House Republicans are struggling with the question of whether to remove the Confederate image from around the Capitol complex — and they seem in no hurry to commit themselves one way or another.
Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, the sole African-American member of the Mississippi delegation, introduced a resolution late last month that would authorize removal of any state flag on the House side of the Capitol containing a portion of the Confederate symbol. Such a flag would then be donated to the Library of Congress.
The flag of Thompson’s state would be taken down under those guidelines, since it is the only state flag which includes the X-shaped symbol of the Confederacy.
Thompson introduced his resolution last week under a “privileged” process that obligated the House to act on it within two days. But rather than immediately pass or reject the resolution, the House instead punted, voting to refer the measure to the House Administration Committee for review.
With no imminent committee hearing or markup in sight, Thompson’s proposal doesn’t appear likely to return to the House floor anytime soon. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) also made no mention of it in a memo this week outlining the July agenda, making it a long shot for completion before the August recess. ...TheHill
The tea party is often called a "populist" uprising. But it turned out not to be. Almost as soon as the tea partyers had put on their shoes and walked outside to the real world, they were bought off. As the buses lined up in Nashville, we saw that they were paid for by people like the Koch brothers and that some of the worst, most powerful "conservative" funders and cheer leaders were taking over. The flag wavers in the crowd began to look like real patsies.
What's happening now looks a good deal more authentic and civilized.
In Madison, Wis., on Wednesday, 10,000 people show up to rally for long-shot presidential candidate Bernie Sanders — giving the self-declared “democratic socialist” the largest crowd any candidate has had in this election cycle. Sanders, running on a shoestring and a prayer, has closed to within single digits of Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire and is surging in Iowa.
In New York on Tuesday, populist Mayor Bill de Blasio lashes out in vitriolic terms at New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a a fellow Democrat, accusing him of “games” and politically motivated “revenge.” De Blasio and other Democrats blast Cuomo’s handling of housing, immigration, the minimum wage and education.
In Washington last month, an overwhelming majority of Democrats — 158 of 186 in the House and 31 of 44 in the Senate — oppose President Obama on free-trade legislation. Obama prevails in the vote after failing in a similar vote earlier in the month, but the episode leaves the president attempting to repair a deep rift with his fellow Democrats by championing overtime rules favored by unions.
These are not isolated events. Together, they show anew how the populist movement is ascendant within the Democratic Party, and they confirm that the balance of power has shifted. Clinton, who reports raising $45 million since launching her campaign in April, will almost certainly beat the upstart 73-year-old with the crazy white hair. Obama won on trade. But Clinton and Obama are, to borrow a favorite phrase of the president, on the wrong side of history. ...DanaMilbank,WaPo
As someone who was once on the side of Hillary Clinton and later Obama, I'm enjoying a big sense of relief. Neither of those candidates has shown the moral strength she and he once promised. You can forgive them for accepting Wall Street's support so quickly, but not for the warm hugs Hillary, in particular, gives to bankers and, indeed, to the president who gave us NAFTA. Obama got a punch in the jaw from his own party over the fast-track trade issue the other day.
Indeed, Clinton and Obama may turn out to have put the Democratic party at serious risk. Worse: Over the past two decades Democratic leadership hasn't shown much loyalty to liberals and progressives. By now, Milbank notes, "there is a real possibility that intraparty fratricide will break out if Clinton and the rest of the Democratic establishment don’t co-opt the rising populist movement."
Not "co-opt." That's what corporate interests did to the tea partyers.
GOP candidates are working on an escape from Obamacare.
Jindal’s and Rubio’s plans are more developed than much of the rest of the field. Jeb Bush’s campaign referred The Hill to a blog post posted this week on Medium, which includes a half-dozen bullet points about a system to “empower states” but offers no specifics. He proposed a form of “tax relief” for premiums and a “conservative solution” for people with pre-existing conditions.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, another one of the party’s frontrunners, has also been mum on details, and his campaign did not respond to a request for comment on his replacement plan.
Asked on Fox News last week about his replacement plan, Walker mentioned letting the market “drive things,” giving consumers “full information” about their choices and allowing people to buy insurance across state lines.
The campaign of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) also did not respond to a request for comment. When asked how he would replace the law in January, Paul indicated he would largely return to the pre-ObamaCare system.
“We could try freedom for a while,” Paul told Fox News. ...TheHill
Ah yes. Right-wing "freedom." Republicans are once again offering us a switch from a workable, fair, affordable health plan to a lemmings' leap-off-the-cliff into the old unreliable, predatory, corporate health plans.
Donald J. Trump, champion of the so-called birther movement that wrongly questioned President Obama’s birthplace, owner of the Miss Universe contest and developer of hotels bearing his name the world over, has not only found fame in the United States, where he is running for president.
He has also found it in Mexico — or infamy, anyway.
“He’s just ignorant,” said Ricardo Arevala, 18, who works at a piñata shop here, adding that someone recently came into the store looking for a smackable rendition of Mr. Trump. “He speaks in stereotypes.”
Right! Rude and stupid, given the numbers of voters of Mexican backgrounds and loyalties in the US.
Piñata? It's a great way to beat the bejesus out of Trump. The Mexicans know exactly how to deal with him. Iowa and New Hampshire? Not so much. The Times reports that they rewarded him -- instead -- with a "bump in the polls."
