Monthly Archives: March 2016

What Crap Came From Donald Trump Today?

Oh fucking hell.  This guy has a 70% unfavorable with women already.  Is he doing this on purpose?

Ah, but here comes Uday to the rescue:

Noted, although that’s non-sensical.  If performing abortions is illegal, then the performer of the abortions is the one who should face consequences.  But the women???

UPDATE: Aaaaaand he does the full retreat, adding that his position “has not changed”


P.S. But note that everyone has moved on from the story about his campaign manager committing battery

Governor McCrory Keeps Digging Deeper

The Governor takes to Youtube:

Notes as I watch this:

  • He’s talking out of the corner of his mouth and has that fakey politician smile
  • The lip service offered to “respecting each other’s beliefs and values” is unnerving, given what he is defending here.
  • He responds to politicians who have “demonized” North Carolina.  Yeah, they’re the problem — these outside agitators.
  • McCrory: “Frankly what is embarrassing is politicians not respecting each other’s positions on complex issues”.That’s a breathtakingly bogus statement.  First of all, McCrory and others are feeling the heat because they didn’t respect the position that Charlotte politicians took when it permitted transgender people to use restrooms that match up with their self-identity.  Not only did HB2 disrespect that Charlotte ordinance by killing ir, but it also prevented ALL municipal governments from coming up with the same kind of ordinance, forever.  “Politicians not respecting others’ positions”?  He went there?
  • And when did this become a “complex issue” to McCrory and his cronies?  A few days ago, they claimed to addressing a simple problem with their “common-sensical solution”.   You know, if it was so complex, maybe the General Assembly should have allowed more public debate and discussion on HB2 so that they could be better informed — rather than keep the text of the law a huge secret and then pass and sign it within a 12 hour span.
  • He goes back to the “expectation of privacy” argument.  He still doesn’t explain how anyone’s “expectation of privacy” is threatened when a transgender person uses the restroom with which he/she identifies.
  • He takes a swipe at Attorney General Ray Cooper for not “defending the laws of this land”.  Look, I don’t know the Attorney General’s oath of office is when he gets sworn in, but I do know what all attorneys (including Cooper) must swear to, and that song goes a little like this:oathRoy Cooper’s allegiance — his JOB, if you will — is not to the Governor of North Carolina NOR the North Carolina Assembly, but to the Constitution of North Carolina to the extent that it is “not inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States”.  McCrory may not agree with Cooper’s assessment that HB2 is unconstitutional, but can’t he concede that Cooper at least has an argument?  It is not outside the realm of possibility that Cooper is right on this.  So this isn’t political — it’s legal — which is what Cooper’s JOB is.UPDATE:  Found it.  The NC Attorney General’s oath is actually the same as the governor’s and every elected official.  And it is pretty much what I thought it was.  He cannot act inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States.

    § 11-7. Oath or affirmation to support Constitutions; all officers to take. Every member of the General Assembly and every person elected or appointed to hold any office of trust or profit in the State shall, before taking office or entering upon the execution of the office, take and subscribe to the following oath: “I, ___________, do solemnly and sincerely swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States; that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the State of North Carolina, and to the constitutional powers and authorities which are or may be established for the government thereof; and that I will endeavor to support, maintain and defend the Constitution of said State, not inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States, to the best of my knowledge and ability; so help me God.”

  • Governor McCrory then states, regarding Cooper, “as the state attorney, he cannot select which laws he will defend….”.  Well, he can actually.  Look, every state official involved in law enforcement has a certain degree of discretion.  They just do.  That’s how you get off with a warning rather than getting a speeding ticket (I’m told).  That’s why there are such things as plea deals where state attorneys work outside the letter of the law in order to reach a just conclusion.  You even hear people invoke the term “prosecutorial discretion” surrounding this incident with Trump’s campaign manager, and how he shouldn’t face charges for such a minor crime.  So this discretion things exists and has been around a long time when it come to enforcement of the law (something different than administration of the law).But setting that aside, McCrory ignores the problem.  Even if the state attorney “cannot select which laws he will defend”, there is a problem when one of the laws he is supposed to defend is, in the state attorney’s opinion, in direct conflict with another law (or Constitution) that he is supposed to defend.  He simply cannot defend an unconstitutional law while at the same time defending the Constitution.  So, yes, he has no choice  put to select which law to defend, and if you look at his oath, the U.S. Constitution takes precedence.  McCrory’s argument would be more valid if the issue at hand was settled law — like gay marriage was when the Kansas law clerk Kim Davis tried to buck it.  But transgender bathroom issues have not been definitively settled on a national level.  I guess we’re about to find out.
  • McCrory says that the AG is inventing “a conflict that simply does not exist”. Again, it is one thing to claim that the other side is wrong, but it is laughable to say that there isn’t any “conflict” over this.  Clearly there is a conflict — a difference of legal opinion — over the discriminatory effects of HB2.
  • He keeps going back to this expectations of privacy thing.  But what he won’t do (because he can’t) is draw a direct line from the Charlotte ordinance to HOW that ordinance affects a person’s expectation of privacy in the restroom or locker room. If McCrory thought that the Charlotte law would make it easier for male-looking dudes to go to the women’s locker room, guess what?  There’s no evidence that problem would have happened.  Moreover, HB2 didn’t fix that problem.  In fact, it may have ended up creating that problem.

Scalia’s Absence Already Having An Impact

If Scalia was alive, this case would have ended up differently:

A case that had the potential to weaken public sector unions across the United States ended with a somewhat unexpected victory for unions on Tuesday, as the Supreme Court divided 4-4 on the question of requiring nonmembers to pay a fee to the public sector union that negotiates the collective bargain agreement that covers them as well.

The split vote in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association means a lower court verdict in favor of the union stands.

If Justice Scalia had been around to weigh in on the anti-union side, which he assuredly would have, then all 50 states would almost certainly have magically become “right to work” states.

This shows the power that one person can have on the court.  And the significance of Obama’s current nominee.  Or indeed, the upcoming Presidential Election.

FBI Quietly Drops Lawsuit Against Apple

Remember that thing last month that I wrote about where the FBI wanted to force Apple’s help to break into an iPhone of the San Bernadino terrorist?

It was controversial in part because many thought that the FBI didn’t really need Apple’s help. Those people include Richard Clark. The former U.S. counterterrorism official and security adviser to the White House told NPR he believed the NSA could do it, no problem, but that the FBI was “not as interested in solving the problem as they are in getting a legal precedent.” Edward Snowden said the same via Twitter.

The FBI just proved them right (the Guardian):

The US government dropped its court fight against Apple after the FBI successfully pulled data from the iPhone of San Bernardino gunman Syed Farook, according to court records.

The development effectively ended a six-week legal battle poised to shape digital privacy for years to come. Instead, Silicon Valley and Washington are poised to return to a simmering cold war over the balance between privacy and law enforcement in the age of apps.

Justice Department lawyers wrote in a court filing Monday evening that they no longer needed Apple’s help in getting around the security countermeasures on Farook’s device.

No work on the third party that helped the FBI find the security breach.

Donald Trump Campaign Manager Charged With Assault (Or “It’s Tuesday”)

Today Donald Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was charged with battery against former Breitbart “News” reporter Michelle Fields.  There was some controversy a few weeks ago when the incident happened as to whether or not it actually did happen.  The videos from smartphones were (arguably) inconclusive.  But a newly released surveillance video clearly shows Lewandowski grabbing Fields by the arm and roughly pulling her aside exactly as she claimed.

You need to look in the lower right hand corner — not in the box, but above and to the left of the box.  She is in white, he is in a black suit.

The Trump campaign launched into another denial of the attack…

What is interesting is that the surveillance video just released was actually in possession of the Trump campaign while they were issuing all their denials.

And of course…


RIP Patty Duke

Another 69 year old dies.

As a teen, she won an Oscar for The Miracle Worker.  Duke became best known in later life as an advocate for mental health issues, after she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1982

Her last two tweets:

Governor McCrory Attempts To Clarify HB2 . . . But Obfuscates Even More

Responding to worldwide disgust at the passage and signing of HB2, which discriminates against transgender people (and does lots of bad stuff in general), NC Governor McCrory put some shit on his website, entitled “Myths vs Facts: What New York Times, Huffington Post and other media outlets aren’t saying about common-sense privacy law”

Catchy title.

Can we dispense with the notion that this is a privacy law at all?  It doesn’t make the public bathrooms any more or less private.  It just changes who can go where.

And don’t get me started on “common-sense”.

So let’s look at this McCrory thing.  He starts off with this:

1. Does the new bill limit or prohibit private sector companies from adopting their own nondiscrimination policies or practices?

Answer: No. Businesses are not limited by this bill. Private individuals, companies and universities can adopt new or keep existing nondiscrimination policies.

That’s a nice way of saying that private individuals, companies and universities can still discriminate on the basis of gender identity or orientation.  In other words, the bill didn’t make things worse when it comes to the private sector bathrooms. You can be fired for being gay. You can be demoted for being gay. Employers can refuse to hire you for being gay. They can refuse to promote you for being gay. Businesses can refuse to serve you for being gay.

2. Does this bill take away existing protections for individuals in North Carolina?

Answer: No. In fact, for the first time in state history, this law establishes a statewide anti-discrimination policy in North Carolina which is tougher than the federal government’s. This also means that the law in North Carolina is not different when you go city to city.

This is not true.  At the time the bill was passed, there was a brand new *existing* anti-discrimination policy in Charlotte.  Now there isn’t.

It’s sort of disingenuous to say that nothing has changed when in fact, the NC government convened in a special session specifically to make a change.

The next two questions are basically a re-phrasing of Question Number One

5. Does this law prohibit towns, cities or counties in North Carolina from setting their own nondiscrimination policies in employment that go beyond state law

Answer: No. Town, cities and counties in North Carolina are still allowed to set stricter non-discrimination policies for their own employees if they choose.

Ah, “in employment”.  Subtle little caveat there.  Thanks for addressing something that wasn’t an issue.

6. Does this bill mean transgender people will always have to use the restroom of the sex of their birth, even if they have undergone a sex change? 

Answer: No. This law simply says people must use the bathroom of the sex listed on their birth certificate. Anyone who has undergone a sex change can change their sex on their birth certificate.

But if you can’t afford the sex change OR if you there are medical risks to sex change OR if you can’t afford the legal hurdles to get a birth certificate change OR if you were born in a state that doesn’t permit changes to birth certificates (Kansas, Tennessee, among others), you’re out of luck.

8. Does this bill affect people with disabilities?

Answer: No. Statewide law also bans discrimination based on disability.

What McCrory doesn’t tell you here is — yes, although statewide law bans discrimination based on a disability, you can’t — thanks to the new law — sue in state courts if someone discriminates against you (like, say, your boss).  And it is not just disability.  It is religion, color, national origin, biological sex and sometimes age.

So you have to go to federal court, which sometimes is impossible, or take longer, and is definitely more expensive.  So basically, North Carolina still bans discrimination; it just won’t do anything to protect you from it.

9. Why did North Carolina pass this law in the first place?

Answer: The bill was passed after the Charlotte City Council voted to impose a regulation requiring businesses to allow a man into a women’s restroom, shower, or locker room if they choose. This ordinance would have eliminated the basic expectations of privacy people have when using the rest room by allowing people to use the restroom of their choice. This new local regulation brought up serious privacy concerns by parents, businesses and others across the state, as well as safety concerns that this new local rule could be used by people who would take advantage of this to do harm to others.

Boy, this is insulting.  The Charlotte City Council most certainly did NOT vote to allow a MAN into a women’s restroom, etc.  The ordinance was meant to allow a WOMAN into a women’s restroom.  That’s why this HB2 is so offensive.  It assumes, rather stupidly and contrary to both reality and common sense, that a person’s actual gender is what is on the birth certificate.  And that a trans person will act in accordance with what some doctor said X number of years ago.

