The Terminal Stage of Obama Derangement Syndrome

“Here’s your new office, Mr. President. Sen. McConnell picked it out just for you.”

There’s a vacancy on the Supreme Court.    It’s President Obama’s job to send up a nominee to the U.S. Senate to fill it.   Mitch McConnell and his gang of thugs  say, “Hell no, they can’t go!”

The Republicans have made it clear they do not want a moderate, a middle-of-the-roader, a safe choice, or an acceptable alternative. They want Rush Limbaugh or someone further to the Right of him and nothing less than this is acceptable and even that might not be enough. What if Clinton or Sanders wins the presidency? Is McConnell and crew going to say, “Okay, we’ve got a new president. Send over a nominee.

The Republicans have the House and the Senate and hope to sweep the trifecta with taking the White House back too. Their reasons for keeping Scalia’s seat vacant are twofold: they don’t want to foreclose the possibility of a Republican president picking the next nominee or deny themselves the pleasure of sticking it to Obama one more time.

Why would Obama not make a nomination? The President is a scholar of Constitutional law. He knows what his responsibilities are. McConnell knows what his responsibilities are too, but only one player in this game is trying to change the rules.

If Scalia has died in October or November, McConnell might have a point. There are eight months until Election Day and the Senate Republicans can’t claim they’re too overworked to fit in a confirmation hearing. They just don’t want to allow this president to select the next Supreme Court justice.

“Y’know, you’re even uglier in person, Mitch.” “Thanks, Barack and I just farted.”

That, Mr. and Mrs. America, is obstructionism. No finessing or tap-dancing around it and anyone who thinks GOP opposition to replacing Scalia will magically melt away on January 20, 2017 if President Hillary Clinton or President Bernie Sanders takes the Oath of Office is on crack.

Since Republicans don’t understand the Constitution, what else do they want Obama to punt until the next president arrives? If a shooting war breaks out imperiling American interests, does McConnell want Obama to stand down until a Republican replaces him? If the economy starts to crater, should Obama go golfing and leave the mess for the next guy or gal to clean up?

The president may be in the last year of his presidency, but despite the inability of Republicans to read the Constitution or a calendar, he’s still the only president they got.

McConnell is still trying to undo the results of the 2012 election and this is his last chance to do so. He’s misreading the situation. The GOP has more Senate seats to defend in blue states than do the Democrats. Lose control of the Senate as well as the White House going to Clinton or Sanders, and a nominee further to the Left than what Obama might offer up becomes a near-certainty. Say “good-bye” to overturning Roe v. Wade and say “hello” to the end of Citizens United–especially if Hillary Clinton gets the nod.

The stance taken by the Republicans is historical. We’ve never seen anything like it in American politics. Contentious arguments over Supreme Court nominees is nothing new. Refusing to even consider a nominee no matter how qualified they may be out of malice and spite is.   McConnell and his mob really do not seem to grasp we already have a President of the United States and they have NO valid excuse which passes legal, political, or Constitutional muster to deny giving Obama’s nominee a hearing. It’s simply a naked power grab, plain and simple.

I DEMAND you stop the Black guy from replacing me!”

Let’s be honest here: The Republicans don’t want to see their most-favorite Supreme Court justice’s replacement chosen by their least-favorite Chief Executive. This is all about jamming up Barack Obama and denying his legitimacy as the president one more time.

In our hyper-partisan age, it’s no mystery why the Republicans are doing what they are doing. I don’t even really care if they use their numerical superiority in the Senate to vote down Obama’s nominee. That would be fair and every Democrat and/or liberal would have to recognize when you lose an election it has consequences and this is one of them.

But when the Republicans lost the 2008 and 2012 elections that has its consequences too, and one of them it is Barack Obama–not his successor–who has both the duty and Constitutional right to choose a nominee to replace Antonin Scalia and all the rest of this is just noise obscuring the signal

The hatred and disrespect of this president by the Republicans has reached a new low in Obama Derangement Syndrome and it should cost them dearly.

