Ethics

The right’s sham Christianity: How an attack on John Kasich exposes the fraud

The right's sham Christianity: How an attack on John Kasich exposes the fraud

Gov. John Kasich (OH-R) | (Credit: AP/Tony Dejak)

Salon

Ohio’s GOP governor was the darling of the right — until he sought to help poor people, in the name of Christ

Could Republican Gov. John Kasich run for president? According to the Washington Post, he’s poised to, and he certainly seems to be among the better options out there, with the other obvious choices either clearly deranged (Ted Cruz) or totally uninterested (Mitt Romney). But conservatives have not been roundly pleased with Kasich, in part because he is evidently something of a committed Christian.

Last year, Kasich fought doggedly to expand Medicaid coverage in Ohio, extending healthcare to some 275,000 poor people. When queried as to why a conservative would push for expanded coverage, Kasich explained his reasoning thus:

“I had a conversation with one of the members of the legislature the other day. I said, ‘I respect the fact that you believe in small government. I do, too. I also know that you’re a person of faith.  Now, when you die and get to the meeting with St. Peter, he’s probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small. But he is going to ask you what you did for the poor. You better have a good answer.’  ”

Conservative critics did not have a good answer. If Kasich’s challenge required a faith-based, well-reasoned critique of Medicaid to defend Republican animus, that wasn’t what it received. Instead, Kasich’s right-wing opponents produced a series of attacks that seemed straight out of the Richard Dawkins school of rhetoric. At RedState, for instance, Jason Hart complained that “Kasich leaned heavily on his Christian faith to push the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” and glossed over Kasich’s explanation of his Christian reasoning as: “anyone who opposes Medicaid expansion will have to answer for their opposition when they die.”

Of course, Kasich didn’t suggest that anyone who opposes Medicaid expansion will have to answer for such at the pearly gates; he merely pointed out that, at this point in time, Medicaid expansion is the only option for extending healthcare coverage to poor people in Ohio, making it the most sensible Christian option. Were there other options – that is, if Republicans had some small-government program that resulted in equal or better coverage – Kasich’s argument would fall out in favor of that. But as it stands no such substitute exists. It’s notable that misrepresenting Kasich’s Christian defense of Medicaid expansion remains a popular smear. Consider the National Review’s Avik Roy:

Roy’s lie is as glib as it is lazy, suggesting two simultaneous pathologies: first, that conservatives have mostly given up on an actual faith-based critique of extending healthcare coverage to poor people; second, that unless Christianity is acting as a helpful crutch to prop up libertarian fiscal policies, it’s more or less a joke.

True to form, the Wall Street Journal had an absolute field day making fun of Kasich’s Christian reasoning. “Believe it or not, there are still a few disciples with faith in an ObamaCare higher power,” the article titled “Medicaid and the Apostle Kasich” opens, and the faith-themed snark just rolls on from there. Both theologically tone-deaf and redolent with Hitchensian disdain of Christian thought, the piece sneers that Kasich “really must feel like he’s guided by the Holy Spirit” (perish the thought!), and sniffs that Kasich’s “government-as-thy-brother’s-keeper riff needs some moral fine-tuning.” But the most damning line is the last: “Republicans get a vote before St. Peter does.”

It seems this is where Kasich and his critics depart: For the governor, and for any faithful Christian, Christian ethics precede party politics. For some time the line from Christian politicians like Paul Ryan has been that their faith inspires their political affiliation, not vice versa. But the response of various conservative venues to a Christian argument that, while theologically orthodox and sensible, nonetheless reverses a cherished partisan position, suggests another situation of priorities.

Kasich’s sin is to present a vision of fiscal conservatism that is limited rather than necessitated by Christian ethics. His argument, despite what Roy, Hart and the Wall Street Journal would present, is actually sophisticated: He points out that Christian doctrine directly requires the consideration of the poor ahead of the interests of profit. It is not that Christian doctrine has traditionally held that any profit from business is wrong (though more radical strands have moved in that direction), but that excess wealth has generally been viewed by Christian authorities as acceptable only insofar as the needs of the most vulnerable have been met. This is foundational, ancient Christian teaching, ranging from the earliest church fathers to the medieval scholars and into the modern day.

