When the forces of intolerance and bigotry prevail, as they have lately in Southern states that passed laws institutionalizing discrimination against gay and transgender Americans, it can be tempting to think they are impervious to argument. There is, however, one thing that lawmakers like those in North Carolina do heed – money.
After North Carolina passed a law last month perpetuating discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, PayPal canceled its plans to build a large presence in that state, costing North Carolina 400 jobs at the planned office and countless dollars.
Today, Bruce Springsteen, a champion of social justice in his public and personal life, announced that he was canceling a scheduled concert in Greensboro, N.C., on Sunday and will refund tickets.
“North Carolina has just passed HB2, which the media are referring to as the ‘bathroom’ law,” he said in a statement. The law, he explained, “dictates which bathrooms transgender people are permitted to use. Just as important, the law also attacks the rights of LGBT citizens to sue when their human rights are violated in the workplace. No other group of North Carolinians faces such a burden.”
Mr. Springsteen said the law was “an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognizing the human rights of all of our citizens to overturn that progress.” He noted that some people and groups in North Carolina were fighting to have the law repealed. “This is a time for me and the band to show solidarity for those freedom fighters,” Mr. Springsteen said, adding: “Some things are more important than a rock show.”
He said that this was “the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.”
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band deserve a huge round of applause, as does Charles Barkley, the basketball great, who has urged the National Basketball Association to move its All-Star Game next year away from Charlotte, N.C., unless the law is repealed. The N.B.A. should do that without hesitation.
Remember, the NCAA’s president, Mark Emmert, said he would move the collegiate sports association’s events out of Indiana unless it deleted a similar law, and other business organizations actually did cancel events in Indiana. The law, which was signed by Gov. Mike Pence with great fanfare, was later “fixed” in a foolish and ineffective way, but should simply have been repealed.
In South Carolina, the intervention by big companies like BMW and Bridgestone Tire helped force the hands of racists in the state government who had resisted removing the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the state Capitol.
Mr. Springsteen is taking to heart the adage that all it takes for evil to prevail is for good people to remain silent. What are others who do business in and with North Carolina waiting for?
By: Andrew Rosenthal, Taking Note, The Editorial Page Editor’s Blog, The New York Times, April 8, 2016
The Hillary Clinton campaign posted an interesting tweet Thursday, seizing on a Republican attack line against President Obama in order to illustrate her own support for the president.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 11, 2016
This was, of course, the grammatically strange phrase that Marco Rubio delivered — and then repeated several times — at last weekend’s Republican debate in New Hampshire, where his fumbled performance caused his numbers in the state to crash all the way down to fifth place. (The tweet was not signed “-H,” which is used to indicate authorship by the candidate herself. Thus, it was apparently written by the campaign team.)
But the linked article from NBC News is not about Rubio — it’s about Hillary’s rival Bernie Sanders, whom she will face in a debate Thursday night. The headline: “Sanders: Obama Hasn’t Closed ‘Presidential Leadership Gap.’”
The piece concerns an interview that Sanders conducted with MSNBC political correspondent Kasie Hunt. From NBC’s report:
“There’s a huge gap right now between Congress and the American people. What presidential leadership is about closing that gap,” he told MSNBC in an interview Wednesday that will air in full Thursday evening on “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.”
Asked if he believed President Obama had closed that gap, Sanders said: “No, I don’t. I mean, I think he has made the effort. But I think what we need, when I talk about a political revolution, is bringing millions and millions of people into the political process in a way that does not exist right now.”
The message from Clinton’s campaign is clear: She’s the one who has continuously supported President Obama, and is equipped to successfully carry on his programs in office. That theme will certainly be important for the upcoming Democratic contests in Nevada and South Carolina.
By: Eric Kleefeld, The National Memo, February 11, 2016
“Let’s Not Ever Do That Again”: SC Gov. Nikki Haley; The U.S. Has ‘Never’ Passed Laws Based On Race And Religion — Um…
Gov. Nikki Haley’s (R-SC) decision to speak out against Donald Trump and other anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim forces in the Republican Party is certainly laudable — but her awareness of American history needs a little work.
The Hill reports:
She said Wednesday that Trump’s call for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration to the country is what compelled her to speak out.
“You know, the one thing that got me I think was when he started saying ban all Muslims,” she said.
“We’ve never in the history of this country passed any laws or done anything based on race or religion,” she added. “Let’s not start that now.”
Of course, the state of South Carolina is itself a grand exhibit of America’s history of racially-based laws. It was the state where the Civil War began, as the first state to secede in the South’s effort to preserve and expand the institution of slavery, and it was where the first shots of the war were fired at Fort Sumter.
During the Jim Crow era, the state was also home to Strom Thurmond and the Dixiecrat rebellion of 1948, a political mobilization for segregation that rallied against the emerging post-World War II civil rights movement.
To be sure, both South Carolina and the United States as a whole have made progress, climbing upward from these tainted beginnings to build a great country. But it sure does sound odd to hear a political leader say that we’ve “never in the history of this country” passed such odious laws — and, “Let’s not start that now.”
A better thing to say would’ve been: “Let’s not ever do that again.” That sort of myth-busting — against the idea of America as not just a great country, but a perfect one — would, in fact, be the right way to avoid doing it again.
By: Eric Kleefeld, The National Memo, January 13, 2015
Math was never my strongest subject, so maybe I’m just not crunching the numbers right.
But the more I stare at them, the less sense Marco Rubio makes.
