U.S. Constitution

The Szubin Question (Forty-Seven Rise Again Remix)

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) speaks with reporters before the Senate luncheons in the Capitol, 15 May 2012. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

“It’s grossly irresponsible of McConnell and his colleagues to keep government from doing what they say it should do: operate efficiently and protect its citizens.”

Jonathan Bernstein

Perhaps some recall an occasion not so long ago when the United States faced such a potential health crisis that small-government conservatives, Republicans who purport to disdain the idea of an American czar, called for President Obama to appoint a new policy czar to deal with Ebola.

The White House, Democratic supporters, and many others pointed out that the Senate could start by simply confirming the nominated Surgeon General; Vivek Murthy’s nomination languished for over a year because Republicans objected to the idea that gunshot wounds are a health issue.

With a potential health crisis pitching Republicans into panic, they sought another executive-appointed czar, instead of confirming a qualified nominee to lead the uniformed service whose job it is to respond to public health threats.

The president already has a “czar” to deal with Daa’ish; his name is Brett McGurk, and last month he replaced Gen. John Allen (USMC, Ret.) as Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL”, but he also needs his Undersecretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial crimes, currently occupied as an interim appointment for over two hundred days because Senate Republicans refuse to slate his confirmation hearing.

Szubin’s nomination got a hearing before the Senate Banking Committee on Sept. 17, and Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) praised his past work in countering terrorist financing during his time with both Republican and Democratic administrations.

“He is eminently qualified for this,” Shelby said at the time.

But Szubin’s nomination hasn’t moved since. There’s no clear reason why, beyond trying to make it difficult for President Barack Obama to fill administration posts.

“Treasury must have in place an experienced watchdog, with the know-how and authority to lead U.S. efforts to track and choke off the financial lifeblood of terrorist organizations,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the top Democrat on the Banking Committee, said Wednesday. “Republicans in Congress need to stop holding our national security apparatus hostage to political demands, and allow Adam Szubin and other national security nominees to be approved as soon as possible.”

A Shelby spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

Don Stewart, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), noted that Republicans recently lined up a confirmation vote on a separate nominee, Gayle Smith, for USAID administrator, but couldn’t say when Szubin might move.

Stewart dinged Democrats for “politicizing Paris” with this week’s push on stalled national security nominees.

(Bendery)

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A Confession (Kevin’s Kinsley)

The U.S. Capitol is pictured at dawn in Washington D.C. on Oct. 15, 2013. (Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA)

CQ Roll Call“But we put together a Benghazi special committee. A select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known that any of that had happened had we not fought to make that happen.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA23)

File under, “We already knew, but thanks for telling us”.

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The Ben Carson Show (Supremacism)

“I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.” (Dr. Ben Carson) [Source photo by Richard Ellis/Getty images, 2015]

Meet the Press:

CHUCK TODD: Let me wrap this up by finally dealing with what’s been going on, Donald Trump, and a deal with a questioner that claimed that the president was Muslim. Let me ask you the question this way: Should a President’s faith matter? Should your faith matter to voters?

DR. BEN CARSON: Well, I guess it depends on what that faith is. If it’s inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter. But if it fits within the realm of America and consistent with the constitution, no problem.

CHUCK TODD: So do you believe that Islam is consistent with the constitution?

DR. BEN CARSON: No, I don’t, I do not.

CHUCK TODD: So you―

DR. BEN CARSON: I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.

Sometimes it seems as if a moment should speak for itself.

No, really.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dr. Ben Carson.

This is your 2016 Republican Presidential Clown Car.

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Image note: Source photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images, 2015.

Todd, Chuck. Interview with Ben Carson. Meet the Press. NBC, New York. 20 September 2015. Transcript.

