From 1956 until 2010, CBS television’s daytime lineup included America’s longest-running soap opera: “As the World Turns.” But times change, and now a real-life human drama of profound importance has debuted in America: “As the Generations Turn.”
It’s the inspiring story of our society’s continuing struggle to evolve toward dignity and mutual respect … as well as love. The moment came on June 26, 2015, when Justice Anthony Kennedy proclaimed from the ornate chamber of the Supreme Court: “The right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment couples of the same sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty.”
Kennedy and Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan and Sotomayor voted to make this higher level of inclusiveness the law of the land, but they are not the producers of it. Indeed, while the court’s ruling debuts a new day, it is the culmination of generations of painful struggle by brave gay and lesbian activists and advocates. And it is particularly the product of a defiant and determined LGBTQ movement for equality that arose from the brutal police riot at the Stonewall Inn in New York on June 28, 1969.
This democratic evolution from rank inequality literally came out of America’s closet, rising through only a few neighborhoods at first, but then entering the consciousness of today’s youth. Rejecting the shibboleths, ignorance, fears and bigotry that previously permitted such intolerable discrimination, young people have, in a remarkably short amount of time, created a generational shift in the nation’s consciousness.
The true Supremes are the people themselves, and it’s their awakening enlightenment that has transformed marriage equality from taboo to simple justice.
It is unfortunately true, however, that not everyone has evolved on the issue of equality in our Land of the Free.
The Supreme Court’s ruling that states can no longer ban same-sex marriage has set off a cacophony of howling hyperbole by the GOP’s far-out presidential wannabes.
“I will not acquiesce to an imperial court,” blustered Fox News political huckster Mike Huckabee. “Resist and reject judicial tyranny,” he bellowed. Huck even couched his cry for continued discrimination against gay people by likening it to Abe Lincoln’s principled refusal to honor the court’s 1857 ruling that African-Americans could not be citizens. Sure, Mike, you’re a modern-day Lincoln — except that he was opposing discrimination, while you’re demanding that government enforce it!
Then came the wild hair of the GOP’s presidential menagerie, Donnie Trump, trumpeting his keen insight that the court’s gay marriage decision is Jeb Bush’s fault. Really. The Donald explained that Jeb’s brother George appointed Chief Justice John Roberts to the court, so … there you have it. Shhhh — let’s not spoil Trump’s hallucination by telling him that Roberts actually voted against letting gays marry.
Now on to Scott Walker, widely touted by the GOP’s billionaires as the “serious” contender. Yet, he is seriously pushing a constitutional amendment to allow states to keep prohibiting same-sex marriages. “No one wants to live in a country where the government coerces people to act in opposition to their conscience,” said Walker, apparently oblivious to the fact that state governments have long been coercing LGBTQ people to do exactly that. And now Walker is promising, if elected, to coerce them right back into a life of unconscionable injustice.
Every one of the 13 Republican presidential candidates is marching backward into the bigoted past, piously thumbing their noses not only at millions of gays and lesbians and their families, but also at the ever-growing majority of Americans — especially young people — who support marriage equality.
To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.
Say this about the Old Confederacy: At least its leaders had the courage of their own bad convictions. Today’s neo-Confederate GOP politicians, vying for primary votes in Dixie 150 years after Appomattox, proved themselves to be laughable cowards. Confronted with the simplest of questions – should a state capitol display a flag that stands for slavery, racism, and treason? – they hedged (all of them), spouted gibberish (Ted Cruz), orwent into hiding (Rand Paul). If they’d been the Rebel generals in the Civil War, it would have been over in a week.
This is the second time in three months we’ve seen GOP presidential contenders unwilling to stand up to the unreconstructed bigots still infesting their party’s base. The previous time was in April, and it followed the same pattern. First some of the candidates either endorsed or hedgedabout the so-called “religious freedom” bills crafted to empower businesses to discriminate against gay families. Once the signing of such a bill in Indiana by a Republican governor prompted a national backlash, candidatesabout-faced as quickly as they could spin.
In the case of South Carolina, the cowardice was even more pronounced. Not even the slaughter of nine people in a church could stir the consciences of the Republican presidential contenders. They came out against the flag only after the previously hedging Governor Haley came around. No doubt she spent a long weekend calculating how failing to do so would inflict economic retribution on her state much as the “religious liberty” law had threatened to bring corporate and convention boycotts to Indiana. Before Haley finally spoke up on Monday, the only major Republican figure to unequivocally call for the flag’s banishment was Mitt Romney, who isn’t facing GOP primary voters in 2016. After Haley joined him, we were treated to the embarrassing spectacle of Bush, Rubio, and Walker – by most reckonings, the GOP’s three leading candidates – all asserting that they had agreed with Haley all along. This combination of disingenuousness and spinelessness on a no-brainer issue should disqualify all of them from the White House.
