Kennedy’s Replacement Should Be Judge Amy Coney Barrett

It will be nice to have one woman in the majority when the Supreme Court finally overturns Roe v. Wade.

.. She is the youngest of the five top choices, which is a mark in her favor given that the nominee will have life tenure and Trump will want one who will leave a lasting mark on the law.

.. Her educational history — she went to Rhodes College and Notre Dame Law School — would add a little welcome diversity to a Supreme Court full of Yale and Harvard alumni.
.. Barrett has also recently been through Senate confirmation to a federal appeals court. She won the support of all the Republicans and three Democrats
.. But they will be hard-pressed to argue that she is an extremist given their own recent support... “Dogma lives loudly within you,” Feinstein said, in reference to Barrett’s Catholic faith. Never mind that Barrett had already said that “it is never appropriate for a judge to apply their personal convictions, whether it derives from faith or personal conviction.”

.. Feinstein’s office defended the senator by noting that Barrett had also written, in an article for the Notre Dame Alumni Association, that all people play a role “in God’s ever-unfolding plan to redeem the world” — which is a fairly basic statement of Christian belief that does not imply support for the judicial imposition of theocracy.

.. opposing a woman will probably be more awkward for senators than opposing a man would be. Also, it cannot be good for conservatism that all three women now on the court are liberals.

.. If Roe v. Wade is ever overturned — as I certainly hope it will be, as it is an unjust decision with no plausible basis in the Constitution — it would be better if it were not done by only male justices, with every female justice in dissent.

So pick Barrett, Mr. President. Let the dogma live loudly on the Supreme Court.

 

The Supreme Temptation of Amy Coney Barrett

And Republicans expect — and want — liberals to be so freaked out by thisthat they oppose her in a manner that can be branded anti-religious. They’re setting her up to be a Christian martyr, minus the grisly end, and daring Democrats to take the bait.

.. Aaron Blake sagely sized up the appeal of this dynamic to Trump, writing that it’s “exactly the kind of battle he generally relishes: One that invites his opponents to overreach.” My Times colleague Ross Douthat tweeted that if Trump wants to “trigger the libs,” he’ll nominate Barrett. Douthat further predicted that her nomination “might bring on the culture-war apocalypse.”

.. She’s the most tactically fascinating of the front-runners in several ways. At 46, she’s the youngest, so her time on the court could easily cover four decades. She’s a longtime resident of Indiana, which happens to be home to Joe Donnelly, one of three Democratic senators whose votes are most clearly in play when it comes to confirming Trump’s nominee.

.. She’d be the only justice on the Supreme Court without the imprimatur of the Ivy League, and there’s little whiff of the coastal elites about her. She did her undergraduate work at Rhodes College in Tennessee and then attended law school at Notre Dame

..  her own time on the bench is limited to her eight months on that court.

.. her promoters revel openly in the idea of Roe v. Wade being overturned after the addition of another woman to a Supreme Court that would then have an almost even gender balance of four women and five men.

.. her Senate confirmation hearings after her nomination for the circuit court made her a hero to conservatives, especially religious ones. They took issue in particular with questions that Senator Dianne Feinstein

.. “The dogma lives loudly within you,” Feinstein said

 

 

 

Wanted: Justice Amy Coney Barrett

The fight over Barrett’s confirmation would almost certainly build trust between President Trump and social conservatives. It would energize Republicans ahead of the midterm elections.

The facts of Barrett’s life — that she is a mother of seven children, and that when she speaks about her Catholic faith, she speaks about God as if she really believes in His existence — will provoke nasty and bigoted statements from Democratic senators and liberal media personalities. Again.

.. Professor Barrett’s qualifications become stronger by virtue of her willingness to write candidly and intelligently about difficult and sensitive ethical questions: Our universities, our judiciary, and our country will be the poorer if the Senate prefers nominees who remain silent on such topics.”
..  the fight to confirm her will contain edifying political lessons. We don’t have religious tests for public office in this country, and having a republic that does not have an established religion does not require excluding sincere believers from positions of authority.
.. they should be able to compel religious people to conform to liberal moral norms — which just so happen to track exactly to doctrinal developments in the once dominant Mainline Protestant churches. 
.. The ACLU would compel Catholic hospitals to perform abortions.
.. Evangelicals at a crisis pregnancy center will be made to advertise for abortion... contain an even deeper lesson, one that is salutary for both liberal secularists, who once indulged in triumphalism, and conservative believers, who have been tempted to despair: Believing Catholics and Evangelicals will continue to make their contributions to the common good of this country. You will live with us. If we’re going to have peace, we’re going to make it together.

