I Agree with President Obama, and I’m Scared

This doesn’t feel right. It’s wrong. Wrong and frightening, with latent horror oozing from the mental pictures my brain is conjuring. I refer, of course, to the fact that I agree with President Obama on an issue of great importance: the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court, circa 2010

Supreme Court, circa 2010

I’ve mentioned before that I am a Court watcher and Justice Scalia’s death is a huge loss.

I totally understand why the Republicans don’t want Obama to select another activist justice. Apart from the threat to our civil liberties, this is a huge pick because it shifts the balance of the court leftward. It’s fair to say that the president and I have opposing views on nearly every topic of importance. The idea of another Obama appointee like Sotomayor on the Supreme Court for decades to come is frightening indeed.

But you know what?

Stock Photo of the Consitution of the United States and Feather Quill

Do it anyway. The Constitution says that appointing a justice is a role the president plays. The GOP’s argument is that Obama is in his last year and it should be “up to the voters” to decide on the next justice.

That’s such a putrid pile of garbage it’s barely worth responding to.

There’s no fine print in the constitution, nor anything about letting the voters “have a say”. That’s a particularly annoying argument since anyone who happens to be conscious is aware that the Republicans care not a bit what the people want, unless it happens to align with what they want. No, the wishes of the Republican establishment don’t Trump the Constitution (ha! I bet you’ll be hearing a lot of those in the future!)

Also, if the GOP had run a viable campaign in 2012, with a candidate the people supported, they would be the ones choosing Scalia’s replacement.

Back to dear self. To add insult to injury, Obama made a point I had been considering too: a president’s term is 4 years, so if letting the people have a say means what kind of president they choose, then Obama and his nominee are the people’s choice. (Just a choice they deeply regretted less than a month after the election.) Once again, the president makes an inarguable point

And yet, we have had a string of presidents (bush I, clinton, bush II, obama) who act with such contempt toward the Constitution, that we can only be sure that whatever motivates the president and Congress with respect to the judicial brench, it is NOT patriotism.

The Republicans are now attempting to justify their refusal to have a vote on Judge Merrick Garland by pointing out that the Democrats made an identical argument about waiting until the election several years ago.

You know what that means? It means nothing!

If the Democrats disregarded the Constitution, call them on it. Protest. (Does anyone ever counter-protest?) Fine them. But don’t try to outdo them by disregarding it even more than they do.

You don’t have to approve him, Republicans. But don’t be jerks, either. Give the guy an up-or-down vote and move on.

What is it the Establishment Fears From Donald Trump?

Here’s what I don’t understand. Why is Donald Trump so frightening to the Republican and Democratic Establishments? What could he possibly do if he’s elected that warrants the near-hysteria that surrounds him?

With the White House in reach, the GOP is ready to throw away the presidency and Congress, rather than support the billionaire. It seems clear that if Trump walks into the convention with the majority of delegates and votes and anyone else walks out as the nominee, the GOP has committed suicide before our eyes. What is the Republican Establishment ready to do, to prevent Trump from being their nominee? Read on:

  • Mitt Romney emerged from wherever he’s been since 2012 to urge the Establishment to work towards a brokered convention.
  • Marco Rubio asked his followers in Ohio to vote for John Kasich to help stop Trump. Has that ever happened before?
  • National Review devoted an entire issue to how horrible the mogul is.
  • The media is obsessed with him – over 96% of all Republican coverage during the past 30 days is about Trump.
  • According to the polls, citizens of the U.S. evaluate Trump slightly more negatively than the other candidates:

U.S. sentiment about 2016 candidates

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Common-Sense Political Catchphrases

Politicians are not creative creatures. They latch on to a few words and run them into the ground, using them to describe anything and everything, or just tacking them on to the end of their sentences even if they don’t fit, American leadership. These phrases help politicians fill a void otherwise occupied with concrete solutions to actual problems. Thought-terminating cliché = way better.

The problem is there are so many stupid catchphrases; choosing one is hard. Jasich (Jeb!™ and Kasich) is particularly fond of “tearing families apart”, whereas Sanders likes “the working men and women of this country who deserve more”.

Mark Twain

That’s a catchphrase I like!

For the worst political catchphrase ever, nothing competes with the self-righteous: “Because it’s the right thing to do” (according to whom? based on what evidence?) that was a staple in President Obama’s repertoire for years. The idea is no one wants to say, “I know that’s the right thing to do and I won’t do it.” But people never were sold that supporting Obama’s agenda = the right thing to do.

Someone apparently clued the president in, because he abruptly dropped the phrase and transitioned to “common-sense”.  This phrase works for politicians of all stripes, who use it like a medieval club to beat down resistance. What isn’t “common-sense”? Right to own a gun? Check. Government efforts to take away said right to own gun? Check. Economics, immigration, Arab Spring? Check, Check, Check! The Institute for Common Sense in New Jersey? Oh, don’t worry. We’re getting to that!

The concept of “common-sense” is brilliant. It’s purely subjective, so it can be used with abandon and total immunity to fact-checking. And who doesn’t like common sense? No one, that’s who. It’s therefore used repetitively, like a meditation chant (“common-sense” is the new “om”!)


But what does it mean? What is the criteria to be common sense? How can opposing sides of an issue (gun rights, common core, etc) claim this term so relentlessly? Answer – like truthiness, common-sense means whatever you want it to.

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