Naturally, Kasich’s critics don’t bother to attempt a reversal on theological grounds. Instead they suggest, pace Hart, that there is some small-government solution directly at hand that Kasich has ignored. Yet they have roundly failed to produce it. If you could link to a policy proposal that better accomplishes the goal of ensuring the poor healthcare coverage, why sneer about “hating Jesus” instead?

Because, it seems, the comedy of Christian sentiment opposed to conservative dogma is rote among right-wingers. Conservatives are smart to saturate airwaves with turf wars over social issues, wherein they’re more than happy to prop up Christian views; but Christian voters should be wary of the swiftness and viciousness with which conservatives seem prepared to dismiss even perfectly solid Christian reasoning altogether when it no longer suits them. If party policy is that the interests of the GOP precede the interests of the Prince of Peace, there’s not much room for negotiation.

Reporters Rank Very Low in Gallup Honesty/Ethics Poll, Slightly Ahead of Congress

Mediaite

Americans don’t trust reporters much more than they trust Congress.

Surprise surprise: people hate the media and their elected officials. That’s one of the key takeaways froma new Gallup poll on certain professions and how much people associate them with honesty and ethics. And reporters rank very low on the list, slightly above Congress and slightly below bankers.

Atop the list are people in the medical profession, doctors, and police officers, but the majority of jobs on the list have less than of respondents saying they’re honest or favorable.

In the single-digits: car salespeople (9 percent), members of Congress (8 percent), and lobbyists (6 percent). Gallup notes that nurses have topped the list every year (save for one) since 1999.

20 percent of respondents had a favorable view of TV reporters, while 21 percent said the same about newspaper reporters. It should be noted these numbers have been relatively constant in the history of the poll since 1998.

Another key revelation from the poll is that for the first time, less than 50 percent of people believe that the clergy is both honest and ethical.

You can read the full poll results here [PDF].

[photo via Shutterstock]

 

The Koch Brothers Are Spending Millions to Deny Poor Americans Healthcare

Koch-Brother-Star-in-Clear-and-Present-Danger-Axis-of-Evil

I’ll never understand the logic of billionaires using every mechanism possible to keep working poor Americans “in their place” by making every effort to destroy ObamaCare.

PoliticusUSA

One should be wary of assigning the word evil to another human being because it means they are profoundly immoral and guilty of not conforming to conduct established as consistent with principles of personal and social ethics. Evil, or immoral, people would likely cause pain, suffering, and even death to another human being for pleasure, or withhold assistance to a person in distress regardless it would be of no consequence or cost to them. Unfortunately, America is home to two of the most evil men on the planet. It is difficult to imagine any American spending their money to deny medical care to an infirm American they have no connection to or personal hatred for, but Charles and David Koch are spending money to deny poor Americans healthcare for no readily apparent reason except the Kochs are genuinely evil, immoral men devoid of personal or social ethics.

Recently there has been encouraging news for residents of states with Republican governors because they are accepting the Affordable Care Acts’ Medicaid expansion provisions to provide the poorest Americans with healthcare. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is the latest Republican to accept the Medicaid expansion plan that takes effect on January 1, 2014 and is fully funded by the federal government for three years. After three years federal funding begins phasing down to no less than 90% by 2020. States would be left with a minimal investment (10%) after 2020 to provide healthcare for hundreds-of-thousands of poor Americans who would be without medical care without the expansion.

