When You Take the Crazy Train….

A recent New York Times column by Linda Greenhouse follows the latest evolution of the Right’s attack on America’s judiciary.

Her introduction is arresting, to put it mildly.

Do you hold Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. responsible for the ascendancy of Donald Trump? The thought never crossed your mind? Then you probably haven’t been reading the conservative blogosphere, where Chief Justice Roberts, target of bitter criticism for his failure to vote to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, is now being blamed in some quarters for Donald Trump as well.

Evidently, the Chief Justice’s refusal to rule against the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act was a “sucker punch,” that robbed the Tea Party of a victory it “expected and deserved.” This defeat on an issue of constitutional interpretation meant–in the twisted “logic” of Tea Partiers–that there is no point relying on the courts.

Greenhouse says the lesson they internalized was “if you want to beat Obama you have to get your own strongman.” Guess who?

Even before the Trump-focused blame game started, Chief Justice Roberts was well on his way to becoming the political right’s favorite punching bag. In a rambling speech on the Senate floor last month, Senator Charles E. Grassley, the Iowa Republican who heads the Judiciary Committee, defended the Republican refusal to move forward with President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland to fill the Supreme Court’s vacant seat. Playing off an observation the chief justice had made shortly before Justice Antonin Scalia’s unexpected death, to the effect that the Senate confirmation process had become unfortunately divisive and political, Senator Grassley said it was the Roberts court itself that was political. “Physician, heal thyself,” he said, and then offered this observation:

Justices appointed by Republicans are generally committed to following the law. There are justices who frequently vote in a conservative way. But some of the justices appointed by Republicans often don’t vote in a way that advances conservative policy.

This is a reprise of an old song: if the Courts don’t rule the way I want them to–if they reach decisions incompatible with my preferences–they are “activist” and illegitimate and we are entitled to undermine both the individuals serving on them and the concept of separation of powers that is at the heart of our system of government.

Most lawyers I know would classify the Chief Justice as pretty conservative; his instincts seem to be to support institutional power, whether corporate or governmental. I have disagreed with several of his decisions, and with his articulation of a judicial philosophy. That said, he is clearly a brilliant lawyer whose jurisprudence falls within a longstanding American legal tradition.

The problem is that much of our current political leadership is unfamiliar with that tradition, ignorant of the role assigned to the Courts, and child-like in the belief that whenever a court renders a decision they don’t like, it must be illegitimate.

The problem is also larger than a bizarre attack on John Roberts. It is even larger than the profoundly damaging attack on the Supreme Court by Senate Republicans who are refusing to allow that body to discharge its constitutional duty of advice and consent.

The problem is, America is currently governed by  petty, uninformed, ahistorical and (in several cases) deranged individuals who have commandeered the Crazy Train and are taking the rest of us with them.


  1. This is a perfect example of being hoisted by one’s own petard. The Tea Party types got out the pom-poms when Roberts was appointed and now they’re disappointed. What did they expect? Most “conservative” judges are pro-business and conservatives love pro-business lobbying efforts developed via conservative think tanks. The ACA is a perfect example of such. It’s no surprise Roberts would support such a program. A program developed and refined by the insurance and for profit healthcare industry and its lobbyists. That’s why I always refer to the ACA as Romney/Wellpoint/Heritage Foundation Care.

    Most folks extolling the virtues of the ACA seem to be pundits and those not reliant upon it. The Democrats have no idea–even amongst their fellow Democrats– how much the ACA is disliked. Especially those ever increasing penalties. Health insurance does not equal healthcare. The ACA is further proof that Republican ideas do not work effectively. It is also further proof as to how the Democratic Party has sunken so low as to support and pass Republican ideas.

    Crazy train indeed.

  2. I’m sure those of us who have been following this situation are aware the GOP would not follow the Constitution by holding an actual hearing to consider President Obama’s recommendation of Judge Garland only because it WAS President Obama’ recommendation. They have provided no actual legal or Constitutional reason for their inaction. If Jesus Christ appeared and was his nominee they would still refuse to consider the recommendation.

