Supreme Court appointments are important, people

North Carolina’s Republican-held legislature clearly tried to discriminate against African-American voters when it passed what it laughingly called voting rights legislation back in 2013. The federal appeals court unanimously ruled that way, writing

“The record makes clear that the historical origin of the challenged provisions in this statute is not the innocuous back-and-forth of routine partisan struggle that the State suggests and that the district court accepted,” Judge Diana Motz wrote on behalf of Judges James Wynn and Henry Floyd. “Rather, the General Assembly enacted them in the immediate aftermath of unprecedented African American voter participation in a state with a troubled racial history and racially polarized voting. The district court clearly erred in ignoring or dismissing this historical background evidence, all of which supports a finding of discriminatory intent.”

The court’s opinion bluntly described the legislation as a clear effort to suppress the black vote.

“We cannot ignore the record evidence that, because of race, the legislature enacted one of the largest restrictions of the franchise in modern North Carolina history,” Motz added.

Despite that unanimous opinion, the state appealed to the US Supreme Court, and all four of the Republican-appointed justices found absolutely nothing wrong with what the state did. It was only by the grace of Justice Scalia’s death that the case was deadlocked 4-4 and thus reverted to the decision made by the Court of Appeals.

This shows just how important Presidential elections are and how important the winner’s appointments will be. If Secretary Clinton wins and the Democrats win the Senate she’ll be able to fill the dead Scalia’s seat with a justice who presumably believes that voting is an American right which accrues to all citizens, rather than one which really should (nudge nudge, wink wink) be assigned only to white people. If that view were to prevail, what would be next? Only property-holders can vote? All you apartment-livers, too bad?

Vote for Clinton-Kaine in November.

50th Reunion, really?

Actually for my class it will be the 48th, but what the heck.

I’m thinking of going to a class reunion to be held in the DC suburban town of Annandale next month. I’ve had lots of email contact with a fair number of my classmates thanks to my volunteering to be the photo curator of the group for a 60th birthday party they all held back in 2010 which I could not attend. It would be nice to see them in person.

Traveling is tricky, though. I really don’t want to fly and run from gate to gate for 15 hours to get from Honolulu to National Airport, so I’m trying to break the flights up into two parts. Fly to LA, see my cousin and stay overnight, then fly the next day to DC. Do the same thing on the way back: fly from DC to LA, crash at her house again and then fly to Hawai’i the following day. I tried to fiddle my way through the travel websites and got really annoyed with the date functions, so I may try to find one of the few remaining travel agents in town.

I hope this works. It would be fun to see some of those folks again.

Trust the press to dismiss this

I will admit it might have been foolhardy to keep campaigning as hard as she has, but no American politician is going to sit at home on September 11 and forego any appearance at a memorial observance for all the people killed on that day. Imagine the calumny that would be heaped upon his or her shoulders!

That is SO deplorable

Secretary Clinton said something in a speech last night which caused the professional pearl-clutchers in the media to gasp and caused the Republicans to feign offense, saying she’d called their voters a bad thing. Here’s the text; you decide.

You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?


The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America. But the other basket — and I know this because I see friends from all over America here — I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas — as well as, you know, New York and California — but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.

I don’t see any falsehoods in there. Trump has been endorsed by what’s called the alt-right, far-right white supremacists which include David Duke of the KKK, Rocky Suhayda of the American Nazi Party, and Don Black of Stormfront, a leading white nationalist website.

The other basket Clinton mentions isn’t offensive as the first group is; it’s made up of the people whose wages have been stagnant for several decades and those whose manufacturing jobs have vanished, replaced by jobs which pay far less and are likely not unionized as their previous jobs were. Those are the people who Bernie Sanders tried to address during his primary campaign.

The Complete Trio Collection

Today this 3-CD set is being released. It’s a re-release of the first two Trio albums Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt recorded in 1987 and 1999 and a third bonus disc with over twenty unreleased tracks and alternate takes from the first two recording sessions.

The initial album was released in March 1987. On the night of March 13, the three singers appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and performed three songs from the first album.

Here is the entire Tonight Show segment:

Trump, Bondi, $25K and the foregone lawsuit

One does wonder whether the $25K political contribution Trump made to Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi (through his charitable foundation) was a payoff for her decision not to join a lawsuit against the jerk millionaire candidate’s Trump University for defrauding Florida students.

The facts are pretty clear. If you’ve got a suspicious mind you’d say, as Peggy Noonan did in a different context, “Is it irresponsible to speculate? It is irresponsible not to.” That was the Elian Gonzalez affair which won her the nickname “Our Lady of the Magic Dolphins” because she so credulously believed that the poor Cuban kid was led to American shores by a pod of dolphins.

Mr. Reagan would not have dismissed the story of the dolphins as Christian kitsch, but seen it as possible evidence of the reasonable assumption that God’s creatures had been commanded to protect one of God’s children.

Anyway, questions some journalist should ask Trump:

  • Was that a bribe?
  • By taking the money shortly after refusing to prosecute, has Trump put Bondi in legal jeopardy?
  • If the man won, would this scandal follow him into the White House?
  • Are there any other pay-to-play events lying around in Trump’s past?
  • Since Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie both aspire to be AGs in a Trump Administration, could they be prevailed upon to quash these claims?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Matt Lauer should never be allowed to interview people in prime time

What part of national security do Secretary Clinton’s emails constitute, and what part of national security is letting Trump skate by asking him repeatedly if he thinks he’s qualified to be Commander in Chief?

Matt Lauer is no more a tough-minded journalist than my dog Abby is. NBC has half-a-dozen more qualified reporters who could have run that so-called forum tonight and done it better, from Richard Engel to Chuck Todd. Hell, they could have brought Tom Brokaw in to guest-host and he’d have done a better job.

Don’t take it from me alone. Here’s Jonathan Chait of NY Magazine. Here are other professional journalists on Twitter.