Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

How I answered a survey from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee about the Merrick Garland nomination

I received an email this morning from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, boldprogressives.org, asking that I complete a survey on the Garland nomination.  The email began with this question: What do you think about Merrick Garland and the Supreme Court vacancy now?  It continued:

The president nominated Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.

After a day of media reporting on his record, and Senate Democrats calling for the process to move forward, we want to know how you feel about this fight.

Your answers below will help shape the PCCC’s activism on this.

Here are the survey questions and my answers:

QUESTION: Overall, how do you feel about President Obama’s decision to nominate Merrick Garland?

1) Very Enthusiastic   Somewhat Enthusiastic   2) Pretty underwhelmed   3) I do not like this decision   4) I don’t know

ANSWER: I do not like this decision

 

QUESTION: How enthusiastic are you to keep taking action against Senate Republicans to allow a hearing and fair process to move forward for Merrick Garland?

1) Very psyched. Ready to fight those Republicans!   2) Somewhat enthused. But we all need to take some action.   3) I still need to learn more before taking any action.   4) I’m not feeling it at all.

ANSWER: I still need to learn more before taking any action.

QUESTION: Wednesday, the PCCC launched a new petition saying this:

Petition: Now that the President followed the Constitution and nominated a Supreme Court Justice, Senate Republicans should do their job and allow a fair hearing and process to move forward. The Court needs someone who understands the real world impact of the Court’s decisions on hardworking Americans. 

Should we add your name to this petition?

1) Yes, add me as a signer.   2) No, do not add me as a signer.

ANSWER: No, do not add me as a signer.

QUESTION:  What do you like most about Merrick Garland being the nominee?

ANSWER: That he once dissented in a case in which his two panel colleagues (one of them John Roberts) ruled against a whistleblower and the federal government (who were on the same side in the case). Although the narrow issue was whether or not the False Claims Act applies to Amtrak contractors, Garland’s dissent did indicate strong support for the role of whistleblowers.  He dissented similarly in a free-press case involving disclosure of the names of whistleblowers (in a case in which the criminal defendant requesting the disclosure was actually a sympathetic figure and was innocent).

QUESTION: What do you like least about Merrick Garland being the nominee?

That his near-religious belief in the sanctity of precedent may mean that the precedents set by the Conservative Legal Movement justices, including those that overturned earlier precedents will remain law until one of the four conservative justices is replaced by a Dem president.  In other words, that the panoply of dramatic changes in the law amounting to a Conservative Legal Movement checklist with, by now, lots of checks indicating completion—Sherman’s-march-through-Georgia- style—will remain law for at least the next several years.  Citizens United and the Voting Rights Act opinions are just two examples.

QUESTION: What do you most still want to learn about Merrick Garland?

ANSWER: Because he is a judge on the D.C. Circuit rather than on one of the other regional circuit courts, he has never ruled in a habeas-petition case challenging the constitutionality of a state-court criminal conviction, and therefore on the threshold issue of federal-court jurisdiction in such cases. In other words: on the right of state courts to violate the constitutional rights of individuals.  I also would like to know how broadly he views the Supreme Court-fabricated “qualified immunity” of police officers and prosecutors who are sued for, say, withholding exculpatory evidence or just plain fabricating evidence.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , Comments (10) | |

The Silly Analogizing of Bernie Sanders to Ron Paul

Oh, dear.  This post of mine from yesterday is soooo yesterday.  (Okay, sooo last-weekend, to be precise.)  The attempt to paint Sanders as the Democrats’ Donald Trump has failed.  Sanders isn’t the left’s Donald Trump; he’s the left’s Ron Paul!  At least according to a rapidly congealing CW pushed by pundits that include—surprisingly—at least one progressive one.

Freelance writer Zaid Jilani writes on Alternet, in an article republished today on Salon:

In response to the high turnouts at Sanders’s events, many in the media have sought to downplay his momentum by comparing him to former GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, who also inspired an enthusiastic following:

Bernie Sanders is the left’s Ron Paul.” [Slate Magazine]

Why Bernie Sanders is the Ron Paul of 2016” [The Week]

Bernie Sanders could be the Ron Paul of 2016” [Washington Examiner]

Can Bernie Sanders be the left’s Ron Paul?” [Rare]

Is Bernie Sanders the next Ron Paul?” [Fox News]

The message these outlets are promoting is that Sanders, like Paul, will be able to get an enthusiastic base but will ultimately fail in his quest for the presidency and will only make only a minor impact on the debate. The implication seems to be that Sanders’ views are on the fringe, like Ron Paul’s. But are they? Or is it just that he is the only one articulating the need to address extreme inequality and expanding social security, which millions of Americans support?

