Democratic Policy & Communications Committee Cites “Unprecedented”

The Democratic Policy & Communications Committee released a report titled “How the Right-wing Capture of Our Courts Threatens Health Care and Reproductive Rights for Millions of Americans.” I am happy they cited my 2013 book, Unprecedented: The Constitutional Challenge to Obamacare. Here is an excerpt:

As soon as the law passed in 2010, the dark-money-funded National Federation of Independent Business8 (NFIB) and twenty-six Republican attorneys general all sued, arguing a key aspect of the law was unconstitutional.9 When the litigation started, “the idea that the Act’s mandate to purchase health insurance might be unconstitutional was, in the view of most legal professionals and academics, simply crazy.”10 However, a coordinated effort by the Heritage Foundation and other dark-money-funded organizations moved this radical argument into the right-wing mainstream.11 The organizations collaborated with the Republican attorneys general who filed suit and conscripted law professor Randy Barnett to draft an influential report on the constitutionality of the ACA.12 According to its legal director Todd Gaziano, Heritage hoped the report would “convince [professors] to write” articles, op-eds, and blog posts to lay the foundation for future constitutional challenges.13 Heritage also courted Congressional staffers in order to get the paper in the legislative record.14 Other dark-money organizations directly funded NFIB’s litigation.15

12 Todd Gaziano, Randy Barnett, & Nathaniel Stewart, the Personal Mandate to Buy Health Insurance Is Unprecedented and Unconstitutional, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION (Dec. 9, 2009), available at https://ift.tt/33dTJbU; Josh Blackman, How Randy Barnett joined the constitutional challenge to Obamacare, THE VOLOKH CONSPIRACY (Sept. 10, 2013), http://volokh.com/2013/09/10/randy-barnett-joined-constitutional-challenge-obamacare/.

13 Josh Blackman, UNPRECEDENTED: THE CONSTITUTIONAL CHALLENGE TO OBAMACARE 44 (2013).

14 Id.

I’m not sure they actually read the book, but a citation is a citation.

When I wrote Unprecedented in 2013, I could not have fathomed that we would still be arguing about the constitutionality of Obamacare in the year 2020.

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Trump’s Night: The Return Of The Chaos Candidate

Trump’s Night: The Return Of The Chaos Candidate

Tyler Durden

Wed, 09/30/2020 – 18:00

Authored by Philip Wegmann via RealClearPolitics.com,

Donald Trump never liked the nickname.  Back when he was a New Yorker and a newly minted Republican and generally considered a political oddity, Jeb Bush branded him on live television. According to the former Florida governor, Trump was “the chaos candidate.”  

It fit then, and it still fits now: The first Trump vs. Biden debate marked the return of the chaos candidacy. 

Though no one who knew him well expected Trump to change because of a trifling factor such as living in the White House for nearly four years, the incumbent president was in classic form Tuesday night. For 98 minutes, he belittled and bullied and berated both his opponent and the moderator — so much so that he made the debate painful to watch. But what was roundly condemned may have been the plan. 

Trump trails former vice president Joe Biden in the RealClearPolitics national polling average by 6.1 percentage points. Figuring he needed a strong showing to close the gap, the campaign studied every Biden debate since 1972. The strategy they came up with entailed having Trump  rely on his improv ability rather than employ a structured game plan.  

There were just a handful of goals for Trump, a source familiar with the debate prep told RCP:  

Knock Biden off his talking points by answering questions from moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News and then posing another one to his opponent. Force him to own up to the less popular parts of his own record. Push the centrist Democrat to own the policy agenda of those on his left flank. 

“The more Joe stutters and stumbles and makes mistakes and says things that just don’t resonate or make sense,” the source told RCP the day before the debate, “the more we’re winning.” 

If that approach wasn’t already apparent, it became obvious within the first few minutes when a discussion about the Supreme Court turned into a question about Obamacare. Trump said that a Biden administration would kick 180 million Americans off of their private health insurance and open the door to “socialized medicine.” Biden balked.  

“That is simply a lie,” he said.  

“Your party wants to go socialist medicine and socialist health care,” Trump interrupted.  

“The party is me. Right now, I am the Democratic Party,” Biden insisted.  

“And they’re going to dominate you, Joe. You know that,” Trump shot back. 