    Their never ending battle to repeal the ACA goes against their own previous writings and recommendations regarding health care for all Americans. The state of Indiana’s health care system denies application directly to the ACA unless and until applicants have been denied by every health care provider in the state system. Health care rights are not covered in the Constitution but…consideration of a sitting president’s recommendation to replace a member of SCOTUS is stated and easy to understand.

    There seems to be no way to derail this runaway Crazy Train or activate the brake system. Common sense and logic has been lost and replaced by racism and the GOP’s admitted organized action to prevent President Obama from as much success as they possibly can. There is much more than the presidential election at stake this year at this time; the very survival of America, Americans and our entire value system will be up for grabs at both Democratic and Republican conventions this summer and on the ballot in November. While the refusal to consider the appointment of Judge Garland is vital to SCOTUS; the current elections on all levels are vital to the survival of the United States and that Crazy Train is headed right at us.

  3. Sheila,

    In my opinion “Crazy Train” can be a misleading and dangerous metaphor. CRAZY TSUNAMI with Donald Trump trying to SURF the crest of the MONSTROUS wave is much more accurate. That metaphor also takes into account the power of the subsurface forces which most everyone would like to suppress out of their minds to their ultimate peril.

  4. The extreme right wing Olin Foundation is to blame for much, if not most, of the right wing crazy train.

    They infested the law schools at Harvard, Yale, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Georgetown, and U of Virginia. By providing grants for fellowships and grants for students to attend their ‘Law and Economics’ programs in those schools they were training future lawyers and judges to view the world as the rulers within the Olin Foundation wanted them to. They actually paid students thousands of dollars to attend their classes in Law and Economics. They took advantage of students’ financial need in order to indoctrinate them with their ideology. The law schools all were very happy to accept this tainted money.

    Even worse, they sponsored seminars for judges. They treated judges to two week long all expenses paid training at luxurious settings. They trained judges to rule against environmental and labor laws and to rule in favor of corporations who were breaking the laws. Many other right wing foundations joined in underwriting these dubious vacations to brainwash judges and it still goes on. Corporations also sponsor these ‘seminars’. I imagine the funders are all able to write off the expenses against their tax bills.

  5. Scapegoating has become a sport for the right wing. Oh, it happens on the left as well, but not by any means as frequently or as outrageously as on the right. In fact, many right wing bloggers are blaming Obama for Trump. Others just blame nameless liberals.

    Nancy, thanks for mentioning the Olin Foundation, but while we’re at it, let’s also mention the Mellon Foundation and the Charles Koch Fundation. These foundations and many others are creatures of extremly wealthy nihilists who decided in the 70s to invest heavily in higher education to promote their causes. Of course every dime given to the foundations is a tax deduction. Can you spell “Vast right wing conspiracy”? Sounded loony in the 90s, not so much now.

  6. It is interesting that since the bathroom issue and policy discussions have taken center stage, the republican governor of South Carolina is demanding that the court decide the issue. Activist courts are great when YOU need them.

  7. daleb; with this bathroom/transgender issue taking over many news sources I have to ask if there are statistics regarding the number of known transgenders? Or is it the Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner factor the source of interest? The media coverage makes appear to be an epidemic rivaling the actual cases of polio during 1940’s and 1950’s. Again; the media has headlines and blaring news items with little necessary information and no apparent facts. All part of the GOP Crazy Train barreling our way…is that Crazy Train the “light at the end of the tunnel” Trump supporters see as salvation?

  8. JoAnn, I believe that the bathroom issues were created by right wing activists to take the focus off of their crazy presidential candidates and their less than intelligent candidates for state offices.

    How else in the world could this have suddenly become such an important issue?

  9. JoAnn,

    All part of the GOP Crazy Train barreling our way…is that Crazy Train the “light at the end of the tunnel” Trump supporters see as salvation?

    You’re exactly right. And as long it is described as a “crazy train” and NOTHING MORE It will be their salvation. Since “trains” are totally controlled by an engineer and in this case a Republican/Tea Party engineer, how can you expect to stop their journey? Derailing the train won’t do any good. Assuming the head engineer is still alive, they’ll just replace the locomotive, add some additional cars, and continue their journey which they don’t see as “crazy.”

