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“Vainly Trying To Rewrite History”: Deranged By Obama, Republicans Are Spouting Nonsense

Republicans had better divert some of their campaign cash toward finding a cure for Obama Derangement Syndrome. If they don’t, their nemesis will beat them in a third consecutive presidential contest — without, of course, actually being on the ballot.

GOP power brokers and potential candidates surely realize that President Obama is ineligible to run in 2016. Yet they seem unable to get over the fact that he won in 2008 and 2012. It’s as if they are more interested in vainly trying to rewrite history than attempting to lay out a vision for the future.

Obama Derangement Syndrome is characterized by feverish delirium. The Republican Party suffered an episode last week when former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani began speaking in tongues about Obama’s patriotism.

“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Giuliani said. “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up, through love of this country.”

This is obviously a nonsensical thing to say about a man who was elected president twice and has served as commander in chief for more than six years. Pressed to explain himself, Giuliani ranted and raved for several days about Obama’s upbringing, made demonstrably false claims about the president’s supposed denial of American exceptionalism, insisted that “I said exactly what I wanted to say” — and then finally issued a non-retraction retraction in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

“My blunt language suggesting that the president doesn’t love America notwithstanding, I didn’t intend to question President Obama’s motives or the content of his heart,” Giuliani wrote. But of course he did intend to question Obama’s motives, heart, patriotism and legitimacy, albeit in a self-destructive, laughingstock kind of way.

I speak as a sufferer from Bush Derangement Syndrome eight years ago who recovered by facing reality.

Giuliani can perhaps be dismissed; his future in presidential politics is as bleak as his past, which consists of one spectacularly unsuccessful run for the GOP nomination. But if he was speaking as the party’s id, surely Republicans who consider themselves in the mix for 2016 would play the role of superego and tamp down such baser instincts. Right?

Wrong. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — a guest at the dinner where Giuliani had his eruption — refused to repudiate the offending remarks. “The mayor can speak for himself,” he said. “I’m not going to comment on whether, what the president thinks or not. . . . I’ll tell you I love America, and I think there are plenty of people, Democrat, Republican, independent and everyone in between, who love this country.”

Walker, who is on a roll lately in terms of self-embarrassment, wasn’t finished. Asked if he believes Obama is a Christian, Walker responded, “I don’t know.” A spokeswoman later clarified that what the governor meant to say was yes, of course he knows the president is a Christian; Walker declined to respond because it was a “gotcha” question. Which it wouldn’t have been, if Walker had given that answer in the first place.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, another 2016 hopeful, volunteered that “the gist” of what Giuliani said “is true.” Later, Jindal went further and declared: “I hate to say this, but we have a president right now who is not qualified to be our commander in chief.”

It’s true that Generalissimo Jindal is a long shot to win the nomination. But most other potential GOP candidates were either silent or didn’t give a direct answer. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and former Florida governor Jeb Bush said it was a mistake to question Obama’s motives. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee offered no opinion. Former Texas governor Rick Perry said, “I think the president, in his mind, loves this country.”

Only Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was bold enough to say there is “no doubt” that the president of the United States does, in fact, love the United States. Good for him.

Giuliani’s burst of nonsense is important because it speaks to the Republican Party’s mind-set. If the party is going to contend for the White House, it first has to fully acknowledge and accept that it lost the last two presidential elections. The nation voted twice for Obama and his policies. Deal with it.

Republicans need to abandon the fantasy that there’s some sort of grand deception underlying the Obama presidency. They’re only deceiving themselves.

 

By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, February 23, 2015

February 26, 2015 Posted by | Conservatives, GOP Presidential Candidates, Republicans | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Advancing An NRA Agenda”: Guns On Campus; Not An Agenda For Women’s Safety

Two years ago, Republican leaders released a post-mortem analysis of the 2012 election in an effort to better understand how they lost the single women’s vote by 36 percent. The 100-page report recommended that GOP lawmakers do a better job listening to female voters, remind them of the party’s “historical role in advancing the women’s rights movement,” and fight against the “so-called War on Women.” Look no further than recent GOP-led efforts to expand gun rights on college campuses under the guise of preventing campus sexual assault for evidence that conservative lawmakers have failed to take their own advice.

Today, lawmakers in at least 14 states are pushing forward measures that would loosen gun regulations on college campuses. In the last few days, a number of them have seized upon the growing public outcry over campus sexual assault to argue that carrying a gun would prevent women from being raped. (So far they’ve been silent on how we might prevent young men – who, of course, would also be allowed to carry a gun – from attempting to rape women in the first place.)

Republican assemblywoman Michele Fiore of Nevada recently told The New York Times: “If these young, hot little girls on campus have a firearm, I wonder how many men will want to assault them? The sexual assaults that are occurring would go down once these sexual predators get a bullet in their head.” (Really? Hot little girls?) And as the Times highlighted, Florida representative Dennis Baxley jumped on the “stop campus rape” bandwagon recently when he successfully lobbied for a bill that would allow students to carry loaded, concealed weapons. “If you’ve got a person that’s raped because you wouldn’t let them carry a firearm to defend themselves, I think you’re responsible,” he said.