And then it assumes, in a nonsensical way, that others in the restroom would have their “expectations of privacy” invaded by the woman in the women’s restroom.  Is there any evidence for this?  Of course not.  In fact, most transgender men use the men’s restroom and nobody is none the wiser.  And same with transgender women.  So whose privacy gets “invaded”?   Name them, Gov. McCrory.  I want to meet them.

11. Will this bill threaten federal funding for public schools under Title IX?

Answer: No, according to a federal court which has looked at a similar issue.

It would be nice if he cited his work.  Because I wonder if the “similar issue” is in fact “similar”  Or how old the case is.  Because on April 29, 2014, the United States Department of Education (DOE) specifically states “Title IX’s sex discrimination prohibition extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity.”

And in fact, when public schools have tried to get away with what NC us tryng to do, THEY LOSE.

13. Will this bill affect North Carolina’s ability to create or recruit jobs?

Answer: This bill does not affect companies in North Carolina. North Carolina was one of the top states to do business in the country before this law was passed, and preventing Charlotte’s bathroom ordinance from going into effect on April 1 won’t change that.

Well, true.  Nothing in the language of the bill specifically hurts jobs.  But given the response from business leaders all over the country, clearly it will have an impact on companies coming here, which effects job creation.

And the rest of it is bullshit.  Kind of like… well, nothing has happened to North Carolina YET as a result of HB2.  Ooookay.




The Lawsuit Begins

Two transgender people and a lesbian law school professor, along with the ACLU of North Carolina and Equality NC, filed a federal lawsuit today to challenge the new North Carolina law that blocks local governments from passing anti-discrimination rules and requiring transgender students to use bathrooms assigned to their biological sex.

While I would have preferred that the lawsuit take on the broader issues of the law besides the bathroom assignments, I can understand that the harm on those other issues is speculative at this point.

So… the bathroom issues it is.

The Cuban Mistress Crisis

The National Enquirer is reporting that Ted Cruz is hiding five different mistresses.

Before you scoff, remember that the National Enquirer was right about Gary Hart’s affair, and John Edwards.  Others in (somewhat) more respectable media outlets seem to think it is accurate.

Brietbart News is claiming the story was peddled to them some time ago by “Rubio allies”

The bombshell report, published in the magazine’s March 25th issue, includes pixelated photos of the women allegedly involved with the first-term senator, but doesn’t give their names.

However, several reports in online journals and on Twitter — where the hashtag #CruzSexScandal is trending worldwide — identify one of the women as Katrina Pierson, a former Cruz aide and tea party congressional candidate who now works for GOP front-runner Donald Trump.


Pierson identified above rejected the allegations on Twitter:

Yet she made her Instragram account private last night:


Another of Cruz’s purported lovers outed by the Internet is Sarah Isgur Flores, who worked for former Republican presidential contender Carly Fiorina. The former Hewlett-Packard CEO briefly challenged Trump for the lead in the race, but she dropped out of the campaign in February.

Last July, a Cruz-affiliated super PAC donated $500,000 to Fiorina’s campaign, without explanation — a highly unusual move that is being reexamined in light of the Enquirer’s report about Cruz’s indiscretions. And Fiorina made a highly publicized last-minute endorsement of Cruz in the final days before the Florida primary, helping him come in a respectable second to Trump and keeping his White House hopes alive.

A third woman has been identified as Amanda Carpenter who denies as well

Cruz himself denies it, of course.  He posted this on his Facebook page:

I want to be crystal clear: these attacks are garbage. For Donald J. Trump to enlist his friends at the National Enquirer and his political henchmen to do his bidding shows you that there is no low Donald won’t go.These smears are completely false, they’re offensive to Heidi and me, they’re offensive to our daughters, and they’re offensive to everyone Donald continues to personally attack.

Donald Trump’s consistently disgraceful behavior is beneath the office we are seeking and we are not going to follow.

But THEN there is a story which I was GOING to blog about a long time ago, but I figured there was no there there.  It’s this, a Texas state police report from 2005 claiming that Heidi Cruz was a “danger to herself” as she was found sitting aside an Austin expressway.  Jilted?


Trump, a longtime friend of the Enquirer’s CEO, says he has nothing to do with the Enquirer story.  And actually, I believe him.  He’s ahead.  Why attack Cruz now?  Or was their little spat about their wives what prompted this?

So far, a lot of speculation and nothing solid.  But in the weirdest of campaign seasons, who knows if it is possible?

RELATED:  Ted Cruz using the word “copulate” is just as bad as him using the word he was trying to avoid.

Is ISIS On The Ropes?

Don’t look to the Republican presidential candidates for an honest answer to that question.  They want ISIS to be flourishing because it gives them a plank to campaign on.

But if you look at my tweets, you’ll see that Paris and Belgium are sweeping out the network with arrests, and that the Number 2 ISIS guy was killed, US officials believe.

And now, according to the Washington Post, ISIS may be on retreat on multiple fronts.  The paper reports that both Palmyra and a string of villages in northern Iraq are being overrun by US-backed forces:

These are just two of the many fronts in both countries where the militants are being squeezed, stretched and pushed back….Front-line commanders no longer speak of a scarily formidable foe but of Islamic State defenses that crumble within days and fighters who flee at the first sign they are under attack.

….Most of the advances [] are being made by the assortment of loosely allied forces, backed to varying degrees by the United States, that are ranged along the vast perimeter of the Islamic State’s territories. They include the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, in northeastern Syria; the Kurdish peshmerga in northern Iraq; the Iraqi army, which has revived considerably since its disastrous collapse in 2014; and Shiite militias in Iraq, which are not directly aligned with the United States but are fighting on the same side.

The U.S. military estimated earlier this year that the Islamic State had lost 40 percent of the territory it controlled at its peak in 2014, a figure that excludes the most recent advances.

….In eastern Syria, the seizure late last month of the town of Shadadi by the Kurdish YPG — aided by U.S. Special Forces — was accompanied by the capture of nearly 1,000 square miles of territory….The operation was planned to take place over weeks. Instead, the town fell within days, said a senior U.S. administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly.

“Shadadi was going to be a major six-week operation,” he said. “The ISIS guys had dug trenches and everything. Instead, they completely collapsed. They’re collapsing town by town.”

Emphasis mine.

Is this true?  Maybe, or maybe it is Defense Department spin (it wouldn’t be the first time).  But if this reporting is true, it represents a self-sustaining dynamic: rumors of ISIS collapse inspire Iraqi forces to fight harder, which in turn contributes to ISIS collapse. At this point, the issues in the way of further progress are as much diplomatic as military: “We could probably liberate Mosul tomorrow, but we would have a real mess on our hands if we did,” says Michael Knights of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Something to be cautiously optimistic about.

When You Don’t Think

The backlash and fallout against North Carolina’s HB2 law continues, and what is getting a lot of attention are pictures and tweets from transgender people like Michael Hughes, a 45-year-old trans man in Rochester, Minn.

Take a look at this picture:


That’s Michael Hughes and two of his female friends in a womens’ bathroom.  Under the new law passed by the GOP-controlled North Carolina legislature and Republican Governor, Michael Hughes — who WANTS to use the male restroom — MUST use the female restroom, because he was born female biologically.

I wonder how that makes the wives and daughters of the North Carolina legislators feel.  But that’s what the new law forces him to do.

Again, the legislature was trying to supposedly protect women from transgender men going into women’s restrooms and sexually assaulting women — a solution to a problem WHICH IS NOT HAPPENING.  Don’t get me wrong — sexual assaults ARE a serious problem, but there is not a problem of men pretending to be women and using public facilities to launch their assault.  As I’ve written before, it hasn’t happened in other states which are accommodating to transgender issues. Not even a little bit.

Let me talk about what else happens when you don’t think things through.  The Mike Smerconish program is killing it this morning; the topic is the North Carolina law which everyone is upset about. Some Chapel Hill attorney called in and pointed out something about the new law which I hadn’t heard before. I checked it out and she’s right. Aside from the awful bathroom access thing, the new law makes it impossible to sue your employer in state court for wrongful discharge based on ANY discrimination.

In other words, prior to the new law, if your employer fired you because you were handicapped, or a certain race, or a certain religion, or a certain gender (and so on), you could sue in state court. Not anymore.

It’s true that you can still bring these wrongful discharge cases in federal court BUT there is a shorter statute of limitations, it takes longer, more hoops to jump through, is more expensive, etc. Sometimes a wrongful discharge case in state court is the only possibility a person has. Uh…. HAD.

The odd thing is this: this aspect of the new law might have been completely unintentional. The NC legislature might not have known they were actually doing this — something that happens when you throw together a new law quickly in the dark of night. Or maybe they really are dicks.

RIP Garry Shandling

This one hurts.  And it is very sudden.  TMZ:

Comedian Garry Shandling died at an L.A. area hospital on Thursday … TMZ has learned.

The 66-year-old star was not suffering from any illness … as far as we know … so, it appears this was sudden. A source connected to Shandling says he was healthy and speaking to people on Thursday morning.

Yeah, I saw this tweet recently too

UPDATE: This was a nice tribute

How Can Any Woman Vote For Trump After This?

I get the schtick.  Trump tries to get media attention and he usually gets it, provided he is outrageous enough.

But the things he does.  Oy.

This got started when one of those super-PACs, in this case not even one that supports Cruz but just one that opposes Trump, put out a picture of Melania Trump in a semi-naked form.  Trump vaguely threatened Cruz directly, saying he would “spill the beans” about Cruz’s wife.  Cruz responded with indignation and a threat not to attack his wife.

Then Brussels. And now that that is done, this:

Yup. He’s comparing how their wives LOOK. Not their accomplishments, charitable goals, intelligence, kindness, goodness, values, etc. It’s about – and ONLY about — how these women LOOK.

It’s misogyny at its worst.

So again I ask, how can any self-respecting woman vote for Trump after this?

UPDATE… well fuck me.  Now I have to admit that Cruz has a classy response:

On the other hand, he did call Trump a “snivelling coward” over the incident, which also happens to be true.


I know the Republican lawmakers don’t give a damn about non-straight people, but they’re supposed to give a damn about business.  Apparently, they didn’t think about the effect on the economy:

American Airlines and other major businesses across the state and nation are taking a stand against a bill signed into law Wednesday by N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory that invalidates Charlotte’s new legal protections for LGBT individuals.

The NCAA, which is scheduled to hold men’s basketball tournament games in North Carolina in 2017 and 2018, said it’s monitoring events in cities where it plans to hold its sporting events.

At a time when North Carolina is trying to recruit companies to expand and grow in the state, some business leaders said the new measure will jeopardize employee recruitment and economic development in the state.

“We believe no individual should be discriminated against because of gender identity or sexual orientation,” American Airlines spokeswoman Katie Cody said in a statement. “Laws that allow such discrimination go against our fundamental belief of equality and are bad for the economies of the states in which they are enacted.”

American Airlines operates its second-biggest hub at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, where it just reached a new 10-year lease agreement.


American has previously joined other major U.S. companies, including Wells Fargo, Apple and Microsoft, in signing a statement opposed to “anti-LGBT” legislation.

Read the whole thing.  American Airlines and the NCAA are just the tip of what I hope is a larger iceberg.

There’s Paypal, which announced plans last week to hire 400 in Charlotte for a new operations center,

And Biogen, the biotech company and one of the biggest employers in the Triangle:

Bank of America Stadium, where the Panthers play, has in the past encouraged transgender men and women to use the facilities in which they feel the most comfortable.  Similarly, BB&T Ballpark and Charlotte Motor Speedway allow transgender individuals to use the restroom of their gender identity.

