mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“A Distraction From The Issue Of Equal Rights”: The Long History Of The Conservative Fixation With Bathrooms

As LGBT Americans continue their fight for equality, the subject of bathrooms has taken center stage. You might remember how they were used in the argument against Houston’s Equal Right’s Ordinance.

On Tuesday, Houston voters rejected the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) in a low-turnout election where only slightly more than a quarter of the city’s voters actually cast a ballot. Those that did turn out got to decide the fate of a broad civil rights ordinance that targeted a wide range of discrimination, from race to religion to military status to sexual orientation and gender identity.

If you paid any attention to the campaign against this law, however, you probably knew it by another name — the “bathroom ordinance.”

Anti-LGBT groups fought HERO by claiming that it would enable “any man at any time” to “enter a women’s bathroom simply by claiming to be a woman that day.” Ads featured pedophiles locking themselves in bathroom stalls with young girls. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) summarized his case against HERO in five words — “No men in women’s bathrooms.”

More recently the conservative reaction to granting equal rights to transgender people has taken the form of laws like the one recently passed in North Carolina which requires everyone to use the bathroom correlating to the gender on their birth certificate. As one North Carolina Republican legislator put it – their intent was “to restore common sense bathroom and shower management policy.”

Over our history, the subject of bathrooms has often been the “go-to” argument for conservatives who fought against civil rights. During the Jim Crow days, Southerners went to elaborate lengths to provide separate bathrooms for white and “colored” people – even installing them in their own homes for The Help.

I’m old enough to remember the days when the Equal Rights Amendment was under discussion. Conservatives dubbed that one the “Common Toilet Law.” All of the ways that amendment would have granted equal rights to women were reduced to a fear of unisex bathrooms.

I suppose it would be possible for some social psychologist to explain the underlying issues that lead to this conservative fixation on bathrooms. It simply strikes me as a very unhealthy phenomenon. But more importantly, it is a huge distraction from the issue at hand…equal rights.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 26, 2016

April 28, 2016 Posted by | Civil Rights, Conservatives, LGBT, North Carolina Bathroom Bill | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Voter ID’s Last Stand”: Let’s Finally Declare Laws What They Are – Racist On Purpose

This week, the US Department of Justice and the state of Texas started arguments in the first of what will be a summer-long dance between the two authorities over voting rights. There are three suits being tried in two districts over gerrymandering and Texas’s voter identification law – both of which are said to be racially motivated. In its filing, the DoJ describes the law as “exceed[ing] the requirements imposed by any other state” at the time that it passed. If the DoJ can prove the arguments in its filing, it won’t just defeat an unjust law: it could put the fiction of “voter fraud” to rest once and for all.

These battles, plus parallel cases proceeding in North Carolina, hinge on proving that the states acted with explicitly exclusionary intent toward minority voters – a higher standard was necessary prior to the Supreme Court’s gutting of Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) back in January. Under Section 3, the DoJ had wide latitude to look at possible consequences of voting regulation before they were even passed – the “preclearance” provision. Ironically, because the states held to preclearance had histories of racial discrimination, some of the messier aspects of the laws’ current intentions escaped comment.

But meeting that higher standard of explicit exclusionary intent comes with the opportunity to show some of the many skeptical Americans the ugly racism behind Republican appeals to “fairness” and warnings about fraud. Progressives have tried, and mostly failed, to show the institutional racism underpinning the sordid history behind voter ID laws; that may have been too subtle. In courts in Texas and North Carolina, the DoJ will make the jump from accusations that laws have a racial impact to straight-up calling voter ID laws racist.

This ought to be interesting.

The DoJ filing in Texas lays it all out pretty clearly, putting the voter ID law in context of a concerted legislative strategy to deny representation to the state’s growing Hispanic population, including Republicans advancing more and more aggressive voter ID bills over the years. The filing points to the anti-immigrant rhetoric that laced the floor debates over the law, and to the measures taken by the Republican-controlled state house to limit the participation of Democratic minority lawmakers in considering or amending the legislation (the bill was heard in front of a special committee selected by the governor, on an expedited schedule). And, the DoJ notes, lawmakers produced “virtually no evidence during or after enactment of SB 14 that in-person voter impersonation – the only form of election fraud addressed by the identification requirements of SB 14 – was a serious problem.”

