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“The Southern Strategy Doesn’t Work Anymore”: Rick Perry Wants To Reach Out To Black People. He’ll Have To Do A Lot Better

Yesterday, Rick Perry went to the National Press Club in Washington to deliver a speech that may have seemed unusual, in that it was characterized as an effort to reach out to African Americans, but actually contained much less than meets the eye. Perry presented traditional Republican priorities — tax cuts, regulatory rollback, slashing safety net programs — as a gift the GOP wants to bestow on African Americans and acknowledged that his party hasn’t exactly been welcoming to them. But if this is “reaching out” beyond the whites who form almost the entirety of the GOP’s voters, it isn’t going to accomplish much. Here’s an excerpt:

There has been, and there will continue to be an important and a legitimate role for the federal government in enforcing Civil Rights. Too often, we Republicans, me included, have emphasized our message on the 10th Amendment but not our message on the 14th. An Amendment, it bears reminding, that was one of the great contributions of Republican party to American life, second only to the abolition of slavery.

For too long, we Republicans have been content to lose the black vote, because we found we didn’t need it to win. But, when we gave up trying to win the support of African-Americans, we lost our moral legitimacy as the party of Lincoln, as the party of equal opportunity for all. It’s time for us, once again, to reclaim our heritage as the only party in our country founded on the principle of freedom for African-Americans.

We know what Democrats will propose in 2016, the same thing, the same things that Democrats have proposed for decades, more government spending on more government programs. And there is a proper and an important role for government assistance in keeping people on their feet. But few Presidents have done more to expand government assistance than President Obama. Today we spend nearly one trillion dollars a year on means tested antipoverty programs. And yet, black poverty remains stagnant.

Let’s be clear about one thing: The GOP didn’t “give up” trying to win the black vote. It spent decades building and maintaining electoral majorities on the encouragement and exploitation of racism. It was a sin of commission, not a sin of omission. And the reason the party is now reevaluating the “Southern strategy” isn’t that it had some kind of moral epiphany, it’s because the strategy doesn’t work anymore.

While we’re on this topic, permit me a digression on this “party of Lincoln” business, which is something Republicans say when they’re trying to convince people they aren’t actually hostile to black people. As Antonin Scalia would say, it’s pure applesauce. Here’s the truth: One hundred fifty years ago, the Republican Party was the liberal party, and the Democratic Party was the conservative party. They reversed those positions over time for a variety of reasons, but the Republicans of today are not Abraham Lincoln’s heirs. Ask yourself this: If he had been around in 1864, which side do you think Rick Perry would have been on? If you took more than half a second to answer, “The Confederacy, of course,” then you’re being way too generous to him, not to mention the overwhelming majority of his fellow Republicans.

All that isn’t to say that it’s impossible for Republicans to turn over a new leaf and truly give African Americans a reason to consider their party. But if they’re going to be at all successful, it will take both a change in policy and a change in attitude.

A change in policy, at least outside of some very specific areas, is extremely unlikely to happen. Perry discussed the issue of incarcerations related to the drug war, and that’s one example where Republicans really are coming together with Democrats to reevaluate the policies of recent decades. They deserve credit for that. But there’s almost nothing else they’re offering, other than to argue that the things they already wanted to do, such as cutting taxes, will be great for black people, too.

Then there’s the argument Perry and others make about safety net programs: that people of color are being enslaved by them, and if we only cut those shackles then they’ll rise up. This argument — that the Republican Party wants to slash the safety net only because it cares so much for the poor — has never persuaded anyone in the past, and it isn’t likely to in the future.

And what about the change in attitude? The most fundamental reason Republicans can’t get the votes of African Americans is that the party communicates to them, again and again and again, that it isn’t just ignoring their needs but is actively hostile to them. When conservative justices gut the Voting Rights Act to the cheers of Republicans, and then states such as Perry’s Texas move immediately to impose voting restrictions that they know will disproportionately affect African Americans, it sends a very clear message.