The NCAA has first- and second-round games in the men’s NCAA basketball tournament in Greensboro in 2017 and in Charlotte in 2018.  They put the pressure on Indiana to amend a similar discriminatory law.

UPDATE — More reax:

President and CEO of Red Hat News:


and former editor of News & Record

and Activist and Orange Is the new Black actress Laverne Cox voiced her opposition as well

Gov McCrory Signs HB2 Into Law

Here’s why he did it:

… which kind of reminds me of when Edith Bunker of “All in The Family” couldn’t understand how a man could be in love with another man, and therefore didn’t understand the concept of gay rights.  The ordinance only defies common sense if you are blind to the problem it seeks to remedy.

Speaker Jim Moore also defended the law, saying:

“One of the biggest issues was about privacy. . . The way the ordinance was written by City Council in Charlotte, it would have allowed a man to go into a bathroom, locker or any changing facility, where women are — even if he was a man. We were concerned. Obviously there is the security risk of a sexual predator, but there is the issue of privacy.”

The final bill is attached below the fold.

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, a Democrat, released a statement saying she was appalled by the bill’s passage.

“This legislation is literally the most anti-LGBT legislation in the country,” she said Wednesday.

So how did we get here?

North Carolina, like most states, legally permits discrimination against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity in public accommodations. In comparison, discrimination based on race and religion, for example, in public accommodations is forbidden by federal and state laws.

Charlotte was essentially trying to fix this gap in civil rights laws. By expanding the city’s existing civil rights protections, the city council hoped to make it clear that LGBTQ people should be able to go to a bar or hail a taxi without the fear of legally allowed discrimination.

And so on February 22, Charlotte came forward with an ordinance which did just that:

The changes mean businesses in Charlotte can’t discriminate against gay, lesbian or transgender customers, in addition to long-standing protections based on race, age, religion and gender. The ordinance applies to places of public accommodation, such as bars, restaurants and stores. It also applies to taxis.

The most controversial part of the ordinance would allow transgender residents to use either a men’s or women’s bathroom, depending on the gender with which they identify.

And that’s when state lawmakers jumped into action, quickly proposing the new state law which was signed by the governor yesterday.

Here’s what the state’s law does:

  1. The statute overturns and bans local laws (including Charlotte’s) that don’t conform to the state’s nondiscrimination laws for the workplace and public accommodations (hotels, restaurants, and other places that serve the public). Since the state doesn’t ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace or public accommodations, this effectively forces all cities and counties to keep it legal to discriminate against LGBTQ people in these settings.
  2. It prohibits transgender people from using bathrooms or locker rooms in schools and government agencies based solely on their gender identity. Instead, they’re forced to use bathrooms and locker rooms based on the gender noted on their birth certificate, which can be changed through an arduous process after gender-affirming surgery but not before then. Public facilities can still build unisex single-person bathrooms to accommodate trans people, but it’s not required.

The governor and bill sponsors want the focus to be on the bathroom issue — it is something everyone can relate to — but that will involve a lot of silly fearmongering that has little basis in reality.  Sexual predators can exist regardless of the sexual orientation of the predator OR victim.  You don’t reduce incidents of sexual predators simply by discriminating against people of a certain sexual orientation.  The one has nothing to do with the other.  And in fact, we know from experience in places which permit transgender accommodation that the fears of heightened sexual assault or invasion of privacy are unfounded.

Cambridge, Mass, for instance:

Back in 1984 Cambridge enacted an ordinance that established the Human Rights Commission. The purpose of the ordinance was to protect the human rights of all citizens of the City. In 1997 this ordinance was amended to specifically include gender identity and expression. Much like the Transgender Equal Rights Bill proposal, the City of Cambridge sought to offer protection to transgender individuals from being harassed, fired from a job, denied access to a public place, or denied or evicted from housing. Since this 1997 amendment there have been no incidents or issues regarding persons abusing this ordinance or using them as a defense to commit crimes. Specifically, as was raised as a concern if the bill were to be passed, there have been no incidents of men dressing up as women to commit crimes in female bathrooms and using the city ordinance as a defense.

No incidents in almost 20 years.

But the bathroom thing is partly a diversion.  What is at stake here is LGBT rights and non-discrimination laws in a broader sense. This is the new battlefront after the gay marriage victories.

Already, two states have passed laws that preempt local non-discrimination provisions. In 2011, Tennessee passed such a law, and Arkansas passed one in 2015—both in responses to cities adopting or considering ordinances.

North Carolina’s law us like the Tennessee and Arkansas law.  This is the first time that a law has been passed at the state level which mandates that students use the bathroom corresponding to their “biological sex” or some similar phrase.  In February, South Dakota lawmakers passed a similar bill, but Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed it, saying the law did not answer any pressing need and that local authorities were better-equipped to handle the issue than state lawmakers.

The student-restroom laws in North Carolina and elsewhere raise other questions, most notably whether schools fall afoul of federal Title IX regulation and thus endanger federal funding. It would be ironic if the North Carolina’s attempt to preempt Charlotte’s ordinances was itself preempted by federal law, but that’s certainly a highly possible outcome.

The other problem with the new state law is the notion that municipalities must conform to the state’s nondiscrimination laws.  While that is generally true, “conformity to nondiscrimination laws” has never meant that municipalities had to be as discriminatory as the state.  Rather, it has always meant that municipalities must be at least as NONdiscriminatory as the state.  Put another way, the purpose of non-discrimination laws is, to stop discrimination.  If a municipality wants to do better than the state at stopping discriminating, it has always been free to do that. That’t the way it has been in every state in the country.  Charlotte WAS conforming to North Carolina’s non-discrimination laws.  AND it added a few non-discrimination laws of its own.

But the rationale of North Carolina’s new state law turns the whole idea of non-discrimination on its head.

Another rationale for the new law is the specious argument that state laws regarding non-discrimination should be consistent throughout the state — that this will somehow help intra-state commerce.  Sounds good and legal and rational…. until you actually think about it.  How is intrastate commerce affected at all if taxis can ignore LGBTQ people in Raleigh, but can’t in Charlotte?  Intrastate commerce isn’t impacted at all.  Nor is it affected if the bathroom rules are different in different municipalities.

And if Charlotte wants to prevent businesses from engaging in wage discrimination against LGBTQ workers — well, that doesn’t impact intrastate commerce either.  Yes, it makes Charlotte a more appealing place to work than Raleigh if you are a member of the LGBTQ community (or, you know, the human race), but that’s Raleigh’s problem.  It doesn’t affect THE STATE or intrastate commerce.  So this “conformity of nondiscrimination laws throughout the state” is just a bullshit rationale.

And so the next fight begins.  Personally, I am not worried about the final outcome.  I’ve been around long enough to see the arc of justice, and which way it bends.  In the 1970s and 1980s, when transgender discrimination issues started poking up, they almost universally failed.   Not so anymore.  Courts are beginning to recognize that that a person could bring a claim under Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination because an employer views an employee’s sexual orientation as “not consistent with … acceptable gender roles.”  The U.S. Department of Labor has acknowledged the ruling in Macy v Holder — so now, if you are a business that wants a government contract, fat chance of getting that contract if you discriminate on the basis of gender identity or transgender status.  [UPDATE:  I’m going to list some federal court decisions which support coverage for transgender Individuals as sex discrimination]

But it is just frustrating to have to continually have these battles for civil rights and, indeed, common decency.  I just wish the haters would get tired of losing and give it up already.

North Carolina General Assembly’s Horrible LGBT Discrimination Bill

A draft version of the bill that the legislature is set to consider during the special session confirmed the worst fears of the LGBT community and anyone remotely interested in civil liberties, or even municipal governance, in North Carolina: Speaker Tim Moore and the Republicans are going to destroy the ability of local governments to govern themselves.

First reported by WRAL, the bill, if it looks anything like this one, is set to revoke the ability of local governments like Charlotte to extend their non-discrimination protections to not only LGBT people, but disabled people as well. The bill cleverly is introduced under the guise of a new non-discrimination ordinance statewide, but one that only extends protections based on “race, religion, color, national origin, or sex.”

The draft bill is here:

Not only would it disavow protections for LBGT groups, but it would also prevent any cities or local governments from raising the minimum wage, creating a “livable wage” ordinance, or creating stricter labor laws than the state’s. Effectively, this bill would “supersede” all local laws regarding non-discrimination and labor that aren’t as draconian as the state of North Carolina’s.

It appears that in addition to cities and municipalities, schools would lose this authority as well, given that North Carolina is forcing schools to adopt single-sex bathrooms as a concrete policy. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools decided to implement gender-neutral bathrooms back in February; that appears to be in jeopardy now.

The cost of the special session to consider bills like this is $42,000 per day.

This is nothing new from the legislature. Back in October, they passed a bill aimed at ending “sanctuary city” ordinances for undocumented immigrants, and they’re continually attempting to strip local governments of the power to draw their own districts after they lose elections.

It is something we are seeing in other states as well.  But fortunately, Republican South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard recently vetoed a similar restroom restriction for students, while Tennessee’s Republican-led state House tabled a similar measure Tuesday.

Sadly, North Carolina’s version is even a more extreme, anti-LGBT bill than others proposed in other states.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory see this as a political hot potato; on Monday, he declined to call lawmakers back to consider the proposed bill, saying that, while he believes the restroom issue must be addressed, the rest of the legislation is too broad to be considered in a special session unlikely to have time to accommodate public input.

But House and Senate leaders used a rarely invoked power to call themselves back instead.

This morning in a special session, General Assembly is slated to hammer out the final bill, which should come out sometime today.

Brussels Attacks: Silver Lining Edition

The death toll stands at 31 from yesterday’s coordinated ISIS-terrorist attacks in Brussels.

We’re getting some details from the Belgian prosecutor.

There were three explosions. Two explosions hit the Zaventem airport in Brussels around 8 am local time (3 am Eastern) in the departure area. One was in the entryway and the other near the American Airlines ticket counter. Both were suicide bombings. 10 people were killed and 100 wounded. A third bomb was left at the airport and safely deactivated, according to the Associated Press. The bomb, in a suitcase, contained the biggest explosive charge; it exploded right after the bomb squad arrived.

Another explosion followed at 9:11 am local time (4:11 am Eastern) in the Maelbeek metro station near central Brussels.  The explosions at Maelbeek were on a metro car, part of a three-car train that had just pulled out on its way to the next station. The metro explosion alone killed 21 people and injured 106, 17 of them seriously

Belgium’s federal prosecutor identified two suspects as two brothers with criminal records, Khalid el-Bakraoui, 27, and Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, 30, as well as a third man, who they did not identify, who is still at large. Ibrahim el-Bakaraoui was killed in the suicide bombing at the airport, and Khalid el-Bakraoui was killed in the suicide bombing in the metro.

Belgian police released video from the airport that showed three men, allegedly the attackers, pushing luggage carts. The man in the center is Ibrahim el-Bakraoui. The man to his left has not been identified but is thought to be another suicide bomber.  They are searching for the man who is wearing a dark hat and light jacket in the photo.

160322130113-01-belgian-police-photo-exlarge-169TERRORISME   Suspect à identifier  1

The cab driver who took the bombers to the airport was able to help Belgian police find the apartment where the men stayed. Investigators found a nail bomb, chemical products and an ISIS flag during a house search in the northeast Brussels neighborhood of Schaerbeek, Belgium’s federal prosecutor said in a statement.

They also found a laptop computer which contained a will/suicide note from Ibrihim El Bakraoui in which he wrote: “Being in a hurry, I don’t know what to do, being searched for everywhere, not being safe, if it drags on it could end up with me in a prison cell next to him”, which French media have reported is a reference to suspected Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam.”

This suggests a couple of things to me.  The rapid unraveling of the ISIS network on Brussels, culminating in the arrest of one of the Paris terrorist late last week, forced the hand of ISIS.  Obviously, it would have been preferable to bring down the net on the entire operation before these attacks, but we can take some solace in the fact that they were panicky and running.

