Monday, February 29, 2016

The Schoolyard At Tarpon Springs Middle Was More Dignified Than This

And the sixth graders were more thoughtful and scathing in their insults. Then again, this was back in the 1980s, so I can't be certain of the quality of schoolyard taunts in the 21st Century. Still, it has to be better than the lame attempts Rubio tried to deliver on Trump this weekend. Per the Atlantic:

...After Trump won three straight contests and looked to claim the nomination on Super Tuesday, Florida Senator Marco Rubio decided to fight slime with slime. He taunted Trump over his made-in-China ties and his spray tan. He mocked Trump’s spelling. He called Trump a pants-wetter. He questioned Trump’s manhood.
“You know what they say about men with small hands,” Rubio smirked, “you can’t trust 'em!” Rubio knows that’s not what they say about men with small hands...
Yeah, Rubio pretty much questioned Trump's manhood. Just remember, this is where the Republicans are hoping to elect someone to "bring back dignity" to the Oval Office after eight years of Barack "If We Keep Calling Him a Failure Maybe People Will Start Believing Us" Obama.

Personally, I don't think attempts to bully a bully work out: it merely makes the bully fight on, especially when ego and public image are on the line. Trump is likely to punch back, and in frightfully painful ways that would make Rubio curl up into a fetal position and beg "no more."

Rubio is not a paragon, or virtuous figure he thinks he is. One joke about his credit cards and I'm sure he'll be crying to the referees about his hurt fee-fees.

In the meanwhile, Rubio's taunts border between incredibly juvenile and incredibly crass. Jezebel even tries to rank them - as though we're judging for a contest - but they're all pretty much the kind of insults that leave you shaking your head. Except the joke about Trump selling broken watches, that is cutting to Trump's con-artist persona. Problem is you have to remember the context in which Rubio tries to set it...

In the meantime, if anyone wants to settle this entire Primary race with a dodgeball fight on the outdoor basketball court, I think the middle school closes at 3:20 pm.

Note: Okay, so I survived Tarpon Springs Middle with a few emotional scars. On the bright side, I learned a lot of curse words in Greek...

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Before Super Tuesday 2016, Some Notes

In the Primary schedule, there's a big block of states that all Primary/Caucus the same Tuesday, most of them for both parties. It creates a pretty big hurdle day where if one candidate dominates most of the states, it pretty much ends the race and drives all the has-beens from the field even if a lot of other states - hi, California! - haven't chimed in yet.

It is called Super Tuesday. It is the next Primary on the calendar, this March 1.

These are the things you'll need to know:

For the Democratic race, Super Tuesday is the likely point where Bernie Sanders drops out.

Last night's South Carolina Primary for the Dems turned into a metaphorical bloodbath where Hillary Clinton garnered about 74 percent of the turnout to Sanders' 26 percent. While Hillary was poised to win, the scale of it was mind-blowing. Hillary cleaned up two key blocs - women and Blacks - in such a way that went against Sanders' aggressive pandering in those communities.

Hillary's (soft) delegate count is around 530 or so with Bernie around 83, where the needed delegate count to win the nomination is over 2300. Even in the hard delegate count, Hillary's leading. After this Tuesday, if Hillary wins the states she's expected to carry -  Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas (!), and Virginia - and garners wins in places that are toss-ups - Colorado, maybe Minnesota, Oklahoma - that is 9 states out of 11. Only Vermont is a lock for Sanders, and while Massachusetts was seen as a Sanders lock that's been turned into a toss-up as well (don't forget, Hillary won Massachusetts in 2008 despite Obama's support in MA).

Bernie has to win over Massachusetts, Colorado and Minnesota to have any conceivable chance to continue into May or June. He might not even get a chance to challenge the March 15 Primaries where five major states - Florida, Ohio, Illinois, North Carolina, Missouri - plug in nearly a quarter of available delegates into the math. And Ohio is the closest one he's got: Hillary is just stomping him across most of the Primary states.

And now to the Republican side of the aisle...

The weekend has mostly been the noise buzzing about Trump starting to receive endorsements within the ranks of the Republican Party itself. The party elite had been desperately anointing others like Jeb and Rubio with those pats on the back, but Trump still cruised along to big Primary wins without them.

Now, with the likes of Chris Christie openly advocating for Trump, we're seeing a shift in the back-room struggle by the Establishment to try and maintain a semblance of sanity in the nominating process. With Christie - and various Congresspersons, and just recently Maine governor LePage - providing political cover, we're going to see more and more influential insiders telling each other the delusion of "ya know, we can deal with Trump, he's not that bad..."

Because this same weekend saw Trump getting endorsed by Klu Klux Klansman David Duke... and when asked about it Trump refused to denounce the KKK support.

Considering how the Republicans keep marching out there saying "oh we're not really racist" and then have a well-known racist organization like the KKK back your banner-carrier... well, at this point I doubt there are any desks left in one piece at the RNC headquarters after all the headdesking that's been happening since June 2015.

This coming Super Tuesday vote will be yet another test, but this time a test of Republican Establishment fortitude. All things being equal this election cycle, anything Trump has done that's been controversial and horrifying has done NOTHING to stop him at the primary ballot box.

The Republican voting will take place in Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Vermont.

Of these states, Ted Cruz has a lead in Texas, Arkansas, and that's it. Marco Rubio leads in Minnesota. Carson leads in Colorado (!). Trump is leading everywhere else, especially in states that should know better (I'm glaring at you Georgia, dammit how's a boy gonna defend his birth-state when you being this stupid? It's not crazy, it's STUPID. VOTE KASICH YOU IDIOTS...).

There may yet be a quick change in the votes among undecided or remaining party moderates offended by Trump's open bid for Klan votes, but that's unlikely (outrage does not kill Trump). What we should look at are the results and see if Trump gains any on the 35 percent or so average he has within Republican ranks. With Jeb out of the race and the Establishment trying to rally to Rubio, we ought to be seeing a three-man race between Trump, Cruz and Rubio balancing between the 30-to-35 percent ranges. But if Rubio is still wobbling around 18-to-20, and Cruz is wobbling around 20-to-25, and yet Trump is still around 35 percent... that's good news because that will be proof that Trump has a support ceiling, that he's capped out. Granted, it won't be good news that Rubio can't garner more support to beat Trump, and that Cruz is still able to justify staying in the race. But this means that Trump's Unfavorable numbers are legit, and that in a general election Trump is gonna get his ass kicked.

However, if Trump's numbers go up... if Trump clears the 40-to-45 percent hurdle, if he even wins a state outright getting 50 percent or more... that means he can shrug off his Unfavorables. Stopping Trump in the Republican Primary is a tall order, and growing unlikely in the face of the RNC's ineptitude. If Trump can win over support well enough into the moderate bloc of voters... Ohhhhhhh SHHHHHHHIIIIIIII------

(psst, for the love of God don't vote Trump (as well as don't vote Republican in the Senate and Congressional races, and state races, and...)