Perhaps the most significant piece of context in the voter ID suit is how Texas’s voter ID law came on the heels of the redistricting that the DoJ claims was also racially motivated. In the redistricting cases, DoJ’s allegations of malicious intent have been helped along by the admission of the state that it had malicious political intent. The Texas attorney general, Greg Abbott, chose as his defense in that case what only can be called the Lesser Evil Strategy – stating up front that the state’s GOP legislators had ulterior motives, but not the ones that the VRA outlaws:

[R]edistricting decisions were designed to increase the Republican Party’s electoral prospects at the expense of the Democrats … [They] were motivated by partisan rather than racial considerations and the plaintiffs and DOJ have zero evidence to prove the contrary.

Abbott’s smugness – and his apparent faith in partisanship as a permissible and distinct form of discrimination – will take center stage as the DoJ presses on with both suits. In court, Abbott will be asked to prove his ignorance of demographics for the very state in which he is currently running for governor. Out of court, other GOP defenders of the law will have to do more or less the same. And they will need to defend the outrageous details of the law – such has how a concealed carry permit is a permissible form of voter ID but a federally-issued Medicare card carried by an elderly woman is not.

Some people of Texas may support the kind of bullying Abbott has prepared to defend, and most progressive activists are hardened to it, but I think average Americans hate it. Putting malice under a national spotlight might be the best way to turn people against voter ID laws in general.

Right now, Americans support the idea of voter ID laws by huge margins: polls show favorable attitudes toward a generic “ID requirement” to be between 70 and 80%. Approval exists across all demographic groups – even among black voters (51%), one of the groups that is, of course, disproportionately disenfranchised by these laws.

But the reasons that the public supports such laws aren’t the same as the GOP’s reasons for pursuing them: Republicans want to prevent specific types of people from voting; the American public wants voting to be fair. That’s why conservatives have had to hammer so hard on the false narrative of “voter fraud” – to convince everyone that it’s what the laws are really about.

Add context to the “ID requirement” poll question that Americans get behind, though, and public support changes dramatically. A survey in North Carolina (taken as the state was considering taking up an amendment on the issue) found initial support for voter ID to be 71%. Pollsters then drilled further down and came up with numbers that speak to a truly democratic impulse:

  • 72% say it’s wrong to pass laws that make it harder for certain people to vote.
  • 62% say they oppose a law that makes it harder for people of one party to vote.
  • 74% say there should be demonstrated problems before legislators apply a fix.

If nothing else, these results suggests that Abbott’s argument that supposedly party-based redistricting isn’t the free pass – at least, from the public’s standpoint, if not the court’s – that he thinks it is.

In North Carolina, pollsters found that support for the law decreased as the 2012 election neared and voters started to pay attention and become educated on the issue. Voting rights advocates filled yet another suit based on disenfranchising young voters, which could make a further difference. (Way to keep pissing off millennials, GOP!)

That context effect is true nationwide. A different survey found that informing respondents that “Opponents of voters ID laws argue they can actually prevent people who are eligible to vote from voting” brought support for voter ID down by 12 points.

Pollsters have not publicly investigated whether Texan voters would show a similar shift, though it could be significant that support in the state for voter ID has remained at around 66% for the past two years, less than its support nationwide. Of course, 77% of Texas believe “voter ID laws are mainly used to prevent fraud,” an alternate-reality bubble that attention to these cases may just yet pop.

It’s the Department of Justice that’ll have to bring this to pass. The GOP has always easily waved away “systemic” racism charges, like those made under the non-gutted VRA, as either outright inventions or the result of looking for equal outcomes rather than equal opportunities. Making clear the racist intent of voter ID laws will bring the discussion back to where it belongs: on equal opportunities, in the voting booth.