Help Wanted at The Supreme Court

Gone, gone, gone. Done moved on.

It’s an election year and everything that comes out of Washington has political calculation written all over it. Hell, Antonin Scalia wasn’t dead a day before Mitch McConnell proclaimed no nominee of the president would be confirmed no matter how qualified. they may be.

McConnell said, “The American people‎ should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.”

The distinguished senior senator from Kentucky is totally full of shit.

The American people expressed their voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court Justice in 2012 when they reelected Barack Hussein Obama as President. We already have a President in place. We don’t have to wait until January 20, 2017 to fill the vacancy left by Antonin Scalia’s demise.

The Senate has no reason not to fill the vacancy expect for political ones.    You know, like the one where the Republicans hate Obama’s guts?

The President should place before the U.S. Senate a nominee on Monday–President’s Day–and DEMAND they give his nominee a hearing and a up-or-down vote by the Senate.

Oh, I know McConnell won’t give a Obama nominee that vote and Obama knows it too. The president can’t make the Senate do anything. But he can make them sweat bullets for stonewalling his nominee. Nothing will prove to the American people how obstructionist the Republicans are than denying President Obama the right to exercise the Constitutional authority that is his and his alone.

Obama should call bullshit on McConnell, roll up his sleeves and go hard for his replacement for Scalia.   In the last months of his presidency pretty much the only thing Obama can do besides the daily ceremonial stuff is unleash hell on a “do-nothing Senate” that is stonewalling a qualified nominee.   This would be an excellent time for Obama to nominate a  Black or Latino jurist with exemplary credentials and dare the GOP to deny them Scalia’s empty seat.

Thus, with Scalia’s death, the vital importance of who gets to choose who sits on the nation’s federal and the Supreme Court, is refocused with laser-beam intensity. Now more than ever “who chooses?” will be a critical consideration for the American voters in November.

"Tony, in about 30 years you'll be dead and a Black guy in this office will pick your replacement."

“Tony, in about 30 years you’ll be dead and a Black guy in this office will pick your replacement.”

If McConnell wants to give Obama and the Democrats the rope to which to hang Kelly Ayotte, Mark Kirk, Rob Portman, and other GOP incumbents facing tough reelections in the fall, they’ll happily accept that gift. It will make sure McConnell’s one term-and-done as the Majority Leader, and passing the gavel over to Chuck Schumer so he can stonewall a President Rubio or Trump’s nominee. We could be looking at a long wait until there are nine Justices on the Supreme Court.

I know he won’t but I wish Obama would nominate a committed, unapologetic, true progressive to replace Scalia.    The question is would Bernie Sanders take the job?

I know he won’t but I wish Obama would nominate a committed, unapologetic, true progressive to replace Scalia. The question is would Bernie Sanders take the job?

Fact is, since there’s nobody Obama can nominate the Senate Republicans won’t block, why half-step with a “confirmable centrist?” There has to be a liberal jurist with impeccable legal credentials, pedigree and accomplishments under their belt, so why not? Send them a nominee who deserves a hearing and when McConnell and company throw up their mealy-mouthed bullshit excuses about “letting the American people have their say” pointedly remind them they had their say in 2012 when Obama won the election despite McConnell’s declaration nothing was more important than making sure Obama was a one-term president.

scalia_racist_credo_lp
There’s nothing much dramatic President Obama can do in these last months of his presidency beyond his daily ceremonial duties. Filling a Supreme Court vacancy is one of the most important jobs any president has and since this one in now in official legacy mode, he should fight like hell and go ballistic on the Republican Senate. Obama can lose and probably will lose this fight, but it’s a fight well worth the waging. Nothing less than the balance of power of the High Court hinges on it.

Passivity and retreat are not an option. President Obama should send a Supreme Court nominee to the Senate and then scorch the earth to fight for their confirmation.

I’m sending this quote to the President from a great progressive, the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, “If we don’t fight hard enough for the things we stand for, at some point we have to recognize that we don’t really stand for them.