Here's the core problem -- the one that turns celebration of the 4th into something Orwellian:
Today, the signature of modern American capitalism is neither benign competition, nor class struggle, nor an inclusive middle-class utopia. Instead, predation has become the dominant feature—a system wherein the rich have come to feast on decaying systems built for the middle class. The predatory class is not the whole of the wealthy; it may be opposed by many others of similar wealth. But it is the defining feature, the leading force. And its agents are in full control of the government under which we live. ...James K. Galbraith
... The Obama administration argued that the U.S. government has absolute power to exclude spouses of American citizens for any reason and that no judicial review or due process should be available to those affected by even erroneous decisions of consular officers. ...TheHill
You can check out the background of this awful truth and maybe even construct some kind of defense of the government. But then think about this: The law can and does keep a man on death row, a man who is later found to have been innocent, in order to protect the prosecutor's reputation.
In Ford’s case, he said, citing a remarkable mea culpa published by the Shreveport Times, “the prosecutor admitted that even ‘[a]t the time this case was tried there was evidence that would have cleared Glenn Ford.” This same prosecutor, Breyer noted, admitted that “at the time of Ford’s conviction, he was ‘not as interested in justice as [he] was in winning.’” ...TheIntercept
A 2014 Washington Post poll reported that a majority of Americans favored life without parole over death as a penalty for murder. Over the past fifteen years, both death sentences and executions have dropped dramatically. Thirty states have either abolished the death penalty or not conducted an execution in more than eight years. Those states that still execute have become outliers even within the United States, which in turn is an outlier in the developed world. Considering these trends, the abolition of capital punishment is probably only a matter of time. Whether its end will come at the hands of the Supreme Court or the people remains to be seen. ...DavidCole,NewYorker
After Mitt Romney’s defeat in 2012, the Republican National Committee published an “autopsy.” “When it comes to social issues,” the autopsy declared, “the Party must in fact and deed be inclusive and welcoming. If we are not, we will limit our ability to attract young people.” ...Atlantic
Nice talk. But is that what they're doing as the candidates line up and start campaigning?
Start with June 17, when Dylann Roof, a young white man enamored of the Confederate flag, murdered nine African Americans in church. Within three days, Romney had called for the Confederate flag’s removal from South Carolina’s capitol. Four days later, the state’s Republican governor and senators called for its removal too. But during that entire week—even as it became obvious that the politics of the flag were shifting—not a single GOP presidential candidate forthrightly called for it to be taken down. Instead, they mostly called it a state decision, a transparent dodge politicians deploy when they don’t want to make a difficult call. ...Atlantic
Even leaving their current flag problem out of it, they're up against some newer voters who don't like the right's insularity.
The rise of Millennials—who are more ethnically and racially diverse and more secular than any generation in American history—is making America a far more culturally tolerant nation than it was when Ronald Reagan, or even George W. Bush, occupied the White House. For the Republican presidential candidates, that means they’re starting from behind. They begin the 2016 race burdened by their party’s reputation for intolerance, a reputation that becomes more politically costly every year as the result of generational change. ...Atlantic
"Obamacare" has lost traction as a political war-cry. Intolerance has become a key issue:
Republican candidates are running like this is their election to lose. It’s not. The economy is improving. Obamacare is growing more popular. Middle class Americans are angrier at the rich than the poor. And culturally, the country is racing left. Winning presidential candidates are smart enough to sense the country’s mood at a given moment in time and bold enough to channel it, even when that entails risk. The last two weeks offered GOP candidates a crucial opportunity to do that. And they blew it, every one. ...Atlantic
So the question inevitably looks like this:
Can the party possibly win in 2016 .... or ever again?
Jonathan Chait says it was over before it started.
The lightning-fast progression of marriage equality from fringe cause to popular, Constitutional right will be studied for years to come. The movement owes its success to any number of things, but surely preeminent among them is the clarity of its core rationale. Preventing gay people from marrying each other serves no coherent purpose. Allowing them to marry harms nobody.
The same-sex-marriage ban was never a premeditated social policy. It simply reflected an age-old abhorrence of homosexuality, and the instinctive or religiously inspired impulse to treat same-sex romance as a sin to be stamped out. Opponents of same-sex marriage have had to reverse engineer public-policy justifications, and the result was utterly feeble. Ross Douthat’s Sunday New York Times column, making a kind of final summarizing statement of a defeated position, reveals the right’s inability to muster a remotely compelling argument for its position. ...Chait, DailyIntel
Texas is still trying to muster a rebellion.
Three days after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide, some Texas county clerks are refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Several clerk’s offices — including those in Hill and Hood counties in North Central Texas, Bastrop and Burleson counties in Central Texas, Jackson County on the Gulf Coast and Odessa's Ector County — said Monday they were awaiting forms or legal guidance or simply objected.
“I’m standing up for my religious liberty,” said Hood County Clerk Katie Lang, who said her office would not give out same-sex marriage licenses on religious grounds. “I do believe that marriage is for one man and one woman because it did derive from the Bible."
After the decision Friday, some county officials said they would wait to hear from state Attorney General Ken Paxton, who issued a written opinion Sunday saying clerks with religious objections to same-sex marriages can refuse to issue those licenses. But if they do so, he wrote, they might face fine or lawsuits.
Paxton said pro bono lawyers would be ready to defend those who refuse, noting "the reach of the Court's opinion stops at the door of the First Amendment and our laws protecting religious liberty." Lang said that after reading Paxton’s opinion, she chose to face possible legal action. ...TexasTribune