It was a redux of what Republicans have long argued, namely that Biden’s moderation is a sham and that the former vice president is little more than a Trojan horse for more progressive ideologies. At one point, after Trump accused Biden of embracing “socialized medicine” and signing off on “the manifesto” of a former Democratic rival, an incredulous Biden replied, “I’m not going to listen to him. The fact of the matter is I beat Bernie Sanders.”  

This was a rare denunciation at a moment when Democrats have tried to bind up the partisan wounds of a divisive primary.  Trump saw it as an opening to take advantage, declaring that Biden had “just lost the left.” Two minutes later, both men were shouting that the other was the real “liar.”  

Much of the debate was wasted with this kind of jawboning, and little policy was actually discussed in detail. But as Trump was trying to peg Biden as a radical, he only succeeded in chasing the Democrat to the center. The Green New Deal? Biden said he didn’t support it. Rioting in the streets? Biden condemned violence. Defunding the police? Biden said he would increase funding. Just as Republicans struggled to define Biden over the summer, Trump was all over the place throughout the night. His punches didn’t land as hard as they did four years ago, and his new opponent was not as easily demonized as Hillary Clinton. But the president never stopped interrupting, which at some point became the issue itself.  

Trump said the only reason that Biden was the nominee was because he got “very lucky” (the Democrat sarcastically agreed). He said that Biden was a bad negotiator and that “China ate your lunch.” He said that after nearly five decades in government Biden had “done nothing.”  

Trump did not limit his attacks to Biden. Early in the night he began to bristle at questions from Chris Wallace, complaining that “I guess I’m debating you.” From then on, the president regularly disregarded the moderator. He interrupted and demanded more time to answer questions and went his own way. Wallace became so exasperated at one point that he sarcastically offered to switch seats with Trump.  

While the president seemed to shred the debate rulebook, he was not always on offense. He was asked about a report in the New York Times that he only paid $750 in federal income taxes. Is that true? Trump insisted that it wasn’t and said he had actually paid several million dollars. “Show us your tax returns,” Biden interjected. Trump, as he has for the past four years, said that he couldn’t release the documents until an IRS audit was finished. And besides, the president continued, he was just trying to get the best deal possible by obeying the rules established under the Obama administration.  

“I don’t want to pay taxes,” Trump admitted.

“Before I came here, I was a private developer, I was a private businessperson. Like every other private person, unless they’re stupid, they go through the laws. … He passed a bill that gave us all these privileges for depreciation and for tax credits.”  

This would become a theme throughout the night. Although he’s the incumbent U.S. president, Donald Trump continued to run as an insurgent. Pushed to play defense on a topic, he would argue instead that if Biden were president a bad situation would only be worse. For instance, as the death toll from coronavirus exceeds 200,000, Trump insisted the number would have been much higher if he hadn’t closed the country to Asia and Europe. 

“If we would’ve listened to you, the country would have been left wide open, millions of people would have died, not 200,000,” Trump told Biden before adding, “I’ll tell you, Joe, you could never have done the job that we did. You don’t have it in your blood. You could’ve never done that, Joe.”  

Aside from passing references to ventilators and therapeutics and vaccines, neither candidate discussed the pandemic in detail. They did, however, make things personal.  

Trump tried repeatedly to rattle Biden usually with interruptions. Biden responded by complaining that it was “hard to get any word in with this clown.” At another point, after the president kept talking over his answer about the Supreme Court, he asked, “Will you shut up, man?”  

This freewheeling approach was not without risks. Asked twice by Wallace if he would condemn white supremacists and tell militias to stand down during moments of urban unrest, Trump said “sure” twice. He told the moderator to “give me a name,” asking, “Who do you want me to condemn?” Biden suggested “the Proud Boys,” a self-described alt-right chauvinist organization.  

“Okay, Proud Boys — stand back and stand by,” the president responded. “But I’ll tell you what — somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem, this is a left wing.”  

In short order, the group was trumpeting what it saw as an endorsement. Critics took this, specifically the words “stand by,” as a sign that the president was refusing to condemn white supremacists.  