I'll be busy at a library conference this March 1st. I will try to check in, but no guarantees. P.S. SUPPORT YOUR PUBLIC LIBRARIES.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Why Trump Is All the Fault of Republicans

Even with the 2016 Primary season starting up, the finger-pointing has already started among the pundit and GOP Establishment figures about how someone as toxic as Donald Trump became the front-runner for the Republicans.

We've seen the National Review crowd denounce Trump in toto, but that broadside did nothing to stop Trump's winning most of the early states. Driftglass has been documenting the likes of David Brooks trying and failing to understand what's happening here. Some of the more hard-core columnists like Robert Kagan are openly calling this situation for what it is - a massive failure by the Republican Party to stop its darker impulses - and openly denouncing Trump as a Frankenstein Monster of the GOP's making.

If there's been one constant in the Far Right pundits' stages of grief, it's been the denial that Trump's rise is due entirely to the mindset of the modern Republican/Conservative movement. Brooks can't seem to bring himself to use the R-word when describing the angry forces marshaling under Trump's banner, as though somebody else is responsible for the mess. Even Kagan, who at least owns up to where Trump is coming from, can't stop himself from bringing Obama into the argument by calling the President's administration a failure as though that could alleviate some of the guilt.

But no, if anyone's to blame for Donald Trump's rise to the top of the Republican Party ticket, it's the Republicans themselves. And I can point to four easy and unavoidable observations to justify this claim.

1. It's been the Republican Party that promotes the belief in the All-Mighty Businessman as Savior/Genius/Leader, and the party that argues "government should be run like a business" which gives the likes of Trump a chance to "run things" like they run their corporations.

I haven't seen too many people bring this up, but it's a valid argument to make. Which party lionizes the "self-made businessman," props itself up as the defender of the "small business owner" against harsh regulations and taxes? It's not so much that the GOP is firmly a pro-business political party - such origins reaching back to their Whig-Federalist roots - it's that they border on worshiping business leaders and CEOs as flawless, "job creator" heroes. So of course, the Republicans have no problem with these CEOs tossing their names into the Presidential campaign.

Back in 2012, the Republicans promoted Romney's record as a CEO and venture capitalist more than his tenure as a Governor. Dubya ran in 2000 as Governor of Texas, but his resume was mostly his career as a not-that-successful businessman. And Trump is not the first pure businessperson to run for the Presidency: Carly Fiorina got into the race before he did this year, and in 2012 they had Herman Cain, in 1996 and 2000 they had Steve Forbes, and in 1988 there was Pat Robertson (ostensibly a televangelist, but owner of a religious cable channel). I could go back further - Hoover! Wendell Wilkie! - but I place the modern Republican Party emerging from the rise of Reagan in 1980, so we'll stop there. Essentially, this is a political party that's ripe for Trump's kind of con game.

2. Building on that point, it's the Republican Party that looks to non-political people as "experts" and spokespersons. The GOP is the party that expresses disdain for elective or administrative expertise in government: Worse, it expresses hatred for a functional working government period. It's a party that makes it easy for novices like Trump and others to run for high office.

We're talking about a Republican Party where their own elected officials express that disdain for expertise on any issue. Scientists arguing about climate change? Mock them. Economists arguing against austerity to get a nation out of a crippling recession? Ignore them. Military experts warning about getting involved into too many overseas wars? Accuse them of hating America and send the troops anyway.

We're talking about a Republican Party that made heroes out of the likes of "Joe the Plumber" as much as they promoted the likes of Sarah Palin, a relatively minor elected official - she never even finished her term of office as Alaska's governor - who ended up as a Vice Presidential nominee and converted her error-prone ascension into a self-promotional never-ending book tour.

Political competency is NOT a requirement to run as a Republican. Granted, incompetent and even crazy people run as Democrats as well, but Republicans seem to thrive on incompetency...

We're talking about a Republican Party whose hatred for a well-regulated functioning government pushes them to elect people into office who will sabotage that functioning government from within, who once in office will slash budgets and cripple social services all in the name of "reform" and then sit back as people rail against the lack of any aid or support, content in proving themselves right. We're talking about a party whose unelected leaders like lobbyist Grover Norquist seek to "starve the beast" and shrink the federal government down to something that Grover can drown in his goddamn bathtub.

This is a Republican Party that would have no problem with someone like Trump - no elected experience, no experience working within a public sector administration, whose only interaction with government has been to wheedle into property leases and whine his way out of bankruptcy hearings - barging into the White House with zero political wisdom and even less understanding for how things in government really work.

3. It's been the Republican Party that opposes immigration reform the last twenty years, giving Trump an easy hate-driven agenda to rally voters to him.

This is the thing the Republicans and their apologists are going to have to answer for over the next twenty years.

It's easy to point out our current immigration system is broken, but next to impossible to agree on any rational solution. The last major reform effort in 1986 did little to stop illegal immigration as the legislation contained enough loopholes to make it toothless. Arguments to simplify or make it easier - to have guest workers and "paths to citizenship" for younger illegals able to attend secondary education systems - run into political opponents who bring up fears of criminal behavior among the illegals (which are overstated) as reasons to make immigration harder to achieve.

Support for immigration reform is there: overall, Americans know we're a nation of immigrants and so would support the means to make it legal for most of the people moving to the U.S. However, among voting groups - Dem, Indy, GOP - the Republicans are the ones who least support such reforms. Republicans are also the group that wants to change the definitions of citizenship to make it harder, and the ones most eager to build a giant wall between the United States and Mexico.

What's not mentioned in the statistics is the emotional impetus behind the Republican anti-immigrant bent: the fear of The Other - not just Mexicans and Hispanics, but also Muslims - that underlies a lot of the Republican political platform. It's been there for years, intermingled with the overall social conservative anger towards minorities, and only now exposed to daylight as Trump jumped onto that issue as his signature agenda.

And the reason why Trump opened up his campaign with a blatant anti-immigrant hater agenda is because his utter lack of a political resume gave him nothing else he could use to run. To his advantage, Trump is running with a clean slate uncluttered by questionable policy decisions that his opponents have to excuse or ignore: To everyone else's horror, he dumped a lot of trash onto that clean slate and still found a willing audience eating it up.

4. It's the Republican Party that let Donald Trump f-cking file to run as a candidate in the first f-cking place.

Well, yeah. Duh. If Trump were really a librul, he'd be running against Hillary and Bernie.

You'd think a political party would have a filter or review process for their candidates at the national level. I know the state party ranks do: they require filing fees and an interview/vouching process. It's what stopped Stephen Colbert from running as a Republican oooh no wait he tried filing as a Dem and they had a committee block him a few years back. So at least the Democrats have a review process in place. The Republicans were just too expensive to file a campaign with. Ah well.

So, there you have it. Four easy, solid reasons why Republicans are to blame for letting Donald Trump destroy the planet like a fully-realized Bond villain. Thanks, Republicans. Thanks a bunch.