Brewer, who is not normally recognized for her compassion, spoke at arally to garner support for her decision and cited her reasons for embracing expansion that include, broadening eligibility for the poor saves taxpayer money, saves lives, and eases the burden on hospitals caring for uninsured patients. She warned that without expansion, 50,000 Arizonans would lose healthcare coverage after January 1 “even if they’re in the middle of their treatment; the human cost of this tragedy can’t be calculated.” Despite the cost to the state of not expanding Medicaid, one might wonder why Brewer had to rally support to avert an incalculable human tragedy, because any Arizona resident with a modicum of morality would embrace a program providing healthcare to 50,000 poor Arizonans.

Continued here…

Wall Street Executives Believe Employees Need To Engage In Illegal Behavior To Succeed

So it looks like those guys will be doing “business as usual” (circa 2000-2008) with impunity.  Back in 2008 the outgoing Bush administration deemed the several large banks involved in the crash too big to fail.  Yet, the strongest of those banks have gobbled up the weaker banks and now the three or four major banks left are too big to fail on steroids.

It appears these banks can do whatever they want because the same government that they tend to despise will bail them out once again.  I doubt this problem is going to be resolved through the next presidential term, regardless of whose in office.

The following report on a survey conducted by the law firm of Labaton Sucharow reveals a lot about current attitudes of Wall Street Executives regarding illegal behavior and regulations, which they are adamantly against.  After all, how can they continue their illegal activities with so many regulators snooping around on them all the time?

Think Progress

British and U.S. authorities are both now investigating Barclays and other banks for manipulating the London InterBank Offered Rate, an interest rate that is a benchmark for a host of financial products around the world. Regulators charge that the banks rigged the interest rate’s movements in order to profit and to make themselves look healthier during the financial crisis of 2008 than they actually were.

This comes on the heels of JP Morgan losing billions of dollars chasing profits with trades that were meant to reduce risk, and, of course, is just a few years removed from a crisis caused in large part by Wall Street malfeasance. But according to a survey by the whistleblower law firm Labaton Sucharow, Wall Street executives believe this is just part of the financial business. In fact, nearly one quarter of survey respondents said that financial services employees need to be unethical or engage in illegal behavior in order to be successful:

In a survey of 500 senior executives in the United States and the UK, 26 percent of respondents said they had observed or had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace, while 24 percent said they believed financial services professionals may need to engage in unethical or illegal conduct to be successful.

Sixteen percent of respondents said they would commit insider trading if they could get away with it, according to Labaton Sucharow. And 30 percent said their compensation plans created pressure to compromise ethical standards or violate the law.

Big banks, of course, have continued to fight reforms to the financial regulatory framework, even in the wake of the crash of 2008. But if this survey is any indication, Wall Street needs a mentality change, along with stricter supervision.

Clarence Thomas Assailed For Alleged Ethical Lapses By More House Dems

It’s about time that more than just liberal bloggers and Anthony Weiner are noticing Justice Clarence Thomas’ ethics issues…

The Huffington Post

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) is turning up the heat on Justice Clarence Thomas based on new information that builds upon previous reports of his alleged ethical lapses.

In late September, Slaughter had sent a letter to the Judicial Conference of the United States to request official action on Thomas’ multiyear failure to disclose his wife’s income from various conservative think tanks and activist organizations. The Judicial Conference is the principal policy-making and administrative body for the federal court system.

On Friday, Slaughter submitted a new letter, this time addressed to Chief Justice John Roberts in his capacity as the presiding officer of the Judicial Conference, to update and clarify the September letter.

At issue is the fact that Thomas repeatedly checked a box titled “none” on annual financial disclosure forms in response to a question about the sources of spousal income. Yet during those years, his wife, Virginia Thomas, worked for the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation and for the Tea Party lobbying group Liberty Central, which she helped found.

The first letter asserted that Thomas’ nondisclosures persisted “[t]hroughout his entire tenure of the Supreme Court,” which began in 1991. It was fair to infer from his “high level of legal training and experience,” Slaughter wrote, that the justice’s failure presented the type of “willful” behavior that federal law requires the Judicial Conference to refer to the Department of Justice for investigation.

