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Nevilledog's Journal
Nevilledog's Journal
October 30, 2023

Tracking Section 3 Trump Disqualification Challenges (Lawfare)


Almost immediately after Jan. 6, 2021, legal commentators began debating whether Section 3 of the 14th Amendment could be used to disqualify former President Donald Trump from running in the 2024 presidential election. They discussed, in particular, whether or not Section 3 applied to a former president, whether it is self-executing, and whether Jan. 6 could be considered an insurrection or rebellion.

Since then, the issue has become less abstract. In February 2021, the U.S. Senate acquitted Trump of an impeachment article for inciting insurrection, but with a bipartisan majority of the Senate voting to convict. Section 3 challenges have been mounted against several legislators, and one state-level county commissioner who participated in the attack was successfully ousted from his post under that provision. In addition, the House Select Committee on the Jan. 6 Attack on the Capitol made the argument that Trump did inspire an insurrection, referring him to the Justice Department for prosecution under multiple criminal statutes, including one prohibiting insurrection. The Special Counsel’s Office has since brought a criminal case in Washington, D.C. charging Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 attack. In addition, some prominent legal conservatives have argued for a strong, originalist reading of Section 3 that they argue would apply to Trump, immediately disqualifying him from office.

Beginning with a case in Florida in February 2023, voters and advocacy groups have brought many Section 3 challenges in state and federal courts across the country, attempting to block Trump’s name from appearing on ballots for state primaries and caucuses before the national election begins. This page is intended to track which states have active Section 3 litigation to remove Trump from the 2024 ballot. At the bottom is a selected reading of Lawfare's coverage on the issue. Note that the procedural posture and legal theories behind these challenges vary greatly, and a dismissal in any particular action does not necessarily bar other challenges from being brought in that same state.

October 26, 2023

What everyone should know about the new House Speaker, Mike Johnson


On Wednesday, after weeks of chaos, House Republicans unanimously selected Congressman Mike Johnson (R-LA) as the new Speaker. Compared to the previous Republican candidates for Speaker, Johnson has kept a relatively low profile in Congress. He was first elected to the House in 2016, and previously served as GOP deputy whip, a relatively junior leadership position. Johnson, 51, spent most of his career working as an attorney for far-right religious advocacy groups. Before joining Congress, he had a brief but eventful tenure as a member of the Louisiana legislature.

Here is some information you should know about Johnson, now that he has been abruptly elevated to one of the most powerful political positions in the nation.

Johnson advocated for the inclusion of controversial Bible course in public schools

In 2002, a course created by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools was offered in eight Louisiana parishes. The course, according to an April 2002 report in the Sunday Advocate, called "for students to read the Bible as a history book." It was criticized for being "skewed toward Protestant evangelical Christianity," for treating "the Bible as an accurate record of history," and for being a "thinly veiled" attempt to push Christianity on public school students.

The Supreme Court allows for the Bible to be taught in public schools, but only "objectively as a part of a secular program of education." Johnson defended the Bible course on behalf of the Louisiana Family Forum. He argued that the "Supreme Court did not say you have to discuss everybody's view on the Bible." Requiring that public schools treat all religious traditions equally, Johnson said, was "the height of political correctness."

October 17, 2023

Talia Lavin: America's Apocalyptic Cheerleaders



Evangelical “love” of Israel is the love of the consumer towards the consumed, a hungry man for bread. Their fantasy is ultimately one of destruction: the annihilation of the Jewish faith through death, save an elect of 144,000 who convert to Christianity — a number derived from the Book of Revelations. It is a necropolitical fantasy, one that views the tribulation with, as a post from Calvary Chapel—the church to whom Rep. Brian Mast, who has appeared in Congress this week in an IDF uniform, belongs, put it—“excitement, anticipation, and glee”; the end of the world is “the highly anticipated kingdom.” The apocalypse demands the agony of all but the elect; to the elect it is ecstasy. It is rapture.

The conversion and annihilation of the Jews must be preceded by their return to and absolute control of Israel; therefore the lives of Palestinians are worthless and forfeit from the start, a road-bump in this violent fantasy that was never accounted for in the Revelations map. They are an inconvenience to be disposed of, pawns to be knocked off the board so other pawns can be positioned to set up the moment of Christ's return, the end of history in blood. Palestinians are less than human in this vision; inconveniences at best, instruments of the Antichrist at worst. Either way, their annihilation is necessary. There have been many predictions of the apocalypse and many preludes. In this moment of death and displacement, there is joy for Christian observers from afar, the ecstatic terror of deliverance.

