On the High Court Truth … and Nothing but the Truth

Non-US readers, please excuse me because I’m tired of reading and hearing the repeated crap, it’s time to tackle many of the partisan hacks.

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Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death on 13 February 2016 created an opening on the US Supreme Court. About a month later (16 March), President Obama nominated Merrick Garland as Justice Scalia’s successor. Two months since the nomination, the US Senate and its Judicial Committee have done nothing to advance the process, plus presidential candidates have made the vacancy a campaign issue. It’s time to destroy the cover.

1) Republicans proclaim the “Biden Rule” as their key rationale – a term they developed based on a speech Vice President (then Senator) Joe Biden made in 1992 (which was a presidential election year. TRUE, but the rest of the story…

  • a) As chair of the Judicial Committee, Biden did deliver a speech on 25 June 1992, a time between the conclusion of the last primary and the first party convention … whereas at the time of Scalia’s death, 1 caucus and 1 primary had been completed – therefore, many primaries and caucuses lie ahead.
  • b) At the time of Biden’s speech, there were no vacancies on the high court and no upcoming resignations … plus, no vacancies occurred during the election phase or during the lame-duck time between Election Day and Inauguration Day.
  • c) Biden stated that IF a vacancy would occur, he wouldn’t hold a hearing during the conventions and the contentious campaign, so President GHW Bush should delay a nomination until after the election and confirmation process would take proceed after the Senate reconvenes following the election (during the “lame duck” session).

2) Current Republican language of “Let the people decide” suggests the nomination should be left up to the next president and the next Senate – and the Biden Rule is the common rationale. WRONG.

  • a) Letting the next president decide was not the motive and never a suggestion by Mr. Biden.
  • b) The Constitution (Article 2) acts as the will of the people by granting explicit powers to the president to nominate and to the Senate for advise and consent.
  • c) The people had already decided by electing President Obama in 2012.

3) President Obama (when a senator) helped filibuster the nomination of Samuel Alito in 2006. WRONG.

  • a) Although Sen. Obama favored a filibuster, such a vote within the Democratic caucus didn’t occur because there weren’t enough votes for the filibuster.
  • b) In other words, the filibuster of Justice Alito never occurred.

4) On 27 July 2007, 19 months before the end of President GW Bush’s term (in a speech to a legal organization), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said, “We should not confirm any Bush nominee to the Supreme Court, except in extraordinary circumstances.” TRUE, but the rest of the story…

  • a) Sen. Schumer’s view is a partisan view that is very similar to the Republican position today.
  • b) I disagree with Sen. Schumer then, an in my opinion, he was wrong. Besides, two wrongs don’t make a right.
  • c) Sen. Schumer’s statement did not block any further nominations.

5) Republicans support the delay because they claim a nomination by President Obama would “shift in the Court”. TRUE, but the rest of the story…

  • a) The same people complaining about a possible shift in the court today were favoring a shift in the court in 2006 when conservative nominee Samuel Alito was replacing a moderate swing vote (Justice Sandra Day O’Connor).
  • b) For the record, Justice Alito’s process from nomination to confirmation took 3 months.
  • c) This is another example of partisans favoring a court to impose their view upon society instead of favoring a court for all Americans.

6) Sen. McConnell (R-KY and Senate Majority Leader) reasoned that Republicans are justified in delaying the nomination because Americans (in 2010) voted to give Republicans control of the Senate. True, but the rest of the story…

  • a) One third of the Senate seats (selected by voters in 33 states) determined the outcome – not all Americans.
  • b) The Constitution clearly states the role of a duly elected president, which starts from the moment he/she takes office until the time a successor is inaugurated. In this case, all Americans duly elected President Obama in 2012 and inaugurated him January 2013 in order to serve until Inauguration Day 2017.

7) Republicans use phrases as “We owe it to him (Scalia).” Let’s examine the statement …

  • a) Interesting, Justice Scalia proudly proclaimed his judicial philosophy to base ruling on the Constitution’s original intent.
  • b) Based on the Constitution’s text, it difficult to believe that Justice Scalia’s originalist view would approve that blatant partisan action is Constitutionally justified.
    Justice Scalia would also refer to the Federalist Papers, especially #10 written by James Madison (Founding Father and key architect of the Constitution) – where Madison counters the “mortal disease” effects of partisan factions.

8) Some Republicans state the delay is following “tradition” or “bipartisan practice” regarding vacancies during an election. Others proclaim President Obama is breaking practice by nominating a justice during an election year. WRONG.