Friday’s letter, however, states that Thomas actually did report the sources of his wife’s income until 1997, therefore heightening the inference that the justice had not “misunderstood the reporting instructions,” as he asserted in January when he filed seven pages of addenda correcting his omissions over a six-year period. Citing information obtained by the left-leaning watchdog groups Common Cause and Alliance for Justice, Slaughter wrote that “Justice Thomas accurately filed his financial disclosure forms, including his wife’s employment, for as many as 10 years beginning in 1987 when he was Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.”

Continue reading here…

Related articles

Criminal Behavior: Throw Clarence Thomas Off the Bench

Bill Clinton was impeached—and subsequently disbarred—for defending his false statements about his affair with Monica Lewinsky with an excuse that wasn’t as incredible as the one Thomas is now employing.

The Daily Beast - By Paul Campos

The Supreme Court justice broke the law by not disclosing his wife’s $700K think-tank payday. Paul Campos on Clarence Thomas’ “preposterous” defense and why he likely won’t be punished.

The criminal-law scholar George Fletcher once quipped that the maxim “ignorance of the law is no excuse” is one of the few fundamental principles of law that most people actually know. As harsh as this principle may sometimes be when applied to ordinary citizens, applying it to justices of the Supreme Court seems only reasonable.

Thus it’s difficult to feel sympathy for Clarence Thomas, as he finds himself embroiled in a controversy over his failure to reveal the sources of his wife’s non-investment income (or indeed that she even had any such income). The 1978 Ethics in Government Act requires all federal judges to fill out annual financial-disclosure forms. The relevant question on the disclosure form isn’t complicated: Even if Justice Thomas wasn’t a lawyer, he shouldn’t have needed to hire one to explain to him that the box marked NONE next to the phrase “Spouse’s Non-Investment Income” should only be checked if his spouse had no non-investment income.

In fact Ginni Thomas was paid nearly $700,000 by the Heritage Foundation, a “conservative think tank,” between 2003 and 2007, as well as an undisclosed amount by another lobbying group in 2009. Justice Thomas’ false statements regarding his wife’s income certainly constitute a misdemeanor, and quite probably a felony, under federal law. (They would be felonies if he were prosecuted under 18. U.S.C. 1001, which criminalizes knowingly making false statements of material fact to a federal agency. This is the law Martha Stewart was convicted of breaking by lying to investigators.)

Thomas’ defense is that he didn’t knowingly violate the law, because he “misunderstood” the filing requirements. This is preposterous on its face. Bill Clinton was impeached—and subsequently disbarred—for defending his false statements about his affair with Monica Lewinsky with an excuse that wasn’t as incredible as the one Thomas is now employing.        Continue reading here…

All You Need To Know

  

The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.
                        John Kenneth Galbraith

 

 

THE JACK CLARK COROLLARY

Everything the right-wing does is designed to accomplish one of two things, either:
(a) transfer wealth from everyone else to the rich, or,
(b) distract everyone else from the fact that (a) is occurring.

Think you’ve read the worst about foreclosures? Read this

Seal of Miami, Florida, United States

Image via Wikipedia

McClatchy

MIAMI — All she wanted was $50,000 from the equity in her house to help pay the bills while looking for a job in nursing. What Imogene Hall got was a brutal lesson in the sometimes shady ways of the mortgage industry.

It’s a lesson learned by untold numbers of homeowners in Florida, epicenter of the foreclosure crisis gripping the nation.

“Everywhere I turn, someone else is scamming me,” said Hall, a 49-year-old Jamaican immigrant who stands to lose her Miami Gardens home the Monday after Thanksgiving. “All I do is work hard, and I get surrounded by thieves.”

A review of court records found evidence of misconduct at nearly every stage of Hall’s experience. Consider:

_ Johnson Cuffy, a former mortgage broker now serving an 11-year prison sentence for grand theft, handled Hall’s refinancing in early 2006, using a strategy a state investigator described as “outright mortgage fraud.” He faces up to 30 more years in prison if convicted of 16 other mortgage fraud charges he’s facing.

