Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Suppose They Gave a Controversy, and Nobody Came?

"Say what? What do you mean nothing I do is going to matter? That's just cold!"

In the coming months, many people are going to work themselves up into a frenzy, approaching that of the Tasmanian Devil of Looney Tunes fame. And everyone who gets their proverbial panties in a bind will be doing so for pretty much the same reason: it’s a great way to spend an afternoon. But will all this wailing and gnashing of teeth make the slightest difference? Not even vaguely.

I refer, of course, to what has become one of the favorite pastimes of everyone with too much education and too little interaction with the opposite sex, the daily soap opera better known as “So You Think You Can Be a Supreme Court Justice?” If you are one of those people genuinely concerned about who will fill Justice Souter’s modest, yet capable if not downright admirable, shoes—not to worry. Let me put your mind to rest. Who will President Obama nominate as the 111th Justice? I’ll tell you: whoever he wants. And that person will be confirmed. End of story.

Now, I can appreciate you may have a few questions, so let me try and anticipate them for you.

1) What are you, stupid?

Ms. Ingrid Bergman. Thank god she didn't
live to see me called stupid--the shock
might of killed her.
Well…yeah…but what does that make you? I mean, you’re the one READING this garbage. BURN! BURN! But we digress.

2) What do you mean President Obama is going to nominate whoever he wants for the Court, and that person will get confirmed? He can’t just do that . . .

As the characters in Joseph Heller’s “Catch 22” told each other with some frequency: 

Q: “They can’t just do that…can they?” 
A: “They can do anything they want to, as long as you can’t stop them.”

President Obama will be able to place whoever he wants to place on the Court, because there is no one who can stop him. 

Here’s what I mean. Let’s say—just for the sake of argument—that President Obama nominates Donald Duck to the Supreme Court, unleashing crazed howls of outraged moral indignation. 

From the What’s Leftover of the Left that Still Cares (the WLLSC), we can’t believe that our own candidate Daffy Duck was passed over, and by any objective (cough cough) measure, Daffy would be a better Justice than Donald. 

From the right, a coalition of the Republican Party, social conservatives, religious groups, Right to Lifers, the NRA, libertarian economists, the Christian Identity movement and various other paranoid schizophrenic militias, and the Flat World Society all throw down the gauntlet—because their candidate Disco Duck OBVIOUSLY is the only one with both the intellectual rigor and savoir faire to be the next Justice. So, both the Right and Left decide to set aside their mutual hatred and undisguised contempt, to build an unholy alliance with one goal: Defeat Donald Duck!

Governor Sarah Palin. She's holding her
own hand, because she's not touching
Assuming such a mighty coalition is possible (just picture me and Sarah Palin, our arms raised with hands clasped in solidarity), who will lead these soldiers into battle? On the right, we have all the usual suspects: Senators Orin Hatch, Mitch McConnell, John McCain, and Jon Kyl; Citizens Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney; The Usual Gang of Idiots at Fox News; Rush Limbaugh the dope fiend entertainer; Dick Cheney; Disco Stu from The Simpsons; Joe the Plumber; Miss (sic) California Carrie Prejean and anyone else you may want to throw on the heap. Are they going anywhere? No.

What about the on the “left”? Sure, there’s Ralph Nader, a disgruntled faction from MoveOn.org, and OF COURSE the mighty juggernaut known as Samsara Samizdat, but any elected officials? What about Senators Charles Schumer, Russ Feingold, Al Franken, Barbara Boxer, Congress members Charles Rangel, John Lewis, Barbara Lee, Sheila Jackson Lee? In a word: Nope. Just my personal opinion, but the only Democrat who may openly oppose President Obama is Arlen Spector—but only if you pay him his fee in advance. (Oh yeah—Samsara Samizdat, that rump faction from MoveOn.Org and Mr. Nader: we’re not going anywhere either…just in case you were wondering).

So, in the absence of any real leadership or followership, the Anti-Donald Duck Movement will not only fail to get off the ground, but will probably explode in the hanger.

The bottom line is, President Obama is going to put whomever he wants on the court, because there just isn’t anyone with enough political clout who can stop him.

3) You worthless partisan hack! President Obama has had people stand up to him every step of the way. You just haven’t been paying attention!

Uh huh. Let’s look at a few.

A) What about all those Tea Bag Protests, and the issues surrounding the protests?

