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“A Nicely Executed Double-Backflip”: If Bobby Jindal Can Support Trump, Any Republican Can

You’d sort of figure that of all the Republican pols who will eventually crawl their way back into the GOP tent after saying (publicly or privately) nasty things about Donald Trump, former Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal would have been last and least conspicuous — you know, maybe signaling an intention to vote for the mogul in a fine-print ad (like a legal notice) published the day before the general election.

But no: The rival who called Trump an “egomaniacal madman,” among other choice epithets, came out for the Donald in The Wall Street Journal about six weeks before the Republican National Convention, and close to a half-year before the general election.

To be sure, Jindal not only acknowledged but repeated some of his abuse.

I was one of the earliest and loudest critics of Mr. Trump. I mocked his appearance, demeanor, ideology and ego in the strongest language I have ever used to publicly criticize anyone in politics. I worked harder than most, with little apparent effect, to stop his ascendancy. I have not experienced a sudden epiphany and am not here to detail an evolution in my perspective.

No, it’s all about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who are in Jindal’s eyes more loathsome and dangerous than a pol he’s described as psychopathic, unprincipled, and “unserious.” Clinton will, says the grotesquely unsuccessful Louisiana governor, continue Obama’s “radical” policies without the “triangulation” that made Bill Clinton tolerable to conservatives.

It’s significant that the first data point Jindal deploys is the impact of the general election on the Supreme Court:

In my lifetime, no Democrat in the White House has ever appointed a Supreme Court justice who surprised the nation by becoming more conservative, while the opposite certainly cannot be said for Republican appointments. Mr. Trump might not support a constitutionalist conservative focused on original intent and limits on the court’s powers. He may be more likely to appoint Judge Judy. However, there is only a chance that a President Trump would nominate a bad justice, while Mrs. Clinton certainly would.

This is a nicely executed double-backflip: Republican presidents are constantly putting godless liberals like John Roberts on the Court; could Trump be a much greater risk? And even Judge Judy would be better than the baby-killing, Christian-hating, tyrant-enablers Hillary Clinton would nominate.

What Jindal’s really doing here is something we are going to see from a lot of Republicans in the very near future: an engraved invitation to Trump to reassure them with some sort of iron-clad public commitment to appoint justices that not only would blow themselves up before allowing Roe v. Wade to stand or Citizens United to fall, but who might bring the whole hog of “constitutionalist conservatism” to the Court, turning back the clock to the 1930s. For people like Jindal, a right-wing Supreme Court would covereth a multitude of Trumpite sins.

You might wonder who on Earth really cares what Bobby Jindal thinks about the general election. But by making his “lesser of evils” argument so absolute, and making it so early, he’s helped create a lot of safe space for other Republicans who haven’t called Trump a madman to cross the boundary into the Trump camp at their convenience, preferably on a slow news day.


By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, May 9, 2016

May 10, 2016 Posted by | Bobby Jindal, Donald Trump, GOP | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Currying Favor To Conservatives”: Be Afraid Of How Much Donald Trump’s Supreme Court Could Change America

It’s now been well over a month since the expiration of Donald Trump’s self-imposed deadline for coming up with a list of candidates from which he would choose Supreme Court nominees, including the one he would name right away to fill the seat of the late Antonin Scalia. When asked about the list, Trump said he thought it would be ready to be released before the convention.

This is not a promise conservatives are going to let him ignore perpetually, and conversely, there’s no particular evidence he cares enough about constitutional law to make this a serious bone of contention.

But, in fact, conservative fears about Trump’s lack of fidelity to their supreme value of limited government could lead to demands for truly radical Court nominees who embrace the idea that right-wing judicial activism is needed to restrain the executive and legislative branches alike.

We are already hearing arguments from conservative legal circles that an atmosphere of lawlessness associated with the Court’s failure to kill Obamacare has contributed to the frustration and extremism reflected in Trump’s successful drive for the GOP presidential nomination. And some of the same critics point accusingly at Trump’s long-standing support for widespread use of the power of eminent domain as showing his contempt for property rights and willingness to use government aggressively.

