Romer v. Evans

The Ted Cruz Show (Michelangelo Fist)

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), speaks at a rally Sunday, 21 February 2016, in Pahrump, Nevada. (AP Photo/John Locher)

It is, as we have recently observed, easy enough to pick on David Brooks but then along comes Charles Hurt to remind why meandering desperation in lieu of useful analysis is still a better option than attending a hardline conservative posturing as some manner of serious mind. While the New York Times endures Brooks, Mr. Hurt’s résumé is a proper slime trail leading from the New York Post on through Breitbart, Newsmax, FOX News, and the Washington Times; just to make the point he picked up a gig with Drudge. For The Hill, however, Hurt attempts to explain “The problem with Ted Cruz”. It’s a doozy:

While the media attention has focused entirely on the exuberant and entertaining traveling carnival nature of the Trump campaign, this overlooks another, deeper problem conservatives have today: Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas).

Washington Times columnist Charles Hurt appears on FOX News in December, 2015.In the past eight years, no one has captivated the realistic hopes of conservative constitutionalists the way that Cruz has in this election. On every single issue of importance to conservatives, Cruz is right. He is a walking, living, breathing Supreme Court dissent, masterfully articulated and extensively annotated on paper.

Then, he opens his mouth. And people scream. They run for the exits as if their hair is on fire. They want to take a shower.

We might fixate on the phrase, “captivated realistic hopes”, all day, and never figure out what the hell the author intends. The nearest thing to a realistic hope we might project for these “constitutional conservatives” is to somehow elect Ted Cruz, watch him get crushed by Congress and Court alike, and spend the next twenty years like they have the last, complaining about evil gov’ment and the usurpation of democracy just like they’ve been mewling at least since Romer v. Evans.

Still, though, Charles Hurt is a conservative; it is unfair to expect that he should make sense according to reality.

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A Memo to Mike Huckabee (Civic Leadership)

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee waits backstage before speaking during the Freedom Summit Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

MEMORANDUM

To: Mike Huckabee

re: Civic leadership

So … Mike―

The two-time Republican presidential also-ran lashed out Erickson, again on Fox News, accusing the conservative of attempting “to blow up the Republican Party.”

“The message that’s coming across is the voters are stupid so we’ll figure out a way to make the decision for you because we don’t trust your decision,” Huckabee complained of Erickson’s anti-Trump effort.

(Tesfaye)

―you do realize, do you not, that sometimes that’s exactly what civic leaders are expected to do?

In our own American heritage we say the Constitution is not a suicide pact. In our human endeavor, we might simply say that civilized society is not a suicide pact. Observably, the Donald Trump phenomenon disdains either expression.

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Steve Beshear’s Headache

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear speaks during a press conference after a closed joint whip and caucus meeting on the Affordable Care Act on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, 5 December 2013. (Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty)

Meanwhile, in the Bluegrass State:

David V. Moore and his fiancé went to the Rowan County Clerk’s office, armed with a copy of that Supreme Court ruling, in addition to Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear’s executive order requiring all county clerks to issue marriage licenses. In the video, employees appear to ignore the legal documents provided, continuing to refuse the couple’s request for a marriage license, while the Clerk Davis hid in the back of the office.

Writing on his Facebook wall, Moore says, “We were denied a marriage license on Monday, July 6 at the Rowan County Clerk’s office. Kim Davis is at the end of the video, but we turned it off at her request.”

The recording shows the men entering the clerk’s office and waiting patiently while other residents — including people who came in after the couple — are served. Staff at the counter refuse the men’s request and tell them that Clerk Davis is “busy right now.” Then employees called the police, insisting that the couple’s supporters stop filming the anticipated rejection.

A police officer arrives at the office toward the end of the video and speaks with employees. When Clerk Davis finally emerges from her office (around the 11 minute mark), she tells the supporter to “Put your phone away.” The two continue to bicker for a moment before the video ends.

Kentucky law does not forbid filming any interactions with public officials in a public place.

(Browning)

Oh, and you know there’s more.

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A Note on ‘Curing’ Heterosexuality (Puppy Power Mystery Mix)

Puppy play. (Original photograph by The Stranger.)

There is a long, hard joke in there somewhere involving basic Freudian propositions of differentiation between polymorphous equivalence in pleasure seeking and genital focus. And with a setup like, that, well, right. But it did come about that in the wake of an embarrassing trial and subsequent, obvious verdict against a conversion therapy outfit called Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), a friend mused on the thought of whether or not humanity might achieve a cure for heterosexuality.

