Category: Kentucky Politics

Senate Republicans evade their constitutional duty

Earlier today, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia died. Even though I strongly disagreed with the vast majority of Scalia’s opinions, I offer my condolences to Justice Scalia’s family.

However, Republicans who hold the majority in the U.S. Senate, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and presidential candidates Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), couldn’t wait for Scalia to be cremated before showing that they are more than willing to evade their constitutional duty, with McConnell flatly saying that the Senate should wait until a new president is in the White House before confirming a new Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

This stands in sharp contrast with President Barack Obama, who intends to fulfill his constitutional duty by appointing a new associate justice to this country’s highest bench, even if Republicans obstruct his nomination.

By fulfilling one’s constitutional duty, I’m referring to, in this specific instance, Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution:

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

(emphasis mine; in Article II of the Constitution, “he” refers to the president, regardless of the president’s gender)

The President has the power and constitutional duty to nominate an individual to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, however, the Senate has the power and constitutional duty to either affirm or reject the president’s appointment. It’s clear to me that one party to the process to appoint Supreme Court justices intends to do his constitutional duty (the President), whereas the other party does not (the Republicans who control the U.S. Senate).

The Senate is not required to approve of the president’s pick for the Supreme Court vacancy. The Senate can, if they wish to, establish a process to determine whether or not to approve or reject the president’s pick, and can opt to vote the president’s pick down, either in committee or in the full Senate. However, for the Senate to not establish any kind of process for accepting or rejecting the president’s pick amounts to completely evading the constitutional duty of the Senate.

From an electoral standpoint, it would be absolutely foolish for Republicans to obstruct the president’s pick to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. If the Republicans go through with their threat to obstruct the president’s pick until, at the earliest, a new president is sworn into office, that would, in effect, put control of both the White House and the Supreme Court on the line in the 2016 presidential and senatorial elections. That is the poker equivalent of going all in with a likely losing hand. This strategy could very easily backfire on Republicans, and they would not like the nominees that either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders (I’m a Bernie supporter) would pick. Hillary would likely nominate Obama to the Supreme Court, and Bernie would probably appoint someone who is ideologically similar to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the most progressive of the current Supreme Court justices, if not even more progressive than Ginsburg. If Democrats were to retain control of the White House and regain control of the Senate, stalling on filling the Scalia vacancy on the Supreme Court could end up resulting in a more progressive justice than someone that Obama will pick being seated on our nation’s highest bench (I’m guessing that Obama will pick someone to his ideological right for Supreme Court). Furthermore, U.S. Senate races where Republicans are thought to be safe or favored, such as Indiana, Iowa, and Missouri, would become more competitive for Democrats, and U.S. Senate races that are either competitive or where Democrats are favored, such as Illinois and Wisconsin, would become even more favorable for Democrats.

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New York Daily News cover on San Bernardino shooting: “God Isn’t Fixing This”

God Isn't Fixing Gun Violence - NY Daily News Cover
December 3, 2015 cover of the New York Daily News (image courtesy of New York Daily News)

Earlier today, a mass shooting took place in San Bernardino, California. The mass shooting occurred at the Inland Regional Center, a facility for people with developmental disabilities in San Bernardino, California. As of the writing of this blog post, at least 14 people were killed by the perpetrators of the mass shooting.

This is yet another example of lax gun laws in this country allowing people with violent intentions to carry out a mass shooting in America. As someone who has a developmental disorder (Asperger’s syndrome), I find it sickening that a mass shooting was carried out at a place designed to help those with developmental disabilities.

At the other end of the country from San Bernardino, in the New York City metropolitan area, the cover of tomorrow’s New York Daily News will feature the headline “GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS”, as well as tweets from three U.S. Senators who are seeking the Republican presidential nomination (Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC)) and U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). As an atheist, I fully understand that prayers aren’t going to do a damn thing to prevent mass shootings in this country. Only implementation of common-sense gun safety and gun control measures, such as universal background checks on all gun sales, closing the gun show loophole, and banning the sale of assault weapons will prevent mass shootings from occurring in this country.

 

CONFIRMED: Rand Paul is a paranoid conspiracy theorist

If Rand Paul hadn’t already gone completely off of the deep end, he has now.