Now there’s a bunch of winners for you. Separate out the nutjobs who protested because President Obama a “secret” Muslim (“When WILL the Unrepresentative Eastern Liberal Media Establishment (UELME) stop covering up the fact the President’s middle name is HUSSEIN?”) or that he was not born “in America,” what do you have left? The Teabag program was “Obama BAD” (to put it in NewSpeak) because he was 1) raising taxes, 2) a socialist taking over the banking industry, and 3) a socialist who was trying to raise taxes in the first place. Fine.

While it certainly is debatable that President Obama IS “raising taxes,” let’s just say he is: everybody has to pay more taxes, because President Obama is a secret Muslim Islamofascist Socialist who hates America, because he was not born here. All well and good, but what (pray tell) is the alternative? Not raise taxes? The current federal deficit has shattered all previous records—with the real situation much worse than it appears. The really alarming aspect of the federal debt is the future entitlement payments to retiring baby boomers, in the form of Medicare and federal pensions--and that's not included in the current talk of federal debt. But even setting that aside, in the immediate future, we are losing two hot wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and have a financial system on the verge of collapse. There’s only one way to address those problems: more money, honey.

Ms. Jane Russell. You know this picture is
not dirty, because Ms. Russell is keeping a
foot on the floor.
Now, you can get money for nothing if you’re Mark Knoffler (heck, even the chics are free), but for the rest of us: we got to pay. As they say where I come from: Mars Needs Women--and the federal government needs money. No matter how you slice it, it’s time to pony up, Jack. Anyone who even suggests otherwise is lying, stupid, or probably both.

As for President Obama “nationalizing” the banking system, here are your options, tea baggers: 

1) Pour public money into private companies in an effort to stabilize the banking system, coming close to—if not exceeding—the value of the companies, and then taking an equity interest in the companies ie “nationalizing” the banks, essentially by “buying” them at a premium. OR:

2) Pour public money into private companies in an effort to stabilize the banking system, coming close to—if not exceeding—the value of the companies, and then NOT taking an equity interest in the companies ie flushing large amounts of money down the toilet. OR:

3) Allow Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, Citibank, AIG, Bank of America, Countrywide Mortgage, and a whole big bunch of other jerks to fail—which (I agree) is just what they deserve. And incidentally allowing the entire US economy to collapse (I hate when that happens).

Go ahead—pick which option you like best. By the by, option 4) resolving crisis by developing technology of spinning straw into gold—that one’s not on our dance card.

Of course people are pissed at the bail outs, and REALLY pissed when bailed out industries handed out bonuses like speeding tickets. But was there anyone with at least an upper two digit IQ seriously suggesting NOT handing out the bail outs? (The Usual Gang of Idiots at Fox News don’t count, under the “upper two digit IQ” qualification).

That’s why you didn’t see any prominent politicians attached to the Teabag “movement:” the non-screwballs were justifiably angry, but they were angry about something where there was no other real alternative.

Diana Dors. Not a sexual pic--one foot's 
on the floor. In a really boring article about
the Supreme Court, you need to be sure to
illustrate it with pictures of personable
young women avec feet on floor.
B) What about President Obama’s political appointments?

Another teapot tempest. Some cabinet nominees didn’t pay all their taxes, a few undersecretaries—who cares. That happens with all new administrations, and President Obama chose not to go to bat for those people, at least to the extent he would with Donald Duck, Supreme Court Justice nominee.

C) Well—what about the guns in national parks?

I would argue that was not so much of a defeat of President Obama as a defeat of the illusion that the Legislative branch has any moral courage. The gun amendment was introduced by Oklahoma’s own village idiot Tom Coburn, claiming it was necessary to “protect innocent Americans from violent crime in national parks and refuges.” (And you thought I was making that stuff up about gun nuts thinking that was a great way to get with hot sorority babes with large breasts and small noses). YES, the gun amendment did pass (despite my hysterical rant cogent arguments why allowing more hand guns anywhere was a bad idea), but it passed as part of a larger bill protecting consumers from gougings by the credit card industry.

Now, you tell me what’s more important: guns in national parks, or slapping at the banks? Senator Cobern will tell you: he voted AGAINST the final credit card bill, despite the fact the bill contained his own precious gun nut provision.

My point is, President Obama was able to move a large anti-bank, pro-consumer bill through the legislature—and not have the story being “more government regulation will strangle Amerikan (sic) business!”

That’s a win.

D) I’m sure you forgot about President Obama getting his butt spanked on Guantanamo…..

No, I did not. And I fired off letters as blistering as I could make them at the gutless wonders who ostensively “represent” Oregon (Ron Wyden (senior hypocrite, Or.) and Jeff Merkley (junior hypocrite, Or.)), in a futile effort to make sure my Senators knew I remembered as well. We have not heard the end of the Guantanamo argument, and at another time, I’ll rip a wild rant on the pending closure of America’s most prominent gulag.

