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“The Politics Of Greed”: It Is Really Important That We Get This One Right

In his op-ed titled Here’s What We Want, Bernie Sanders wrote this:

What do we want? We want an economy that is not based on uncontrollable greed, monopolistic practices and illegal behavior.

Throughout the primary, Sanders has talked about the need to eliminate greed — especially the kind exhibited by Wall Street. That is a sentiment that is embraced by all liberals — especially in an era when the presumptive Republican presidential nominee espouses exactly the opposite.

But the question becomes: what is the role of politics (or government) when it comes to eliminating greed? It is the same question we would ask Christian conservatives who want to eliminate what they consider to be sexual immorality. And frankly, it is similar to questions about how we eliminate things like racism, sexism and homophobia. These are questions about the overlap of politics and morality with which we all must grapple.

At one point during the primary, Hillary Clinton was challenged by members of the Black Lives Matter movement. She said something that goes to the heart of this question.

Look, I don’t believe you change hearts. I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate. You’re not gonna change every heart. You’re not. But at the end of the day, we can do a whole lot to change some hearts and change some systems and create more opportunities for people who deserve to have them to live up to their own God-given potential: to live safely without fear of violence in their own communities, to have a decent school, to have a decent house, to have a decent future.

It is really important that we get this one right. Just as we don’t want a government that tells us who we can/can’t have sex with, we need to realize that we can’t have a government that calibrates how greedy one is allowed to be. I don’t think that is what Sanders was suggesting. He went on to say this:

We want an economy that protects the human needs and dignity of all people — children, the elderly, the sick, working people and the poor. We want an economic and political system that works for all of us, not one in which almost all new wealth and power rests with a handful of billionaire families.

That echoes what Clinton said about racism. What we want from government is a focus on lifting up those who are affected by things like greed and racism — in other words, to level the playing field.

Personally, I believe that greed — like racism and sexism — are learned. Short of informational campaigns that attempt to educate the public, we can’t legislate a change of hearts. What we CAN do is create laws that legislate against the abuses that stem from greed — like fraud and the monopolization of our economy — just as we created laws to combat segregation and discrimination. Otherwise, it is up to movements like Moral Mondays to organize people around their shared values.

 

By: Nancy Letourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 24, 2016

June 26, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Economic Inequality, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“GOP Outreach To Gays: At Least We Won’t Kill You”: We Only Want To Deny You Your Rights

Conventional wisdom suggests that Republicans decided to trash the RNC’s autopsy that was completed after their loss in the 2012 presidential election. It contained suggestions that the party should do more to reach out to women and people of color – especially Hispanic Americans. But perhaps we got it all wrong. Maybe in some fevered minds, trashing illegal immigrants was actually their idea of how to reach out to the Hispanic community.

I say that after reading an article by Tierney Sneed titled: GOP Makes “Appalling” Pitch to LGBT’s: Dems Are Choosing Muslims Over You. Perhaps this is what Republicans mean by “outreach.” The message basically comes down to this: We may be trying to deny you your rights, but at least we won’t kill you.

Their reasoning? That somehow, in the wake of the Orlando shooting at a gay night club that left 49 people dead, there’s now a mutually exclusive choice between supporting Muslims and protecting gay people, and Democrats have chosen the former.

The unlovely premise of that rationale is that all Muslims are terrorists, as one Republican congressman has baldly stated.

“Democrats are in a perplexing position. On the one hand, they’re trying to appeal to the gay community, but, on the other hand, they’re trying to also appeal to the Muslim community, which, if it had its way, would kill every homosexual in the United States of America,” Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) said on a radio show Thursday.

Sneed goes on to provide similar quotes from Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. But for anyone who still had a functioning irony meter, the one from conservative evangelist Pat Robertson is sure to break it for good.

Pat Robertson – the conservative preacher and Christian media executive who has said gay people are “demonic” and will eventually die out — said the “left” had “a dilemma of major proportions.”

“We’re looking at a favored group by the left, the homosexuals, and that in Islam is punishable by death or imprisonment or some sanction, so what are the left going to do?” he said on his TV show “700 Club” Tuesday.

What makes that kind of talk so outrageous is that Robertson is a leader among right wing Christians who have supported murderous African dictators in singling out homosexuals for both imprisonment and death.