The subsequent controversy went viral on social media, an episode that the Trump campaign certainly did not want or expect. Rather, for months Republicans had placed their hopes on a rhetorical slugfest where the president could outmatch his opponent. One of their top priorities? Forcing Biden to discuss his son Hunter. Trump saw his opportunity when Biden referenced the military career of his son.   

“He got the Bronze Star. He got the Conspicuous Service Medal. He was not a loser. He was a patriot. And the people left behind there were heroes,” Biden said.  

Trump interrupted to ask if he was talking about Hunter. Biden said no, he was talking about Beau. 

“I don’t know Beau. I know Hunter. Hunter got thrown out of the military. He was thrown out, dishonorably discharged for cocaine use,” Trump continued. 

Biden said that wasn’t true. Trump said that it was.  

“Once you became vice president, he made a fortune in Ukraine and China and Moscow and various other places. And he didn’t have a job,” Trump shot back.  

That is simply not true. My son, like a lot of people, like a lot of people you know at home, had a drug problem. He’s overtaken it. He’s fixed it. He’s worked on it. And I’m proud of him,” Biden concluded.  

Republicans have been hammering for months on ties between Hunter Biden and foreign nationals, arguing that sweetheart deals and plum business opportunities overseas were only the result of his last name and willingness to trade access to his father for profit. Trump tried to do the same on stage but Biden wasn’t rattled.  

The debate continued for several more minutes. More barbs and more personal attacks followed. Both candidates regularly interrupted, and they kept doing so even as Wallace tried to bring the night to an end.

“We are going to have to leave it there,” the moderator said, even as Trump kept speaking.

“It has been an interesting hour and a half.”  

More than anything, the 98 minutes marked the return of Trump as the chaos candidate.

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/34dH3kv Tyler Durden

Daily Briefing – September 30, 2020

Daily Briefing – September 30, 2020


Tyler Durden

Wed, 09/30/2020 – 17:40

Real Vision managing editor Ed Harrison hosts Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer of Bleakley Advisory Group and editor of The Boock Report. Boockvar shares his macro analysis on what he calls “the pain trade:” companies that have been the most hurt by COVID-19 and have the most to gain from re-opening. Boockvar and Harrison review the latest economic data and discuss what is and what is not priced into the markets. Boockvar also discusses banks as the ultimate value trap and why they may be poised for an ultimate turnaround should the long-end of the yield curve tighten. Real Vision reporter Haley Draznin breaks down two major technology companies, Palantir and Asana, and their direct listings on the NYSE today and how this could reshape the IPO market.

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/3jkmetV Tyler Durden

Nearly 18,000 Ballots Rejected In Massachusetts Primary Election

Nearly 18,000 Ballots Rejected In Massachusetts Primary Election

Tyler Durden

Wed, 09/30/2020 – 17:40

Just under 18,000 ballots cast in the Massachusetts primary were rejected, as a flood of residents voted by mail for the first time, according to figures released by the Secretary of State at the request of the Boston Globe.

In total, over 1.7 million people voted in the primary. Of that, 814,013 arrived by mail according to Secretary of State William Galvin’s office – with thousands of people choosing mail-in voting for the first time to take advantage of new election rules enacted due to the pandemic.

Of the 17,872 rejected ballots, roughly half – 8,419 – were tossed because they arrived late. Another 3,124 ballots were missing signatures or were missing the provided mail-in ballot envelope. 1,100 ballots were rejected for “other” reasons.

The 17,872 ballots thrown out from the primary accounted for slightly less than 2 percent of the 1 million-plus cast early or by absentee. More than 1.7 million people voted in total.

Still, with roughly half of voters choosing to cast their ballot by mail amid the ever-present coronavirus pandemic, the raw rejection totals soared beyond that of recent elections, and were largely driven by tardy ballots or in some cases, voter error. –Boston Globe

It’s a very unfortunate statistic,” said attorney Oren Sellstrom, litigation director for Lawyers for Civil Rights. “It indicates that thousands of people were disenfranchised in the 2020 primary, and thousands more are at risk in the general election if we don’t improve our practices.”

In late July, the US Postal Service warned Massachusetts and dozens of other states that ballots cast by mail for the November election may arrive late even if sent before the state’s legally imposed deadline, according to the Globe. Currently, any ballots postmarked in the state by November 3rd and received within three days – 5 p.m. on November 6, wioll be counted.