Mari Blanchard. An old school Ho Ho Ho.
But it looks like she's keeping her feet on
the floor
4) What about President Obama’s tremendous embarrassment at the 2009 Notre Dame commencement?

The Notre Dame Commencement is actually a perfect example of what I’m saying. The Right to Life movement pulled every arrow out of their quiver in an effort to stop, slow down, or embarrass President Obama. But it’s interesting to note who DIDN’T join the pro-Catholic Pro Life protest. For starters, there was the Vatican (kind of a bummer, when you’re attacking someone as being “anti-Catholic”), the Norte Dame student body and alumni—and the American people.

Look at the situation before President Obama spoke. The country was divided into three groups: 1) militant Right to Lifers who were going to hate President Obama no matter what he had to say, 2) militant anti-Right to Lifers who were going to hate the Pro Life movement no matter what President Obama had to say, and 3) people who were willing to listen to what President Obama had to say, and then make up their minds (what a bunch of weirdos). 

Given the tremendous speech that President Obama gave, and his phenomenal speaking ability, what do you think was the percentage breakdown of people in group number three who decided that the Right to Lifers were right, that President Obama had no business giving the commencement address, nor should he have received an honourary degree?

No, when President Obama puts it on the line, for now and a time, he will get what he wants, regardless.

5) But Don’t Supreme Court Nominees Get Blocked All the Time?

No, they don’t. Look at the ones who were blocked:

A) Clement Haynsworth and G. Harold Carswell

Judge Haynsworth sat on the federal fourth circuit court of appeals, and was nominated by President Nixon to fill Justice Abe Fortas’s seat. Bad luck for Haynsworth: he had Richard Nixon in his corner. A coalition of liberal Republicans (I am not making that up), leftwing Democrats and civil rights advocates (most notably, the NAACP) teamed up to defeat his nomination. Thanks to poor work by the Nixon people, Judge Haynsworth’s nomination was defeated in a Senate floor vote of 55-45. Nineteen Democrats and twenty-six Republicans voted for Judge Haynsworth, while thirty-eight Democrats and seventeen Republicans voted against him.

Ms. Pamela Tiffin. Note foot on the floor.
An angry Nixon responded by nominating G. Harold Carswell, a Florida federal district court judge. But Judge Carswell carried some baggage—like a 58% reversal rate of the appeals from his decisions as a trial judge (I hate when that happens). As the story started circulating that Judge Carswell was “mediocre” (ah, weren’t those kinder, gentler times?), Senator Roman Hruska (R-Ne) made legal and legislative history by declaring “Even if he [Judge Carswell] is mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they, and a little chance?”

I guess not. Judge Carswell’s nomination was defeated on a Senate vote of 51-45, with seventeen Democrats and twenty-eight Republicans voting for Judge Carswell, and thirty-eight Democrats and thirteen Republicans voting against him.

The Trickster eventually nominated Minnesota Judge Harry Blackmun, who was confirmed 94-0 (there now—that wasn’t so hard, was it?).

B) Robert Bork and Douglas Ginsburg

In 1987, Justice Lewis Powell was getting ready to retire, and Senator Ted Kennedy’s gang supposedly wanted to hit “whoever” President Reagan would nominate—which is strange, because EVENTUALLY President Reagan would nominate SOMEBODY to take Justice Powell’s place. So, when President Reagan nominated federal district court of appeals Judge Robert Bork, it was off to the races!

Pamela Tiffin again. If it's not dirty on a
bed, then it can't be dirty on a diving
board, right?
Judge Bork was (and still is) a cranky conservative. He said the reasoning of the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade was ridiculous (he has a point, there) and that the federal constitution has no general “right to privacy” (he’s just wrong on that). Still, Judge Bork was one of those rare talents who brought something to the table for everyone to hate. In a recent interview on Bill Moyers Journal, former Congressman Mickey Edwards said: 

“Judge Robert Bork, when . . . nominated for the Supreme Court opposed the Roe v. Wade, which a person can do, on the grounds that the Supreme Court had created a right of privacy which does not exist in the Constitution. 

