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Nov. 16 2017 3:27 PM

House Republicans Easily Pass Their Tax Reform Bill

House Republicans easily passed their mammoth tax reform bill Thursday afternoon, by a vote of 227 to 205, with just 13 Republicans joining every Democrat to vote against it. Both the vote and the build-up were about as drama-free as it gets.

During votes on Wednesday afternoon, the House whips seemed less to be pressuring members than just checking in on them to make sure the math was airtight. It was, and then some. By the time floor debate was wrapping up on Thursday afternoon, the whips were in their chairs, taking a rest.

Republicans managed to get ten more members to vote for this proposal than they did their squeaker of a budget, which was controversial because it set up this particular bill. As with the budget vote, the highest concentration of nays came from New York and New Jersey Republicans, whose constituents could be hit hard by the repeal of the state and local income tax deduction and the lowered cap on mortgage interest deductibility. Four out of five New Jersey Republicans, including Appropriations Committee Chair Rodney Frelinghuysen, voted against the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, as did five out of nine New York Republicans. As New York Rep. Tom Reed, a Ways and Means Committee member who voted for the bill, told me Wednesday, the further members were from high-cost New York City, the more likely they were to vote for the bill. (That did not apply, however, to Rep. Elise Stefanik, who represents the northernmost part of New York state and voted against the bill.)

Most of California's Republican delegation, whose constituents could be hit even harder than New York, which already has a type of property tax cap, voted in favor the bill. But the 14-member group didn't provide the unanimous support that leaders enjoyed on the budget vote. Rep. Darrell Issa, who represents a pricey coastal district in Southern California, voted against it. He had told reporters on Wednesday that he expected two to three other California Republicans to join him, but wouldn’t name them. We found out during the vote: Reps. Tom McClintock and Dana Rohrabacher also voted no.

Rohrabacher, who represents Orange County, said he made his decision five or six hours before the vote. He shared what is surely one of many sob stories afflicting coastal upper-middle class suburban families viewing this tax package.

“Some guy called up who I know, who is a Republican, he said, ‘look, we’re hanging on to my house, we have a million-dollar home, but the equity in the home is it,” according to Rohrabacher. The unnamed guy calculated that his taxes would go up $8,000 under the bill, and told Rohrabacher that he’d have to take his son out of private school.

“Okay, I’m not gonna do that,” Rohrabacher decided.

But aside from these New York, New Jersey, and California members, and conservative North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones’ standard vote against everything, Republican leaders swept the rest. The Illinois members representing the Chicago suburbs and exurbs all voted for it. All of the Pennsylvanians, several of whom are quite moderate, voted for it. Most mysteriously, Rep. Barbara Comstock, representing the Northern Virginia suburbs that voted overwhelmingly against the GOP in last week’s state elections, voted for it. 

As usual, the Senate will face more problems trying to pass its version of the bill, and then the two bills will need to be blended together in conference. That could still get thorny. But judging from today’s House vote, tax reform might not be the end-all, be-all war that was expected of such an ambitious project.

Nov. 16 2017 1:43 PM

How Democrats Are Responding to the Franken Assault Allegation

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer abruptly canceled an afternoon press conference on Thursday morning, as the Democratic conference was rattled by allegations that one of their own, Sen. Al Franken, had kissed and groped a woman without her consent.

TV and radio host Leeann Tweeden wrote that Franken "aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth" while they rehearsed for a USO skit in 2006, and she included a photograph that appeared to show Franken groping her as she slept. Franken apologized in two statements on Thursday, but Republicans quickly seized on the allegations, calling on Democrats across the country to return donations from Franken.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for an Ethics Committee investigation—a call that was soon joined by Schumer and a number of Franken's fellow Democrats.

“Sexual harassment is never acceptable and must not be tolerated," Schumer said in a brief statement. “I hope and expect that the Ethics Committee will fully investigate this troubling incident, as they should with any credible allegation of sexual harassment.”