Clearly, we’re emphasizing to people to get it in early,” said Galvin, who said he could only speculate if USPS delays were responsible for the late-arriving ballots and called the issue “regrettable.

The total of rejected votes was more than three times the number from the 2018 and 2016 general elections, when turnout bulged to 2.7 and 3.4 million, respectively. About 5,100 absentee ballots were discarded in each of those elections, accounting for 5.8 percent and 3.3 percent of all absentee ballots returned.

That the rejection rate was lower this year when far more people voted absentee was a good sign that “Massachusetts kind of figured it out,” said Charles Stewart III, an MIT political science professor who studies elections.

But those who show up for primaries are typically more seasoned voters, Stewart said, making it difficult to predict how many of those casting ballots in November, potentially for the first time under the state’s newly expanded rules, will fare.

Problems with voting at this magnitude can be consequential,” he said. –Boston Globe

“It wasn’t perfect, and no election is perfect,” said Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts, adding “There were some glitches.”

“There were a few people that were mailed the wrong ballot. There were a few instances of ballots being lost. But overall, considering the amount of [mail-in] ballots going from a few 1,000 to almost a 1 million, that is a huge change in our election system.”

Let’s see how Massachusetts fares in the general election, just over a month away.

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Kyle Rittenhouse To Sue Biden Over ‘White Supremacists’ Campaign Ad

Kyle Rittenhouse To Sue Biden Over ‘White Supremacists’ Campaign Ad

Tyler Durden

Wed, 09/30/2020 – 17:20

Kyle Rittenhouse is pursuing a libel case against the Joe Biden and his campaign after the former Vice President included the 17-year-old in a Wednesday campaign advertisement suggesting he is a white supremacist – despite the Anti-Defamation League finding no evidence he was or is connected to any extremist movements.

According to his attorney, Lin Wood, a lawsuit is headed straight for Biden.


I will rip Joe into shreds. Ask witnesses who have had the misfortune of sitting across the table from me under oath,” Wood added.

Rittenhouse, whose defense funds have raised over $500,000, was arrested after killing two BLM attackers and injuring a third in Kenosha, Wisconsin during an August 25th BLM protest. The teen was in Kenosha to protect businesses in anticipation of rioting and property destruction in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake by police.

Video from the scene shows Rittenhouse being chased down the street before falling on the ground and firing his weapon, while earlier footage shows him shooting BLM protester Joseph Rosenbaum – who had acted aggressively earlier towards Rittenhouse Rittenhouse, who was charged with six criminal counts including first-degree intentional homicide and first-degree reckless homicide, has claimed self-defense.

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Goldman Cuts 400 Jobs As COVID-19 Layoff Moratorium Ends

Goldman Cuts 400 Jobs As COVID-19 Layoff Moratorium Ends

Tyler Durden

Wed, 09/30/2020 – 17:00

Although they won’t be counted in time to be reflected in the pre-election day jobs numbers, the last batch of which is set to be released on Friday, a flurry of corporate layoffs in recent days has offered the latest reminder that for millions of Americans, the “K” shaped recovery described by Chris Wallace last night is a reality for working people.

The layoff wave continued Wednesday morning with Shell and Continental announcing thousands of layoffs, and continued into the afternoon as Goldman Sachs announced that it, too, would soon move along with some layoffs that had purportedly been planned before COVID-19.

Shareholders might remember that Goldman CEO David Solomon has been doing a top-to-bottom review of the bank. Presumably, the roughly 400 positions (1% of its workforce) being eliminated are part of Solomon’s vision to make the bank a more consumer-focused, tech savvy institution (basically, it’s firing investment bankers and hiring more coders).

Bloomberg notes that the cuts come despite the fact that the bank’s traditional dealmaking and trading businesses are “booming”.

Goldman is hardly alone. In the US, Wells Fargo and Citigroup were among the first to restart their planned cuts. In Europe, Deutsche Bank is moving ahead with the biggest Wall Street cull since Lehman. Solomon acknowledged the cuts over the summer, saying he would resume the cuts “for the good of our shareholders”.

The bank was already facing immense pressure to lower costs before the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic.