But the Confederate flag and this clownish array of gutless presidential candidates are not the important issues here. What matters is the cost our nation continues to pay for its failure to regulate guns and to achieve racial justice. If it took the slaughter of nine people in a church to get a single state to remove a flag that is, after all, only a historic symbol of racism, you have to wonder how many people will have to die to end the implementation of racism, including the homicidal police practices and restrictive new voting laws that have proliferated in the Obama era. The notion that pulling down a flag in South Carolina somehow amounts to a major breakthrough in American racial progress is absurd. That flag never should have been flown at the Capitol in the first place. It was first installed there in 1961 as an implicit act of resistance to the growing civil-rights movement. It should have been trashed long before a mass murder belatedly sealed its demise.
The Guardian has reported that Republicans including Cruz, Paul, and Rick Santorum accepted contributions from the leader of the white supremacist group that Dylann Roof credits for his radicalization. Those candidates quickly said they’d refund or donate the money. But couldn’t vetting an individual campaign donor based on his views and public statements set a dangerous precedent?
Perhaps so, particularly given that it would be impossible to formulate a universally accepted or enforceable code of what beliefs should disqualify a citizen from donating to political campaigns. But again, this issue is a red herring. What matters most are the actions of the politicians themselves, not the credos of their contributors. The salient fact here is that the Council of Conservative Citizens – the organization whose views Roof so admired – has enjoyed fairly recent endorsements from mainstream Republican politicians. The former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour and the former Senate majority leader Trent Lott have both spoken before it. Just this year the House Republican leadership saw no cause to remove the Louisiana congressman Steve Scalise from his position as majority whip after it was revealed that he had addressed another white supremacist group, one associated with the former Klansman David Duke.
Even more egregious is how many of the current candidates endorse the states’-rights ideology peddled by these neo-Confederate organizations. After the Charleston bloodbath, Rubio and Walker, along with many of their peers, made the argument that South Carolinians should be able to make their own decision about flying a white supremacist flag – the same argument made for secession before the Civil War and for the denial of civil rights to African-Americans during the decades of Jim Crow that followed. (It’s also been the Republican argument against national marriage equality and the expansion of Medicaid to poor Americans without health insurance.) “States’ rights” is the racial virus that entered the bloodstream of the modern Republican Party under the auspices of South Carolina’s own senator Strom Thurmond, the Dixiecrat who led the stampede of segregationist white Democrats to the GOP to further Richard Nixon’s “Southern strategy.” You’d think Thurmond – who secretly fathered a child by in essence raping his family’s 15-year-old African-American family maid – would no longer be an ideological role model for anyone.
America’s nearly all-white political party has a long way to go. Along with its cadre of diehard white supremacists it also contains an aging but still powerful rump of genteel white paternalists. No one speaks for that restricted country-club crowd more eloquently than Peggy Noonan. Last weekend she wrote a Wall Street Journal blog post in which she praised the “miraculous” black families of Emanuel A.M.E. Church who forgave Dylann Roof but also asserted that no political action should be allowed to interrupt their grieving. “Why don’t you not impose your agenda items on them?” Noonan implored. “Don’t turn this into a debate on a flag or guns.” (Revealingly, she didn’t even mention a debate on race.) America is “going to be just fine,” she explained, because the mourning families “handled the tragedy with such heart and love.” Really? Her defense of the status quo, her patronizing reduction of African-Americans to prayerful pacifists, and her argument for political inaction in the face of racial terrorism reflect the magnolia-scented antebellum sentiments of Gone With the Wind just as surely as the Council of Conservative Citizens so beloved by Roof brings back the white supremacist vigilantes of Birth of a Nation.
In his interview with Marc Maron for his podcast, President Obama said he was “pretty disgusted” with Congress’s inability to address gun violence after the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, and advocated for enhanced gun-safety laws in the wake of Charleston. Why did Obama’s use of the N-word in that interview generate more conversation this week than his renewed call for gun control?
The failure — of Democrats as well as Republicans — to act on gun legislation in the aftermath of the horror of the Sandy Hook massacre has rendered the issue a political non-starter for the foreseeable future. The president can (and should) talk about it as much as he wants, but unless voters in both parties demand action, it’s not happening. The good thing about his use of the N-word is that while it seems to affront some commentators – “Did it cross a line?” asked Wolf Blitzer in acharacteristically fatuous CNN segment – it at least gets people to listen to what the president is saying. And when a president is a lame duck, he is liberated to say whatever he damn pleases. Even though Peggy Noonan will no doubt accuse him of imposing an “agenda” on a tragedy, the president’s eulogy at the Reverand Clementa Pinckney’s funeral in Charleston on Friday promises to be one for the ages.
Blunter brushbacks have been tossed at the Pope by Republicans not running for president, like Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who whined, “Why all of a sudden is he involved in this?” Other presidential candidates have avoided a direct response.
But if Graham is unable to force Republicans to confront climate, the Catholic Church is another story. Pope Francis will be addressing a joint session of Congress in three months. And U.S. bishops will be preaching themes from his climate encyclical throughout the year.
Granted, Catholic voters are not mindless robots who do whatever their bishops say. Most Catholics don’t even go to church. And conservative Catholics, like Bush and Santorum, will likely be resistant to anything that doesn’t comport with their political views, just like they generally embrace the death penalty despite its violation of Catholic teachings.
But Republicans still should be worried about white Catholic moderates, who are a significant swing constituency. In 2000, they favored Al Gore over George W. Bush by three points, reflecting the popular vote. In 2004, they swung eight points to the right, favoring Bush by five and again helping determine the popular vote majority. Then in 2008, they broke big for Obama, giving him a 17-point margin.
These are voters who will be receptive to the Pope’s message. And these are voters who Republicans need to get back.
They are not voters who typically vote in Republican primaries. So there is little short-term incentive for candidates to recalibrate on climate. But the long-term need is critical.
And the Pope’s encyclical gives these Republican an opening, should they be wise enough to take it.
They can echo the Pope’s message that solving the climate crisis is a moral necessity, without embracing Pope’s entire economic critique or siding with President Obama’s specific remedies.
Always remember: As Republicans were going after Bill Clinton and calling themselves the moral superior, House Speaker Newt Gingrich was cheating on his wife, his replacement Bob Livingston retired in disgrace after being outed by Hustler magazine for having affairs, and the next holier-than-thou speaker, Dennis Hastert, was looking down his nose passing anti-gay laws knowing he slept with boy students when he was a HS teacher.
Going to war with Iraq was the wrong thing to do, American voters say 59 – 32 percent.Republicans support the 2003 decision 62 – 28 percent, while opposition is 78 – 16 percent among Democrats and 65 – 26 percent among independent voters.
That’s from a Quinnipiac poll released just this week, and that’s a gigantic gap. That the Iraq War still enjoys 60+ percent support among Republicans while Democrats and independent support is only 16 percent and 26 percent respectively only makes sense if (1) the two sides reside in different dimensions, each with a different set of facts or (2) since the Iraq War was a Republican “thing,” the wide long swath of the Republican base will continue to think it was a good idea from now until hell freezes over out of simple spite. President Obama could never have gained Republican support for any similarly sized operation in Libya, unquestionably run by a dictator just as rotten and just as linked to terror; President Clinton was pilloried for a far smaller intervention in Eastern Europe meant to staunch what had moved from bloody war to genocide—he was only doing it to distract from his problems here at home, the critics wailed. A trillion dollars, uncountably many dead and a region writhing in the throes of war and terrorism, though, that continues to be a damn fine choice.
There is no doubt some of the Fox effect going on here. In embarrassingly large numbers, Republicans continue to believe that Iraq was involved with 9/11 or that weapons of mass destruction were in fact found, though both were proven false a long time ago; this lack of basic structural knowledge about their own supposed beliefs is endemic among Fox News viewers, thanks to a bevy of self-interested network hosts and guests themselves continuing to prop up such claims regardless of the evidence.
Still, that divide between the Republican base and everyone else is … pathological. Call it the effects of yellow journalism or call it a stubbornness so strong that the base expects reality to warp itself to conform to them, call it whatever you like. It’s nuts.
One of the first “gotcha” moments of the 2016 presidential race came about as follows: Reporters following Jeb Bush on a pre-announcement campaign tour smartly decided to badger him about his position on the Iraq invasion. “Knowing what he knows now,” they asked, would he have done the same thing as his brother?
Jeb’s answer was characteristically Bushian: yes, no, and maybe. Bush III somehow hadn’t prepared for the one question he was most absolutely certain to face the moment he decided take a step in the direction of the White House.
It was a little bit like invading a country and having no plan at all for what you do after you seize the capital. In other words, the kind of thing that should disqualify a person not just from the presidency, but maybe also from having a driver’s license. George W. specialized in these jaw-dropping oversights, and it seems his brother might have a similar talent.