    America’s only chance is to convince them that they are crazy. That can only happen by starting with the right metaphor which will allow them to think twice about the PATH, not the route, they are taking.

  10. I wish I had a hundred bucks for every time I’ve heard some despicable lawyer described as brilliant. There’s an old joke: What is the difference between a brilliant lawyer and a stupid lawyer? Brilliance has its limits.

  11. Marv; I consider Trump to be the caboose on that Crazy Train, he no longer appears to me to be the engineer/leader – he is being carried along by his supporters who no longer need him to lead. Like the firing on Fort Sumpter by a small group of confederate rebels; momentum has taken over, gathering followers and their actions have fired another “shot heard round the world”. Shhh; if you listen you will hear the laughter from all parts of the civilized world which Trump and his minions believe are cheers. Being deaf, I sometimes see changes in facial expressions and body language which go unnoticed by the hearing public. Recently; Trump has had that same complacent, superior look worn by Bush at every public appearance.

  12. And yes; I am well aware that the first “shot heard round the world” was the start of the Revolutionary War – not the Civil War. It was also another war where leadership in this county had other world leaders taking sides prior to the decision of leadership by Americans.

  13. JoAnn,

    Marv; I consider Trump to be the caboose on that Crazy Train, he no longer appears to me to be the engineer/leader – he is being carried along by his supporters who no longer need him to lead.

    You’re right as usual. It’s hard to admit what you’ve just said. Most people can’t.

    As you know, that even makes matters worse, especially when you’re AFRAID to take on the Tea Party. This “Crazy Train” ROUTE is quickly turning into a ROUT.

  14. We all know that ACA will be Obama’s signature accomplishment, the opening battle in the war on health care being restored as a right, the most significant signal of America’s return to Democracy from Fascism, and apparently from this report now the point where the enemies of Democracy realised that they hadn’t yet bought the country.

    Not bad for one law.

    But our work as freedom fighters is not yet done. Not by far.

    Those of you who might of departed yesterday’s lesson too early might want to go back for the finale. It’s enlightening.

    As I’ve said several times Bernie is my hero and Trump merely an extension of the Kardashian phenomenon. But has that unlikely pair allied to defeat progress?

    Seems improbable but among yesterday’s assorted thoughts there be evidence of that conspiracy.

    Whoda thunk?

    I will leave you with some insight on conspiracy theory.

    Here’s what must be defeated by advertising:


  15. I’d like to remind everyone where the methodology the foundations are using came from. It was ALEC, the American Legislative Council, with membership that includedmost of the largest corporations. It acted along with conservative members of State legslators, who were invited to be members for a pittance. The corporate “experts” mentord the underpaid, understaffed legislators in the writing of ultra-conservative, corporate friendly laws which turned the body of laws pertaining to criminal justice and everything else even slightly progressive on its head.

    When after ALEC had completed its dasterdly work following about twenty years of uninterrupted manipulation of the legislative process in the States, it was exposed and vilified, a day late, unfortunately.

  16. JoAnn,

    “It was also another war where leadership in this county had other world leaders taking sides prior to the decision of leadership by Americans.”

    To confirm your assessment, this is a tally up to the 15th of this month as to the locations of the TOP FIVE visitors to my main website: http://www.EthicalFront.net:

    Nuremberg, Germany 12%
    Berlin, Germany 8%
    Beijing, China 8%
    Paris, France 7%
    London, Great Britain 5%

    63% of the total visitors to my website arrived there by first visiting SheilaKennedy.net.

    I’m afraid the rest of the world is reacting to the dangers of Donald Trump much more quickly than we are.

  17. JoAnn, I wish that you would stop making this claim:
    ” The state of Indiana’s health care system denies application directly to the ACA unless and until applicants have been denied by every health care provider in the state system. ”
    because it is not true. Any citizen of Indiana who does not have access to employer-sponsored insurance can apply directly on healthcare.gov. If your family income falls within the range now covered by Medicaid (HIP2.0), then your eligibility is first processed by the state agency, and you must use HIP2.0 if eligible. Otherwise, you choose your plan and are good to go.

