A Prediction for the SCOTUS and the next GOP trifecta

Let’s assume that Hillary Clinton appoints at least one new net liberal to the Supreme Court during her term in office. In that scenario, the minimal composition would be five center left jurists, one idiosyncratic moderate conservative, one corporate conservative who has a fascination with “sovereign dignitude” and a pair of justices who think Lochner should be good law. The following scenario also works if any of the last four is replaced by another center left judge.

Let us assume that to get to that point it is fairly like that the Senate will go nuclear and abolish the filibuster as McCain indicated (and since walked back) that the Republicans consider a left of center Supreme Court majority to be fundamentally illegitimate even if it resulted from Democrats winning a lot of presidential elections in a generation or more.

Let us assume that at some point in the future there is a GOP trifecta. Let us also assume that a significant chunk of the future GOP’s base will be made up of people who strongly desire either an economically or culturally reactionary court.

With those assumptions, the following prediction is very easy to make.

When there is a GOP trifecta in Washington and a liberal leaning Supreme Court, the Supreme Court will see an increased number of justices equal to the difference between liberal and reactionary justices plus one.

Battle Flag Acquisition Strategies


Early this morning, I was doing some research on the endurance of corporate culture, studying how sometimes the spirit of a smaller, acquired firm can permeate the larger, acquiring organization. It’s not unusual for a big behemoth to acquire a scrappy smaller company solely for the purpose of infusing the moribund giant with fresh blood, and when the companies’ interests align, it can create an unstoppable marketplace force…for a while.

With that dynamic still on my mind, I moseyed over to Booman’s place and read a post that hit upon something that has been bothering me about the focus on the rebel flag in the wake of the domestic terrorist massacre in Charleston:

But the focus on the Confederate Flag can have an unfortunate side effect. What, after all, does that flag mean when it doesn’t simply mean white supremacy?

It’s meaning in those cases in nearly identical to the meaning of the modern conservative movement. It’s about disunion, and hostility to the federal government, and state’s rights. It’s anti-East Coast Establishment and anti-immigrant. It’s about an idealized and false past and preserving outworn and intolerant ideas. It’s about a perverse version of a highly provincial and particularized version of (predominantly) Protestant Christianity that has evolved to serve the interests of power elites in the South. It’s about an aggrieved sense of false persecution where white men are playing on the hardest difficulty setting rather than the easiest, and white Christians are as threatened as black Muslims and gays and Jews.

“Those blacks are raping our women and they have to go.”

That’s what the Confederate Flag is all about, but it’s also the basic message of Fox News and the whole Republican Party since the moment that Richard Nixon promised us law and order.

But it’s not black people who have to go.

It’s this whole Last Cause bullshit mentality that fuels our nation’s politics and lines the pockets of Ted Cruz just as surely as it has been lining the pockets of Walmart executives.

Today, maybe the governor down there had an epiphany. Maybe this massacre was the last straw. But, tomorrow, we’ll all be right back where we began with Congress acting like an occupying Confederate Army.

If we solve a symbolic problem and leave the rest untouched, then what will really change?

You can’t bury the Confederate Flag without, at the same time, burying the Conservative Movement.

Let’s get on with it.

He’s right. For many white people, the rebel flag represented moldy old myths about the antebellum South. But think about how nicely that mythology dovetailed with the lies about the pre-Civil Rights era that paleocons like Pat Buchanan tell themselves.

Like a moribund corporation, the GOP acquired Confederate culture with the Southern strategy, harnessing the racism in the South and its echo nationwide to build the present day Republican Party. That’s why Ronald Reagan launched his presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi. That’s why an always-wrong, New York City-born legacy hire who is relentlessly eager to send other people’s kids off to die in glorious causes is tweeting nonsense that his ancestors would find…puzzling:

So, the rebel flag should come down in South Carolina and every other state capitol in the former Confederacy, and with surprising (to me) swiftness, it looks like it will. That will be more than a symbolic victory; it will be the partial righting of a very old wrong.

But there’s a danger in “otherizing” the South in this context. It’s not wrong to condemn its blinkered myth-making and prideful backwardness, but there’s a hazard in moral preening within and outside of Dixie, a risk of declaring a tidy victory when the dinosaurs in the state capitols of the former Confederacy finally sink into the tarpit they’ve thrashed in for 150 years.

The risk is that we’ll lose focus on the modern day “Congress acting like an occupying Confederate Army,” as Booman put it. At its core, the Southern strategy was an attempt to roll back progress by hitching the anti-New Dealers’ star to the creaky old Confederate wagon. Its organizers weren’t all or even mostly slack-jawed yokels waving rebel flags. They included a fiery libertarian business man from Phoenix, a glib B-movie pitchman who hailed from Northern Illinois and a twitchy, paranoid Quaker from California.

