Category Archives: politics

Travel ban 3.0 narrowly upheld and discredited

scotus-travel-banIf any group of professionals understand the power words have to shape opinion it’s advertisers, so Coca-Cola was once labeled the “Real Thing” and Coors later branded a “Banquet Beer.” The drinks didn’t have to be any better than a competitor’s for some potential customers to associate Pepsi with fakery or separate Budwiser from sophistication. The practice of politics is no stranger to branding, thus the kin of those victimized by immigrants are described as “Angel Families” and murder is repackaged as “gun violence.” The details are unique but the essence of such disguised framing remains the same: crimes committed by illegal immigrants demand special attention, as do killers who use guns. Opponents of the so-called travel ban were not so subtle when they described the recycled executive order as a “Muslim Ban.” There was a time when that label would meet truth-in-advertising standards, a time when President Trump boasted that Christian refugees would be spared from its provisions. That was seventeen months ago. Continue reading

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July 4, 2018 · 1:14 am

California GOP struggling to remain in ‘top two’ race

nr2wuriw2fbuxidjvy6vravt44If Travis Allen was running for governor in a red state like Arizona or Texas the Assemblyman would be on a glide path to the nomination. His opponent left Illinois for his current home in 2011 and is spending $4 for every one Allen does. When Allen joked that the days of “big money” dictating Republican endorsements are over after California’s GOP failed to choose between the insurgent and his ‘establishment’ rival he sounded a familiar dirge. It could be a sign of the times. When Democrats gathered in February differences between progressives and their pragmatic foes prevented the state party from choosing between Kevin de Leon or Dianne Feinstein. The GOP is facing a similar divide in a state where President Trump is favored by 31 percent of Californians and 80 percent of Republicans. In the early stages John Cox adapted by running a narrowly conservative campaign largely focused on last year’s gas tax hike and the infamous “sanctuary state.” Continue reading

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May 23, 2018 · 1:32 am

Parkland shooting fallout highlighting worst instincts

cpzl9man4o6wThere was a time when I watched Fox News fairly regularly, when Megyn Kelly still had her nightly show and before Greta van Susteren departed for the presumably friendly confines of MSNBC. Even Sean Hannity’s brand of ad hominem was tolerable because he still brought in dissenters like Prof. Cornel West and Austin Goolsbee and wasn’t as prone to launching on-air rants. By the time Kelly switched to the Today Show, van Susteren was dumped by MSNBC and Hannity endorsed Roy Moore for the Alabama special election I lost my interest in Fox News. Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham’s ascendance into prime time only sealed the channel’s fate. The content didn’t bother me much. I still listen to Rush Limbaugh to get a sense of what the ‘other’ side is thinking and hear some interesting perspectives in the caller’s comments. They’re not as predictably pro-Trump as one would expect; some are more than willing to put principle before loyalty. Continue reading

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April 8, 2018 · 3:21 am

Budget fight drags on as observers groan at result

government-shutdown-cartoon-beelerWhen PJ O’Rourke submitted Thrown under the Omnibus to his editor the author couldn’t have known he was forecasting a bit of jargon that would be used years later in a different context. Budget battles like the one that led to a recently-signed $1.3 trillion leviathan have been cloaked in terms like 2011’s “fiscal cliff,” which gave way to the mysteriously-labeled bundle branded as ‘sequestration.’ While writing for Wonkblog in 2012 Suzy Khimm described it as “automatic spending cuts” of $1.2 trillion evenly divided between military and domestic outlays. After a partial shutdown and ahead of possible defaults in an ongoing battle over the US debt ceiling, lawmakers reached a deal brokered by Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray. Congress has not been known as a good manager of taxpayer dollars, yet managed to reach new levels of…financial liberty by agreeing to spend roughly $1 trillion in 2014 and 2015. Continue reading

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April 1, 2018 · 11:42 pm

House Russia inquiry on a slow track to nowhere

694940094001_5750073288001_5750069600001-vsAfter months of wrangling it came as no surprise when the House Intelligence Committee released a final report signaling there was no collusion between Russian hackers and the Trump campaign. Democrats were indignant and vowed to press on while calling the report ‘incomplete’ and citing the consensus among US intelligence agencies that Russians, regardless of method, aimed to help candidate Trump. Whatever one thinks of the panel’s efforts, reportedly involving 73 witnesses and 300,000 pages of documents, the resulting product is more political than legal. The House committee’s inquiry started breaking down once Chairman Devin Nunes took it upon himself to visit the White House and brief the president about allegations his “wires” had been tapped with help from Britain’s GCHQ. The trend continued while Adam Schiff toured cable television and managed to reveal enough information the ranking Democrat was pressed to recuse himself from what was an open investigation. Continue reading

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March 29, 2018 · 11:19 pm

Sessions is wrong about weed, yet Becerra isn’t right

jeffsessionsweedThe familial squabble between state and federal regulators over the only plant so (in)famous to inspire a loopy bit of 1950s film paranoia goes back decades. It turns out that when Californians voted for Proposition 215 and joined the movement for legalized medical use of cannabis it unwittingly became a part of the legal fight this Justice Department has since taken up. When Jeff Sessions announced his decision to overturn the Cole memorandum the attorney general put fresh fuel on a simmering fire. At its heart this battle represents a failure in Washington DC. A standing dispute over the status of some 11 million undocumented immigrants paved the way for states like New Mexico and Maryland to issue driver’s licenses; there are several examples of states coping by offering in-state tuition or Medicaid access. The problems each one is facing, when combined with a population that remains present and “in the shadows” could lead to no other conclusion. Continue reading

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January 18, 2018 · 4:32 am

Concealed-carry bill is solution in search of a problem

concealedcarryGun rights are in the news again, fortunately not as the result of another gruesome mass shooting or the ensuing round of grief and fault-finding. Whew. Surprisingly, this one is attributable to Republicans, who slipped an NRA-backed measure through the House of Representatives by a 231-198 vote. The “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act” would effectively create a national standard for the permits by compelling every state to honor those granted in each of the other forty-nine. After news reached the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, executive director Chris Cox described the vote to Washington Times scribe Andrea Noble as a “watershed moment for Second Amendment rights.” If senators concur and send “Reciprocity” to the White House, concealed-carry permits would not be treated any differently than a driver’s license. The comparison is at best a dubious one for reasons both legal and practical. Continue reading

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December 18, 2017 · 8:42 pm