Quick Takes: The Plot Thickens

* Just yesterday I wrote about how Republican Congressional leaders – like Speaker Paul Ryan – have been ejected from the right wing media’s epistemic bubble. The plot thickens.

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s re-election to his leadership post in January is fast turning into a potential showdown between establishment Republicans and conservatives looking to weaken the speaker and win changes to House rules.

Conservatives don’t have enough votes to oust Ryan (R-Wis.). But they say their coup movement shows his hold on the speakership is far more tenuous than he realizes. Denying Ryan re-election on the first ballot would undermine his political future and cast him as a conservative pariah, they say, and may give conservatives leverage to enact rules changes that would help them push their agenda for years.

“If he loses the speaker election, he’s not going to be president,” one conservative member told The Huffington Post on Monday.

Conservatives hold no illusion of preventing Ryan from remaining speaker (or, you know, becoming president), according to the eight Republicans HuffPost interviewed on Monday. That there is coup chatter at all, however, suggests Ryan’s relationship with conservatives is already fraying, less than a year into his speakership.

* Apparently Kellyanne Conway thinks that Donald Trump deserves “credit” for actually talking to Black people.

“This entire conversation had to be had. Republican presidential nominees usually aren’t bold enough to go into communities of color and take the case right to them, and compete for all ears and compete for all votes. They’ve been afraid to do that. So, Mr. Trump deserves credit for at least taking the case directly to the people.”

Greg Sargent nailed what it is she’s actually saying.

…it’s notable that Conway explicitly states that a chief aim here is for Trump to get “credit” for taking his case to African American audiences. Conway very likely wants college educated whites to give Trump credit for this (not to mention leading media opinion-makers).

* Aaron Blake identifies yet another demographic group that Trump is losing…badly.

Yes, the man who once feuded with the pope (how soon we forget that actually happened) is cratering among Catholics.

Back in 2012, GOP nominee Mitt Romney lost the Catholic vote by just 2 points, 50 percent to 48 percent. And the GOP has actually won the Catholic vote as recently as 2004 and in 5 of the last 10 11 presidential elections.

But Trump trails among Catholics by a huge margin. A new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute released this week shows him down 23 points, 55-32.

Ed Kilgore adds this:

It shows him losing white Catholics (lately a marginally pro-Republican group) by a 41-44 margin, while losing Latino Catholics (typically a more liberal group when compared to Protestants, who tend to belong to fundamentalist or Pentecostal faith communities) by a catastrophic 13-76 margin. Unless you buy the poorly documented idea that Trump does just fine among Latinos, it should not be surprising that the faith tradition to which a majority of Latino-Americans belong would push the overall preferences of their religious colleagues in a pretty decisive direction away from the mogul. Beyond that, yes, it seems that a relative weakness among white Catholics — whatever its genesis — is keeping Trump from winning the kind of super majorities among palefaces he is relying on to offset his stark unpopularity with people of color.

* Once again, Kareem Abdul Jabbar gets it right.

Patriotism isn’t just getting teary-eyed on the Fourth of July or choked up at war memorials. It’s supporting what the Fourth of July celebrates and what those war memorials commemorate: the U.S. Constitution’s insistence that all people should have the same rights and opportunities and that it is the obligation of the government to make that happen. When the government fails in those obligations, it is the responsibility of patriots to speak up and remind them of their duty.

One of the ironies of the way some people express their patriotism is to brag about our freedoms, especially freedom of speech, but then brand as unpatriotic those who exercise this freedom to express dissatisfaction with the government’s record in upholding the Constitution. Colin Kaepernick explained why he will not stand during the national anthem: “There are a lot of things that are going on that are unjust [that] people aren’t being held accountable for. And that’s something that needs to change. That’s something that this country stands for — freedom, liberty, justice for all. And it’s not happening for all right now.”

* Another day in August…another round of commutations from President Obama.

Earlier this month, President Obama granted commutation to 214 federal inmates, the most commutations granted in a single day by any President in this nation’s history. With today’s additional 111 grants, the President has commuted the sentences of 325 people in the month of August alone, which is the greatest number of commutations ever granted by a president in a single month. The 325 commutations the President has granted in just one month is more than any president granted in a single year for nearly a century.

Today’s 111 commutation grants underscore the President’s commitment to using his clemency authority to provide a second chance to deserving individuals. To date, President Obama has granted 673 commutations: more commutations than the previous ten presidents combined. More than one-third of the President’s commutation recipients, or 232 individuals, were serving life sentences.

* Finally, this one goes out to the Washington Monthly staff. Word is that someone named Barack Obama is out there stumping for a new job (I hear he’s available in late January). Can we get someone on this…pronto?

P.S. I can personally vouch for the guy.

WIRED has had some amazing guest editors over the years. J.J. Abrams on magic, mysteries, and puzzles; Bill Gates on solving the world’s biggest problems; Christopher Nolan on space, time, and multiple dimensions; and, most recently, Serena Williams on equality in the digital age. This November we will add President Barack Obama to our guest editor ranks—the first time WIRED (or any other magazine) has been guest-edited by a sitting president.

The theme of the issue: Frontiers. Like WIRED, our 44th president is a relentless optimist. For this completely bespoke issue, he wants to focus on the future—on the next hurdles that humanity will need to overcome to move forward. These will include personal frontiers, from precision medicine to human performance; local frontiers, including using data in urban planning and making sure renewable energy works for everyone; national frontiers, from civil rights to medical data; international frontiers, like climate change and cybersecurity; and final frontiers, including space travel and Artificial Intelligence.

Now really…how cool is THAT?

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.