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How to Debate Republican Family Members This 4th of July – and Win



Photo: Bob n Renee/Flickr

Today is the United States of America’s birthday.

And just like our own birthdays, it gets celebrated whether or not the past year was a success.

America doesn’t have much to celebrate as it turns 242 years old, but celebrate we shall.

For most Americans, the holiday means getting together with friends and family, including that one racist uncle who will spend the day talking fawningly about Trump’s big, beautiful border wall.

When that happens, you’re going to want to debate him. And you’re going to want to win.

Here is a guide to what the wingnuts are currently obsessed with, from someone who is professionally obligated to watch more Fox News than any sane person should.

Everyone crossing the border without authorization is acting illegally and that’s why we lock them up.

People from both sides of the aisle tend to casually refer to unauthorized border crossings as though they’re all illegal. They’re not, because the United States is obligated by international law to grant asylum to qualified people. The requirements to qualify for asylum are complex, but asylum should be granted to someone who fears persecution in their home country based on political opinion or being part of a particular social group when their home country’s government is either involved in the persecution or unable to stop it.

So there’s a good argument for the prototypical family of indigenous people from a rural Guatemalan village who is being targeted by Narcos who view indigenous people as subhuman and/or want to force them to participate in a violent criminal enterprise. That means those people are legally allowed to come to the United States. They don’t have to “wait their turn” or any of that.

Trump and his agents are acting illegally by automatically detaining asylum seekers, a judge just ruled.

Trump and his supporters make a big deal about these folks needing to go to an officially designated port of entry to qualify for asylum. You can’t request asylum until you’re on American soil, so if the Trumpistas can block them from getting to American soil then the U.S. has no obligation to grant them asylum.

But that’s not the law—asylum seekers can make an unauthorized arrival by sneaking past immigration control and then file their paperwork. They have not necessarily committed a crime by doing so.

Crossing the border without authorization is a serious crime and we need to detain the people who do it. We detain them apart from their children because you can’t bring your kids to jail with you.

Crossing the border without authorization—what Reoublicans call “illegally”—is a Class B misdemeanor. As a crime, this is as serious as drawing with a marker on a dollar bill.

We don’t put people in jail for drawing a mustache on a dollar bill, let alone take their kid away and lock them in a cage inside an abandoned Walmart.

Once a migrant is here, being here without proper documentation is a civil infraction—but it’s not an infraction if they turn in paperwork to apply for asylum.

Obama was also locking up migrant kids and all the photos you see are of kids locked up during Obama’s administration.

The Obama administration did detain migrant children, and deported a lot of people. Despite what the right claims about amnesty, the former president was extremely aggressive in policing immigration.

But those children you see locked up under Obama were not forcibly separated from their parents at the border. They were “unaccompanied minors” who made their way north on their own and got caught at the border.

The difference is that Trump intentionally and cruelly took kids from their parents—including very small children and babies.

The girl in that famous photo later used on the cover of Time was not separated from her mother.

This is true—it’s also true that lots of little girls just like her were.

Democrats are destroying the country with a lack of civility—such as by refusing to serve fried chicken to Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

“Civility” is the right’s latest obsession. Essentially, everyone on Fox New seems worried that if people stop treating collaborators nicely in public, it will be miserable for current collaborators and harder to recruit new ones.

Without resorting to whataboutism, it’s worth remembering that the root of Donald Trump’s appeal is his undermining of our culture’s norms. He’s said things that other politicians won’t say and done things that other politicians won’t do. The list is too long to even start into.

People have responded by resisting Trump and his collaborators in ways both big and small. That includes confronting them in restaurants.

When Obama was president, Republicans cheered when a bakery refused to serve Joe Biden.

Republicans also cheered when religious bakeries refused to make cakes for gay weddings.

Cake is not a sacred part of a wedding ceremony or the subject of any religious rituals. To say it’s OK for someone to refuse to serve a regular gay couple because you don’t like their personal choices but that it’s wrong to refuse to serve someone who constantly tells lies and took kids away from their parents and locked them in cages seems hypocritical.