Perry began his speech with a harrowing story of a lynching in Texas in 1916, which was surely meant to convey to African Americans that he understands the legacy of racism. But it also sends an accompanying message: that he believes racism is about the violent oppression of the past and has nothing to do with the lives African Americans lead today. And that’s another message African Americans hear loud and clear. Every time any issue of race comes up, whether it’s about police mistreatment or discrimination in employment or anything else, the first response of conservatives is always to say, “Oh c’mon, what are you complaining about? Racism is over.”

If Perry really wanted to “reach out” to African Americans and convince them that something has changed, here’s a way he could do it: He could say something about the endless stream of race-baiting that comes from the most prominent conservative media figures. If you’ve listened to Rush Limbaugh or watched Bill O’Reilly, you know that one of the central themes of their programs is that white people are America’s only victimized racial group, while African Americans form a criminal class that deserves to be constantly harassed by the police because they’re a bunch of thugs the rest of us need protection from. Day in and day out, those programs’ white audiences are told that Obama is some kind of Black Panther enacting a campaign of racial vengeance upon them. “All too often I have seen this president divide us by race,” says Perry, when the media figures his party lionizes are constantly telling their audiences to see politics through the lens of their own whiteness and nurture their racial resentments.

And Perry can tell black people that it’s welfare that’s really keeping them down, but because of his party, the first African American president had to literally show his birth certificate to prove he’s a real American. That’s just one of the things it’s going to take an awful lot of reaching out to make them forget.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line, The Washington Post, July 3, 2015

July 5, 2015 Posted by | African Americans, Republicans, Rick Perry | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Bullies Are Being Persecuted? ROTFLMAO”: Marco Rubio Pathetically Plays The LGBT Victim

Poor Marco Rubio. With history rushing past him, its dust gritty in his eyes, he, the bully, resorts to playing the victim.

And so it was on Tuesday, when he tried—in this now-practiced right wing way—to claim that he and other Christians were the victims of LGBTs and their demands for, er, basic equality and civil rights.

What else can Rubio do? People like him have lost the argument.

All they can do now, after years of fostering a climate of prejudice and persecution against LGBTs, is to claim that with the prospect of equality, it is they, the bullies, who are persecuted.

They cannot argue how equality affects them negatively, so merely claim to be victims.

This is all they have, after years of using every trick in the book to keep LGBT people unequal, feared, and stigmatized.

It would be funny, this attempted sleight-of-hand, this laughable co-opting of the language and mantle of victimhood, if Rubio’s words were not so disgusting, and such canards.

On Tuesday, Rubio dared to use the phrase ‘hate speech’ when describing how, one day, those who objected to marriage equality would be seen as propagating hate speech.

Does Marco Rubio have any idea of the toxicity of the phrase he is flinging around to score some cheap political capital?

Does he have any idea of the true ‘hate speech’ LGBTs have suffered, not just on political platforms at the hands of people like Marco Rubio in their stoking of their Christian voting base—words like ‘unnatural,’ ‘pretend families,’ words of exclusion that seek to put us outside the boundaries of family, home, and love?

Because ‘hate speech’ doesn’t end on political platforms. They’re the words that LGBTs hear before they are beaten by homophobes on street corners and in schoolyards. Beaten, sometimes fatally. How dare Marco Rubio seek to invoke a phrase like ‘hate speech’ to feed his own pathetic persecution complex? Has he any idea of the true cost of ‘hate speech’ as it has been used against LGBT people?

Rubio said ‘mainstream Christian’ teachings would soon be seen as hate speech in his scary new world where those pesky homosexuals are treated just as the same as everyone else under the law.

“Because today we’ve reached the point in our society where if you do not support same-sex marriage you are labeled a homophobe and a hater,” Rubio said. Absurdly. You are only labeled a ‘homophobe’ and ‘hater’ if you come out and say something homophobic and hateful.

Mr. Rubio, despite great provocation by you and others like you, LGBTs and their supporters—many of whom are Christian, by the way—who back equality actually think you can say and think whatever you like, as long as it doesn’t incite violence and hatred. If it does, they will object, as any reasonable person might.

If you claim that LGBTs do not deserve marriage equality, and your argument has the ring of prejudice about it—and it necessarily would because you are arguing against the principles of equality—then expect to be called out for it.

