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“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

“Let That Hateful Flag Fly”: From George W. Bush To Lindsey Graham, A History Of Republican Support For The Confederate Flag

South Carolina, a state that’s nearly 30% African-American, celebrates”Confederate Memorial Day” and proudly displays the flag of the Southern Confederacy at its statehouse in Columbia — a longstanding practice that’s under increasing fire following this week’s Charleston massacre, in which a white supremacist gunman is suspected of murdering nine black churchgoers.

In 2000, state lawmakers reached a “comprise” on the controversial symbol, voting to move the flag from the top of the dome to smack-dab in front of the statehouse on the front lawn. In the first state to secede from the Union in 1861, this was what passed for progress.

By now we are all familiar with the defensive refrain from supporters of the Confederate Flag: it’s heritage, not hate.

But that’s a load of crock. It’s been noted that after the Civil War, Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens wrote a revisionist account entitled A Constitutional View of the Late War Between the States, which helped push the myth that the war was really about states’ rights.

According to a 2011 Pew Research poll, just nine percent of Americans had a positive reaction to the Confederate flag. But while the ranks of stars-and-bars fans may be thin nationally, much of the modern Republican Party, defined as it is by white Southern support, cannot bring itself to condemn the symbol of racial apartheid.

Republican South Carolina Senator and presidential candidate Lindsey Graham said following the massacre that although the flag “been used in a racist way” in the past, it remained ”part of who we are,” shrugging off the symbolism in favor of “what’s in people’s heart.” Defending his state’s supposed “comprise,” Graham said “It works here, that’s what the Statehouse agreed to do.”

And remember: Graham is supposed to be one of the “sane” Republicans.

Republican politicians have stumbled over themselves to pander to GOP South Carolina primary voters at the expense of the truth, their fellow Americans and potential voters (granted, the 2012 primary garnered a pathetic 1% turnout from African-American voters) for entirely too long.

During a 2000 Republican primary debate in South Carolina, moderator Brian Williams asked, “does the flag offend you personally,” to which George W. Bush defensively retorted, ”What you are trying to get me to do is express the will of the people of South Carolina. Brian, I believe the people of South Carolina can figure what to do with this flag issue. It’s the people of South Carolina’s decision. I don’t believe it’s the role of someone from outside South Carolina and someone running for president to come into South Carolina.

Lost on Bush was the irony of citing states’ rights — long the doctrine of choice for segregationists and Confederate nostalgists — to defend South Carolina’s right to fly the stars and bars. His response was met with raucous support from the GOP crowd.

For his part, brother Jeb ordered the Confederate battle flag be taken down from Florida’s capitol building back in 2001, arguing that “the symbols of Florida’s past should not be displayed in a manner that may divide Floridians today.”

In 2008, both John McCain and Mitt Romney ran into trouble when they refused to cave to Confederate Flag fetishizers who then took out ads in the early primary state attacking them for speaking out against the hateful symbol.

McCain, learning his lesson from the infamously racist 2000 primary during which he delivered a tortured but typical defense, said “some view it as a symbol of slavery; others view it as a symbol of heritage. Personally, I see the battle flag as a symbol of heritage,” went on to apologize for his inability to forcefully denounce the flag, calling it one of the “worst decisions” he’d ever made.

McCain revealed the truth in the GOP’s struggle to admonish the flying of the Confederate Flag, recounting his own flip-flop, “[I]t could come down to lying or losing. I chose lying.”

So much for the Straight Talk Express.

In 2012, former House Speaker and advocate of child labor Newt Gingrich made clear his opposition to national demands that the flag be taken off public property, “I have a very strong opinion,” Gingrich said. “It’s up to the people of South Carolina.”

Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee defiantly declared that “outsiders” were not allowed to debate the Confederate Flag.

But there seems to be some hope that the 2016 primary may change.

Rick Perry, who supported Texas’ rejection of Confederate-flag license plates that was upheld by the Supreme Court this week, called the issue a state’s matter today but added that “I agree that we need to be looking at these issues as ways to bring the country together….And if these are issues that are pushing us apart, then maybe there’s a good conversation that needs to be had about [it].”