The Many Faces of Ben Shapiro

The conservative firebrand has built a massive young audience by bashing liberals and standing up to Trump. Whose side is he really on?

.. When Fields complained, Lewandowski said Fields was “delusional” and denied the incident had occurred.
.. Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks suggested Fields was just angling to get attention. Despite a Washington Post writer’s eyewitness account corroborating Fields (and, later, video evidence), the editors at Breitbart opted to accept the Trump team’s brazenly false version of events over the word of their own reporter.
.. “In my opinion, Steve Bannon is a bully,” he said in a statement at the time, explaining his resignation from Breitbart, “and has sold out Andrew’s mission in order to back another bully, Donald Trump; he has shaped the company into Trump’s personal Pravda.”
.. Fields got little support from other right-wingers. “When the whole ordeal happened, Breitbart immediately threw me under a bus,” she told me. “Close colleagues abandoned me. Fox took me off the air. People didn’t want to alienate Trump. I was in this storm and Ben reached out to me and said he wanted to jump into the storm with me. He knew it would hurt him with his base, with people that liked him.”
.. Shapiro was the direct target of at least 7,400 anti-Semitic tweets.
..  alt-righters had gotten around to doxing his sister, who is an opera singer, and were spamming her YouTube clips with anti-Semitic messages.
.. During the campaign, a bunch of talk-radio people were treating the alt-right as just another legitimate member of the Republican coalition,” says Goldberg, who was the sixth–most targeted journalist on that ADL list. “A lot of the GOP establishment and the cable news establishment said, ‘These guys are a social media force. Aren’t they interesting.’ But people like Ben knew that anyone forming an alliance of convenience with those guys wasn’t someone you wanted anything to do with.”
.. “My dad came into the room where the kids who’d done this to me were,” Shapiro told me, “and the rabbi started talking, and my dad said, ‘Shut up.’ And then he said to the kids, ‘I have a ball-peen hammer in the back of my car and I will take it to you if you ever touch my son again.’ He did not actually have a ball-peen hammer in his car. That’s a pretty indicative story of who my dad is.
.. Here we find a different formative lesson: Posturing with bared teeth will cow your foes into submission. In Shapiro’s lowest moments as a pundit, he is victim turned aggressor. Quick to mock, devoid of empathy, obnoxiously cocky.
.. Shapiro has also claimed “There is no evidence of systemic discrimination against minorities” by police departments and maintains that President Obama purposefully “divided Americans by race.”
.. Should there arise a constitutional crisis in which this president attempts to roll his tanks (metaphorical or otherwise) over the ramparts of American democracy, I will be relying on influential right-wing figures like Ben Shapiro to help America hold the line.
.. Shapiro was weighing in on George H.W. Bush’s nonconsensual butt-cupping habit. (He declared Poppy’s behavior indefensible unless the 93-year-old was “deep in the throes of dementia.”)
.. The Ben Shapiro Show, which launched in September 2015, now generally gets between 250,000–350,000 downloads per day on SoundCloud
.. A video version of the show—just a couple of cameras pointed at Shapiro’s face as he monologues—attracts an additional 250,000–350,000 views per day on YouTube.
.. on Facebook Live, where it will regularly get another half-million views, sometimes even 1 million.
.. Shapiro had more Facebook engagements (likes, shares, and comments) in December than any other conservative site or personality except for Fox News and Breitbart.
.. Shapiro’s Facebook page spurred 2.5 times more engagement than the Daily Caller’s, 6 times more than Sean Hannity’s, and 11.5 times more than Laura Ingraham’s. On Dec. 1, 2016, Shapiro’s page had 444,378 likes. Now it has 3.2 million.