I don’t want another squishy centrist or mushy moderate. I want President Obama to nominate someone like Leah Ward Sears, the former Chief Justice of Georgia and the first African-American Chief Justice in the United States. Let him nominate someone like Sears and dare the Republicans to deny her a confirmation vote.

As for the late Antonin Scalia himself, it has been said if you can’t say anything good then say nothing at all and I got nothing to say.

What? Too soon?

What? Too soon?

Harry Blows Up the Senate to Save the Senate

Hey Republicans, don’t be mad you didn’t do it first.

Imagine you’re a member of the U.S. Senate and you’re part of the Democratic majority, but you’re a moderate, firmly in the mainstream and the farthest thing from a bomb-throwing ideologue.   You don’t dislike all of your Republican colleagues on the other side of the aisle.  Hell, you might even like some of them more than the feckless Harry Reid or the smug Charles Schumer.

You came to Washington for a reason and it sure wasn’t to sit there on your hands because there is no legislation that can pass and no presidential nominee that can be confirmed because a simple majority isn’t enough to do it.  It requires a super-majority of 60 votes to get anything done and what it takes to get those 60 votes is sometimes a price too high to pay.

Take a real good look at Mitch McConnell, folks.  This is nobody’s romantic daydream.  How many times would you want to have to kiss that ass?

The president’s nominees to fill three vacancies on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals were blocked from an up-or-down vote by the GOP’s refusal to allow one. The Ninth Circuit is second only to the Supreme Court in the importance of the cases it hears. The president’s ability to appoint judges to the federal judiciary is perhaps his most lasting legacy and the Ninth Circuit is where many future Supreme Court nominees come from. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) led the charge to keep Obama’s nominees off the Ninth Circuit saying they weren’t really needed (as if Grassley would be saying the same thing had Mitt Romney won) and he in effect dared Harry Reid to go nuclear.

The reason the GOP opposes everything.

Reid called Grassley’s bluff and by a 52-48 vote (with three Democrats defecting and joining the Republicans)  modified the rules to allow a simple majority to approve presidential nominees and appointments,  but permit the filibuster for legislation and  Supreme Court nominations (which means Ruth Bader Ginsburg had better stay healthy).    Now the president’s nominees will get the vote and presumably the confirmation they should be considered for. It wasn’t a matter of whether they were qualified. It was a matter of the Republican strategy to oppose the nominees because Obama picked them.

The late liberal Senator Paul Wellstone said, “If we don’t fight hard enough for the things we stand for, at some point we have to recognize that we don’t really stand for them.” Republicans have fought very hard to stand in the way of President Obama’s nominees regardless of their qualifications and finally the Democrats grew a collective spine and chose to fight back for what they stand for.

Republicans will fume and fuss and threaten dire consequences for the Democrats when they are in the minority. The Democrats will shrug and say, “Bring it.” It’s not as if there’s much left in the way of bipartisan legislation coming out of the upper chamber before Reid and the Dems dropped the bomb.

The Senate Democrats finally woke up to a fact the Senate Republicans had been hip to for years: the “rules” had ALREADY been changed. The 60-vote super majority worked only so long as senators were willing to compromise. The Republicans don’t do that anymore and have used a rule the Senate made to govern itself to make the Senate ungovernable. What happens next? The Republicans will vote for or against the President’s nominees–as they are Constitutionally bound to do.   The worst part about revoking the ability of the minority to foil the will of the majority is it makes the Senate Republicans do their freaking jobs.

It had to end someday. Sometimes you have to be willing to fight for a short-term gain even if you lose in the long run.

When your computer won’t boot up correctly, videos won’t stream, pages won’t load and the damn thing just sits like a big useless lump that doesn’t work, you can always sit there wishing and hoping and praying it will start working. Maybe if you talk sweetly to the computer and promise how good it is going to be if it just starts working right. Maybe you’ll get lucky and it will start working.