What it amounts to is cheering on Armageddon from the cheap seats—and directing funds to ensure it occurs. It's a grotesquerie of geopolitics and religion, and it carries undue weight in American foreign policy, thanks to the merger of the Christian Right and the Republican Party. A game of chess with eternity at stake.

Often, Christian Zionism—the fanatic belief that animates tens of millions of evangelical Christians in the US, many of whom have disproportionate power on the Christian right and by extension the Republican Party—redounds on Jews. The eschatological fantasy for which Israel is prime fodder requires our exploitation. Nonetheless, the “I stand with Israel” message that Christian-right congressmen, church leaders and governors proudly declare is viewed as another piece of evidence that Jews have unnatural and pernicious influence over American foreign policy.


October 15, 2023

Will the Media Fall For It Again? Conservative Activist Shares Playbook to Tie Hamas to Democrats

No paywall link (It kills the nasty ads)

Conservatives are so confident about their ability to play the mainstream media that they’re now saying the quiet part out loud. After his successful work at getting the mainstream media to carry his anti-“woke” anti-“critical race theory” narratives, American conservative activist Christopher F. Rufo instructed them on the next step to tie terrorist organization Hamas to BLM and more.

“Conservatives need to create a strong association between Hamas, BLM, DSA, and academic “decolonization” in the public mind. Connect the dots, then attack, delegitimize, and discredit. Make the center-left disavow them. Make them political untouchables,” wrote the Senior Fellow at the center-right Manhattan Institute.

When his fellow conservatives pointed out that he was saying the quiet part out loud, he admitted it happily, “Lots of debate in the replies. Many critics arguing that I’m “saying the quiet part out loud.” To which I respond: Yes.”

Maybe you’re thinking, how much can one activist really do just tweeting his “ideas,” and sadly the answer to that is: A lot.

“How a Conservative Activist Invented the Conflict Over Critical Race Theory,” is the New Yorker‘s title over a 2021 piece on him. They note, “To Christopher Rufo, a term for a school of legal scholarship looked like the perfect weapon.” Rufo wrote to them, “‘Critical race theory’ is the perfect villain.”


October 15, 2023

School Vouchers Are Dysfunctional by Design


No paywall

Florida homeschoolers could take Disney vacations on the taxpayer’s dime thanks to a recently expanded school-voucher program. The new Personalized Education Program, or PEP, “provides about $8,000 annually to thousands of homeschooled students to get taxpayer-funded theme-park passes, big-screen TVs, and other items with an attenuated connection to education,” Judd Legum reported at Popular Information. Theme-park tickets are an approved expense under PEP, and in a private Facebook post obtained by Legum, one parent says they got passes to Disney World and Universal Studios approved through the program. Another asks for advice on getting an annual pass approved.

As Legum notes, “Florida has delegated the administration of the vouchers to two private nonprofit organizations, Step Up for Students and AAA Scholarship Foundation. These nonprofits generate revenue based on how many students they can attract. So, they are incentivized to meet the demands of parents who receive vouchers.” Though theme-park tickets weren’t originally an approved expense, Step Up for Students reversed course after parents complained.

In the Facebook posts, parents treat the program like it’s their private candy jar. They’re right: It is. What Legum uncovered isn’t abuse, exactly. Rather, the program works as designed. Homeschooling parents now enjoy the financial resources and freedom the state of Florida denies public educators. That’s a deliberate choice on the part of Florida lawmakers and a natural outcome of the parental-rights movement.

As implemented by Step Up for Students and AAA Scholarship Foundation, PEP can cover big-screen TVs and expensive Lego sets and even some video-game consoles, if parents have a child with special needs. (In another private Facebook post, a parent asks if they can purchase a PS5 bundle that includes God of War, which is rated for adults only. They said their child is 5.) Homeschooled students can now pay for swing sets, foosball tables, air-hockey tables, skateboards, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, dolls, and stuffed animals through PEP, Legum added.