But you are not being silenced. You are being disagreed with. And now you’re feeling persecuted because it’s not just LGBTs calling you out on it, but all those who believe people should be treated equally under the law.

Simply, Mr. Rubio, when will you stop scapegoating LGBTs to score votes? Why are you so dead-set on maintaining inequality and discrimination? What’s in it for you? Rubio also said, “After they are done going after individuals, the next step is to argue that the teachings of mainstream Christianity, the catechism of the Catholic Church, is hate speech and there’s a real and present danger.”

Again, this is doom-saying nonsense, and yet another attempt to paint “the gay agenda” as an uncontrollable monster, out to silence its objectors.

The truth is that for years LGBTs have had to fight to be heard themselves, to be visible, to lobby for equality under the law.

LGBT activists have never said the teachings of mainstream Christianity or the catechism of the Catholic Church are pernicious. They have argued against those teachings being warped by bigots and opportunists like Mr. Rubio to attack LGBT people, and deny them their civil rights—but not for them to cease to exist or be practiced.

In a way, Rubio’s nonsensical words are heartening. They are like the last gasp of a poisonous old world order of determined prejudice and discrimination. How furious and scared he must have been to see Catholic Ireland face down the kind of misinformation and lies he and his cronies propagate against LGBTs on Saturday, and vote instead for a future of equality.

Rubio and others like him know their grip on fear and prejudice is loosening. And so now, he plays the victim: it’s the last pathetic piece of pantomime left to him.

Quite simply, even Rubio’s followers and supporters know LGBT people—and they do not like to see these family members and loved ones persecuted so viciously for whom they choose to go to bed with. And so, with the grit of history in his eye, Rubio continues howling in the wind—his words more and more lost in the tempest of history passing him by.

 

By: Tim Teeman, The Daily Beast, May 26, 2015

May 27, 2015 Posted by | Discrimination, LGBT, Marco Rubio | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Constitutional Protections Cannot Be Undone By Popular Vote”: Why The Constitution Trumps Any State’s Ban On Same-Sex Marriage

With the Supreme Court scheduled to hear oral argument next week in marriage equality cases, everyone is looking to the marriage cases the Court decided in 2013 in an attempt to predict what it’s likely to do this time around. But another recent case on a very different topic may actually have much more to say about marriage equality than one would think: last year’s case about warrantless searches of an arrestee’s cell phone. In that case, the Court held such searches unconstitutional and underscored a principle that bears on the marriage discussion—namely, that constitutional protections cannot be undone by popular vote.

The basic question in the marriage equality cases is simple. Does the Fourteenth Amendment—which prohibits states from denying any person “liberty… without due process of law” and “the equal protection of the laws”—bar state bans on same-sex marriage? The text and history of the U.S. Constitution, not to mention the Court’s own precedents, make clear that it does. Opponents of marriage equality thus are resorting to what is becoming a familiar argument, saying marriage equality should be decided not by the courts, but by the people. By that logic, citizens of individual states can trump the Constitution’s broad equality guarantee if they vote to do so.

One of the most significant statements of this view can be found in the lower court opinion the Court is reviewing. Last year, federal appeals court judge Jeffrey Sutton described the question in the marriage equality cases as a “debate about whether to allow the democratic processes begun in the States to continue… or to end them now by requiring all states in the Circuit to extend the definition of marriage to encompass gay couples.” He noted that “[i]n just eleven years, 19 states and a conspicuous District, accounting for nearly 45 percent of the population, have exercised their sovereign powers to expand [the] definition of marriage.” He described that “timeline” as “difficult… to criticize as unworthy of further debate and voting.” Unsurprisingly, defenders of that opinion have continued this line of argument in the Supreme Court.  One of the parties’ briefs argues that the Court should adopt a deferential standard in reviewing state marriage bans because that standard “defers to voters in order to protect the democratic process.” Another asserts that “[t]he Constitution delegates most sensitive policy choices to democratic debates, not judicial mandates.”