The Curse of Yig (Modern Archie Mix)

Eric Fanning, left, the acting secretary of the U.S. Air Force, briefs reporters on the state of the Air Force as Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III looks on at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, 13 December 2013. (Photo: Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo)

(sigh)

Perhaps former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee should consider following Messrs. Perry and Walker through the exit. That is to say, if advocating lawlessness as part of his appeal to be the sworn executor of the laws and protector of the Constitution while crying about Liberty and Justice for All requiring Christian supremacism wasn’t enough, perhaps setting up Steve Benen for this kind of line ought to be the clincher:

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)On Friday, for example, President Obama nominated Eric Fanning as the next Secretary of the Army. No one has questioned Fanning’s qualifications, but GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee condemned the nomination because Fanning is gay. “It’s clear President Obama is more interested in appeasing America’s homosexuals than honoring America’s heroes,” the Republican said, adding, “Homosexuality is not a job qualification. The U.S. military is designed to keep Americans safe and complete combat missions, not conduct social experiments.”

It’s an “Archie Bunker” posture in a “Modern Family” world.

Yeah, thanks, Steve! Something about low hanging fruit goes here. To the other, why would Mr. Benen not? You don’t get excuses to throw out stupidly predictable jokes like that every day, no matter how hard Republicans might try.

(groan)

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Image note: Top ― Eric Fanning, left, the acting secretary of the U.S. Air Force, briefs reporters on the state of the Air Force as Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III looks on at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, 13 December 2013. (detail: Photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo). Right ― Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee waits backstage before speaking during the Freedom Summit Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa (detail: AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Benen, Steve. “The perils of a small-tent party”. msnbc. 21 September 2015.

Just Another Day (Mad Mat Mix)

Kim Davis and Friends: Detail of cartoon by Kevin Siers, The Charlotte Observer, 10 September 2015.

Here is a question: What do Kim Davis and Donald Trump have in common? Before you reach for a punch line, I should note it’s not actually that kind of a setup. In truth, it is hard to follow either story, because it is difficult, to the one, to comprehend the full dimensions of what is actually happening, and to the other that it happens so damn fast. Either absurdist tragedy leaves us breathless trying to keep up.

For instance, adding the Oath Keepers to the mix probably isn’t any specific reason to be alarmed, but still, it can’t be good news.

In a phone call with Jackson County Kentucky Sheriff Denny Peyman, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes said members of his group had reached out to Davis’s legal team and were already forming an on-the-ground presence in Kentucky’s Rowan County, but remained tight-lipped on specifics, Right Wing Watch reports. Rhodes said his group’s action had nothing to do with same-sex marriage, but instead was focused on his belief that Davis had been illegally detained after being found in contempt of court by not issuing marriage licenses.

“As far as we’re concerned, this is not over,” he said in the audio clip above. “This judge needs to be put on notice that his behavior is not going to be accepted, and we’ll be there to stop it and intercede ourselves if we have to.”

(Wong)

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Liberty Counsel

Liberty Counsel

Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch put together a brief list―and thank him, since that means you don’t have to do it yourself―of strange arguments offered in support of Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Kentucky clerk who asserts her ad hoc religion entitles her, as an equally protected constitutional right, to decide who is entitled to their equally protected constitutional rights.

The list itself is pretty straightforward except for its unbelievability; yet here we are, and this is real:

(1) God’s law trumps U.S. law

(2) Davis was elected before Obergefell, so she’s exempt

(3) Davis is the only clerk obeying the law

(4) Gays can just drive to another county

(5) Anti-religious test for office

While it is true that these are all nonsensical, we might take a moment to consider that first, reminding of two points: Insurrection and bad attorneys.

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Another Obvious Question (House Divided Hot Mess Mix)

Kim Davis, the Rowan County Clerk of Courts, listens to Robbie Blankenship and Jesse Cruz as they speak with her at the County Clerks Office on September 2, 2015 in Morehead, Kentucky. (Photo: Ty Wright/Getty Images)

Let us start here:

Importantly, Davis is not claiming a substantial burden on her religious freedom or free speech rights if someone else authorizes and approves a SSM license devoid of her name.