“And so I had breakfast with him with a small group. And I said, ‘Did you really say that?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘So tell me, Judge Bork, you believe that the only rights the American people have are those that are spelled out in the Constitution?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’

“Well, you know, it's the exact opposite. We're born with our rights. And, you know, the reason you have the Ninth and Tenth Amendments in the Bill of Rights and the reason so many patriots like Patrick Henry opposed, you know, the Bill of Rights was they said, ‘Some idiot's going to come along in the 20th century or 21st century and say, 'You know, unless it's spelled out in here, it's a right the American people don't have.'’
“Well, Judge Bork was that idiot. And so that's . . . where we forget what our values are and we start thinking that . . . only the government has all the rights and we only have those that . . . the government permits us to have, which is turn[ing the] American government on its head.”

How many people agreed with Congressman Edwards, that Judge Bork was, if not “that idiot,” then some other kind of idiot? Enough. His nomination was defeated 58-42, with two Democrats voting for Judge Bork and six Republicans voting against him.

Not anyone that Judge Ginsburg knew.
In response, President Reagan nominated Judge Douglas Ginsburg, another judge from the federal DC circuit. But Judge Ginsburg, a former law clerk of Justice Thurgood Marshall, had to withdraw his nomination even BEFORE it reached the Senate floor. Why? Because apparently, Judge Ginsburg blew DOPE (marijuana. I am not making that up) in the 1970s as an assistant professor at Harvard.

Then, so the story goes, President Reagan (fundamentalist Christian that he was) got right to the heart of the matter, and consulted with his astrologer. The astrologer read all the signs, and doing what astrologers do, came up with the EXACT TIME that the announcement for Justice Powell’s replacement should be made. In fact, the Reagan people had a guy with a stopwatch, ready to give the signal, so that at the RIGHT SECOND, the Reagan flack could blurt out “Ninth circuit court of appeals judge Anthony Kennedy!” The astrologer consultation proved to be money well spent, because Judge Kennedy was approved on a Senate vote of 97-0.

C. Harriet Miers

Who? In 2005, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor announced her retirement from the Supreme Court, largely to care for her husband who was suffering from Alzheimer’s. President George W. Bush tried to nominate to Justice O’Connor’s seat MS. (as opposed to “Judge”) Miers, his long time White House Counsel, fixer, greaser and all around bag(wo)man. Surprising to me, REPUBLICANS jumped out of the woodwork to oppose Ms. Miers, based on her lack of experience (a pleasant surprise) and supposedly “too liberal” values (a shocking surprise. How could anyone think Ms. Miers was even vaguely “liberal”?). 

Tina Louise. ALMOST a dirty picture--only
her big toe is still touching the floor.
I was concerned, largely because I’m one of those people who believe that an all around bag(wo)man, greaser, fixer, and long time Bush White House Counsel could not be anything other than a crook (just my personal opinion). Given Ms. Miers prominent role in the improper firing of the US Attorneys, close ties to Alberto Gonzales and Karl Rove, and persistent refusal to answer subpoenas to testify before Congress on her actions—I may be right.

But the combination of GOP rending of garments and Ms. Miers amazingly piss poor performances in “meet and greets” with Senators of all stripes proved to be too much. Ms. Miers’s nomination to be nominated was quickly withdrawn. 

And one who did make it:

Clarence Thomas

One of the more despicable human beings of our time, Clarence dodged the Bork bullet the old fashioned way: he lied his ass clean off about having no opinions ever, at any time. Certainly no opinions on a right to privacy. None at all. But this toothache of a human owes his seat on our nation’s highest Court to two men: the audacity of Arlen Spector, and the incompetence of Joe Biden. When the sexual harassment allegations involving Clarence (his friends call him “Lord Voldemort”) Thomas surfaced, head of the Senate Judiciary Committee Joe Biden let control of the hearings slip away from him, and allowed Clarence to talk poo-poo (and I don’t mean “poo-poo”) about a “high tech lynching.” Biden also allowed Senators Hatch and Spector to really go after Ms. Anita Hill, attacking her personally. Senator Hatch played primarily to his own constituency (ie complete morons), by claiming that Clarence could NOT have harassed Ms. Hill about a pubic hair in a glass of cola—because there was a similar reference to glass of soda containing an “alien public hair” in “The Exorcist,” the 1971 novel by William Blatty. J’accuse! 

Clarence Thomas, when he worked at the
EEOC. No wait--This is The Boondooks
Uncle Ruckus. My bad.
But I remember Senator Spector (greasy opportunist-PA) was particularly rude, and especially abusive. At the end of the day, the spinmeisters insisted that Clarence belonged on the Supreme Court, because Ms. Hill did not “prove beyond a reasonable doubt” that at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) (what’s wrong with this picture?) Clarence was a complete pig, and Ms. Hill’s testimony was not credible, because NO OTHER WOMAN had testified that Clarence was a complete pig. Why were there no other women who testified? Because Joe Biden would not let any other women testify, despite the fact they were there waiting in the wall.

