“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
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
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
“When Even NASCAR Won’t Defend The Confederate Flag…”: The Debate, For All Intents And Purposes, Is Over
Those of us who are obsessed with politics often fall prey to paying too much attention to what politicians do, and too little attention to what is happening around us culturally. In terms of the Confederate flag debate, that means paying a lot of attention to what Southern governors like Nikki Haley say and do, and not enough to what more influential icons and institutions do.
On that front, the fact that even NASCAR has condemned the Confederate battle flag is pretty definitive that the debate is for all intents and purposes over:
“As we continue to mourn the tragic loss of life last week in Charleston, we join our nation’s embrace of those impacted,’’ the statement read. “NASCAR supports the position that South Carolina governor Nikki Haley took on the Confederate flag on Monday.’’
“As our industry works collectively to ensure that all fans are welcome at our races, NASCAR will continue our long-standing policy to disallow the use of the Confederate flag symbol in any official NASCAR capacity,’’ the statement read. “While NASCAR recognizes that freedom of expression is an inherent right of all citizens, we will continue to strive for an inclusive environment at our event.’’
It’s not just that NASCAR is synonymous with good old boys and Southern cultural machismo. It’s also that NASCAR in many ways is facing the same problem as the Republican Party: it depends on a shrinking, increasingly isolated demographic for its fan base, and desperately needs to broaden its appeal beyond just Southern white men. That includes having more minority drivers and race car owners.
In that context, the statements by former NBA star Brad Dougherty, the only African-American racecar owner in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series, are telling:
“I’m a different egg or a different bird, I’m a Southern kid,’’ said Daugherty, who wore No. 43 during his basketball career in honor of his racing hero, Richard Petty. “But to walk into the racetrack and there’s only a few that you walk into and see that Confederate flag — it does make my skin crawl. Even though I do my best to not acknowledge it or to pay any attention to it, it’s there and it bothers me because of what it represents….”
It’s so unfortunate that it took nine lives there at the AME church to really get this debate heated up enough that there’s serious questions about whether the flag should be flown over the state capitol,’’ Daugherty said. “I find that a little bit appalling and even absurd. The old heritage vs. hate thing, in my mind, is ridiculous because that flag to any African-American person does not represent any type of heritage. It 100 percent represents hate.’’
That it does. Nikki Haley knows it. NASCAR knows it. And we’re at a point in this country where it’s not just appalling and unacceptable, but it’s too damaging even to organizations like NASCAR and the Republican Party to tolerate it anymore even though they depend on a large number of bigots for their fan base and support.
By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 28, 2015
“Enlightenment On Confederate Flag Was Long Overdue”: This American Swastika Is Unfit For Human Consumption
“You can always count on Americans to do the right thing — after they’ve tried everything else.”
That’s an observation widely credited to Winston Churchill, though it’s one he may or may not have ever made. Whoever said it, the truth of the axiom has seldom been more obvious than now, as we watch the fall of the Confederate battle flag. It is too early to say whether this will prove lasting. But the signs certainly point toward a seismic shift.
In South Carolina, where the Confederacy was born, a motion to allow debate on removing the flag from the grounds of the state Capitol passed by a vote of 103-10. Alabama has already removed its flag. Meantime, a number of major retailers, including Amazon, eBay, and Arkansas-based Walmart, have announced they will no longer carry the flag. Perhaps most amazing, Valley Forge Flag, a 133-year-old flag maker in Pennsylvania, has said it will no longer manufacture it.
We appear to be on the verge of a long-overdue national consensus that this American swastika is unfit for human consumption. And to think: All it took was the blood of nine innocent people.
Ever since 21-year-old white supremacist Dylann Roof shot up Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, the ground has been shifting beneath that flag, so beloved of the white, conservative South — especially after images emerged of Roof posing with one. “God help South Carolina if we fail to achieve the goal of removing the flag,” said South Carolina senator and presidential aspirant Lindsey Graham last week. He said this just days after telling CNN the flag was “part of who we are.”
The suddenness of the change in attitude toward that flag is bracing, reminiscent, in an odd way, of when the Berlin Wall fell: Nobody saw it coming — it happened. That said, it is hard to be wholly invested in cheering what is happening here.
Consider: The Confederate battle flag was not somehow made more racist by Roof’s alleged rampage. Notwithstanding claims by Graham and others that it has somehow been misused as a racist symbol by the likes of Roof, the fact is, the thing was used as such from the moment the first thread of the first flag was sewn in support of a treasonous regime that was, to borrow Mississippi’s words, “thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery.”
The flag was certainly understood as racist — that was the whole point — by those who resurrected it to signal massive resistance to the civil rights movement. It is still understood that way; why else is it ubiquitous at white supremacist rallies?
So what happened at Emanuel did not change the flag’s meaning; it only made that meaning harder to ignore. And while its fall is significant, you have to wonder if it really marks a fundamental change in the mind of the white, conservative South. Particularly since you can’t turn around in Dixie without running into some road, bridge, statue, or park honoring some individual who took up arms against the U.S. government in the name of perpetuating slavery — or without meeting someone eager to rationalize that, hiding behind abstracts like “honor” and “duty” to avoid admitting what the Confederacy really was.
The tragedy at Emanuel has forced a moment of clarity into this fog of cognitive dissonance. In days to come, we’ll see just how much that’s worth in terms of real change. Because at some point, the people of the white, conservative South must themselves take responsibility for their own racial education, for facing — and growing from — the truth about their beloved Confederacy.
Consider that it took an act of mass murder before they were willing to reckon honestly with their flag and its meaning. Yes, one is pleased to see that finally come to pass.
But the price of enlightenment seems awfully high.
By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist, The Miami Herald; The National Memo, June 29, 2015