NewBlackMan: What I Learned This Summer (or What I Already Knew): The Uncompassionate Conservative Movement

What I Learned This Summer (or What I Already Knew):

The Uncompassionate Conservative Movement

by David J. Leonard | NewBlackMan

Kids have made their way back to school, with many writing and reporting about what they did last summer. I thought I would do something similar, writing about what I have learned about “conservatives” in the last few weeks.

Lesson (1) At a recent Republican Debate, audience members made their support for state-sponsored executions clear. What I learned is that they think it is a beautiful thing that Texas executes so many people; the mere mention of execution resulted in cheers and ovations. They must think that being part of a group of nations (including China, Iran, North Korea and Yemen) that carries out a great number of the world’s execution is worthy of applause. I guess some find pride in the fact that Texas executed more people in 2010 (17) than Bangladesh and Somalia and as many as Syria (one less than Libya and about 10 behind Saudi Arabia). While I am appalled by the barbaric practice of state-sponsored murder, I am equally disgusted by the reaction that I witnessed that day. I would guess many of them are unhappy with the U.S. Supreme Court, who issued a stay of execution for Duane Buck, who was convicted of double murder in 1985. According to Tim Murphy:

In order to “secure a capital punishment conviction in Texas they needed to prove “future dangerousness”—that is, provide compelling evidence that Buck posed a serious threat to society if he were ever to walk free. They did so in part with the testimony of a psychologist, Dr. Walter Quijano, who testified that Buck’s race (he’s African American) made him more likely to commit crimes in the future. (Quijano answered in the affirmative to the question of whether “the race factor, [being] black, increases the future dangerousness for various complicated reasons.”)

Governor Perry’s death penalty record (particularly questions raised about his execution of an innocent man) and the applause given for executions give me pause. It is yet another reminder of the hypocrisy in the term “compassionate conservative.”

Lesson (2) The members of the Republican Party think a person without insurance in need of health care should be left to die because “choices have consequences.” Danielle Belton, from The Black Snob, describes the situation in the following way:

The most startling moment was during a hypothetical question posed by Wolf Blitzer about a 30-something, once healthy uninsured guy who didn’t buy insurance when he could afford it, but got really sick and might die. Should we let him die? While Ron Paul was trying to give his “go to a church for help if you’re uninsured and dying of an illness answer” (more on that later), the crowd got a little restless and cheered for letting the dude die.

On top of the last debate where folks cheered Gov. Rick Perry’s death penalty rate in Texas — even when some of those folks killed were likely innocent — has demonstrated a bloodlust among the conservative, “pro-lifer” crowd. Once again proving, the best thing you can do as a human being with these folks is stay a fetus as long as possible.

I guess executions (of some people) are good and allowing some people to die is also fine. These first two “lessons” were just from this month, followed-up on lessons learned throughout the summer

Continue reading at NewBlackMan: What I Learned This Summer (or What I Already Knew): The Uncompassionate Conservative Movement.

Theresa Runstedtler @NewBlackMan: “It Doesn’t Get Any More Real Than Perry”?: The Right’s Stake in Real Americaness

“It Doesn’t Get Any More Real Than Perry”?: The Right’s Stake in Real Americaness

“It Doesn’t Get Any More Real Than Perry”?:

The Right’s Stake in Real Americaness

by Theresa Runstedtler | special to NewBlackMan

“People of all persuasions are sick, sick, SICK of mollycoddling, pandering and Edwardian (as in John Edwards) phoniness . . . . It doesn’t get any more real than Perry. The elite may call it ‘swagger’; I call it a real man with real convictions and the courage to stand up for them, which happen to comport with the majority of Americans. Or as they say in Texas, he is had and cattle. And the coupe de gras, he is a spiritually anchored and philosophically happy warrior.”

– Republican strategist Mary Matalin on presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas)

Since when did the Right (and more specifically white Republican men from Texas) become the arbiters of what it means to be a “real American man”?

As a Canadian transplant, I’ve always found the theatrics of the U.S. political scene fascinating, where big money campaigns seem interminable and public spectacle usually trumps any in-depth discussion of policy. American politics is a virtual blood-sport with all its sound bite and bombastic fury. Texas Governor Rick Perry is just the latest Republican to enter the pissing contest that is the 2012 presidential campaign, ready to show the “real America” that he has the balls to lead the nation.

Of course, Perry is simply following in the well-worn footsteps of his predecessor George W. Bush, with his self-righteous swagger, Texas drawl, and rugged, frontier persona. He prefers cowboy boots to dress shoes and proudly recounts shooting a coyote with his .380 Ruger (it had a laser sight). He wears his Christianity on his sleeve, most recently playing the patriarchal prophet at his Houston prayer rally. Even though Bush’s people reportedly disdain Perry, he seems to have taken many of his moves right out of their campaign playbook.

While Bush had to manufacture a frontier persona to cover up his elite, northeastern roots (much like President Theodore Roosevelt back in the early 1900s), Perry actually has a real connection to rural Texas. As his campaign website triumphantly claims, “A fifth generation Texan, Governor Rick Perry has taken an extraordinary Texas journey, from a tenant farm in the rolling West Texas plains to the governor’s office of our nation’s second largest state.” Perry and his people would clearly like us to think that he made it to his current political station by pure, hard-scrabble individualism (with a little help from the Man upstairs), but even a cursory look at his record suggests otherwise.

As his website extols, “Rick Perry has led a life of public service, starting in the United States Air Force and continuing over two decades in elected office.” Thanks to a clever, rhetorical twist, his work for one of the largest wings of the federal government – the military – can be touted as admirable public service, in contrast to the other government services he so desperately wants to cut. As the wife of a former Marine, I also know that serving in the military makes one eligible for government-backed housing loans and educational funding, but Perry would argue that unlike other handouts these are appropriate entitlements for deserving people. Perhaps most ironic of all, he boasts two decades as an elected official, even as he calls for the shrinking of government. (I’m pretty sure that he won’t be handing back his tax-payer-provided pension or healthcare.)

Perry claims credit for “creating a Texas of unlimited opportunity and prosperity by improving education, securing the border and increasing economic development through classic conservative values.” However, his real record and the real-life conditions in his state tell a different story. Despite his vociferous condemnation of the federal stimulus bill, Perry has a long history of fighting for federal money to help fund state projects. Even members of his own party have decried his blatant “corporate cronyism.” He has used handouts from the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) to pad the pockets of his friends in big business, who in turn have helped to fill his campaign coffers. The free market’s hand is not so invisible in the Lone Star state.

Continue reading @ NewBlackMan: “It Doesn’t Get Any More Real Than Perry”?: The Right’s Stake in Real Americaness.