Gov. Nikki Haley, the state’s Republican governor who had previously defended not demanding the flags removal because no business owners had complained to her, said today, ”I think the state will start talking about that again, and we’ll see where it goes.”

We shall see how 2016ers handle the GOP South Carolinan primary voters’ demands to proclaim state’s rights and let the Confederate Flag fly free.

 

By: Sophia Tesfaye, Salon, June 19, 2015

 

June 22, 2015 Posted by | Confederacy, Confederate Flag, Lindsey Graham | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Divorced From Reality And Science”: The GOP’s “Mad Max” Fantasy”; Lindsey Graham Fires The Latest Shot In The War On Women

It turns out Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) campaign for president isn’t just about damning the torpedoes and declaring war on any nation that dares to give America the side-eye. This week, Graham transparently pandered to the far-right base by reminding everyone that he also happens to be a total ghoul on the issue of reproductive rights.

On Thursday, Graham introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate titled “The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.” A version of the bill was passed in the House already and, along the same lines, Graham’s version would ban all abortions with few exceptions after the 20th week of pregnancy. The twisted reasoning goes like this: After 20 weeks, fetuses can feel pain. That’s what they say. And by “they,” I don’t mean actual doctors. We’ll circle back to that presently.

Said Graham, “Why do we want to let this happen five months into the pregnancy? I am dying for that debate. I’m going to quite frankly insist that we have that debate.”

Once again, Graham and the modern Republican Party have entirely divorced themselves from both reality and science. Before we dig into the science behind why Graham and the anti-choice base are horrendously wrong, the reality is that states where there are few if any anti-choice laws, abortion rates are dropping precipitously.

Author and activist Kimberley Johnson brought to our attention a new study conducted by the AP, showing that pro-choice states such as New York, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, New Mexico, Nevada, Rhode Island and Connecticut showed steep declines in abortions by as much as 20 to 30 percent since 2010. Elsewhere, states like Louisiana and Michigan showed increases in abortions as women seeking access to abortion services in neighboring anti-choice states, including Texas, fled the restrictive laws in their home states.

It turns out, states that restrict abortion access showed slower declines in the abortion rate than pro-choice states, chiefly due to the fact that pro-choice states tend to also provide greater access to contraception. Naturally, this makes perfect sense given how affordable, readily-available contraception not only prevents unplanned pregnancies but also prevents abortions. Incongruously, however, anti-choice Republicans and activists have zero compulsion to help make contraception more available. Indeed, the exact opposite is true. This is transparently regressive and misogynistic, given how it effectively blocks women from either having or, indeed, preventing an abortion. Graham and the others are cynically cutting off all access to reproductive services, and it’s not difficult to see this as anything other than a legislative war on women.

Back to Lindsey Graham. The newly-minted presidential candidate is not only a leading conspirator in the crusade to slowly roll back reproductive rights; he also opposes the Affordable Care Act and its mandate for free access to contraception, including morning-after birth control (which merely prevents conception, not implantation, by the way). So, what’s the deal with this arbitrary-sounding 20 week threshold? Again, Graham and the others are trying to tell us that after 20 weeks, fetuses feel pain. It turns out the Journal of the American Medical Association contradict’s Graham’s clueless take on fetal biology.

Evidence regarding the capacity for fetal pain is limited but indicates that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester.

So, not only is the evidence for fetal pain sketchy in the first place, but the journal of record states quite clearly that fetuses really can’t feel pain until the third trimester — 24 weeks or later. Not 20. That said, since when do scientific experts in the field serve as any kind of bulwark against Republicans who legislate against women, the LGBT community or, come to think of it, the climate by eschewing scientific consensus?

Furthermore:

“As an ob-gyn, I know firsthand the reasons why women may need abortion care after 20 weeks, and I have seen the pain that many of these women are in when confronting these decisions,” said Dr. Mark DeFrancesco, president of ACOG, in a statement. “Yet this ban would force physicians to deny services, even to women who have made the difficult decision to end pregnancies for reasons including fetal anomalies diagnosed later in pregnancy or other unexpected obstetric outcomes. This is simply cruel.”