(Mihet and Christman [Liberty Counsel], 28 August 2015; accents per source)

Follow the bouncing ball:

“The stay request offers several options such as removing Davis’s name from the marriage license, thus removing the personal nature of the authorization,” Staver pointed out. “Another accommodation would be to allow licenses to be issued by the chief executive of Rowan County or developing a statewide, online marriage license process,” Staver suggested. “There is absolutely no reason that this case has gone so far without reasonable people respecting and accommodating Kim Davis’s First Amendment rights,” Staver concluded.

(Liberty Counsel, 31 August 2015; boldface accent added)

And then came Friday:

Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel which represents Davis, said he believes Friday’s licenses are invalid because they were not issued with her approval. Davis’ name does not appear on the licenses.

“They are not worth the paper they are printed on,” Staver said, standing in front of the Grayson, Kentucky, detention center where Davis is being held. He added she had no intention of resigning as clerk.

(Bittenbender; boldface accent added)

Would any among Ms. Davis’ defenders care to attempt reconciling, or at least merely explaining that sleight? This much is true: We don’t expect Mr. Staver, nor his colleagues, Messrs. Christman and Himet, to do so. Indeed, we might wonder if they would find demands for such an explanation offensive to their religious freedom.

To be clear, because some need it so expressed:

If Kim Davis’ name was not on the marriage licenses, then the “personal nature of the authorization” would be removed. (Liberty Counsel, 28-31 August)

If the licenses were issued without Ms. Davis’ name on them, then they are “not worth the paper they are printed on” because Ms. Davis has not given authorization of a personal nature.

In the end, Mark Joseph Stern’s question of whether Kim Davis is “getting taken for a ride by her lawyers”, as the headline put it, asserts itself more insistently.

More and more, it’s beginning to look like the Liberty Counsel is taking Davis for a ride, using her doomed case to promote itself and its extremist principles. Davis has certainly humiliated and degraded the gay couples whom she turned away. But I wonder if, on some level, she isn’t a victim, too.

(Boldface accent added)

I mean, really.

This is a sick joke playing out before our eyes.

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Image note: Kim Davis, the Rowan County Clerk of Courts, listens to Robbie Blankenship and Jesse Cruz as they speak with her at the County Clerks Office on September 2, 2015 in Morehead, Kentucky. (Photo: Ty Wright/Getty Images)

(Tip o’ the hat I don’t actually wear: JoeMyGod)

Mihet, Horatio G. and Jonathan D. Christman. “Emergency Application to Stay Preliminary Injunction Pending Appeal”. Davis v. Miller et al. Supreme Court of the United States. 28 August 2015.

Liberty Counsel. “Accommodations Would End Rowan County Dispute”. Press Release. 31 August 2015.

Bittenbender, Steve. “Kentucky clerk’s office ends ban on same-sex marriage licenses”. Reuters. 4 September 2015.

Stern, Mark Joseph. “Is Kentucky’s Infamous Anti-Gay Clerk Getting Taken for a Ride by Her Lawyers?”. Slate. 31 August 2015.

The Not-So-Gay Divorceé

VIII. Adjustment.

The question of a divorceé has long plagued Christian supremacists who denounce marriage equality and gay rights, but, you know, really? Not only has Kim Davis already licensed transgender man and his pansexual wife, and most likely also issued plenty of marriage licenses to divorceés, but it also turns out that Ms. Davis is herself a serial adulterer.

On this point, Travis Gettys of Raw Story considers an appearance by Dan Savage on msnbc; the author, advice columnist, and editor of The Stranger, Mr. Savage spared no punches:

“I think Kim Davis is waiting to cash in,” Savage told MSNBC. “I predicted from the beginning that she would defy all the court orders, defy the Supreme Court, she would ultimately be held in contempt of court, lose her job, perhaps go to prison for a short amount of time. And then she will have written for her, ghost written books. She will go on the right-wing lecture circuit and she’ll never have to do an honest day’s work ever again in her life.”