So it’s not enough to say that conservative legal activists don’t trust Donald Trump any more than other conservatives do: They actually believe he’s a prime example of a politician that judges need to restrain without the deference to the political branches of government that conservatives used to believe in (and that Chief Justice John Roberts exhibited in allowing Obamacare to survive).

And thus: Regular old-school “judicial deference” conservatives like Roberts will not be acceptable to a lot of conservative opinion leaders, particularly coming from Trump. You can expect more and more demands for Justices who share the “constitutional conservative” belief  in absolute property rights that permanently debar Congress and the president alike from enacting or administering social-welfare programs or business regulation. This was the philosophy supported by the Court during the early-20th-century period when a chain of decisions begun by Lochner v. United States stymied progressive legislation until FDR’s threat of court-packing and then turnover in justices forced its abandonment.

There’s now a powerful movement in conservative legal circles to bring back Lochner, and there’s probably no quicker route to its restoration than a Trump administration trying to buy favor with those on the right who fear the Donald’s tyrannical tendencies.

If and when Trump releases his SCOTUS prospect list — which he’s promised he will prepare in consultation with the Heritage Foundation — there are a couple of names to look for in particular. One is Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willet, an outspoken neo-Lochner advocate. Another is Utah Senator Mike Lee, who makes no bones about his belief that the New Deal was and is unconstitutional. And still another might be Lee’s best friend in the Senate, Ted Cruz, if he patches things up with Trump and decides the bench rather than the White House is his destiny.

For progressives, the thing to comprehend is that there are worse things that could come from Trump Supreme Court nominations than the expected fifth vote to restrict or overturn Roe v. Wade or to cripple public-sector unions, terrible as either of those things would be. Precisely because Trump is a loose cannon, he may be convinced to promise his new conservative friends what they really want on the Court: Justices who want to turn the clock back not just to 1972, when abortion was illegal in most states, but to the early 1930s when what we think of as the social safety net was considered a radical and unconstitutional idea.


By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, May 8, 2016

May 9, 2016 Posted by | Conservatives, Donald Trump, U. S. Supreme Court Nominees | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Origins Of The Religious Right”: Still Insisting That Religious Freedom Is A Justification For Discrimination

It is often assumed that the origins of the religious right’s political awakening (known back then as the so-called “moral majority”) was in response to the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe vs Wade decision. But in an article a friend recently pointed out to me from 2014, Randall Balmer locates it’s origins in another court case: Green vs Connally. It has interesting relevance for some of the issues we are hearing about today.

Balmer first points out that immediately before and after Roe vs Wade, evangelical leaders didn’t see a problem with abortion. He provides several quotes, including this one:

When the Roe decision was handed down, W. A. Criswell, the Southern Baptist Convention’s former president and pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas—also one of the most famous fundamentalists of the 20th century—was pleased: “I have always felt that it was only after a child was born and had a life separate from its mother that it became an individual person,” he said, “and it has always, therefore, seemed to me that what is best for the mother and for the future should be allowed.”

Meanwhile, Paul Weyrich was looking around for an issue that would galvanize evangelical support for Republicans. He found it in an edict from President Nixon’s Treasury Department that the provisions of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act precluded a tax-exempt status for private schools that discriminated against African Americans. Schools like Bob Jones University and Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University responded.

Although Bob Jones Jr., the school’s founder, argued that racial segregation was mandated by the Bible, Falwell and Weyrich quickly sought to shift the grounds of the debate, framing their opposition in terms of religious freedom rather than in defense of racial segregation.

In other words, “religious freedom” was used as the justification for discrimination. Sound familiar? That was the issue at stake in Green vs Connally.

It was on the heels of that argument that these religious leaders then turned to theologian Francis Schaeffer and surgeon C. Everett Koop (who later became Reagan’s Surgeon General) to stir up objections to abortion. They did that with the film Whatever Happened to the Human Race?