For the record, I know of no liberals – let alone LGBT people – who have any love lost for groups like ISIS that have practiced horrific executions of homosexuals. Nor is there any lack of protest against regimes in the Middle East (or countries like Russia) that imprison them. But just as in the Christian community, there are Muslims who support equal rights for homosexuals and those who deny them. Republicans who would do the latter should revisit the words of Jesus when he suggested that people check out the log in their own eye before judging the splinter is someone else’s.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 17, 2016

June 18, 2016 Posted by | Christian Conservatives, Donald Trump, Muslim Americans, Pat Robertson | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“It Will Be Easy To Replace Antonin Scalia”: In Terms Of Quality In A Supreme Court Justice, He Will Be Easy To Replace

Antonin Scalia’s unexpected death came as a shock to me—and not just because I had plans until recently to go hiking this weekend in Big Bend, Texas, where the justice died. Scalia has been a fixture on the Supreme Court for my entire legal career, and he didn’t seem to be going anywhere. During Barack Obama’s presidency, he hunkered down: no way would a Democrat appoint his successor. The right adored him as much as the left reviled him. He was the Court’s most colorful personality since William “Wild Bill” Douglas retired in 1975. Scalia’s family will miss him, and they are surely hurting right now. They have my sympathies. But as the tributes roll in and Scalia’s impact on the Court comes into focus, I predict a consensus will emerge that he has damaged the institution he served for so many years.

It is ironic that Scalia died during this particular presidential campaign, because he strongly resembled two leading Republican hopefuls: Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Like Trump, Scalia was larger than life. He took his elbows with him wherever he went. The more outrageous his rhetoric, the more his fans lapped it up. Scalia trashed his colleagues’ writing, calling it “preposterous” and compared it to “the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie”; their reasoning was “patently incorrect” and “transparently false.” With his low punches and salty talk, Scalia coarsened the Court—just as Trump has coarsened the presidency. As the much more restrained John Paul Stevens said to one of Scalia’s biographers, “I think everybody respects Nino’s ability and his style and all the rest. But everybody on the Court from time to time has thought he was unwise to take such an extreme position, both in tone and in the position.”

Like Ted Cruz, Scalia possessed a rare intellect. (Cruz, a former Supreme Court law clerk and appellate lawyer, was a big fan.) Scalia was for a time the Court’s most persuasive voice on technical matters like jurisdiction and procedure. He was an unquestionably talented writer. No justice had a quicker wit. Yet, also like Cruz, Scalia proved ineffective within the constraints of an organization, where cooperation and pragmatism tend to produce results. His strident behavior alienated the people around him. “Screams!” wrote Justice Harry Blackmun on a draft Scalia dissent in 1988. “Without the screaming, it could have been said in about 10 pages.” When a very junior Scalia commandeered an oral argument in 1987, Justice Lewis Powell whispered to a colleague on the bench, “Do you think he knows that the rest of us are here?” Scalia seemed to make a special point of picking on Anthony Kennedy, the Court’s swing voter for the past ten years, and an essential member of any 5-4 coalition. His inability to hold his fire or to build consensus meant that he was assigned few important majority decisions in the later years of his career.

I will remember Scalia mainly for the ugliness that permeated his opinions. He once wrote with astonishing callousness that it is not unconstitutional to execute an innocent person if that person has received a fair trial. He described affirmative action as “racial discrimination,” and mocked the notion that it could help students achieve “cross-racial understanding.” (No one squeezed more sarcasm out of a quotation mark.) A devout Roman Catholic, Scalia harbored a particular scorn for “the homosexual agenda,” writing in a paper-thin third-person: “Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children’s schools, or as boarders in their home. They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive.”

Scalia had been slipping lately. He made a spectacle of himself before journalists, flipping his chin at them and giving needlessly provocative speeches. He openly flouted the Court’s recusal traditions, going on a hunting trip with Dick Cheney and then refusing to recuse himself from a suit against the vice president. He engaged in an unseemly public spat with Judge Richard Posner, going so far as to call Posner a liar after Posner panned Scalia’s latest book. The invective in his opinions and his behavior at oral argument had become truly outrageous, and caused many a citizen to associate the Supreme Court with cheap partisan point-scoring. It has been a long fall for what had been one of the most trusted institutions in government.