To achieve true victory, we have to finally drive a stake through the heart of the Southern strategy, not just the Confederacy. So let’s make expunging the rebel flag from the public square the opening salvo in a larger battle to take our country back. Yes, that’s right, TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK. With no lies and decaying myths about what that means. The flag that represents it isn’t spotless. Its founding was rooted in slavery, genocide and the oppression of women. But unlike its dying counterpart, this flag is worth saving.

Gas and nuts

The ‘nut’ in a family budget is the bare minimal amount of money that has to go out the door every period to minimize negative consequences.   It is the short term mostly fixed costs.   This concept of the nut is very important in thinking about presidential popularity and gas prices as I don’t think it is gas prices per se that can drive presidential popularity but the gap between the nut and total family income which has a strong influence on presidential popularity.  The post-nut gap is a more restrictive definition of income than disposable personal income.

In my family, the nut is the sum of the mortgage, gas, electric, student loans, car insurance, life insurance payment, food, gas for the cars, daycare, car loan, and bus passes.  If my family was only meeting the nut, life would be tough, and it would only work as long as nothing goes wrong.  It is a stressful life to have very little space between the current nut and total income.

Read more

Water Flowing Underground

My only quarrel with Rick Perlstein is that he’s 3% high in his estimate:

The reactionary percentage of the electorate in these United States has been relatively constant since McCarthy’s day; I’d estimate it as hovering around 30 percent. A minority, but one never all that enamored of the niceties of democracy—they see themselves as fighting for the survival of civilization, after all. So, generation after generation, they’ve ruthlessly exploited the many points of structural vulnerability in the not-very-democratic American political system to get their way.

The whole thing is worth a read, because Perlstein does his usual good job reviewing wingnut history.

That said, now that we have the diagnosis, doctor, what’s the treatment? This is where we’re all struggling.

Obviously, he needs the long-form vault copy “original” of his birth certificate, certified, with the raised seal

Back to North Carolina again, with new developments in the student voter + candidate story:

Within hours of Gov. Pat McCrory signing a Republican-backed bill this week making sweeping changes to the state’s voting laws, local elections boards in two college towns made moves that could make it harder for students to vote.
The Pasquotank County Board of Elections on Tuesday barred an Elizabeth City State University senior from running for city council, ruling his on-campus address couldn’t be used to establish local residency..

William Skinner, the panel’s lone Democrat, sharply dissented with the other board members. He argued King had clearly shown ECSU was his permanent residence, supported by his right to vote in local elections. He urged the board to dismiss Gilbert’s challenge. “If you are able to vote, you should be able to run for office, barring any restrictions against you, which we have found none,”

The Elizabeth City State University senior who wants to run for city council is Montravias King:

images mk

King said he plans to continue to run for office, and considers Gilbert’s challenge part of a broader Republican effort to discourage student voting. “I don’t see this as personal, I see this as an attack on college students across North Carolina,” he said.

The County Board of Elections made the decision to disqualify Mr. King first as a voter and then as a candidate based on residency. Mr. King has now appealed that decision to the state board of elections:

Ms, Kim Strach
Executive Director, State Board of Elections
Mr. Don Wright
Counsel for State Board of Elections
Dear Ms. Strach and Mr. Wright:
Please find enclosed the appeal by Mr. Montravias King from the August 20th order of the Pasquotank County Board of Elections disqualifying Mr. King as a candidate based on residency. From my telephone conversation with Mr. Wright, it is my understanding that the Pasquotank County Board has been directed to not print ballots for the October election until the State Board decides the merits of this appeal. If my understanding is incorrect or the status of Pasquotank’s ballot printing changes, please let me know immediately so I can file a motion to stay the Pasquotank’s Board’s order pending these proceedings.

Excerpt from appeal:

The North Carolina Constitution Article VI § 1 guarantees that “Every person born in the United States and every person who has been naturalized, 18 years of age, and possessing the qualifications set out in this Article, shall be entitled to vote at any election by the people of the State, except as herein otherwise provided.”
Article VI § 2(1) states: Residence period for State elections. Any person who has resided in the State of North Carolina for one year and in the precinct, ward, or other election district for 30 days next preceding an election, and possesses the other qualifications set out in this Article, shall be entitled to vote at any election held in this State.

Equally fundamental is the right of a qualified voter to run for elected office. Under
North Carolina Constitution Article VI § 6, “[e]very qualified voter in North Carolina who is 21 years of age, except as in this Constitution disqualified, shall be eligible for election by the people to office.”

