Bomb suspect in custody — explanations needed

Patty Smyth and the ever reliable Don Henley had an answer twenty-five years ago:

But there’s a danger in loving somebody to much,
and it’s bad when you know it’s your heart you can’t trust.
There’s a reason why people don’t stay where they are.
Baby, sometimes love just ain’t enough.

At any rate raise those false flags high!

‘Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits’

Remember these halcyon days?

Mr. Trump is now the leading candidate for president in the Republican primary, which has traditionally been dominated by hopefuls eager to show how deeply conservative they are on social issues like gay rights and marriage.

But Mr. Trump is far more accepting of sexual minorities than his party’s leaders have been. On Thursday, he startled some Republicans by saying on NBC’s “Today” show that he opposed a recently passed North Carolina law that prohibits people from using public bathrooms that do not correspond to the gender they were born with, striking down a Charlotte ordinance.

Two and a half years later, the same newspaper publishes the following revelations:

Now the Department of Health and Human Services is spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times….

…“Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth,” the department proposed in the memo, which was drafted and has been circulating since last spring. “The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”

The new definition would essentially eradicate federal recognition of the estimated 1.4 million Americans who have opted to recognize themselves — surgically or otherwise — as a gender other than the one they were born into.

There is no reason for this other than spite: the Trump administration will leave no stone unturned in its efforts to wipe the memory of Barack Hussein Obama. Yet even if Obama had ignored the transgender population the political appointees in the Trump Justice Department and Department of Education would’ve done the same. A President Rubio or President Jeb! too.

Wipe them out.

Waving magic wands: the myth of Democratic power

Pressing his ears against the commentariat’s din, Matthew Yglesias comes to obvious conclusions: only a Democratic majority in the Senate could have stopped the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation. Conversely, Mitch McConnell’s legislative genius, such as it is, consisted in whipping a bare majority. Even in those halcyon days of the sixty-vote filibuster over which Harry Reid presided, Barack Obama got nominees Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan confirmed not because a spirit of benign comity persuaded Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham to vote for them: the Senate confirmed them because he still enjoyed a fifty-plus Democratic majority that could’ve gummed up the works if it wanted to. Reid and Obama didn’t need Collins and Graham.  Continue reading

What is a neoconf?

After reading W.E.B. Du Bois, Eric Foner, and Lawrence Goldstone, I’ve distilled decades of scholarship about the ways in which the Democratic Party looked the other way when the South defied the federal government and encouraged racist violence while maintaining a kind of apartheid. Starting in 1968, the two political parties switched its worst members. In January 1981 the acceleration took place and onward through Newt Gingrich, the equal protection claims of the Rehnquist majority on the Supreme Court, George W. Bush and his cabal, and Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Mitch McConnell, and Paul Ryan.

A neo-Confederate believes in:

1. Minority rule.
2. “States rights”
3. A return to constitutional norms before 1860, i.e. before the passage of the Civil War and Reconstruction amendments.
4. The inferiority of certain classes of people.
5. The imposition of federal taxes as an infringement on liberty.

I should point out that “states rights” is the portmanteau for every canon I’ve mentioned.

“Neoconf” looks ungainly, but so did “neocon” in 2003.

Seeing villains as misunderstood victims

“There was, in this performance, not even a hint of the sagacity one expects from a potential Supreme Court Justice,” Doreen St. Félix writes in The New Yorker.

More than presenting a convincing rebuttal to Ford’s extremely credible account, Kavanaugh—and Hatch, and Lindsey Graham—seemed to be exterminating, live, for an American audience, the faint notion that a massively successful white man could have his birthright questioned or his character held to the most basic type of scrutiny. In the course of Kavanaugh’s hearing, Mitchell basically disappeared. Republican senators apologized to the judge, incessantly, for what he had suffered. There was talk of his reputation being torpedoed and his life being destroyed. This is the nature of the conspiracy against white male power—the forces threatening it will always somehow be thwarted at the last minute.

Many of us who are writers embrace complexity; we impose subtlety on men and women who repel it. Listening to Kavanaugh sound the horn of the forever maudlin when mentioning his kids, mom (a judge), and the number of female clerks whom he’s hired, I thought these things could be true without being exculpatory. Kavanaugh may have assaulted a woman as a teen and years later pick up the newspaper for the old lady who lives across the street.

Then, after Lindsey Graham trampled on the vineyards where the grapes of wrath were stored, I changed my mind: I don’t want to think of Kavanaugh and his conservative enablers as good men. To think they are would ascribe to them a complexity they don’t deserve. Abigail Nussbaum:

It should go without saying, but: a good guy doesn’t lie under oath. A good guy doesn’t brazenly spread falsehoods that he knows everyone can see through, in the arrogant belief that his privilege will protect him from any consequences or loss of public regard. A good guy doesn’t rant and rave about taking revenge on his supposed enemies while interviewing for a job synonymous with impartiality and open-mindedness. And, oh yeah, a good guy would admit to his wrongdoing, apologize for it, and withdraw his name from consideration for the highest court in the land, in recognition of the fact that he doesn’t deserve to be there. If Black believes Ford, as he claims to, then there’s simply no way to categorize Kavanaugh as a good guy, no matter how many carpools he drives or how nice he is to his poker buddies.