“At the outbreak of the pandemic, the firm announced that it would suspend any job reductions,” said Pat Scanlan, a spokesman for New York-based Goldman Sachs. “The firm has made a decision to move forward with a modest number of layoffs.”

Hopefully, the Goldman traders who got COVID-19 wont’ see their positions included in the cull – though, right now, they’re probably making too much money for the firm to risk cutting lose. Then again, it doesn’t exactly take a genius to reap a major windfall trading options in this market.

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/34hhDlY Tyler Durden

With Surprise Ratings Plunge, Do Debates Even Matter In This Election?

With Surprise Ratings Plunge, Do Debates Even Matter In This Election?

Tyler Durden

Wed, 09/30/2020 – 16:40

Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, ‘n Guns blog,

Last night’s debate was universally panned as many things not suitable for virgin ears. Honestly, I don’t disagree.

I had no plans on watching it because they are almost always uninteresting, low-information theater. Last night was no exception.

Both camps are doing their best to put the best spin on it they can but a couple of observations I think are salient:

  1. Biden was as good as he was ever going to be

  2. Trump was as bad as he could possibly have been

  3. Chris Wallace was there to make sure Biden stayed on script

  4. The format and questions were all softballs for Biden

In that context here’s the big question for partisans (of which I’m one), “Do these debates even matter?” And my cynical answer is, “No. They don’t.”

But the more nuanced one is that yes, they do. They matter for one important reason.

People don’t vote based on what candidates say but how they say them.

That’s why televised debates are such an important part of a campaign and why they can be turning points in an election.

Jonathan Haidt in his book, The Righteous Mind, laid out a metaphor for how the brain processes information and communicates it to the world.

It boils down to the Elephant and the Rider.

Your hindbrain or right-brain is the Elephant. It’s the unconscious mind which makes all the real decisions.

The Rider is the forebrain or left-brain and it’s like the press secretary for the Elephant. It thinks it’s in charge, puling on the reins of what it’s convinced itself is a quarter-horse directing your behavior and your decisions.

It tells you, and more importantly the world, that you’re rational and that you are consciously in control of your decisions.

But the reality is The Rider sits on top of The Elephant who is charging ahead because it’s already made its decision.

The Rider then just makes up why as The Elephant tramples forward.

Why is this important to the debates?

This is, in essence, why debates matter. Elephants vote.

And this take on last night’s “shitshow” is the correct one.

There is an army of DNC operatives out there today trying to tell you that Trump lost the debate or that he lied and here are the fact-checks to prove it and all that rotten nonsense.

Those are riders desperately talking to those whose elephants already decided they hate Trump for whatever reason they have. Trump Derangement Syndrome is real.

It won’t change one vote.

What Trump did last night was to project competence and strength. His best moments were when he looked at Biden and said, “Joe what are you talking about? I just had this guy in my office last week….”

Those moments translate to the Elephants on all sides of the political spectrum that Trump is in control of his office, is informed and despite all of his faults as a person is right on top of the issues.

This is strength of leadership. It’s alpha male stuff. Trump made the case loud and clear in the first 30 minutes of the debate that he is President, does the job well, and won’t apologize for running the country the way he does.

In a time when there’s crazy violence in the streets, millions unemployed and rightfully worried about tomorrow not ten years from now, that’s pretty much all he had to do.

All Biden could do was mumble about raising taxes and being fearful of more COVID-19.

Elephants look at that and see weakness not leadership.

All the talk about decorum and shouting over each other is irrelevant. Decorum is for dinner parties. People tune in to the debates to decide who will lead them not who will play by some arbitrary set of rules.

And the more Chris Wallace tried to put Trump in his place the more obvious it was to everyone’s Elephant that this was not a level playing field.

Now, as far as this election goes we may not need anymore of this events for one simple reason. Ratings.

The ratings for the 2016 debates were record-setting. They needed to be. So few people had actually seen more than a sound-byte of Trump that they needed to tune in to allow their Elephants to get a measure of him.

By the end of the first debate Trump went from Nazi to ‘pretty ok’ in a lot of voters’ minds.

By the end of the last debate and the five words that won him the election, Trump sealed the deal with millions of undecided Elephants. He moved them with those words and that pugnacious attitude he has.

This year all he has to do is show those same people that he’s just as much a fighter today after four years of endless screeching and lying as he was then.