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, in a mugshot, 3 September 2015, after being held in contempt of court by U.S. District Judge David Bunning, after she refused to comply with the law and issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples.“This is about someone hypocritically cashing in, and she is a hypocrite,” he added.

Savage referred to the defiant clerk’s statement complaining that courts were asking her to “violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage” — which the columnist dismissed as ridiculous.

“This is a woman who’s been divorced three times and married four times,” he said, reading from the US News & World Report article that pointed out Davis “gave birth to twins five months after divorcing her first husband, (and) they were fathered by her third husband but adopted by her second husband.”

“She’s now onto her fourth husband,” Savage said. “Jesus Christ himself in scripture condemned divorce, called it adultery and forbids it. Jesus Christ himself in scripture says not one word about same-sex marriage.”

Savage said the U.S. Supreme Court had already decided the issue of same-sex marriage, and he said Davis clearly should have followed the law all along.

“She’s not being asked to perform a sacrament, she is tasked with ascertaining that the people in front of her, the couple in front of her, have a legal right to get married and to provide them with that license,” he said. “She is not a minister. She actually thinks she works for God there in the county courthouse, when she actually works for Caesar — and someone needs to acquaint her with that fact.”

Or we might attend Mr. Savage himself, who recently blogged, among other notes:

I would say I can’t wait for a Muslim county clerk in, say, Dearborn, Michigan (which has a huge Muslim community), to refuse to issue a marriage license to a Christian couple on the grounds that the this kafir couple hasn’t been paying jizya… but that’s not going to happen. Religious minorities in this country intuitively understand that to empower religious bigots like Davis is to paint bullseyes on their own backs. So the Jesus-freak goons at the Liberty Counsel work to frame discrimination as a “religious freedom” because they’re confident that American Christians will be the ones doing the discriminating, not suffering from it.

This is an important point. Something about functional reality goes here.

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About What You Would Expect, Except It’s Really, Really Rude to Think of Other People That Way

So.

Say what?Our new poll finds that Trump is benefiting from a GOP electorate that thinks Barack Obama is a Muslim and was born in another country, and that immigrant children should be deported. 66% of Trump’s supporters believe that Obama is a Muslim to just 12% that grant he’s a Christian. 61% think Obama was not born in the United States to only 21% who accept that he was. And 63% want to amend the Constitution to eliminate birthright citizenship, to only 20% who want to keep things the way they are ....

.... Trump’s beliefs represent the consensus among the GOP electorate. 51% overall want to eliminate birthright citizenship. 54% think President Obama is a Muslim. And only 29% grant that President Obama was born in the United States. That’s less than the 40% who think Canadian born Ted Cruz was born in the United States.

(Public Policy Polling; boldface accent added)

Right.

Okay, then.

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Public Policy Polling. Trump Supporters Think Obama is a Muslim Born in Another Country”. Press Release. 1 September 2015.

The Scott Walker Show (Sounds About Right)

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, 26 February 2015. Photo by H. Darr Beiser, USA Today.

Okay, so this is how we’re going to do it―

Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) affirmed on Sunday that he would not seek to end birthright citizenship as president, seemingly bringing to an end a days-long grapple for a definitive position on the issue.

“No,” said the Wisconsin Republican when asked if he was “seeking to repeal or alter the 14th Amendment,” during an interview with ABC’s “This Week.”

Walker’s position on the topic―which has moved from the fringes of the Republican Party to a mainstay of the campaign trail―has not so much evolved as jumped around in the past week ....

―with Sam Stein explaining the joke for Huffington Post, and you deciding whether or not you really want the detail, since it’s not actually funny, and, well, you know, we might also suggest simply nodding and saying, “Sounds about right”, would suffice.

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Stein, Sam. “Scott Walker Completes The Journey Back To Not Repealing The 14th Amendment”. The Huffington Post. 23 August 2015.