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)


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.

Paladino’s Hometown Paper Endorses Cuomo

Surely this comes as no surprise to anyone…

Associated Press

Republican Carl Paladino’s hometown Buffalo News on Sunday endorsed his rival in the New York governor’s race, declaring “there is no choice” but Andrew Cuomo.

The endorsement continues a sweep so far for the Manhattan Democrat. Cuomo’s endorsement include The New York Times, New York’s Daily News, the New York Post, Newsday, and the upstate newspapers in Rochester, Poughkeepsie, Kingston and Glens Falls.

“While it has become trendy to sneer at ‘career politicians,”‘ Sunday’s Buffalo News editorial stated, “the fact is that a good one knows his stuff: How to work the levers of power to best advantage; who the players are; where the bodies are buried. Cuomo knows all that and he has laid out an approach for taking the state back from the special interests and the lawmakers they have bought.”

The editorial states that although Cuomo is “a powerful political insider,” the newspaper believes the son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo “will lead.”

“If he accomplishes only half of what he says he wants — detailed in a series of (policy) books he has released — he will have rendered a historic service to the state,” the newspaper said.

The Buffalo News also warned, however, that Cuomo needs to stave off his special interest supporters from whom he “has accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars … and, while we recognize that money is the lifeblood of election politics, it is also the grease that has crippled a once proud state.”

Paladino spokesman Michael Caputo said Sunday that the News’ endorsement “has always been the kiss of death in Western New York … now Carl’s supporters here will come out even stronger.”

Recent polls have shown Cuomo with a growing double-digit-percentage lead ahead of the election Nov. 2.

Paladino never accepted an opportunity to make his case to the editorial board, although Cuomo did.

Instead, Paladino over the weekend tried to highlight an article from another newspaper’s news section. A Wall Street Journal article cited records that criticize Cuomo’s governance as federal housing secretary under President Bill Clinton.      Continue reading…

Two of AZ Gov. Brewer’s Advisers Have Ties to Private Prison Industry

Now this is an interesting development, on many fronts…

Crooks & Liars

Gee, I wonder if Greta Van Susteren will ask Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer about this the next time she comes on her show fear mongering about Arizona’s illegal immigration problem? Seems she has some advisers that have lobbying ties to the private prison industry. Color me not shocked. From KPHO-5, Phoenix, AZ:

Hotel Owners: Ariz. Politicians Scaring Tourists – Private Prisons Might Gain From New Immigration Law:

Between the economy and boycotts related to Arizona’s tough new immigration law, SB 1070, tourism in the state is down 10 percent.

They said state politicians are not helping matters. Just flip on cable news, and you’re likely to see an anchor or reporter talking about an invasion at the border, or headless bodies in the desert, or a rash of kidnappings.

During this election cycle, Arizona politicians have touted the potential danger of illegal immigration. Gov. Jan Brewer is one of the loudest voices.

She has made several statements to the national media, the validity of which CBS 5 Investigates could not confirm. The governor told one media outlet that almost all illegal immigrants are bringing drugs across the border. U.S. Border Patrol officials said that statement is false.

Brewer also said law enforcement officials have found decapitated bodies in the desert. Calls to all of Arizona’s border county medical examiners revealed no decapitated bodies have been reported to them.

A look at data from the FBI shows crime in Arizona is actually down. Murders in Phoenix have dropped by 50 percent since 2003. The violent crime rate across the state has dropped every year since at least 2004. Even the number of illegal border crossers is down. Border Patrol numbers show they are arresting half as many illegal immigrants as they did in 2004. […]

In the meantime, a CBS 5 investigation revealed that there is one business that could gain from the implementation of SB 1070 and similar immigration measures. The private prison industry houses illegal immigrant detainees for the federal government. Those companies could gain contracts with state and local agencies to house illegal immigrants arrested for state violations.

Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA, holds the federal contract to house detainees in Arizona. The company bills $11 million per month. CBS 5 Investigates has learned that two of Brewer’s top advisers have connections to CCA.

Paul Senseman is the governor’s deputy chief of staff. He is also a former lobbyist for CCA. His wife is listed as a current lobbyist for the company.

Chuck Coughlin is one of the governor’s policy advisers and her campaign chairman. Coughlin’s company, HighGround Public Affairs Consultants, currently lobbies for CCA.

CCA issued the following statement to CBS 5 Investigates:

“CCA, unequivocally, did not at any time lobby – nor did we have any outside consultants lobby – anyone in Arizona on the immigration law. Nor are we proposing to house detainee immigrants as a result of SB 1070. We currently have no contracts with the State or any counties. CCA very proudly does have a presence in Arizona, as we own and operate 6 correctional facilities, employing more than 2,500 Arizona residents. These contracts are with other state and federal jurisdictions.”

Meanwhile, at Rancho de la Osa, Richard and Veronica Schultz said they don’t know much about the motives behind the politicians making alarming statements about the border. Read on…