Deja News on Race, Gays, Hebdo... And the 'Error' of Mass Incarceration



By Mark Green

Lamarche and Christie agree on Marriage Equality and Charlie Hebdo but, like the country, divide on why it's the fire this time in Baltimore. Will we have recurring police-triggered violence -- from Harlem in 1930s to Ferguson and Baltimore today -- or can government reduce both police violence and urban pathologies?

On Baltimore Riots. Gara Lamarche of the Democracy Alliance and Ron Christie, previously a ranking aide in the Bush-Cheney White House, laud the charges filed as we go on air against six officers in Baltimore who allowed an innocent, injured Freddie Gray to die in their custody. "This happens in only two percent of all such fatalities," Gara reminds us.

As for larger structural issues, there's a split: Ron focuses on a two-thirds rate of out-of-wedlock rate among black youth and the argument "if you don't do the crime, you won't do the time." Ok, but two questions: why would a black teen without a record suddenly join a mob burning down a CVS -- lead chips, bad schools, few job prospects -- and what can we do about that?

Ron cites his strict parents giving him a sense of morality and his personal work with Boys & Girls Clubs "showing children that they're loved."

Gara, instead, praises Hillary Clinton for her policy address citing that 1.5 million black men - due to incarceration or pre-mature death -- are "missing" from their families and communities which certainly contributes to the decline of neighborhoods. Both agree that there's now an unusual and growing bi-partisan consensus -- based on Michelle Alexander's monumental book, The New Jim Crow -- for sentencing reform and de-incarceration because of Democratic concerns about human rights and Conservative concerns about the cost of this process and scope of big government.

Host: Ted Cruz and Bill O'Reilly are ideologically craven to blame merely Obama and black culture for centuries of economic and legal repression. An America that defeated the Nazis and polio and now has a $15 trillion economy can probably be smarter about broken schools, poor jobs and health prospects by race, and a police culture that apparently tolerates too many cops joining in violence and cover-ups in racially charged situations. Beyond good things like more cameras and better training, it should help that police who might shoot fleeing suspects in the back or neglect to provide care to people in their custody with fatal consequences presumably will do that less in the future. Deterrence works for civilians and cops.

Specifically, the Baltimore prosecutor who brought charges -- herself an African American woman with both parents having been police officers -- showed great courage in bringing charges, however difficult it may prove to be to secure convictions. Ron's Boys & Girls Club experience is positive but ultimately a Bushian "point of light". Since the goal is "not charity but justice," in TR's phrase, there's a role for better government since a) only it has the resources to make a permanent difference and b) referring to those who blithely argue that "the Great Society failed," in my view, "no one's smart enough to be pessimist" here.

On Marriage Equality in Supreme Court. Given a huge shift in popular and judicial opinion on the issue of same-sex marriage, there's a consensus that the Court will rule that the Equal Protection clause should allow gays to marry. For those conservatives who decry "the gay life style", how about letting them participate in the stability of marriage? (Or as Gara notes, "why not let them be as miserable as the rest of us?", which is, I'm pretty confident, a joke.)

Ron says he doesn't care who else marries while Gara & the Host mock the repeated and losing arguments of some conservative Justices - from Alito's concerns about polygamous couples marrying (a "slippery slope" trick that Jon Stewart mocked as "what next, will dogs marry?") Kennedy/Scalia's mentions of millennia of custom since slavery had a long run Roberts asserting that the plaintiffs were seeking " not to join but change the institution of marriage." Huh? Of course they're seeking to join it and marriage has been changing in modern times, if he hadn't noticed, like banning anti-miscegenation laws in the 1967 Loving decision and not treating women as property anymore. Nor can such jurists make pro-creation the basis of marriage, argues Kagan and Ginsburg, since we allow infertile men and 70 year-old women to marry.

What will be the political impact of such a pro-marriage ruling? Ron thinks/hopes it'll help GOP by sidelining a losing issue for them. Gara wonders about how that party can deal with the split among GOP millennials, a majority favoring it, and evangelicals, a majority against it.

Host's predictions: the Court will rule 6-3 to uphold it; craven '16-ers -- Huckabee, Santorum, Jindel, Cruz especially -- will then pledge to overturn this decision in order to pander to early caucus/ primary voters; then there will not be a big backlash and "massive resistance" against it as with the aftermaths of Brown v. Board and Roe v. Wade -- there being no comparable injury to conservatives like the loss of the Old South or more abortions of innocent "babies"; it'll be gone as a voting issue by 2020 because the GOP likes to win elections.

On Charlie Hebdo and MTA on Free Speech. A few dozen authors and members of PEN protested a First Amendment award going to Charlie Hebdo's surviving editors because of the magazine's "cultural intolerance" toward Muslims. To the contrary, Salman Rushdie, who combines eloquence and credibility since a fatwa on him for his Satatnic Verses, says that "when I hear someone say 'I'm for free speech but,' I stop listening..." There's a complete consensus for PEN, Rushie and Charlie Hebdo.

Ok, how about the NYC MTA banning ALL political ads since it can't only ban Pamela Gellers's sickeningly offensive Islamophobic ads about the Koran and "killing Jews"? They agree that MTA sholdn't do that, though Ron hedges by hoping there are standards that could weed out such offensive ads. (Host: every political ad offends someone.)

On Bruce Jenner as a Transgender Republican. After listening to Diane Sawyer's amazing interview with Bruce Jenner, Ron is tongue-in-cheekily asked what was more shocking, the decathlon winner coming out as a transgender or a conservative Republican? Will the GOP embrace him? Ron thinks it will but what about non-Christie R's? Not so much.

On Judges Raising Campaign Cash. In a surprise 5-4 ruling, with Roberts joining the four liberals, the Court agrees that states could limit fund-raising by judges in elections since a dispassionate judge is essential, unlike an equivalent politician favoring his donors. Does the panel agree with this decision and Roberts's distinction between judicial bribery and political bribery? Yes with the decision though not necessarily with the rationale. Gara would like the Court to go further -- can't a Marco Rubio be as bought by a $1 billion donor as a judge? Ron agrees but then a) questions the millions going to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary was Secretary of State and b) thinks we should leave Citizens United along.

As immoderator, I humbly point out that there's a big difference between one Adelman spending a billion in a campaign to a candidate and people donating to a 501c3 while the head's wife is Secretary of State. On Citizens United, the Host wonders whether the Senate GOP, faced with a Democratic President nominating someone to fill one of the five conservative seats of an anti-Citizens United jurist, would filibuster any such nomination even if it meant an eight member Court for four or eight years? Ron doubts it. The Host doesn't.

Mark Green is the creator and host of Both Sides Now.

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