}

Sunday, July 31, 2016

My political notebook

This post is something new, based on something old: It’s a collection of political things I’ve seen on the Internet that are interesting and important, but that won’t make it into their own blog posts, for whatever reason, and might not even be referenced in a blog post. Yet I think they should be seen, so, here they are.

This is based, of course, on my Internet Wading posts, an idea I stole borrowed from Roger Green. But unlike those posts, this series isn’t just the weird and wonderful and interesting, it’s also (especially) important stuff I otherwise wouldn’t share or comment on, though I do share such things to the AmeriNZ Facebook Page, including some of the things in this edition of my Political Notebook.

Here we go:

The Good news

Every campaign has good news, and the end of last week brought two very good news stories: A Federal judge in Wisconsin struck down Republican’s voter suppression laws that limited in-person absentee voting to one location, limited early voting hours and eliminated weekend voting. The judge ruled that Republican’s voter suppression law was unconstitutional, and "intentionally discriminates on the basis of race," which was obviously the intent.

The same day, a three-judge panel in Federal court struck down North Carolina’s voter suppression law as unconstitutional because of “the inextricable link between race and politics in North Carolina.” The judges felt that the law was specifically intended to keep black people from voting.

Why this matters: North Carolina is a swing state, and Wisconsin is a state poised to dump a Republican US Senator for a Democrat, a raise critical for returning the US Senate to Democratic control. Republican voter suppression laws, like those of Wisconsin and North Carolina, were designed to suppress the votes of minorities and others who typically vote for Democratic candidates. Removing those laws improves the chances of all Democratic candidates, including Hillary Clinton.

Bad news, part one: Despicable Donald

Over the coming weeks and months, there will be a LOT of stories about how truly awful Donald is. Just today I saw “Donald Trump says he's made 'a lot of sacrifices' in response to the father of a deceased Muslim US soldier” in which Jeremy Burke talks about how Donald thinks that “working hard”, so-called, is in some way exactly the same as Army Captain Humayun Khan giving his life in service to the USA, or that building what he thinks are “great structures” is some sort of sacrifice just like that suffer by Humayun’ father, Khizr Khan, losing a son in war. As if that weren’t awful enough, Donald went on to make racist and sexist remarks about Khizr Khan’s wife, Ghazala. This all prompted Vox’s Ezra Klein to say, “Donald Trump’s slander of Captain Humayun Khan’s family is horrifying, even for Trump”, leading Ezra to—rightly—say:
This is not a question that needs to be asked in most elections, but it needs to be asked in this one: what kind of person is Donald Trump? What kind of person says these things? And is that really the kind of person we want to be president?
Bad News, part two: Donald lies about the NFL

Donald is looking for an excuse to avoid the presidential debates because he knows he’d lose all three. So, he started lying about them. Of course.

Trump Tweeted (of course) on Friday (US time): “As usual, Hillary & the Dems are trying to rig the debates so 2 are up against major NFL games. Same as last time w/ Bernie. Unacceptable!” The next day, Donald told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that “I got a letter from the NFL saying, ‘This is ridiculous.'” Problem is, Donald was lying. Of course.

CNN’s Brian Stelter asked the NFL about this: “Top @NFL spokesman tells me: ‘While we'd obviously wish the debate commission could find another night, we did not send a letter to Trump.’" Worse, the Democrats would need a time machine to “rig” the debates: The bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates set the schedule in September 2015, so without that time machine Donald’s bombast isn’t just wrong, it’s downright loony.

Why this matters: First and foremost, Donald’s obviously looking for an excuse to avoid the debates, just as he did in the primaries. Second, of the two debates on NFL game nights, the second, on Oct. 9, as The Washington Post pointed out (in the linked article above), “pits the Giants at the Green Bay Packers”. Hillary will carry the Giants’ home state of New Jersey, but Wisconsin is a battleground state this year that Donald MUST win. But, there may not much overlap in audiences, so the thing that matters most is Donald’s attempt to get out of showing up for the debates.

Pence’s senses

Mike Pence, the far-right Republican Governor of Indiana who agreed to be Donald’s vice presidential candidate, has been hitting the campaign trail. He’s been acting as what the Los Angeles Times called, “the anti-Trump”, but that doesn’t mean he’s nicer or better, just that he was “brought aboard the Republican ticket to employ his steady demeanor and conservative bona fides to reassure hard-right voters who remain wary of Trump.”

The paper reported he told a crowd that he’s “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order”. This is nothing new, with Mike having proven his religious extremism in Indiana, but he’s predicted that Roe v. Wade would be overturned if Donald is elected president, making all abortions illegal (it’s unclear whether Mike agrees with Donald that women who get abortions, for whatever reason, should be sent to prison).

Mike seemed to have lost his senses when he declared, "I don't think name calling has any place in public life, and I thought that was unfortunate that the president of the United States would use a term like [demagogue]." Two things, first the most obvious: If Mike was sincere, then he’d never have agreed to run on the same ticket as the man running to be Name-Caller in Chief. Second, President Obama did NOT directly call Donald a demagogue. Is Mike being thin-skinned on Donald’s behalf now, too?

Why this matters: Mike is attempting to get rightwing Christians on board to support the T.P. Ticket. Such religious voters don’t trust Donald, who they think is faking religious conviction. But if Donald were elected president and was later removed from office or quit when he got bored, then extreme religionist Mike Pence would become president (this is putting aside whether Donald really would make Mike the de facto president and himself a virtual king). However, while Mike is shoring up rightwing religious support, he’ll also scare moderate and non-religious voters, and that may help motivate more of them to vote Democratic. In the weeks ahead it’ll become clearer whether having a religious extremist on the T.P. Ticket helps or hurts them.
• • •
That’s it for this Notebook. I have no idea how often I’ll do these posts—more during election campaigns, obviously, but beyond that, well, let’s see how it goes. Actually, I don’t even know how often I’ll do them during election campaigns. But there certainly won’t be any shortage of things to share.

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