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“Let’s Not Ever Do That Again”: SC Gov. Nikki Haley; The U.S. Has ‘Never’ Passed Laws Based On Race And Religion — Um…

Gov. Nikki Haley’s (R-SC) decision to speak out against Donald Trump and other anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim forces in the Republican Party is certainly laudable — but her awareness of American history needs a little work.

The Hill reports:

She said Wednesday that Trump’s call for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration to the country is what compelled her to speak out.

“You know, the one thing that got me I think was when he started saying ban all Muslims,” she said.

“We’ve never in the history of this country passed any laws or done anything based on race or religion,” she added. “Let’s not start that now.”

Of course, the state of South Carolina is itself a grand exhibit of America’s history of racially-based laws. It was the state where the Civil War began, as the first state to secede in the South’s effort to preserve and expand the institution of slavery, and it was where the first shots of the war were fired at Fort Sumter.

During the Jim Crow era, the state was also home to Strom Thurmond and the Dixiecrat rebellion of 1948, a political mobilization for segregation that rallied against the emerging post-World War II civil rights movement.

To be sure, both South Carolina and the United States as a whole have made progress, climbing upward from these tainted beginnings to build a great country. But it sure does sound odd to hear a political leader say that we’ve “never in the history of this country” passed such odious laws — and, “Let’s not start that now.”

A better thing to say would’ve been: “Let’s not ever do that again.” That sort of myth-busting — against the idea of America as not just a great country, but a perfect one — would, in fact, be the right way to avoid doing it again.

 

By: Eric Kleefeld, The National Memo, January 13, 2015

January 14, 2016 Posted by | American History, Nikki Haley, Racism | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Marco Rubio Doesn’t Add Up”: Could He Burn Out Before He Ever Catches Fire?

Math was never my strongest subject, so maybe I’m just not crunching the numbers right.

But the more I stare at them, the less sense Marco Rubio makes.

Rubio as the front-runner, I mean. As the probable Republican nominee.

According to odds makers and prediction markets, he’s the best bet. According to many commentators, too.

But Iowa’s less than a month away, and in two recent polls of Republican voters there, he’s a distant third, far behind Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

So he’s killing it in New Hampshire, right?

Wrong. A survey from two weeks ago had him second to Trump there, but another, just days earlier, put him in third place — after Trump and Cruz, again. Chris Christie’s inching up on him, the reasons for which were abundantly clear in a comparison of Christie’s freewheeling campaign style and Rubio’s hyper-controlled one by The Times’s Michael Barbaro.

And as of Thursday, the Real Clear Politics average of recent polls in South Carolina showed Rubio to be more than six points behind Cruz and 21 behind Trump among that state’s Republicans. There’s no inkling of a surge, and it’s not as if pro-Rubio forces have been holding off on advertising that will turn the tide. Plenty of ads have already run.

In fact the rap on Rubio is that he counts too much on them and spends too little time on the trail. The largest newspaper in New Hampshire took aim at the infrequency of his appearances there in an editorial with the headline: “Marco? Marco? Where’s Rubio?”

And when he missed a Senate vote last month, a spokesman for Cruz tweeted that it was because “he had 1 event in a row in Iowa — a record-setting breakneck pace for Marco.”

Rubio can’t claim a singularly formidable campaign organization, with a remarkably robust platoon of ground troops. His fund-raising hasn’t been exceptional.

His promise seems to lie instead in his biography as the son of hard-working Cuban immigrants, in his good looks, in the polish of his oratory, in the nimbleness with which he debates.

And in this: Reasonable people can’t stomach the thought of Trump or Cruz as the nominee. We can’t accept what that would say about America, or what that could mean for it. Rubio is the flawed, rickety lifeboat we cling to, the amulet we clutch. He’ll prevail because he must. The alternative is simply too perverse (Trump) or too cruel (Cruz).

But so much about him and the contention that he’s poised for victory is puzzling.

