Politics and Prejudices: Marriage and crazy people

Some time ago I happened to read a marvelous piece in New York magazine on why Hillary Clinton is likely to be our next president. Yes, she is about as exciting as an annual report.

True, Goldman Sachs supposedly said they could live with either Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton as president, and she would be as likely as they would to really help the poor.

But when all is said and done, writer Jonathan Chait noted, "she is the candidate of the only major American political party not run by lunatics." That's not an exaggeration.

We have reached a point where the ultimate litmus test for being a Republican presidential candidate is screaming, irrational hatred, and insanity, especially on cultural issues.

That was perfectly demonstrated by their reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision that same-sex marriage was a Constitutional right. We all knew Justice Antonin Scalia would foam at the mouth and chew the carpet, and he did not disappoint. Clarence Thomas justified his vote against same-sex marriage with the mondo bizarro observation that "slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved."

I'll bet Frederick Douglass could've told him a thing or two. Yes, there's a reason CT keeps his mouth shut most of the time, and you've just seen what it is.

But those clowns aren't running for anything. Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, and Scott Walker are. For many years, history students have been told that the ultimate improper political overreach was when President Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to add more justices to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1938.

That was because a set of reactionary justices kept declaring his New Deal laws to save the economy unconstitutional. FDR usually got his way, but he was — quite properly — defeated and embarrassed that time. Even his loyal fellow Democrats were not willing to let him pack the court.

But when five justices ruled June 26 that same-sex couples could make a lifetime commitment to each other, those three contenders went certifiably crazy against the Constitution.

Ted Cruz, also known as the born-in-Alberta Clipper, said he would promptly introduce a constitutional amendment that would make the justices face the voters every eight years.

That would make their every decision suspect and threaten to turn the justices of our highest court into demagogues who decided constitutional issues based on their decisions' ability to win them votes. This would also — oh yes — destroy judicial review and the balance of powers.

For good measure, he also introduced another ridiculous amendment that would, as he said, "strip the federal courts of jurisdiction over legal assaults on marriage."

Cruz, who went to Harvard Law School, must have been absent the day they explained that they call it the Supreme Court for a reason. Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, was a bit more restrained, calling for an amendment that would "reaffirm the ability of states to continue to define marriage."

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a famously lifelong bachelor, was actually about the only GOP contender to respond rationally, noting that "given the quickly changing tide of public opinion on this issue," that "no attempt to amend the Constitution could possibly gain the support of three-fourths of the legislatures or a supermajority in Congress."

Absolutely correct, of course, but Graham made the mistake of thinking Walker and Cruz, et al., were serious. They aren't; they know perfectly well there's no chance of any of their nonsense has any chance of being enacted into law.

They even know a majority of the country now supports the right of same-sex couples to marry, a percentage that has been dramatically rising every year. But Cruz and Walker are cynically trying to stir up the crazies, and motivate them into coming out to vote for them in coming primaries and caucuses.

They both lost the demagogue prize, however, to Bobby Jindal, the possibly deranged governor of Louisiana, who had a far simpler remedy for this and all America's ills.

"Let's just get rid of the court," he said soon after the justices made their ruling. "The Supreme Court is completely out of control, making laws on their own, and has become a public opinion poll," he proclaimed.

Additionally, abolishing it would "save some money," he added. I can't wait till he discovers that abolishing Congress and elections and making himself dictator would save even more.

Fortunately, Jindal is running only slightly ahead of absolute zero in polls of GOP voters, but what's alarming is that any responsible party would be willing to treat men who would rend and destroy the system of checks and balances as legitimate contenders for their presidential nomination.

Now that is scary. Hillary Clinton, naturally, is in favor of same-sex marriage, and has been ever since the polls showed that a slight majority of the voters backed it.

That's called being a politician of principle. Last month I talked with a prominent former governor who assured me that she had the nomination sewn up, even though record numbers of people were voting for that crazy leftist, Bernie Sanders.

Why, Bernie is so far out that he thinks attacking Iraq was a bad thing. He thinks dramatically rising inequality is bad for this country, that we should make it possible for middle-class kids to attend college again. He even thinks people who work full-time should be guaranteed sick leave and a living wage.

"He doesn't have a chance, of course," the man said scornfully, and then paused and added softly, "Of course, I agree with everything he says on just about every issue."

Yup, Bernie Sanders has no chance. After all, all he's done so far is raise more money than any GOP candidate this year, and become the only candidate to excite Democrats.

Says what he thinks; stands for real people; appeals to the voters. How could anyone think this poor bastard has a chance? Stay tuned.

Gotta love Detroit!

Here's an example of a story that I couldn't imagine happening anywhere else but here: The giant pig in the basement of a house on the city's west side.

What made it so unique was not that somebody was keeping a 500-pound hog in the basement of a dilapidated home, with no apparent way to get it out of there.

It wasn't even that when the police went looking for the owner, one Gary Roquemore, he was found stone dead of natural causes in a nearby house he also owned.

What made it a true Detroit story is that the cops evidently came only because of a report, evidently false, that she was being fed on human remains. The pig is out now, and we're all rooting for her. But what I want to know is ...

Was Jimmy Hoffa down there too?

Jack Lessenberry is head of the journalism program at Wayne State University and the senior political analyst for Michigan Public Radio.