Monthly Archives: July 2016

Trump’s Liaison with African Americans: Omarosa Manigault Interviewed on NPR

I want to spotlight one particular thing that Omarosa Manigault says in this interview on NPR Sunday morning, July 31, about being the leader of Trump’s campaign efforts with African-Americans: ¬†she says that job creation is important, and that an increase in available jobs across the board will help alleviate racial as well as economic inequality. ¬†Here’s the thing: ¬†nobody disputes that. ¬†Everybody agrees that job creation would be a good thing, and everybody agrees on some level that every kind of social tension, including both racism among whites and its debilitating effects on black communities, gets worse then there is high unemployment, and thus lowering unemployment is part of the necessary solution. ¬†That’s not what’s in dispute.

As we will be discussing in¬†the next-to-last¬†theme in the course, Domestic Policy, there are competing theories on how to create jobs. ¬†Republicans tend to favor classical economic theory, and Democrats go with Keynesian economics. ¬†We’ll get to the details on those theories when we get to that next-to-last chapter, but the point right here is, there is agreement on the desirability of job creation, and there is debate over how to do it.

Thus, what is really in dispute is how much Donald Trump can be believed when he says, “I’m gonna bring jobs back. ¬†I’m gonna put America to work.” ¬†Now, the most that he can possibly say along those lines it that he believes he has the right economic theories for how to do it. ¬†And, of course, any major policy change, whether right or wrong, takes Congress, not just the president, to enact. ¬†Therefore, the most he can say is that he has ideas for how to create jobs, and he is going to make proposals along those lines to Congress–which, of course, is true of¬†any candidate, so the idea that Trump is special in that regard goes flying out the window when held up to any serious scrutiny.

The funny thing is, if Trump wants to bring jobs back, he can accomplish more to that effect with his own corporate empire than he can as president of the United States. ¬†He has, of course, done quite the opposite in that corporate empire. ¬†That’s part of what really makes it a bit absurd when people say he’ll make a good president because “he’s a businessman.” ¬†Mike Bloomberg is a businessman too, and at the Democratic convention last week, he said, “Trump says he wants to run¬†the nation like he’s run his business. God help us.”

Biden to Senate Republicans: Come On, Hold Hearings on Garland

Last February, conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died, bringing the number of justices down to the even number of eight.  Immediately, the Senate Republicans began announcing that they would absolutely not hold hearings on any candidate whom President Obama might nominate, but rather, would wait and let the next president make the pick.  Embarrassingly for Vice President Joe Biden, they were able to quote remarks he made back in 1992, as a Senator, justifying precisely this mindset.  They gleeful call it the Biden rule.

A month later, President Obama did nominate someone:  Merrick Garland.  And while a few Senate Republicans have given him the courtesy of a meeting, there has been no move to schedule hearings, even though Judge Garland has gotten favorable treatment from the same Republicans in past hearings.  Ordinarily, he would have no trouble being confirmed.  But these are not ordinary times.

Now, Joe Biden is once again calling upon the Senate Republicans to forget the “Biden rule,” and hold hearings on Garland.

Part of it is the undisguised partisan contempt that these guys feel for the President, but another part of it is, they’d like a real conservative to take Scalia’s place. ¬†Partisan ideology is as big a factor as anything else, and it relates to some of the specific cases that we’re discussing in class, where¬†the opinions of the justices break down along lines of liberal versus conservative. ¬†Not all cases are like that, of course–some cases have totally random configurations of justices on both sides of a question–but the hot-button cases are, and both parties want to control the future of the Court at each other’s expense.

Story on Yahoo News


Another Appeals Court Decision for Voting Rights

Following soon after the one affecting Texas, another circuit court of appeals has just ruled that North Carolina’s voter ID law is racially discriminatory.

This involves the interconnection of federalism (with the federal courts making use of the powers granted by the 14th and 15th Amendments to get after states), civil rights, and political parties (there’s only one party that needs the votes of persons who have a harder time satisfying strict ID care requirements, as much a matter of economic status as race).

New York Times article

Politico article

(While you’re on this page, do check out some of the other news headline links on the right side.)