  18. Mary’s I’m interested in your comment and curious. I have the impression that light R states have somehow welcomed ACA and heavy R states have somehow discouraged it. Am I wrong?

  19. Pete,

    Exactly. To paraphrase the words of author William Shirer, the U.S. is being encased in a brainwashed “hermetically sealed capsule” somewhat similar to the one that eventually led to the destruction of Nazi Germany.

    Americans better AWAKE and do it fast.

  20. “Any citizen of Indiana who does not have access to employer-sponsored insurance can apply directly on healthcare.gov. ”

    Mary Strinka; ACA was touted to be for uninsured and UNDER-INSURED! As I stated when I cited my source for this comment, my daughter-in-law’s family health care (my son’s employer did not offer health care) was with Anthem-Blue Cross/Blue Shield through the Indianapolis Catholic Archdiocese, the ONLY health care they offered. The $9,600 annual deduction meant she paid the monthly premium of $450 plus all medical and prescription bills. With 2 adults and 3 children, she was hoping to find better coverage, primarily a lower annual deductibe. SHE WAS NOT ALLOWED BY THE STATE OF INDIANA HEALTH CARE SYSTEM TO APPLY TO ACA TILL SHE HAD BEEN DENIED BY ALL COMPANIES IN THE STATE SYSTEM. It took from October 2013 to the end of June 2014 to receive her reply with the only acceptance of $1,200 monthly and $12,000 annual deductible. Because she made the grievous error of trusting this state to offer coverage, she didn’t renew her health care through her employment October 2013 which meant she went one full year totally uninsured and was fined by the federal government. The $900 fine was deducted from her tax refund. DO NOT SAY I AM NOT TELLING THE TRUTH; WHY WOULD I LIE ABOUT SOMETHING SO PUBLIC IT COULD EASILY – AS YOU HAVE DONE – CLAIM TO BE UNTRUE?

  21. Let’s talk Hoosiers. Roberts is a Hoosier and his vote on the ACA did not earn my forgiveness for all the other right wing judicial mischief in which he participated – and continues to participate. I have heard tell that Joseph E. Stiglitz, another Hoosier (born and bred in Gary), one of my very favorite economists, is on Hillary’s short list for a top economic position in her administration. Such an appointment would be just great! He won a Nobel Prize in Economics some years ago and has served as chief economist for the World Bank in the past. He is one Hoosier I can support in the Clinton administration that is coming to us this fall; I’ll pass on a Pence appointment to the new cabinet position of Keeper of the Toilets. Speaking of Hoosiers, how about Evan Bayh for vice president? Could he turn Indiana blue this November?

  22. William–great point. I would also add that IU’s Division of Labor Studies department was defunded by the Indiana General Assembly. http://articles.southbendtribune.com/2006-03-28/news/26950473_1_labor-history-labor-studies-vice-chancellor. As they point out in the article, the criticism was that the department was too ‘pro labor.’ That’s like accusing the business school of being too pro-business. But politics trumps all in this one party state. I also notice that when labor attempts to call in on supposedly ‘neutral bias’ shows like Diane Rehm they are treated with hostility and contempt. One show I was listening to had a guest host accuse union people of being put up to calling in on a show about economics in which all the guests were either from the Wall Street Journal or business schools. I was also gratified to hear someone call in on a later show about economics from Indiana and point out that the only jobs you could get through Indiana Department of Workforce Development were through the temp agencies hired by the state. The response was a very, very awkward silence.

  23. Workers, who create all wealth, need to learn the golden rule. Only people already with the gold are in a position of negotiating for more.

  24. JoAnn, I don’t doubt the experience you’ve shared with us wrt your daughter in law. It’s not atypical. The ACA a.k.a Romney/Wellpoint/Heritage FoundationCare is a crock. The things you mention are a feature, not a bug.

    Here’s some enlightening info wrt BCBS:


    It’s been a number of years now since the gift of the ACA was given to the insurance industry and we were promised there would refinements shortly after its passage…so where are those refinements? Nada. Nothing. NotGonnaHappen.