Even before Schumer’s statement, members of the Ethics Committee were declining to comment on the allegations, on the possibility that the matter might come before them. Other members of the Democratic conference said they owed it to Franken to hear from him about the allegations. Franken himself endorsed an ethics investigation in a statement.

Here’s a rundown of what’s been said so far:

Sen. Richard Blumenthal: “Sexual harassment and groping are never OK, they’re never funny. And Senator Franken will have to address the allegations.”

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen: “I’m a member of the ethics committee and so I can’t comment on it.”

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto: “I’m just learning about it, very sad to hear about it.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy: “It’s something I didn’t expect from Sen. Franken, but I’ll let him speak to it.”

Sen. Tom Carper: “I think I should go vote. I don’t like to miss votes, and there’s one that’s going on right now. I’m on my way to vote.”

Sen. Maggie Hassan: “Any allegation like the ones against Sen. Franken are very, very serious, we should take them seriously.”

Sen. Chris Coons: [said in response to several questions] “As a member of the Ethics Committee I cannot comment on any matter that has come before the committee, may come before the committee, or on the decision-making process of the Ethics Committee.”

Sen. Tim Kaine: “Well, the behavior’s unacceptable. And it sounds from his own statement that he’s not denying it.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein: “Well, I don’t know anything about it, I’ve just heard. And I’ve learned, don’t comment before you know what you’re commenting about.”

Sen. Joe Manchin: “Well, I’m sure he’ll be talking to us at the caucus...I just want to hear from Al. I just want to hear Al’s explanation. We owe that to Al.”

Sen. Claire McCaskill: “I’m shocked and concerned. The behavior described is completely unacceptable. Comedy is no excuse for inappropriate conduct, and I believe there should be an ethics investigation.”

Sen. Gary Peters: “Well, what I’ve seen so far is disturbing. But I haven’t really had a chance to read the article… but certainly on the surface, it’s disturbing.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar: This should not have happened to Leeann Tweeden. I strongly condemn this behavior and the Senate Ethics Committee must open an investigation. This is another example of why we need to change work environments and reporting practices across the nation, including Congress.

Sen. Dick Durbin: “There is never an excuse for this behavior—ever. What Senator Franken did was wrong, and it should be referred to the Ethics Committee for review.”

Sen. Patty Murray
: “This is unacceptable behavior and extremely disappointing. I am glad Al came out and apologized, but that doesn’t reverse what he’s done or end the matter. I support an ethics committee investigation into these accusations and I hope this latest example of the deep problems on this front spurs continued action to address it.”

Sen. Kamala Harris: “Sexual harassment, misconduct, should not be allowed by anyone and it should not occur anywhere against anyone.”

Update November 16, 2017 4:15 P.M.: More responses as reported by the Washington Post:

Sen. Joe Donnelly: “I agree with Senator McConnell that the Ethics Committee should review this matter,” he said. Donnelly is up for reelection next year in a state that voted for Trump. One of his Republican opponents has called on Donnelly to return money that Franken raised for his reelection campaign. “What Senator Franken did is wrong and regardless of political party, sexual harassment and sexual abuse are unacceptable."

Sen. Angus King (I): "Sen. Franken has acknowledged it, I believe. I don’t really want to comment on it.”

Sen. Debbie Stabenow: “Certainly it’s serious."

Sen. Ben Cardin: “I have not seen [the photo]. I’m going to take a look at it.”

Sen. Tammy Duckworth: [on an ethics investigation] “I think that’s certainly something we should be considering, yes."

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chair Chris Van Hollen has said that the committee is reviewing Franken's status as a fundraiser and whether to return money he's raised.

Nov. 16 2017 1:15 PM

The Zimbabwean Military Says This Isn’t a Coup. It’s a Coup.

It appears to be time for another round of a not-so-fun game: coup or not coup?