Or you can just reboot the sucker and reset it and see if that gets it to working.

Last November, the Democrats won the presidency and increased the number of Democrats in the Senate. By playing “Let’s Make A Lousy Deal” with McConnell, the Dems permitted the Republicans to grind the Senate to a halt as if they had won.

That was foolish of the Democrats and all it did was embolden the Republicans to oppose ANY nominee no matter how qualified they were.  Reid got tired of playing Robin to McConnell’s Batman. It was time for the Democrats to remember they won the last election and start acting like it.

Mission Obstruct Obama has been a major success.

Mission Obstruct Obama has been a major success.

Of course the strategy has long-term implications, but so what? You don’t think Reid and the Democrats aren’t aware of the blowback from this change if or when the Republicans take control? It was a calculated risk based upon the possible gains versus the probable losses, but the Republican intransigence had reached new levels and there was NO hope they might negotiate on allowing the president’s nominees to receive a floor vote.

The GOP does not want to let President Obama’s judicial nominees to tip the ideological balance of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. They would not have a similar problem if it were Mitt Romney submitting a future Antonin Scalia. This is pure political gamesmanship by Senate Republicans who refuse to acknowledge they lost the last presidential election, so than accept the judgment of the American voters they hide behind a procedural trick to foil their will.

Harry Reid rebooted the Senate. I didn’t think he had the gonads to do it, but I’m glad he did.

Go “Nuclear” Democrats or Go Home

Dear Lord, please let me grow a spine.

While our lamestream media (thanks, Sarah Palin!) has short-stroked over the botched roll-out of Obamacare, they have largely ignored the latest chapter in the Republican plan to obstruct President Obama at every turn.

Returning to their evil ways, Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked motions to end debate on confirming Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency and Patricia Millett to join the D.C. Circuit Court.   Why?  Because that’s what Senate Republicans do.

The Republicans have called Harry Reid‘s bluff. Reid has talked thunder and threatened lightning as Mitch McConnell and company have yawned with indifference.

You’ll never do it, Harry. You don’t have the balls to do it. One day we’ll be running the Senate and what you do to us we’re going to do it double to you when we take over. Tom Coburn may have apologized for calling you an “absolute asshole” but he only said out loud what the rest of us all believe: you are an asshole Harry and your impotent threats are full of shit.

The Dems are fuming and talking smack about how mad they are and this time they’re really gonna do it. They’re gonna pull the switch and go nuclear! Ooh, they are SO mad. Cover your ears ’cause there’s gonna be a big boom!

The Republicans just laugh and say, “Sit your punk asses down. Y’all ain’t gonna do nothing because you never do nothing. Just bitch, whine, moan and then bitch, whine and moan so more.”

The Dems should either roll the dice and use the nuclear option or don’t and shut the hell up with the empty threats. Their constant yapping about it reminds me of an over excited toy dog that makes a lot of noise, but if you raise your voice it scurries away in a panic. But still yapping even as it does.

Reid is the Senate Majority Leader but he’s like a guard in a prison. He doesn’t run things, but the ones that do run things allow him to have that illusion.

Reid has about as much power as expired Viagra.

A word that is often invoked in the Senate is “comity.”  It means mutual courtesy and respect.    In this case though it also means fear.   Fear is why the Democrats can’t to pull the trigger on the nuclear option.   When–not if–the Republicans are back in the majority and running the Senate and its Reid and the Dems in the minority

Back in June, Reid and McConnell avoided going nuclear with a deal allowing the president’s nominees for the National Labor Relations Board and two Cabinet vacancies to receive floor votes.   At the time Reid was positively bubbly.

“We have a new start for this body. And I feel very comfortable about it. I don’t know how I could be happier.”

Steady there, hoss.  Don’t start tweaking your nipples just yet.

“It’s a step in the right direction that the majority has chosen not to exercise the nuclear option. We feel good about that, I think they feel good about it, so I think that crisis has been averted,” McConnell said

But has it?