The media message seems to rely on the idea that the two men are similar because they spark genuine enthusiasm among their supporters – which is perhaps a sad commentary on American politics that there are so few candidates who can do this that when they do they are instantly compared.

Jilani goes on to deconstruct the analogy by pointing out, most importantly, that:

Paul, despite his enthusiastic and genuinely creative volunteer and donor base, has advocated ideas like completely eliminating Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid. Even among the GOP base, these ideas are extremely unpopular.

Ah.  I get it. There’s no reason to think that a candidate who proposed deeply unpopular policy changes is different than a candidate who proposes popular policy changes. Why would anyone think otherwise?

Okay, maybe there’s a difference between proposing, say, the repeal of Social Security and an increase in Social Security in light of the near-universal end to traditional pension plans.  No, the real problem for Sanders—according to several commentators I’ve read in the last week, including another liberal one—is that Sanders is not like Barack Obama in 2008 because, see, Sanders, unlike Obama in that campaign, isn’t campaigning on generic hope-and-change, fill-in-the-blanks-as-you-want-them-to-be-filled-in slogans, providing specifics about domestic policy proposals only kicking and screaming because John Edwards has done so and then Hillary Clinton has done so because John Edwards has done so.

Nope.  Sanders is running on a series of specific policy statements.  And irrespective of whether or not those policy proposals are popular, Sanders can’t beat Hillary Clinton because he’s  not Barack Obama.

Look.  Obama was supported against Clinton in 2008 by progressives who really, really didn’t want another triangulation Democratic White House.  People thought that’s what a Hillary Clinton administration would be, and a Barack Obama administration would not be.

But the first five years of the Obama administration turned out to be largely a triangulation administration, filled to capacity with former Clinton administration officials, most notably but far from solely significantly Timothy Geithner. So, so much has happened since 2008, most significantly, in my opinion, the movement begun in the fall of 2011 by Occupy Wall Street, and Elizabeth Warren’s election to the Senate in 2012.

The mainstream political punditry, mainstream politicians, and the army of political consultants and such are, of course, not known for mental agility.  But their particular seemingly inalterable cluelessness right now is dramatic nonetheless.

Clinton is running a really terrible campaign, almost completely devoid of in-depth policy discussion, or discussion of any kind.  Much of what she says is incoherent and almost none of what she says responds directly to any policy statements by any Republican. She made news yesterday by giving an actual uncanned, non-generic response to an journalist interviewer’s statement about Jeb Bush’s positions on immigration policy, that actually was responsive to the statement or question.  Hurray!  I mean … wow!

But as I noted in my post yesterday, the most critical fact that the political analysts and pundits miss is the significance of the fact that Democrats are beginning to realize that their party’s nominee will be running against a Tea Party or mostly-Tea-Party Republican nominee—and that, yes, a very progressive Democratic nominee’s policy positions will likely be more popular than the Republican nominee’s.

Which means that Sanders indeed could win the nomination. Largely because he is not only the un-Clinton but also the un-Obama, and that that—a genuine progressive—is what a majority of voters would choose.  At least over Scott Walker, Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush.

Tags: , , , , , , Comments (4) | |

Turns out that farm subsidies aren’t the only federal program Joni Ernst won’t vote to kill if she wins that Senate race. There’s one more federal program she wants to keep.

Ernst likes FEMA and wants to keep it!  So does her father.  This even though some blue states benefit from it sometimes, too!

Go figure.

She won’t even squawk about appropriations for it.  Then again, she’s a turkey, not a chicken.  So she might cluck.

 

—-

APPENDED: From the Comments thread here:

EMichael / October 8, 2014 10:55 am

[T]his this cretin is in a close race despite believing that state officials should have the ability to arrest Federal workers for doing their jobs.

You can’t make this stuff up.

 

Me / October 8, 2014 11:40 am

I sooo would like to see a Braley ad featuring someone whose family now has healthcare insurance, thanks to Obamacare’s federal subsidies–who makes the point in the ad that Ernst wants Iowa officials to go to Washington and arrest the bureaucrats at the IRS or HHS who are processing those subsidies.

Or, better yet, someone who owns a construction company in Montgomery County, IA–and who lost out to Culver Construction in the FEMA-money bidding for those post-flooding construction projects–insist that state officials arrest the FEMA folks who approved the contract with Culver Construction.

See?  You can make this stuff up! 10/8 at 11:52 a.m.

Tags: , , , , , , , , Comments (5) | |

Julie Boonstra, Americans for Prosperity, and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Trial

The Tea Party group Americans for Prosperity has now released its factual documentation for its misleading ad featuring Julie Boonstra, a Michigan woman stricken with Leukemia who suggests Obamacare forced her to take on a new plan that is now “unaffordable.” The ad has been widely pilloried ever since Glenn Kessler discovered that her premiums had come down, likely making her overall costs a wash or even cheaper. Gary Peters, the Dem candidate for Senate in Michigan, had written to TV stations insisting on documentation.