.. Shapiro is the new Rush Limbaugh.

..  think talk radio is largely 60 and over. My podcast is almost entirely 40 and younger.

.. Shapiro’s climb into the right-wing media pantheon is partly thanks to his deftness at poking holes in the left-wing dogma of the day

.. he speaks a different sort of conservative language. He’s handy with Twitter memes and pop culture references. He connects with a younger online audience in a way that a baby boomer host like Limbaugh, or Sean Hannity, can’

.. the character he plays on air—feels new.

.. He often strives to acknowledge and address the strongest arguments of those he disagrees with.

..  He is the anti-Limbaugh in his personal life: physically fit, happily married, a devoted father.

.. He’s also willing to condemn hypocrisies on his own side, which is a quality rare in pundits of any stripe.

.. In a podcast segment about Trump’s feud with NFL players who knelt in protest during the national anthem, Shapiro beseeched his audience to “take off your partisan hats.” He then asked them to imagine a player kneeling to protest Roe v. Wade—and to imagine their horror if President Obama petulantly demanded the player be fired.

..  “Hannity, Rush, and Laura Ingraham, who I’ve listened to a lot, are a closed loop. They don’t consider contrary evidence. Ben does.

 I can focus on the fact that I disagree with how Ben weighs the evidence, but I get the sense that he is at least acknowledging the evidence.”

.. He went straight to Harvard Law, thinking he’d make lots of money as a lawyer, and graduated cum laude

.. My entire mode is speed, and the mode of a corporate law firm is to be slow and bill more hours.

.. Ben Shapiro, and not without reason. For example: Shapiro didn’t resign from Breitbart, despite ample evidence of its monstrous racism, until the victim of Breitbart’s thuggishness was a white female colleague in peril. And while Shapiro is no Milo, he has also said some vile things.

.. the Daily Wire posted an animated video mocking the Native Americans who Christopher Columbus encountered when he landed in the West. The video portrayed Native Americans as savage cannibals and then displayed a ledger comparing their putative contributions to the culture of the Western Hemisphere with those of post-Columbus Europeans. The Native American column listed only three contributions: “dreamcatchers,” “tomahawks,” and “cannibalism.” On the Western culture side of the ledger were contributions such as “science,” “underwear,” and “not-scalping.”

.. How much of it was saying Native Americans are inherently inferior, and how much of it was that Native American culture was inferior to Western culture, which is a contention with which I generally agree. I am somebody who says Western civilization is the best civilization by nature.

.. He then offered me an analogy that he felt elucidated the choice gay people have: “For example, I may have a desire to sleep with many women, but I do not.”

.. I almost always disagree with his rants, yet I find them fascinating. He often constructs well-crafted arguments that flow from first principles I deem wackadoo. This helps me understand conservative thinking even if it rarely changes my mind.

.. When it really hits the fan, will he go Trump? In a time of crisis, where will this shepherd of millennial conservatives lead his flock?

.. Shapiro insists that if autocracy encroaches, he’ll be manning the barricades. But he distinguishes Trump’s bluster from his actions. “Trump is a hammer. Sometimes he hits a nail and sometimes he hits a baby,” he told me. “The big problem I see on the right is the unwillingness to say when he hit a baby. We just pretend the baby was a nail. When he said he wanted to start looking at removing the licenses from NBC, I said, ‘This is insane. This is nuts.’ if Trump were to start shutting down press outlets, I would stand outside NBC. But aside from saying that the comment is nuts and that we have to oppose it, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do. Because he hasn’t actually proposed a policy.”

.. David Frum has described this stratagem, popular among Trump-phobic conservatives desperately trying to thread the needle with their pro-Trump comrades, as:
  1. “Hope for the best.
  2. Make excuses where you can.
  3. When you can’t make an excuse, keep as quiet as you can.
  4. Attack Trump’s critics in the media and Hollywood when all else fails.”

.. Lately, Trump has been doing things Shapiro likes very much. In the last weeks of 2017, as Trump began to get traction on some policy goals Shapiro favors (tax cuts and, especially, moving the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem), Shapiro’s criticisms of the president seemed to soften.