Reid won’t invoke the nuclear option out of fear when he’s not the Majority Leader and McConnell is, the Democratic minority will not have the 60-vote super majority and filibuster options available to them as it is for the Republicans.   Which means Reid doesn’t want to piss off McConnell now in case McConnell is in charge later.

There’s one thing wrong in Reid’s reasoning.  What if the Republicans take control of the Senate next year and McConnell says the hell with comity?  I’m gonna screw the Democrats and use the power of being in the majority to end the 60 vote rule and the filibuster.

Reid may have to blow up the Senate to save it.

What would Harry Reid do then?  Besides his head popping right off his shoulders over McConnell screwing him after he passed up screwing him first.

Here’s the thing about power: if you don’t use it, you should because once you don’t have it you might wish you had.  Being nice to the enemy in hopes they will be nice to you is frankly all kinds of stupid.  Harry Reid is a weakling who constantly is stymied and outfoxed by McConnell who makes promises he know he won’t keep and deals he intends to ignore.

Yet Reid comes back time and again like the spouse in an abusive relationship  who rationalizes, “It’s not so bad.”

Figure it out, Harry.  It IS that bad.  McConnell and the Republican minority will use and abuse the rules to stop the Democrats from getting their way until they are in the majority and once they are they will press their advantage to get their way.

Some Dems get that and they don’t want to wait for it to happen.  Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) has argued for the nuclear option and after the latest in Republican obstructionism he said,  “What happened today was really an attack on the other branches of government.  In January, Mitch McConnell made a commitment to return to the norms and traditions of the U.S. Senate. On nominations, the norms and traditions are up and down votes and we did not get that today. That is something that cannot stand as it is.”

It shouldn’t stand, but until Reid’s balls drop stand it will.

Mel Watt: good enough for Obama, but not the Republicans.

Mel Watt was good enough for Obama, but not the Republicans.

 

Republicans Abandon 9/11 Responders

A day of infamy Senate Republicans would like to forget.

 

I try not to stereotype entire groups.  Really I do.  I prefer to see them as individuals.   Complex, complicated and not caricatures to be cut-and-pasted into our books of predetermined roles.

But damn if the Republicans in the U.S. Senate have made it impossible for me to see them as anything but a bunch of mean-spirited, selfish bastards.

GOP senators stopped a $7.4 billion bill to help rescuers who suffered injuries in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the New York Times reports. The Senate voted mostly on party lines to extend debate on the 9/11 health bill, effectively sending it to be considered by the next Senate, where passage will be even more difficult. In one last-ditch effort this year, backers will try to insert provisions into the tax-cut deal brokered between the president and congressional Republicans.

Their best hope is that Charles Schumer will convince Harry Reid to play along. The tax-cut extension, a sponsor of the bill explained, “is the one measure the Senate Republicans won’t leave this town without passing.” The bill sets aside $3.2 billion over the next 8 years for treating ailments inflicted on the day of the attacks. New York City would cover 10% of those costs. It also would set up a $4.2 billion compensation fund. Republicans want more specifics on where the money will come from.

The same Republicans who have dug their heels in on obtaining $700 billion in unpaid for tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires suddenly become born-again deficit hawks when it comes to taking care of first responders.

Or maybe they’re  hoping the longer they delay and block this bill a few more sick cops, firemen and EMTs will die off.

Isn’t it strange how the same Republicans who lost their minds over the suggestion a Muslim civic center might be built several blocks away from Ground Zero don’t give a damn about the men and worked that supposed sacred ground?  Where are all those loudmouths who were organizing those protests now?

The first thing we need to dispense with is the generalities and get specific. The bill is H.R. 847,  The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010,  and its purpose: A bill to amend the Public Health Service Act to extend and improve protections and services to individuals directly impacted by the terrorist attack in New York City on September 11, 2001, and for other purposes.

The shields in the photograph represent the 29 NYPD personnel who have died (so far) from ailments related to working at the 9/11 site.