More Chaos This Week Than Last

Yes, there was an anti-Trump insurgency, but there would appear so far to be more disunity at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia.

As a result of Wikileaks revelations that the Democratic National Committee was working behind the scenes to help Clinton defeat Sanders in the primaries, chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been forced to resign her leadership position. ¬†But, Hillary Clinton, in her infinite lack of wisdom, promptly gave Ms. Schultz a position in her own campaign. ¬†That move isn’t getting much attention in the news, but the Sanders crowd is certainly aware of it, and they’re not happy. ¬†When Schultz¬†tried to open the convention, she got booed off the stage. ¬†Sanders supporters are¬†also not happy with Hillary’s choice of a running mate, Tim Kaine. ¬† At this point, the fact that Sanders himself wants his supporters to support Hillary Clinton to defeat Trump scarcely seems to matter.

Edited to add:  The position that Clinton gave Schultz in her campaign is purely honorary and symbolic, not a position of either pay or influence, but even as purely a gesture of good will, it may have been rather badly timed.

And, according to one prominent blogger, Nate Silver, if the election were held tomorrow, Trump would win.  (Politico story)

Esteemed associates, we may be seeing Donald Trump become president.  Last year I was standing up in front of the classroom telling students confidently and authoritatively that it could never happen.  Well, I was wrong:  it can, and maybe it will.

There is, of course, a lot still to happen between now and November.  There may also be some surprises to come this week in Philadelphia.  The drama continues.

One Convention Over, Another to Begin, with at Least as Much Tension

Trump delivered his acceptance speech in Cleveland last Thursday night, and it was about what could be expected. ¬†It had loads of good-sounding platitudes, loads of claims to care personally about America and all of its people, plus all kinds of grandiose promises with no substance on how he’ll do it, short of military dictatorship. ¬†But in any event that convention is over, and a new one is about to start.

It’s not just the delegates who are arriving, though: it’s also the protesters. ¬†Lots of them, mostly (but not exclusively) Sanders supporters. ¬†And in some timing that could be called excellent or terrible, depending on your point of view, right on the eve of the convention, some new revelations have come out that the Democratic National Committee was, all through the primary season, working behind the scenes to favor Hillary Clinton at Bernie Sanders’ expense (which was already well know)

Sanders, even while demanding¬†Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s resignation as committee chair and convention chair (which is¬†happening now, though perhaps not as fast as desired), insists that he’s still supporting Hillary Clinton against the Trump menace. ¬†The question, however, is how many of his supporters will be with him. ¬†And Hillary Clinton, in picking Tim Kaine for a running mate, clearly opted not to make a gesture to the Sanders wing (the kind of gesture she would have been making if she’d picked Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts). ¬†Will they support her anyway?

So, the tension is high, as are the stakes. ¬†It’s Sunday night, and the delegates are gathering in the hotels while the protesters gather in the streets and the parks.

NPR Story 

Politico story on reactions to the Kaine pick

By the way, in addition to the links I post, I hope everybody is aware that there’s a running news feed to the right of this main page, with lots of new headlines to browse and click–from Politico, the Times, NPR, and


Federal Court Ruling: Texas Law Intended to Discriminate

The Fifteenth Amendment and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibit states from discriminating on the basis of race in voting laws, and give the federal government power to enforce it.  How, a federal appeals court has just ruled that Texas voter ID laws had not only a discriminatory effect but a discriminatory intent, and must be changed in time for the November election.

(Note to students in my current summer class: This fits in with a topic that is coming up shortly, in the chapters on Civil Rights and Public Opinion and Voting.)

Story on NPR, July 20, 2016

Audio version



Trump’s latest remarks about Obama

Four years ago, Trump was pandering to the belief that President Obama has a fake birth certificate, which of course is a way of saying that Obama isn’t really American and thus isn’t really the legitimate president. ¬†Many have called that “dog-whistle racism.”

This year, I think we’re getting racism without the dog whistle. ¬†Here’s what Trump said today about President Obama’s speech in response to the latest police shooting:

“I watched the President and sometimes the words are OK, but you just look at the body language, there’s something going on. Look, there’s something going on, and the words are not often OK, by the way….