Also, it looks like the Brussels attack and the Paris attack may have come from the same network, maybe even the same cell or extended cell.  There are some reports that the bombmaker in both attacks may be the same person.  If so, then it is gratifying to know that the problem — while serious — may not be as widespread as the fearmongers suggest.


Quote Of The Day

“Good God, they’re probably cutting videos of this right now. . . Donald Trump right now is validating the cartoonish view that they tell their operatives…that America is a racist nation, xenophobic, anti-Muslim, and that that’s why you must carry out terrorist attacks against them…It’s irresponsible and it needs to stop.”

– terrorism expert Malcolm Nance, the head of the Terrorism Asymmetrics Project and a veteran of Navy intelligence, today


The Brussels Attacks

35 dead (at last count) and over 200 wounded.  The attacks took place during morning rush hour in Brussels, as three ISIS or-ISIS-related gunmen opened fire at the airport in Brussels and then self-detonated via an explosive belt.

An hour later came an explosion in a Brussels subway station — Maalbeek.

The bloodshed came just four days after the dramatic arrest in Brussels of Salah Abdeslam — the prime suspect in the Paris attacks claimed by IS — after four months on the run.

It is not known if the attacks were related.

One thing about Belgium — they do have an awful lot of radicalized Muslims going to Syria and other places, and then returning home to Belgium.  It’s a far worse problem for them than with the French or with the U.S.

Both Trump and Cruz are quick to stoke the flames of fear, with Cruz actually putting this statement out:


I’m not sure what he means, but apparently being nice to peaceful Muslims is “surrendering to the enemy”.  I guess.

And of course, Trump doesn’t want to be out-Trumped by Cruz, and makes no bones about turning this into votes.  Really.

Trump flat admits that terrorism helps him, as shown in this WaPo column:


That’s pretty insidious.

Dear Millenials

Hi.  Welcome to the world you live in.

I get it.  I really do.  You’ve arrived into adulthood and you’re like, “What?!? The planet is getting warmer and warmer and may die?”

Or “What?!? Gay people can’t get married?  What the fuck?!?”

Or “What?!? Cops are killing black people and this is actually a thing?!?”

And then you look at me and my generation, as the former custodian of the planet on which you now live, with contempt.  As if we’re handing you a giant dog turd.

Look, just because you were born within the past 25 years doesn’t make you smarter.  Or superior.  Maybe you need to a crack open a book, or view a documentary or something.  Because if you thought outside of your own generation, you would discover one thing…


That’s right.  When I was born, many black people couldn’t vote in this country.  And I’m not talking about some subtle voter ID thing that has the effect of discriminating against some social segments yada yada yada.  I’m talking about… in some parts of this country, if you were a black person who tried to register to vote, the registrar would look at your skin color and say “no”.  And then maybe a cross would burn on your lawn that night.  Serious stuff.

You see, you live in a world where you have “safe zones” to protect you from “microaggressions”. . . like university professors making you read a book that causes you to challenge your beliefs.  I grew up in a world where college students were shot and killed by soldiers because they disagreed with a war.

And gay marriage?  Are you kidding me?  Just coming out as gay was a BIG DEAL.  Forget about being accepted in broader society.  Forget about marriage.  Even gay people weren’t thinking that far ahead.

My point is that you are standing on the shoulders of progressives who faced bigger obstacles than you can possibly imagine.  We won wars — not the army-invading-another-country kind, but the social kind.  Let me give you an example.

It’s been about 30 years since scientists discovered the massive hole above Antarctica – a hole that was created by releasing chlorofluorocarbons into the air, National Geographic reported.

It was a hole in the Ozone layer, and like global warming now, there were forces that denied it was even happening.  If the hole continued to grow (i.e., the ozone layer in the earth depleted), then we all die from skin cancer or starvation as the ultraviolet light coming from the sun seeped through and killed plants and animals.

But we fought, and eventually, there has been an international movement to reduce the size of that hole, including a ban on CFCs.  And now the hole is closing and should be gone by 2040.

Bottom line:  You don’t hear about “ozone depletion” much anymore.  Cuz we fixed it.

You’re welcome.

So… we did a lot to get this place as nice as we could for you.  Some of us have scars, including both Democratic presidential candidates. Some of us don’t, including all the Republican presidential candidates.

Now, take that for what you will.  It’s your world now.  We’re burnt out.  We know there is more things to fix.  Have at it.  But for God sakes, don’t look down your noses as you stand on the shoulders of those who came before you.  And stop complaining.

That’s all.

For now.

P.S. Get off my lawn.

Short Takes

(1)  Trump likes to say that he is bringing enthusiasm to the GOP and people are voting in the Republican race in massive numbers, which means that Democrats should be worried about the general election.

Is he right?

He is not. As many have pointed out, voter turnout is an indication of the competitiveness of a primary contest, not of what will happen in the general election. The GOP presidential primary is more competitive than the Democratic race.  Historically, that has no bearing on the voter turnout, or the turnout of the parties, in the general election.

(2)  I get tired of journalists and pundits saying that “the people won’t understand” if Donald Trump goes into the GOP convention with the most votes, but doesn’t end up winning.   First of all, if that is true, then journalists and pundits need to explain the difference between a majority and a plurality, and that winning on the first vote requires a majority.  But more to the point, I think the people can understand the concept, and probably already do.  We need to stop being treated like we are idiots.  That’s how we GET candidates like Trump in the first place.

(3)  The attempt to suppress votes by Republicans in North Carolina seems to have worked.

(4)  I’m definitely the first to say this, but it is very very weird how Cruz has always been unpopular with Washington insiders, and he ran as being NOT a Washington insider, and now all the Washington insiders are trying to find a way to embrace him as the last resort to Trumpism.

(5) So if you are Hillary’s people, what is your attack point on Trump? Too conservative, or an unsteady unknown?  My sense is that you actually compliment Trump (say, in a debate) for a stance that conservatives hate (his kind words about Planned Parenthood, for example).  And then you bash him on his ignorance of the world, the Constitution, etc.  I don’t think you attack his temperament.  That seems to get people on his side.

(6) Some Republicans are caving on Mitch McConnell’s decision not to hold hearings:

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), one of just two Senate Republicans who have indicated an openness to even having a confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, had a message for his GOP colleagues on Friday: give Garland a vote.

“We should go through the process the Constitution has already laid out. The president has already laid out a nominee who is from Chicagoland and for me, I’m open to see him, to talk to him, and ask him his views on the Constitution,” Kirk explained in a radio interview on WLS-AM’s Big John Howell Show.



Is it hard to do cartwheels over President Obama’s choice of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland today.  Professor Epstein seems to think he’s a good liberal…


… but you always have to question the methodology of these things.

Merrick Garland is 63 years old and currently serves as chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. A former Justice Department official in the Clinton administration, Garland was nominated to the D.C. Circuit by President Bill Clinton in 1997 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate by a vote of 76-23. Sen. Orrin Hatch remarked at the time that Garland was “not only a fine nominee, but as good as Republicans can expect from [the Clinton] administration.”  He’s actually pretty conservative on police issues and war on terror.  But he’s no threat to Roe v Wade.

Sure, Garland is smart.  And qualified.  But if the tables were turned, and it was a Republican president and a Democrat-controlled Senate, I don’t think the judicial candidate would have been so…. moderate.

I mean, I get it.  Everyone gets it.  Obama is picking a guy who has already been approved by the Senate for his current judicial gig, who is not an ideologue, etc.  This forces Senate Republicans to consider AND approve the nominee, or look like the reason why Washington sucks so bad.  Also, with a Clinton presidency looming, Republicans might just want to get Garland and not get someone far more liberal.  (In fact, a President Trump could pick a liberal judge for all anybody knows).

In other words. holding out for another Scalia just might get Republicans a lefty version of Scalia.

Over at 538, they did some quick calculations and determined what the future might look like:


Facing those possibilities, confirming Garland, might just be the best thing the GOP could do.  You gotta play the cards you’re dealt.

And the other hand, I get annoyed at this (if it is true):

Why would Obama capitulate to the Republicans when he has them over a barrel?

In the end, it seems that Obama has made a pragmatic choice.  And let’s face it.  It saves the Court.  And if it doesn’t, it makes the GOP look horrible.

Early indications are that the right wing is bent on looking obstructionist, even in the face of a reasonable moderate candidate.  Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice issued a statement repeating his call for “no confirmation proceedings until after the election.” Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver similarly repeated that there should be “no Senate hearing on any Obama nominee.” Alliance Defending Freedom’s Casey Mattox offered no criticism of Garland himself but claimed that the Obama administration is untrustworthy and so Garland’s nomination should be blocked: “The Obama administration has demonstrated it cannot be trusted to respect the rule of law, the Constitution, and the limits of its own authority. So it should be no surprise that the American people would be highly skeptical that any nominee this president puts forth would be acceptable. Heritage Action, which was calling for an end to most judicial and executive branch confirmations even before Scalia’s death, declared that “nothing has changed”  with the nomination of Garland and that we areone liberal Justice away from seeing gun rights restricted and partial birth abortion being considered a constitutional right.”  Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council similarly tried to paint Garland as a liberal, saying he is “far from being a consensus nominee,” although he offered no specifics on the
“serious questions” he said their were about Garland’s “ability to serve as a constitutionalist.”  And anti-abortion groups also doubled down on their opposition to any confirmation proceedings, although they struggled to find specific reasons to oppose Garland.

Aaaaand as I write this, it looks like the Senate Republicans are taking the bait and biting down hard:

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, has called President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick B. Garland, and explained that no action would be taken in the Senate on the nomination, Mr. McConnell’s spokesman said.

Mr. McConnell also informed Judge Garland that they would not be meeting in person at the Capitol.

“Rather than put Judge Garland through more unnecessary political routines orchestrated by the White House, the leader decided it would be more considerate of the nominee’s time to speak with him today by phone,” Mr. McConnell’s spokesman, Don Stewart, said in a statement.

“The leader reiterated his position that the American people will have a voice in this vacancy and that the Senate will appropriately revisit the matter when it considers the qualifications of the person the next president nominates. And since the Senate will not be acting on this nomination, he would not be holding a perfunctory meeting, but he wished Judge Garland well.”

“Political routines orchestrated by the White House”?  That’s a funny way to say “obligations placed upon the President by the U.S. Constitution”.

The Events Of The Past 24 Hours

Well, here we are.  Another primary Tuesday come and gone.

What was most surprising about yesterday’s primaries was that they went just as most people predicted.  Trump did well.  Hillary did well.  It was close where people expected it to be close ((i.e., Missouri) and not-so-close where expected.  There were no “Bernie upsets” like in Michigan last week.

So Hillary won every state voting yesterday (Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, and Missouri), although Missouri was/is so close that a recount is possible.  It probably would not make much difference in delegate count — Bernie and Hillary will split Missouri.  But she had large wins in Florida and North Carolina, and a fairly decent one in Ohio.  She cannot be said to have difficulties in the Midwest.

Bernie is staying in, even though the math does not favor a Bernie victory.  There’s not call for him to get out, and frankly, he earned the right to stay in.  Plus, it keeps focus on the Dems a little longer.

But Hillary pivoted to the general election in her victory speech last night.  It was the second time she did that, and she had to backtrack when it looked like something was happening in the Bernie mini-surge (again, Michigan).  This time, I am confident, she won’t have to backtrack.

On the GOP side, Trump did well as usual.  He absolutely trounced poor Marco Rubio in Rubio’s home state of Florida; Rubio only took one county (Miami-Dade).  And he bowed out of the race is style.  The concession speech showed a more human side of him — probably something that would have benefited the campaign had it emerged earlier (rather than Mr. Roboto).

