Politics postsTuesday October 14, 2014
Quote of the Day
“Politics is about more than mathematics. It is also a matter of will. Polite Georgetown insiders didn’t like to admit this. Sometimes they willfully ignored it—moderates could be as oblivious to evidence that didn’t confirm their biases as any conspiracy-mongering extremist. Rabid partisans beat moderates all the time, precisely by dint of the very passion that sometimes blinds them.”
-- Rick Perlstein in “The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan,” writing about the 1976 Republican convention but with a message for any time. Certainly for the 2014 mid-terms.
Washington State Supreme Court Cites Washington State Legislature for Contempt
The Washington state Supreme Court is holding the Legislature in contempt for not making enough progress toward fully funding public education but, for now, is holding off on sanctions.
Here's some background on the contempt charge. Article IX, Section 1 of the Washington State Constitution reads: “It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.” The paramount duty. Washington's is one of only two state constitutions to use the word “paramount” in this regard, and the other, Florida, declares it “a paramount duty,” not the paramount duty.
However, the Washington Legislature is still not making it its paramount duty to fund education despite supreme court decisions in 1978 and 2012 to do just that. Two years ago, I interviewed Thomas Ahearne, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the more recent case, McCleary v. State of Washington, who has an amused side when it comes to himself and a combative side when it comes to almost everything else. This case is part of his combative side.
The new today made me read over the piece. I'd forgotten how colorful he is. He has great stories.
More, I seemed to remember a prediction he made about whether or not the Legislature would live up to its paramount duty. This is how the piece ends:
“Our Supreme Court has ordered our Legislature to do something that’s hard, very hard, with their public schools, and we’ll see if they do it promptly or if they drag their feet and stall,” Ahearne says. He smiles but his eyes remain combative. “I have a good guess as to what they’re going to do.”
He sounds more optimistic in the Seattle Times' link above.
Did Jeffrey Toobin Let Ted Cruz Lie About Prop 8?
There was an excellent profile of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) by Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker last month: “The Absolutist.” You should check it out. You get a real sense of Cruz's history (his father fled Cuba before Castro), and why he is the way he is (conservative father and indoctrination into constitutional issues at the Free Enterprise Institute at the age of 12), and why he is formidable (national debate champion, “...on his way to becoming one of the most notable appellate advocates in the country”), and just how young he is (too young to have voted for Reagan).
All of that is good and worthwhile. But then Toobin ends the piece with a Cruz quote:
“Since I became a senator, a year and a half ago, I’ve kept two promises to the people of Texas. I have endeavored to do what I said I was going to do and I have always told the truth. It says something about Washington that those are perceived as radical acts.”
I have always told the truth. Yet earlier in the piece we get this quote from a speech Cruz gave at the 2014 Texas Republican Convention in Ft. Worth:
“Marriage is under assault,” Cruz told the crowd. “It is under assault in a way that is pervasive. We’re seeing marriage under assault in the courts, including, sadly, the Supreme Court of the United States. It struck down the California marriage laws. California had a referendum. They asked the voters of California, ‘Do you want marriage to be a traditional marriage between one man and one woman?’ And the voters of California—those crazy right-wing kooks—said, ‘Yes, now that you mention it, we like marriage to be between one man and one woman!’ Went to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the U.S. Supreme Court said, ‘You can’t say that,’ and struck it down. You want to know what judicial activism is? Judicial activism is judges imposing their policy preferences on the words of the Constitution.”
I'm no national debate champion, let alone one of the most notable appellate lawyers in the country, but I know Cruz isn't telling the truth here. Because he knows the U.S. Supreme Court did not “strike down” California marriage laws. Here's what happened.
The voters of California passed Prop 8 by a 52-48% margin. Two years later, the federal district court in San Francisco overturned it, declaring Prop 8 unconstitutional under the due process clause. The state chose not to appeal, but others did: the initiative's proponents, along with Imperial County. After various judicial perambulations, the case wound up before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, which ruled, 5-4, that those who brought the appeal (Prop 8's proponents and Imperial County) did not have legal standing to bring the appeal. Case dismissed.
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down California marriage laws? It didn't rule on California marriage laws.
This might seem like semantics to most people but I can guarantee you one of those people would not be “one of the most notable appellate advocates in the country.” Cruz said what he said, fudged the truth of what he said, because he wanted red meat for the Texas crowd to sink its teeth into. He was being a politician. He was being a D.C. insider. He was not telling the truth.
Ted Cruz gave at the 2014 Texas Republican Convention:offering red meat at the expense of truth.
Gun Control Symbol Dies
Is this a resonant headline or what? Sadly so.
“Gun Control Symbol Dies.” Apparently in Alexandria, Va., too, and not in committee.
Brady, of course, was press secretary to Pres. Reagan, when, in March 1981, John W. Hinkley fired on the president and his entourage outside a Washington, D.C. hotel. One of the stray bullets entered Mr. Brady's brain. For the rest of his life, his left arm was paralyzed, his left leg weak, and he suffered short-term memory loss.
"What I was, I am not now,” he said in 1994. “What I was, I will never be again.”
As a result, he became a gun control advocate, and lent his name to the Brady Act, an amendment to The Gun Control Act of 1968, which Congress passed in 1993—the year before the Gingrich midterms turned everything bad. Five years later, the brunt of the Brady Act was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. In Printz v. United States, the 5-4 majority ruled that it was unconstitutional for the federal government to demand the assistance of local government officials in creating a national handgun database. However, the database was created anyway, as local officials didn't mind complying with federal requests.
Cantor, Now Castrato
Yesterday Eric Cantor (R-VA), the House Majority Leader, lost his primary to a Tea Party challenger, David Brat, a university professor. Apparently it's the first time a House Majority leader has ever lost a primary battle.
In one respect, it's been a long time coming. Here's Cantor's vote totals in general elections since he was elected in 2000:
Those are general election totals, not primaries, but you can see the trend downward. The longer he stayed in office, the less popular he became.
What does this primary defeat mean? I can see him losing because he's a douche, but he seems to have lost because he isn't douche-y enough for Republicans in Virginia's 7th congressional district. The media has focused on his mild support for immigration reform as the reason for his downfall. Nate Cohn of the Times isn't quite sure but adds this sad, inevitable thought:
Regardless of the exact reason for Mr. Cantor’s defeat, the news media’s focus on immigration is likely to deter Republicans from supporting comprehensive immigration reform.
And what to make of David Brat? A university professor where? According to the Boston Globe ...
He teaches economics at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va. Brat, who has a Ph.D. and a Masters of Divinity, teaches mostly introductory economics classes at the college, a small liberal arts school outside of Richmond. ... Brat’s previous research includes a study titled, ‘‘An Analysis of the Moral Foundations in Ayn Rand.’’ (Brat says he is not a Randian.) He frequently trumpeted the six elements of the ‘‘Republican Creed’’ on the campaign trail, which you can read at his website.
His Republican creed can be found here. I asume he's not a Randian because of the divinity thing.
Here's more reaction via Andrew Sullivan's site.
The bigger question relates to Cantor's falling general election totals. What's going on in Virgina's 7th? (The fightin' 7th!) Were folks voting against Cantor because he was a douche, an insider, or because he was leaning too far right at a time when the 7th was becoming more centrist? We'll see in November. I'd love to be able to post this headline then: “Brat, Spanked.” But that's up to Virginia.