    The only people seemingly supporting this crock are TV bobble heads,political toadies,members of the insurance industry and those not reliant upon it.

    I give uninformed voters just a little bit of latitude when it comes their naivete when in support of or ignorance of bad legislation. I give no latitude to those who consider themselves the smartest people in the room whilst simultaneously supporting bad legislation.

    Don’t be surprised when Obama leaves office one of his first speeches for “big tubmans “will be to executives of the insurance industry. KaChing!

    Again,the Democrats have squandered another opportunity. And they’ve been quite open and enthusiastic for taking credit for such a crock.

  25. When people take a train at all in Indiana, it is not booked for the Hoosier prison, school, institutionalized Indiana “crazy” people and patients of the non-profit professional workers who indeed are child-like idealists. When a case gets to the Supreme Court, it usually involves property disputes, including dollars and in-kind “volunteer” uses of slave laborers. There is no computer billing code for ‘crazy’ or bad grammar.

  26. Pete: It’s like this,The ACA a.k.a. Romney/Wellpoint/Heritage Foundation is a crock. Just because a Democrat passed it doesn’t mean it’s good legislation. Just because I think the ACA is a crock doesn’t mean I believe healthcare isn’t a right. It should be. The US has the worst HC scam in the US. Most of that is because of the insurance industry. I’m impassioned about ideals ,not “brand” loyalty. I believe HealthCare is a right and that’s why we should’ve had single payer on the table. Single payer was the way to go……But nope. Thanks to the efforts –or lack of–of the Democrats (Max Baucus), the insurance industry and its lobbyists who wrote the legislation,the public received a crock . Are you using the ACA? If so,what are your costs et al? Do you not support universal healthcare? Why not if you don’t? Are you an individual willing to accept substandard legislation because of blind faith (a true believer) of brand loyalty? Your support of the ACA seems to belie your stated beliefs against Republicans and their ideals.

    The difference between the two of us is this: I will not support Republican ideas just because those ideas have been passed and accepted by a Democrat President. Republican ideas are Republican ideas.

    Insurance is not healthcare. That’s not opinion but fact. As JoAnn’s daughter in law has found out. Thanks to tepid efforts at “solving” HC issues,we have a bigger mess than we had previously before this crock was enacted. You should be asking Max Baucus why he doesn’t believe healthcare is a right. Come to think of it,you should ask those supporting Romney/Wellpoint/Heritage FoundationCare why they don’t believe in healthcare as a right. Perhaps one should ask Obama how much skin does one need in the game? Perhaps you should ask yourself why you’re so willing to accept such crock? A crock developed by the likes of Mitt Romney, The Conservative Heritage Foundation and the insurance industry.

    Moreover,because in real life–at least for those of us living in the real world,one is most likely (or have a family member) at risk to have a catastrophic healthcare need and risk going broke than having black helicopters hovering over our homes by order of Trump.

    I know those among this forum don’t believe it,but there are much more scarier things in the world than Trump in the White House. Getting cancer is just one of them. I shouldn’t have to explain this on a forum such as this one. I had absolutely no idea as to how petite the petite bourgeoisie was/is. I’m often more embarrassed by my fellow Democrats than Republicans. Talk about a crazy train.

  27. I agree with you William on single payer. I’m on Medicare that I’ve been paying for for 52 years. It’s great.

    The difference between ACA and single payer is simple. ACA was possible given a Republican controlled Congress and single payer was not. No sense in wanting what’s not possible especially when what wasn’t possible will be soon. ACA is a temporary fix.

    When I grew up health care was available for everyone because it was affordable for everyone. Now it’s not, so plan B is needed and Republicans had and have no suggestions. Lead, follow, or get out of the way.

    The insurance business is simple. Spread the risk. Business folks have demonstrated their inability to accomplish that relatively simple task so government has to do it.

    On the other hand what’s fundamental to the problem are health care costs themselves and that’s another business failure. Many other countries more successful than us have demonstrated the solution to that too, socialized medicine, government managed health care Ike our military employs now. If it’s good enough for the battlefield it good enough for me.

