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markpkessinger

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Member since: Sat May 15, 2010, 04:48 PM
Number of posts: 7,014

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Hillary misrepresented her past support for the TPP during the debate

In the debate last night, Hillary said:

You know, take the trade deal. I did say, when I was secretary of state, three years ago, that I hoped it would be the gold standard. It was just finally negotiated last week, and in looking at it, it didn't meet my standards. My standards for more new, good jobs for Americans, for raising wages for Americans.


No, Hillary, you said it was the gold standard, not that you "hoped it would become" the gold standard! From the transcript of Remarks at Technet Australia, November 12, 2012, found on the Department of State's website:

"This TPP sets the gold standard in trade agreements to open free, transparent, fair trade, the kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field. "


Note the absence of any language about future hopes of what the TPP would become. Many of the most controversial aspects of the TPP were leaked in November of 2013. Now, is it possible that ALL of the controversial provisions were inserted between the time she left her job as Secretary of State on February 1, 2013, and the date on which Wikileaks obtained parts of a working draft of the document? Sure, it's possible. Almost anything is possible. But these are significant provisions we are talking about, so it isn't bloody likely! And note the vagary of her (now purported) objection: "it didn't meet my standards." What the hell does that mean? It tells us absolutely nothing about WHICH provisions she opposes and why -- and that is critically important information.

It just further erodes my capacity to trust her.
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Oct 14, 2015, 08:11 PM (18 replies)

A quick take on the debate

One can like or dislike, or agree or disagree, with any of the five candidates on stage last night. But at least all five showed up prepared to address serious issues like serious adults, and for that we can all be rightly proud. That said, here are my reactions to last night:

Sanders: Won the night. (Pundits and Hillary supporters will, of course, disagree.)
Clinton: Kept her base. (But probably didn't make any new converts.)
O'Malley: Still don't know who he is.
Chafee: "Vote for me because I'm a stand-up guy." (Um . . . okay,)
Webb: Republican-lite. (Dude, you're on the wrong stage!)
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Oct 14, 2015, 04:57 PM (1 replies)

NYT Editorial: A Law That Hides Police Misconduct From the Public

Wow -- I had no idea this law existed, let alone that it is unique to New York State/ According to the editorial, it was passed in 1976, with the intent of preventing criminal defense attorneys from bringing up personnel information from an officer's record in criminal trials in order to discredit that officer's testimony. Municipalities have broadened their interpretation of the law to extend even to instances of substantiated misconduct by an officer. While I can envision some instances in which a defense attorney might try to unfairly use something from an officer's personnel file to discredit him or her, I can also envision cases in which a history of misconduct by an officer might very well speak to the credibility of his or her testimony. In any case, it is hard to see how such a law was ever necessary, because if a defense counsel were to bring up something from an officer's personnel file that was irrelevant to the case, a prosecutor could object, and a judge (if he or she agreed it was irrelevant) could immediately quash that line of questioning. This smacks of something lobbied for by the police unions in order to shield their members from accountability for misconduct.

A Law That Hides Police Misconduct From the Public

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD OCT. 12, 2015

The uniquely restrictive New York State law that is used to conceal the disciplinary histories of police officers — even some who have committed crimes — reared its head again last week in misconduct proceedings against the officer who brutalized the retired tennis player James Blake during a mistaken arrest in Manhattan last month.

The public has the right to be kept informed of police misconduct cases, especially at a time of heightened concern over police brutality. But when the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board substantiated excessive force charges against James Frascatore, the officer who attacked Mr. Blake, it was allowed to release its findings to Mr. Blake’s lawyer but was barred from making them available to the public. Had Mr. Blake’s attorney not released the information, the public would still be in the dark.

The state law on officers’ histories is the only one of its kind in the nation. It was enacted in 1976 to prevent criminal defense lawyers from using freedom-of-information laws to gain access to personnel records for information to use against officers in trials.

The law says an officer’s personnel record cannot be publicly released or cited in court without a judge’s approval. But municipalities and courts have since broadened the definition of “personnel record” to shield almost any information. As a result police officers, who have more authority over the public than any other public-sector employees, are actually the least accountable. Citing this problem, the New York State Committee on Open Government, which advises government on privacy matters, has rightly called for the Legislature to repeal the statute.

< . . . . >
Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Oct 12, 2015, 06:47 PM (2 replies)

A couple of thoughts about the Pope and Kim Davis

There have been articles posted here and elsewhere about Pope Francis' statement, in apparent support of Kim Davis, that government officials have a human right to decline to discharge duties that violate their conscience. Just so you understand where I am coming from, I am a 54-year-old gay man, an Episcopalian, a staunch supporter of marriage equality as well as all other civil rights for LGBTQ persons -- causes I have supported since the day I came out 35 years ago, in 1980, at the age of 19. I have very much admired Pope Francis' statements on issues such as economic inequality, social justice and the environment. So you might expect that this news would come as some terrible disappointment to me. But the fact of the matter is that I just can't get particularly incensed by it. The way I see it, it is simply an indicator that the Pope has his blind spots (as does his institution). I can still applaud him on those areas where he is a breath of fresh air. But there are also a couple of other things to keep in mind . . .

First, we don't really know what information the Pope has been given about the Kim Davis case, or whether it was information he gleaned on his own or if he might have been briefed about it by, say, an American bishop or other aide. I can imagine that if he was briefed on it by someone like Cardinal Archbishop Timothy Dolan, for example, then the information would have had quite a spin on it.

But besides all of the above, there's a certain fallacy built into the question that was put to the Pope, in that Kim Davis was never denied the right to refrain, herself, from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The option of allowing others to issue the marriage licenses she felt she could not, as a matter of (alleged) conscience was available to her from the beginning, and was offered as a way to avoid legal action by the lawyers for the couples who ultimately sued. But she refused that because she wanted to prevent any of her staff from issuing the licenses as well. Somehow, I suspect that if Pope Francis were fully apprised of all of the details of this case, he might see it rather differently. And if not, well, then I guess he's just infallibly wrong on this particular subject.
Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Sep 28, 2015, 06:23 PM (17 replies)

Much as I despise John Boehner . . .

. . . I can't quite bring myself to dance on his grave, because I fear what is in store for us will be far, far worse.
Posted by markpkessinger | Fri Sep 25, 2015, 09:53 PM (4 replies)

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)
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