Obviously, the nightmarish pain that women experience while caught in the vortex of this decision is irrelevant. For Graham and his party, it’s all about shepherding unplanned pregnancies to birth, after which these babies will be entirely ignored by the GOP, which has no interest in pushing for affordable natal and post-natal healthcare; no interest in paid maternity leave; no interest in expanding aid to homeless women and children; no interest in equality for girls or gay children or transgender children; and definitely no interest in expanding education. As Barney Frank famously said (paraphrasing): Republicans believe life begins at conception and ends at birth.

As the window for legal access to reproductive services grows narrower, state-by-state, the effort to return women to an era of subjugation continues to expand and metastasize as conservative politicians return purview over intimate, personal, female decisions to those who believe women have to be controlled. It’s a real world manifestation of the “Mad Max: Fury Road” hellscape — an “Immortan Joe” post-apocalyptic utopia in which women are kept as legal property and exploited for breast milk and birthing more War Babies. But with Graham and the broader anti-choice movement, it’s cleverly packaged and sold as messianic compassion for the unborn, without any regard for women or, for that matter, the birthed children the anti-choice movement claims to be rescuing.

 

By: Bob Cesca, Salon, June 13, 2014

June 16, 2015 Posted by | Lindsey Graham, Reproductive Rights, War On Women, Women's Health | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“His Path To The Nomination”: The Graham Strategy; Chicken Little Winging It

Before the next presidential candidate announcement makes us forget about him for a while–maybe a good while–it’s worth a brief consideration of Lindsey Graham’s supposed “path to the nomination” beyond the obvious fact that he’d need to win in his home state of South Carolina, one of the four privileged “early states.” Jonathan Bernstein may have nailed it yesterday: Graham’s spent so much time hanging out with his amigo John McCain that he figures he can emulate the lightning the Arizonan caught in a bottle:

McCain in 2000 accidentally wound up finishing second. He was too moderate for the Republican Party, but his biggest hurdle was his push for campaign finance reform, which turned Republican-aligned groups, who felt targeted by it, against him.

Instead of waging a conventional campaign — spending a year glad-handing Iowans and big-shot national Republicans — McCain instead hung out in New Hampshire with political reporters. Normally, that would have produced a few nice feature stories and nothing more. But in 2000, George W. Bush quickly dispatched his serious Republican rivals before or in the Iowa caucuses. New Hampshire voters (who famously love upsetting the Iowa winner, from Walter Mondale in 1984 through Barack Obama in 2008) punished Bush for wrapping up the nomination early by voting for McCain, thereby making him the last man standing against W.

McCain’s 2008 adventure was, if anything, even more unlikely. McCain spent the beginning of Bush’s first term in open revolt against his former rival before returning to the ranks of loyal Republicans just in time for the 2004 election — and the beginning of the 2008 nomination fight. McCain then put together a typical Republican front-runner campaign, heavy on corporate-style bureaucracy, only to have the whole thing collapse halfway through the cycle.

But once again, McCain was lucky. No candidate emerged who combined normal qualifications for the presidency, positions well within the mainstream of the party and the ability to build a competent presidential campaign. McCain came close enough on each of those scores to wind up as the nominee.

That’s almost exactly my analysis of McCain’s presidential nominating campaigns, especially the successful one in 2008 which was something of a demolition derby with a flawed and weak field.

The odds of it happening again, especially with the vast size of the 2016 field, are vanishingly small. And as Bernstein points out, Graham doesn’t have the war hero thing going for him, which always put a relatively high floor on GOP attitudes towards him.

It’s possible, of course, that Graham has no strategy at all, other than the indulging in the twisted pleasure professional politicians get from the abattoir of a presidential campaign. When he drops out, he’ll have his Senate gig, his access to the Sunday shows, and four more years before he has to face voters again back home. And in the back of his mind (I will not make Rand Paul’s mistake and suggest it’s in the front of his mind) Graham may figure that if something bad happens on the homeland security front during the nomination campaign, having a well-established identity as Chicken Little could change things considerably.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 2, 2015

June 3, 2015 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, John McCain, Lindsey Graham | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“We’re All Gonna Die!”: If You’re Hiding Under Your Bed In Terror, You’ve Just Found Your Presidential Candidate

Acting on the time-tested theory of presidential candidacies known as “Why the hell not?”, Senator Lindsey Graham joined the 2016 GOP contest today. And right from the outset, after thanking folks for coming and saying he’s running, Graham got to his candidacy’s central rationale:

I want to be president to protect our nation that we all love so much from all threats foreign and domestic.