    So as conservatism fades into the sunset many solutions become possible which have been denied us until now.

    It’s a new dawn.

  28. Pete! Be careful what you wish for. Socialized medicine is what the VA is. The societal costs of socialized medicine will far exceed the cost of medical care before ACA.

  29. One other detail William. Mine is not brand loyalty but rather accountability. Conservative politics have failed at everything that they’ve tried since Reagan. America would have to be deaf, blind and dumb not to see that. It has lead to a GOP whose only asset is advertising, a politically correct euphemism for brain washing.

    That’s what creating brand loyalty is about.

  30. Ken, socialised medicine in the many places where it’s being used seems to give much more bang for the buck. We pay beyond top dollar for mediocre results. Why would we not want that to change?

  31. JoAnn, I accept that your description of one family’s experience is true. However, it is not true to make a blanket statement that the state “does not allow….etc”. Your daughter’s circumstance was complicated by the fact that she had access to insurance via her employer, and she chose not to use it. It is unfortunate that she chose to discard her employer coverage before she found out what she might be eligible for on the federal exchange. That is not the typical applicant via healthcare.gov.
    I’m sorry if you took this as a personal attack on your credibility. I am simply trying to correct the record because I fear that your blanket statement might discourage others from even looking into getting coverage on the exchange. I am in my third year now of having an individual policy purchased on the exchange. To be sure, I would be much happier to have access to a single payer system or have a public option, or buy into Medicare. But I can say for certain that the policy I have now is still a far better deal than the individual policies that might have been available to a couple in their 60’s prior to the Affordable Care Act.

  32. Most industrialized countries have single payer, which we should have had long ago but for the corporate health insurance community, and who needs “em? Health insurance companies should not even exist and wouldn’t but for the big salaries, bonuses and capital gains opportunities afforded to those who run and own them and rake off 25 to 30 per cent of premiums paid for such purposes; premium monies that could otherwise be used to pay for real health care. I did not favor the ACA (a Romney-Massachusetts lookalike bill) on its merits at the time but supported it because I thought it was a step up toward single payer, which was my ultimate hope, or Medicare for all.

  33. I tend to agree with you Gerald about Medicare for all but let’s think about it a bit.

    Medicare requires no government subsidy. It’s paid by individuals and employers from when we start to work until we reach Medicare age. By then we have quite a war chest built up.

    We continue after that to pay for copays, premiums, and non-covered expenses but can choose and pay for Medicare Advantage or Supplemental insurance to reduce non- covered expenses (spread the risk).

    If that were to expand to everyone, a combination of employee and employer contributions would have to continue to build the retirement war chest as well as current year expenses for family coverage.

    Would that exceed current employer/employee charges for Medicare plus current health care insurance premiums (which might be ACA) plus out of pockets? I don’t see why it should but trying to solve the real issue, health care costs, by diddling with insurance is, in my opinion, a fool’s errand.

    The problem is that our health care bill is unaffordable for everyone but the wealthy. But, at least in my opinion, good health is a right.

    I don’t see any solution except to take over the whole mess by government. That means that government would manage the minimum cost healthcare entitlement of every person.

    Of course those who could afford more for themselves could purchase private health care in addition.

    But the rest of us would have what the military has today. Government employees treating them in government hospitals and then VA type care for retirement with the cost covered by additional tax revenue rather than through insurance premiums and out of pockets.

    Good enough for them, good enough for us in my book.

  34. Mary Strinka; the term UNDER -INSURED states that applicants do have insurance and wish to improve it, it was not a complication.

  35. JoAnn, the ACA included both incentives for more people to get good insurance through their employers (employer mandate) and the exchange system for small businesses and individuals. I’m sorry that your daughter’s family slipped through the cracks.

    But it is still incorrect to make a blanket statement that the state of Indiana prevents people from applying directly through the federal exchange. There is no such general requirement. There are about 200,000 Hoosiers who have insurance plans purchased on the exchange. The vast majority of them did not have to go through any of the steps that you describe.

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