 

By: Ana Marie Cox, The Guardian, July 16, 2014

July 17, 2014 Posted by | Racism, Voter ID, Voter Suppression | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Right vs Far-Right In Texas Primaries”: ‘GOP Establishment’ Has Co-opted The Tea Party With Its Own Savage Rhetoric And Policies

Yesterday was arguably the first big Election Day of the 2014 cycle, with Texas holding Republican and Democratic primaries statewide. And with Gov. Rick Perry (R) stepping down after 13 years as the state’s chief executive, voters saw competitive contests up and down the ballot, creating frenzied races Texans hadn’t seen in a while.

As the dust settles, it appears most of the establishment candidates prevailed. This New York Times piece helped summarize the conventional wisdom about the larger implications.

Establishment Republican leaders on Tuesday defeated challenges from the right in a statewide primary election as conservatives inspired by Senator Ted Cruz largely failed to topple mainstream incumbents, and a race for lieutenant governor headed for a runoff.

Similarly, the headline from The Hill reads, “Top Texas Tea Party challengers flame out.”

With candidates like Sen. John Cornyn (R), Rep. Pete Sessions (R), and gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbott (R) easily dispatching rivals from the fringe, the notion that the GOP establishment reasserted itself certainly makes sense.

But it’s best not to push these assumptions too far. Ed Kilgore had an item on Monday – the day before the primary – about the likely results, which rings true two days later: “If no Tea Party insurgents … score a major victory, you will hear some observers declare the movement dead or dying, right there in Ted Cruz’s backyard. Others (myself included) will note that thanks to Cruz and following Rick Perry’s earlier lead, the ‘Republican Establishment’ in Texas has largely coopted the Tea Party movement with its own savage rhetoric and policies.”

If the top-line takeaway is that the GOP Establishment won and the Tea Party faltered, some might get the impression that more moderate conservatives prevailed over voices of extremism. That impression would be mistaken. Federal lawmakers like Cornyn and Sessions became some of the most conservative members of Congress in recent years as Republican politics in Texas became more radicalized.

In other words, yesterday pitted very conservative Republicans against hyper-conservative Republicans. That the former scored victories isn’t exactly a win for the American mainstream.

Looking ahead, Abbott, Texas’ attorney general, will face state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) in a high-profile match-up that’s likely to be a very expensive contest.

Also keep an eye on Rep. Ralph Hall (R), a long-time incumbent who was pushed yesterday into a May 27 runoff primary.

And perhaps most interesting of all will be the Republican runoff in the race for lieutenant governor.

Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R) has been forced into a primary runoff and trails his challenger, sports broadcaster Dan Patrick (R).

Patrick leads Dewhurst by 43 percent to 28 percent with 24 percent of precincts reporting. The Associated Press has called that the race will head to a runoff.

In 2012, Dewhurst was the early frontrunner in the open U.S. Senate race, before he got crushed by Ted Cruz. As yesterday’s primary results helped make clear, his career hasn’t recovered well.

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, March 4, 2014

March 6, 2014 Posted by | GOP, Tea Party, Texas | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“GOP’s Wango Tango With Ted Nugent”: Republicans Are Dancing With A Professional, Maniacal, Racist Freak

For well over a year now, Americans have been treated to the spectacle of GOP leaders plotting and planning and searching for clever ways to assure the public that it is not the party of old, angry, testosterone-heavy, and most of all white grievance politics. Granted, this is a delicate task, calling for a thoughtful, multi-faceted approach. But how’s this for a modest starting point: Stop sucking up to freak-show, has-been rocker Ted Nugent?

Honestly, it was sad enough when Rep. Steve Stockman took Ted as his date to the State of the Union address this month. Then again, these days, people pretty much expect that level of adolescent fuck-you from rank-and-file House members. But a leading gubernatorial candidate from our second-most populous state?

Sure enough, there was Nugent in all his unhinged glory, campaigning in North Texas on Tuesday for state attorney general and gubernatorial wannabe Greg Abbott. Texas Dems understandably threw a fit, pointing to some of Ted’s latest ravings, most notably his calling President Obama a “subhuman mongrel.”

Abbott’s team pushed back limply. Before the appearances, they pooh-poohed concerns about Nugent, praising him as a great patriot. As Abbott’s spokesman informed Politico:

Ted Nugent is a forceful advocate for individual liberty and constitutional rights—especially the Second Amendment rights cherished by Texans. … While he may sometimes say things or use language that Greg Abbott would not endorse or agree with, we appreciate the support of everyone who supports protecting our Constitution.