(psst. Vote Democrat, everybody)

Update: Driftglass - ever vigilant for any "Both Sides-ism" coming from the conservative commentariat - spotted a feral Ross Douthat and documented the atrocity. When Douthat gets to this line "But Trumpism is also a creature of the late Obama era," you know Mr. Douthat is trying to blame others than himself. This was your party, Ross, this was your conservative movement, and YOU let the con artists scam you on multiple occasions. And you welcomed them in with your eyes open and with willing greetings arms. And now you don't want to pay your bills.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Clown Car Campaign Comes to the Crazy... Damn, There's No C-Word Synonym for State of Florida.

I've been wondering for awhile when they were going to poll for Florida's primary, as it's almost two weeks away and the last poll was in January. That January poll had the numbers for Trump, but people had dropped out, and things had changed, and I was thinking once Jeb* dropped out that the polling numbers might shift in favor of - yeah, I know I shouldn't - Rubio, the Sunshine State's remaining Fortunate Son.

Well, Quinnipiac finally came out with one today. And oh boy, we're screwed:

Marco Rubio is getting trounced by Donald Trump in his own home state, according to a new Florida poll released Thursday from Quinnipiac University. The results show frontrunner Trump holding a 44-28 percent lead over second-place Rubio...

Part of me is enjoying the schadenfreude of watching Rubio lose his own state, but the other part of me is utterly horrified there is 44 percent of the Floridians around me recklessly ignorant enough to vote for a damn bankrupt fraud. Then again, this is the damn state that voted for a Medicare Fraud for Governor. Twice. /headdesk

The RealClearPolitics site has been tracking the polls, so there's a way to follow the trends up and down for the remaining victims:

Polling Data

RCP Average1/17 - 2/24----38.719.317. +19.4
Quinnipiac2/21 - 2/24705 LV3.7442812--47Trump +16
CBS News/YouGov1/18 - 1/21988 LV4.6411822452Trump +19
Florida Times-Union1/17 - 1/17838 LV3.33112191373Trump +12

Interesting to note how Cruz's numbers inverted downward while Rubio's went up. Also interesting is that with Jeb out, Kasich's numbers went up as much as Rubio's has.

Thing is, the numbers do not look well for Florida or America or the world. Trump right now is cruising to a solid win in a Winner-Take-All state. If Rubio fails to garner a single delegate (there are a handful still available even in the WTA format) for his OWN STATE, he might as well drop out.

I dread what will follow.

Right now, the only sane solution is don't vote Trump at all, and just don't vote Republican either. But sanity is no longer an option. I should know: I'm a Florida Man...

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Obama Blogs About SCOTUS, And the World Is Better For It

I envy the people who manage the SCOTUSblog website. They got a guest writer for their blog today, and damn...

Barack Obama writes about his Responsibility as President to nominate a Justice to fill the vacancy at the Supreme Court!

DAMN DAMN DAMN. I am coloring the word ENVY with the appropriate tint right about now.

As for what Obama writes:

A Responsibility I Take Seriously

The Constitution vests in the President the power to appoint judges to the Supreme Court.  It’s a duty that I take seriously, and one that I will fulfill in the weeks ahead...
...Needless to say, this isn’t something I take lightly.  It’s a decision to which I devote considerable time, deep reflection, careful deliberation, and serious consultation with legal experts, members of both political parties, and people across the political spectrum...
First and foremost, the person I appoint will be eminently qualified.  He or she will have an independent mind, rigorous intellect, impeccable credentials, and a record of excellence and integrity.  I’m looking for a mastery of the law, with an ability to hone in on the key issues before the Court, and provide clear answers to complex legal questions.
Second, the person I appoint will be someone who recognizes the limits of the judiciary’s role; who understands that a judge’s job is to interpret the law, not make the law.  I seek judges who approach decisions without any particular ideology or agenda, but rather a commitment to impartial justice, a respect for precedent, and a determination to faithfully apply the law to the facts at hand...

The whole article is brief enough that I shouldn't quote more. You should click the link and read the rest.

So the good news is, Obama is going to fight for making a nomination in spite of the Republican Senators being a big bag of d-cks right now. I love how Obama frames the article as "A responsibility I take seriously." A huge shiv to the gut of a Republican Party that isn't doing their duties in the Senate at all right now: McConnell and his allies could have easily kept their mouths shut, waited for a nominee from Obama, and then reject the nominee and claim they did their duty. This way they're going with straight-up blocking, the GOP Senate is doing two things: Jack and Sh-t. And voters can tell which side of this issue are the ones losing it: the Republicans, who AREN'T playing by the rules of the Constitution.

The bad news is, I haven't gotten a chance to get Obama to guest-blog here. ARGH. I know, a lot of bloggers are also feeling the same thing.

Okay, so, just get the word back to the White House that there's an open invite here at You Might Notice a Trend in case Obama wants to write up an article about, oh, Mad Max or Star Wars or comic books or baseball or the political ramifications of the missing comma in the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Any topic as long as it is relevant to this blog's focus, I guess. 

This invite to President Obama is only good until January 19, 2017 before the inauguration of the incoming President, the real and official moment that Obama doesn't have to fulfill the duties of the Executive office.

(begins tapping foot, waiting alongside John Cole and Digby and Rude Pundit and Crazy Eddie and driftglass and Emily L. Hauser and that guy at Stonekettle Station and...)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Modern Republican Motto: Obstruction Now, Obstruction Tomorrow, Obstruction Forever

As mentioned last weekend when Scalia passed away, the Republicans started rolling out - before the body was even cold, people - the Narrative that Obama should not be allowed to nominate Scalia's successor.

Their argument was that, well gosh, since this is an election year leave it to the next President to pick somebody. As though Obama stopped getting a paycheck for being President some time back in December 2015. As though they refuse to respect the fact that the Constitution's only deadline to an elected President's tenure is the day he officially leaves office.

The Republicans keep bringing up the time in 1992 when Joe Biden was quoted as saying for then-President Bush the Elder to not, you know, consider nominating anyone for vacant seats during his re-election bid. Ignoring the fact that in the same speech Biden said it was still the Senate's duty to advise and consent if Bush did bring such nominees to their chamber.

The Republicans are also ignoring the facts that previous times any President dealt with Supreme Court - or any judicial - vacancies in his last year of office those Presidents did indeed proceed to nominate replacements and the Senate did indeed considered and voted on them (except for one, Fortas in 1968, under unusual circumstances).

And yet, despite history and tradition and Constitutional requirements, here's our Republican-led Senate flat-out telling the nation that if Obama comes to them with a Supreme Court nominee that they won't even let him in the front door (per The Atlantic):

“The election is well underway, so I believe the overwhelming view of the Republican conference in the Senate is that this nomination should not be filled, this vacancy should not be filled by this lame-duck president,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday afternoon. McConnell’s second-in-command, Senator John Cornyn, said members of the Judiciary Committee were “unanimous” in their view that there should no hearing for Obama's nominee. “The reason for that is, it’s not about the personality, it’s about the principle,” Cornyn said. Taking matters a step further, both McConnell and Cornyn said they were not inclined even to meet with the person Obama picks—a traditional first step in any nomination process.

So by the Republicans' own logic that a "lame-duck President" shouldn't do anything, since this is an election year for 24 Republican Senators their decisions and their votes shouldn't even matter because "the American people" back home should decide if those 24 Senators should even come back.