…People who blatantly don’t care about the safety and wellbeing of women are bad. But so are people who are so deeply invested in constructing a narrative of redemption for abusers and bad actors (privileged ones, obviously) that they irreparably skew the conversation in that direction, and train the rest of us to see villains as misunderstood victims.

Ford kept her composure as she explained why her life was ruined; Kavanaugh lost his when he did. Every GOP senator apologized to Kavanaugh for the ruin his life has become; every one of them hid behind a female sex crimes prosecutor and said nothing to Ford.

Strange stirrings

I don’t read Josh Marshall much these days because of his histrionic tendencies and his way of signing off posts with the equivalent of a hastily scrawled, “I don’t know, we’ll see.” But I agree with his conclusion of how the Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations won’t shake the Senate GOP at all:

The chance of letting that opportunity slip through their fingers is unthinkable.

The White House and Senate Republicans are likely thinking that regardless of the credibility of the claim or what they think of it, Kavanaugh absolutely positively has to be confirmed. Because it’s not just about Kavanaugh. If he’s not confirmed it opens up the possibility that they won’t get the chance to replace Justice Kennedy and secure the fifth vote on the Court at all. Given that the Garland seat was stolen, should Democrats reclaim the chamber, I don’t think they should approve any nominee from President Trump. That’s unlikely. But Democrats won’t give the President the opportunity to nominate a maximalist right wing judge the way Republicans are now. That’s a big difference.

Ever since Harry Blackmun wrote the majority opinion for Roe v. Wade, giving the New Right the means by which to command a dormant voting bloc (i.e. evangelicals), modern conservatism has spent millions creating political action committees and weirdly named Pinterest groups; modern conservatism’s reason for existing has been to deliver a Supreme Court majority sufficient enough to send abortion back to states where it is legal, condemning millions of poor women to coat hanger procedures because they lack the wherewithal to travel while conservative wives themselves pay for clandestine abortions. Despite Jeff Flake’s protestations and Susan Collins’ finely calibrated mewlings of ambiguity, I can’t imagine more than forty years of effort yielding, not when gutting the Fourteenth Amendment

John McCain — RIP

The senior senator from Arizona’s career has been a long con game convincing the media that he opposed what they most wanted: a bipartisan don’t-criticize-the-prez foreign policy, indifference to the economic effects of the political class’ policies on the poor and working class, and a conviction that there is no division that you couldn’t settle in a Sunday morning talk show green room. Continue reading

‘Our House and Senate are willing to pass this stuff’

I’m trying to imagine a similar vote effort on the part of abortion activists.

But as national attention focuses largely on the Supreme Court confirmation, movement leaders are hoping for political wins as well. In Minnesota, anti-abortion activists are zeroing in on the open governor’s seat, considered a tossup. The Democratic governor, Mark Dayton, has vetoed seven bills supported by abortion opponents during his time in office.

“Our House and Senate are willing to pass this stuff,” said Scott Fischbach, executive director of the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, a group whose political arm helped push the State Legislature to an anti-abortion majority in recent years. “We are going to do more on this governor’s race than we’ve ever done in the past.”

Students for Life, a youth movement that calls itself “the pro-life generation,” is starting a van tour in early August to six states — West Virginia, Indiana, North Dakota, Missouri, Alaska and Maine — to drum up support for Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Conservative statewide Christian groups, like the Ohio Christian Alliance, are urging thousands of local churches to have their members contact lawmakers to do the same.

Next month, the Susan B. Anthony List plans to host news conferences in front of the offices of vulnerable red-state Democrats, organizing petitions and digital ad campaigns in an attempt to ramp up the political pressure to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.

This is how they win.

‘In class after class, I stood with Rehnquist’

The drip drip drip begins:

Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, gave a revealing speech last fall in which he lauded former Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist for having dissented in Roe vs. Wade and for rejecting the notion of “a wall of separation between church and state.”

He also praised the late chief justice’s unsuccessful effort to throw out the so-called “exclusionary rule,” which forbids police from using illegally obtained evidence.

All three of areas of law — abortion, religion and police searches — are likely to be in flux if Kavanaugh is confirmed and joins the high court this fall.

Kavanaugh’s comments are significant because they were in a speech, not a court opinion in which he was bound by precedent, said David S. Cohen, a law professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

But it’ll go back to the States! And what about France!