Because this is his first national campaign, reporters (and opponents) are digging into his past more vigorously than ever, and it’s unclear how much fodder it holds and how much defense he’ll have to play.

Just last week, The Washington Post reported that in 2002, when he was the majority whip in the Florida House of Representatives, he used statehouse stationery to write a letter in support of a real estate license for his sister’s husband, who had served 12 years in federal prison for distributing $15 million worth of cocaine.

Rubio, 44, is only now coming into focus.

He’s frequently been called the Republican Obama — because he’s young, a trailblazing minority and a serious presidential contender while still a first-term senator.

But a prominent G.O.P. strategist told me that Rubio reminds him more of another Democratic president.

“He’s the Republican Bill Clinton,” the strategist said, referring to the slickness with which Rubio shifts shapes and the confidence with which he straddles ideological divides.

He’s a conservative crusader, happy to carry the banner of the Tea Party. He’s a coolheaded pragmatist, ready to do the bidding of Wall Street donors.

“Rubio is triangulating,” Eleanor Clift wrote recently, choosing a Clintonian verb to describe his fuzzy, evolving positions.

He pushed for a comprehensive immigration-reform bill, including a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, until he suddenly stepped away from it. He has said that he opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest, but he has also said that he’d back less extreme regulations if they were the only attainable ones.

“Rubio’s inclusiveness can invite caricature,” Evan Osnos observed in The New Yorker in late November. “He considers himself a Catholic, but he attends two churches — an evangelical Protestant service on Saturdays and a Roman Catholic Mass on Sundays.”

By dint of his heritage, he’s supposed to represent a much-needed Republican bridge to Latinos. But many of his positions impede that, and several recent polls raise doubts about the strength of his appeal to Latino voters.

There’s no theme in his campaign more incessantly trumpeted than a generational one. Declaiming that Hillary Clinton, 68, is yesterday, he presents himself as tomorrow, an ambassador for young voters who’ll presumably bring more of them, too, to the Republican camp.

But in a Washington Post/ABC News poll in late November, his support was more than twice as strong among Republican voters 65 and older as among those under 50.

And he’s at sharp odds with millennials on a range of issues. Most of them favor same-sex marriage; he doesn’t. Most are wary of government surveillance; he’s one of its fiercest proponents. Unlike him, they want marijuana legalized. Unlike him, they want decisive government action against climate change.

And they’re not swayed by unwrinkled skin and a relatively full head of dark hair. Just ask wizened, white-tufted Bernie Sanders, 74, whose campaign is the one most clearly buoyed by young voters.

So what does Rubio offer them?

He communicates a message — a gleam — of hope. He’s a smoother salesman and more talented politician than most of his Republican rivals. That’s why I still buy the argument that he’s the one to watch, especially given his party’s long history of selecting less provocative candidates over firebrands.

I still nod at the notion that if he merely finishes ahead of Christie, Jeb Bush and other candidates who are vying for mainstream Republicans in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, they’ll fade, their supporters will flock to him and he’ll be lifted above Cruz and even above Trump, who could implode at any moment anyway.

But over the last three decades, no Republican or Democrat — with the exception of Bill Clinton — lost both Iowa and New Hampshire and survived that crisis in momentum to win the nomination. If that’s Rubio’s path, it’s an unusual one.

In an unusual year, yes. But as the wait for his candidacy to heat up lengthens, I wonder: Could he burn out before he ever catches fire?

 

By: Mark Bruni, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, January2, 2015

January 4, 2016 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, Iowa Caucuses, Marco Rubio | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“An American Prayer”: Why Doesn’t Lindsey Graham Challenge The ‘Religious Climate’ Deniers In His Party?