The final vote was 52-48, confirming Clarence—which just goes to show you, with the right combination of incompetence and audacity, even a ham sandwich can be confirmed on the Supreme Court. 

(During the 2008 presidential campaign, Joe Biden would brag about his role in blocking Robert Bork’s nomination to the Supreme Court, but not mention a word about the asinine job he did on the Clarence hearings. What a tool—and I am not talking about Clarence or Robert Bork).

So what’s the moral? When selecting a nominee for the Supreme Court, don’t nominate a complete idiot—or if you’re the nominee, don’t have an idiot backing you. Or in Judge Ginsberg’s case, don’t be a victim of history. Were Judge Ginsberg nominated today, I would probably be the only one who cared about his use of marijuana—and I’d be relieved. Do you know what those people were like, the ones who never even tried pot in the 1970s? Trust me—you wouldn’t want them making any decisions about anything.

6) Big Deal! You’re making a “prediction” about something that’s already a done deal. President Obama’s got 60 votes in the Senate—that makes him a dictator. You’re not exactly the Amazing Kreskin. . .

Back in the day before my day, Will Rogers would say “I don’t belong to an organized political party. I’m a Democrat.” Let’s look at these sixty votes that President Obama has. One of them is Al Franken. Where’s Al? He’s still in court with Norm Coleman. Apparently, the national GOP thinks it’s well worth destroying what’s let of Norm’s career and the future of Republicans in Minnesota, just to delay Al Franken’s arrival in the Senate. Appeal all you want, GOP—but Minnesota ain’t Florida: they know how to count there. But until that last proverbial dog is hung, we’re at 59.

Then there’s Arlen “The Opportunist” Spector. Remember: he’s cheap and easy, but he’s not free. 58. Then, there are the two Independents: Bernie Sanders (The Good One-Vt.) and Joe Lieberman (The Crappy One-Ct.). Joe not only votes with the GOP on all defense issues, he can be counted on to pretty much ruin everything. cf NY Times columnist Gail Coillins supposed up-coming book “How Joe Lieberman Ruins Everything.” 57.

Also included in that group of 60 are a few conservative turd birds: Nebraska’s Ben Nelson, Arkansas’s Blanche Lincoln, North Dakota’s Kent Conrad, Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu—and probably a few others. But it’s no where near as bad as when the Democrats were saddled with the Dixiecrats, the Democrats for Reagan, and Zell Miller’s flock of goons. Let’s call it minus 4. 53.

Virginia Grey. Even in an evening gown, it never hurts to keep a foot on the floor.
Next, there’s the four oldest members of the Senate: Robert Byrd (91), Frank Lautenberg (85), Daniel Inouye, and Daniel Akaka (both 84). Their own health issues are going to make them less than reliable, as will Ted Kennedy’s health issues. I went high on the turd birds, so I’ll go low on the sickees: minus 2.

We’re now down to 51. That also means anyone else who wants some special love for their state (and knows how to count to 51), could suddenly remember some problem with the nominee.

But President Obama’s power doesn’t lie within the Senate Democrat caucus (thank goodness); it lies with the American people. After eight years of George W. Bush looking and sounding like an idiot (not to mention behaving like one), you can’t imagine what a relief it is to have a bright, articulate leader who doesn’t operate on childish Manichaean terms, a simplistic Us v. Them: “they hate us because of our freedom.”

Americans want their President to be smart—or if not be smart, at least look and sound smart. To be capable. To make good decisions. And President Obama can do that. 

If President Obama goes to bat for Donald Duck, anyone opposing Donald Duck from a state that has any tendency to swing (meaning not Wyoming and not Utah), that person will be putting their political career in jeopardy.

7) You say “Americans want….” And “People think….” How the hell do you know what other people think and want?

I just took what I believed to be true, and ascribed those feelings to the American people at large. You don’t think I’m going to actually go out and ASK anyone else, do you? Come on!
Elwood and Joliet Jake. They're on a mission from god: Preserve the establishment clause at all costs!

1 comment:

Lance Boyle said...

"Clarence ... lied his ass clean off about having no opinions ever, at any time."

I think Clarence Thomas really really really had no opinions. In his years as justice, he's been pretty much a bump on the Supreme Court log. His SCOTUS opinions seem to be whatever Tony "the Fixer" Scalia allows him to have.