Let’s be clear. People aren’t raped because they aren’t carrying firearms. They are raped because someone rapes them. What a sinister new twist on victim blaming. As if anything positive could come from adding loaded weapons to the already toxic mix of drugs, alcohol, masculine groupthink, and the rape culture endemic in college sports and Greek life on campuses around the country.

These lawmakers have appropriated the battle cry of students who are demanding more accountability from academic institutions to prevent and respond to campus sexual assault. It’s a vain attempt to advance their own conservative agenda of liberalizing gun laws. This is an NRA agenda, not a women’s rights agenda. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, each of the lawmakers who have supported such legislation has received an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA). They have enjoyed endorsements from the NRA during election years and some – including Fiore and Baxley – received campaign contributions from the organization.

These lawmakers are pointing to the demands of a handful of women who have survived sexual assault and are advocating for liberalized campus gun laws. The experiences of these students are real and deserve to be heard and considered as we debate how to make campuses safer. We must also recognize that these students are outliers. Surveys have shown that nearly 80 percent of college students say they would not feel safe if guns were allowed on campus, and according to the Times, 86 percent of women said they were opposed to having weapons on campus. And for good reason.

Research shows that guns do not make women safer. In fact, just the opposite is true. Over the past 25 years, guns have accounted for more intimate partner homicides than all other weapons combined. In states that that require a background check for every handgun sale, 38 percent fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners. The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide for women by 500 percent. And women in the United States are 11 times more likely than women from other high-income countries to be murdered with a gun. Guns on college campuses would only make these statistics worse.

If the GOP wants to show they care about women – or at the very least care about their votes – this is just one of the realities they need to acknowledge. And they need to listen to the experiences of all women who have experienced sexual assault – like those who have created the powerful Know Your IX campaign – not just those who will help advance their NRA-sponsored agenda.

 

By: Andrea Flynn, a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute; The National Memo, February 25, 2015

February 26, 2015 Posted by | Guns, Sexual Asault, Womens Rights | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Sobering Findings”: Study; Killers Are Less Likely To Be Executed If Their Victims Are Black

Black people are much more frequently executed for killing white people than white people are for killing black people, and capital punishment is rarely used at all when victims are black — especially when they’re male.

That’s according to a paper that’s set to be published in the journal Politics, Groups, and Identities.

The researchers —  Frank BaumgartnerAmanda Grigg, and Alisa Mastro —compared homicide victim data with data on the victims of every inmate executed in the US from 1976 through 2013 (that’s 1,369 executions).

Here’s some of what they say the data revealed:

While 47 percent of all homicide victims were black, blacks made up 17 percent of the victims of inmates who were executed.

As a London School of Economics blog post on the paper pointed out, “this suggests not only that blacks are treated particularly harshly for the murder of whites, but also that homicides with black victims are treated less seriously than those with white victims.”

This comparison of the race of all homicide victims to the race of homicide victims of individuals who were later executed makes that even clearer and further illustrates the connection between a victims’ race and his or her killer’s fate:

The researchers found that it was exceptionally hard to find examples of killers of black male victims who were executed. “Black men, especially among the relatively young, have a statistical risk of homicide victimization many times higher than any other racial or gender group, ” they wrote, “but their killers rarely face the death penalty.”

They titled the paper #BlackLivesDontMatter, altering the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag that’s been used in protests against police-involved deaths of African-American men, to reflect the sobering findings.

 

By: Jenée Desmond-Harris, Vox, February 25, 2015

February 26, 2015 Posted by | African Americans, Criminal Justice System, Racial Justice | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Living In A House With No Mirrors”: Do Religious Conservatives Love Damned America?

Just read this brief passage and tell me if this sounds like someone who really “loves America:”

Our nation is ridiculed abroad and morally crumbling within. We are in trouble. We have turned our back on God.

This sentiment, expressed yesterday by the Rev. Franklin Graham, is very common among politicized conservative evangelicals. What makes it unusual is that he uttered it in the same breath as a defense of Rudy Guiliani for doubting that the president “loves America.”

If you’ve ever actually read Jeremiah Wright’s infamous “God Damn America!” sermon, it involves a judgement of this country no more striking than what people like Franklin Graham say every other day with their jeremiads about a baby-killing Holocaust and legitimized abominations to the Lord like same-sex marriage. They’re entitled to their opinion, and to the spiritually perilous and self-aggrandizing step of adopting the prophetic stance against their own country. But please, don’t tell me Franklin Graham is a “patriot.” Unless his words are meaningless, he’s telling us being “patriotic” in a wicked society represents disobedience to God.

So spare us the pieties about the president’s questionable “love for America,” Rev. Graham. You’re living in a house with no mirrors.

 

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

February 26, 2015 Posted by | American Exceptionalism, Conservatives, Franklin Graham | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Next Attack On Voting Rights”: Why Democrats Should Fight For A Constitutional Right-To-Vote Amendment

The last round of voter restrictions came after the 2010 Republican wave, when new GOP majorities passed voter identification laws and slashed ballot access in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida. Now, three months after the 2014 Republican wave, another class of state lawmakers are prepping another assault on voting rights under the same guise of “uniformity” and “ballot integrity.”