Trump’s split with Steve Bannon delighted Shapiro

.. one of Shapiro’s recent columns for the National Review argued that Trump is merely the “salt” in conservatism’s “stew.” Too much salt ruins a stew, Shapiro concedes, but “the occasional dash adds necessary flavor.”

.. “I don’t think he’s the world’s most stable guy. I don’t think he has the character of a president that I would prefer. But I will enjoy the policy wins that he’s brought. And I can live with that cognitive dissonance. Everyone else should learn to, too.”

What Will Trump Do to American Workers?

With Steve Bannon out of the White House, it’s clearer than ever that Donald Trump’s promise to be a populist fighting for ordinary workers was worth about as much as any other Trump promise — that is, nothing.

His agenda, such as it is, amounts to reverse Robin Hood with extra racism — the conventional Republican strategy of taking from struggling families to give to the rich, while distracting lower-income whites by attacking Those People, with the only difference being just how blatantly he plays the race card.

.. So is the Trump agenda dead? Not necessarily, because trickle-down has never been the whole story of the Republican assault on workers. Or to put it another way: Don’t just watch Congress, keep your eyes on what federal agencies are doing.

.. According to the Congressional Budget Office, back in 1980 the top 1 percent paid 33 percent of its income in federal taxes. Under Reagan, that share briefly fell below 25 percent. But as of 2013, the most recent year covered, Obama’s tax hikes had brought federal taxes on the 1 percent back up to 34 percent of income.

.. Medicaid, which in 1980 covered only 7 percent of nonelderly Americans. Today that number is up to 21 percent.

.. While the rich still pay taxes and the safety net has in some ways gotten stronger, the decades since Reagan have nonetheless been marked by vastly increased inequality, with stagnating wages for most, but soaring incomes for a tiny elite. How did that happen?

Yes, globalization probably played some role, as did technology. But other wealthy countries, just as exposed to the winds of global change, haven’t seen anything like America’s headlong rush into a new Gilded Age. To understand what happened to us, and in particular to American workers, you need to look at policy

.. truck drivers, whose pay used to make them members of the middle class. No more: Their real wages have fallen about a third since the 1970s, with most of the decline taking place during the Reagan years.

.. What happened to truckers was, basically, the collapse of their bargaining power due in part to a changed ideological climate — not least at the National Labor Relations Board — that encouraged private employers to fight unionization, and in part to deregulation that undercut the position of unionized firms.

.. Does anyone doubt that financial deregulation played an important role in surging incomes at the very top of the income distribution?

Comments:

Nothing in his history as a developer showed any inclination to a friend of working people:

  • He bought foreign steel because it was cheaper;
  • he imported foreign workers because he could pay them less and they are more vulnerable;
  • he stiffed small contractors because they couldn’t fight back.

.. I bristle when i hear the chattering class call Trump a populist. He’s not. Like the entire GOP, he is a classist, mouthing platitudes to fool the masses but acting as reverse Robin Hoods when it really counts. The entire charade of repealing ACA is a prime example

.. Populists are politicians who fight to help people who need the federal government to protect them against the rich and powerful.

.. James J: .. For those who do not know and associate with members of the working class, voting against one’s own economic self interest is a head-scratcher. But today’s working class is not your father’s working class. It certainly is not MY father’s working class.

Dad, because of The Depression and then war in Europe, never graduated high school. But he was an avid reader — our small working class home in a Midwest auto town was filled with books, newspapers and magazines of all varieties. He and our neighbors were union and they knew the issues.

Today’s working class has an appetite for information, but the source of that info is polluted. It comes from outlets owned by the same corporate billionaires who are picking workers’ pockets for 40 hours a week.

The outlets — Fox News, Breitbart… — are managed by very intelligent, very schooled and very slick pros. They play the intellectually lazy and proudly uneducated like a symphony; the best cons are the ones where the marks walk away thinking they got the best of the deal.

Today’s working class thinks it understands complex issues because its members read Tweets and listen to manipulating right-wing talk radio all day.

And once whipped into a hateful lather by millionaires con artists like Rush and Hannity and Bannon, economic self interest disappears behind a fog of anger and dogma.