Trump succeeded in North Korea and the media won’t give him credit.

People on the right are obsessed with the fact that North Korea destroyed its nuclear test site with great fanfare. What they don’t understand is that happened because North Korea no longer needs to test nuclear weapons—it knows they work, it built them, it has the missiles to fire them at us.

North Korea destroying its missile test site was a celebration of its successful tests, not of acquiesce to Trump.

What did happen is that Trump legitimized a dictator by negotiating with him as an equal.

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Does the 14th Amendment Bar Trump From Being President?



States across the nation are determining whether or not former President Donald Trump can appear on ballots in upcoming primary elections—and if Trump is even eligible to serve. Most of these arguments hinge on the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

But with some states—like Maine and Colorado—moving to strike Trump from the ballot, while others—including California, Minnesota and Michigan—deciding to keep Trump in the primaries, is there a clear answer as to whether or not the 14th Amendment actually applies? Let’s take a look at the arguments, for and against.

What is the 14th Amendment?

The 14th Amendment lays out the rules for being an elected official in the federal government, and is also the home of the equal protection clause. While the equal protection clause—which sets up due process—is important, most of the focus in this particular fight is on Section 3.

Section 3 reads as follows:

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 3 was passed shortly after the Civil War, and ratified in 1868. It was intended to keep former Confederates out of Congress and the electoral college. In 1872, Congress invoked the last clause of the section to give immunity to most former Confederates, except for those high up in the Confederacy—for example, General Robert E. Lee or President Jefferson Davis.

Prior to Trump, Section 3 has been invoked only once after the Civil War. Victor Berger, a Socialist Party of America member from Wisconsin was barred from his elected seat in the House of Representatives in 1919 and 1920. Berger had been convicted in 1919 of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 for speaking against the U.S.’ entry into World War I. The Supreme Court ruled in 1921 that Section 3 did not apply to Berger, and he served three more terms in the House, from 1923 to 1929.

Why The 14th Amendment Disqualifies Trump

Both Maine and Colorado have barred Trump from their primary ballots, citing the 14th Amendment. In Maine’s ruling Thursday evening, Secretary of State Shenna Bellows said that Trump “engaged in insurrection” on January 6, 2021, when his supporters stormed the Capitol Building in order to stop the confirmation of the 2020 election results in Congress.

“I do not reach this conclusion lightly,” Bellows wrote, according to the AP. “I am mindful that no Secretary of State has ever deprived a presidential candidate of ballot access based on Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment. I am also mindful, however, that no presidential candidate has ever before engaged in insurrection.”

On December 19, Colorado’s Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that Trump was ineligible to appear on the primary ballot due to the 14th Amendment, according to the AP. The court ruled that Trump indeed engaged in an insurrection, and thus, was not able to be president.

Other politicians and pundits have weighed in. Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a former professor of constitutional law, said the Constitution “could not be any clearer,” according to The Hill.

“This is a chance for these [Supreme Court] justices to show that they really mean it when they talk about textualism, when they talk about originalism. The plain text of the Constitution could not be any clearer,” Raskin said. “If Donald Trump is not disqualified from holding office again after what he did on January 6 in the weeks leading up to it, then who is disqualified? Why would they read an entire provision out of the constitution?”

Another constitutional law professor, Mark A. Graber of the University of Maryland, agrees. Graber puts particular emphasis on the part of Section 3 about a person who had previously taken an oath to protect the Constitution who engages in insurrection.

“These oaths bind officeholders to follow all the rules in the Constitution. The only legitimate government officers are those who hold their offices under the constitutional rules. Lawmakers must follow the Constitution’s rules for making laws. Officeholders can only recognize laws that were made by following the rules – and they must recognize all such laws as legitimate,” Graber wrote in an essay for The Conversation.

