Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), still an unannounced presidential candidate, campaigned in New Hampshire last week and told a group of voters that he and Abraham Lincoln share an ideological bond.
“Lincoln read the Constitution, and he also read the Bill of Rights, and he got down to the Tenth Amendment, and he liked it,” Perry boasted. “That Tenth Amendment that talks about these states, these laboratories of democracy…. The Tenth Amendment that the federal government is limited, its powers are limited by the Constitution.”
It’s easy to understand how the Texan might be confused. Lincoln and Perry share a party label, so the former governor apparently assumes they share a political outlook, too. And given that Lincoln was arguably the nation’s greatest president, it stands to reason that the Texas Republican, like most candidates, would want to associate himself with the Lincoln legacy.
The problem, however, is that Perry has no idea what he’s talking about. Josh Zeitz, who taught American history and politics at Cambridge and Princeton, explained the other day that the former Texas governor “got Lincoln backwards” and Perry’s entire argument “betrays a regrettable ignorance of Lincoln’s political outlook.”
Before he reluctantly became a Republican, Abraham Lincoln was a lifelong Whig – a party founded in opposition to Andrew Jackson and in support of a strong and active central state…. A passionate supporter of Henry Clay’s “American System,” Lincoln believed that states should ultimately be subordinate to a strong federal government, and that Washington had a big role to play in matters as far and wide as internal improvements, currency, banking and taxation. […]
As president, Lincoln vastly expanded the federal government’s role…. Maybe Rick Perry spent too much time reading from those widely disputed history and government standards that the Texas Board of Education, in its infinite wisdom, foisted on textbook publishers. Whatever the cause, he’s confusing Abraham Lincoln – erstwhile Whig and promoter of a strong central government – for a strict Tenth Amendment devotee. That, he certainly was not.
In 2009, the then-governor was so eager to show his contempt for President Obama that Perry denounced the United States government as “oppressive,” arguing that it was “time to draw the line in the sand and tell Washington that no longer are we going to accept their oppressive hand in the state of Texas.” Soon after, he said he doesn’t want to “dissolve” the union of the United States, “But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that.”
Around the same time, Perry said of Texas, “[W]hen we came into the nation in 1845, we were a republic, we were a stand-alone nation. And one of the deals was, we can leave anytime we want. So we’re kind of thinking about that again.”
I won’t pretend to be a Lincoln scholar, but I’m comfortable describing the iconic American president as someone who wasn’t comfortable with the idea of state secession.
All of this must be terribly inconvenient for Republicans. Lincoln believed in a strong federal government, a progressive income tax, and considerable infrastructure investments, making him sound an awful lot like a Democrat by 21st-century standards. Indeed, some conservatives who’ve read up on Lincoln see him as something of an enemy – Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) co-wrote a book with a neo-Confederate who boasted that he raises “a personal toast every May 10 to celebrate John Wilkes Booth’s birthday.”
Perry may want to take Lincoln back as some kind of conservative hero, but he’ll have to ignore literally every historical detail to make the case to unsuspecting voters.
By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, February 17, 2015
Few outside of a tiny Texas border town knew who Federal District Court Judge Andrew Hanen was until Monday night when he became a right-wing hero.
But this isn’t the first rodeo the judge who delayed implementation of the Obama Administration’s executive order on immigration.
Hanen, a federal district court judge in Brownville, Texas, has a long history of taking a conservative approach to immigration issues in his courtroom, which is located just over a mile from the Mexican border.
The once obscure justice, whose only other previous claim to fame was serving as the President of the Houston Bar Association 15 years, has now made himself a right wing celebrity.
But his ruling on Monday is by far the most consequential that the George W. Bush appointee has ever issued.
He first gained notice for his willingness to entertain the arguments of landowners on the Mexican border who opposed the construction of a fence on their land by the federal government.
The Texas Observer described him in 2010 as “the only federal judge in the nation who forced Homeland Security to acknowledge landowners’ constitutional protections. In case after case, Hanen refused to rubber-stamp the condemnations and ruled that the government would have to provide ‘fair compensation’ for the land it was taking.”
But Hanen became a darling of immigration hawks in a 2013 order in which he vented against a decision made by the DHS not to deport a woman in the country illegally who had paid for her daughter to be smuggled into the United States.
While the smuggler was sentenced to jail, the government allowed the woman and her daughter to remain in the country under a 1997 settlement agreement.
Hanen was not pleased.
In an order he attacked the DHS’s “apparent policy … of completing the criminal mission of individuals who are violating the border security of the United States” and compared the action to “taking illegal drugs or weapons seized from smugglers and delivering them to the criminals who initially solicited their illegal importation/exportation.”
Hanan’s order may not have been binding but it certainly electrified many conservatives as one of the most powerful statements from a federal judge on the issue.
On Monday he made good for conservatives again.