The way these 24 Republican Senators are acting - ignoring their oaths of office, ignoring the need to fill any and all vacancies in our Judicial system to the best of their ability - none of them deserve to come back.

Oh, and for the record, these same damn Republicans have been treating Obama like a "lame-duck President" since January 2009. They're just being blatant and openly disrespectful now.

If there is truly a Just and Loving God in this world, Obama will continue to review his nominee options, select the most qualified Left-Center candidate he has, and make the announcement. Play this game. Force the Senate to look like whiny babies refusing to do their job while you bring up an accomplished and qualified jurist while doing yours.

Take this on tour to every state where a Republican Senator - even the solid Red ones - is up for re-election. Point out the necessity of having a full bench on the Supreme Court (that the possibilities of 4-4 ties throws legal decisions back down to the lower courts and into confusion). Point out the requirements of the oath of office a Senator has to uphold (you should speak from experience as a former Senator yourself).

Point out the fact that current polling of "the American People" - that the GOP Senate is using as an excuse to do nothing - is fully in favor of Obama doing his job nominating Scalia's replacement and for the Senate to do theirs by considering that nomination (the Senate still has the right to say No after the hearing).

Meanwhile, if the Republican Senate is waiting on the next President to nominate a candidate for the Supreme Court, the American People should make it their duty and obligation to vote this November 2016 for a Democratic President just to f-ck these Obstructionist Do-Nothing Layabouts in the Senate. Let's see Mitch McConnell choke on the reality of Hillary Clinton nominating Scalia's replacement, and better yet with a Democratic Senate in charge and more than willing to do their damn jobs.

For all the yelling and screaming from the Beltway Media Elites about the breakdown of "bipartisanship", this current conniption from the Republicans is full proof of where the damn breakdown came from, and who is responsible (hint: NOT Obama), and who deserves to suffer for it when the voters make their decisions this year (vote the damn Republican bums out).

Monday, February 22, 2016

What If: Day One of a Trump Presidency (w/ Post-Election Comparison)

(Update: Thank you for the link, Infidel 357!)

(Revision to the Update 12/22/16: I am submitting this as the year-end Jon Swift Blog Memorial that Batocchio hosts. As such I am going to add post-election observations of what I guessed right, what I missed, and HOW MUCH WORSE THE SITUATION IS TURNING OUT TO BE, DAMMIT AMERICANS 62 MILLION OF YOU GOT SUCKERED BY A CON ARTIST /fume  Okay, okay. Just give me a few hours to get this updated by tonight.)

So let's game this out: what exactly is going to happen if Trump actually wins the whole thing?

I mean, given how about eleven or twelve Republican-controlled states are issuing voter suppression laws - thanks, Scalia! - there's a possibility in some of these closely-challenged states that went for Obama in 2012 would not be there for Hillary in 2016.

So let's say Trump overperforms, and Hillary underperforms, the voter suppression states like Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Georgia and North Carolina break Red against the demographics... Rather than the hoped-for Democratic blowout that will humble the Republicans for decades the way 1984 humbled the Democrats, we end up with a close one:

And Trump gets the Electoral College. Even if Hillary gets more than 2 million votes with the popular count with places like California and Illinois and New York, the Electoral is all that matters.

And we get a President-Elect Trump.

Okay, deep breaths. Try to remember this is just a game, we're just trying to figure out how this could play out. It hasn't really happened. We're just thinking it. Just in case. Don't Panic. Settle. Breathe... breathe... Okay, you good? Okay.

So, what exactly would we expect to get on Day One of a Trump administration?

Election Night is November 8.

We'll get an immediate response by November 9th before Trump even gets into the Oval Office. Because I get the feeling Mexico is going to recall their ambassador and kick ours out of their country as soon as humanly possible.

Given all the crap things Trump has been saying - that he'd throw out all the "illegals", that Mexicans coming to our nation are a bunch of "rapists", then build up a massive border wall with Mexico, and force the Mexican government to pay for that wall - the only sane response that Mexico has will be to cut off diplomatic ties with the U.S. It won't even matter if Obama is technically still in office until January 2017: Mexico will rightly be angered by a United States population that gave Trump enough support to become President by campaigning on such a gross and insulting platform.

If Mexico goes that route, expect a large number of Central American and Caribbean nations doing the same thing, regardless of any threats of trade embargoes or sanctions by the incoming Trump administration. Because Trump's anti-immigrant tirades are a collective slap in the face to the entire Latino community be it Mexican or Honduran or Peruvian or Jamaican or Puerto Rican or Chilean or Cuban or otherwise.

Part of me figures the European and Asian allies - from Germany to France to the UK to Spain to Japan to the Philippines to India and across the Middle East - will hold off on any open hostility, but I get the feeling that NATO nations will bring up early and often how they'll refuse to assist on any of the more outlandish foreign policy proposals - which boil down to "bombing everybody" - and may well bring up war crimes talk towards any of the neocons bound to worm their way into a Trump White House. We may well have our first Secretary of State unable to even travel abroad for fear of arrest by international tribunal.

I am loathe to guess how Iran will jump, but considering how they went from "possibly warming up to the US" after 9/11 and helping us fight the Taliban in Afghanistan to switching back to anti-Yank mindset when Bush the Lesser labeled them one of the "Axis of Evil", I'm guessing Iran will risk breaking their nuclear disarmament deal with Obama the second it becomes clear Trump and the Republicans won't respect one word of it. And that the allies that helped us make that deal might not argue against them doing so.

And this all before Trump gets up to the podium to swear like a drunken sailor uh to swear on the Bible to uphold a Constitution he has no intention to uphold.

Day One itself is probably going to look like this: Trump issues an Executive Order suspending ObamaCare until Congress acts on "repealing and replacing" it. Given that Congress under Republicans - who likely will remain in power in this scenario - so far has a repeal in mind but nothing to replace it, that will likely mean millions on Medicaid coverage and hundreds of thousands on federal-level exchanges are sh-t out of health care luck.

Day One will also include Trump introducing a Republican Cabinet made of up of some of the nastier remnants of the Bush the Lesser administration - neocons in foreign policy, tax-cutters and deregulators in domestic policy - still eager to re-establish the bad habits and disasters of 2001-2009 they never answered for.

And if the Republican Senate carried through on their threat to obstruct Obama's attempts to fill Scalia's Supreme Court spot, that means Trump will be there on Day One to offer his own nominee, most likely a pro-business anti-government anti-civil rights anti-abortion type in the Scalia mold (as he'll have promised as much to the GOP leadership). Think of the worst possible conservative judge out there capable of filling a SCOTUS spot - Roy Moore comes to mind - and you've got an idea what Trump will give us.

And it will be our damn fault if he does so.

Because for him to get into the White House in this scenario means millions of fellow Americans voted for this con artist. The Republicans are to blame for letting Trump get on the ballot. The conservative media, hell media in general is to blame for giving Trump the microphone to shill his hate platform. But if there's 50 to 60 million voters out there willing to get suckered by this bankrupt fraud of an overhyped landlord, and there's not enough Democratic or moderate voters willing to cast a ballot against him - so what if it's Hillary? You think Hillary is a problem? TRUMP IS WORSE, so get the damn vote out - then we as a nation are truly screwed.