These arguments about “democratic process” may seem more attractive than some of the other arguments made by opponents of marriage equality. For instance, leaders of the 2012 Republican National Convention Committee on the Platform filed a brief arguing that marriage bans are constitutional because, in part, men need “traditional marriage” so women can “‘transform [their] male lust into love.’”

But there’s a basic flaw in the “democratic process” arguments, as last year’s cell phone search decision confirms. They get the Constitution exactly backwards.

In Riley v. California, the Court considered whether the police may without a warrant search someone’s cell phone following an arrest. The Court held, in a unanimous opinion, that the answer is no; such searches are generally prohibited by the Fourth Amendment’s requirement that “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures… not be violated.” Recognizing that “unrestrained search[es] for evidence of criminal activity” was “one of the driving forces behind the [American] Revolution,” the Court concluded that warrantless cell phone searches permitted too great an intrusion on privacy and thus should not be allowed, absent exigent circumstances preventing the police from obtaining a warrant. As Chief Justice Roberts explained in the Court’s opinion, modern cell phones are “now such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy,” and they can contain a vast amount of “sensitive personal information.”

Justice Alito agreed with the rest of the Court that such searches were unconstitutional, but he wrote separately to make two points, one of which has bearing on the marriage equality cases. Alito wrote that he “would reconsider the question presented here if either Congress or state legislatures, after assessing the legitimate needs of law enforcement and the privacy interests of cell phone owners, enact legislation that draws reasonable distinctions based on categories of information or perhaps other variables.” Put differently, Alito would allow Congress and state legislatures to change the Court’s answer in Riley. Even though the Court had concluded that the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on “unreasonable searches and seizures” generally prevents the police from engaging in such searches, Alito would allow Congress and state legislatures to decide that “the legitimate needs of law enforcement” outweigh the “privacy interests of cell phone owners.”

Tellingly, no other Justice joined Alito’s opinion. Not one. And that tells us a great deal about the “democratic processes” position adopted by Judge Sutton and advanced by opponents of marriage equality. What the rest of the Court implicitly recognized in Riley was that Alito’s approach is fundamentally wrong. Congress and state legislatures may be able to supplement the Constitution’s protections—indeed, they may sometimes be well-suited to doing so, as Alito noted in a different Fourth Amendment case about GPS monitoring—but they cannot scrap them.

Indeed, that is a point so fundamental to our constitutional order that the Supreme Court has made it repeatedly in various contexts, noting that fundamental constitutional protections “depend on the outcome of no elections,” and “[a] citizen’s constitutional rights can hardly be infringed simply because a majority of the people choose that it be.”  As recently as 2011, in a campaign finance case, Roberts explained that “the whole point of the First Amendment is to protect speakers against unjustified government restrictions on speech, even when those restrictions reflect the will of the majority.” The Constitution, not voters, has the ultimate legal authority. In the past, the Court hasn’t treated the Fourteenth Amendment any differently than the First and the Fourth. In 1996, for example, it struck down a state constitutional amendment adopted by state voters because it violated the Fourteenth Amendment.

When the Court considered the scope of the Fourth Amendment’s protections in Riley, it didn’t say it was up to Congress or state legislatures to decide how much privacy Americans enjoy when it comes to their cell phones. Instead, the Court considered the text and history of the Fourth Amendment, as well as the Court’s precedents. The Court should do the same thing this year when it considers the scope of the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections in the marriage equality cases. If it does, there’s no question what the result should be: a resounding victory for marriage equality.

 

By: Brianne J. Gorod, Appellate Counsel at The Constitutional Accountability Center; The New Republic, April 23, 2015

April 27, 2015 Posted by | Marriage Equality, States Rights, U. S. Constitution | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Bane Of Political Life In America”: For Conservatives, Government Coercion Is Bad — Except When It’s Not

For conservatives, government coercion is the bane of political life in America. As members of the self-styled anti-government party, they very much are interested in making the case that coercion is inherently illegitimate, whether it is a law requiring you to purchase health care or a law requiring businesses to serve LGBT customers. The problem with this logic is that all laws are coercive — even the ones conservatives like.

