Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Empty Seats, Empty Heads

His Holy Modal Majesty, Senate kingpin Addison Mitchell McConnell, has declared that President Obama will place someone in Antonin Scalia's Supreme Court seat when hell freezes over.  The Senate GOP leader has said that since Obama is a lame-duck President, he should forfeit his constitutional obligation to name a new justice and allow the next President - who is increasingly likely to be a Republican, given Hillary's baggage and Bernie's ardently liberal views - to do so.  Obama has made it clear that he will accede to Mitch Mac's wishes . . . when hell freezes over.
Net gain - zero.
So what can the Democrats do to counter McConnell's threats to block a third Supreme Court appointment?  Well, let me tell you - nothing.  The Senate is under Republican control, and they don't have to hold hearings for any Supreme Court nominee the President puts forth.   The Democratic minority can only whine about it.  What is Harry Reid going to do, block a block?
This escapade is only the latest in a series of reasons why people in other countries enjoy making fun of what passes for the political system in  These States.  In addition to showing disrespect for the President on the basis of his race (he's actually a mixed-race person, but never mind), the Republicans are defying the letter of the Constitution that they and Scalia professed to love so much.  The President has every right to appoint someone to the Court, and the Senate is expected to vote on it.  A negative vote would be better than no vote at all.
Oh yeah, I ought to tell you about Ted Cruz, who in the South Carolina Republican presidential debate said that there is an eighty-year precedent "of not confirming Supreme Court Justices in an election year."  The moderator, John Dickerson of CBS, noted that that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was confirmed, 97-0 (Kennedy is the last Supreme Court justice confirmed unanimously, not counting absent or abstaining senators), in an election year - 1988. 
"No, Kennedy was confirmed in '87," Cruz shot back.
"He was appointed in '87, confirmed in '88," Dickerson replied.  "Is it appointing or confirming?"
As Cruz seemed unsure of how to answer, Dickerson said that he just wanted "to get the facts straight for the audience."  The anti-Obama GOP audience made it crystal clear with their booing that they didn't care about the facts.   
Now there's a good way to deter immigrants - let people in other countries show how stupid we Americans are!
(Here's a fact Dickerson didn't get straight: Eighty years before 2016 was 1936, and there was no Supreme Court seat that was vacant that year - the presidential election of which incumbent Franklin Roosevelt won a second term in a landslide.  However, the following year, 1937 - the year Roosevelt unsuccessfully tried to expand the Court - FDR appointed his first Supreme Court justice, Hugo Black, who served until his death in 1971.) 
Anyway, the need to ensure a Democratic successor to President Obama (and by the way, no elected Democratic President has succeeded another since James Buchanan succeeded Franklin Pierce in 1857) has been made exponentially more important by Scalia's death - so much, in fact, that I may have to vote for the nominee despite living in a supposedly safe Democratic state.  Mitch McConnell may make me do the impossible - vote for Hillary Clinton!
However, there is one silver lining: for as long as the ninth Supreme Court seat remains vacant, any 4-4 split decisions on cases will let the lower courts' rulings stand, and the lower courts' rulings have been trending leftward of late.
Irony! :-D       

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