Monday, February 29, 2016

Trump Won't Condemn KKK, Says He 'Knows Nothing About White Supremacists'

Donald Trump. (photo: AP)
Donald Trump. (photo: AP)
By Camila Domonoske, NPR
28 February 16
n the Sunday morning talk shows, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump refused to condemn endorsements from a prominent white supremacist and former KKK leader, and said he retweeted a Mussolini quote because "it's a very good quote."
The extended conversation about white supremacists came on CNN's State of the Union, where Jake Tapper asked if Trump would distance himself from an endorsement by David Duke, former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Duke has told his radio audience that voting against Trump would be "treason to your heritage."
Trump refused to condemn that endorsement or say he didn't want the support of white supremacists — four times.
"I don't know anything about David Duke. I don't know what you're even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacist. I don't know. I don't know, did he endorse me, or what's going on?" he said. That prompted a back-and-forth that went, in part:
Trump: I don't know what group you're talking about. You wouldn't want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about. ... If you would send me a list of the groups, I will do research on them and certainly I would disavow them if I thought there was something wrong.
Tapper: The Ku Klux Klan?
Trump: You may have groups in there that are totally fine and it would be very unfair. So give me a list of the groups and I'll let you know.
Tapper: I'm just talking about David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan here.
Trump: Honestly, I don't know David Duke.
You can watch the full exchange here.
As several people swiftly pointed out on Twitter, Trump hasn't always claimed ignorance of David Duke.
In 2000, when he ended his presidential campaign, Trump cited Duke's participation in the Reform Party as one reason he no longer wanted the party's nomination.
"The Reform Party now includes a Klansman, Mr. Duke, a neo-Nazi, Mr. [Pat][ Buchanan, and a communist, Ms. [Lenora] Fulani. This is not company I wish to keep," he wrote in his statement.
Also on the Sunday show circuit, on NBC's Meet the Press, Trump declined to distance himself from a Benito Mussolini quote he had retweeted.
Gawker has since posted to announce that the account that first tweeted the quote — unsubtly named "@ilduce2016" — was a bot they designed with the express purpose of tricking Trump into retweeting a line from the fascist Italian dictator.
And the ploy succeeded.
When Chuck Todd pointed out that "it is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep" is, indeed, a famous Mussolini quote, and asked if Trump knew that, Trump said:
"It's OK to know it was Mussolini. Look, Mussolini was Mussolini. ... It's a very good quote. It's a very interesting quote."
When Todd asked if Trump wanted to be associated with a fascist, Trump said, "No, I want to be associated with interesting quotes."
He then pointed out he has millions of followers on social media, and that they appreciate his interesting posts.
"Hey, it got your attention, didn't it?" Trump said.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Thursday, February 18

Scalia's New York values

The late Supreme Court judge graduated from Xavier.
In the 1950s, Xavier High School was a home for the discipline of God and man, where military training was a compulsory part of the curriculum, and students proved their rigor by poring over the Bible and Latin texts.
Coming to class with the wrong haircut could result in "jug"—punishment, from the Latin "jugum," or "burden," sometimes thought of as the abbreviation for Justice Under God.
This Xavier experience greatly influenced Antonin Scalia, a sharp teenager from Queens who graduated in 1953.

The context of his textualism

As the partisan debate over replacing Supreme Court Justice Scalia shows no signs of abating, many have turned to the justice's jurist's own strict textualism to claim that Scalia himself would have had no patience for the argument that Article 2 of the Constitution no longer applied to a president in his final year in office.
This faith in original sources and love of the discipline inherent in fully investigating them is deeply rooted in Scalia's eight years of Jesuit education, at Xavier and later at Georgetown University.
Xavier opened its doors as a college in 1847, and became a high school in the early 20th century, run by members of the Jesuit order, known for their scholasticism and military focus.
In the pre-Vatican II 1950s, when Scalia attended the school, religious instruction was focused on the catechism—memorizing what the church teaches as opposed to why. This catechistic teaching was paired with an "academic analysis" of biblical texts, remembers Philip Lacovara, who graduated from Xavier after Scalia but met him later in Washington, D.C. Lacovara had a distinguished career in his own right, as special counsel to the prosecution during the Watergate trial. He successfully argued the Supreme Court case that forced Richard Nixon to turn over the White House tapes.

                                     Jesuit rigor

In their Xavier education, the focus was on what was being said and what the author meant: students learned "to be faithful to the text that was being studied as the operative document."
Scalia thrived in this academic atmosphere, but years later he would say that his fondest memories of the school came from the Regiment, the school military unit which was compulsory for students at the time. Scalia was the commanding officer of the Regiment's marching band, and a member of the JV rifle team, requiring him to carry the weapon on the subway with him from time to time, between school and home in Elmhurst, Queens.
But shifting political currents during the Vietnam era convinced Xavier to make membership with the JROTC group optional, a decision with which Scalia deeply and publicly disagreed.
In a speech at the Xavier Regiment honors ceremony in 2011, Scalia identified a biblical basis for the benefits of military service: Jesus' "advice to [the Roman soldiers] was not 'Throw down your arms,' but be content with your wages," admonitions that fit in the deep military traditions of the Jesuits.
But Jesuits from Daniel Berrigan—-the counter culture priest--to Pope Francis have tapped into their customs of questioning and probing to pushed for peace. The "Plowshares Movement" that Berrigan was a part of took a different textual approach, adopting the biblical admonition that swords be beaten into farming tools.