Hanan ruled in favor of 25 states that sued the federal government to stop the implementation of a 2014 executive order to allow millions of undocumented immigrants to apply for “deferred action” from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This executive order enabled the undocumented immigrants to work legally and avoid deportation for several years—a move many Republicans have decried as “executive amnesty.”
Hanen didn’t reach a final decision but instead issued a preliminary injunction, which keeps DHS from enforcing the executive order until a final decision is issued.
His injunction though is not expected to last.
The federal government is expected to appeal to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans and is considered likely to get Hanen’s ruling overturned in that venue.
However, in the mean time, the decision to delay the executive order has major political ramifications in Washington DC where a potential partial government shutdown is looming over this issue.
But no matter what happens in this standoff, there is one clear winner: Judge Hanen.
Immigration reform is likely to remain a quagmire and Congress will continue to be dysfunctional. But, at least, Hanen will increase his Q-rating and become the most consequential federal judge ever to sit in the Brownsville Division of the Southern District of Texas.
By: Ben Jacobs, The Daily Beast, February 17, 2015
It’s official: the phrase “open carry” has entered the American lexicon. That’s because gun extremists from Virginia to Washington to Texas and all across the country have started showing up in restaurants, state capitols, and other public places openly carrying loaded semiautomatic rifles. Occasionally donning kilts or gas masks and other attention-getting attire, these extremists look as though they are headed to battle instead of visiting their legislators or picking up milk at their local Kroger grocery store.
Why are we seeing these open carry displays more and more often? Because the radical rhetoric of the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) leadership tells us that “the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” And that myth propels the idea that a loaded AK-47 is necessary when dining at Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, just in case you encounter a bad guy.
Thanks to the gun lobby’s insidious and formerly unchecked influence in our state legislatures, open carry is legal in more than 40 states. And in a majority of those states, it’s perfectly legal to open carry a long gun with absolutely no training, permitting, or even a minimum age requirement.
Add to that cocktail of crazy the fact that our lax federal gun laws allow criminals and other dangerous people to easily access firearms. Given that millions of guns each year are sold without a criminal background check, there is no way to know if a person who is openly carrying a semiautomatic rifle is a responsible gun owner, or if that person is a threat to moms and our children (and the gas masks don’t help either).
Law enforcement leaders have come out in opposition to open carry because it forces them to ask questions that jeopardize their ability to ensure public safety, like “Does this person have a permit? Is he a felon?” And it’s a drain on law enforcement resources as well. As this video posted by open carry extremists highlights, there is nothing normal about seeing men marching around carrying rifles; it causes genuine concern. Subsequently, when people call 9-1-1, a police officer must be dispatched and forced to deal with difficult open carry extremists.
In Texas, an open carry activist with an arrest record for interfering with police duties recently posted a video threatening Texas state legislators with death if they oppose legislation to legalize unlicensed open carry of handguns. These same gun extremists were responsible for forcing the Texas state legislature to install panic buttons in their chambers last month.
This extremism is dangerous and, not surprisingly, encouraged by NRA leaders given their support and continued push for open carry expansion. For decades, the NRA has attempted to normalize behaviors that are unsafe, and expanding open carry is simply an attempt by the gun lobby to make it acceptable for anyone to openly carry guns anywhere.
In Tennessee, the law allows permit holders to carry guns openly or concealed, but last year, the NRA sponsored legislation that would remove the permit requirement to open carry in Tennessee. This would have made it legal for stalkers and certain other criminals to openly carry loaded handguns in Tennessee, and it would be legal for anyone to openly carry a loaded gun without any gun safety training whatsoever.
But just like Rick Perry (someone I never thought I would cite as an example), who said this week that he was not “all that fond of this open carry concept,” Moms are not willing to go down the NRA’s slippery slope. We know that respecting the Second Amendment requires responsible gun ownership and practicing gun safety.
The safety of our children and families in our communities is paramount, and open carry is not a step in the right direction. We refuse to have to consider whether people who are open carrying around our children and families are members of law enforcement sworn to protect us, or if they are activists making a political statement, or dangerous criminals we should run from.
And while we wait for legislators to do their jobs instead of catering to extremists’ tantrums and pass laws that protect people instead of gun lobby profits, we expect businesses to do their part. Simply following state and local laws is not enough. In states where no background check is required to buy a semiautomatic rifle and carry it openly in public, businesses have a duty to protect their employees and customers.
This is why Moms are asking retailers like Kroger and restaurants like Raising Cane’s to prioritize customer and employee safety. And it’s why we’ve worked with other restaurants and retailers like Chipotle, Sonic, Starbucks and Target to stand up to this extremist behavior and ask their customers to leave their firearms at home.
Open carry extremists have shined a bright light on the NRA’s vision for the future of America, and it’s not pretty. Moms won’t let the concerted efforts by the gun lobby and open carry extremists to put our families and communities at risk go unchecked. With rights come responsibilities, and for the safety and security of our restaurants, state capitols, and other public places, we must push back on armed intimidation. After all, there are no panic buttons for the public.