Last week, I wrote about the intrinsic coerciveness of all laws in the context of protecting LGBT people from discrimination, which prompted a hilarious yet telling reaction from Sean Davis at The Federalist.

Davis, possibly because he quite obviously did not even read past the first couple paragraphs of my post, is not just wrong, but has missed the entire axis of debate. However, he does inadvertently provide a great example of just why conservatives are ill-advised to admit that all laws are coercive. Because if this is true, then conservatives will have to give up one of their favorite rhetorical tropes — being against coercion in the name of individual liberty — or resort to outright hypocrisy.

The argument was not about LGBT laws in themselves, something Davis failed to grasp. Instead it was about the justification of such laws. My position is that being against government coercion is not legitimate grounds on which to oppose any policy. This applies to liberals, too, though as members of the pro-government faction they generally don’t worry about it much.

But conservatives do. Most of what is referred to as “government” in popular media is liberal stuff like Social Security, Medicare, or food stamps. Labeling those programs as coercion gives conservatives a convenient pro-liberty sheen when they’re talking about slashing poor people’s incomes.

That changes when you bring up things like property. Though ordinary people rarely talk about it in this way, property is underpinned by exactly the same kind of coercion that bolsters civil rights or tax laws, as is the entire superstructure of what we refer to as the free market system — that is, by government coercion.

Therefore, conservatives can’t be principled anti-coercion advocates unless they are willing to throw out private property, which they obviously aren’t. Coercion can’t be bad when it supports things you don’t like and good when it supports things you do — no matter what some conservatives maintain.

Let me emphasize that this line of reasoning doesn’t mean you can’t oppose some civil rights law, just that you can’t oppose it on the grounds of being against coercion in general.

Of course, framing the discussion in this way powerfully strengthens left-wing arguments. If being anti-coercion is utter nonsense, then the debate moves to which kinds of coercion are best as judged by some other moral framework. Whether that’s utilitarianism, contract theory, or Christian ethics, under such conditions it’s a lot harder to oppose transferring income from rich to poor or social insurance programs.

Thus, when presented with left-wing slogans like “property is violence,” your average conservative, perceiving a trap, will resist. In reality there is no escape.

But what makes Davis such a great example is he genuinely doesn’t seem to understand what the problem is here. He argues in one breath that, duh, of course all laws protecting property depend on coercive violence. Then in the very next paragraph, he writes this:

At their core, however, Kohn and Cooper appear to desperately want to avoid the real question at the heart of the religious freedom debate: should the government force individuals to participate in religious ceremonies against their will? [The Federalist]

Government coercion is good, except when it’s not. That’s the kind of stark hypocrisy conservatives would do well to disguise better.

 

By: Ryan Cooper, The Week, April 14, 2015

April 15, 2015 Posted by | Anti-Government, Conservatives, Liberty | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Willfully Chose To Reject Changes”: Indiana Republicans Were Warned About Their Anti-Gay Bill

Governor Mike Pence promised Tuesday to “fix” a controversial law with anti-gay undertones in an attempt to stop the constant hammering the state has received since he signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law last week.

“I don’t believe for a minute that it was the intention of the general assembly to create a license to discriminate or right to deny services to gays, lesbians or anyone else in the state, and it certainly wasn’t my intent, but I can appreciate that has become the perception,” Pence said.

But advocates for changes to the law said if Pence didn’t know this would turn into a public-relations dumpster fire, he was either willfully ignorant or simply didn’t care.

Gay-rights advocates said they flagged the problem with the lack of protective language early in the process and pushed minor amendments to the bill, they say, would have largely resolved the issue.

It is unclear whether Pence himself knew about the amendments, but two people familiar with the lobbying effort behind the pro-LGBT measures said it was clear very early in the process that the governor did not want any changes to the bill.

“Pence and his party insisted that the bill not be balanced,” said Indiana Representative Ed Delaney, a Democrat and the author of an amendment that would have added the sentence “the protection of civil rights; or the prevention of discrimination; is a compelling government interest” to the bill.

Delaney said Pence’s office either didn’t know or didn’t care about the amendments.