So get ready. I know I’m ready.

I want to be president to defeat the enemies trying to kill us, not just penalize them or criticize them or contain them, but defeat them.

Ronald Reagan’s policy of “peace through strength” kept America safe during the Cold War. But we will never enjoy peaceful co-existence with radical Islam because its followers are committed to destroying us and our way of life. However, America can have “Security through Strength.”

If you think about it, that almost sounds like Graham is saying that Reaganism isn’t enough, a disturbing hint of heresy. Since we can’t have peace, Graham implies, we might as well just get ready for war.

And unless his entire career has been a ruse, that’s exactly what we’d get with a Lindsey Graham presidency. You thought George W. Bush liked to play on Americans’ fears to justify military action? Well that was nothing. Lindsey Graham has never met a foreign policy challenge that didn’t terrify him down to the marrow of his bones. Let the other candidates treat voters like children, telling them that there are serious threats to America that must be confronted. Only Lindsey Graham has the courage to look voters in the eye and say forthrightly: terrorists are coming to kill your children, unless Iran gets to them first and incinerates them in a nuclear blast.

For Graham, the threats are everywhere. Domestic? You betcha — he needs his AR-15 because there could be a natural disaster resulting in “armed gangs roaming around neighborhoods.” Foreign? Oh goodness, yes. On ISIS, “This president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home.”

For Graham, not only is the world filled with specific dangers, but it’s terrifying in an overarching way, leading to a kind of free-floating anxiety that seems to influence how he views any particular issue. Others may see a threat here and a threat there, but Graham knows that they add up to certain doom.  Two years ago, he told Fox News, “The trifecta from hell is unfolding in front of us. Iran is about to get a nuclear weapon, Syria is about to infect the entire region, taking Jordan down, and Egypt could become a failed state…I’m just telling you, we live in the most dangerous times imaginable.”

Last year, he said, “The world is literally about to blow up,” which might have been a Joe Biden “literally,” meaning “not literally,” but maybe not. “I’m running because of what I see on television,” he said two weeks ago. “The world is falling apart.”

And every problem we face can only lead to catastrophe. “I believe that if we get Syria wrong, within six months — and you can quote me on this — there will be a war between Iran and Israel over their nuclear program,” he said in September 2013. “My fear is that it won’t come to America on top of a missile, it’ll come in the belly of a ship in the Charleston or New York harbor.” Almost two years later, though Graham certainly believes the Obama administration has gotten Syria wrong, Israel and Iran have not gone to war and Charleston harbor remains oddly un-nuked.

But he will not be deterred. “The world is exploding in terror and violence but the biggest threat of all is the nuclear ambitions of the radical Islamists who control Iran,” he said in his announcement speech. “Simply put, radical Islam is running wild.”

Graham argues that none of his opponents have the foreign policy experience he does, which is true enough — they’re all either governors or freshman senators. But that fact raises the question of what value one gets from experience. Some people take from their experience with the world that many challenges are complex, understanding of the myriad moving parts in any foreign crisis is necessary to make wise decisions, and different situations may require different approaches. Graham’s experience with the world, on the other hand, has obviously taught him that 1) we’re all gonna die, and 2) the answer to just about any problem is military force.

What impact he will have on the race remains to be seen. It isn’t as though the other GOP candidates are a bunch of doves. They all talk about how they want to increase military spending, and with the exception of Rand Paul they all advocate a return to some version of Bush-era hawkishness and its accompanying military adventurism. Only Graham, though, is offering a campaign based on true white-knuckle terror. It’s hard to see it going over all that well.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, June 1, 2015

June 2, 2015 Posted by | Foreign Policy, GOP Presidential Candidates, Lindsey Graham | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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