                 'Faith can grow through doubt'

Xavier and its alumni have tracked the changing fortunes of Catholics in New York City, a route that Scalia himself outlined in his 2011 address.
When the nativist American Protective Association proposed barring Catholics from office or armed forces command posts in the 1890s, Xavier began holding military masses to underscore its simultaneous commitment to service and religion—officers at the front pews, swords unsheathed.
The Xavier regiment became a mainstay at St. Patrick's Day parades, but also more traditionally American events, such as the 1932 march honoring the bicentennial of George Washington's birth. During WWII, 1,500 Xavier men served in the armed forces, that gradual assimilator.
Soon a Catholic would become president, and the rest is history. Scalia's ascension to the highest court—as a second-generation Italian-American kid from Queens—underscored arrival at mainstream acceptance.
Surely Scalia would hope his successor would approach the world as he did, through reference to unchanging founding documents, carefully examined and extrapolated, a technique the justice was already learning at Xavier.
"Xavier and Jesuit education writ large," says the school's current president, Jack Raslowsky, "has always prided itself on teaching kids how to think, not what to think."
"Faith can grow through doubt." Republicans in Congress, take note.
Republicans in Congress, take note.
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Monday, February 15, 2016

Following death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, here's President Obama's short list for his replacement

Updated: Saturday, February 13, 2016, 9:08 PM

After the sudden death of conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, President Obama has the opportunity to move the country’s highest court toward the left by tapping a more liberal-leaning successor.
Immediately after news of Scalia's death broke, diverse options for the top job were being floated along with a debate online among Senate leaders about whether lame duck Obama should be the one to nominate the next justice.


"The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Saturday in a statement.
"Therefore this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) quickly fired back saying that "it would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat."


"Failing to fill this vacancy would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate's most essential Constitutional responsibilities."
Legal experts think Republicans might block an Obama appointee until he's out of office, leaving the court with a gaping vacant seat for nearly a year.

Sri Srinivasan has already been called the "Supreme Court Nominee-in-Waiting" by The New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin.  
Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call

Sri Srinivasan has already been called the "Supreme Court Nominee-in-Waiting" by The New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin.

"I think Republicans will make every effort to block the nomination," Stephen Wermiel, Professor of Law at American University Washington College of Law told the Daily News. "Even to the point of shedding blood in the aisles of the Senate if they have to."
Obama said Saturday that he intends to be the one to choose Scalia's replacement.
Here's who's on deck:

Sri Srinivasan

The 48-year-old moderate  D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals judge, has already been labeled Obama’s “Supreme Court nominee in waiting,” by The New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin.
Widely seen as the most likely choice, he would be the first Indian-American justice on the highest court.
Srinivasan is poised to be chosen for the Supreme on the D.C. Circuit Court, the second-highest court where John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg all were nominated from.
The Lawrence, Kansas native most famously argued against the Defense of Marriage Act while he was the Obama Administration's principal deputy solicitor general.

Paul Watford

Watford, a 48-year-old African-American Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge who Obama said “has displayed exceptional dedication to the legal profession throughout his work,” after his 2012 confirmation.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch and  First Circuit Court of Appeals Judge David Barron are possible choices to vault to Supreme Court.   
Theodore Parisienne/for New York Daily News 
A MAY 20, 2013, FILE PHOTO  
Michael Dwyer/AP 

Attorney General Loretta Lynch and  First Circuit Court of Appeals JudgeDavid 

Barron are possible choices to vault to Supreme Court. 

He was nominated with broad bipartisan support to the Ninth Circuit Court in 2011.
Even Daniel Collins, Antonin Scalia's clerk at the time, praised Watford's confirmation.
"I don't think he'll approach the job with any kind of agenda other than to do what is right and consistent with precedent as he understands it," Collins said in 2011, according to the Los Angeles Times.

David Barron

First Circuit Court of Appeals Judge David Barron would be a controversial choice for Obama.
Barron notoriously authored a secret memo which justified Obama's decision to order drone strikes on Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen who became a radicalized Islamic militant living in Yemen.
The ACLU called the memo a "disturbing" legal precedent for drone strikes.

Merrick Garland

Garland is the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and is known for having lead prosecutions in the Oklahoma City bombing and "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski cases while he was the Associate Deputy Attorney General from 1994 to 2013.
"His name has been kicking around for a while. He's not an extremely liberal Democrat, he's sort of centrist," Wermiel, the American University law professor, said.