We can be better than this as a nation, America. Just... goddamnit, stop voting for Trump. Don't ever vote for Trump. Just don't vote for any Republican this year, considering their platform of tax cuts, mass deregulation, killing off Planned Parenthood and banning abortion, ending gay marriage rights, carpet bombing... I'm with the guy over at Stonekettle Station: the Republicans are horrifying as a party this election cycle, worse than ever, and they're still getting this much voter support?! /headdesk


Update 12/22: Apparently we weren't better than this. DAMMIT.

I did suggest that a Trump win would only be the Electoral count by state, that Hillary (as the Democratic candidate) would likely gain most of the votes in solid Blue states like California, Illinois and New York. I said "Hillary could get 2 million more votes than Trump" and I was under the actual differential at 2.9 million. It's still the largest deficit between the Popular Vote winner (Hillary) over the Popular Vote loser (Trump) where the Electoral College still went to said loser. We must be the ONLY elective government where the guy who LOSES still wins the office. More on that another time...

In the meantime, how did my predictions for a Trump transition and inauguration go?

I was apparently exaggerating the bit about Mexico likely reacting by cutting all diplomatic ties the day after the election. Like the rest of the planet, it seems our neighbors and allies are holding their breath and keeping their distance, as though our entire nation is on quarantine watch.

There's been a bit of saber rattling towards Iran, but the pundit consensus is that there's little Trump can do regarding the Iran Nuclear deal that Obama set up. Too many other nations have a hand in that arrangement for one thing, for another the deal didn't lift all sanctions meaning our nation has few other things it can use as leverage against Iran.

The problem is that Trump is filling his Cabinet with hawks - a sizable number of retired generals, and neocons from the Bush the Lesser years - who prefer a hard-line stance vs. Iran, meaning a high likelihood of military action or even war against that country. We're still dealing with hotheads among the Far Right spoiling to finish off "the Axis of Evil" and have few worries about how messy an Iranian war would be for us. This is not good.

Speaking of that Cabinet, I suggested the likelihood that Trump would fill it with leftovers from the Bush the Lesser years. I was partly right: there are a few from the previous GOP administration taking other Department positions - such as Chao - but there's a shocker in that Trump is picking a lot of CEOs and lobbyists who have almost as much experience with government administration that he has. That is, NONE AT ALL. Instead of getting people with even a semblance of knowing which door to knock on to ask for directions to the bathrooms at the State Department, he's putting in people who are the least qualified to fill those duties. Trump's made it a requirement to pick those - such as Betsy DeVos for Education, or Andrew Pudzer for Labor - who are utterly opposed to that Department's responsibilities. He's bringing in people most likely to DESTROY the jobs they're asked to do.

Word to know when dealing with Trump's administration: Kakistocracy. About nine-tenths of the people he's selecting to work with him are either incompetent or incompatible for the duties he's selecting them for. This is going to be a mess on a scale far greater that Harding or Grant's tenures (and THOSE were bad).

In terms of destroying things, one thing I didn't realize Trump would do is destroy any semblance of world order. I really didn't realize he'd do so before he's even sworn in.

I had no idea - I didn't think it - that Trump would go out of his way to be a pain in the ass towards Mainland China so soon and so bluntly. I did crow - back when things were optimistic - that I had been predicting Trump's disasters before the Boston Globe was predicting them. But at least the Globe got the China mess front and center. Neither of us figured Trump would press China's buttons over Taiwan, but then again nobody did what Trump did going out of his way to call Taiwan (without State Dept. awareness) and stirring up the animosity the mainland has against their island-based foes.

As a result, China's belligerency towards the U.S. has increased, and threats to the South China Sea (and neighboring nations) have gone up. It's not healthy for regional diplomacy or stability...

And this is even before getting to the potential disasters a trade war with China would cause.

Oh, and the other clash Trump was threatening to impose? That Trump Wall against Mexico?

Promises about the Wall - and about the mass deportation of Latinos that would go with it - fluctuate from day to day. The best guess anyone can make is that Trump will keep promising to build that Wall but never will. Trump will likely press for an arrest-and-deport program of a scale and brutality that will still ruin millions of innocent lives (not just the illegals but the LEGAL Hispanic population now threatened by a sloppy and racist enforcement agenda).

The biggest thing I missed, although I touched on it regarding Trump's potential corruption in office, was exactly what it was Trump will violate the second he's sworn into office. I never knew about the Emoluments Clause in the Constitution, only because it's so rarely mentioned: every other politician who could violate it always avoiding the scandal by selling off their affected business holdings and making sure they didn't cross that line. Trump is the first to ignore that line, whole-heartedly skipping towards it like it doesn't apply to him.

And what IS the Emoluments Clause? It's Article I, Section 9, Part 8No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State. That means no one in political office can profit from - without Congress allowing it - any kind of gift, title, or salary/monetary gain coming from a foreign state.

Considering Trump's property holdings overseas, his many hotels and golf courses that he eagerly shills, and the fact that nearly every phone call or meeting he's made to foreign leaders has been about getting better deals for his properties, the likelihood that a foreign nation will pay Trump favors via those holdings either through a quid-pro-quo or favorable deal is too obvious to happen. This is why nearly every legal expert on the Constitution is screaming that Trump should sell his properties (or at least put them in an honest Blind Trust not held by his children, because they're too tied to him and his incoming administration).

Here's the thing: Trump's refusing to give up his business dealings. Oh, he keeps promising he'll put it all in a "blind trust," but he still hasn't done so, and he's still acting as though he's doing everything to benefit HIS businesses at the expense of everybody else. The potential that Trump breaks this law hard-wired into the Constitution itself is close to 100 percent. The questions become 1) who will enforce it and 2) how bad will it get?

One thing I did predict that's likely now: that Trump's victory is only half the problem. The other half is that a Republican-controlled Congress is still in power. Everything THEY can do to destroy the United States - Ryan's slash-and-burn budget, gutting social aid, killing ObamaCare, attacking Medicare AND Social Security, eliminating civil liberties for minorities, women, gays and transgendered - will easily kick in (depending on how fast the Democratic minority in the Senate rolls over and plays dead) and cause the whole thing to blow into the sea.

Still don't know who Trump is going to pick to fill the Supreme Court vacancy - BURN IN HELL, MCCONNELL, BURN! IN! HELL! - but it won't be pretty.

There's one other thing I predicted: we're screwed with Trump in office.

Past that, I have no idea how bad it's going to get. Every time it looks like things might settle, or stabilize, Trump goes and does some other stupid-ass thing... LIKE NOW, TWEETING ABOUT GETTING BACK INTO THE NUCLEAR ARMS RACE. Son... Of... A... BIIIIIIII...

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Top Ten Legal Ways Republicans Can Stop Donald Trump

Right now, they and this nation are running out of options...