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who was placed under house arrest by the military on Wednesday, is reportedly refusing to give up power over the country he has ruled for 37 years. Mugabe held talks on Thursday with South African envoys. A Catholic priest has also reportedly been mediating between the president and the military commanders who pushed him out. The crisis was sparked by Mugabe’s firing last week of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who has close ties to the military and is part of a faction of veterans of the 1970s guerilla war against white minority rule. The move was widely seen as an attempt to clear a path to power for Mugabe’s controversial wife, Grace, who is supported by many younger members of the ruling Zanu-PF party. The military is clearing hoping to install Mnangagwa in power, with Mugabe either resigning or remaining as a figurehead until a scheduled party congress in December.

Morgan Tsvangirai, the country’s most prominent opposition leader and former prime minister, has also returned from abroad where he was receiving medical treatment, and called on Mugabe to resign.

All of this is very awkward for other African governments. Under ideal circumstances, regional leaders, including South Africa, would probably prefer Mnangagwa. He’s anything but a reliable democrat—as Todd Moss and Jeffrey Smith note “He was the chief architect of a massacre of some 20,000 civilians in the 1980s, an episode known as Gukurahundi” and “is also implicated in billions of dollars in missing diamond revenues”. In an interview with Slate’s Isaac Chotiner, author Peter Godwin describes him as a “powerful and evil man, and as power-hungry as Mugabe is.”

But he is also, at the very least, a political veteran and known quantity who might conceivably work to repair Zimbabwe’s devastated economy and moribund political institutions. This would be preferable to Mugabe clinging to power until he dies, possibly succeeded by Grace. But military coups are also not something these leaders, keeping a wary eye on their own militaries, want to encourage.

The Southern African Development Community, a regional bloc currently chaired by South African President Jacob Zuma, met in Zimbabwe on Thursday and called on the army to avoid any “unconstitutional” change in government. SADC has traditionally had little tolerance for coups. It even organized a military intervention led by mainly South African troops to put one down in Lesotho in 1998.

The African Union also put out a statement affirming its “full support to the country's legal institutions.” The current AU leader, Guinean President Alpha Condé, said that Mugabe’s detention “seems like a coup” and demanded a return to constitutional order. (This is a little rich coming from Condé, whose own rise was facilitated by a military coup in 2008.)

The U.S. government, which has targeted sanctions against Mugabe and his wife, said it was “deeply concerned by recent actions undertaken by Zimbabwean military forces” but avoided using the word “coup.” This is to be expected: U.S. law prevents any financial assistance to "any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by decree or military coup."

The international community’s aversion to coups is likely a big reason why the Zimbabwean military has denied that it is taking power, and claims that it is targeting the “criminals” around Mugabe, rather than the leader itself.

So how should we think about all of this? Zimbabwe’s coup—and that’s what it is, even if no one wants to call it that—presents a quandary. Zimbabwe’s political order under Mugabe was anything but democratic: He ruled through violence and intimidation and it was unlikely that he was ever going to give up power through a peaceful democratic process. On the other hand, existing norms against coups exist for good reasons: coups often lead to more authoritarian governments (a very real possibility with a figure like Mnangagwa at the helm, backed by the military) or the kind of “coup traps” of recurring military interventions that have plagued countries like Thailand and Turkey. It would be easier for everyone if Mugabe simply shuffled off into ignominious exile, leaving his country to clean up his mess. But Mugabe was never one to make things easy.

Nov. 16 2017 9:29 AM

Trump Nominee Brett Talley Appears to Support 20-Year-Old Woman Having Sex with 14-Year-Old Boy

BuzzFeed first reported earlier this week that 36-year-old Brett Talley, Donald Trump’s nominee for a federal district judgeship in Alabama, appears to have written 16,381 posts on the message board TideFans.com under the username BamainBoston. (BuzzFeed was able to identify him because BamainBoston linked to a profile of Talley under the subject line “Washington Post Did a Feature on Me.”) BamainBoston posted on that site more than 3½ times per day for more than 12 years. Among the subjects that interested him: Alabama football, “the first KKK,” Roe v. Wade, and sex between a babysitter and a 14-year-old.