Why It Doesn’t Apply to Trump

On the other hand, most of the court rulings in favor of Trump ask questions of jurisdiction and standing. In Florida, a federal district judge ruled that the lawyer and voters who sued to remove Trump didn’t have standing, according to Forbes. In Michigan and Minnesota both, Trump was allowed to remain on the ballot because Trump had qualified for the primary election, but the courts said the cases could be brought again should Trump enter the general election.

In California, Secretary of State Shirley Weber declined to honor a request from Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis to “explore every legal option” to boot Trump from the ballot citing the 14th Amendment, according to the New York Times. However, California state law does not legally give the secretary of state authority to disqualify candidates in the presidential race, the Times reports. This sets California apart from most other states, where secretaries of state indeed have that power.

As with the argument in favor of dumping Trump, politicians have come out to say that the 14th Amendment doesn’t apply in this case. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) said that Section 3 only applies to the former Confederacy, and has no modern application.

“The 14th Amendment referred to, basically, people who had risen in rebellion and fought a war for four years. There’s no point at which it references anybody today,” Gingrich said, according to The Hill.

Gingrich also said that Trump had not been charged with insurrection, “because you can’t. Because an insurrection is a unique and classifiable thing.”

Legal scholar Kurt Lash wrote an op-ed for the New York Times that posits that the 14th Amendment doesn’t apply, as the presidency is not, as the Constitution requires, a “‘civil’ office ‘under the United States.'”

“If the framers meant the catchall provision to include presidents and postmasters, they were remarkably negligent. According to longstanding congressional precedent and legal authority, the phrase ‘civil office under the United States’ did not include the office of president of the United States. As Joseph Story explained in his influential ‘Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States,’ the congressional precedent known as Blount’s case established that the offices of president, senator and representative were not civil offices under the government of the United States; they were the government of the United States. The phrase ‘civil office under the United States’ referred to appointed offices,” he continued.

Of course, we’ll have to wait for the Supreme Court to decide before we’ll have an official answer. While both chambers of Congress could give Trump an exemption, this seems unlikely as the Republican control of the House is by a razor-thin margin, and the Democrats control the Senate.

But either way, until then, Trump’s political fate lies in limbo.

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Trump’s Primary Opponents Say They’d Help Him If Elected, Even Though He’s Bashed Them



While former President Donald Trump is the frontrunner in the Republican primary, Trump’s primary opponents say they’re going to help him if elected—even as he tears into them.

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley promised Thursday in New Hampshire that if she were to be elected, she’d “pardon Trump if he was found guilty,” according to Business Insider.

“A leader needs to think about what’s in the best interest of the country,” Haley said. “What’s in the best interest of the country is not to have an 80-year-old man sitting in jail, that continues to divide our country.”

READ MORE: DeSantis Mocks Colorado Boycott: Trump Would ‘Spike the Football’ if Anybody Else Banned

The same day, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said that he’d fire special counsel Jack Smith on his first day as President, according to The Hill. DeSantis then accused Smith, who has brought two indictments against Trump, and the Biden administration of having “weaponized the legal system to go after their political enemies.”

“And that starts with day one, firing somebody like Jack Smith. That goes to dealing with people who are violating constitutional rights at the state and local government area,” DeSantis said.

Though Haley and DeSantis promised to help Trump, in his usual fashion, he’s repeatedly bashed his primary opponents. In February, shortly after Haley announced her candidacy, Trump wrote on Truth Social that the “greatest thing” she did was to accept the U.N. ambassadorship so Henry McMaster could take her place as governor of South Carolina, according to Forbes.

“That was a big reason why I appointed Nikki to the position—it was a favor to the people I love in South Carolina,” Trump wrote.

This week, Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., squashed rumors that Haley would be Trump’s vice presidential nominee, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“I wouldn’t have her on. I would go to great lengths to make sure that that doesn’t happen,” he said during a Newsmax interview, adding that she was “a puppet of the establishment.”

On Truth Social, Trump gave Haley one of his famous nicknames: “Birdbrain.” In a post Monday, Trump slammed her for being endorsed by Americans For Prosperity—which Trump called Americans For Chinese Prosperity—a conservative political advocacy group founded by the right-wing Koch brothers.