Kasich managed to defeat Trump in his home state of Ohio.  That was nice, but one has to ask why Kasich is still in it, if Rubio, who accumulated more delegates, saw fit to drop out.  Kasich is obviously hoping for something to happen in the contested convention scenario.

Maybe the only surprise of the night was how well Cruz did in Missouri.  He lost it by less that 2,000 votes.  Essentially, a tie with Trump from a delegate standpoint.  Cruz says that he is the only one (besides Trump) with any statistical possibility of getting a majority of delegates prior to the GOP convention, and he’s right.  But when he says that, it is like everyone in the GOP nods and returns to their plan of trying to figure out a way to stop Trump.

Cruz is the conservative candidate that the right wing blogs have dreamed about since 2004.  He’s not middle guy like Bush or McCain or Romney.  But he is just so… awful.  Polished, but in a phony way.  Unctuous.  And maybe Republicans are not as keen on “conservatism” as they once were.  Or perhaps they know it won’t win in the general election.  Either way, Cruz — the only person who can dump Trump without a convention fight — is getting absolutely no love.

For the GOP, watching Trump plod his way to victory must be like watching a car accident in slow motion.  You just watch and hope something will intervene to not make it worse.  And nothing does.

The GOP is starting to face the inevitable.  And this is where I insert a memo from Ed Goeas.  This is his recent memo to the anti-Trump Our Principles PAC.  If nothing else, read the last paragraph to see where he ends up.  In short, he says, Trump is inevitable, Trump will lose to Hillary, Let’s save the down-ticket candidates:

Obama’s Three Supreme Court Nominees

They are not as progressive as some might hope. This is a feature, not a bug, of Obama’s choices. He wants to nominate a Supreme Court justice that can’t be dinged for being a radical communist.

So who are these guys (and yeah, they’re guys…)?

Srinivasan, 49, was born in India and emigrated as a young child with his family to Kansas. A Stanford Law graduate, he would be the high court’s first Asian American and first Hindu.

Srinivasan was nominated in May 2013 to be a judge on the Washington-based appeals court. The Senate confirmed him, 97 to 0.


Garland served several stints in the Justice Department and supervised such major cases as the prosecutions of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and his accomplice, Terry Nichols, and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski. Garland was appointed to the federal circuit court in April 1997 and became chief judge in February 2013.


Sri_Srinavasan[Watford] worked for four years as an assistant U.S. attorney in Los Angeles before joining the law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson, where he focused on appellate litigation in state and federal courts. He was appointed by Obama to the federal appeals court in May 2012 after a Senate confirmation vote of 61 to 34.

I think Srinivasan (pictured at the right) has distinct advantages which would make any opposition to him be particularly ridiculous — not the least of which is that he was confirmed to the D.C. Circuit (probably the most important circuit court) without any Senate objection.  Plus, the Republicans are being painted as the Bigot Party, so they wouldn’t look good turning down an Asian-American and Hindu (I would be willing to bet that most Trump supporters can’t distinguish between Hindu and Islam).

The problem is that Srinivasan is young — only 49.  Watford is even younger at 48.  So maybe Garland, age 63, has a better change for Republicans not to oppose.

Who Is To Blame For Trump?

A short incomplete list by conservatives and even GOP moderates to explain how Trump happened.


ANSWER ONE: Obama is to blame for Trump says Bobby Jindel in the Wall Street Journal. We’ve had eight years of the “cool, weak and endlessly nuanced” Barack Obama, he argues, which means now voters are hungry for the precise opposite – they want “a strong leader who speaks in short, declarative sentences.” Per Jindal: “You can draw a straight line between a president who dismisses domestic terrorist attacks as incidents of workplace violence and a candidate who wants to ban Muslims from entering the country.”

Well, you can draw a straight line between ANY two points, Bobby, no matter how far and remote that are to each other.  One of the many problems with that argument is that Trump is running a campaign that is a clear revolt against the Republican Party as much (if not more) than Obama.


ANSWER TWO: Obama is to blame for Trump says conservative New York Times columnist Ross Douthat. Presidential campaigns have always had a celebrity component, argues Douthat, but Obama “raised the bar” by getting Oprah’s endorsement and appearing in music videos.  Even more than that, Obama cloaked himself in almost-religious iconic imagery, creating a cult of personality that Trump is merely exploiting now.  Also, by abusing executive authority, Obama became Caesarian, an imperial president, and attractive to those power-and-fame hungry like Trump.


ANSWER THREE:  The media is to blame for Trump says Redstate co-founder Ben Domenech.  Hour-to-hour coverage, softball interviews with no follow-up, and so on.  The media just fawns over Trump.  Even when something happens that has nothing to do with Trump, the first question from the media is “What will Trump say?”  He’s good TV, Domenech writes.  That accounts for his rise.

Domenech isn’t wrong, although he is answering the “how” rather than the “why”.  And if you want a better understanding of the media’s complicity, read The Rude Pundit today.


ANSWER FOUR:  Franklin Roosevent is to blame for Trump argues Jonah Goldberg, National Review contributing editor.  Because FDR took all kinds of power into his hands.  For example, he interred all those Japanese Americans during WWII (and Trump had already supported that decision).  It is the power grab that appeals to Trump.

To which I say, WHOA there.  Let’s being the horse back into the stable.


ANSWER FIVE: Al Franken is to blame for Trump says the stupidest theory of all, written by Josh Kraushaar at the National Journal behind the pay firewall.  His argument goes something like this: Franken’s narrow 2008 Senate victory in Minnesota provided Barack Obama with a 60-vote supermajority, which enabled him to pass the Affordable Care Act without Republican support, which then became the rallying cry for the Tea Party wave, which crashed into Washington and turned everyone crazy.  THAT begat Trump. If Franken hadn’t won, writes Kraushaar, then Obama would have been forced to win the vote of at least one Republican senator to pass healthcare reform, which would have made things better somehow.

Also, a butterfly flapped its wings in China.

But seriously, the Trump phenomenon isn’t a blacklash against the Affordable Care Act.  When trying to figure out how Trump came to be, you have to discern what is the appeal of Trump.  What is it that gets his crowds riled up.  And it isn’t healthcare.

What connects Trump supporters is plain to anyone who can see: his adherents are grounded in a common anti-immigrant nativism and anti-Muslim xenophobia.

Trump is the direct product of the Republican Party’s years-long strategy of aggravating racial and ethnic resentments to scare up votes from white conservatives.  It used to be spoken in the form of dog whistles as far back as Reagan’s invocation of the legendary “welfare queen” who drove around the streets of Chicago in a fancy Cadillac.  The Welfare Queen actually existed, although she actually bilked the government out of only $8,000 dollars and she committed even far worse crimes which proved more lucrative (kidnapping, etc).  She hardly was a representative example of common fraud against the government, but Reagan invoked her often in a not-so-subtle way suggesting that people of color were lazy and living off of government handouts.  The Welfare Queen myth exists today, where people believe that people on government assistance are out blowing all that “free money” on iPhones, fancy shoes and lobster.

You can draw a line from Reagan’s Welfare Queen through the Willie Horton commercial from Bush 41 to the Tea Party insurgence right up to Romney’s 47%. It is all about racially-coded messages that strike nervousness, or even hatred, within the white person about the “other”

But it was always in code… until Trump came along and said “what people are thinking” (a phrase we hear from many Trump supporters).  Meaning, Trump effectively gave permission for people to hate Mexicans, followers of Islam and other ethnic and religious minorities.

538 has an interesting study of political voters over time.  The study started in 2007 and follows the same large group of voters over time.  It enables us to see what Trump supporters were ideologically before Trump came along.  And not surprisingly, Trump appeals to those who possessed high levels of prejudice and strong concerns about unauthorized immigration.  Trump didn’t create them.  They were already there. . . from decades of being nurtured by the GOP.  Trump just picked them up without resorting to the dog-whistle code.  The GOP is to blame.


P.S.  Or maybe we can pin it on the daddy issues of the dwindling white working class.

The Best Thing To Happen To Hillary

It’s too early to pull the plug on Bernie Sanders.  He trails in the delegate count, and he has to keep on pulling upsets like he did in Michigan to prevail as the nominee.

And it is quite possible that he might pull some of those upsets tomorrow — in Missouri, Illinois, and even Ohio.

But he has to do that, and keep on doing that to win.

Let’s assume he doesn’t and Hillary is the Democratic nominee.

What happens to the millennials — the ones under 35 who are the driving force behind Bernie’s success? Do they switch to Hillary?  Do they switch to Trump (don’t laugh — I have personal anecdotal evidence that this is a distinct possibility)?  Do they stay at home and not vote at all?

A new USA Today/Rock The Vote poll sheds some light on this:

Opposition to Trump nearly unites the rising generation.

In a hypothetical Clinton v. Trump contest in November, voters under 35 would choose Clinton by a crushing 52%-19%, a preference that crosses demographic lines. Among whites, she’d be backed by nearly 2-1, 45%-26%. Among Hispanics, by more than 4-1, 61%-14%. Among Asian Americans, by 5-1, 60%-11%. Among African Americans, by 13-1, 67%-5%.

And the yawning gender gap she has against Sanders would vanish: Clinton would carry young men and women by almost identical margins of more than 2-1.

Nearly one in four Republicans would defect to the Democrats if the GOP nominated Trump against Clinton. Just 7% of Democrats would defect to the GOP.

If the Clinton camp has similar numbers, they must be very happy.

That, and a great supporting speech from Sanders at the convention, should be enough to secure a Clinton victory in the general election.

Trump Campaign Takes It To A Whole New Level

Or… depth I should say.

Friday night saw the cancellation of a Trump event in Chicago because of protesters.  Trump stated that he decided to cancel the event after consultation with law enforcement, but the Chicago PD says they never advised Trump that the safety issues were beyond what they could handle.

Rachel Maddow entered Ed Murrow land — talking about this off-the-cuff and without a prepared script, she put the event into perspective that evening:


Trump is campaigning today in North Carolina among other places.  Right now, this is going on:



… and props to CNN for correctly putting the word “interviews” in quotes.  I’m told that Christie is being unctuous and sycophantic, so the “interview” is more like this:

Meanwhile, this just happened:
…so I don’t know what that was about.

[UPDATE: Well, I found out what that was about.  The Alaskan Clampett family is at it again, operating heavy machinery under the influence:


 End update]

[OMG ANOTHER UPDATE:  I guess she made it after all.  And she brought word salad for everyone

Made It After All by kenneth-ashford
Palin: It’s good to be here, thawing out, from Alaska. Literally, I’m thawing out. Before getting on a flight up here, I was ice fishing on my frozen lake. And my husband was out snowmachining, and thank you guys for your prayers for my husband who is recovering right now in ICU after a little wreck on a snowmachine, so thank you. Big wreck. Thank you. But, uh, you know, when real life happens, right? When somebody is sick in your family, there’s an accident that happens, all these struggles… all these real life issues that happen, it really puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? And doesn’t it make you appreciate your time? Time is our most valuable resource. And it makes me appreciate the time that we have to spend in doing something so worthy, and that’s to get Donald J. Trump elected President. And what we don’t have time for is all that petty, punk ass little thuggery stuff that’s been going on with these quote-unquote protesters who are doing nothing but wasting your time.

Anyway, It is all about tomorrow.  Or so we are told.  North Carolina, Missouri and Illinois are voting, which is major enough.  But Ohio and Florida are tomorrow too — and they are winner-take-all states and they are big states.  And they are the home states to Kasich and Rubio, respectively.

The problem with that analysis is this:

(1)  Rubio is not going to win Florida.  He’s just way to behind in the polls, and Trump’s weekend shenanigans don’t seem to have effected that (as usual).

RCP 3-14 GOP poll data

I don’t hold stock in the journalistic concept of “momentum” anyway, but you certainly can’t gain any momentum if you can’t even win you’re home state.  So Rubio is out, or should be.

