Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sunday Reading

Ted Cruz Is Dangerous — Simon Maloy at Salon on the Texas senator’s over-the-top rhetoric.

You’ve probably noticed by now, but Ted Cruz can sometimes be a bit melodramatic. The junior senator from Texas and 2016 candidate has been known to worry out loud about “tens of millions Americans dying” at the hands of Iranian sci-fi weaponry. He has a habit of calling the sitting president as a sponsor of terrorism. And when he was asked for his reaction to the first 2016 Democratic primary debate earlier this week, Cruz let rip with a characteristic mix of hair-on-fire nonsense.

“It was more socialism, more pacifism, more weakness and less Constitution,” Cruz said to a crowd of Iowa supporters. “It was a recipe to destroy a country.” Cruz hadn’t actually seen the debate, as the Dallas Morning News noted, so to cover all the bases he shifted from describing the Democrats as feckless weaklings to authoritarian dictators-in-waiting. “We’re seeing our freedoms taken away every day and last night was an audition for who would wear the jackboot most vigorously,” he told reporters. “Last night was an audition for who would embrace government power for who would strip your and my individual liberties.”

That’s inflammatory rhetoric for a semi-credible major party presidential candidate to be tossing around. And while it’s easy to dismiss this stuff as posturing and pandering for the hardcore conservative voters that form Cruz’s base, there’s a deeper significance to it, as Ed Kilgore rightly points out:

Cruz is one of those presidential candidates (along with Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee for sure; the exact position of several others is unclear) who claim the Second Amendment gives Americans the right to revolutionary violence against their own government if it engages in “tyranny” or doesn’t respect our rights.

This is an argument Cruz makes with some frequency: you need guns to protect yourself against government tyrants. And there he is on the campaign trail describing the opposition party candidates as would-be tyrants, fitting themselves for jackboots. His response to this summer’s Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage was to describe it as “the very definition of tyranny.” His official statement on the arrest of Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis for refusing to do her job declared that “judicial lawlessness crossed into judicial tyranny.” He opposed Obama’s executive order on immigration by invoking “despotic executives” and “unaccountable monarchs.” If you hear all this, and you also hear Ted Cruz say you need a gun to ward off tyranny, you have to start to wonder when people begin putting two and two together.

Why Hillary Clinton’s E-mail Problem Won’t Go Away — AJ Vicens at Mother Jones explains.

Sen. Bernie Sanders delivered one of the most enthusiastic applause lines of the first Democratic presidential debate when he came to Hillary Clinton’s defense over her use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state. After CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked Clinton about her upcoming testimony in front of Congress related to her emails, she offered the same answer she has repeatedly given in response.

“I’ve taken responsibility for it,” she said. “I did say it was a mistake.” She then employed her recent campaign strategy of linking the criticism of her email setup to the heavily politicized House Select Committee on Benghazi, which she described as “basically an arm of the Republican National Committee.”

But before everybody moved on, Sanders weighed in. “I think the secretary is right,” he said. “And that is, I think the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails.” Clinton smiled and thanked him, and the crowd roared its approval.

But some Americans are not sick and tired of her damn emails, and they want to hear more. The Republican members of the Benghazi committee and FBI investigators, who are currently looking into how classified material ended up on the server, are well-known examples. But there are also 32 separate lawsuits related to public-records requests for the disputed emails from Clinton and some top staffers during her time as secretary of state.

These requesters range from media outlets to Republican activists. Many of the suits are focused on specific foreign policy issues that she was likely to have addressed while secretary of state. Just last week, a federal judge denied a State Department request to assign a judge to coordinate all the cases. The State Department argued that because the cases are at various stages in front of 17 different judges, the situation was rife with “confusion, inefficiencies, and advantages given to some requesters at the expense of others.”

In denying the State Department’s request, the judge said there was already informal coordination to try to limit conflicting orders and search requirements, and also expressed doubt that the records would continue to be produced on schedule if a coordinating judge were to be assigned.

So, for now, the State Department and other government agencies will continue to manage each case individually.

Trudeaumania 2.0 — Jeremy Keehn at The New Yorker reports on the ascent of Justin Trudeau in the Canadian campaign.

For nearly a decade, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has confounded many observers’ view of Canada as an open and pluralistic society with an idealistic global face. Its perceived sins have included opposing abortion funding in developing countries, stridently backing Israel, and oil-drenched climate villainy. Its diplomatic posture has at times been belligerent, and even militaristic. To some, the country has come to seem practically un-Canadian.

Harper, who has led the Conservative Party (and its antecedent) since 2002, called this year’s election earlier than expected, in early August, setting the date as this Monday, October 19th. His gamble with the long campaign—it will be more than double the length of the previous two—was that the Conservatives could use their considerable fundraising advantage to beat back the threat posed by the traditionally progressive New Democratic Party, led by Thomas Mulcair, which held just under a third of the three hundred and eight seats in Parliament at dissolution, and the Liberal Party, led by Justin Trudeau, which had barely a tenth. At the outset, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s poll average showed the Conservatives and N.D.P. in a dead heat, with the Liberals five points back. Since then, the campaign has wound through stretches of scandal (the fraud trial of a Conservative senator), sorrow (the publication of a photo of a Syrian toddler who died en route to Europe, and whose family had hoped to immigrate to Canada), more scandal (the departures of candidates and apparatchik from several parties, most memorably a former repairman who’d been filmed peeing in a client’s coffee mug), and xenophobia (by the Conservatives, following a court decision allowing women to wear the niqab during citizenship ceremonies).

Toward the end of September, the polls began a shift that has crystallized in the campaign’s final days. The N.D.P.’s support began to plummet, and the Liberals, who were decimated in the last election, in 2011, under Michael Ignatieff, began to vie with the Conservatives for the lead. In the past week, the Liberals have jumped ahead, and they now sit above thirty-five per cent, four and a half points clear of the Conservatives and twelve ahead of the N.D.P. A substantial contingent of Canadians will vote for whomever offers the best chance to defeat Harper, and that bloc appears to be coalescing behind Justin Trudeau, who was feeling confident enough this week that he asked voters to give the Liberals a majority.

A Liberal victory would be an operatic turn in a long-running Canadian psychodrama. No leader played as great a role in fostering the perception of a pluralistic and idealistic Canada than Justin Trudeau’s father, Pierre, who was Prime Minister for the better part of sixteen years, starting in 1968. Canada officially adopted bilingualism and multiculturalism during his tenure, forerunners to his crowning achievement: the patriation, in 1982, of the Constitution, which ended the U.K.’s legislative power over the country and included passage of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a bill of political and civil rights. (A 2012 study published in the New York University Law Reviewfound that the Charter is now the constitutional document most emulated by other countries.) Trudeau, a self-confident public intellectual, was also among the most galvanizing leaders that Canada has had. Writing in The New Yorker in 1969, Edith Iglauer described the elder Trudeau’s maiden election campaign as Liberal leader: “His every quip made the headlines, and he was photographed dancing in the streets and kissing his way across the country…. Trudeau’s charm produced a nationwide reaction so powerful that it was given a name of its own—‘Trudeaumania.’ ”

 Doonesbury — College chumps.