And who was Det. James Zadroga?

Det. James Zadroga passed away on January 5, 2006 as a result of various respiratory and digestive diseases and disorders developed from his exposure to the remains of the World Trade Center. Zadroga was the first member of the NYPD whose post 9/11 death was directly linked by a medical examiner to the rescue, recovery, and clean-up efforts of the terrorist attacks.

Like thousands of other members of the service, Zadroga was reassigned to 9/11 rescue, recovery and clean up efforts and logged approximately 500 hours of duty in the World Trade Center rubble. He began having breathing difficulties when he returned to his new command, the 25 Squad, in late December of 2001. He transferred to Manhattan South Homicide in June of 2002, but his medical condition worsened. He retired on a disability November 1, 2004.

James’ ailments had already taken an irreversible toll on his wife Ronda, who died the same year from medical issues exacerbated by the family’s stress.

As his illnesses progressed, Zadroga was required to use a wheelchair and remain on oxygen around the clock. He moved in with his parents in New Jersey so they could assist with his four-year old daughter, Tyler Ann, who survives him. At the time of his death, James Zadroga was 34 years old.

No help for a hero.

Some of the issues about why this act is necessary and who is eligible to take part in it are answered in this Q&A from Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s website, but specifically of the question about how the Act would be paid for.

Q. How much funding does this require?

A. The cost of the bill is $7.4 billion over 10 years. The bill is PAY-GO compliant and will not add to the deficit. It is Capped mandatory funding that is offset completely.

Q. How will the bill be paid for?

The $7.4 billion is offset completely by closing a loophole for companies incorporated in nontreaty foreign countries who do business in the U.S. Known as “treaty shopping,” this occurs where a parent firm headquartered abroad routes its U.S.-source income through structures in which a U.S. subsidiary of the foreign multinational corporation makes a deductible payment to a country that is signatory to a tax-reducing treaty with the U.S. before ultimately sending these earnings to the tax haven country where the parent firm is located. The provision does not hurt U.S. companies.

A New York Times editorial elaborated:  Police, firefighters and waves of citizen volunteers suffered various illnesses after their labors amid the toxic fumes and clouds at ground zero. Despite their tireless work, most were not part of the initial lawsuit settled last week when more than 10,000 first responders accepted at least $625 million in compensation from the city.

Tens of thousands who gradually reported respiratory and other illnesses have had to be monitored and cared for under a patchwork of temporary local programs that desperately need the Senate bill to meet long-term responsibilities. The measure provides eight years of medical aid at a cost of $3.2 billion, and $4.2 billion in economic compensation for those suffering career-ending sickness. Supporters have already answered Republican demands that the bill be fully paid for by closing loopholes enjoyed by offshore corporations.

The legislation, sponsored by both Democratic and Republicans, does not raise taxes, is paid for and address a serious ongoing need that cannot be met with the resources of the city or state.

And really, why should they? The events of September 11, 2001 were not a localized disaster, but an act of war against the entire United States.

The smoke has dissipated, the wreckage hauled away, the bodies buried and the area reopened for tourists, there’s much blather about how Ground Zero is sacred ground that cannot be defiled by the presence of a Muslim civic center blocks away.

But when time comes to ante up to actually help the 9/11 responders who lost life, limb and health working that smoldering pile of death and destruction while their government told them it was safe to do so, suddenly there’s a lot of lengthy excuses and short arms to compensate those who were once lauded as heroes.

Because, it’s like, not in the best interests of the 41 Senate Republicans to actually, you know, help people who don’t happen to be filthy, stinking rich already. One must know ones priorities and why should some cop in Brooklyn coughing up asbestos and fiberglass matter than some poor put-upon billionaire.

The economist, John Kenneth Galbraith once observed,  “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

There are 41 Republicans in Washington that are proof of this.   They are full of empty platitudes for the 9/11 responders and muttered excuses why they don’t deserve their help.    Shame on them and shame on a country that ignores their callous disregard.