October 15, 2023

The Decades-Long Travesty That Made Millions of Americans Mistrust Their Kids' Schools


Call it the end of an era for fantasy-fueled reading instruction. In a move that has parents like me cheering, Columbia University’s Teachers College announced last month that it is shuttering its once famous—in some circles, now-infamous—reading organization founded by education guru and entrepreneur Lucy Calkins.

For decades, the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project was a behemoth in American education. As many as 1 in 4 U.S. elementary schools used Calkins’ signature curriculum. But that number is dwindling as a growing chorus of cognitive scientists, learning experts, and parents—many amplified by education journalist Emily Hanford via her 2022 podcast Sold a Story—argue that the Calkins approach to reading is ineffective at best, actively harmful at worst, and a large part of why more than half of our country’s fourth graders aren’t demonstrating proficiency on reading exams.

It’s common knowledge that never learning to read well damages children’s self-esteem, their life prospects, and our country’s future workforce. What’s less talked about is how, when schools fail to teach reading, it harms the public’s trust in schools. An unspoken contract between public schools and parents is that schools will teach their children to read. In many places, that contract was broken when schools adopted Calkins’ methods, kids didn’t learn to read, and responsibility for teaching reading transferred onto parents and guardians.

That’s what happened to me. I live in New York City, home to the nation’s largest school district and ground zero of the Calkins approach to reading. Mayor Michael Bloomberg brought Calkins’ curriculum to our schools some 20 years ago, and her methods have remained entrenched here ever since. Often called “balanced literacy,” this approach treats reading not as a taught skill, but as something innate that emerges under the right conditions. It rests on the fuzzy fantasy that drenching young children in a literacy-rich environment is what gets most kids reading.


October 13, 2023

End Times Antisemitism (Why Republicans & the Christian Right love Israel)



Yes, the Christian Right supports Israel. They see the establishment of the modern State of Israel as fulfillment of prophecies they believe to be necessary to the Second Coming of Jesus. They want to see the Temple rebuilt and for Israel to expand to control all of the territory described in Scripture. They believe a tiny minority of living Jews will, in the End Times, convert to Christianity and the rest will be damned to hell for their disbelief. They are, on those grounds, no friends of Jews.

I was making a point that is increasingly relevant in the Trump era: that untempered support for Israel’s most reactionary policies is no bulwark against antisemitism, just as criticism of Israeli policy is no indication of such. Many in the room nodded their agreement. Even the man who’d asked the question seemed, if not exactly satisfied, to have something to think about.

But even then, I recognized that it was a partial response, because Christian Zionism is much more than a set of beliefs about the role of Israel and the Jews in the Second Coming, beliefs that are all too easy to trivialize for those who don’t share them. Rather, Christian Zionism is part of a set of interlocking, theologically grounded beliefs about how Christians should engage with the political world.

Today, President Trump’s administration is staffed by Christian Zionists at the highest levels, including Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.[6] And adherents of the belief system form a key component of Trump’s electoral base. Up to 81 percent of White evangelicals voted for him in the 2016 elections.[7] Of that number only a slim majority, about 53 percent, unequivocally supported his recognition, in 2019, of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but it would never be a make-or-break issue for doubters.[8] For full-throttle Christian Zionists, however, the embassy move prompted comparisons of Trump to Cyrus the Great, the Persian king celebrated as a friend of the Jewish people for his decision to allow those in exile to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple.[9]


October 12, 2023

The GOP's 'southern strategy' mastermind just died. Here's his legacy.


No paywall

“The whole secret of politics is knowing who hates who.”

That insight was the brainchild of Kevin Phillips, the longtime political analyst who passed away this week at 82 years old. Phillips’s 1969 book, “The Emerging Republican Majority,” provided the blueprint for the “southern strategy” that the Republican Party adopted for decades to win over White voters who were alienated by the Democratic Party’s embrace of civil rights in the 1960s.

Phillips advised Republicans to exploit the racial anxieties of White voters, linking them directly to issues such as crime, federal spending and voting rights. The strategy, beginning with Richard M. Nixon’s landslide victory in the 1972 presidential race, helped produce GOP majorities for decades.

Though Phillips later reconsidered his fealty to the GOP, updated versions of the “southern strategy” live on in today’s Republican Party, shaping the political world we inhabit today. So I asked historians and political theorists to weigh in on Phillips’s legacy. Their responses have been edited for style and brevity.