On Sept. 13, 2011, a user with the handle rizolltizide posted a link to a Daily Mail story headlined, “Nanny Diaries: Confiscated Journals Reveal 20-year-old Babysitter's Love for Boy, 14, and ‘Amazing’ Sex.” That user’s take on the article: “Don’t lie. You’d hit it, too.” Other users chimed in with “I’d be telling my parents to go out everynight” and “I would do that and pay for the sitter.” BamainBoston’s contribution came in the form of a three-word post: “Why not me!”

Nov. 15 2017 9:13 PM

A High School Senior Wouldn’t Give Roy Moore Her Number So She Says He Called Her at School

A new wave of accusations were leveled at Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore Wednesday, including two by women who said Moore made unwanted advances on them while they were working in the Gadsden mall, where the thirtysomething Moore was notorious for cruising to meet high school girls. Gena Richardson, now 58 years old, says she was a high school senior working in the men’s department of Sears at the mall when Moore first approached her in the fall of 1977 to introduce himself.

Moore, she says, asked where she went to school before asking for her phone number. Richardson declined to give it to him, telling Moore that her dad was a Southern Baptist preacher, and wouldn’t allow them to date. Moore was a 30-year-old lawyer working in his hometown of Gadsden at the time. A few days after their first encounter, Moore called Richardson’s school to try and ask her out again. From the Post:

A few days later, she says, she was in trigonometry class at Gadsden High when she was summoned to the principal’s office over the intercom in her classroom. She had a phone call. “I said ‘Hello?’” Richardson recalls. “And the male on the other line said, ‘Gena, this is Roy Moore.’ I was like, ‘What?!’ He said, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, ‘I’m in trig class.’ ”
Richardson says Moore asked her out again on the call. A few days later, after he asked her out at Sears, she relented and agreed, feeling both nervous and flattered. They met that night at a movie theater in the mall after she got off work, a date that ended with Moore driving her to her car in a dark parking lot behind Sears and giving her what she called an unwanted, “forceful” kiss that left her scared.

Moore’s pursuit of Richardson at the Gadsden mall wasn’t unique, according to the Post’s reporting. Eventually, Richardson would hide when Moore came into the store, and the manager at the store would tell new hires to “watch out for” Moore. Kayla McLaughlin, a classmate and co-worker of Richardson’s, corroborated her story to the Post.

Nov. 15 2017 8:03 PM

Today in Conservative Media: It’s Too Late to Say Sorry About Bill Clinton

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A daily roundup of the biggest stories in right-wing media.

On Wednesday, conservatives scoffed at the wave of liberal journalists reappraising the sexual misconduct allegations against Bill Clinton, including a column by Michelle Goldberg in the New York Times titled “I Believe Juanita” and another piece by Matthew Yglesias in Vox arguing that Clinton should’ve resigned for the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Hot Air’s Allahpundit doesn’t buy Democratic contrition.

I’ve reached my fill after just two pieces, that Michelle Goldberg piece that Ed wrote about yesterday and now this new one from Matt Yglesias at Vox. I don’t deny that part of the impulse behind them is virtuous. If left and right together can inculcate an ethic against men abusing their power over women at work by making an example of their own worst offenders, better late than never. If nothing else, the “we should have been tougher on Bill” pieces can be cited later to invoke zero tolerance the next time a powerful Democrat is accused of sexual misconduct. Because there will be a next time, just as there’ll be a next time for powerful Republicans.
But the stench of opportunism is so thick, it’s suffocating. Only now, 20 years later, with the Clintons at the nadir of their political influence and a storm of sexual misconduct allegations in the media raging against left- and right-wingers alike to provide cover — only now is it safe to say, “Yeah, in hindsight, that wasn’t very woke of us”? Democrats had an opportunity just 18 months ago to reckon with Bill’s behavior and Hillary’s enabling of it by denying her their party’s nomination and they punted again.