  • a) Note: Supreme Court vacancies during a presidential election year are rare.
  • b) Presidents Hoover (1932), President Roosevelt (1940), and President Eisenhower (1956) nominated justices during election years who were confirmed.
  • c) President Reagan nominated of current justice Anthony Kennedy on 30 November 1987, whom the Senate confirmed the 1st week of February (days before the New Hampshire Primary).

9) NOTE: The Pew Research Center reported that of the 10 longest vacancies on the Supreme Court, 9 of 10 were in the 1800s – of which 6 occurred between 1842-1874 (time preceding and following the Civil War). The lone exception being Judge Henry Blackman on June 9, 1970. Since then, the average duration of vacancies has been 55 days.

10) NOTE: Let us not forget that within hours of Justice Scalia’s sudden, and before proclaiming any of the above reasons, and instead of praising Justice Scalia’s tenure, both Senate Majority Leader McConnell and current Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) issued strong statements about delaying the confirmation process.

11) NOTE: Possibly the only point Republicans did get right is that the on Constitution states the Senate involvement and duty, but does not provide a time-frame or how their decision-making process should proceed. Besides, Section 5 does provide the Senate the power “to determine the Rules of its Proceedings.”

My Final Thoughts
Hyper-partisanship purposely delivers a message of partisan constituents who probably get their news from a new organization that reports the message listeners want to hear. This repeating sound of partisan drivel resembles an echo chamber – that is repeating sounds where competing views are disallowed or (at best) under-representative. This information serves as the Kool Aid of choice so the partisans repeat what they perceive as resounding joy while actually displaying a profound ignorance.

Although a discussion of the question regarding a Supreme Court opening in an election year may be a worthy discussion, answers to pertinent questions are debatable, but the partisans will take the stances that are most beneficial to them at the time. However, Republicans do not have a corner on that market.

In this case, the Senate has an “advise and consent” role on behalf of the American people. Because of deliberate actions by Republicans, the Senate is miserably failing in its duties, and the reason is simple – acting for the benefit of party over doing their duty for the people.

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Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 261

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I know there is a long way to go, but for whatever reason, I have an uneasy feeling about Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Just a perfect time for Vice President Biden to sit on the sidelines.

Although the Republican presidential field is many and growing, how these candidates pander to the right will continue to be a problem in a general election.

I wonder if the television ads by former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) warning of economic have any effect on his son’s candidacy, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

Given the situation in Iraq , here’s the question I’ve asked before and one that I haven’t notice anyone else asking: Would ISIS/ISIL be a problem if Saddam Hussein was in power?

We recently saw D-Day: Normandy 1944, an Omnimax film at the Cincinnati Museum Center. It’s very well done, so I encourage everyone to see it if you get a chance. To learn more, here’s the film’s website, which includes Find a Theater on the Menu.

The On Satire Bits finale was a lot of fun. Many thanks for the chuckles you gave me in the 134 posts. After all, I’m probably the only person who read every combo! One more series finale to go.

Meals: The Musical – Act 5: Ingredients provide many ingredients. Well done … but no eggs, mustard, ketchup, butter, barbecue sauce, peppermint, chili sauce, cheese, hot sauce, mayonnaise, flour, or coriander … and (as of this time), no buzzers from the producer!  Act 6 should be in two weeks – which means I will announce the theme in next week’s Opinions in the Shorts.

This week has had some unexpected turns, so no Explore or cartoon feature this Saturday, but I’m hoping to toast the new month next week. After all, two more months to go (June and July), and then all 12 months will have a tribute – which is something I didn’t intentionally try to do.

To lead you into this week’s headlines from The Onion, here’s their profile on newly announced presidential candidate Rick Santorum.

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On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion
Complete idiot forgot to shave between mouth and nose
Toyota recalls 1993 Camry due to fact owner really should have bought something new by now
Amusement park adds sleeper cars to its roller coaster for passenger who prefer more restful ride
Wedding guest blissfully unaware she barely made the cut
Long-time coffee shop employee thought customers would care more about his last day
Toddler adjusting to society after serving 2-minute timeout

Interesting Reads
Negative views of Congress crossing party lines
Changing size of bathing suits
Europe’s next cheap travel destination?
New ancient human species found
An inspired inventor
Gases We Emit

For the last time in OITS, here are Your Weekend Celebrations
(Fri) Gnocchi Day, Put a Pillow on Your Fridge Day, Day of UN Peacekeepers, Learn About Composting Day, Hug Your Cat Day, Bats Day, Paperclip Day, Coq Au Vin Day, Heat Awareness Day, Pink Flamingo Day

(Sat) Mint Julep Day, Water a Flower Day, Macaroon Day, Wicket world of Croquet Day, My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It Day

(Sun) Save Your Hearing Day, What You Think Upon Grows Day, No Tobacco Day, Speak in Sentences Day

Here’s a 2-fer to send you into the weekend – two classics, including an unused song from Act 5. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On “Debates” 2012

The first of the presidential debates starts this week. Well, there are not debates, but actually glorified new conferences with the parties setting the rules that give the candidates plenty of opportunities to continue there taglines.