10) Dig up any evidence that Trump committed some form of fraud during a bankruptcy proceeding that would be a violation of 18 US Code s157.
9) Hire the best hypnotist to zap him into speaking Mexican for the rest of his life.
8) Tell him he needs to tour overseas as part of building up foreign policy cred, ship him to a country that promises to keep him there. (problem: Which country WOULD?)
7) Dig up any evidence that Trump is really DB Cooper.
6) Get him to start a land development deal with Mitch and Murray over some properties called Glengarry and Glen Ross. Forget it, the way Trump operates land deals, everybody but him gets screwed.
5) Get him to drop out of the Presidential race by promising him the CEO position at LexCorp.
4) Dig up any evidence that self-proclaimed "New Yawker" Trump was really born in Buford Wyoming. His shame would crush himself.
3) Trick him into signing away his campaign funds in an elaborate sting involving Robert Redford, Paul Newman, an all-star cast of c... whadda ya mean, it's been done?
2) Take him out into the woods of Washington State on a snipe hunt, leave him there without any cell phone, and don't tell anyone where you went.

and the Top Legal Way Republicans Can Stop Donald Trump:


Trump Doesn't Have to Win a Majority of Republican Primary Voters. He Just Has to Win.

Following up on the South Carolina results, one of the obvious questions the media is going be asking itself is "Oh dear God is Trump really gonna win this thing?"

As David A. Graham posits on The Atlantic, Is Trump Unstoppable?

Trump’s success has become so familiar that it’s hard to remember just how improbable it is. He won South Carolina after a bizarre few weeks, in which he accused former President George W. Bush of lying about the war in Iraq and failing to prevent September 11, feuded with Pope Francis, and told an offensive, apocryphal story about U.S. soldiers desecrating Muslim corpses in the Philippines. Those were only the most recent incidents.
But just like every other supposedly career-ending gaffe, they did nothing to knock him out of the lead. And with each passing week, the Republican establishment has less and less time to consolidate around a candidate who can best both Trump and Ted Cruz. Will Trump’s huge South Carolina win drive more Republicans to just give up and get in line behind him, or will it inspire a fevered, redoubled effort to knock him out?...
...Some analysts had questioned whether Trump could win in South Carolina—a state with southern gentility and a sense of decorum. There’s no question that Trump’s behavior gave some voters pause, but in the end many of them found their admiration for Trump’s bluntness overcame their hesitations. Time and again, journalists have asked where Trump’s appeal lies, but the answer seems simple: Republicans feel that he’s willing to articulate exactly what they see wrong with the country, without any of the hesitations or hangups of other candidates...
...Of course, such sentiments infuriate many other Republicans—the ones who don’t support him. They point out his long record of changing positions. They note that despite what Trump says about self-funding, he’s put almost no money into his campaign while taking in millions in donations. (He’s also run a lean campaign.) They say that while political correctness is a plague, there are some things that really are unacceptable—and which, by the way, will hurt the GOP’s chances in a general election...

With Jeb out, his meager portion of the party voters - roughly the eight percent he'd won last night - are going to have to move somewhere between the remaining candidates. Considering Jeb's people weren't huge fans of Trump Cruz Rubio Carson or Kasich to begin with, where WOULD they go next?

Rubio had been traditionally the "second choice" for a lot of the primary voters, so he's a likely fall-back candidate. Jeb's people are least likely to go to the candidate - Trump - who denied their boy at every turn, and Rubio's the one "Establishment" candidate left in a key position to stop The Donald.

However, Jeb's backers might not be in love with Rubio - seeing him usurping his mentor's chance in the spotlight, and may view Rubio's lack of experience as a negative - and may go elsewhere in spite, which benefits Kasich as the one Establishment candidate with an actual record and projected bipartisan appeal that could attract moderate/independent voters during the general election cycle. It's very unlikely Jeb's voters will go to the extremist candidates like Cruz and Carson.

If Trump does get any boost from Jeb's departure, it will be from the group of voters who hover on the fence between Undecided and What the Hell. These are the voters who don't entirely care for the issues, only that their interests are protected by THEIR tribe (those who vote Republican/Conservative because it's ingrained into their nature). In that regard, they don't care for who actually wins, they only vote for the "winner". This is where the Big Momentum - where the candidate in the lead builds on that lead because voters will fall in line - comes into play, and something that may well start pulling even more undecideds into line.

Trump's victories so far are dominant but not overwhelming: he's getting about a third of the votes, which isn't exactly getting a 50-percent-plus super-majority of the results that a truly unstoppable campaign would be getting in a multi-candidate race.

Nate Silver and other pollsters keep pointing to the fact that Trump has a hard ceiling, that his appeal goes only so far:

...What did the Trump skeptics find to like about South Carolina? Quite a lot, actually. They’d point out that Trump faded down the stretch run, getting 32 percent of the vote after initially polling at about 36 percent after New Hampshire, because of his continuing struggles with late-deciding voters. They’d note that Trump’s numbers worsened from New Hampshire to South Carolina despite several candidates having dropped out. They’d say that Rubio, who went from 11 percent in South Carolina polls before Iowa to 22 percent of the vote on Saturday night, had a pretty good night. They’d also say that Rubio will be helped by Jeb Bush dropping out, even if it had already become clear that Rubio was the preferred choice of Republican Party “elites...”
...The idea that Trump has a ceiling — or to be more precise, will encounter a lot of upward resistance as he seeks to gain more support — is not some type of special pleading. Instead, it’s a point the Trump skeptics have raised from the very earliest stages of Trump’s campaign. And they’ve seen some evidence to validate it from Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, along with recent polling.

Trump does have the highest Unfavorable numbers among the remaining candidates in the field - higher than Hillary, and was higher than Jeb (who never found the love) - so there is merit to the idea Trump can't appeal far enough in a tighter, two-man race: that Trump can only get 35 to 40 percent across the board, meaning against a candidate who can get the remaining 60 to 65 percent can win. Which is probably why Kasich is going to be getting a lot of pressure from the party elites to drop now and give Rubio more firepower to overtake Trump in the polls and possibly win the majority of delegates.

But there's a problem with that solution: This likely won't be a two-man race anytime soon. Ted Cruz is too driven to just give up right now: he's been close on his own, and running his campaign on his own terms. The possibility of Trump flaming out on his own - only Trump can stop Trump - gives Cruz a possibility of getting all those Trump voters (as he's the only candidate even over Carson that can appeal to Trump's supporters). And Cruz doesn't owe the Establishment any favors, and there's little they can offer him to step aside.

With Carson promising to stay in it, and with Kasich likely sticking in the race at least until Ohio - where Jeb's eight percent last night was him going down, Kasich's eight percent is a plus - in the likelihood Rubio crashes, we may not see a two-man race until it's too late.

This is where my earlier argument about a large field of candidates favoring the GOP Establishment - because it could have forced the race into a contested "brokered" convention - turns out to have been wrong. A lot of it was because I got the math on delegate counts wrong. I thought going in that a good number of state primaries would be proportioned out to the winners a certain way, so that where Trump's thirty-percent would give him an edge but not the outright numbers to win it all. Instead, as I found out awhile back, there are enough states that are Winner-Take-All like South Carolina, and a lot of states have Threshold rules that cut off candidates who fail to get over a certain (15 or 20) percent of voters.

