, or $390 to $520, in sales by lunchtime. Now he barely makes 100 euros.

“It’s the crisis,” Mr. Debo said. “People are no longer spending. They are worried about what the future will bring.”

Europe’s long-running economic troubles have been, for the most part, confined to the feeble countries of Europe: Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy. But more and more they are coming home to roost in France, raising questions about whether one of the Continent’s biggest economies may become the next sick man of Europe.

By many measures, France is already moored in malaise. Unemployment is at its highest point since the current record-keeping system began in 1996 — 10.8 percent — and job creation has been on a downward trajectory for more than a year.

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Fast Food and Neoliberalism: Response to David Freedman’s Call to Get out of McDonalds’ Way

From Truth Out:

By Jon Shelton
Tuesday, 23 July 2013

In a recent issue of the Atlantic, David Freedman argues that food activists – like Michael Pollan, the best-selling author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food – are harming efforts by corporations like McDonald’s to engineer healthier food. The charges he levies against Pollan and others are threefold: first, that much of their dietary advice promotes foods that, while not processed, are excessively high in fat, sugar and salt; second, that the cost-prohibitive nature of farm-fresh produce means that the health benefits that may accrue to (disproportionately white) affluent Americans cannot be merely scaled up to the majority of working Americans; and third, that even if they could be, this latter group of Americans would resist broccoli in favor of fast food because of its taste and convenience (particularly in light of the long working day).

As most of us know, obesity is an epidemic of terrifying proportions, so this is a timely article. Mercifully, Freedman avoids the temptation to extensively recount the statistics, so I won’t recite the litany of gruesome statistics either, aside from one overview from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): “During the past 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States and rates remain high. More than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) and approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years are obese.” Obesity, of course, dramatically increases the risk for other serious health problems, like diabetes, heart disease and cancer, and it accounts for almost $150 billion a year in health-care costs in the US.

Freedman’s argument, however, is highly pernicious to the public discussion on this topic. Essentially, he asserts, because natural food activists are elitist, we should pay no attention to their critique of processed food and get out of McDonalds’ way. Now, I have no interest in rushing to the defense of Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman or other food activists. So Freedman’s charge that so-called “foodies” are prescribing unhealthy food I will leave to Pollan and Bittman, who I assume can ably defend themselves.

As a labor historian with an interest in social justice, however, I think it is worth exploring the premises of Freedman’s second two assertions. Like much of the material in the highly influential and often thought-provoking magazine, Freedman’s view is one that is skeptical of any efforts to prevent the free market from solving society’s problems. Using the same language conservatives have used since the 1970s to criticize intellectuals as “limousine liberals,” his second two critiques take on food activists for the supposed elitism of their attacks on processed food. Invoking language that has been in our political mainstream since Vice President Spiro Agnew famously attacked liberals as “an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals,” Freedman similarly asserts that “Michael Pollan has no clothes” since there exists ” … no clear, credible evidence that any aspect of food processing or storage makes a food uniquely unhealthy.”

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Richard Wolff: Detroit a “Spectacular Failure” of System that Redistributes Pay From Bottom to Top

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House bill slashes EPA budget by 34 percent

From The Hill:

By Erik Wasson and Ben Geman

House Republicans on Monday unveiled plans to slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by 34 percent in 2014 and block federal rules to limit carbon emissions from power plants.


The proposed $2.8 billion cut is twice as deep as the 17 percent reduction proposed last year by the House GOP and reflects a decision to cut domestic programs below sequestration levels in the coming year while adding money for the military.

The reduction was unveiled as part of a $24.3 billion Interior and Environment spending bill coming before a House Appropriations subcommittee Tuesday.

In total, the bill cuts $5.5 billion, or 19 percent, from agencies under its purview. The EPA is cut deeper in order to reduce the effects on other budgets, such as that of the National Park Service.

Appropriators promised to keep parks open next year but cultural attractions will suffer under the bill. The National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities is cut by 49 percent and the Smithsonian Institution and National Gallery of Art each get a 19 percent cut.

The bill contains a host of policy riders that cut off funding for controversial environmental projects. Many of these have appeared in past years.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), who hails from coal country, said “by holding back overly zealous and unnecessary environmental regulations, this bill can have a positive effect on our economy and will help encourage job growth.”

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Release of Arctic methane could speed ice melting and cost $60 trillion

From Raw Story:

By Reuters
Wednesday, July 24, 2013

By Nina Chestney

LONDON (Reuters) – A release of methane in the Arctic could speed the melting of sea ice and climate change with a cost to the global economy of up to $60 trillion over coming decades, according to a paper published in the journal Nature.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge and Erasmus University in the Netherlands used economic modeling to calculate the consequences of a release of a 50-gigatonne reservoir of methane from thawing permafrost under the East Siberian Sea.

They examined a scenario in which there is a release of methane over a decade as global temperatures rise at their current pace.

They also looked at lower and slower releases, yet all produced “steep” economic costs stemming from physical changes to the Arctic.

“The global impact of a warming Arctic is an economic time-bomb,” said Gail Whiteman, an author of the report and professor of sustainability, management and climate change at the Rotterdam School of Management, part of Erasmus University.

“In the absence of climate-change mitigation measures, the model calculates that it would increase mean global climate impacts by $60 trillion,” said Chris Hope, a reader in policy modeling at the Cambridge Judge Business School, part of the University of Cambridge.