“They didn’t just realize Clinton was a bad guy,” RedState’s Jim Jamitis wrote. “They just made a political calculation that told them admitting it now is a net gain for them. This wasn’t behavior that they had mistakenly overlooked. They actively participated in covering for Clinton and deliberately portrayed him as a mischievous rogue rather than a serial sexual predator, all for the sake of a partisan politics.” National Review’s Jim Geraghty also assessed the Clinton reevaluations, as well as an upcoming film about Ted Kennedy’s Chappaquidick scandal. “Was Bill Clinton a role model for how men can indulge their worst impulses and get away with it?” he asked. “Since the 1990s, how many men in powerful positions have seen Bill Clinton in that light? After all, all sorts of powerful people — from prominent feminists to powerful lawyers to the leaders of Clinton’s party — came to the consensus that the whole Lewinsky mess was a “private matter.” Perhaps the affair with her was — although Americans are right to expect better from a president — but the claims of Jones, Willey, and Broaddrick were not private matters in the slightest.”

The Federalist’s Daniel Payne wrote that Democrats shouldn’t stop at reckoning with the accusations against Clinton. “A ‘reckoning’ of the accusations against Bill Clinton must thus also function as a reckoning of the last couple of decades of Democratic politics, a politics that has featured Bill Clinton as an ancillary yet still near-permanent fixture,” he argued. “To reckon with all of this means to reckon with the Democratic party in toto—its political instincts, its morals, and its public credibility and future viability. The Left predictably isn’t very keen to do that. So we get what we’ve witnessed in the past week: liberals feigning a kind of come-to-Jesus public confessional over Bill Clinton while ultimately just complaining about conservatives.”

In other news:

Several outlets ran posts about Democrats in the House introducing articles of impeachment against President Trump. The Daily Caller’s Robert Donachie concluded his piece by noting that Republicans were focused on tax reform, but otherwise provided a straightforward report of the charges: 

The congressmen list a number of charges against the president, including: obstruction of justice, a violation of the Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause, a violation of the Constitution’s domestic emoluments clause, undermining the federal judiciary process and undermining the press.
The articles focus primarily on Trump’s handing of the termination of former FBI Director James Comey, and potential conflicts of interest with Trump’s businesses and properties while he’s served as president.

Hot Air’s John Sexton took issue with one of Rep. Steve Cohen’s arguments for impeachment:

Given his concern for the freedom of the press, it’s interesting that when discussing his motives for filing these articles, Rep. Cohen blamed Trump for allowing neo-Nazis to march in Charlottesville. “I called [Nancy Pelosi] immediately after Charlottesville and I said ‘I know you’re not for this but I can’t stand by when he allows Klansman and neo-Nazis to demonstrate as they did and say … blood … Jews will not take our jobs, have tiki torches’ I said ‘I can’t do this.’ ”
The same First Amendment that protects the free press also guarantees the right of free speech and free assembly. Trump can be faulted for saying there were “fine people” marching with the neo-Nazis (and I disagreed with that when he said it) but he didn’t “allow” them to march. In fact, it would have been unconstitutional for him to attempt to disallow them. Despicable as they are, these groups have a right to march and to speak, a right that even the ACLU recognized at the time (though they also got a lot of blowback for taking a principled stance).

Nov. 15 2017 8:00 PM

Fox News Twist: Sean Hannity Was Lying About His 24-Hour Roy Moore Deadline

Update, 10:15 p.m.: Sean Hannity spent more than one hour building up to his announcement on whether or not he believed Roy Moore's defense against more than a handful of allegations of sexual misconduct towards then-teenagers.

The Fox News host ultimatey did not call on Moore to withdraw from the Alabama Senate race, but did not declare one way or the other whether or not he believed Moore's defense. Before announcing his decision, Hannity read in its entirety an open letter Moore had written to Hannity denying the sexual misconduct charges.

