Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Last Call For Number One With White Supremacists

Gosh you guys, for some strange reason Trump keeps on racking up endorsements from white supremacist groups. It's really weird, because of course they tell me Trump can't possibly be racist, racism is over in America and the notion of a major party leading candidate getting endorsements from white supremacists groups would mean that racism is still with us.

That can't be, right?

William Daniel Johnson has a vision for America. The Los Angeles-based lawyer thinks that the United States will see the creation of a white ethno-state within his lifetime.

I think Trump’s candidacy is helping move us in that direction,” Johnson said in a Monday phone interview with TPM. “Whether he is elected or not, his candidacy is a big factor in helping destroy this middle-of-the-road Republican mindset.”

Johnson is the chairman of the American Freedom Party, a white nationalist political party, and the founder of a super PAC that plans to blanket early voting states with robocalls encouraging voters to turn out for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. As TPM reported Saturday, voters in Iowa got their first taste of the automated recordings—which heaped praise on Trump’s anti-immigrant views—from the American National Super PAC this weekend. It branded Trump its "Great White Hope" in a press release for the robocall campaign.
But, but Chief Justice Roberts promised me racism was a barbarous relic of America's past.

The AFP has its own candidate for the 2016 race: a minor Reagan administration appointee named Robert Whitaker, whose campaign slogan is “Diversity is the codeword for white genocide.”

But the party sees no conflict in endorsing Whitaker and Trump simultaneously.

Donald Trump’s campaign may help remind Americans that all genocide, even against white people, is evil," Whitaker notes in a statement on the AFP’s website. "My campaign is there to help keep the candidates on point regarding race in America.”

Johnson has assembled an all-star cast of white nationalists to assist him in spreading Trump’s message. The first round of robocalls featured Rev. Donald Tan, a Filipino-American minister, and Jared Taylor, founder of the white
supremacist magazine American Renaissance. Johnson told TPM that a number of additional Trump supporters would eventually lend their endorsements to the American Nationalist Super PAC's efforts.

Taylor also serves as the spokesman for the Council of Concerned Citizens, a white nationalist group Charleston shooter Dylann Roof credited with making him aware of the problem of “brutal black on White murders” in the U.S.

After Roof gunned down nine parishioners at a historically black church in June 2015, Taylor condemned the killings but defended the “legitimacy” of Roof’s grievances.

In a Monday phone interview with TPM, Taylor called Trump “the first candidate in many, many years to take positions that may in fact be beneficial to the white majority.”

Donald Trump, 2016. Not a white supremacist, just number one with white supremacists.

Look For The Union Label

All eyes will be on Justice Anthony Kennedy again this term as the only question after yesterday's oral arguments on public employee union dues before SCOTUS is whether or not he'll be the fifth vote to sink union agency fees.

In a closely watched case brought by 10 California teachers, the court’s conservative majority seemed ready to say that forcing public workers to support unions they have declined to join violates the First Amendment.

A ruling in the teachers’ favor would affect millions of government workers and culminate a political and legal campaign by a group of prominent conservative foundations aimed at weakening public-sector unions. Those unions stand to lose fees from both workers who object to the positions the unions take and those who simply choose not to join while benefiting from the unions’ efforts on their behalf.

Under California law, public employees who choose not to join unions must pay a “fair share service fee,” also known as an “agency fee,” typically equivalent to members’ dues. The fees, the law says, are meant to pay for collective bargaining activities, including “the cost of lobbying activities.” More than 20 states have similar laws.

Government workers who are not members of unions have long been able to obtain refunds for the political activities of unions like campaign spending. Monday’s case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, No. 14-915, asks whether such workers must continue to pay for any union activities, including negotiating for better wages and benefits. A majority of the justices seemed inclined to say no.

Collective bargaining, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said, is inherently political when the government is the employer. “Many critical points are matters of public concern,” he said, mentioning issues like tenure, merit pay, promotions and classroom size.

The best hope for a victory for the unions had rested with Justice Antonin Scalia, who has written and said things sympathetic to their position. But he was consistently hostile on Monday.

”The problem is that everything that is collectively bargained with the government is within the political sphere, almost by definition,” he said.

If state laws to collect agency fees are rendered unconstitutional, then public employee unions will suffer, which of course is the point, but the view that everything a public employee union says or does is inherently political would ironically grant it more power under recent campaign finance reform rollbacks in a post-Citizens United world, yes?

Perhaps that's the next step, to call public unions political tools that somehow have to be invalidated because their "money as free speech" does not deserve the same freedoms of corporations. That's probably the angle Scalia's writings would supposedly prevent, but then again we know as of recent rulings that Scalia will gladly ignore his own precedent when it's politically expedient.

Still, it stands as I've said before that guessing SCOTUS is a crapshoot at best.

The Farewell Tour Begins

President Obama's final State of the Union address was a frank admission that he felt he could have done more for America, and should have been able to, when he was allowed to by Republicans.

In his remarks, Mr. Obama said America should harness innovation and not be intimidated by it. He called for a “moonshot” effort to cure cancer, to be led by Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., who lost his son to the disease last year.

The address before a joint session of Congress departed from Mr. Obama’s past practice of outlining executive actions intended to sidestep gridlock in Washington.

Instead, Mr. Obama sought to pose and answer the four central questions his aides said were driving the debate about America’s future, including how to ensure opportunity for everyone, how to harness technological change, how to keep the country safe, and how to fix the nation’s broken politics.

He called for an end to gerrymandering — the gaming of political districts to ensure one party’s advantage — reducing the influence of secretive campaign contributions and making voting easier. Mr. Obama also called on Americans to get more involved in politics and participate, a theme of his first campaign and of his presidency.

The speech was one of Mr. Obama’s few remaining opportunities to shape the public conversation before the nation’s attention shifts to the campaign to replace him that is already underway. Except for a final address at the Democratic convention this summer, Tuesday night might have been Mr. Obama’s last big speech.

“I know some of you are antsy to get back to Iowa — I’ve been there,” he said at the start, acknowledging that the political focus is on the state, which holds the country’s first nominating caucuses.

Mr. Obama was determined that the address be forward-looking, aides said, even as his time remaining in the White House is limited. The president called for compromise with Republicans on an overhaul of the criminal justice system, approval of a broad free-trade agreement spanning the Pacific Rim and new initiatives to address poverty and the opioid crisis in the United States. He proposed to provide jobless workers with retraining in addition to the unemployment payments they already received.

In an effort to find common ground with Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, Mr. Obama noted that Mr. Ryan, a Republican, supports expanding a federal tax credit for low- and middle-income workers. “Who knows, we might surprise the cynics again,” he said, noting a bipartisan budget agreement they struck late last year.

And he repeated past calls for legislative action on his domestic initiatives that have fallen short, including raising the minimum wage, revising the nation’s immigration laws and enacting stricter gun restrictions.

It was less of a challenge of issues and more of a "It's my last year guys, cut me some slack" directed at both Republicans who probably would oppose efforts to research a cure for cancer if Obama called for it, and at Democrats who have spent the last seven years moaning about what could have and should have been.

We'll see if it motivates anything like an effort to come together to do something useful, but after all this time and all this rancor, it was more of an appeal to those who may be so exhausted of fighting this President that they just leave him alone long enough to get a couple last boxes on the list ticked off.

Which, frankly, is the best we can hope for at this point.


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