Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Most Influential Justice Of The Last Quarter Century, Antonin Scalia, Dead At 79

Justice Antonin Scalia, whose transformative legal theories, vivid writing and outsize personality made him a leader of a conservative intellectual renaissance in his three decades on the Supreme Court, was found dead on Saturday at a resort in West Texas, according to a statement from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. He was 79.

“He was an extraordinary individual and jurist, admired and treasured by his colleagues,” Chief Justice Roberts said. “His passing is a great loss to the Court and the country he so loyally served.”

The cause of death was not immediately released.

Justice Scalia began his service on the court as an outsider known for caustic dissents that alienated even potential allies. But his theories, initially viewed as idiosyncratic, gradually took hold, and not only on the right and not only in the courts.

He was, Judge Richard A. Posner wrote in The New Republic in 2011, “the most influential justice of the last quarter century.” Justice Scalia was a champion of originalism, the theory of constitutional interpretation that seeks to apply the understanding of those who drafted and ratified the Constitution. In Justice Scalia’s hands, originalism generally led to outcomes that pleased political conservatives, but not always. His approach was helpful to criminal defendants in cases involving sentencing and the cross-examination of witnesses.

With the retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens in 2010, Justice Scalia became the longest serving member of the current court. By then, Justice Scalia was routinely writing for the majority in the major cases, including ones on the First Amendment, class actions and arbitration.

He was an exceptional stylist who labored over his opinions and took pleasure in finding precisely the right word or phrase. In dissent, he took no prisoners. The author of a majority opinion could be confident that a Scalia dissent would not overlook any shortcomings.

Justice Scalia wrote for a broader audience than most of his colleagues. His opinions were read by lawyers and civilians for pleasure and instruction.

Justice Scalia’s sometimes withering questioning helped transform what had been a sleepy bench when he arrived into one that Chief Justice Roberts has said has become too active, with the justices interrupting the lawyers and each other.

The current occupant of the Oval Office can be expected to appoint a replacement whose views will more align with his own. Once his nominee is chosen, the US Senate will hold confirmation hearings and then put the nominee to a vote. A majority of 51 wins, which may be difficult for Obama in a Senate that currently has 54 Republicans, 44 Democrats, and two Independents. There is definitely a concern that the Republican-controlled Senate will do their best to put off the confirmation of any less-than-conservative nominee in the hopes that a Republican president will be elected in the fall and the task of nomination will then go to him.

The time for all this action to take place isn't set in stone, and having a Democratic president try to replace a conservative justice in a Republican-led Senate will surely prove difficult. The last person to join the Supreme Court was Justice Elena Kagan, who was nominated by Obama on May 20, 2010 in anticipation of Justice John Paul Stevens' impending retirement on June 29 of that year. She was confirmed by a 63-37 vote of the Senate on Aug. 5, 2010. The last Justice to die on the bench was William Rehnquist on Sept. 2, 2005.  

Friday, February 12, 2016

Dammit Jim!

On the eve of the GOP Presidential Debate from Greenville, SC the Intertoobs are ablaze with the sad, sad news that former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore announced he was dropping out of the presidential race.

His hasty decision forced me to update my blog banner to include him with the rest of the also-rans.  Dammit Jim!  You're always making me do extra work!

The jokey hashtag #Gilmentum was a metaphor for his dismal showing in Iowa where he managed a pitiful 12 votes and effused a veritable landslide in New Hampshire.  After all the votes were counted, his total was 133 out of 285,000 votes cast.

Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee both collected more votes than Gilmore even though they dropped out of the race days before New Hampshirites went to the polls.

Gilmore participated in two “undercard” debates, but never graduated to the main stage. He saw the writing on the wall when he was the only remaining Republican candidate to be excluded from Saturday's debate.

The unlikeliest of the unlikely, Gilmore raised a paltry $90,000 for his presidential bid and loaned his campaign committee $124,000.

One story emanating from New Hampshire told of him wandering into a cigar bar in Manchester called Castro’s Back Room where he tried to chat up his candidacy while the patrons were watching the Super Bowl.  Twenty minutes later poor Jim walked out leaving the dozen or so people scratching their heads.  One guy said, “Ain’t that guy something?  He’s got no chance.  It’s like a kid who wants a sucker but his mom says ‘no’ 100 times and he still keeps asking.”

I remember (because I’m old) when Arnold Horshack, a “sweathog” from “Welcome Back Kotter” always jammed his arm into the air saying, “Oooh, Ooooh. Pick me.” He reminds me of Horshack.

Jim is heading back to his family who has never heard of him either.

The Trotskyite And The Withered Crone

Mean Tweets: Hillary’s Remarkable Debate Fashion Sense

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

"Excuse Me, Waiter, There's a Quid in my Pro Quo"

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New Hampshire Primary: Rubio Announces “Obama Knows Exactly What He’s Doing”

Marco Rubio’s supporters pushed, shoved and wrestled demonstrators dressed as robots outside a polling place in Manchester, NH on Tuesday.  The demonstrators were mocking his robotic rhetoric in last Saturday’s GOP Presidential Debate from Saint Anselm College.

During the debate, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie eviscerated him for repeating the same canned talking points four times.  Rubio insisted for days afterwards that the confrontation had not wounded his campaign.

A somber Rubio blamed himself for his pathetic fifth place finish confessing, “I’m disappointed with tonight, but I want you to understand something.  Our disappointment tonight is not on you.  It’s on me.  I did not do well on Saturday night, so listen to this.  That will never happen again.  That will never happen again.”

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

New Hampshire Primary: Simpering Fat Man To Weigh Future Of His Presidential Campaign

The Associated Press is reporting that Governor Chris Christie will be heading back to New Jersey to “take a deep breath” after finishing a distant sixth place in tonight’s New Hampshire primary. 
His dismal finish disqualifies him to participate in Saturday’s GOP debate in Greenville, South Carolina which will be carried by CBS.
I bet he could use a hug from The World’s Most Dangerous Community Organizer right about now.
UPDATE 2-10-16:  At 11:26 AM The Washington Times reported that NJ Governor Chris Christie would be issuing a statement later this afternoon suspending his presidential campaign. 

New Hampshire Primary: The Mailman’s Son Comes In Second

When Ohio governor John Kasich entered the already crowded GOP race for president he tried to distinguish himself as a “regular guy” citing ad nauseum his roots as a blue-collar son of a mailman who carried and delivered mail to families in McKees Rock just outside of Pittsburgh.

The voters of New Hampshire handed Donald Trump a victory just as polls had predicted for weeks but they also cast their votes for Kasich giving him a victory over rivals Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and Marco Rubio.

New Hampshire Results Starting to Trickle In


Keep in mind that these results are extremely preliminary as reported by Fox News with only 1% reporting.  The numbers, however, are correct.  So far, so good, on the Democrat numbers.

The Republican numbers are being re-analyzed, since they show John Kasich at 24%, and that's assumed to be a technical error.

UPDATE:  Frank Luntz's focus group is warming up.


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