This adds to an observation I saw on Twitter yesterday about the ratings which struck my Elephant as correct.

Brian may not like what I’m about to report.

The poor ratings for last night’s debate tell me that there are a lot of Elephants out there that didn’t need reassuring.

The first presidential debate of 2020 was widely panned by most observers — and is on track to draw a far smaller audience than the record-setting first debate four years ago.

Fast national ratings for the broadcast networks show the debate gathering 28.82 million viewers across ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox — a decline of 36 percent from 2016. Four years ago, the big four networks tallied 45.3 million viewers in the preliminary ratings, rising to 49.33 million after time zone adjustments for the live broadcast.

And if that CBS Poll is an anomaly in this election cycle, namely that it’s in any way accurate, then there is little need to go forward with any more of these because it only gets worse for Joe Biden from here…

…no matter what the Riders in the Twitterati have to say about it.

*  *  *

Join my Patreon if your Elephant isn’t asleep at the wheel. Install the Brave Browser if you want to take Google’s Rider off your Elephant

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/3n4Drd7 Tyler Durden

Fed Extends Limits On Buybacks, Dividends Until End Of 2020; Brainard Dissents

Fed Extends Limits On Buybacks, Dividends Until End Of 2020; Brainard Dissents

Tyler Durden

Wed, 09/30/2020 – 16:27

Two weeks after announcing it may extend the limit on dividends and buybacks for large banks – which was scheduled to expire today – by another quarter, after the close on Wednesday the Fed did just that saying that “due to the continued economic uncertainty from the coronavirus response”, it will extend for an additional quarter several measures “to ensure that large banks maintain a high level of capital resilience.” The news will disappoint bank execs such as Jamie Dimon whose JPMorgan had already indicated interest in resuming buybacks.

For the fourth quarter of this year, large banks—those with more than $100 billion in total assets—will be prohibited from making share repurchases. Additionally, dividend payments will be capped and tied to a formula based on recent income, the Fed announced.

To ease concerns that “it is seeing something others aren’t” the Fed clarified that “the capital positions of large banks have remained strong during the third quarter while such restrictions were in place.” Curiously, the Fed felt compelled to limit shareholder distributions in Q4 as well, almost as if it expects more turmoil to hit in the last three months of the year.

In June, the Fed released the results of its annual stress test and additional analysis, which found that all large banks were sufficiently capitalized. However, just in case they weren’t, the Fed also restricted banks from increasing dividends above second-quarter levels, and buybacks were banned. Those restrictions were less than the total elimination of dividends demanded by some Democratic lawmakers.

As Bloomberg notes, Fed governor Lael Brianard, who has expressed an interest in becoming the next Fed chair under a Biden administration, dissented in the 4-1 vote to extend the existing limits, having previously argued that allowing capital distributions “creates a significant risk that banks will need to raise capital or curtail credit at a challenging time.” It wasn’t immediately clear if her dissent was because she wanted a return of the pre-covid status quo or because she preferred an indefinite extension of the bank capital limits.

Also, as announced in mid-September, the Fed confirmed it would conduct a second stress test to further test the resiliency of large banks, the result of which will likely be used to justify the removal of the buyback and dividend caps.

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/3cOTV4r Tyler Durden

Trump Criticized Biden for Losing the Support of Police Unions. Is That Such a Bad Thing?

polspphotos725179

During the chaos that was the first presidential debate, one topic largely flew under the radar: Joe Biden’s shriveling support from police unions. For Americans who believe that the government should work for us and be held accountable when it fails us, this is not a bad thing. 

The back-and-forth went something like this:

Trump: [Biden’s] talking about defunding the police.

Biden: That—that is not true.

Trump: He doesn’t have any law support—

Biden: Would you—look—

Trump: He has no law enforcement support, almost nothing.

Biden: That’s not—look—

Trump: Oh really? Why do you have? Name one group that supports you. Name one group that came out and supported you.

Biden: Look—

Trump: Go ahead.

Biden: Look—

Trump: Think. We have time.

Biden: We don’t have time to do anything except—

Trump: No, no, think about it.

As was the case for most of the evening, no actual productive exchange of ideas occurred. While Biden does not actually want to defund the police, his relationship with law enforcement groups did, in fact, used to be much cozier.