_ The title agent who signed the crucial deed transfers that Hall’s fraud claim rests on operated an unlicensed title company that stole more than $1.5 million from South Florida home buyers during closing proceedings between 2005 and 2007, according to Florida Supreme Court records.

_ A man who listed his employer as a nonexistent Blockbuster Video store in New York somehow used Hall’s home as collateral to secure a $230,000 loan from subprime lender Argent Mortgage.

_ Hall’s foreclosure was processed by the Florida Default Law Group, one of four Florida law firms being investigated by the state attorney general for using flawed documents to repossess homes from thousands of owners.

Read more…

Ethics Panel Says House Should Censure Charlie Rangel

There’s either one of two scenarios here that prevented the ethics panel from tossing Rangel out, totally:

1)  They felt sorry for the 80 year old congressman from Harlem based on his longevity in the House

or

2) So many Congressmen and Senators are in bed with so many “special interests” that just censuring Rangel seemed appropriate enough.  Of course that would be because they feared getting exposed for their ethical violations.

I choose the latter.

TPM Muckraker

Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) should be censured by the House of Representatives and pay back taxes for financial and fundraising misconduct, the House ethics committee recommended late Thursday.

The House of Representatives will likely consider the motion to censure the 20-term congressman after Thanksgiving, the Associated Press reported.

A bipartisan panel debated how Rangel should be punished for several hours on Thursday. The vote to recommend censure for Rangel was 9-1.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would give an oral rebuke to Rangel before his colleagues if the House votes to accept the committee’s recommendations.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Not A Care In The World? Charlie Rangel’s Birthday Celebration]

Rangel made an emotional appeal to the committee earlier in the day, and didn’t have much to say to reporters following the hearing. He later issued a statement of apology.

The ethics panel had already decided that Rangel was guilty of 11 ethics violations, a result Rangel said was unfair. He said it was the committee’s fault that he did not have a lawyer and walked out of the hearing, but the panel decided to go ahead.

Ethics cases raise racial questions

Politico

The politically charged decisions by veteran Democratic Reps. Charles Rangel of New York and Maxine Waters of California to force public trials by the House ethics committee are raising questions about race and whether black lawmakers face more scrutiny over allegations of ethical or criminal wrongdoing than their white colleagues.

The controversy over the cases and the prospect of the first simultaneous ethics trials for multiple members in more than 30 years mark the biggest challenge for the ethics committee’s and the House’s ability to police its own members since the mid-1990s, when then-Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and other leaders from both parties found themselves hauled before the secretive panel.

The question of whether black lawmakers are now being singled out for scrutiny has been simmering throughout the 111th Congress, with the Office of Congressional Ethics a focal point of the concerns. At one point earlier this year, all eight lawmakers under formal investigation by the House ethics committee, including Rangel and Waters, were black Democrats. All those investigations originated with the OCE, which can make recommendations — but take no final actions — on such cases.

There’s a “dual standard, one for most members and one for African-Americans,” said one member of the Congressional Black Caucus, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The member said it’s too easy for an outside group to damage someone’s reputation by filing a claim with OCE.

“This is stacked against you once an accusation is made,” the lawmaker added. “You’re guilty until proven otherwise.”

Rangel made his own referral to the ethics committee after news reports in 2008 that he improperly controlled four rent-stabilized units in a luxury Harlem building and had used official congressional letterhead to mail donor solicitations for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York. That case later expanded to include Rangel’s failure to pay taxes on rental income on a Dominican Island resort home, failure to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in income on his annual disclosure form and his intervention on a tax break for a million-dollar donor to the Rangel Center.

On Thursday, the ethics committee hit Rangel with a 13-count Statement of Violation after a nearly two-year probe into his finances and failed attempts to strike a deal to avert formal charges.

Continue reading more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0810/40533.html#ixzz0vQQMLbpS