In Georgia, reports Zachary Roth for MSNBC, Republicans are pushing a bill to slash early voting from the present maximum of 21 days to 12 days. The goal, says Rep. Ed Rydners, a sponsor of the proposal, is “clarity and uniformity.” “There were complaints of some voters having more opportunities than others,” he said, “This legislation offers equal access statewide.” If cities like Atlanta want to have more voting access, said Rydners, they could open more precincts and “pay to have poll workers present.”

In Missouri, this new push comes as a constitutional amendment overturning a 2006 ruling from the state Supreme Court, which struck down voter ID as illegal under the state’s Constitution. Last Wednesday, notes Roth, the state’s House of Representatives gave “initial approval” to two measures: “One would put a constitutional amendment on the ballot asking voters to allow voter ID, and the other would implement the ID requirement, should the amendment pass.” The rationale? Voter fraud. “It’s not disenfranchising voters,” says state Sen. Will Kraus, who sponsored the amendment. “Voters who vote multiple times are diluting their vote.”

In New Hampshire, according to a recent report from the Brennan Center for Justice, Republicans are aiming for a hat trick of voter restrictions. If signed into law, their bills would limit voter registration efforts and reduce other registration opportunities, make it harder for students to register and vote, and reduce the number of precincts open per voter, a move that would lengthen voting lines and make the process a greater chore for working people and others with difficult schedules.

Likewise, per the Brennan Center, Mississippi Republicans are pursuing a bill that would “decrease the likelihood that otherwise-eligible voters who cast provisional ballots will have their votes counted in the races for which they are eligible,” and in Indiana, lawmakers have introduced measures to end automated straight-ticket voting and “secure” absentee ballots by requiring a voter identification number. “I just think people need to take the time to learn about who they are voting for before going in rather than just pushing a button for straight party,” said Rep. Milo Smith, chair of the Indiana House Elections Committee. “I think that makes for a better election process.”

It’s always worth noting the scant evidence for these moves. In Missouri, for instance, the Brennan Center found only four cases of in-person voter fraud, for a “documented fraud rate” of 0.0003 percent. There is no problem to solve; the policy rationale for limiting registration drives or requiring photo identification—instead of a standard-issue registration card—doesn’t exist. And if it did, there’s no reason for a restrictive approach; automatic registration and free ID cards are just as effective as anything proposed by state and federal Republicans.

Politically, however, there’s a lot to gain from these laws. Every new barrier to voting makes it harder for the most marginal voters to get to the polls. And given the demographics of voting—the least frequent voters are poorer, browner, and less educated than their most frequent counterparts—it’s in the Republican Party’s interest to shrink the electorate as much as possible.

It’s the undeniable partisanship of new voter laws that explains the new “right-to-vote” plank in the platform of the Democratic National Committee. At its winter meeting last week, the DNC endorsed a constitutional amendment for the affirmative right to vote. “The Democratic Party stands for inclusion, and we know that we are all better when everyone has a voice in the democratic process. The right to vote is a moral imperative, and I am proud to support this resolution,” said DNC Vice Chair of Voter Expansion and Protection Donna Brazile in a statement.

Readers with an eye toward the Constitution might say that we already have a right to vote. “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude,” says the 15th Amendment, ratified 145 years ago this month. There’s also the 14th Amendment, which treats the individual right to vote as sacrosanct barring crime or rebellion.

But notice the language. The 15th Amendment forbids governments from denying or abridging the right to vote on the basis of identity, but it says nothing about obstacles to exercising the franchise. And while the 24th Amendment forbids poll taxes and other racialized barriers to voting, the Constitution is mum on race-neutral disenfranchisement. Put differently, the Constitution allows voter suppression as long as it doesn’t trip any of its race or gender wires.

The goal of a right-to-vote amendment is to change the dynamic and place the burden on restrictionists. In a sense, it would make the pre–Holder v. Shelby Voting Rights Act a standard for the entire country. States and localities would have to make voting as accessible as possible, with a high standard for new barriers.

And while the odds of winning a right-to-vote amendment are low—one reason Democrats should invest more effort in state elections—there’s tremendous value in mobilizing around the issue. A movement for a right-to-vote amendment could encourage laws and norms that expand participation irrespective of an amendment in that direction. Think of it as a liberal counterpart to the “personhood” amendments used to mobilize anti-abortion conservatives around smaller—but just as potent—limits to abortion rights.

Indeed, if she hasn’t, Hillary Clinton should take notice of this DNC resolution. To win in 2016, Clinton will have to repeat Obama’s performance with black Americans and other minorities. Building that enthusiasm won’t be easy, but something like a right-to-vote proposal could help her start that fire.

 

By: Jamelle Bouie, Slate, February 25, 2015

February 26, 2015 Posted by | U. S. Constitution, Voter Suppression, Voting Rights Act | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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