Likewise, following the rally in Denton, Abbott told reporters:

Sen. Davis knows she is suffering with voters because of her flipping and flopping on 2nd Amendment gun laws. And she knows that Ted Nugent calls her out on her disregard for 2nd Amendment rights. We are going to expose Sen. Davis’ weaknesses on the 2nd Amendment and show that in this area and in so many other areas, she represents the liberalism of Barack Obama that is so bad for Texas.”

Oh, so this is all about Abbott’s love for the Second Amendment? Bullshit. Yes, Nugent is loud and proud about his fondness for playing with guns. But the Texas governor’s race is not about protecting gun rights. Wendy Davis is no Michael Bloomberg here. She has voted to allow guns in cars on college campuses and to put armed marshals in schools. The woman supports open-carry laws, for God’s sake. She may not strut around begging the president to “suck on my machine gun” ala Nugent, but that’s only because she’s not a professional maniac.

Abbott’s snuggling up to Nugent is not about the Second Amendment or the Fourth Amendment or any part of the Constitution. It is about courting and stoking the absolute ugliest, most paranoid, most ass-backwards elements of the GOP coalition. We’re not talking here about garden-variety gun lovers or small-government enthusiasts or evangelical values voters. We’re talking about people who find it quaint when Nugent starts raving about how black people are lazy or how disgusting he finds gays or how Hillary Clinton is a “toxic cunt” and “a two-bit whore for Fidel Castro.” (Media Matters has a sprawling, multi-decade sampling of Ted’s greatest hits here.) We’re talking about people who find it hilarious when Nugent waves his little guns around and froths, “Hey Hillary! You might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch.”

A great patriot indeed.

To be fair, Abbott is hardly the only prominent Republican to embrace the unhinged rocker. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the very man Abbott is looking to succeed, asked his good buddy Ted to headline Perry’s 2007 inaugural ball. (With a respectful nod to Texas’s increasingly diverse populace, Nugent showed up clad in a confederate-flag shirt and started talking smack about the state’s non-English speaking residents.) Nor are Texas pols the only Nugent courters. Even poor Mitt Romney sought Nugent’s (grudging) endorsement two years ago.

That said, it was Romney’s—and the broader GOP’s—epic failure that touched off this recent round of soul-searching among Republicans. Sure, the trials and tribulations of Obamacare have given them breathing space of late, but the times they are a changing—along with the nation’s demographics—and Republicans’ cozying up to characters like Nugent is not a recipe for a healthy national party.

The morning after Ted and Greg’s road show, I emailed a handful of Republican strategists. Subject line: “Ted Nugent.” Question: “Why? That’s all I want to know. Why?” Not even the most conservative among them had a serious answer.

As for Gregg Abbott, when pressed by reporters about the appropriateness of his new pal’s comments, the candidate, predictably, claimed ignorance. “I don’t know what he may have done or said in his background. What I do know is that Ted Nugent stands for the Constitution.”

I like to think that Abbott is not actually this stupid. It’s far less troubling to assume that the man likely to become the next governor of Texas is a shameless liar than to imagine that he’d embrace the famously vile Nugent without some vague sense of what made the guy a wingnut celebrity to begin with. (Hint for the would-be governor: It’s not Nugent’s 40-year-old hit song.)

Then again, maybe Abbott really is that clueless. At this point, Nugent has been spouting racist, sexist, generally insane invective for so long that the ugly particulars of any one rant quickly dissolve into his vast sea of lunacy. People tend to roll their eyes and give Nugent a pass because the ranting is seen as just part of his schtick. I mean, he’s the Motor City Madman, right? And, this being America, the guy can say whatever the hell he wants, right?

That he can—and does. But so long as Republicans keep hitching their wagon to a star like Nugent, they really shouldn’t wonder why more and more Americans see the party as defined by an unsettling blend of rage and ignorance.

 

By: Michelle Cottle, The Daily Beast, February 19, 2014

February 20, 2014 Posted by | GOP, Racism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: