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markpkessinger

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Member since: Sat May 15, 2010, 04:48 PM
Number of posts: 6,947

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That moment in his address to Congress when the Pope . . .

. . . called for protection of human life "at all stages of development," whereupon rightwingers gave one of the most enthusiastic cheers of the entire speech, only to have him pivot immediately to a call for the abolition of the death penalty. Priceless!
Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Sep 24, 2015, 01:33 PM (22 replies)

Bernie Sanders' Gift to the Left: The Recovery of our Moral Discourse

The response by an evangelical pastor and Liberty University alumnus to Bernie Sanders' speech at Liberty University, the university founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, on Monday stands as a good reminder that there are, indeed, evangelicals out there who attempt to seriously grapple with the demands of their faith. But the problem remains that far too many evangelical Christians have fallen under the influence of the Evangelical Movement, which is not primarily a religious or theological movement at all, but is rather an opportunistic political movement that masquerades as a religious one and preys upon people who are no doubt sincere, but are also exceedingly gullible and, in some cases, quite bigoted. For the Evangelical Movement, even if not for some sincere evangelical Christians, Jesus and his teachings are reduced to the role of mascot, to be trotted out in support of their bigotries and political ideas. There is perhaps no greater evidence of this than the "honor code" at Liberty, which the pastor mentions and under which students can be expelled for any public statements in support of any candidate or official who supports abortion or same-sex marriage.

Under the influence of the political Evangelical Movement, many -- far too many -- evangelicals have completely lost sight of the notion of collective (i.e., public) morality in favor of a strictly private morality. By doing so, they absolve themselves of any obligation to work towards a more just society (thus making themselves a prime target for exploitation by corporate and big money interests of the GOP).

But it's even worse than that. Even their sphere of individual, private morality has effectively been circumscribed so as to include an obsession with just two issues, opposition to LGBT civil rights and opposition to abortion. Speaking as someone who identifies as a non-evangelical Christian (Presbyterian by upbringing, Episcopalian by adult choice), I have long been baffled at the kind of theology and biblical interpretation required in order to reduce Christianity to a fixation on these two issues. I am not a biblical literalist (nor are most Episcopalians), nor do i believe (as most evangelicals do) in the plenary inspiration of the Bible; I support a woman's right to choose and, as a gay man, support same-sex marriage. But even if I believed every word of the Bible to be literally true, and every word to have been dictated by God, I would be hard-pressed to make a case for a Christianity so exclusively focused on just two areas within an exclusively private sphere of morality. The result has been a perverse, twisted expression of Christianity (if it can even be called that) that bears little, if any, resemblance to any Christianity I have ever known.

What Bernie Sanders speech at Liberty has done, quite remarkably, is to remind at least some evangelicals (those who attempt seriously to grapple with Jesus' teachings, that is), that morality -- even traditional Christian morality -- operates in a collective, public sphere as well as an individual, private one. Hopefully, those whose consciences he was able to move will have at least some leavening effect on those he did not so move.

Finally, though, what Bernie Sanders has done has been to bestow an invaluable gift to the Left as well: that is, the gift of recovery the Left's moral discourse. The political left, understandably eager to distance itself from the hypocritical moralizing of the right, has tended to avoid invoking moral arguments in support of its policy agenda. This has been a huge mistake. By avoiding moral arguments, we have effectively ceded to the Right the entire discussion of morality in a public context. Among many sincere, but not necessarily well-informed voters, this has led to the perception that only the GOP has any moral basis for its arguments (laughable though that notion clearly is). In his speech at Liberty, Bernie showed us how it is done!
Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Sep 17, 2015, 07:07 PM (48 replies)

NY Times Editorial:G.O.P. Anti-Gay Bigotry Threatens First Amendment (and my comment)

Here is a comment I posted to the editorial (an excerpt and link to the editorial itself will follow my comment.

Mark P. Kessinger
New York, NY - 7 hours ago

The suggestion that Christian (or any) clergy will ever be forced to perform same-sex marriages5 is a flat-out lie of the first order. Churches and clergy are not required to perform ANY wedding same-sex or hetero, unless they choose to do so. Under the First Amendment, as it continues to be understood and interpreted, churches/clergy have absolute discretion as to which, if any, weddings they will officiate. There is absolutely nothing in the Supreme Court's ruling concerning same-sex marriage that changes that in any way.

But then, the right's opposition to full civil rights for LBGT citizens, from the execrable "Save Our Children" campaign of Anita Bryant, to the disgusting fear-mongering concerning HIV/AIDS of Falwell and Pat Robertson, to Mike Huckabee's shameless exploitation of Kim Davis, has never, for a moment, been about anything other than exploiting irrational bigotries for political gain.

To any Republican voters who have LGBT members in your family -- and that is likely most of you -- you should really consider carefully the message your support for this party sends to those family members.


And here's the link and excerpt:

G.O.P. Anti-Gay Bigotry Threatens First Amendment

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD - September 12, 2015

This past June, in the heat of their outrage over gay rights, congressional Republicans revived a nasty bit of business they call the First Amendment Defense Act. It would do many things, but one thing it would not do is defend the First Amendment. To the contrary, it would deliberately warp the bedrock principle of religious freedom under the Constitution.

The bill, versions of which have been circulating since 2013, gained a sudden wave of support after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. It is being hawked with the specter of clergy members being forced to officiate such marriages. This is a ploy, as the bill’s backers surely know: There has never been any doubt that the First Amendment protects members of the clergy from performing weddings against their will.

In reality, the act would bar the federal government from taking “any discriminatory action” — including the denial of tax benefits, grants, contracts or licenses — against those who oppose same-sex marriage for religious or moral reasons. In other words, it would use taxpayers’ money to negate federal anti-discrimination measures protecting gays and lesbians, using the idea of religious freedom as cover.

For example, a religiously affiliated college that receives federal grants could fire a professor simply for being gay and still receive those grants. Or federal workers could refuse to process the tax returns of same-sex couples simply because of bigotry against their marriages.

< . . . . >
Posted by markpkessinger | Sun Sep 13, 2015, 05:51 PM (1 replies)

There is something profoundly fitting that that Iran deal should pass , , ,

. . . on this, the eve of the anniversary of 9-11. I say this not because Iran had anything to do with 9-11 -- certainly it did not -- but rather because the passage of a diplomatic solution to a major international problem represents, for me at least, a stark repudiation of the neoconservative approach to foreign policy that has dominated these last 14 years; an approach that first gained a foothold by exploiting the horrific events of that awful day 14 years ago. Thank you, Mr. President and Senate Democrats!
Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Sep 10, 2015, 11:25 PM (0 replies)

Best response to Kim Davis I've seen yet . . .

. . . from a New York Times reader:

DT New York 3 hours ago

I am an Orthodox Jew. I can't eat milk and meat together as per my own personal beliefs. But if I were a county clerk, and someone wanted to open up a cheeseburger joint, I'd have absolutely zero right as a government official to deny that person his permit on the grounds of the rules of my religion.
Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Sep 3, 2015, 06:25 PM (68 replies)

The most ridiculous aspect of the Kim Davis affair . . .

. . . has been the suggestion that there was ever even a question of religious conscience at issue. Neither a marriage license, nor a clerk's signature on that license, represents anybody's approval of the marriage that may -- or may not -- take place under that license. A license is merely a certification that a couple meets the legal requirements for marriage under existing law. It is a certification of objective, legal fact, and thus no question of conscience ever even arises. The notion that certifying that a couple -- ANY couple -- meets a set of legal requirements in any way burdens the conscience of the clerk making that certification renders absurd the entire question of religious accommodation.
Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Sep 3, 2015, 04:30 PM (41 replies)

NYT/Charles Blow: Activists Confront Hillary Clinton

Activists Confront Hillary Clinton
< . . . . >

The activists called on Clinton to answer for her and her husband’s part in the rise of mass incarceration in this country, a phenomenon that disproportionately affects black and brown people.

< . . . . >

Clinton pointed to her record on civil rights work, but she never apologized for, or even acknowledged, her and her husband’s role in giving America the dubious distinction of having the world’s highest incarceration rate.

< . . . >

Maggie Haberman noted in The New York Times that the exchange “showed Mrs. Clinton as even her admirers lament that she is seldom seen: spontaneous, impassioned and seemingly unconcerned about potential repercussions.”

Politically, that may be true. She was agile and evasive, for sure. She bobbed and weaved like Floyd Mayweather. But there was a moral issue, an accountability issue, that still hung rotting in the ring: What in her has changed, now that she has seen the devastation a policy she advocated has wrought?

< . . . . >
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Aug 19, 2015, 09:41 PM (5 replies)

Comparisons between Sanders' and Clinton's interactions with BLM activists are dishonest

(Note: Originally posted in GD, where it got locked, with a note suggesting I post it here instead.)

Those who are quick to compare Mrs. Clinton's interaction with BLM activists to that of Bernie Sanders should remember this: BLM extended to Hillary Clinton the courtesy of confronting her in a pre-arranged meeting that had been set up specifically for this purpose. BLM confronted Bernie Sanders at an event that wasn't even a Sanders campaign event, but a Social Security rally at which he had been invited to speak. Senator Sanders likely felt -- and would have been right to feel -- that a non-campaign appearance was neither the time nor the place to entertain the discussion. Any comparison of the two encounters is dishonest at best.
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Aug 19, 2015, 06:48 PM (65 replies)

Comparisons between Sanders' and Clinton's interactions with BLM activists are dishonest

Those who are quick to compare Mrs. Clinton's interaction with BLM activists to that of Bernie Sanders should remember this: BLM extended to Hillary Clinton the courtesy of confronting her in a pre-arranged meeting that had been set up specifically for this purpose. BLM confronted Bernie Sanders at an event that wasn't even a Sanders campaign event, but a Social Security rally at which he had been invited to speak. Senator Sanders likely felt -- and would have been right to feel -- that a non-campaign appearance was neither the time nor the place to entertain the discussion. Any comparison of the two encounters is dishonest at best.
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Aug 19, 2015, 04:35 PM (15 replies)

Time to put to rest the notion that Glass-Steagall wouldn't have helped in the 2008 collapse

Posted this in GD, and thought the group might be interested: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10027086008
Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Aug 17, 2015, 04:44 PM (1 replies)
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