Odds are very good that the candidates will provide an answer without answering the question. After all, Mr. Romney has previously stated to a moderator, “You have the right to ask the questions you want to, and I have the right to answer them in a way I want to.”

What if I was running the event? If so, here are the six rules in the A Frank Angle interview format.

  1. The moderator (me) is in charge; thus asks the questions, exercises any rule at any time, and can re-ask questions until answered.
  2. If the candidate does not answer the question, immediately turn off their microphone and surround them with the cone of silence.
  3. If the candidate strays from the question, immediately turn off their microphone and surround them with the cone of silence.
  4. If the candidate stresses the faults of the other candidate’s position over emphasizing their position, immediately turn off their microphone and surround them with the cone of silence.
  5. If a candidate cuts off the other, turn off their microphone and surround them with the cone of silence.
  6. When in doubt, see Rule 1.

Better yet, here are some questions that probably will not be asked on the televised events.

To Mr. Romney
Let’s assume you win, but face a divided Congress. How will you navigate the non-compromising segment of your party?

Was President Obama born in the United States? Is President Obama a Muslim? Besides some horseshit answer like “They are entitled to believe what they want to believe”, explain yourself to the people who do believe it.

If the US Supreme Court is for all Americans, would you favor one in the mold of the other conservatives or one of independent mind?

(Follow up) There are taxes, penalties, and fees. You repeatedly state that you want to lower tax rates After the Supreme Court ruling regarding the Affordable Car Act, you happily accepted the mantra that penalties are taxes. With that same thought, aren’t fees also taxes?

There are many in your party who advocate the teaching of various explanations of Biblical creationism in a science classroom. Why have you not taken the stance that the US Supreme Court ruled against that over 40 years ago?

To President Obama
One aspect of your 2008 message of hope and change focused on bringing the two parties together as much as possible. On the other hand,  a hard-driving Rahm Emmanuel’s (your chief of staff) is a direct contradiction to your message. How do you explain the difference between what you say and what you do?

Afghanistan continues to be a trouble spot. Although the American public supports the military, the majority does not favor this conflict. When are you going to make the decision to stop nation building and get the heck out?

Why did you not immediately embrace the recommendations from the bi-partisan Simpson-Bowles Commission?

The financial sector is the foundation for our economic system. Because Dodd-Frank continues to allow banking deregulation, why did you not support returning to the regulation established by Glass-Steagall?

Outside of the stimulus, the economy didn’t become the focus of your presidency until year three. Why?

To Both
Each of you frequently mentioned the importance of small businesses. What is your definition of small business?

(Follow-up) Why did you ignore the Federal Government’s own definition as per the Small Business Administration? Now, given statistics from the SBA and IRS, let’s examine your claims.

To Rep. Ryan
What is 1+1?
Good, you can add. Here’s a calculator, a pencil, scrap paper, and your budget. Because your numbers do not add up and need more explanation, go over to the side to work on this and we’ll get back to you.

To Vice-President Biden
How did you react to The Onion’s portrayals of you washing a sports car and offering guitar lessons?

Two Interesting Reads

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 153

On Politics
Mitt Romney’s selection of Rep Paul Ryan (R-Wis) did not surprise me. What has surprised me is the comparison by some partisan pundits of Rep. Ryan to Sarah Palin. He may be an ideologue, but he is not a nincompoop.

Selecting Gov. Chris Christie to deliver the keynote address at the Republican convention is a good choice.

As the Medicare rhetoric wars heat up, here are two interesting articles: one and two.

In his campaign for Congress, Joe the Plumber’s “Put a damn fence on the border going to Mexico and start shooting” is more than a goofy comment by someone who has no business being in Congress. It is a sign of the tone, tenor, and lack of sincerity in today’s political arena. Let’s hope that the majority of citizens in Ohio’s First District have enough sense. Sadly, even if he loses, he will receive too many votes.

Because VP Biden’s “chains” gaffe and the political aftermath received much media play, I sought and listened to the entire speech. (I wonder how many people did that.) Although it was a not the best metaphor, it still goes back to context – thus didn’t deserve the attention it got. Interestingly, Sen. McCain said the President Obama should replace Biden on the ticket. Senator, are you speaking as a partisan or from your experience?

Does anyone have friends who still believe President Obama was not born in the U.S.?