Scalia was a character, and he will be hard to forget. But in terms of quality in a Supreme Court justice, he will be easy to replace.

 

By: Michael McDonnell, Contributor, Ten Miles Square, The Washington Monthly, February 14, 2016

February 15, 2016 Posted by | Antonin Scalia, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, U. S. Supreme Court | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The ‘Stone The Homos’ Guy”: Gay Sex-Obsessed Pastor Loves On Trump

Pastor James David Manning sat in front of a microphone at his cherry-red desk, a cartoon rendering of Harlem serving as the backdrop in his makeshift TV studio. He wore a gray windowpane three-piece suit, a purple shirt with a white collar that his double chin spilled onto, and a shiny, gold tie.

“I wanna take the time to address those who are supporters of one Mr. Donald Trump,” he said into the camera for his latest installment of The Manning Report. “One of the wisest, most patient, humble, gracious—yet strongest leader I have ever encountered in all the days of my life.”

Manning likes Trump, in case he didn’t make it clear, and it’s not hard to understand why.

Manning likes Trump for the same reason Alex Jones and his ilk like Trump. Manning likes Trump for the same reason white supremacists like Trump.

Manning likes Trump because Trump hates, just like he does.

Trump hates enough that Manning formally endorsed his candidacy on Monday, during a meeting at Trump Tower with other black pastors that Trump had courted. Trump seems to be under the impression that befriending Men of God like Manning is going to make him seem like less of a racist.

Maybe Trump should’ve Googled him.

“I realize that I am a lightning rod,” Manning had admitted on Wednesday’s episode of The Manning Report. “I use language people don’t like. I call people faggots. I call people niggers. I call people white trash. I call people crackers. And I will continue to. I’m not going to stop.”

“But I recognize that because of that, one could easily say, ‘Well, you know, Trump is aligned with James David Manning and James David Manning is known for hating black people or white people,” he said. “But that doesn’t stop me from offering my support, or more specifically, from offering a word of enlightenment to the people in the Harlem Community.”

Pastor James David Manning runs ATLAH Worldwide Missionary Church on 36 West 123rd Street in New York City. ATLAH, which stands for “All the Land Anointed Holy,” is more hate group than parish. Outside the red-bricked building is a hexagonal sign that is used to send messages like, “WHEN THE HOMOS BULLIED THE POOR AND NEEDY IN SODOM LIKE THEY DO IN HARLEM JESUS FIRE & BRIM – STONED THEM” or “OBAMA HAS RELEASED THE HOMO DEMONS ON THE BLACK MAN. LOOK OUT BLACK WOMAN. A WHITE HOMO MAY TAKE YOUR MAN.”

He thinks President Obama is literally “the son of Satan” and that gay people should be stoned to death. Starbucks, he says, flavors their coffee with “sodomites’ semen.”

I sat down with Manning in September 2014 for a wide-ranging interview. I learned that he is as obsessed with publicity as he is gay sex. His office, where he films his YouTube videos, is so jam-packed with lights and wires and cameras that you can barely walk in it. He proudly advertises the fact that he is known in the media (or, the “dung-head media” to quote Manning) as the “Hate Pastor.”

He explained to me, with all the certainty in the world, that homosexuality is wrong because of science.

“Everything in the universe condemns homosexuality,” he said. “There’s opposites in the universe. There’s light, there’s dark. There’s moon, there’s suns around it. There’s planets and there’s galaxies. The same basic physics principles that exist here on earth exist in the universe. You have the atom, which has the neutron, the electron, the proton. So through that process, energy is developed. This is pretty consistent throughout the entire universe. The only thing in the universe that believes that one of one thing is sufficient are homosexuals.”

At the time, Manning sounded nuts. Now, what he said sounds like something Trump or Ben Carson might say at a rally and double down on in a Meet the Press appearance.

Manning’s secretary told me Wednesday that he didn’t have anything to say to me about Trump, and that I should just watch The Manning Report to understand why he supports him.

Two weeks after Trump announced his candidacy in June, Manning released an installment of The Manning Report titled, “More Power To Donald Trump.”