If we look at how South Carolina turned out, we can get a decent idea how the other Winner-Take-All states could do. Trump won overall, and then also won the districts/counties portioned off as lovely parting gifts to the also-rans. Anyone who wins the state overall is bound to win a lot of those districts, after all.

All of a sudden, Florida's 99 delegate count is looking like they are Trump's to lose. Any WTA state in Trump's pocket is that way. A lot of the Threshold states do.

This is the Republicans' own damn fault. Back when they figured their Establishment candidate (hi, Jeb) needed to secure early enough to leave no doubt, they likely scheduled and schemed these Primaries to work they way they do to prevent potential usurpers from bleeding away too many delegates too early. Instead, Jeb ran flat from the get-go, and Trump jumped out of nowhere with his harsh anti-immigrant campaign in such a way the rest of the field couldn't block him. Trump sucked out all the oxygen in the room and everyone else has been playing catch-up since.

For all the talk that Trump has a ceiling, the fact is that ceiling is still pretty damn high in the Republican field. He's looking at 35 percent average, and he is likely to garner one or two percent more of the undecideds with each successive Primary who will go with the alpha dog just to fall in line. If he's losing support, it's going to go to a candidate in Rubio who still has his detractors. And Cruz is sitting there with no sign of dropping out, likely keeping 20 to 25 percent to his "lane" that could prevent Rubio from passing Trump.

Trump doesn't have to win over fifty percent of the Republican voters in the Primaries. He just has to win enough of them to win each state, and to win them in a way the delegates don't get parceled out. Trump just has to win.

It's not that Trump is a winner in real life - given all his business failures, he's not - it's that he's a good con artist. And con artists know how to fake winning.

This is not good for the nation. For all the jokes, and sarcasm, and horror stories about our political leaders being con artists, in truth most of them are reasonably effective or at least respectful of the Game. Trump isn't: he's the kind of con artist who bluffs and bullies and never cares for the results save for what he gets out of the bad deals.

Trump is getting thisclose to being President. This is not good at all.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Some Thoughts About South Carolina and Nevada Tonight (Updated)

The primaries trudge on, this time stopping in South Carolina for a GOP primary and also a side trip for the Democrats into Nevada for another confusing caucus (Republicans will caucus in Nevada next week, Democrats will primary next week in South Carolina. This is how effed up our primary system is).

As far as the Nevada results go - coming in earlier than South Carolina due to odd hours of the day hosting them - it's looking like Hillary Clinton secures the win there despite the Bernie Sanders late surge.

As far as the results are going for the Republicans, the media outlets have already declared Trump the winner, and now it's a question of who gets to be in Second Place and get the set of steak knives, because Third Place is gonna net zero delegates right now and that's pretty much means Alec Baldwin is here to fire you.

As things are polling now, Rubio is in a tight spot for Second Place, which is going to be annoying as hell because the effing media is gonna keep acting like Rubio is gonna happen. /headdesk

It's odd to note that Cruz - who campaigned as sleazy and pandering in South Carolina like never before, even robocalling in favor of the goddamn Confederate Battle Flag - isn't doing as well in Fundamentalist, Far Right Wingnut South Carolina. Very odd...

It's not odd to note that Jeb? is polling under 10 percent overall in South Carolina. Considering how the Bush family has used that state - in 1988, and in 2000 - to effectively firewall their closest opponents into burnt burger meat, this is a telling sign of both their family's political pull - none - in Far Right states and Jeb's overall terrible campaign style.

I was thinking Jeb would keep campaigning at least to Florida, in one last-ditch effort to win SOMETHING considering his own home state might help him, but reports are coming in right now that Jeb? is suspending his campaign. The zombie nightmare may well end... and the Trump nightmare keeps steamrolling along.

So, in short, Trump is dominating and dooming the Republicans, Jeb's out, Rubio is gonna become the Great GOP Hope for the next goddamn news cycle, Cruz is scheming, and Hillary is sitting somewhere in Vegas thinking "I can win with a straight over a full house, right?"

And it's not even March yet.

Update: just to clarify, Trump is pretty much claiming ALL - by winning the state as well as each county/congressional district - of the delegates South Carolina has to offer (50) leaving the Second/Third place "winners" Rubio or Cruz (they're too close to call STILL) with nothing to pin a "victory" on. And yet both Rubio and Cruz gave "victory" speeches avoiding the reality of the fact that Trump is gaining serious distance between himself and the rest of the horse race.

The pundits are going to point out that with Jeb out, the likelihood of his backers switching to Rubio as the best possible candidate vs. Trump will go up. But considering that Jeb had roughly 6-to-8 percent of the GOP voting base and that Trump is pretty much 10-to-12 points ahead of Rubio, Rubio's still not getting enough people out Jeb's departure. And if Kasich does stick it out at least until Ohio's primary (March 15) that is going to cut into Rubio's numbers.

Rubio's not gonna happen, media elites. I don't blame you for thinking he could - as Trump is a nightmare candidate - but he's not gonna save you.

Friday, February 19, 2016

My God, It's Full of Posters

I've been geeking out lately to something NASA and the Jet Propulsion Lab just did.

As a means of promoting their endeavors to explore space, they created a series of Travelogue posters that one would find in a travel agency back in the 1950s-1960s. With an excellent eye to Art Deco style.

They call the series Visions of the Future.

They're beautiful.

I've been using them to decorate the library where I work as we're co-hosting a Sci-Fi street convention.

The only problem: I don't see one for Pluto.


They better work on that!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The War of Obstruction Is About to Nuke Everything From Orbit

(Update: Hello again, Crooks and Liars readers from Mike's Blog Round Up! Thank you again C&L for the link, and I hope everyone here has a good day and FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GET THE VOTE OUT FOR THE DEMOCRATS IN THE PRESIDENTIAL AND SENATE RACES! This coming fight over Scalia's seat is the exact reason why...)

So there I was, in Gainesville for Swamp Con for the day, and then driving out to the cineplex to see Deadpool (my comic-con nemesis has a new movie out) in one of the places where I went as a college student (Go GATORS), only to find all the afternoon shows until 8 pm were SOLD OUT, and there was no way I was gonna hang around that late to see it, so I go to a place for dinner and there's a TGIFriday's restaurant around the corner on Archer Rd and so I go in and sit down and get my tablet going while I wait for dinner and I get on my Twitter and I see breaking news right then and there that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had just died while on weekend vacation in Texas.

Lemme just go NSFW at the moment - this clip from Animal House is pretty much the first thing that came to mind (the S-Word gets dropped about three times):

This is earth-shattering type of news, folks, major huge Brobdingnagian DEFCON 1 type of news. It was the kind of news where EVERYBODY on Twitter for the first ten minutes were "Is this real? Is this an Onion skit or something? No, seriously, he's dead?!" Because it's the kind of news that twists the entire universe into a different direction than we thought it was going.