(2)  Even if Kasich wins Ohio, he has to win 112% (or something like that) of the remaining delegates to get a majority.  That is a mathematical impossibility.

SOOOOOOO… we are left with:

(1)  Trump;

(2)  An unlikely Cruz upset; or

(3) A contested convention where nobody gets a majority on the first vote

And most bets are on #1.  And the beat goes on….

And the crazy continues…

Last Night’s Republican Debate Had All The Earmarks Of An Actual Debate

I don’t have much to add to all the chattering pundits from last night’s debate.  However, it seems pretty clear that “civil Trump” is very very dumb.  He talked imperceptibly about things like Cuba “suing” the United States, and closing the Cuban embassy until we had a better deal.  In fact, it was clear that he viewed everything in terms of a business negotiation.  Say “goodbye” to words like “treaty” or “pact”.  Everything is a deal now.

Trump insisted that would he have made “a better deal” with Cuba. There’s no word on what deal he’s talking about, but apparently he believes that the U.S. should have gotten something material in exchange for a return to normal diplomatic relations. (Maybe he wanted a hotel or two?) He said he would make a “good strong deal” because “right now, everything, every single aspect of this deal is in Cuba’s favor…all we do is keep giving. We give and give and give.”

He talked about how everything — including Social Security — could be fixed economically, just by fixing fraud and corruption.  This is absurd.  But it doesn’t matter to his supporters, as Kevin Drum says:

Donald Trump is so brain-dead ignorant that it beggars the imagination. But for decades conservatives have been training their followers to wallow in ignorance, tune out the media, and pay more attention to narrative than to basic arithmetic. And they’ve happily embraced the public faces of that ignorance, people like Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and Matt Drudge.

Of course they ALL were, in their own way, pretty scary.

But what is making Trump scary now are his supporters and their belligerence as well as Trump’s support of them.  This was obvious as well at this morning’s press conference  in which Trump lied again about protesters “taking swings” at people in the audience and defended his supporters’ violence:

We’ve had some violent people as protesters.  They’re not just saying “oh…” These are people that punch, these are violent people. I get the biggest crowds. By far. It’s not even a contest. You know, you people don’t like to report it.  Actually the one good thing about protesters is you have to go into these massive stadiums with 25 and 30 thousand people because the cameras never turn.

Hey Ben, the cameras never ever turn and show the stadium. I always say turn and show the stadium and they don’t.  But when there’s a protester up in the corner it’s great because the cameras all turn.Because it’s a negative as opposed to a positive so they turn.

But we’ve had a couple that were really violent and the particular one when I said to bang him, that was a very vicious  guy who was swinging — was very loud — and then started swinging at the audience. And you know what? It swung back.

And I thought it was very, very appropriate. He was swinging. He was hitting people. And the audience hit back. And that’s what we need a little bit more of.

Now, I’m not talking about just a protestor. This was a guy who should not have been allowed to do what he did. And frankly, if you want to know the truth, the police were very, very restrained.

The police have been amazing.

Banfield played that footage and said they went back to the Las Vegas rally where the protester was allegedly “swinging” and they didn’t see any such thing.

And of course, the video at the NC rally below clearly shows a (white) man in a hat suckerpunching the (black) protester as he was being escorted away.  Thankfully, there WAS an arrest there.

Oh, and Carson, after an hour meeting with Trump yesterday, endorsed Trump today.  Why? Because he got fooled too.

RIP George Martin

Dead at the age of 90.  And don’t kid yourself — he’s the only one who can rightfully claim to be the so-called “fifth Beatle”.

Times obit:

George Martin, the urbane English record producer who signed the Beatles to a recording contract on the small Parlophone label after every other British record company had turned them down, and who guided them in their transformation from a regional dance band into the most inventive, influential and studio-savvy rock group of the 1960s, died on Tuesday. He was 90.


“God bless George Martin,” Ringo Starr, the former Beatle,wrote on Twitter. In a reminiscence on his website, Paul McCartney, the other surviving former Beatle, said Mr. Martin was “like a second father to me.”


Okay, So How Will A Contest Convention Work?

So, the eventual Republican nominee needs 1,237 delegates to secure the party’s nomination before its July convention.

If that doesn’t happen, then it creates a potential opening for another nominee as the delegates vote on the convention floor.

The Republican Party of each state has its own rules about whether and/or when a delegate is bound to the results of the primary votes.  So, if you are a delegate from a district where Ted Cruz won, you are bound to him when it comes time to vote for the nominee.

But for how long?

GOP contested

One can easily imagine a situation where no candidate wins (i.e., gets a majority) on the first vote, or even the second vote.  Once a delegate becomes “unbound”, he or she can vote for whomever he or she wants.

Well, who are these delegates?  How does one get to be a delegate?

As you might expect, it depends on the state.  But there are certain things we can say:

(1) The three members of the Republican National Committee from each state and territory, the national committeeman, the national committeewoman and the state chairman are automatically selected as delegates.  These people account for 7% of all the 2472 total GOP delegates.

(2)  In seven states, including Ohio and California, winning candidates submit their own slate, or list, of representatives.  These people account for 14% of all the 2472 total GOP delegates.  Obviously, a winning candidate will choose a delegate who will not waver, even if “unbound”.

(3)  The rest of the delegates are chosen primarily by vote at state or district conventions and meetings, a majority of which are held in April and May.  (The North Carolina convention is in Greensboro on May 5-8.  And yeah, you can become a delegate if you are so inclined).

What is this eight-state rule?

It’s another fly in the ointment.  Apart from winning a majority of delegates, the GOP rules say that a candidate is required to win more than 50 percent of delegates in at least eight states to secure the nomination. Trump has already done so in five.

However, this rule, or any other, could be changed before the voting begins, putting candidates who do not win a majority in eight states into contention.

Breaking Down Last Night’s Primary Results


Yesterday was big for Trump.  The first major set of primaries after a huge onslaught of non-Trump ads, and it seems to have bounced off him.  No, he never won 50% in any state yesterday, but he came close.  In Michigan, he got 36.5% (Cruz: 24.9%, Kasich: 24.3%).  In Mississippi, he got 47.3% (Cruz: 36.3%).  And in Hawaii, he got 42.4% (Cruz: 32.7%).  And even though he came in second in Idaho, he got 28.1% to Cruz’s 45.4%.

All in all, from the four states, Trump won 59 delegates, Cruz won 40, Kasich won 17, and Rubio won zero.

In other words, Trump still manages to beat his opponents be double digits, in the industrial midwest and in the South.

The weird thing about Trump last night was his press conference after the wins.  With a national TV audience at 9:00pm EST, Trump took the podium at one of his stupid resorts in Florida and spent the first ten minutes rambling on about his products, his own wealth, his business acumen and general awesomeness.  It was beyond bizarre, even by Trump standards.

It was ostensibly a response to the criticisms by Romney this past week about how Trump’s many businesses had failed.  Which was another reason the whole thing was strange — of the MANY criticisms that Romney hurled, the “failed businessman” comments had, at best, a glancing blow on Candidate Trump, as last night’s primary results bear out.  But it seems to have got under the skin of Trump, the man, as he clearly had planned to mention it, bringing the necessary props.

And even then, his counter to Romney was, well, clearly lies:

Trump attempted to portray each product as a going concern, but he appears to be lying or at best misleading people about some of them. As the staging crew was setting up the steak display, observers noticed that the steak packages were branded (ironically) “Bush Brothers.” The water company and magazine seem to be small vanity businesses that supply Trump’s own properties, not the public.

The winery is real enough; Trump drove a distressed property owner into foreclosure and picked up her award-winning vineyard for a fraction of its value. Then he gave it to one of his sons to run.

However, the products weren’t the real commodity being hawked. The whole surreal production was a long-form rebuttal to Mitt Romney’s recent denunciation of Trump as a fraud and failed businessman. Romney’s criticism clearly got under Trump’s paper-thin skin, prompting last night’s display of overweening self-regard.

Yeah.  And Romney never even mentioned the winery.  He mentioned Trump vodka, which Trump did not bother to bring because… well, that went defunct.  Ah, well, vodka, wine.  It’s all the same, right?

But the steaks thing.  I know we’re only talking about steaks, but if the point of bringing out “Trump Steaks” was to disprove a lie that Trump Steaks were a horrible business, then he should have brought out, you know, Trump Steaks.  He couldn’t though, because they don’t exist.

Anyway, victory press conference aside, Trump had a great day. To the extent that he was weakened on Super Tuesday, he has come back.


Last night was good for Cruz in that it really established him as the only viable contender to Trump.  He beat Trump badly in Idaho and came in second everywhere else.  A distant second, but not so distant that people are saying “it’s over”.  Still something has to turn around for him, and it may have to be something over which he and his strategists have no control — like when another candidate drops out.

He picked up Fiorina’s endorsement this morning.  At this point, not much help.


Although technically coming in third, Kasich was in a virtual tie with Cruz in Michigan.  His path to victory includes a win in Ohio (his home state, and a winner-take-all) state, and that (in theory) gets him noticed in other industrial states, and Pennsylvania.  He might very well take Ohio, but I don’t think that opens any doors for him.  Still, an outside chance is still a chance.


Let’s get real.  Rubio, like so many other GOP candidates before him, never caught fire from anyone.  I good read on this is Nate Silver’s “Rubio Never Had A Base“.  And it’s true.  The guy was hard to pin down ideologically, which can be summed up in this Venner:


There comes a point where a candidate’s determination to remain in the race becomes embarrassing.  Rubio ended up in last place in Michigan and Mississippi, with many delegates, and third place in Idaho and Hawaii.  Yes, he won Minnesota and Puerto Rico, but these small victories amount to almost nothing.  More importantly, his strategy to win Florida looks doomed.  Some of his advisors are urging him to bow out BEFORE Florida (according to a CNN source) — it seems like their numbers are much like others’ numbers — i.e., Rubio will not win there.  Rubio is young and can run again, but not if he totally embarrasses himself this time around.  He should start looking to the far future and get out now.  He won’t, but he should.


I combine these two because you can’t really talk about one without referring to the other.

The big news last night — even bigger than anything happening on the R side — was the Sanders win in Michigan.  Granted the win was narrow — Sander got 49.8% to Clinton’s 48.3% — but it was very very far above expectations.  Most polls had Sanders to lose by double digits.  Even Sanders himself, expecting to lose, went down to Florida, rather than have a Michigan victory party — and that was because HIS numbers probably told him he would lose.

Sanders still has a very difficult climb ahead if he is going to beat out Clinton.  Hillary has won most states so far by a ratio of 2:1, and even when she loses, she gets enough delegates to keep him from gaining on her.  As the NYT puts it:

Imagine, for instance, a brutal stretch for Mrs. Clinton, one where she underperforms the demographic projections by as much as she did in Michigan for the rest of the year.

She loses in Ohio and Missouri next Tuesday. States where Mrs. Clinton was thought to have an advantage, like Arizona, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, California and Connecticut, become tossups. Mrs. Clinton wins New York, but by just eight percentage points.

She gets swept in the West, including big 40-point losses in places like Alaska, Idaho, North Dakota, Utah and Montana, and 30-point losses in Washington and Oregon. She loses by 20 points in Wisconsin and Rhode Island, by 30 in West Virginia and Kentucky.

She still wins — and comfortably.

How? She’s already banked a large delegate lead, and it has nothing to do with the “superdelegates.”

Forty-three percent of all of the pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention have already been awarded. She’s won those delegates by roughly a 60-40 margin.

To overcome it, Mr. Sanders will need to do nearly as well from this point on. Not even the very strong showing for Mr. Sanders imagined above would be enough.

In fact, it still wouldn’t be very close. Mr. Sanders basically splits the delegates with Mrs. Clinton the rest of the way — leaving him far short of the big 15-point advantage he needs.