The Mute button on my TV remote is still working on the campaign ads and interviews with surrogates!

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion
Michael Phelps Returns to His Tank at Sea World
New Dating Site Matches Users with Partners They Deserve
Subway Introduces Pool-Water-Soaked Sandwich to Honor Michael Phelps
Long Jumper Imagines Transatlantic Flight as One Big, Long Jump
Herman Cain Lifts Suspension of Presidential Campaign

Interesting Reads
Disavowing Super PACS
Brush up on Your Fake Science
Washington Post graph of global temperatures since the late 1800s
Soul of the Olympics
The craft of ancient Belgian beer
An initial Christian response to Darwin

On Potpourri
As I wrote yesterday, the college football season is around the corner, which also means the bowl season is not far away. Given the number of teams required to fill the bowls, the NCAA standards for selections by the bowls, and the number of high-profile schools ineligible for bowls, the NCAA pathetically put their best foot forward by changing the standards.

These are for any enjoying Italy. Debra, an Australian who spends time in Italy, had this wonderful post from the area of both sides of my family. Earlier in this week, I posted about cruising into Portofino. On the same day, Margie also posted about this picturesque village.

William Shatner returns to Priceline ads, which means he survived the crash.

Sadly, I will not have a Saturday Morning Cartoon post this week. After all, it’s time for me to take a break. Although you may see me stopping by, I will return here in about 3 weeks. Meanwhile, I encourage everyone to visit the delightful bloggers I provide in the sidebar. Until my return, be safe, enjoy life, and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch … and enjoy this fun video.

Campaign Tidbits on Election Day

I’m impressed by the physical, mental, and emotional stamina of the four major candidates.

Regardless who wins, America’s standing in the world needs to change for the better. Although this was not a campaign focus, it is reality.

Will we wake up tomorrow to a decision? Well, according to the trends based on the S&P index and the Washington Redskin’s last home game before the election, Senator Obama wins.

I’m interested to see just how close the polls are to the results.

Tonight’s election coverage will be a race among the networks to declare winners. Yes, they agree to withhold projections until polls close in that states, but for me, that’s not enough because results in closed states should not affect the results in states with polls still open.

Yesterday I saw a report about what happens if candidates have an electoral tie. It was interesting!

We are in a time of an economic downturn, financial instability, two wars, and a lousy standing in the international community. The polarizing winner-take-all approach into winners and losers makes establishing a common ground difficult.

With the country is such a mess on so many fronts, will tonight’s winner demand a recount?

Sorry to disagree with pundits, Senator McCain doesn’t have a must win state because he needs more than one surprise.

For the record, undecided voters are those who either don’t proclaim their vote, or those who wait to decide when the ballot is in their hand.

The people buying into the politics of fear are just as disgusting as those playing it.

Like many Americans, I prefer party-divided government in Washington. With the Democrats set for considerable gains in both chambers and a good chance for the White House, how long will it take for a party-divided government to return?

Today, San Francisco voters face a referendum to rename a wastewater treatment plant in honor of President Bush. Although I find it amusing, I hope it loses for two reasons: (1) it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars and (2) I question if GWB deserves any recognition.

Qualifications, Dissent, and Partisanship

Going into the debate, the Pew Research Center published its latest election research. During the month of September, those feeling Governor Palin is qualified to serve as president dropped 15% (to 37%) and those saying no increased to 51% (up 12%).

The report also clearly correlates the relationship between Palin’s favorability and those voting for McCain. Opinions of Palin declined across many groups, but remained stable among Republican voters.

I wish I could turn back the clock to conduct a survey. Without any party affiliation and without a presidential election going on, what would Americans say they about the following qualifications: four years on a small-town council, six years as mayor, and two years as governor? I just can’t believe the American public would be goo-goo over those numbers.

Since the opinions of her qualifications are along party lines, I ask this question. What if the Democratic nominee selected a person with the same background? Would similar numbers occur? Would they follow party lines? Sure they would.

The partisan nature of the American voter resembles passions at a college football game as Ohio State-Michigan, Auburn-Alabama, or many other hate-filled rivalries. No matter what your team does, cheer it on, boo the other, never accept anything but a victory, and always blindly accept everything about your side.

Partisanship has a place, but partisans must realize when to use it, when to put it to rest, and when to descend. Partisanships deliver the Sarah Palin’s, an unbalanced Supreme Court, an ineffective policy-making process, pork projects, and the re-election of a Congress that has a very low approval rating.

Meanwhile, the independents watch, listen, sift through the rhetoric, and reflect about the candidates. So to the independents I say, “Thank you.” Thank you for being the checks and balances within the voting public.