Rand has publicly called for an investigation of the upcoming Jade Helm 15 U.S. military exercise in Texas and six other states after Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott called out the Texas State Guard because of right-wing nutjobs falsely claiming that Jade Helm 15 is a U.S. plot to invade Texas and take guns away from law-abiding Texans:

Rand Paul, presidential candidate, announced in a recent interview that he is looking into the conspiracy theories surrounding the upcoming US military exercise Jade Helm 15. The gullible and paranoid citizens of rural Texas are up in arms over the wide scope training mission after a map which revealed Texas labelled as “hostile” territory appeared on the Internet. The map was held up by internet conspiracy theorists and delusional nutjobs as proof that the federal government was going to impose “martial law” and take their guns away.

Jade Helm 15 is a simulation, utilizing the rough terrain of the Southwest to mimic tactical conditions of foreign countries where US troops might see action. As it is a simulation, a portion of army units will be playing the role of the “bad guys”, and that is where the hostile designation comes into play.

The paranoia has grown to the point where Governor Abbott of Texas has deployed a state militia to “monitor the situation” and make sure that Texan constitutional rights were not infringed. The idea is so ludicrous that it is really quite baffling to see not only an elected official but a presidential candidate give credibility to the nonsense.

Yes, you’re reading that correctly: Greg Abbott, the Governor of Texas, thinks that the U.S. military is trying to invade his state, which is part of the U.S., and Rand is going to bat for Abbott and his base of right-wing lunatics.

While there’s an online map showing Texas and Utah in “hostile” territory and an “insurgent pocket” in an area of Southern California roughly corresponding to San Diego, Imperial, Orange, and Riverside Counties, the map is only for the purposes of the military training exercise (I’m surprised it’s publicly available online, to be honest with you). To put that another way, Texas and Utah are NOT areas that are officially hostile to the U.S., there is NO anti-U.S. insurgency going on in Southern California, and the map simply serves as a simulation for the members of our nation’s armed forces who will be taking part in the training exercise. Rand and Abbott are out of their damn minds to believe that the U.S. is invading its own territory.

Israel and our own country’s warmongering politicians are the biggest threats to the United States

Earlier today, a framework was announced in the ongoing talks between Iran and the P5+1 nations (the United States, Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany) in an effort to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons that could be used against the United States and its allies. There is a June 30 deadline for a final nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 nations.

Already, Republican politicians have used the announcement of a framework in the Iran nuclear talks to threaten to blow up any Iran nuclear deal. Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a likely Republican presidential candidate, has, once again, promised to blow up any Iran nuclear deal if he’s elected president. Not to be outdone by Walker, Republican U.S. Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois, one of 47 U.S. Senators to sign the traitorous Tom Cotton letter, compared the P5+1 framework with the Iranian government to the 1938 Munich Agreement. The Munich Agreement allowed German dictator Adolf Hitler to annex the Sudetenland, or areas of what is now the Czech Republic that had a large percentage of German-speaking people prior to World War II. Not to be outdone by his own false equivalence, Kirk went as far as to call for a nuclear attack on Iran, saying that anything that would result in sanctions on Iran being lifted would “end with a mushroom cloud somewhere near Tehran”.

It’s not just hawkish American politicians who are trying to sabotage diplomacy with Iran. Yuval Steinitz, a member of the Benjamin Netanyahu-led Likud party and the Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister, reiterated Israel’s commitment to sabotaging any Iran nuclear deal, saying that Israeli officials will continue their efforts to “explain and persuade the world in hopes of preventing a bad (final) agreement”.

Make no mistake about it, Israel and our own country’s warmongering politicians are the biggest threats to the United States. People like those U.S. Senators who signed the traitorous Tom Cotton letter, people like those in Israel who support their own country’s self-destruction, and people like those Republican presidential candidates who call for the U.S. to “stand with Israel” by opposing diplomacy with Iran are putting America at risk of a nuclear attack by Iran. That’s because sabotaging any Iran nuclear deal would allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons that could be used against the United States and its allies.

If you’re standing with Israel and opposing diplomacy with Iran, you’re effectively opposing the national security of the United States of America.