Five years ago, the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza had a lengthy and fairly depressing report on the demise of climate-change legislation in the US Senate. Lizza included this interesting tidbit about Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who initially co-sponsored the climate bill with then-Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT):

At a climate-change conference in South Carolina on January 5, 2010, Graham started to sound a little like Al Gore. “I have come to conclude that greenhouse gases and carbon pollution” are “not a good thing,” Graham said. He insisted that nobody could convince him that “all the cars and trucks and plants that have been in existence since the Industrial Revolution, spewing out carbon day in and day out,” could be “a good thing for your children and the future of the planet.” Environmentalists swooned. “Graham was the most inspirational part of that triumvirate throughout the fall and winter,” Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club, said. “He was advocating for strong action on climate change from an ethical and a moral perspective.”

But, back in Washington, Graham warned Lieberman and Kerry that they needed to get as far as they could in negotiating the bill “before Fox News got wind of the fact that this was a serious process,” one of the people involved in the negotiations said. “He would say, ‘The second they focus on us, it’s gonna be all cap-and-tax all the time, and it’s gonna become just a disaster for me on the airwaves. We have to move this along as quickly as possible.'”

Graham later washed his hands of the legislation under controversial circumstances, setting the stage for the bill’s death in July 2010. Graham’s abandonment of the legislation—just weeks after he had been touted as the future of climate leadership in the United States–was one of three major setbacks that year for those who longed for a bipartisan solution to the climate crisis, the others being Rep. Bob Inglis’s (R-SC) primary loss to future Benghazi bully Trey Gowdy (R-SC) in June, and Rep. Mike Castle’s (R-DE) loss to Christine O’Donnell in a Republican Senate primary in September.

Five years later, Graham is one of only two Republican presidential candidates (the other being former New York Governor George Pataki) who’s willing to acknowledge the reality of human-caused climate change. The problem is, Graham can’t seem to resist taking nasty potshots at climate-concerned progressives, as he did recently in New Hampshire:

Graham continued by contrasting Democrats who view climate change as a “religion” with Republicans that refuse to accept the mainstream consensus on climate science.

“It is, to me folks, a problem that needs to be solved, not a religion,” Graham said of climate change. “So to my friends on the left who are making this a religion, you’re making a mistake. To my friends on the right who deny the science, tell me why.”

The “religion” rhetoric, apparently borrowed from an ugly 2008 column by Charles Krauthammer, is silly, and Graham would be well-advised to drop it as soon as possible if he’s serious about once again bringing both parties together on this issue. If climate change is, according to Graham, a “religion,” that means Pope Francis is following two “religions.” Does that make any sense at all?

Instead of bashing progressives, why doesn’t Graham challenge the climate deniers in his party to travel down to his home state—recently devastated by fossil-fueled flooding—and tell the relatives and friends of those who died in those floods that human-caused climate-change isn’t real, and that we don’t need to take action? That would be far more productive than taking potshots at climate hawks on the left.

 

By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, October 17, 2015

October 20, 2015 Posted by | Climate Change, Climate Change Deniers, GOP, Lindsey Graham | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Free Stuff!”: Jeb’s Outreach To Black Voters; It Isn’t ‘We’ll Take Care Of You With Free Stuff’

Man, Republicans just can’t help themselves, can they? Here’s Jebbie in South Carolina talking about reaching out to African-American voters, per a report from WaPo’s Sean Sullivan:

“Look around this room,” a man told Bush, who spoke to a mostly white crowd. “How many black faces do you see? How are you going to include them and get them to vote for you?” asked the man, who was white.

Bush pointed to his record on school choice and said that if Republicans could double their share of the black vote, they would win the swing states of Ohio and Virginia.

And if they had some ham, they could make a ham sandwich, if they had some bread. But I digress.

“Our message is one of hope and aspiration,” he said at the East Cooper Republican Women’s Club annual Shrimp Dinner. “It isn’t one of division and get in line and we’ll take care of you with free stuff. Our message is one that is uplifting — that says you can achieve earned success.”