By: Shannon Watts, Founder, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America;The Blog, The Huffington Post, February 13, 2015
“Conservative GOP Governors Are Accepting Obamacare”: Wagging A Finger With One Hand, Holding Out The Other Hand For The Money
Many GOP governors who loudly condemned Obamacare are secretly signing up for the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid Expansion. And they aren’t just Republicans in Democrat states. A growing number are from Southern conservative states, like Alabama and Tennessee.
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam announced his state would oppose Obamacare, saying that he would rather have any money sent to his state go to private insurance, according to Bill Barrow with the Associated Press. But after getting reelected, Haslam announced that he had struck a deal that would allow that Medicaid expansion, according to Dave Boucher with The Tennessean.
Ditto Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, who once claimed that “the anything but Affordable Care Act has done nothing to gain our trust,” according to Tom Baxter with Saporta Report. But there was Bentley, after getting easily reelected, claiming “he could support the expansion in the form of a block grant, with a lot of strings attached,” Baxter writes.
In other red states, Republicans are doing the same, wagging a finger at Obamacare with one hand and holding out the other hand for the money. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback condemned GOP Governors for taking the Medicaid expansion money, as noted on his own website. But then, buffeted by a deficit from ill-advised tax cuts, Brownback took the money, calling it something else, in order to balance the budget, according to Salon.
It is unlikely that Representative Mike Pence cast many votes in favor of Obamacare while in Congress. But as Indiana Governor, he’s signed on to the Medicaid expansion, according to Dana Milbank from the Washington Post.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer joined her name to the lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare. But then, she signed up for the dollars from Washington, DC after dodging a primary challenge, as reported by CBS.
Florida Governor Rick Scott, another Republican, had few kind words for Obama or the ACA. But once it was clear that he wouldn’t face a primary challenger, Scott took the money, according to the Miami Herald, hoping to boost his reelection chances. He was able to hold onto the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee as a result.
And it was Ohio Governor John Kasich who called for repealing Obamacare, well, at least most of it. Now he’s saying it is here to stay, as noted by CNN, and other Republicans better get used to it being around.
Michael Hiltzik with the Los Angeles Times is reporting that even Texas is considering the Medicaid expansion, modeled after Utah’s acceptance of the ACA plan.
There are a few reasons for this. While the House of Representatives and Senate can pass repeal after repeal votes, governors have to balance budgets. Also, many of these governors talk the conservative talk to beat back or forestall Tea Party primary challengers. Given that only a dwindling number of these are succeeding, there’s no need to kowtow to this group after reelection. They can use some creative accounting to accept the money, or call it something else so it will have a lower profile (Alabama could call it Bamacare, for example).
Of course, this is bound to infuriate the most conservative members of the Republican Party, but only if they are paying attention. Besides, this is still the party of Jeb Bush, who was linked to a firm that benefited from Obamacare, as reported by The Daily Mail. It’s also the party of Mitt Romney, whose Romneycare had many similarities to Obamacare, according to health expert Brad Burd.
By: John A. Tures, Professor of Political Science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga; The Blog, The Huffington Post, December 31, 2014
I read with some amusement Philip Rucker’s WaPo profile of the new, improved Rick Perry. The outgoing governor of Texas wants us all to know that he won’t make the same mistakes in this presidential cycle as in the last, and that he intends to project an image that’s distant from the strutting tear-the-head-off-the-donkey ferocity that excited conservative activists in 2011 before he disgusted them with his talk of compassion for the children of undocumented immigrants.
Unsurprisingly, Perry’s proto-message for 2016 will focus on his “economic miracle” claim, based on the exciting new idea of growing the economy by whorishly giving “investors” any damn thing they want. But as I have myself observed over the years, the trouble with encouraging governors to hang out with extremely rich people in the guise of “economic development” is that they start wondering Why ain’t I as rich as my new friends? And so we read this:
After Republican Greg Abbott is sworn in as governor on Jan. 20, Perry’s immediate priority will be to make serious money, something he has never done. He is considering writing a memoir — how a Boy Scout from Paint Creek became governor and presided over “the Texas miracle” economic boom — as well as giving paid speeches and serving on corporate boards, his advisers say.
So even as he’s sitting there with his tongue lolling out, trying to convince a political reporter he’s rough and ready to leap into a contest that’s already begun, Perry admits he’s going to have to take a little detour to lift himself and his family into the economic stratosphere. For a guy who hasn’t shaken two indictments just yet, he’s awfully confident he can run for president while becoming filthy rich, without engaging in any conflicts of interest or perhaps making voters wonder if he’s just in it for the dough.
Something tells me Ted Cruz is going to eat Perry’s lunch as the candidate of feral Texas conservatives while Perry’s trying to “make serious money” and convince people he’s not as stupid as he sometimes sounded four years ago.
By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal, The Washington Monthly, December 9, 2014