‚ÄúIt‚Äôs probably something that we really don‚Äôt know and maybe we can‚Äôt feel it unless we‚Äôre black.¬†There‚Äôs something going on there also. And that has to do with training and that has to do with something, but there is something going on that maybe we can‚Äôt recognize it and we can‚Äôt see it unless you‚Äôre black. But it‚Äôs an experience, there‚Äôs no question about that. And perhaps it‚Äôs a difference experience.‚ÄĚ

Story on Yahoo News

Chaos in Cleveland

There was a time when shouting matches at party conventions were common, but for the 21st century, this is out of the ordinary:

The anti-Trump delegates aren’t in any position to stop Trump from getting the nomination, but they are certainly able to make sure there’s some tumult and tension in the process, and keep the stress levels of the party officials high.



Love fest? Train wreck? It begins today

This article in Politico¬†says that Republican insiders are expecting a train wreck of a convention, but some of the people who were interviewed this morning on NPR¬†seem a lot more jovial on the subject. ¬†And the big climactic event that everyone is talking about is Donald Trump’s acceptance speech Thursday night.

I, personally, have the feeling that Trump’s Thursday night speech will probably be brilliant. ¬†Unfortunately. ¬†I mean, look: the man has never had any trouble hiring people to do the things he needs done for him, and good speech writers are not all that hard to find. ¬†He’s perfectly capable, when he really understands that he has to, of following a script and making himself look like a reasonable person. ¬†Couple that with the fact that most of the party leaders are either openly embracing him (like committee chairman Reince Priebus) or refraining from denouncing him (like House Speaker Paul Ryan who is presiding at the convention), and the fact that most delegates there seem to be supporting or at least accepting his nomination. ¬†And apart from his speech, I think he’s going to be quiet and out of sight for the most part.

There are two possible wrinkles here, as I see it. ¬†(And what do I know? ¬†A year ago, ¬†I didn’t think he could possibly get this far.) ¬†First, if the theory that he doesn’t really want to be president and is just doing this to help Hillary Clinton win is correct (which I do not subscribe to), then he’ll send some wild Twitter tweets during the convention that will cause firestorms of anger and indignation. ¬†That isn’t my theory, so it’s not what I expect to see happen.

However, if, during his speech, he gets heckled–really loudly and persistently heckled–by Never Trump delegates (and there are some there, though I’m not clear about how many), it could throw him off, and induce a narcissistic meltdown. ¬†Our current president handles hecklers well, keeps calm, rides with the interruption, answers them calmly. ¬†Trump doesn’t. ¬†Trump goes into tirades when he is heckled–and those tirades are real, because narcissists truly can’t handle criticism.

Anyway, esteemed associates, any time you want to look in on the festivities at Cleveland, just click right here: ¬† ¬†And please, feel free to go to the discussion board and share your thoughts–or post comments right here. ¬†Either place is fine.

Reminder:  My school email account is not working.  Please write to if you are trying to contact me.

For more thoughts on the convention from NPR’s political specialist, click here.


Anti-Trump Delegates at Cleveland Still Not Giving Up

After failing to get the desired results from the Rules Committee last Thursday night, the “Never Trump” contingent of delegates to the Republican National Convention at Cleveland is still combing the procedural rules and by-laws for every possible wedge they can employ to¬†force a full floor vote on freeing the majority of delegates from their obligation to vote for Trump. ¬†The odds are against them, but they may at least be in a position to prevent the convention from being one big happy love fest.

Politico Story

Obviously, there will be plenty of speakers in the lineup who don’t personally like Trump, but what they will do is give speeches that are pro-party and that extol the virtues of the party’s platform and positions without mentioning Trump at all. ¬†There may well not be any overtly anti-Trump speeches at all, because the Republican National Committee, with its head Reince Priebus, has embraced Trump and has party unity as a goal. ¬†But here again, the Never Trump movement will be doing all it can to make sure that the anti-Trump message gets heard.

By the way, Spencer Tunick’s nude photo shoot happened this morning (Sunday, July 17), with his 100 naked goddesses of wisdom pointing mirror discs at the convention hall. ¬†I won’t post a link to sites with nude pictures here, but interested students know how to use the net search engines at least as well as I do, I am confident.