The “free stuff” reference sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

According to a pool report, [Mitt] Romney, who struggled badly with minority voters in the 2012 election, said during a Montana fundraiser that year: “I want people to know what I stand for and if I don’t stand for what they want, go vote for someone else, that’s just fine. But I hope people understand this, your friends who like Obamacare, you remind them of this, if they want more stuff from government tell them to go vote for the other guy — more free stuff.” Romney was explaining his remarks that day at the NAACP’s national convention, where he was booed.

Now in commenting on this latest Bush gaffe, the ever-fair Greg Sargent notes that Jeb’s not attacking po’ folks for taking “free stuff:”

Bush was not criticizing recipients of government help as self-designated victims. Rather, he was implicitly criticizing the Democratic vision of government, suggesting that Dems want to use government handouts (“free stuff”) to destructively trap people in dependency (“take care of you”) in order to capture and hold their votes.

As applied to African-Americans, this is the old “Plantation” meme, according to which Democrats have ensnared people by the diabolical means of helping them stay alive and make ends meet, as opposed to “empowering” them with benign neglect.

This sort of rap coming from the scion of a rich and powerful family might go over better if he were preceded by some commitments to letting African-Americans vote and abandoning mass incarceration as a social control mechanism and taking seriously complaints about police misconduct. As it is, it’s just free rhetoric.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, September 25, 2015

September 27, 2015 Posted by | African Americans, Black Voters, Jeb Bush | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“This One’s A Doozy!”: House Republicans Manage To Trip Over Confederate Flags

The recent debates over Confederate symbols have been limited almost entirely to states and local communities. Federal policymakers can show some leadership on the issue – and many have – but the decisions about Confederate flags, statues, road names, and license plates aren’t made in Washington, D.C.

This week, however, congressional Republicans found a way to trip over the issue anyway.

The developments started rather innocuously. Late Tuesday, after just a couple of minutes of debate, the U.S. House passed a measure sponsored by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) that would “prohibit the display of Confederate flags on graves in federal cemeteries.” Earlier in the day, the House also instructed the National Park Service to no longer sell Confederate flag in gift stores.

The measures passed by way of voice votes, and the developments didn’t generate much attention. That is, until last night, when Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) announced a dramatic change: a Republican amendment was set to undo what the House had just done.

Facing pressure and brewing media interest, late this morning, House GOP leaders were forced to pull the underlying bill altogether. Politico reported:

House Republican leadership was forced to pull a spending bill from the floor Thursday after an uproar over the Confederate flag threatened to sink the entire measure.

This one’s a doozy, so let’s unpack what happened.

At issue is an Interior Department spending bill, which was already considered controversial because it includes funding for the EPA – and the right does not care for the EPA. But some Southern Republicans complicated matters, telling the leadership they were prepared to help kill the spending measure altogether over the anti-Confederate amendments.

Republican Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi, for example, said in a statement, “Congress cannot simply rewrite history and strip the Confederate flag from existence. Members of Congress from New York and California cannot wipe away 150 years of Southern history with sleight-of-hand tactics.”

House Democrats, not surprisingly, responded with apoplexy over the GOP majority reversing course, defending Confederate flags, and attempting to scrap two amendments that passed without controversy just two days ago.

Faced with growing turmoil, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) pulled the spending bill from the floor. Boehner told NBC News’ Luke Russert that the spending bill “is going to sit in abeyance until we come to some resolution.”

The Republican leader added that he does not want to see the issue become a “political football.” If today’s floor fight is any indication, it would appear Boehner’s too late.

South Carolina lawmakers managed to get this right, but the same cannot be said about Congress.

Postscript: It’s worth noting that while Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) was the member who announced the proposed reversal, he was not the one pushing for the change. Calvert said he introduced the amendment at the behest of the House Republican leadership, which was acting under pressure from Southern lawmakers.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 9, 2015

July 10, 2015 Posted by | Confederacy, Confederate Flag, House Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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