Rubio as the front-runner, I mean. As the probable Republican nominee.
According to odds makers and prediction markets, he’s the best bet. According to many commentators, too.
But Iowa’s less than a month away, and in two recent polls of Republican voters there, he’s a distant third, far behind Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
So he’s killing it in New Hampshire, right?
Wrong. A survey from two weeks ago had him second to Trump there, but another, just days earlier, put him in third place — after Trump and Cruz, again. Chris Christie’s inching up on him, the reasons for which were abundantly clear in a comparison of Christie’s freewheeling campaign style and Rubio’s hyper-controlled one by The Times’s Michael Barbaro.
And as of Thursday, the Real Clear Politics average of recent polls in South Carolina showed Rubio to be more than six points behind Cruz and 21 behind Trump among that state’s Republicans. There’s no inkling of a surge, and it’s not as if pro-Rubio forces have been holding off on advertising that will turn the tide. Plenty of ads have already run.
In fact the rap on Rubio is that he counts too much on them and spends too little time on the trail. The largest newspaper in New Hampshire took aim at the infrequency of his appearances there in an editorial with the headline: “Marco? Marco? Where’s Rubio?”
And when he missed a Senate vote last month, a spokesman for Cruz tweeted that it was because “he had 1 event in a row in Iowa — a record-setting breakneck pace for Marco.”
Rubio can’t claim a singularly formidable campaign organization, with a remarkably robust platoon of ground troops. His fund-raising hasn’t been exceptional.
His promise seems to lie instead in his biography as the son of hard-working Cuban immigrants, in his good looks, in the polish of his oratory, in the nimbleness with which he debates.
And in this: Reasonable people can’t stomach the thought of Trump or Cruz as the nominee. We can’t accept what that would say about America, or what that could mean for it. Rubio is the flawed, rickety lifeboat we cling to, the amulet we clutch. He’ll prevail because he must. The alternative is simply too perverse (Trump) or too cruel (Cruz).
But so much about him and the contention that he’s poised for victory is puzzling.
Because this is his first national campaign, reporters (and opponents) are digging into his past more vigorously than ever, and it’s unclear how much fodder it holds and how much defense he’ll have to play.
Just last week, The Washington Post reported that in 2002, when he was the majority whip in the Florida House of Representatives, he used statehouse stationery to write a letter in support of a real estate license for his sister’s husband, who had served 12 years in federal prison for distributing $15 million worth of cocaine.
Rubio, 44, is only now coming into focus.
He’s frequently been called the Republican Obama — because he’s young, a trailblazing minority and a serious presidential contender while still a first-term senator.
But a prominent G.O.P. strategist told me that Rubio reminds him more of another Democratic president.
“He’s the Republican Bill Clinton,” the strategist said, referring to the slickness with which Rubio shifts shapes and the confidence with which he straddles ideological divides.
He’s a conservative crusader, happy to carry the banner of the Tea Party. He’s a coolheaded pragmatist, ready to do the bidding of Wall Street donors.
“Rubio is triangulating,” Eleanor Clift wrote recently, choosing a Clintonian verb to describe his fuzzy, evolving positions.
He pushed for a comprehensive immigration-reform bill, including a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, until he suddenly stepped away from it. He has said that he opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest, but he has also said that he’d back less extreme regulations if they were the only attainable ones.
“Rubio’s inclusiveness can invite caricature,” Evan Osnos observed in The New Yorker in late November. “He considers himself a Catholic, but he attends two churches — an evangelical Protestant service on Saturdays and a Roman Catholic Mass on Sundays.”
By dint of his heritage, he’s supposed to represent a much-needed Republican bridge to Latinos. But many of his positions impede that, and several recent polls raise doubts about the strength of his appeal to Latino voters.
There’s no theme in his campaign more incessantly trumpeted than a generational one. Declaiming that Hillary Clinton, 68, is yesterday, he presents himself as tomorrow, an ambassador for young voters who’ll presumably bring more of them, too, to the Republican camp.
But in a Washington Post/ABC News poll in late November, his support was more than twice as strong among Republican voters 65 and older as among those under 50.
And he’s at sharp odds with millennials on a range of issues. Most of them favor same-sex marriage; he doesn’t. Most are wary of government surveillance; he’s one of its fiercest proponents. Unlike him, they want marijuana legalized. Unlike him, they want decisive government action against climate change.
And they’re not swayed by unwrinkled skin and a relatively full head of dark hair. Just ask wizened, white-tufted Bernie Sanders, 74, whose campaign is the one most clearly buoyed by young voters.
So what does Rubio offer them?
He communicates a message — a gleam — of hope. He’s a smoother salesman and more talented politician than most of his Republican rivals. That’s why I still buy the argument that he’s the one to watch, especially given his party’s long history of selecting less provocative candidates over firebrands.
I still nod at the notion that if he merely finishes ahead of Christie, Jeb Bush and other candidates who are vying for mainstream Republicans in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, they’ll fade, their supporters will flock to him and he’ll be lifted above Cruz and even above Trump, who could implode at any moment anyway.
But over the last three decades, no Republican or Democrat — with the exception of Bill Clinton — lost both Iowa and New Hampshire and survived that crisis in momentum to win the nomination. If that’s Rubio’s path, it’s an unusual one.
In an unusual year, yes. But as the wait for his candidacy to heat up lengthens, I wonder: Could he burn out before he ever catches fire?
By: Mark Bruni, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, January2, 2015
“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