Kevin Kruse, historian at Princeton University and co-editor of “Myth America”: Kevin Phillips was a prophet of today’s polarization. He drew a blueprint for a major realignment of American politics that is still with us. For much of the 20th century, Democrats dominated the national scene, because of the reliable support of the “Solid South.”

October 9, 2023

Jay Kuo: Playing Politics with the Gaza Terror Attack


There once was an unspoken tradition in U.S. politics that, in the face of an attack by an enemy, either upon U.S. citizens or those of an ally, the parties would put aside politics for the moment and unite behind the President. It was important, once upon a better time, to present a united rather than a divided front, because otherwise the enemy could exploit our divisions and gain an advantage. There was no precedent for immediately blaming the White House, instead of the terrorists, for an attack like we saw out of Gaza on Saturday.

And yet, we remain in unprecedented times, so attack Joe Biden they did.

A principal line of attack by the GOP concerns Iran. Recently, the Biden Administration granted further access by Iran to $6 billion in oil revenues that had been frozen and held overseas. That move was part of a diplomatic effort to obtain the release of prisoners held by Iran, within the larger context of wanting to restart the nuclear agreements that ex-president Trump had pulled the U.S. out of. But to hear the Republicans put it, Iran took that unfrozen $6 billion and promptly funded Hamas with it, leading directly to the deadliest attack in 50 years on Israel. (This is untrue, for reasons I’ll explain below.)

With U.S. citizens reportedly among those killed or taken hostage, public anger and angst are likely to grow, and we should also expect Republicans to capitalize upon a perceived failure in foreign policy. After all, this is the party that brought us some 10 hearings on Benghazi, and that tragedy was peanuts compared to this. But who bears primary responsibility for a failure to head off the attack?

Finally, and adding to the mix, the U.S. is currently politically weakened by the lack of a Speaker in the House to push through more funding and aid, by the lack of a confirmed U.S. ambassador to Israel, and by a backlog of military promotions caused by Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama. Tuberville has maintained that nothing about the crisis in Gaza will move him off his holds. Our military readiness is directly affected by his political brinksmanship.


October 5, 2023

The Slow Burn Threatening Our Democracy


A woman in Texas left a message on a federal judge’s voicemail saying, among other things, “you are in our sights, we want to kill you.” An Illinois woman sent an email to former President Donald Trump’s youngest son’s school with a message saying she “will shoot [Trump and his son] straight in the face any opportunity I get.” A man in Florida threatened a congressman, saying that he would “bash his…head in with a bat.” Then there’s the Wisconsin man who threatened a prosecutor in phone calls—300 of them. These examples, culled from the federal courts criminal docket, illustrate a bigger problem over time. By our count, over the past 10 years, more than 500 individuals have been arrested for threatening public officials. And the trendline is shooting up.

With the 2024 presidential election fast approaching, the uptick of threats against public officials may make the idea of another Jan. 6 attack or similar large-scale political violence moment loom large. But the focus on preventing another Jan. 6 may be more distracting than helpful. In practice, the threat of domestic extremism has moved into a new phase, something best referred to as a slowly growing everyday insurgency, where an unprecedented number of disparate individuals motivated by similar underlying grievances seek to intimidate and coerce public officials.

These threats coalesce together, forming a culture which helps normalize the idea of political violence. These threats are most prevalent online but are also transmitted through telephone calls, handwritten letters, videos, and face-to-face confrontations.

Over the past year, we conducted a deep dive into the world of communicated threats directed at public officials in these categories: election and elected, education, healthcare, and law enforcement, to include the judiciary. Our team retrieved and carefully reviewed all federal charges that fit these parameters between 2013 and 2022. We collected and culled thousands of court documents to understand the grievances animating the threats, the way threats were communicated, the targets of these threats, and many other characteristics. We wanted to understand as much as possible about each incident, starting from the alleged offender(s) involved, and the victim(s) targeted. Selecting federal cases with corresponding court documents, which are typically rich in detail, gave us the best chance to do so. Other options would have produced far fewer details about these issues. That said, the federal courts provide just one lens into what is a much bigger problem as the actual prevalence of threats to public officials is higher given some individuals are charged at the state level or are simply not charged at all.


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