In the early months of 1979, Schaeffer and Koop, targeting an evangelical audience, toured the country with these films, which depicted the scourge of abortion in graphic terms—most memorably with a scene of plastic baby dolls strewn along the shores of the Dead Sea.

It is hard to avoid seeing a parallel with the doctored videos produced by The Center for Medical Progress that have raised evangelicals in opposition to Planned Parenthood.

All of that laid the groundwork for the involvement of the religious right in the 1980 presidential race between Carter and Reagan, although their positions on these issues were not as well-defined as we have been led to believe.

By 1980, even though Carter had sought, both as governor of Georgia and as president, to reduce the incidence of abortion, his refusal to seek a constitutional amendment outlawing it was viewed by politically conservative evangelicals as an unpardonable sin. Never mind the fact that his Republican opponent that year, Ronald Reagan, had signed into law, as governor of California in 1967, the most liberal abortion bill in the country. When Reagan addressed a rally of 10,000 evangelicals at Reunion Arena in Dallas in August 1980, he excoriated the “unconstitutional regulatory agenda” directed by the IRS “against independent schools,” but he made no mention of abortion. Nevertheless, leaders of the religious right hammered away at the issue, persuading many evangelicals to make support for a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion a litmus test for their votes.

More than 35 years later, the religious right is still insisting that religious freedom is a justification for discrimination and using deceptive videos to ignite opposition to women’s reproductive health. As the saying goes…”everything old is new again.”


By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 28, 2016

April 29, 2016 Posted by | Discrimination, Religious Freedom, Religious Right | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“They’re Not An Interesting Story Line”: Hillary’s Army Of Women Conquers New York, Occupies The Democratic Party

We talk endlessly about the youth vote in the Democratic primaries, as Bernie Sanders wins young voters four- and five-to-one. But young voters are typically around one-fifth of electorate; under 30s were 17 percent in New York, according to the exit polls.

But we talk less about the women’s vote, which made up an eye-popping 59 percent of the Democratic vote. That’s three out of five voters, with Clinton winning more than three out of five of those votes (63-37). But hey, they’re not an interesting story line.

Actually that 59 percent number isn’t eye-popping if you’ve done any homework. Women were 58 percent of the Democratic primary vote in New York in 2008, when Clinton beat Barack Obama by one point more than the 16 she topped Sanders by yesterday. And it tracks with other results this year. Women were 58 percent in Florida, 56 percent in Ohio, and 55 percent even in Michigan, which Clinton lost (although she carried women by 51-44 percent). There’s hardly a state where women weren’t at least 55 percent of the vote (in primaries; caucuses don’t have gender breakdowns), and there aren’t many states where Clinton didn’t win among women by double digits.

So what? True, it’s not surprising. But just because something isn’t surprising doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting or that it doesn’t have ramifications. This is, and does.

What’s interesting about it is this: Sanders’s campaign surely knew the 2008 exit-poll data. Don’t you think a candidate might try to craft a message that would appeal more directly to three-fifths of the electorate he’s trying to woo?

Assuming Sanders does lose this nomination, his supporters will complain about the corrupt bosses and the system being rigged and all that. But those who decide to take a slightly more introspective approach to their Monday-morning quarterbacking might ask why their candidate didn’t bother to make any effort to speak more directly to the particular concerns of the groups that are the Democratic Party.

I know, I know—Citizens United affects everybody, health care affects everybody, the big banks affect everybody. You don’t have to tell me. I’m a universalist critic of excessive identity politics going back to the 1990s. At the same time, some measure of identity politics is necessary and good! Different groups of people have actual distinct concerns in life, and politicians are supposed to address them.

When Sanders talks about the Supreme Court, it’s always about Citizens United, and only occasionally about Roe v. Wade. When Clinton went on that riff at the Brooklyn debate about how in all the debates they’d never been asked a single question about Roe, I bet a lot of light bulbs went off over a lot of heads. Sanders didn’t actively alienate women as he did African Americans and their conservative, reality-distorting votes, but he didn’t go out of his way for them either.