Over the course of four or five very painful days Jeb pushed his Iraq position all over the board. First he said yes, he would have done the same thing as his brother (and so would have Hillary Clinton, he pointed out). Then he said he misunderstood the question. Then he said that even answering the question would dishonor the troops (which I thought was an impressively clever and Rove-ian response!).
Head by now turned all the way around, in the fashion of nature’s magnificent owl or Linda Blair, he finally told Fox’s Megyn Kelly, “Knowing what we know now. . .I would not have engaged. I would not have gone into Iraq.”
It was a no-win question for Jeb. He had two choices with this question: either send his brother up the river or set himself up for a general election campaign wearing a position that polls say could hurt him with 70 percent of voters.
The media quickly piled on. “Jeb Bush’s Iraq Stumble” was the title of the Wall Street Journal’s “Journal Editorial Report” on Fox. “On Iraq Question, Jeb Bush Stumbles and GOP Hopefuls Pounce,” countered the Washington Post.
“Jeb Bush’s Revisionist History of the Iraq War,” wrote New York Times Editorial Page editor Andrew Rosenthal. “Yeah, Jeb Bush’s argument that the Iraq War was right even in retrospect is insane,” tweeted current New York and erstwhile New Republic writer Jonathan Chait early in the story cycle, when Jeb was still defending the war.
A few writers, like Steve Chapman at the Chicago Tribune, criticized Jeb for not disavowing the “reckless adventurism” of the Bush II era that led to the war in the first place. In other words, Chapman blasted Jeb for being wrong then and now.
But the substance of most of the media mockery in the last week was to whale on Jeb for not admitting quickly enough that the war, in hindsight, given “what we know now,” was a huge mistake.
We can call this the “None of us pundits would have been wrong about Iraq if it wasn’t for Judith Miller” line of questioning. This rhetoric goes something like this: since we invaded, the war has gone epically FUBAR, so it’s obvious now that it was a mistake, and so we can mock you for not admitting as much.
But because of Judith Miller, it wasn’t obvious even to all of us geniuses back then, which is why virtually every media outlet to the right of Democracy Now! (MSNBC included, as old friend Alex Pareene wittily pointed out) got it wrong for years on end, back when this issue actually mattered.
Go back up a few paragraphs and look at that list of media outlets. All of them – the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times obviously, the Chicago Tribune – they were all card-carrying Iraq war cheerleaders.
I get that many of the individual writers involved in bashing Jeb this week were not the same writers who whored for the Bush administration back in the day. (Although some of them were. Chait in March of 2003 went on Hardball and told the world, “I don’t think you can argue that a regime change in Iraq won’t demonstrably and almost immediately improve the living conditions of the Iraqi people.” And Rosenthal, of course, was Judith Miller’s editor.)
But the individuals aren’t the issue. It’s the general notion that the Iraq War issue was some kind of tough intellectual call that we all needed hindsight to sort out. It wasn’t, and we didn’t.
It was obvious even back then, to anyone who made the faintest effort to look at the situation honestly, that the invasion was doomed, wrong, and a joke.
Do people not remember this stuff? George Bush got on television on October 7th, 2002 and told the entire country that Saddam Hussein was thinking of using “unmanned aerial vehicles” for “missions targeting the United States.”
Only a handful of news outlets at the time, most of them tiny Internet sites, bothered to point out that such “UAVs” had a range of about 300 miles, while Iraq was 6,000 miles from New York.
What was the plan – Iraqi frogmen swimming poison-filled drones onto Block Island?
This fantasy was silly when the scare story was Red Dawn and our enemy was the technologically advanced Soviet Union. But to have the president of the United States trot that one out about busted-down Iraq in a national address, and not have him immediately pilloried by the entire national press corps, was incredible.
The Iraq invasion was always an insane exercise in brainless jingoism that could only be intellectually justified after accepting a series of ludicrous suppositions.
First you had to accept a fictional implied connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. Then you had to buy that this heavily-sanctioned secular dictator (and confirmed enemy of Islamic radicals) would be a likely sponsor of radical Islamic terror. Then after that you had to accept that Saddam even had the capability of supplying terrorists with weapons that could hurt us (the Bush administration’s analysts famously squinted so hard their faces turned inside out trying to see that one).
And then, after all that, you still had to buy that all of these factors together added up to a threat so imminent that it justified the immediate mass sacrifice of American and Iraqi lives.
It was absurd, a whole bunch of maybes piled on top of a perhaps and a theoretically possible or two. O.J.’s lawyers would have been embarrassed by it.
