Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Republican Chickens Come Home to Roost

Ayn Rand: Goddess of the Republican "Establishment"


George Wallace: Donald Trump's spiritual ancestor.

March 3, 2016

It’s time someone explained what commentators mean by the Republican “Establishment.” Here’s my answer.

Since the 1960s, the Republican party has had two very distinct constituencies:

1) The Ayn Rand Republicans. These are the red-baiting laissez-faire country-club capitalists: Goldwater, Nixon, Reagan, the Koch brothers, Romney. They are mostly well-to-do—upper middle-class and richer. Many are professionals. Many own businesses. They love their money. They hate Commies. They are still fighting the Cold War. They see blue-collar workers as their water carriers, to be exploited. They have no respect for the very workers they are exploiting. (See how the Kochs use the Tea Party.) They embrace the status quo and fight like hell to combat change, especially if it threatens their bottom line.

2) The George Wallace Republicans. These are less-educated, white, working-class, racially embittered folks. Since the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Republicans have actively, and successfully, courted them, mosty, but not only, in the South. They believe “their” country is being taken over by people with whom they do not share skin color, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. They hate even the idea of foreigners entering the country. Many would prefer to see a return to an earlier era when blacks “knew their place,” when Jews and atheists were rarities, when “gay” meant “gleeful,” when women stayed at home to raise the kids, and when no one knew the difference between an Iraqi Sunni and an Oklahoma Sooner.

When people discuss the Republican “establishment,” they are talking, pure and simple, about the Ayn Rand Republicans. For years, this “establishment" has won elections by exploiting the fears of the George Wallace Republicans. Now the chickens have come home to roost: Donald Trump is leading the George Wallace Republicans against the Ayn Rand Republicans, and the latter ("The Establishment") are terrified that they are losing control of the ignorant masses whose votes they have bought so cheaply for years. You could see the fear in Mitt Romney's eyes this morning when he attacked Trump. What he was imagining was the Great Unwashed storming his limousine.

(Note: For those who are not familiar with Ayn Rand, you can read my take here.)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Court—and the Country—After Scalia

Justice Antonin Scalia (1936-2016)

Antonin Scalia has died. I disagreed with almost every decision Justice Scalia ever made on the Supreme Court, I objected to the kinds of inflammatory language he used in his decisions, and I found his originalist Constitutional philosophy absurd. But Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, other court members, and almost everyone else liked him a lot as a private person, and that’s good enough for me to feel bad that he has died and to admire his life. I am glad, however, that the Court has one less ultraconservative justice.

I have said all along that the most important issue for me in the coming Presidential campaign is who will replace the elderly and/or ailing Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kennedy on the Supreme Court in the next few years. Now we have four justices who will soon be replaced. That’s going to determine the direction of the country for the next 20 or more years.  

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Justice Anthony Kennedy

Justice Stephen Breyer
The Republican Senate will do everything it can to prevent Obama’s nominating someone to replace Scalia. Such obstructionism is reprehensible, but inevitable. For precedent, the Republicans should look to February of 1988, also a presidential election year, when a Democrat-controlled Senate confirmed Justice Anthony Kennedy, who had been nominated by Ronald Reagan. Unlike those Democrats, the Republicans of today will, as usual, simply say no.

If a Republican becomes president next year, it is likely we will soon have seven strict conservatives on the Supreme Court. If a Democrat is elected, it is likely we will have six moderates/liberals on the court. 

Any Republican-nominated Supreme Court justices will oppose women's choice, affirmative action, worker protections, consumer protections, corporate regulation, financial regulation, election-spending limits, LGBT rights, defendant rights, immigrant rights, the teaching of evolution, climate-change laws, other environmental regulations, science-based policies, and even the mildest gun-control laws. They will support the death penalty, evangelism in government and the schools, the teaching of creationism, and NSA/CIA spying on citizens. In other words, Republican justices will help us become the nation that Ted Cruz craves—a nation I would leave.
For us liberals, that means it is more important than ever that Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders be elected. 