The documentation provided by AFP, which was passed along from TV stations by the Peters campaign, doesn’t actually back up the ad’s key claim. But it tells us something interesting about how the AFP campaign — and by extension, the broader GOP strategy against Obamacare — really work.

To buttress the ad’s charge that Boonstra’s “out of pocket charges are so high, it’s unaffordable,” AFP cites a single Politico article reporting that “consumers may have to dig a little deeper into their wallets to pay for health care in the Obamacare insurance exchanges,” because the law could mean additional out of pocket expenses. Needless to say, that doesn’t shed light on Boonstra’s individual situation. And on that front, AFP’s documentation offers this (emphasis mine):

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Comments (8) | |

My Twitter Exchange With Jamelle Bouie

Washington Post contributor Jamelle Bouie, or @jbouie, posted the following to a thread in Alex Seitz-Wald’s Twitter feed (or whater it’s called) about my hyphenated-names post from earlier today:
Holy crap. That post would have been better if it were just “Look at this Jewry Jew Jew.”
To which I responded:
I don’t buy into the Jews-rule-the-world-with-their-hedge-funds-and-Neiman-Marcus-Holiday-Season-catalogues thing. But I’m Jewish.
Bouie responded graciously, saying:
Um, I was being really, really sarcastic when I sent that tweet.
I tweeted (oooock, I hate that word, but I guess that’s what I did) back:
Thanks for responding.  I was about to post a sarcastic response to you on Angry Bear. Suffice it to say that I’m not anti-Semitic.
Elsewhere in that thread, begun by Seitz-Wald, someone named Irin Carmon–like Seitz-Wald a staff writer for Salon, I just learned; I’d never heard of her before–tweeted:

that seemed like a very long way to say “Alex Seitz-Wald sounds like he’s Jewish”

She’s right, of course.  I mean, who knew that only Jews work on Wall Street and have Neiman’s credit cards?!  And that “Carlyle” is a Jewish name?!  Or, for that matter, that Seitz is?!

I’m not a Twitter user–wasn’t, that is, until an hour or so ago; I think it’sis ridiculous–but I opened an account this evening in order to repond to the many accusations of anti-Semitism in that Twitter thread, including from Seitz-Wald, who surely knows that Seitz is not usually a Jewish name, but figured I thought it was.

Carmon, by the way, is a Harvard alum, who in the Twitter thread said her kids have (surprise!) hyphenated last names.  She’s probably busy getting ready for the High Holidays next month.  I can tell by her last name.

—-

UPDATE: An exchange between reader Sheila and me in the Comments thread to this post:

SHEILA: I have a hard time understanding why post generation boomers are so negative about us. We cared about the poor, protested unnecessary wars, protested corruption and actually gave a shit about racism and the environment. Along with women’s rights. And for this we are vilified? It seems the right wing has been allowed to change the narrative to cast us as a bunch of stoned welfare recipients. I am a boomer and I kept my name because we moved to Alaska and I wanted my friends from the Bay Area and Madison to be able to find me . My kids are named after my husband. It honestly did not seem to matter. At any rate, I am really proud to be of my generation. I only hope that the generations to come eventually emulate us. Sheila

ME: And you think my post is about women who keep their married names after they marry, WHY EXACTLY, Sheila?

Let me spell it out: This post is about people WHO GIVE THEIR KIDS a last name that is: the mother’s last name, a hyphen, father’s last name.  This is a tiny segment of upscale people, almost all of them with degrees from fancy universities and from or currently living in a large metro upper-Atlantic coast area. I suspect that you could travel throughout, say, Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, and almost every other non-northeastern or mid-Atlantic state, spending weeks in each, and never encounter a Millenial with a hyphenated mother’s-last-name/father’s-last-name last name.  Yet people with those last names are heavily represented in the student body of the most prestigous and expensive private colleges and universities, and in the upper-tier print news media and other no-one-but-people-with-upscale-backgrounds-need-apply professional circles.

To spell it out further: It’s about elitism. It’s about putting a neon sign on your kid that is intended to shout: “Upscale.” “From erudite, highly-educated family.”  Exactly the way, back in the early and mid-20th Century, the New England boarding prep schools, the Ivy League, the banking industry, the State Department, and ALL the other pillars of wealth and privilege were stocked with names like McGeorge Bundy, Erskine Bowles, Fill-in-the-Blanks-Wasp-Last-Name-As-First-Name.

 

Tags: , , , , Comments (18) | |