As for ramifications, the results tell us a little something about how a general election might play out against Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. It should be pointed out that Trump crushed it among women in New York on the Republican side, since after all as we know he cherishes women and will be the best president for women in history, forget about it. He got 57 percent to John Kasich’s 28 percent and Cruz’s 15 percent. But there, women were only 44 percent of the vote. And in terms of raw vote totals, Clinton hauled in almost exactly twice the number of votes Trump did—1.037 million to 518,000. That means about 665,000 women voted for Clinton, while just 215,000 voted for Trump.

The story has been similar in most contests. In Florida, Trump’s best big state outside of New York, Clinton got 675,000 votes from women, and Trump 464,000. It adds up. Of course Trump is going to dominate her among men overall (she’ll beat him, one assumes, among black and Latino men, just because they’re so overwhelmingly Democratic and, in the case of Latinos, she doesn’t want to throw them out of the country).

The big secret questions of whether Clinton can make it to the White House are these: How much sexism is out there in 2016, in terms of men just not wanting a woman president; and how many women will say “I don’t like that Hillary” a hundred times up until Election Day but then get in the voting booth and think, “Well, woman president…” and pull her lever.

We’re not going to know these things until the morning of Nov. 9. We do know that we’re headed toward a real battle of the sexes this fall.


By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, April 20, 2016

April 21, 2016 Posted by | Hillary Clinton, Women Voters, Young Voters | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The GOP’s Dirty Little ‘Post Truth’ Secrets”: Trump Forces Questions Republicans Don’t Want To Answer

During the 2012 GOP presidential primary, Newt Gingrich got in a lot of trouble with Republican base voters for saying that we should allow some undocumented immigrants to stay in this country and go through a process of legalization. Mitt Romney’s position was ridiculous – proposing actions that would lead to “self deportation.” All of that was a cover for a messy reality among Republicans: their position on immigration was to “seal the border” (which is not a reality) and avoid talking about the 11 million undocumented people who are currently in the country.

If you want to know just how uncomfortable they were talking about that question, take a look at the lengths to which Rep. Tim Huelskamp went to dodge it. Then along came Donald Trump with his “deport ‘em all” position and all of the 2016 candidates had to take it on. For example, here is Ted Cruz being asked the question directly because of Trump’s proposal.

Last week in an interview with Chris Matthews, Donald Trump unearthed another dirty little secret the GOP has been trying to keep under wraps for a long time. We all know that they want to make abortion illegal and that the case they make is that it kills an unborn child. If, as they believe, it is such a serious crime, who gets punished for it if it is banned? That is the very real outcome of their policy that they wanted to avoid.

Along comes Donald Trump with the response initially to Chris Matthews that women should be punished and then a later correction saying that it should be the doctor who performs the abortion. That blew the lid off the GOP’s cover. And this weekend, John Kasich was put on the spot (very uncomfortably) about it.

Obviously Kasich didn’t want to answer the question. We’re left to wonder what kind of process governors like him would work out with state legislatures on this one if Roe v Wade was ever overturned. That has traditionally been the Republican response to questions like this…keep people in the dark about the consequences of their position because it leads to places that most people don’t want to go. It’s what David Roberts called “post-truth politics.”

One way to understand what is happening with these issues is to see it as the result of Donald Trump’s rejection of political correctness. He often uses that word to describe the position of Democrats. But a post-truth party is filled with questions they don’t want to talk about. Trump is doing a good job of exposing all of them.

But lest we get tempted to give Trump credit for that, it is important to keep in mind that on most of these issues, he embraces the retrograde policies. The difference is that he just comes right out and says so. That is an improvement in honesty but not so much when it comes to decency.


By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 4, 2016

April 5, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP, Undocumented Immigrants | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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