At a dinner for the National Organization for Police Organizations (NAPO) in May 2015, the former vice president courted the police lobby with talk of his 1994 crime bill: “There wouldn’t have been a Biden crime bill,” he said, “there wouldn’t have been that crime bill that put 100,000 cops in the street in the first place were it not for the fact that from the very beginning [NAPO] was the staunchest, staunchest advocate for it.”

NAPO endorsed the Obama-Biden campaign in both 2008 and 2012. After declining to weigh in on the 2016 election, they have thrown their support behind Trump.

“For Joe Biden, police are shaking their heads because he used to be a stand-up guy who backed law enforcement,” said Bill Johnson, executive director of NAPO. “But it seems in his old age, for whatever reason, he’s writing a sad final chapter when it comes to supporting law enforcement.”

A list of 175 officials, including former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and former Madison, Wisconsin, Police Chief Noble Wray have endorsed Biden. Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese, who oversees Portland, Oregon, pushed back on Trump’s debate claim that he had endorsed the president. “As the Multnomah County Sheriff I have never supported Donald Trump,” he tweeted, “and will never support him.”

But Trump seems to think that having the backing of police unions reflects positively on his campaign. Whether it gives him any electoral advantage is an open question, but we know with more certainty that police support reflects Trump’s unwillingness to grapple with meaningful police reform, such as his refusal to even consider changing qualified immunity, the legal doctrine that makes it considerably more difficult to sue police officers when they violate your civil rights. Biden would not promise to eliminate the doctrine, but rather said he wants to “rein it in.”

With that in mind, NAPO’s reversal shouldn’t be a surprise. The point of police unions is to protect all cops at all costs, even the bad ones, even at the expense of the people they pledge to protect and serve. When former New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo choked and killed Eric Garner after he was caught selling loose cigarettes, a police magistrate ruled that he had violated department policy. He was terminated. The union, however, stood by his side, blaming the result on “anti-police extremists,” the implication being that all cops need to reserve the right to use unconstitutional force that violates internal guidance.

Republicans rightly acknowledge that teachers unions monopolize the education system and then weaponize it against the public. Trump should apply that logic to the law enforcement lobby. If he did, perhaps he’d understand that losing their endorsement isn’t such a bad thing.

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Has Joe Biden’s Position On Court Packing Changed?

polspphotos725161

During the first half-hour of Tuesday’s presidential debate, moderator and Fox News host Chris Wallace asked a simple question to former vice president Joe Biden: “Are you willing to tell the American tonight whether or not you will support…packing the court?”

Prominent Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y.), have suggested that adding new seats—and new progressive Supreme Court Justices—would be an appropriate response if Republicans manage to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. This comes after Republicans, in a similar situation at the end of President Barack Obama’s second term, refused to confirm Democratic nominee Merrick Garland.

In the past, Biden has dismissed the idea of packing the court if Democrats control the White House and the Senate. In July 2019, Biden said that he was “not prepared to go on and try to pack the court.” In October, he said that he “would not get into court-packing,” and in his January interview with The New York Times, he claimed that he would have no proposed judicial reforms.

On Tuesday night, however, Biden neatly dodged the issue.

“Whatever position I take on that, that’ll become the issue,” he said. Trump followed up by asking the question directly to Biden, twice. “Are you going to pack the court?” Biden refused to answer.

Does Biden actually oppose packing the court? Last night, despite the general mayhem, was a chance to plant a flag on the issue. That’s important considering that members of Biden’s party—Sen. Ed Markey (D–Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.), most notably—want to pack the court if Barrett is confirmed. During the Democratic primary, several other candidates were open to the idea as well, including Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.), who is now Biden’s running-mate.

Biden is often described as a centrist, but he’s more accurately described as a reflection of the center of the Democratic Party, whatever that may be at a given moment. The man behind the 1994 Crime Bill is now the head of the party most supportive of racial justice; the man who voted for the bill that created our deportation immigration system is the candidate for immigration reform. He is, to quote Reason‘s Matt Welch, a “rusty political weather vane.”

Does that mean Biden’s views on court-packing are now changing as well? His answer on Tuesday night was not substantial enough to tell, but it certainly seems like the Democratic wind is blowing that direction.

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