The unfortunately requisite disclaimer here is threefold; there is an obvious cure, it is an obvious joke, and there are still people in the world who would take such a joke as some manner of genuine threat. No, we’re not coming to apply anti-straight conversion therapy.

To the other ....

Last weekend, I was hanging out at the Cuff, the leather bar at 13th and Pine, when a man to my left pulled out a pink rubber ball.

(Baume)

Something about a setup like that goes here, but here’s another morbid joke, and this one almost worth recounting. (more…)

The Conscience of North Carolina

Kamon Dreams and Stranger Things: Detail of frame from 'FLCL' episode 5, "Brittle Bullet".

In addition to the obvious, that we are talking about North Carolina, here, there is another aspect we might pause to consider:

After a third-grader tearfully recounted how another boy had called him “gay” during gym class, teacher Omar Currie chose to raise the issue during story time by reading his students a fable about a prince who falls in love with another prince, ending with a happily-ever-after royal wedding.

That decision in April ignited a public outcry from some parents in the rural hamlet of Efland, North Carolina, resulting in Currie’s resignation this week from a job he loved. The assistant principal who loaned Currie her copy of “King & King” has also resigned, and outraged parents are pressuring administrators at the Orange County Schools to ban the book.

“When I read the story, the reaction of parents didn’t come into my mind,” Currie, 25, said Tuesday. “In that moment, it just seemed natural to me to read the book and have a conversation about treating people with respect. My focus then was on the child, and helping the child.”

Currie knows firsthand what it is like to be bullied. Growing up gay and black in a small town in the eastern part of the state, his memories of middle school are of being a frequent target for teasing and slurs.

(Biesecker)

Right. Welcome to North Carolina. To the one, we shouldn’t be surprised.

To the other, please consider a cetain symbolic value. Twenty-three years ago, Oregonians went to the ballot box and rejected Measure 9, a vicious anti-gay initiative. That year, voters in Colorado passed a similar measure. Amendment 2, as the Colorado version was known, died in federal court, and conservatives still complain about the judicial activism of saying a popular vote in a state cannot overturn the U.S. Constitution. In Oregon, though? The fight in Oregon orbited a library book. To be specific, if Lesléa Newman’s Heather Has Two Mommies was not censored, then a Christian’s equal rights were under siege.

So for all we might recall and raise a glass to the efforts of zealots whose animus has driven gay rights all the way to the marriage equality threshold, it is also important to remember that the running electoral firefight leading from local supremacist ordinances all the way up to questions of constitutional amendments and open insurrection two decades later all started with a book that bigoted parents didn’t like.

There is, then, some symbolic value in this latest tale whispering up out of Efland, North Carolina.

‘Round and ’round, back to where we started.

____________________

Biesecker, Michael. “Teacher resigns after reading students book about gay couple “. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 16 June 2015.

A Note on an Abomination

"Governor Mike Pence Is an Abomination" ― Headline from Marc Leandro of The Huffington Post, 31 March 2015, in reference to the Indiana Republican signing into law a Religious Freedom Act intended to enshrine discrimination in state law.

There really is a reason for Marc Leandro’s headline, “Governor Mike Pence Is an Abomination”.

The situation in Indiana is upsetting for a lot of reasons. First among them is the overt discrimination against LGBT individuals the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as currently written, will protect under the law. And a close second is the utter venality displayed by Indiana Governor Mike Pence.

In the photograph taken of Pence at the bill’s private signing ceremony, he is surrounded by various religious figures, and some activists well known to the LGBT community in Indiana. Micah Clark, standing behind and to the left of the governor, has claimed publicly that homosexuality is a “disorder” that can be treated. Curt Smith, directly behind the governor, has equated gayness with bestiality and helped to write the bill the governor was signing. Eric Miller, to the right, was the man behind a flyer claiming falsely that if same-sex marriage was allowed in Indiana, religious figures might be imprisoned for preaching against homosexuality.

Again, this was a closed ceremony, and one has to presume that the governor had knowledge of who would be there. These are people that the governor is close to, who in at least one case helped to write the bill, and in two other cases have taken public stances against LGBT individuals. I take that back — publicly they might state that they love “the homosexuals” but hate their “sin”, a distinction as infuriating as it is dunderheaded.

This goes back at least a quarter of a century. Or, it was on already on fire when I arrived.

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The Main Attraction?

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH8)

“Just because some Republicans want to pretend that before January 2009 presidential power had been limited to pardoning Thanksgiving turkeys doesn’t mean they are right.”