Candidate Montravias King is a rising senior at Elizabeth City State University who has resided on campus since the fall of2009 and who has been an active member of the college community. Ruling on a challenge to Mr. King’s candidacy based on residency, the Board held that a dormitory address could not be considered a permanent address. Combining the Board’s conclusions of law, the Board’s ruling can be summarized as “We do not know where Mr. King resides because he cannot claim to reside here.” The Board’s conclusions oflaw are illogical. Under their conclusions, any student who abandons their former home and goes to a dormitory would be completely barred from establishing domicile anywhere. The Board’s conclusions of law classifying dormitories as insufficient addresses for voting purposes would effectively disenfranchise every student who attempts to register at his or her college dormitory address, in clear violation of United States Supreme Court precedent and holdings of the North Carolina Supreme Court.

Evidence presented at the August 13th hearing showed that Mr. King established 1704 Weeksville Road as his permanent address by:
• Registering to vote at that address in 2009 and voting in subsequent elections
• Attending classes every semester and during summer school at that address
• Using that address for the place where he does his banking
• Using that address for medical records
• Obtaining employment in Elizabeth City and using that address with his employer
• Changing his driver’s license to that address
• Removing treasured possessions such as photos and mementos from his parents’s home and keeping them with him in Elizabeth City
• Actively engaging in community life by serving as President of the ECSU Chapter of the NAACP
• Testifying that he intends to stay in the Fourth Ward after graduation

via election law blog (pdf)

Game Change

So Game Change premieres tonight on HBO, and I am honestly still unsure whether or not I will watch it. I’ve barely recovered from listening to that ignorant harpy in 2008 and am really not sure I can take a sustained two hour exposure to her tonight, even if it isn’t actually her. This may be one of those movies that is so painful I can only watch it in ten to fifteen minute increments.

Palin elicits feelings in me I am not proud of having, and this is a testament to what a truly ugly, awful human being she really is. Just the other day on Fox, she was there spewing her mindless bile, accusing the President of hating white people because of the color of their skin. She had the audacity to claim thet the nation’s first black President actually wanted to revert to pre-Civil war era racism. Why? Because Obama hugged his law professor 20+ years ago.

It’s really hard to measure what an awful, hideous, disgusting human being she is- a worthless sack of flesh whose only mission in life is to sow hatred and animosity, a sad soul with no ability to empathize or behave as a rational actor, and it is worth remembering that this foul beast almost was the Vice President of the United States. Thanks for that, John McCain.

It is my belief that without the elevation of Palin, in all her ugly ignorant glory, we wouldn’t have had the ascent and acceptance of the tea party. When Palin’s odious vitriol and ugly beliefs were mainstreamed, it paved the way for the Joe the Plumbers and the rest of the ugly uninformed orthogonian lumpenproletariat to wear their ignorance, racism, religious sophistry, hatred, and crude nativism as a badge of honor.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

NIXONLAND, Final Week (15): “Celebrities”, “In Which Playboy Bunnies…” & “Not Half Enough”

The Gallup poll showed it 59-36 for the president. One of the people who didn’t believe it was one of the nation’s most respected political columnists, Scotty Reston of the New York Times, the Sunday before Election Day. Nixon would win, “but the thought that the American people are going to give Mr. Nixon and his policies and anonymous hucksters and twisters in the White House a landslide popular victory… is a little hard to imagine.” To believe that Gallup was right, “you must also believe that the American people regret corruption but have accepted it as an unavoidable part of American life and really don’t care about all those millions of dollars given to the Republican party by a few rich men and women, all the secret funds, and the bugging and burglary of the Democratic party and the fake letters and political sabotage and the guerilla warfare used in this campaign… that it’s all right for the President to seek four more years in the White House without defining his program for the next four years, without debating the opposition candidate, or answering questions from the press… that the American people don’t mind or haven’t noticed that Presidential power is now unbalancing the whole American system.”

And, for all demonstrable purposes, the American people — or at least that portion of the Silent Majority Real Americans who bought newspapers and voted in every election — didn’t mind. Which was a great relief to Mr. Reston’s employers, because comforting the comfortable and afflicting the afflicted is so much easier than doing it the other way around. If national elections are just another variety of Survivor or American Idol, then the courtiers of the press get to demonstrate their most finely-honed talents to a much wider audience!

As a coda, it is not possible for me to despise Hubert H. Humphrey any more than I already did, but damned if Perlstein doesn’t convince me that George McGovern wasn’t a good man out of his depth in a particularly filthy race, but a pious fraud willing to make himself a puppet for whichever cabal offered him the best chance at a higher office than his natural talents allowed. Kind of the Democratic George H.W. Bush, with (per best Dem practice) less money and more guts. I don’t think this was Perlstein’s intention, but did it seem to anyone else like McGovern couldn’t have done more to ensure Nixon’s re-election if he had been a GOP plant?