Reagan appointee Antonin Scalia died suddenly of natural causes on Saturday, Feb. 13 at a West Texas ranch.  

Reagan appointee Antonin Scalia died suddenly of natural causes on Saturday, Feb. 13 at a West Texas ranch.

Loretta Lynch 

Obama has already nominated two female Supreme Court justices early on in his presidency--in 2009, he picked Bronx-native Sonia Sotomayor and in 2010 he chose New Yorker Elena Kagan.
Why not more women on the highest court?
Loretta Lynch was recently nominated and confirmed with bipartisan support to be the U.S. Attorney General in April 2015.
She came out swinging in her new role, already filing a discrimination lawsuit against the city of Ferguson, Missouri and indicting nine FIFA executives for the match-fixing scandal.
Lynch, who was the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney before her recent promotion, would be the first black woman as a justice, to boot.

Patricia Ann Millett

D.C. Circuit judge Patricia Ann Millett, another Harvard Law School alum, has spent most of her career practicing corporate law at the firm Miller & Chevalier
She has argued 32 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and holds a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, according to her profile on the U.S. Court of Appeal site.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia will upend the presidential race.

The sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia will

  (Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Mandel Ngan)

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Marco Rubio accused of being inexperienced at GOP debate


Rising Republican contender Marco Rubio came under heavy attack in a presidential debate on Saturday from rivals who accused him of being too inexperienced for the White House and walking away from an immigration reform plan he championed.
In a fiery debate three days ahead of Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump also battled with rival Jeb Bush over the use of eminent domain to seize private property and called for a compassionate approach to those who might lose their health insurance if Republicans repealed Obamacare.

Polls show Trump leading in New Hampshire, the second of the state-by-state nominating contests to select candidates in the Nov. 8 election, with Rubio coming fast after a surprisingly strong third-place finish on Monday in Iowa, behind U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Trump.
The heavy attention commanded by Rubio reflected the changing dynamics of the Republican race, as the U.S. senator from Florida attempts to become the party establishment's choice to challenge the controversial Trump and conservative Cruz.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who are vying with Rubio for support from establishment Republicans in New Hampshire, compared Rubio's experience in the Senate to that of President Barack Obama, who also was a first-term senator when he was elected.

"He simply does not have the experience to be president of the United States and make these decisions," Christie said of Rubio. "We've watched it happen, everybody, for the last seven years. The people of New Hampshire are smart, do not make the same mistake again."

Rubio said he had shown in the Senate that he could get things done, and questioned Christie's record.
"I think the experience is not just what you did but how it worked out. Under Chris Christie's governorship of New Jersey, they've been downgraded nine times in their credit rating," he said.
Christie accused Rubio of resorting to "a memorized 30-second speech."
Bush noted that by electing Obama, the country got "soaring eloquence" but few results.
Christie also led the charge against Rubio on immigration, criticizing him for backing a comprehensive reform bill in the Senate but then abandoning it when it foundered in the House under heavy conservative opposition.
Rubio said the legislation was never going to pass without popular support, and the United States needed to begin enforcing immigration laws and improve border security before the public would have the confidence to back it.

"The question is did he fight for his legislation. It's abundantly clear that he didn't," Christie said.


Bush attacked Trump for using eminent domain, which allows governments to seize private lands for projects for the public good, to help him build casino complexes in Atlantic City. Eminent domain is a frequent target of criticism from conservative and anti-government groups.

"What Donald Trump did was use eminent domain to try to take the property of an elderly woman on the strip in Atlantic City. That is not public purpose. That is downright wrong," he said.
Trump said eminent domain was "a good thing" and was necessary to building roads, bridges, schools and hospitals. "Certainly, it's a necessity for our country," he said.

"He wants to be a tough guy, and it doesn't work very well," Trump said of Bush, telling the former Florida governor to be quiet. When the crowd booed, he said, "that's all his donors and special interests out there."

Trump, known for his tough stances with calls to ban Muslims from visiting the United States and deport immigrants without the proper documents, also called for a more empathetic view of the Republican call to repeal Obamacare insurance coverage for Americans.

"There will be a certain number of people who will be on the street dying, and as a Republican I don't want that to happen," he said. "We are going to take care of those people and I think everybody on this stage has to agree we're not going to let people die sitting on the street in any city in this country.
Unlike previous Republican debates, Trump was not the center of attention on social media on Saturday. As of midway through the debate, Rubio had the highest share of conversations on Twitter with 25 percent, followed by Trump at 22 percent and Cruz at 19 percent.

Christie's performance earned him more attention than previous debates, getting mentioned on Twitter three times more during the first hour of the debate than during the first hour of the last one.
Cruz bypassed an early chance to tussle with Trump, refusing to repeat his criticism from earlier this week that he did not have the temperament for the White House.

Trump noted that Cruz did not want to take him on.
"He didn't answer your question, and that's what's going to happen with our enemies and the people we compete against," Trump said. "We're going to win with Trump and people back down with Trump, and that's what I like."