He then declared that the people of Alabama needed more time to get at the facts and that national media—himself included—should not determine the outcome of the race. So: It was a bluff! Roy Moore had more than 24 hours to "remove any doubt" of his innocence from Sean Hannity's mind after all. How much time does he have?

Hannity, ultimately, suggested that Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey postpone next month's election. Apparently, a full month is also not enough time for Hannity, and upending a Democratic election is the only satisfactory next step. How much time would be enough time for Hannity? No new deadline was set on Wednesday.

Update, 8 p.m.: One hour!

Update, 7 p.m.: Two hours!

Update, 6 p.m.: Three hours!

Update, 5 p.m.: Four hours!

Update, 4 p.m.: Five hours!

Update, 3 p.m.: Six hours!

Update, 2 p.m.: Seven hours!

Update, 1 p.m.: Eight hours!

Original post, 12 p.m.: On Tuesday night at 9:59 p.m., Fox News host Sean Hannity issued an ultimatum to Alabama Senate candidate and credibly accused sex creep Roy Moore:

For me, the judge has 24 hours. He must immediately and fully come up with a satisfactory explanation for your inconsistencies that I just showed. You must remove any doubt. If you can’t do this, then Judge Moore needs to get out of this race.

(The switches between third and second person are verbatim. You can click here to read my Slate colleague William Saletan’s catalog of the inconsistencies between Moore’s denials—one of which was issued in a wobbly appearance on Hannity’s radio show—and the mountain of public evidence against him.)

Assuming Hannity meant "24 hours" in the sense of “before Wednesday night’s show,” Moore has until 9 p.m. EST to win over the host. Hannity is one of Moore’s last remaining allies on the national scene—the Republican National Committee has pulled his funding, and per a report from the Daily Beast even Steve Bannon and the #MAGA dead-enders at Breitbart are considering abandoning him:

Late last week, the Breitbart chairman said, “I will put him in a grave myself,” if he determines that Moore was lying to him about the numerous accusations, a source close to Bannon relayed.

Nine hours!

Nov. 15 2017 7:25 PM

Two More Women Come Forward to Accuse Roy Moore of Misconduct

Another two women came forward Wednesday with personal stories detailing misconduct by Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. The story published on AL.com comes a day after a lawyer for Moore and his wife served the local Alabama news outlet with a threatening legal notice warning it to abandon its reporting on the former chief justice of the state Supreme Court. The notice was likely an attempt to intimidate the news outlet. It did not appear to work.

Kelly Harrison Thorp described meeting Moore in 1982 when she was working at the Red Lobster in Moore’s hometown of Gadsden, Alabama. Moore was in his early thirties at the time and the deputy district attorney for the county. Thorp was a 17-year-old high school senior. Moore came into the Gadsden Red Lobster one day when Thorp was working and she recognized the man who, as a war veteran and lawyer, cut a powerful figure over the small town in northern Alabama.

Thorp says Moore asked her out on a date. "I just kind of said, 'Do you know how old I am?'" Thorp told AL.com. "And he said, 'Yeah. I go out with girls your age all the time.'" Thorp says she rebuffed Moore, telling him she had a boyfriend before walking away.

Tina Johnson, on the other hand, was not a teenager when she encountered Moore at his local law office in 1991. At 28 years old, Johnson was dealing with the fallout of a broken marriage headed for divorce while raising three kids. Without a job, Johnson was at Moore’s office to sign over custody of her 12-year-old son to the boy’s grandmother, her mother, with whom he had been living. Johnson’s mother had hired Moore, then a lawyer and married, to help with the custody petition. From AL.com:

Almost from the moment she walked in to Moore's office, Johnson said, Moore began flirting with her. "He kept commenting on my looks, telling me how pretty I was, how nice I looked," recalled Johnson. "He was saying that my eyes were beautiful." It made her uncomfortable. "I was thinking, can we hurry up and get out of here?"
At one point during the meeting, she said, Moore came around the desk and sat on the front of it, just inches from her. He was so close, she said, she could smell his breath. According to Johnson, he asked questions about her young daughters, including what color eyes they had and if they were as pretty as she was. She said that made her feel uncomfortable, too.
Once the papers were signed, she and her mother got up to leave. After her mother walked through the door first, she said, Moore came up behind her. It was at that point, she recalled, he grabbed her buttocks. "He didn't pinch it; he grabbed it," said Johnson. She was so surprised she didn't say anything. She didn't tell her mother.