Once we get over the fact a major political figure and prominent source of jurisprudence has passed on, we need to step back and take a look at the political landscape right now.

There's a Democrat in the White House name of Barack Obama, who's been the focal point of a lot of conservative anger and outrage simply for being who he is: a Black American with Progressive political philosophy, and someone who is still relatively popular (hovering between 45 to 50 percent favorability) with most of the American public.

The Congress is currently controlled by Republicans, who have since Day One of Obama's administration conducted an open campaign of obstruction to prevent Obama from any lasting success so that his historical legacy will be one of failure.

The Supreme Court had nine sitting Justices, with four Center-Left members and four Center-Right (if not full Right Wing) members with one mostly Center (but still erred to the Right). It was basically a Court that was counted on being 5 to 4 for Republican conservatives if push ever came to shove.

That is no longer the case. With Scalia's death, the Supreme Court now has a vacancy where a Center-Left President can nominate a Center-Left if not outright Left Liberal, a replacement Justice that would take a full Right Conservative seat and flip it - and the Court's direction - for the next 20 years.

It won't be enough that the Republicans have just lost one of their most vocal defenders of their conservative judicial philosophy: they are facing the real possibility of losing control of a Supreme Court that's sided with them since Renquist's Chief Justice tenure (late 1980s). They're already coping with the loss of one of the more vocal Associate Justices in Court history with a long record of influential legal decisions that - for good and for ill - redefined our laws for the last 25 years.

So don't be at all surprised if the Far Right is throwing an epic conniption tonight and for the rest of the month/year.

The Republican-controlled Senate has already given statements from various leaders on the topic, which all boil down to what Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says:

"The American people‎ should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice," the conservative leader said in a statement following the news of Scalia's death. "Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president."

He's essentially arguing that President Obama no longer has any political authority to fill a Supreme Court vacancy. Even though - by law - Obama is still President of the United States until January 2017 when his successor gets sworn in.

Dear Mitch McConnell, let this amateur historian of the American Constitution explain a little thing: The American people ALREADY HAVE A VOICE in the selection of the next SCOTUS Justice. THEY VOTED BARACK OBAMA TO DO THE JOB BACK IN 2008 AND AGAIN IN 2012 TO DO THIS VERY THING. Nothing in the Constitution says the President should be prevented from doing his job the last year of his tenure. There. Done. Explained to you, you obstructionist bastard.

This excuse is what the Republicans are going by because this is an election year, and because they are hoping that a Republican wins the Presidency (and in turn, the Republicans retain control of the Senate because in that type of election it means most voters weren't favoring Democrats). This is what Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are clearly arguing for.

Never mind the odds currently favor the Democratic nominee winning in November (as long as the 2012 demographics and turnouts repeat themselves). They just simply want to ruin Obama's chance of an incredible legacy of putting THREE Left-Center Justices on the Court and turning it Progressive for the next decade or more. As an example, Reagan's biggest legacy has been the number of Justices - three, plus promoting conservative Renquist to the Chief Justice seat - he put on the bench (Scalia was one of them). A SCOTUS Justice can argue and defend a President's ideological bent for decades due to it being a lifetime appointment.

Ergo, the power to nominate a judge is pretty big. For the highest Court in the land responsible for the Judicial Review of the Constitution itself, it's a pretty f-cking big deal.

This is why the Republicans are probably thinking/hoping that this can be an issue to drive up voter turnout for them: Dear God, fellow Republicans! Those damned socialist hippie Democrats are going to RUIN forever YOUR Supreme Court!

Never mind that argument is a two-edged sword: The Democrats can make the same argument about how vital voter turnout for the Presidency is to GAIN control of the Supreme Court... along with control of the Senate, especially if this Republican Senate does NOTHING to approve a nominee from Obama.

Remember this: One-third of the Senate is up for vote, and there are 24 Republican seats up for vote compared to 10 Democrat. The Republicans have more at stake, and some of those seats are in solid Blue (Dem) or Purple (Toss-Up) states that can go full Democrat if they blatantly obstruct a President who is 30 percent more popular than they are. Even "Leans Republican" states may come into play if they act too partisan on something Moderate and Centrist voters think should have a bipartisan resolution.

In a sane world, the Republican Senate will make a show of brow-beating whomever Obama nominates, and if Obama does go with someone full-out Liberal that candidate is going to get "Borked" out of contention. Let's be fair: when the Democratic Senate did this to Robert Bork back in the day, they had the legal power to block him but did so in such a partisan way it gave Republicans fuel for hatred for decades afterward. We're likely going to watch the sequel "Bork II: The Quickening" in the next few months.

However, repeated Borkings of Obama's nominees are gonna get old real fast. The Republican Senators in Blue / Purple states may well play this out until their own Primaries (In August I believe) are done and they've survived any Further Right challenges, at which point they'll negotiate with Obama over a clear Moderate judicial nominee that will pass with one vote (likely a Biden tie-breaker fulfilling one-third of his Constitutional duty as Vice President). That way, they'll survive the General Election this November when their Democratic challengers would shred them in public for failing to serve their Progressive-leaning states.

That - again - would be in a sane world.

The Republicans do not live in a sane world.

We are likely going to witness one of the greatest acts of political warfare between the White House and Congress since the days of Woodrow Wilson (over the fight regarding the League of Nations), and maybe the greatest Constitutional crisis since Watergate.

The Republicans both in Congress and on the campaign trail are going to hit Obama with every insult and accusation they've got multiplied by a hundred. They are going to vilify and delegitimize him in ways they haven't done yet because before now they would have crossed the wrong line. With their sanctimonious hold on the Supreme Court now at stake - that one thing their party controlled that could stop the coming national shift to the Far Left that basic demographics is telling us is going to happen - that line will no longer exist. That constant fear I have of the GOP Congress going into Impeach mode just for the hell of it? That's back up to Likely Odds right now.

We're about to see the political equivalent of a scorched earth campaign that is going to leave few survivors.

Look. We should have known something like this was going to happen. Time flies, people age, Justices leave their lifetime appointments either in retirement or in death. A lot had been made before now that three of our Justices - Scalia, Ginsburg, and Kennedy - were over 79 years old (well past the point for mandatory retirement for everyone else) and also over the average lifespan of Americans (meaning they are/were facing what Scalia just suffered) with a fourth - Breyer - at 77. The likelihood of the next President after 2017 replacing all of them was great: well, now it may be three of them, but that's still a major impact on our judicial system dictating the political and philosophical bent of our Constitutional reviewers for 20-plus years (some Presidents never got to nominate one, very few got to nominate more than two).

What was going to be a massive political battle in the future is right here right now. The Republicans are going to insist on a direct copy of Scalia filling that seat, actually someone far worse: someone absolutist an anti-abortionist, absolutist against unions, absolutist on states rights, absolutist on guns, absolutist on God, absolutist against civil rights and voting rights. They won't even care if their preferred choice is an actual legal scholar at Scalia's level: all they want is the partisan bent.

There is no way Obama is going to acquiesce to such demands.

We're going to get a war. This is not going to end well.