Judge Sri Srinivasan
It’s most likely that Obama, hoping against hope that the Republicans act ethically, will nominate Sri Srinivasan for the Supreme Court vacancy left by Scalia. Here’s Srinivasan’s bio: . Note, especially, that he has argued more than 25 cases before the Supreme Court and was clerk for a moderate Republican-appointed justice, Sandra Day O’Connor. The Senate unanimously approved his appointment to the D.C. court of appeals just three years ago. It would be difficult for the Republicans to say now that he is not qualified. He’s only 48 years old, so he could have 30 or more years on the court. The fact that he was born in India and is brown-skinned should make him even more attractive—except to the Tea Party.

Judge Richard Posner
If Obama wants to put even more pressure on the Republicans, he might want to nominate Richard Posner, a judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Posner ( has a long history as a conservative, having always tended to emphasize the economic consequences of judicial positions, and is more or less pro-business. But he has also supported abortion rights and gay marriage. He is probably the most literate and scholarly of all the judges at any level in the U.S.; he has written scores of books, on a wide range of subjects. 

Posner may be the smartest and best-read judge in the world. I know him through the book Law and Literature, which I used in a "Literature and the Law" class I taught at Virginia Tech. It’s a fascinating book that taught me much about works I thought I knew well, like The Merchant of Venice, Camus' The Stranger, Kafka's The Trial, and Melville's Billy Budd. Posner's main appeal for Republicans, besides the fact that he is sort of conservative on economic issues, is that he is 77 years old, meaning that if he turns out to be too liberal for Republicans, at least they’ll know he won’t be around for long.

Will someone please send this suggestion on to President Obama?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


     Will Ted Cruz (above) go the way of Rick Santorum (near below) or George W. Bush (far below), who were also winners of the Iowa caucuses?                                           

For the record, I had predicted to my family last week that Ted Cruz would win 30% of the Iowa caucus vote, Donald Trump 20%, and Marco Rubio 15%. I wasn’t too far off with that prediction. I had also predicted that Jeb Bush would surprise everyone with 8-10% of the vote; I thought he had a decent ground game and would try harder there. I was way wrong about that. He never even put players in the field in Iowa.

I thought Bernie Sanders might edge out Hillary Clinton, but we all knew that would be close. (I thought it would depend on the weather: bad weather would be better for Hillary. It snowed.) Please note that as of today, Clinton has 384 delegates and Sanders only 29. That’s because Clinton has a large number of “super” delegates already committed to her.

The media is making far too much of Cruz’s win in Iowa. Remember that Mike Huckabee won Iowa in 2008 and Rick Santorum in 2012. Where did they go from there? Iowa Republicans love a Bible thumper—especially one whose father is a preacher willing to Bible-beat on the hustings, like Cruz's padre. That skews everything. But Cruz has a much better chance than Huckabee or Santorum. He's more Machiavellian and won’t fold as meekly as they did.

Last week, I was away from my computer, so I couldn’t get my Iowa predictions out here on my blog, but now that I’m home, I will hang my New Hampshire prognostications on the line for all to see:

Here’s my prediction for New Hampshire:

Trump 25%
Rubio 15%
Cruz 15%
Bush 12%
Kazich 12%
Christie 9%
The rest 12%

Sanders 58%
Clinton 42%


These results should bring Bush and the other governors—Kasich and Christie—back into the race, but they may not, because the media will make a big deal about Trump winning, Hillary losing, and Cruz doing not so well, which is all nonsense. Iowa and New Hampshire, like any other individual states, offer warped versions of the U.S. electorate and should not get so much attention.

Super Tuesday, March 1, should be good for Cruz, since Texas and many Bible-belt states are on the line that day. Cruz will have a good night, and many will crown him king, but March 15 may be the real Super Tuesday, with Florida, North Carolina, Illinois, and Ohio all holding delegate-rich primaries in more moderate-, less evangelical-Republican states. If one or more of the governors can hang on until then (which may be difficult, since the media will try to consign them to history after March 1), then one of them may rise toward the top. I would tell Jeb to hold on until March 16.

Hillary will win Super Tuesday and cruise from there.

Who knows, for the Republicans, the way things are going, even New York’s April 19 primary may be meaningful this year!

(Here’s a good link that shows how the primaries work: .)