“Americans For Chinese Prosperity (Action?) is a Globalist CON JOB that is big on giving our Country away to China and other countries throughout the World. They Endorsed ‘Birdbrain’ because that has always been where her sympathies lie. She is a Globalist RINO, much like ‘Rob’ DeSanctimonious, but not a smart one, and I got to see that up close and personal. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!!!” Trump wrote.

And, as that post shows, Trump is not a fan of “DeSanctimonious”, either. Though in 2018, Trump endorsed DeSantis for governor, and DeSantis supported him during the Mueller probe, their allyship has cooled. Since then, Trump said DeSantis has has “got no personality,” and called him a “Trump imposter.”

While DeSantis has occasionally hit back at Trump, even telling reporters that if Trump “drained the swamp like he promised… [he] wouldn’t be in the mess that he’s in right now,” this isn’t the first time he’s defended Trump in recent memory. Earlier this month, he said Trump was not a “threat to democracy,” and should have gone further and, for example, fired Dr. Anthony Fauci.




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Trump Says Michigan Supreme Court ‘Strongly and Rightfully’ Rejected Appeal to Boot Him From Ballot



Former President Donald Trump praised the Michigan Supreme Court for denying an appeal Wednesday that would boot him off the Republican primary ballot.

“The Michigan Supreme Court has strongly and rightfully denied the Desperate Democrat attempt to take the leading Candidate in the 2024 Presidential Election, me, off the ballot in the Great State of Michigan. This pathetic gambit to rig the Election has failed all across the Country, including in States that have historically leaned heavily toward the Democrats,” Trump wrote on Truth Social, his social media platform.

He then took the opportunity to bash Colorado, so far, the only state to rule Trump ineligible to appear on the primary ballot. The U.S. Supreme Court is likely to hear an appeal of this ruling, according to Slate. In addition, the Colorado justices have received death threats, and the state GOP says that it will move to a caucus system if the court’s decision keeping him off the ballot stands.

READ MORE: SCOTUS Gives Trump a Hand as Justices Kick Can Down the Road on Immunity Claim

“This pathetic gambit to rig the Election has failed all across the Country, including in States that have historically leaned heavily toward the Democrats. Colorado is the only State to have fallen prey to the scheme. That 4-3 Colorado Supreme Court decision, which they themselves stayed, thus keeping me on the ballot as we go up to the U.S. Supreme Court, is being ridiculed and mocked all over the World,” Trump continued.

“We have to prevent the 2024 Election from being Rigged and Stolen like they stole 2020 – just look at the complete mess we have as a result with Crooked Joe Biden violently destroying everything in his sight, from our once-great Economy to our once-fair Justice System. We have to save our Country from decline and the Radical Left. Make America Great Again!”

The Michigan Supreme Court ruling may not be the slam-dunk win Trump appears to make it out to be. The case before the court called on Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to make sure all candidates are eligible to serve. Plaintiffs said Trump was ineligible under the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, specifically the Insurrection Clause.

The court’s ruling, however, didn’t engage with the question as to whether or not the events of January 6, 2021 counted as an insurrection, that Trump was responsible, nor that Trump was barred by the clause. Instead, the court upheld a ruling from the state’s Court of Appeals that it was not up to Benson to determine a candidate’s eligibility, according to The Detroit News.

Justice Elizabeth Welch, in her dissent, did say the ruling lets “appellants to renew their legal efforts as to the Michigan general election later in 2024 should Trump become the Republican nominee for president of the United States or seek such office as an independent candidate.”

The Michigan Supreme Court ruling comes a week after recordings leaked of Trump urging Republican members of the Board of Canvassers in Wayne County, Michigan, to not certify the 2020 election. The recordings, obtained by The Detroit News, have Trump offering to provide lawyers if the two board members declined to sign the certification.

“We’ve got to fight for our country,” Trump told the board members. “We can’t let these people take our country away from us.”



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