“He’s created this problem,” Delaney said.

Another amendment would have exempted civil rights laws from RFRA—a change modeled after similar laws in Missouri and Texas. (Indiana’s civil rights laws do not protect LGBT individuals—but several local municipalities, like Indianapolis, have laws on the books that extend civil rights protections to the LGBT community).

Both amendments were rejected by the Republican-led Indiana legislature.

Pence’s retreat—just Sunday he said the law would not be changed—signified that Indiana’s culture warrior had, once again, bit off more than he could chew.

As the uproar started, Pence staff thought the issue would fade, according to a source last week familiar with a conversation between Pence and his aides. So while Pence expressed surprise at the vitriol created by the law, LGBT advocates said he should have seen it coming.

“There is no surprise in this,” Dale Carpenter, a constitutional and civil liberties law professor at the University of Minnesota Law School.

“They chose to reject those changes in the committee and again on the House floor that suggests to be the legislative intent here is to allow religious freedom to impact anti-discrimination laws,” said Tyler Deaton, senior advisor at American Unity Fund, a pro-gay conservative group.

Pence insisted in an uncharacteristically defensive interview on This Week last Sunday the bill was about religious liberty, not discrimination.

“There’s been shameless rhetoric about my state and about this law and about its intention all over the Internet,” he said. “People are trying to make it about one particular issue.”

“Shameless rhetoric” aside, there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical of Pence’s explanation, starting with the actual signing of the bill.

And it had everything to do with the “particular issue.”

In a photo of the private signing ceremony, Pence is surrounded by a small group of people—including the three wise men of the anti-gay marriage movement of Indiana: Micah Clark, executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana; Curt Smith, president of the Indiana Family Institute; and Eric Miller, executive director of Advance America.

Delaney said the presence of those individuals at the signing ceremony spoke volumes about the intent of the law.

“Is Mike Pence the only person who hasn’t read their press releases?” Delaney asked. “He knows what they wanted to do.”

Pence, himself, has a long, proud record of opposing gay rights during his tenure in Congress.

It also isn’t the first time he carried it into the governor’s mansion, where it has had some pretty embarrassing results.

A push for a constitutional ban on gay marriage in Indiana ended in failure but only after the Pence team tried to censor the opposition.

When gay-marriage proponents posted their displeasure with the measure on Facebook, Pence’s staff simply deleted the messages.

Initially, Pence and his staff said they just deleted comments that were obscene— but later fessed up to removing only the comments that disagreed with the governor’s position.

“On careful review, it appears that this was not always the case and some comments were being deleted simply because they expressed disagreement with my position. I regret that this occurred and sincerely apologize to all those who were affected,” Pence wrote in a Facebook post at the time.

Adding insult to injury the measure failed, giving Pence a black eye just a year into his governorship.

This is a slightly different response than Pence was used to during his time in Washington.

As a member of Congress he had no problem opposing rights for the LGBT community.

He voted for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would have added LGBT as a protected group on the federal level from discrimination in the workplace.

When the federal amendment to ban gay marriage failed to pass the House in 2006, Pence proclaimed it a “successful failure.”

“We poured a little more concrete in the footings of a building that will be built,” Pence said at the time, according to the Associated Press.

He was lauded as a hero by the right for his positions on social issues—receiving multiple “True Blue” awards from the Family Research Council for “his commitment to the family and sanctity of human life.”

The Indiana Family Institute, which was instrumental in crafting the RFRA bill, has likewise awarded him the “Friend of the Family Award.”

But being a culture warrior as governor, as he has found out, has higher stakes.

“He could afford to be a culture warrior because it wasn’t impacting an entire state’s economy,” Deaton said, referring to the burgeoning “boycott Indiana” campaign. “And now he has a different burden on his shoulders and this is turning out to cost the state tens of millions of dollars on the bottom line, thousands of jobs. This is really problematic for a governor.”

 

By: Jackie Kucinich, The Daily Beast, March 31, 2015

April 1, 2015 Posted by | Discrimination, Mike Pence, Religious Freedom | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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