In a presidential election year that has already been pretty eyebrow-raising, there is now speculation that Hillary Clinton might name Senator Al Franken as her running mate. Seeing as how I've already written an only-slightly-tongue-in-cheek article this year pondering a Trump ticket that included Jesse Ventura, I suppose the concept of Vice President Franken isn't all that outrageous when you get right down to it.
Archive of Articles for June, 2016
To begin with, Great Britain is part of Europe. This is a cartological fact which anyone with a grade-school grasp of geography knows. One is a subset of the other. Three countries (England, Wales, and Scotland) make up the island of Great Britain, and when you add in Northern Ireland (more on them in a moment), you get the United Kingdom. All are located on islands, but those islands are undoubtedly part of the continent of Europe. While Britain may leave the European Union political federation, they will always remain European.
George Orwell would be proud of Senate Republicans. Or maybe he wouldn't be "proud," but he certainly wouldn't be surprised. This is because he coined the word "doublethink," which is precisely what these Republicans are now revealing to the world. In fact, the Republican position is fast becoming "triplethink," an even more jaw-dropping feat of mental contortion.
Either Elizabeth Warren just made Hillary Clinton's vice-presidential choice a lot harder or a lot easier, depending on how you see her strategic decision-making process and how much chance you think a Clinton/Warren ticket has of becoming reality. Warren appeared onstage with Clinton today and the Massachusetts senator wowed the Ohio crowd, proving without a shadow of a doubt she is unquestionably the best "attack dog" the Democrats have against Donald Trump. But is this enough for Clinton to select Warren as running mate? Or, perhaps is it too much? In other words, is there a danger that Warren could actually upstage the presidential candidate? And even if Hillary knows Warren is the best anti-Trump weapon around, will Clinton's choice ultimately hinge on this criterion or not?
Donald Trump's name lends itself to all sorts of mashed-up words, but we find it doesn't really work with the big story of the week. British voters decided to take the so-called "Brexit" (or "British exit") from the European Union. But what should we call the increasing stream of Republicans flowing away from Trump's campaign? Truxit? Trexit? See, it just doesn't work all that well.
It is "major Supreme Court decision season" once again, and the high court just punted on a very big issue, issuing a split decision (4-4) that allowed the lower appellate court's decision to stand on President Obama's plan for immigration. This is bad news for Obama (since the lower court ruled against him, and he likely won't get another chance to act before he leaves office) and also bad news for the almost five million people affected, but it might wind up being a silver lining for Democrats this fall. The decision itself is a non-decision, merely stating "we are deadlocked on the issue," which only serves to draw attention to the vacancy on the court (and the Senate Republicans' refusal to act on Obama's nominee). The impact of the decision may just cement Latino support for Democrats tighter than even Donald Trump has already made it. And for non-Latino voters, the focus on the president's ability to name Supreme Court justices may also serve to benefit Hillary Clinton at the voting booth. Politically, the stakes are high, and this time more voters might take that into consideration when casting their ballot in November.
As I write this, a protest is occurring on the floor of the House of Representatives. Democrats, led by John Lewis, Jim Clyburn, Nancy Pelosi (and many others), are staging a "sit-in" to protest Republicans' refusal to even hold a vote on any gun control legislation. Their battle cry is "No vote, no break" -- a veiled threat to keep the protest going right into the next one of those too-frequent vacation weeks Congress regularly awards itself. Whether the protest is ultimately successful or not, it shows a renewed vigor in the Democratic Party to push back against the do-nothing party in the majority. This could bode well for their chances to retake control of both chambers of Congress this fall, in fact.
What is largely missing in this raging debate, however, is an issue I explored last week -- the constitutionality of government watchlists in the first place. I was convinced to revisit the issue after watching all the Sunday political chatfests on television, and reading a letter to my local paper today. What the letter-writer pointed out (and what all the talking heads almost universally missed) was that "freedom to travel" is also a constitutional right. The discussion so far on the gun control measures centers around the question of whether the government can explicitly deny a right written into the Constitution (in the Second Amendment) to people it has not offered the slightest bit of due process whatsoever. Indeed, this is almost the entirety of the Republican argument on the issue.
Donald Trump is clearly no Adolf Hitler. Trump does not preach Hitler's most hateful domestic policies, and Trump's foreign policy is not imperialist but isolationist. Trump's slogan, "American First," resembles "Deutschland über alles" ("Germany above all else") more in chauvinistic simplicity than evil intent. But it does underscore that Trump is, as Hitler was, a demagogue, appealing to voters' emotions and prejudices in order to win election.
Before we begin, we should mention that this week's talking points section consists of a few extended excerpts from President Obama's recent speech on fighting the Islamic State. What he had to say was important, and it counters several insidious talking points that have been used against him in the past, so we felt it was worth taking over this week's talking points. Just to warn everyone up front.