At the time, Trump was just rising in the polls, and Manning said he could explain why. “What is happening now with the liberal media—they are all Obama-ized, they are all demonized, they are all demons,” Manning said. Trump was the only one who knew the Truth and wasn’t afraid to say it.

“Donald Trump, the reason why people are resonating with Donald Trump is because Donald Trump is not afraid of Obama,” he said.

“Donald Trump is the only person that is running for president who knows that Obama is a flat-out communist, socialist, not born in America unconstitutional. Everybody knows that and that’s why Donald Trump can win the presidency if he wants it.”

After his meeting with Trump, he bragged on The Manning Report, “I sat at the table with Donald Trump on yesterday,” (on yesterday), “Let me tell you what I perceived about this man: Donald Trump is a gracious man. He sat for two and a half hours with black church people—black pastors, from different denominations—and kept his composure never once in the midst of them begging him to bow down to black people, never once lost his composure. Two and a half hours patiently and he expressed interest in what every person—if someone said something, he was interested! I’ve got to tell you that takes a lot when you listen to idiots and stupid people! When they’re espousing stupid stuff!”

To show his devotion, Manning said, “I want to start a campaign of Harlem For Trump is what I wanna do…His message is what Harlem needs to hear.”

Asked if Trump had heard Manning’s message, and if he, too, believes Obama is literally Satan’s spawn, his campaign didn’t reply.

Tune in next week, when Trump spots a UFO.

 

By: Olivia Nuzzi, The Daily Beast, December 3, 2015

December 4, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Hate Groups, James David Manning, White Supremacists | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Perils Of A Small-Tent Party”: An ‘Archie Bunker’ Posture In A ‘Modern Family’ World

In the last national election cycle, the Republican losses obviously counted, but so too did the way in which they lost. GOP candidates, party officials later acknowledged, were catering to an increasingly narrow part of the population. The Republican Party’s base was getting older, whiter, and male-dominated.

GOP strategists were determined to change the party’s focus. They failed spectacularly.

Steve Schmidt, who served as Republican Sen. John McCain’s top strategist in the 2008 presidential election, said it’s problematic for the GOP to be seen as intolerant, particularly with moderate voters who help sway the general election.

“Of course it’s worrisome if you have a party that’s perceived as anti-Latino, anti-Asian, anti-gay, intolerant of Muslims,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt’s correct that the party’s problems are exacerbated by perceptions of intolerance and exclusivity, and this doesn’t just alienate Latinos, Asians, Muslims, and the LGBT community. It also has the effect of pushing away white mainstream voters who start to see Republicans as wildly out of step with a diverse, modern nation.

On Friday, for example, President Obama nominated Eric Fanning as the next Secretary of the Army. No one has questioned Fanning’s qualifications, but GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee condemned the nomination because Fanning is gay. “It’s clear President Obama is more interested in appeasing America’s homosexuals than honoring America’s heroes,” the Republican said, adding, “Homosexuality is not a job qualification. The U.S. military is designed to keep Americans safe and complete combat missions, not conduct social experiments.”

It’s an “Archie Bunker” posture in a “Modern Family” world.

Of course, the broader point is that the campaign to create a small-tent party isn’t limited to Huckabee. Ben Carson doesn’t think Muslims can be president. Donald Trump vowed last week that he’s “going to be looking into” non-existent Muslim “training camps.” Bobby Jindal said this morning that a Muslim could be president, but only if he or she took the oath of office on a Christian Bible.

It’s against this backdrop that many Republicans want to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood funding. And condemn the Black Lives Matter movement while ignoring the need for a Voting Rights Act repair. And push over-the-top talking points about “anchor babies” and mass deportations.

After the 2012 cycle, Republican officials concluded, “Our party is too small.” To which the GOP’s driving forces spent three years responding, “Let’s make it smaller and more reactionary.”

All of which brings us back to that Steve Schmidt quote: “Of course it’s worrisome if you have a party that’s perceived as anti-Latino, anti-Asian, anti-gay, intolerant of Muslims.”

The GOP presidential nominating process has several months to go. There’s every reason to believe the most “worrisome” developments are still to come.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, September 22, 2015

September 23, 2015 Posted by | GOP Base, GOP Presidential Candidates, Republicans | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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