Right now the delegate count is 760 to 546 (2,383 is needed).  And while Sanders could benefit from winning some winner-take-all states, there are none for the Democrats.

Sanders still does well with youth, and last night showed that he has some in-roads with unions — the so-called “lunchbox Democrats” — who are concerned about trade.  Hillary got tagged with NAFTA (which was Bill Clinton, not Hillary), and that hurt her badly.

There is a debate tonight.  It will have some effect on Super Tuesday 2 states (Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois, and Missouri).   It should be noted that the latest polls show Hillary up by 25 to over 30 points in Florida and Ohio (including today’s CNN/ORC polls) and double digits in the other states.  But Michigan taught us that these polls can be tricky.

March 15 is going to be very very interesting.

Missing The Point

The award goes to Gersh Kuntzman of the New York Daily News for writing this:

No disrespect to the jury in the Erin Andrews case, but I can’t breathe.

The Fox Sports reporter just got a $55 million award for the pain and suffering of being videotaped naked in a Nashville hotel room in 2008.

Fifty five million dollars because people got to see Erin Andrews naked on the Internet.

But Erin Andrews is still alive and, as the defendants in the case argued, is certainly thriving. She’s free to go on “Dancing with the Stars” or schmooze with NFL players. But a jury felt her pain — and treated the symptoms with cash. America, what a country.

He then goes on to note that Eric Garner, choked to death by an NYPD cop on a city street, received only $5.9 million (well, his family received it), and the family of Freddie Gray (killed by Baltimore police) received only $6.4 million.

Well, yyyyyeah, but they settled the case.  I’m not applauding or criticizing the families’ decisions to do that, but when you settle a case, you generally get a lot less.

Also, there’s no way Andrews gets $55 million.  Barrett, the guy who did that actual filming, most certainly doesn’t have the ability to pay even a fraction of the $28 million he’s on the hook for, and the hotel owners will likely appeal and try to settle for a lower amount. Add in attorney fees and other litigation expenses, and the $55 million number dwindles.  It wouldn’t surprise me if the amount she got was less than 6 million, which is peanuts to the hotel industry

And keep in mind, there is actual pain and suffering. Andrews broke down repeatedly during the trial discussing how the shame of the incident still follows her around seven years later. The video is still on the internet. People are still watching. She is still being blamed for what happened, and it’s likely that no matter what she achieves in her career, she always will be.

Her father also took the stand and talked about how much his daughter has changed since the video was released online.  “She’s terrified. She’s depressed. She cries. She’s full of anxiety. She’s a very, very changed person. She’s not the girl that we used to know at all,” he said.

It’s also crucial to remember that the jury was not tasked with comparing Andrews’ suffering to all of the great tragedies in the world. They were asked to look at the mental, emotional, and physical pain and suffering Andrews has endured, and gauge her subsequent loss of capacity for the enjoyment for life.

Why not $55 million?

Time To Face Reality

Here’s the plan:

The presentation is an 11th-hour rebuttal to the fatalism permeating the Republican establishment: Slide by slide, state by state, it calculates how Donald Trump could be denied the presidential nomination.

Marco Rubio wins Florida. John Kasich wins Ohio. Ted Cruz notches victories in the Midwest and Mountain West. And the results in California and other states are jumbled enough to leave Trump three dozen delegates short of the 1,237 required — forcing a contested convention in Cleveland in July.

The slide show, shared with The Washington Post by two operatives advising one of a handful of anti-Trump super PACs, encapsulates the newly emboldened view of many GOP leaders and donors. They see a clearer path to stopping Trump since his two losses and two narrower-than-expected wins in Saturday’s contests.

And then unicorns hand out candy.

Look, is this possible?  Sure.  It is possible that Trump will fall short of the 1,237 delegates required at the convention.

What happens then?  The rules say they re-vote until someone gets a majority, i.e., 1,237 delegates.  And in theory, that someone could be someone other than Trump, assuming that the non-Trumps form an alliance.

But think about that — this means that the one coming into the convention with a majority does not win.  Will Trump supporters stand for that?  Will Trump stand for that?

On the other hand, the rules are the rules.  One could argue that the majority of delegates at the convention don’t want Trump, and doesn’t that account for something?

Either way, a contested convention in Cleveland means a weakened GOP candidate (if not a third party candidate or write-in movement).  Some say you really can’t take it away from Trump if he has, say, 48 percent of the delegates going in.  But if you can get him down to 40 percent, then maybe it isn’t so harsh.

This would be easier, of course, if either Cruz, Rubio, or Kasich dropped out.  Cruz has the best argument NOT to drop out — he’s second in delegate count and has won more states.  CNN has reported that some of Rubio’s advisors are advising Rubio to drop out before Florida, rather than suffer the humiliation of losing in his home state.  I don[t think Rubio will do that, but maybe if he gets trounced today….

Then there’s the Rule 40 issue.  Rule No. 40 of The Rules Of The Republican Party provides, in relevant part:

(b) Each candidate for nomination for President of the United States and Vice President of the United States shall demonstrate the support of a majority of the delegates from each of eight (8)  or more states, severally, prior to the presentation of the name of that candidate for nomination.

What if no candidate gained the majority of delegates from enough states?  Remember, when there are many candidates, candidates often “win” states with 30-35% of the popular vote, and receive a commensurate, non-majority number of delegates.  In that case, no candidate wins a majority of the delegates in that state.

If several candidates stay in the race throughout, they could each “win” states and none of the candidates reach the Rule 40(b) threshold.  Hence, no candidate’s name could be placed in nomination. Whoever drafted this obviously didn’t think of a worst case scenario.

But maybe that’s further down the road.  You’tt be hearing more and more about 40(b) soon in the media — trust me.

We will have a better read in ALL this in eight days when Florida and Ohio vote.  And a hint of it today, as Hawaii, Idaho, Michigan and Mississippi go to the polls.  None of these states are winner-take-all.  It’s 150 delegates at stake.  That’s not a lot of delegates numerically, but it is a bellweather of things to come.

The thing to look for today is whether or not Trump is fading.  He had a rough week. He faced attacks from the party establishment and criticism for his debate performance on Thursday before barely outpacing Senator Ted Cruz of Texas on Saturday in Kentucky and Louisiana, and losing to him in Kansas and Maine, where Trump was considered a favorite.  There are absolute killer ads like these:

I have no idea about the outcome today.  I suspect Trump will do well in all these states (there is one poll that has Kasich ahead in Michigan, but I am guessing it is an outlier), possibly winning them all.  But by how much?  If he “wins” with only 40 percent of the votes cast, that bodes well for those who want a contested convention.  If he wins with 48 or above, I think that means the attacks on him are not effective, and it will be nominee Trump.

I should add that the very smart Cook Political Report thinks a contested GOP convention is “very strong”:

What is the basis for this analysis? First is that as of today only 906 (or 37%) of the 2,472 delegates to the Republican convention have been selected. Of these, Trump has won 391 according to the Cook Political Report’s Republican Delegate Scorecard. That’s strong progress toward the 1,237 required for nomination but he’s isn’t there yet.

Second, some share of the delegates Trump has won (and will win) are state Republican regulars who are pledged by party rules to vote for the winner of their state’s contest on the first ballot, but are not Trump supporters. These include (but are not limited to) many of the 168 delegates who receive their seats automatically (three from each state and territory: the two RNC members plus the state party chair).

Inflated by the votes of these conscript supporters, this official argued, Trump’s vote tally will be at its peak on the first ballot. The second ballot, if it comes to that, will reveal the various candidates’ true support. At that point, the dealing will intensify and all bets will be off.

Third, the 112 delegates from three states (Colorado, Wyoming, and North Dakota) and two territories (Guam and Virgin Islands) will go to the convention officially uncommitted. These delegates are by definition up for grabs even on the first ballot.

Fourth, although states holding primaries or caucuses on or after March 15 are free to hold statewide winner-take-all events, some have chosen not to. This list includes New York, North Carolina, Oregon and Pennsylvania. In these states, Trump’s typical 35-40% showing probably won’t win him a majority of delegates.

Finally, Trump may be vulnerable to convention challenges on delegate credentials (unlikely), on the party platform (“Who knows what Trump will want in the platform?” says the RNC official. “He has no discernible political philosophy.”), or on convention rules (highly likely). To bring a challenge to the convention floor in the form of a minority report on any of these matters requires the support of just 25 percent of the members of the relevant committee on the subject.

On the Democratic side, only Michigan and Mississippi have primaries today.  Mississippi is going to be a clear Clinton victory.  Sanders needs to do well in Michigan to mount a comeback.  It is an ideal Sanders state —  Sanders’ campaign message about “unfair” trade agreements, income inequality and a “rigged economy” should resonate.  They had a nationally televised debate from Flint Michigan, and I think Clinton did very well.  The latest polling says Clinton by 20 or so — and while I think that is too optimistic for Clinton, I think she will win in the double digits.

International Women’s Day

Props to Google for today’s Google Doodle:

Unlike past women’s day doodles, this doesn’t look at achievements from the past, but at the achievements to come.

The theme for this year is gender parity.  You may not think this is a problem here in the United States, and comparatively, you would be right.  The United States is ranked 20th, which is okay for industrialized nations.  But many third world countries (and … let’s be honest… Mideast countries) have very poor gender parity.

This is why I have taken Fiji off my bucket list of places to travel.  Even though the women there have roughly the same education and literacy rate as men, and have the best parity of all countries when it comes to health care, they have almost zero political power or representation in the political process.  And it is getting worse.

Anyway, find out more here and here.

Why Florida and Ohio Matter In The GOP Primaries

Florida and Ohio are not only big states with lots of delegates, but they are winner-take-all delegate states.  AND Rubio is from Florida.  AND Kasich is from Ohio.

Both have primaries on March 15.  And Rubio and Kasich as giving Trump a run for his money in Florida and Ohio, respectively.

Something will give on March 15.  Not definitively, but importantly.  Here’s why:


He’s for more beatable if he loses both.


RIP Nancy Reagan

I was not a fan.  I thought her “Just Say No” campaign was dumb at best, counter-productive at worst.  Still, she brought Ronnie to the left and that was a pretty unusual love story, so there’s that.  She died yesterday at the age of 94 of congestive heart failure.

P.S.  I almost put her in my dead pool this year.  I’m doing well so far — Abe Vigoda and Harper Lee.

About Last Night’s Algonquin Round Table

Yesterday, I heard some pundit on TV say that Rubio and Cruz, having insulted Trump in their stump speeches, would come in last night and elevate themselves in a statesmen-like discussion of policy issues.

Yeah, right, I thought.  I was correct:

“Gentleman, gentleman, you’ve got to do better than this,” Chris Wallace implored the candidates after one particularly nasty bout of infighting.

The first half hour of Thursday’s debate was a complete fiasco, marred by insults and shouting over each other.

It will be remembered as the first time a candidate has alluded to his genitals in a presidential debate.

The focus group headed by Republican pollster Frank Luntz described the proceedings as “embarrassing,” “childish,” “sophomoric” and “disgusting.” A former aide to Rick Perry’s presidential campaign tweeted that his party was “committing suicide on national television.”

The debate largely leveled off after the opening, but it was indicative of the state of the GOP race as a whole.

In the end, nothing changed.  I am pretty sure of that.  And here is why.

Neither Rubio nor Cruz understand HOW to attack Trump.

To attack Trump effectively, you have to understand why people are drawn to him in the first place.  Cruz kept attacking Trump as not being a real conservative.  Note to Cruz: that’s not why people are drawn to Trump.  Trump “tells it like it is”; he’s angry; he’s anti-politician — that is his appeal and it appeals to conservatives, moderates, and even some Democrats.  It’s a cross-ideological appeal to emotion and frustration.