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Fukushima Continues to Spew Its Darkness

From Common Dreams:

by Harvey Wasserman

Radiation leaks, steam releases, disease and death continue to spew from Fukushima and a disaster which is far from over.  Its most profound threat to the global ecology—a spent fuel fire—is still very much with us.

 The latest steam leak has raised fears around the planet.  A worst-case scenario of an on-going out-of-control fission reaction was dismissed by the owners, Tokyo Electric, because they didn’t find xenon in the plume.  The company says the steam likely came from rain water being vaporized by residual heat in one of plant’s stricken reactors.
But independent experts tend to disbelieve anything Tepco says, for good reason.  Reactor Units One, Two and Three have exploded at Fukushima despite decades of official assurances that commercial atomic power plants could not explode at all.  The company has been unable to clear out enough radioactive debris to allow it to put a cover over the site that might contain further airborne emissions.
Tepco has also been forced to admit that it has been leaking radioactive water into the ocean ever since the disaster began on March 11, 2011.  In one instance it admitted to a 90-fold increase of Cesium in a nearby test well over a period of just 3 days.
Earlier this year a rat ate through critical electrical cables, shorting out a critical cooling system.  When Tepco workers were dispatched to install metal guards to protect the cabling, they managed to short out the system yet again.
Early this month Fukushima’s former chief operator, Masao Yoshida, died of esophogeal cancer at the age of 58.  Masao became a hero during the worst of the disaster by standing firm at his on-site command post as multiple explosions rocked the reactor complex.  Tepco claimed his ensuing cancer and death were “unlikely” to have been caused by Fukushima’s radiation.
The impact of work in and near the reactors has become a rising concern.  Critics have warned that there are not enough skilled technicians willing to sacrifice themselves at the plant. Tepco has worsened the situation by applying to open a number of its shut reactors elsewhere in Japan, straining its already depleted skilled workforce even further.
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John Boehner Lies And Won’t Tell America About His Personal Investment in Keystone XL

From PoliticusUSA:

By: Rmuse
Jul. 25th, 2013

In any nation’s justice system, the theory behind meting out punishment for violating the law is, besides taking a criminal out of circulation, to deter citizens who consider or are inclined to break the law from acting on their impulses. Indeed, the reason people continue violating the law is because they are not held accountable for their actions and regardless it is white collar crime, armed robbery, or assault and battery, criminals who go unpunished have no reason to refrain from being a menace to society. Politicians are shielded from investigation and prosecution because of their positions of power, and there are myriad examples of high-ranking politicians who continually break the law with impunity.

In 2011, Speaker of the House John Boehner stood in front of the American people and castigated President Obama for not approving Canadian oil company TransCanada’s permit to build the KeystoneXL pipeline, and lied profusely to the American people that the project would create hundreds of thousands of American jobs. Despite TransCanada’s admission that the project would create less than 2,000 jobs over a two  year period, Boehner had no compunction lying to provide the Koch brothers, ConocoPhillips, and oil exporters with profits as well as enriching a foreign corporation by using American land to send tar to the Gulf Coast for refining and export on the foreign market.

It turned out that in 2010, Boehner invested in 7 Canadian tar sand companies according to his 2010 financial disclosure, and stood to profit from the pipeline’s construction leading to an appeal to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to launch an investigation into share manipulation and personally profiting by using his high-ranking position in the House. At the time, Boehner’s actions inspired a national petition to force his resignation. Boehner already had a history of using his position to influence legislation, and in 1995 he passed out checks on the floor of the House from the tobacco industry to legislators who voted for legislation favorable to the industry. At the time, Boehner feigned ignorance of unethical practices, and promised he would certainly never distribute corporate checks for votes on the House floor. Subsequently, because he was not punished, he blatantly lied to the American people to enrich a foreign oil corporation, American oil industry, and himself in 2011.

If Boehner had been punished in 2011, he may have thought twice about repeating the lie that the Keystone pipeline would create more than TransCanada’s estimate of less than 2,000 jobs, but he was not and  he returned this week lying to the people about the number of jobs Keystone’s approval will create. On Tuesday at a press conference, Boehner claimed  that “if the president was serious about helping the economy he would reach out and work with us to pass things like the Keystone Pipeline that would put tens of thousands of Americans back to work.”

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Voters think Republican climate dissenters ‘crazy’, bipartisan poll finds

From The Guardian UK:

Results show risks that deniers in Congress pose to GOP as majority of younger constituents back Obama’s carbon plans

, US environment correspondent, Wednesday 24 July 2013

Republicans in Congress who reject the science behind climate change could soon be reduced to political fossils, with new polling on Wednesday suggesting three-quarters of young voters find such views “ignorant, out of touch or crazy”.

The bipartisan poll conducted for the League of Conservation Voters found solid 80% support among under-35 voters for Barack Obama’s climate change plan – and majority support even among those who oppose the president.

On the flip side the poll found three-quarters of voters, or 73%, would oppose members of Congress who stood in the way of Obama’s climate action plan.

The findings could prove awkward for Republicans in Congress who have adopted climate contrarianism as a defining feature.

Some 55% of Republicans in the House of Representatives and 65% of those in the Senate reject the science behind climate change or oppose action on climate change, according to an analysis by the Centre for American Progress.

The house speaker, John Boehner, dismissed Obama’s plan to reduce carbon emissions as “absolutely crazy”. If the poll is right that would hurt Boehner even among members of his own party, with the poll finding 52% of young Republicans less inclined to support a candidate who opposed Obama on climate change.

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