I don’t believe that most of the otherwise smart people who supported the war back then, from Hillary Clinton to the editorial boards of our major newspapers, bought any of this. What did happen is that a lot of people got caught up in the politics of the situation and didn’t have the backbone to opt out. They didn’t want to look weak, un-American, or “against the troops,” at least not in public, so they sat out the debate and got behind the president.
That’s why the lambasting of Jeb Bush by all of these media voices grinds a little. At least plenty of Republicans sincerely thought the war was a good idea. But I know a lot of my colleagues in the media saw through the war from day one.
The bulk of them hid behind the morons in our business, people like Tom Friedman and David Brooks and Jeffrey “I trusted the Germans” Goldberg, frontline pundits who were pushed forward to do the dirty work, the hardcore pom-pom stuff.
Many others, particularly the editors, quietly sat by and let lie after lie spill onto their papers’ pages, telling themselves that this wasn’t wrong or a mistake until years later, when we found out for sure the WMD thing was a canard.
Now a lot of these same people are green-lighting stories about how wrong Jeb Bush is for not admitting to what is at last obvious, “knowing what we know now.” But forget what we know now. We knew then, but we’re just not admitting it.
Karl Rove once again urges Republicans to agree on Obamacare alternative, capturing the essence of GOP failure
Karl Rove (Credit: AP/Rich Pedroncelli)
Way back in June 2014, GOP political guru and long-running Twitter joke Karl Rove wrote a column for the Wall Street Journal advising the Republican Party on how to successfully run against the Affordable Care Act in the midterm elections. President Obama’s health law was a “liberal calamity,” Rove argued, and Republican candidates “should draw attention to the law’s pernicious effects on ordinary Americans.” But merely attacking the law wouldn’t cut it, Rove cautioned – the party also had to sketch out a plan for what it would do to replace Obamacare:
By humanizing ObamaCare’s shortfalls through stories from ordinary people, Republicans will help explode the myth of liberal competence and compassion, keep this issue fresh through the fall and cause voters to hold Democrats accountable at the polls.
Putting ObamaCare in the center of their campaigns will also force GOP candidates to spell out what they would do instead of ObamaCare. Americans do not want to return to the broken status quo in place before Mr. Obama made an even bigger mess of our health-care system.
Rove, of course, came nowhere close to explaining what the politically appealing Republican alternative would look like. His advice was simply that the GOP had to have an alternative. Smart take, politics man! And Republican candidates happily ignored this advice as they cruised to a midterm romp without ever expanding their health care message beyond “Obamacare sucks.”
Now here we are, almost a year later, and Karl Rove is once again writing that Republicans need to have an Obamacare replacement lined up. Funnily enough, his reasons why have shifted. Back during the campaign, Obamacare was an unmitigated disaster that everyone hated and Republicans needed an alternative to contrast with the failure of liberal big government. Now, with the pending Supreme Court decision in King v. Burwell threatening to void Obamacare’s insurance subsidies to the majority of states, Rove is warning that the GOP will take it on the chin politically if they don’t step in with something to make up for the loss of those precious Obamacare resources:
If the Supreme Court holds in King v. Burwell that the Affordable Care Act—also known as ObamaCare—does not allow subsidies for health coverage to flow through federal insurance exchanges, Republicans better be ready to say what to do next. Under such a decision, roughly eight million Americans in three dozen states would lose subsidies worth thousands of dollars. Many would suddenly find it impossible to pay for the insurance plan they’re on now.
President Barack Obama will then accuse conservative justices of overreaching and demand that the GOP Congress immediately extend subsidies to every state. His message will be politically potent, as it will turn the words of Republicans in 2013 back on them: “If you like your plan,” Republicans said, “you should be able to keep your plan.” Hillary Clinton will join in depicting Republicans as heartless brutes who would let people die for lack of health insurance rather than fix Mr. Obama’s law.
“Fortunately,” Rove writes, there are several GOP plans bouncing around Congress. “The challenge,” he adds, “will be to build consensus for one bill, choosing from the many ideas now being discussed.” Of course, that’s been the “challenge” facing Republicans for over half a decade now: they all hate Obamacare, but they can’t come anywhere close to agreeing on what they should do instead. Some of the plans Rove mentions in his column have been floating around Congress in some form for years, but they’ve never gained widespread support within the party. And yet, the presumption that Republicans are on the cusp of resolving this heretofore intractable policy fight never seems to fade. The Republican Obamacare alternative is just around the corner, always and forever.
Here, in these two Karl Rove columns, is a perfect encapsulation of Republican health care policy: declare the need for an Obamacare replacement, acknowledge the difficulty in arriving at a consensus, do nothing because the political lift is too heavy, repeat as needed.
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