Jonathan Bernstein

And the hits keep coming. ‘Tis a bold headline for Bloomberg View: “Boehner Betrays Congress”, and Jonathan Bernstein leaves little room for doubt about his perceptions:

I’ll say it again: Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans aren’t asking for authority to be returned from the White House to Congress. They want an imperial judiciary that could trump either of the elected branches.

Jonathan Bernstein (via BloombergView)In a system of separated institutions sharing powers, which is what the Constitution created, all three branches do things that look a lot like legislating, but laws can trump administrative or judicial rule-making. That gives Congress serious clout within the system. This lawsuit, however, is an abdication of that clout. In effect, it says that the courts, not Congress, should have the last word when there’s a dispute between branches.

Filing this lawsuit amounts to institutional treason. Boehner and House Republicans should be ashamed. The rest of us can only hope that the courts rescue them by keeping to precedent and tossing this lawsuit into the garbage.

To the other, the suit is filed. In a way, that is actually surprising. It is not quite that it seems like yesterday that House Republicans found themselves in need of a new lawyer after the one they hired quit the case, owing to the sort of political pressure one’s law firm might apply when one is about to publicly humiliate the firm with an act of juristic malpractice; it wasn’t yesterday, but two months ago. After hyperpartisan lawyer David Rivkin quit the case for having bitten off too much hyperpartisanship for his firm, Baker Hostetler, to chew, the GOP turned to William A. Burck of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, who had just finished the laborious task of failing to defend former Virginia First Lady Maureen McDonnell.

Late last month, then, we learned that Mr. Burck was also stepping down. Josh Gerstein and Maggie Haberman of Politico summarized the situation thus:

Rivkin’s firm withdrew in September after health-care-related clients pressured the firm to back out of representing the House in the Obamacare-related suit. Two sources told POLITICO in recent days that a similar scenario played out with Burck’s firm, with clients bringing pressure to get the firm off the case.

How about three days ago? Is that close enough to feel like yesterday? For whatever reason, Jonathan Turley of George Washington University decided to take up the case. Lauren French of Politico reported ot Tuesday:

“Professor Turley is a renowned legal scholar who agrees that President Obama has clearly overstepped his constitutional authority,” said Michael Steel, a spokesperson for Speaker John Boehner. “He is a natural choice to handle this lawsuit” ....

.... “Even for $500-per-hour in taxpayer dollars, Speaker Boehner has had to scour Washington to find a lawyer willing to file this meritless lawsuit against the president,” said Drew Hammill, a spokesperson for Minority Leader Pelosi. “Now, he’s hired a TV personality for this latest episode of his distraction and dysfunction.”

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The Future, Revealed?

Jobs, jobs, jobs ... j'abortion!

We might for a moment pause to recall 2010. Republicans achieved a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, but the real story was in the state houses, where the GOP made astounding gains by hammering away at the economic instability their Congressional partners worked so hard to create.

And then they tacked away from jobs. As Rachel Maddow memorably put it, “Jobs, jobs jobs … j’abortion”. State-level Republicans passed record numbers of anti-abortion bills, knowing that most of them were unconstitutional. And it is certainly an old conservative scheme, to tilt windmills, lose, and then bawl that the sky is falling because the Constitution is Sauron and Democrats and liberals the armies of Mordor.

With many predicting a Republican blowout in the 2014 midterms, some are looking ahead to figure out just what that will means in terms of policy and governance. And some of those are Republicans.

Yet there is a week left; perhaps this isn’t the best time to be telegraphing the Hell they intend to call down upon the Earth.

Or, as Lauren French and Anna Palmer of Politico explain:

Conservatives in Congress are drawing up their wish list for a Republican Senate, including “pure” bills, like a full repeal of Obamacare, border security and approval of the Keystone XL pipeline — unlikely to win over many Democrats and sure to torment GOP leaders looking to prove they can govern.

Interviews with more than a dozen conservative lawmakers and senior aides found a consensus among the right wing of the Republican Party: If Republicans take the Senate, they want to push an agenda they believe was hamstrung by the Democratic-controlled chamber, even if their bills end up getting vetoed by President Barack Obama.

Their vision could create problems for congressional leaders who want to show they aren’t just the party of “hell no.” And while conservatives say they agree with that goal, their early priorities will test how well John Boehner and Mitch McConnell can keep the party united.

Two points: Swing voters can’t say they weren’t warned. And conservative voters complaining about gridlock should admit that’s what they’re after.

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