Both women say they told family members after the incidents, although Johnson said she didn’t tell her sister until years after the event. Thorp said she didn’t make public her experience earlier because she didn’t feel like she’d be believed, particularly as Moore ascended to the pinnacle of legal power in the state. Johnson, who is now handicapped, said she came forward out of a sense of solidarity with the other women, a sense of moral outrage, and something else. "It's because somebody asked," she said. "If anybody had asked, we would have told it. No one asked."

Nov. 15 2017 6:08 PM

Trump Judicial Nominee Brett Talley Appears to Have Called Roe v. Wade “Indefensible”

Brett Talley, Donald Trump’s controversial 36-year-old judicial nominee, appears to have written prolifically on the University of Alabama fan message board TideFans.com. As BuzzFeed has reported, Talley likely wrote 16,381 posts under the username BamainBoston, many of which involve politics and law. Earlier, I highlighted a post in which BamainBoston defended “the first KKK.” In another post, BamainBoston wrote that both Roe v. Wade and Miranda v. Arizona, two pillars of modern constitutional law, are “indefensible.”

BamainBoston expressed this view in December 2011, in response to Newt Gingrich’s claim that the president should send federal law enforcement officers to arrest judges who issue contentious decisions. According to Gingrich, these judges should be forced to defend their rulings before Congress. To his credit, BamainBoston firmly rejected this proposal. But in doing so, he noted that a “very few” decisions “are indefensible when it comes to an interpretation of the Constitution.”

“Roe v. Wade and Miranda are probably the worst offenders,” BamainBoston continued, “but that court is long gone, thank God.” (Roe protects abortion access; Miranda requires police officers to inform suspects of their right to remain silent and be provided an attorney.) BamainBoston elaborated that “the ideal of separation of powers goes even beyond those cases. Better to have bad law than have judges who make decisions based not on their interpretation of the Constitution but rather on fear that they will be hauled before Congress and threatened with impeachment if they do the unpopular thing or go against the government.”

In case anyone doubted his expertise, BamainBoston added: “Now, the simple fact of the matter is I do have inside information. I have worked for judges and I have worked for the Department of Justice. In my mind, those are good things that I bring to the board.” In December 2011, Talley was clerking for Judge Joel Dubina of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. According to the questionnaire Talley recently filled out for the Senate Judiciary Committee, he worked for the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Policy in 2005 and 2006, while he was a student at Harvard Law School.

Nov. 15 2017 5:15 PM

Prominent Conservative Group Seems to Suggest People Named “Weinstein” Are Predisposed to Greed, Thievery

Turning Point USA is an advocacy group founded by a 24-year-old named Charlie Kirk; its raison d'etre is presenting conservative ideas in a millennial-friendly format. On Wednesday, after a writer named Adam Weinstein criticized/mocked one of its pro-capitalism memes, the group’s Twitter account responded by suggesting that people named “Weinstein” like to put their hands in other peoples’ pockets, if you get their drift:

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Screen shot/Twitter

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Screen shot/Twitter

Turning Point subsequently deleted the tweet and apologized to Weinstein, making the claim that its joke—which was about putting one’s hand in someone else’s pocket in the context of a tweet about money and “grift”—was not a play on anti-Semitic stereotypes about greed but in fact a reference to Harvey Weinstein.

Hmm. Could be that. Or it could be that, for some reason, right-wing groups currently feel emboldened to use crudely bigoted rhetoric in a way they wouldn’t have a few years ago. One or the other!

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