[UPDATE: Further proof that Trump isn’t trying to run as a conservative came today when he pulled out of CPAC.  Why?  He doesn’t need them, and in fact, he might have gotten booed]

So the better attack is what Rubio is doing — to say that Trump is a con artist.  Or that he just says things but doesn’t think them through.  And Rubio would hit Trump on those things last night, but he could never get the knockout blow in, because Cruz would come in and do his “conservative” schtick and/or Kasich would come in and mute the whole thing with his “I’m the adult” posture.

And so Trump lives another day.

The entire debate last night was embarrassing, not just for the GOP, but for America.  Remember when Gore debated Bush? Gore sighed loudly and repeatedly in frustration as then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush would make points. The sighs made Gore appear condescending.  We’ve come a long way since then, as apparently being a condescending asshole on the debate stage is the only thing that qualifies a person to be president.

Trump has an obvious problem that should be easy to exploit.  On the one hand, he is a determined and confident person about what his presidency will do.  We WILL build that wall, and so on.  On the other hand, he admitted last night to a certain flexibility which has in the past caused him to change his views.  And that, I believe, is his Achilles’ heel.  Don’t JUST call him a con artist.  Call him unpredictable.  Call him a loose cannon.  Call him unstable.  Recognize that the man has a serious personality problem.

Or don’t.  It is probably too late.  You’re not going to change the minds of those who have already drunk the KoolAid.

On the other hand, the primaries are moving to the midwest, where even the uneducated are more educated.  Maybe they will see a walking disaster.  But I don’t think last night moved the ball much.

The best tweet of the night was this:

Hillary’s people know how to use social media.

P.S.  Props to Marco Rubio for making a yoga joke on his feet (i.e., it was a pre-planned joke)

P.P.S  As moderators go, last night’s Fox debate was the best.  They were prepared and that actually cross-examined the candidates, especially Trump.  It was the closest to what was in The Newsroom than I have ever seen.

Romney Enters The Fray

At some point today, Mitt Romney will make the case against Trump for President:

Mitt Romney will call Donald J. Trump “a phony” and “a fraud” in a speech on Thursday in which he will urge Republicans to rally around one of Mr. Trump’s presidential rivals, according to excerpts from his remarks.

The hastily organized speech, to be delivered in Utah, represents a last-ditch effort among leaders in the Republican Party to blunt Mr. Trump’s momentum before he runs away with the presidential nomination. Mr. Romney has been criticizing Mr. Trump on social media in recent weeks, calling on him to release his tax returns and arguing that slowness to denounce the Ku Klux Klan was disqualifying for a presidential candidate.

“Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud,” Mr. Romney will say. “His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat.”

The impact?

Absolutely zero.  In fact, it could bolster Trump.

A member of the GOP establishment, and one who lost the last election, slamming Trump?  This is exactly  what brings people to Trump in the first place.  I am amazed that Romney among others have not figured this out yet.

Carson Kinda Out and Romney Kinda In? Maybe?

Is Romney going to get in?

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will give a speech on Thursday addressing his party’s presidential race, according to online reports.
The 2012 nominee and former Massachusetts governor will address the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah.
Romney’s involvement in the race so far has been limited to lashing out at GOP front-runner Donald Trump over his harsh rhetoric and refusal to release tax returns.
Romney last week warned of a “bombshell” in Trump’s tax returns in a Fox News interview.
“Either he’s not anywhere near as wealthy as he says he is, or he hasn’t been paying the kind of taxes we would expect him to pay, or perhaps he hasn’t been giving money to the vets or the disabled like he’s been telling us he’s been doing.”
Speculation had been mounting as to whether Romney will endorse a candidate, or even enter the race himself in an effort to counter Trump’s surging campaign.
But a Romney aide told NBC News that the the speech on Thursday will not be an endorsement or a campaign announcement, though it will still “be worth covering.”
Former Romney campaign strategist Katie Packer said in an interview with CNN on Wednesday that she also doesn’t believe that he intends to jump into the race.
“I don’t anticipate that,” she said when asked whether Romney was going to leave the door open for a possible candidacy.
“I think he’s made it very clear that he has no intention of running again, but I do think that he wants to sort of continue to be a voice, an adult in the room if you will, that’s just sort of reminding these candidates that that this is a very big office and that the rhetoric should sort of match the importance of the office that these candidates seek. And I think that he’s hoping to do that tomorrow.”

Whether he intends to get into the race, or just wants to spank Trump, or just wants to unify everybody except Trump — either way, I don’t think Romney has much stock with Republican voters.  You can already hear Trump saying that Romney was a “loser” and why should anybody care.

Meanwhile, there’s Ben Carson, whose name was barely mentioned yesterday.  Today, he says he has no path to victory, so he will not be in the debate tomorrow night:

Ben Carson told supporters on Wednesday afternoon that he doesn’t see a “path forward” for his GOP presidential campaign and will not attend the GOP debate Thursday night.
He did not mention formally suspending his campaign in a statement, but will opt for a speech about his political future Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

Super Tuesday Results


Despite what the media might say, Ted Cruz did better than you think.  Check out the provisional delegate count (click on it to embiggen):

Delegate allocation prepared by Taniel

That’s Trump 253, Cruz 215, Rubio 100, Kasich 21, Carson 3, Unknown 3.

The reason why Cruz is so high is that Texas delivered.

The media seems focused on state wins, as if this was the general election.or as if the states were winner-take-all.  They are not.  In a primary that could end up being contested at the convention, the “state count” means nothing, and the delegate count means everything.  If Trump does not reach 50% of the delegates, it becomes an open convention.

So now the grand tally from Iowa thru Super Tuesday (some of these are provisional):

Trump 335
Cruz 232
Rubio 116
Kasich 27
Carson 8

So, 15 states are done and the question becomes “What share of all *remaining* delegates does each need to reach 1237”?

The answer is:

Trump: 52%
Cruz: 58%
Rubio: 64%
Kasich: 69%

With most of the remaining states being “winner take all”, and given Trump’s wide appeal geographically, it seems that his path is the easiest.  But let’s not forget Florida and Ohio — two very big states — which one would suspect to go to Rubio and Kasich.

Clearly, in order to defeat Trump, his opponents must consolidate around a single candidate.  Cruz clearly has the strongest argument to be that candidate — he has won more states and delegates.  The problem that Cruz has — and he doesn’t seem to realize this — is that his appeal is demographically thin.  Evangelicals like him (although some have drifted to Trump) and his policies are too conservative to win a mainstream election.

Which means Rubio is the guy.  Except the problem with Rubio is that — well, but for his reed-thin win in Minnesota last night, he’s just not appealing to voters, even if he IS more likely to defeat Clinton in the general election.  Rubio’s argument gets better when/if he wins Florida, but *I* believe he not only has to win it, but win it by a good margin to show that he remains viable.

Rubio can also make the point that his attacks on Trump have helped.  For people who chose their candidate in the last few days, Rubio did the best:

Rubio 29%
Cruz 27%
Trump 20%
Kasich 12%

And Trumps wins yesterday were not huge trouncings like they were in South Carolina and New Hampshire.  Credit that to Rubio.

Kasich doesn’t have an argument yet.  He came in second behind Trump in Vermont by a narrow margin, but that’s Vermont.  Even the Republicans in Vernmont are left-leaning, and that’s Kasich territory (it’s not actually, if you look at his past, but that is how he has positioned himself for this election).  Once he wins Ohio, and I think he will, he may have a better argument.

The problem for the GOP is that while they flounder to come up with the #NoTrump candidate, Trump racks up win after win.  Before the month is out, it will be too late.  In fact, it just might be too late already.

And maybe they shouldn’t do that after all.  If the GOP establishment attacks Trump, they end up with a weakened and unpopular candidate (maybe it is Trump, maybe not).

There are so many angles to what his happening to the GOP, like “Is this the new GOP?”, “What the hell is Christie doing?”, “What about downballot Republicans (does Trump have coattails?” and so on.  I mean, Trump threatened Paul Ryan last night, the top Republican in the House.  Nothing gets done in this country without the House (including walls).  Does Trump want to do that?  The editorials today are amazing.


Bernie took Vermont, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Minnesota.  And almost took Massachusetts.

Geographically, that is a nice win for Mr. Sanders.  I don’t think it gets him anywhere near a victory, but it allows him to stay in.  Being a two-person race, this is much easier to map out and it goes something like this: Hillary wins, barring any huge blunder or unforeseen act of God.

Bernie is not reaching minorities very well.  He has a grip on an enthusiastic young demographic, but that is it.  And he doesn’t seem to be doing well at pivoting his message.

The more interesting question for Democrats is actually… what about the Republicans?  In many upcoming states, anybody can vote in either the Democratic or Republican primary.  Many Democrats believe Hillary will be the winner, so they will use their vote *strategically* in the Republican primary.

But what is the strategy?  Do you stop Trump because he’s dangerous and messed up?  Or do you encourage Trump because he’s dangerous and messed up, thus making him easy to defeat in the general?

You stop him, says Ezra Klein.  It’s like playing Russian roulette.  He’s too unpredictable.

Kevin Drum adds:

This is not 11-dimensional chess. All those arguments we’ve been making against him are absolutely correct. We need to be against Trump—not ironically and not with our fingers crossed, but in reality. The conservative establishment hates him because he’d be bad for conservatism. We ought to hate him because he’d be bad for the country and bad for liberalism.

And maybe that’s right.  On the other hand, polls show that Trump is very beatable, compared to, say, Rubio.

And then you get advice like this:

Here’s my take on ratfucking, if you’re so inclined. If you are in a state with open primaries, vote for Cruz, not Trump. If Cruz wins (unlikely), he will be a worse general election candidate. If Cruz denies Trump a majority of delegates, Trump will have to cut an ugly deal to get some other low-energy loser’s delegates, or the GOP powers-that-be will engage in an ugly floor fight. If Trump is denied the nomination because of a floor fight, he’ll run an independent campaign. Any of those outcomes are good for Democrats.

In the end, I don’t think it will make a difference because those who *do* choose to “ratfuck” will be inconsistent.  It’ll be a wash.

I think we just need to assume a Trump candidacy.  Or a convention fight followed by a weakened GOP candidate.

Trump The Unifier

At last night’s Super Tuesday presser, Trump insisted that he was a “unifier”, adding that being a unifier to his resume may surprise some people, and “believe me”.  But…

VALDOSTA, Ga. — There are different accounts of who made the decision to eject approximately 30 black students who say they were standing silently at the top of the bleachers at Donald Trump’s rally here Monday evening.

Late Monday night, a Trump spokeswoman denied that the incident at Valdosta State University’s campus was initiated “at the request of the candidate” or the presidential campaign. A spokesman for the Secret Service contradicted the students’ statements that federal agents led them out of the building, saying Trump staff and local law enforcement officials were in charge of handling protesters.

However, Valdosta Police Chief Brian Childress tried to clear up the confusion Tuesday morning, telling USA TODAY that he personally went to speak to the Trump campaign staff and the local law enforcement officers helping with security to confirm who ordered the students out, and to ask why.

“These folks were told to leave the PE complex by the Trump detail,” Childress said.

The police chief said he thinks the Trump staff made the right call — and it wasn’t a racial issue.

Trump had rented the venue, so “he had the right to tell folks he didn’t want to be there, that they had to leave. I’m not campaigning for anyone. That’s not what I do. But in this case, I support them,” Childress said.

The sight of the students, who were visibly upset, being asked to leave the grounds created a stir at a university that was a whites-only campus until 1963.

The young people said they had planned to sit in silent protest, but were escorted out by security officials before the presidential candidate began speaking. The incident was recorded on video by several attendees. (Some of the footage can be found herehere and here.)

I am pretty sure the story isn’t who kicked out those students for Donald Trump, but the fact that they were kicked out at all.