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.

The Supremes Swing to the Right

We’re The Supremes!

The Supreme Court handed down their last decisions dealing crippling blows to the reproductive rights of women and labor unions. Liberals are taking some small comfort in a blistering 35-page dissent by Justice Ginsburg’s but the reasoning of the losing minority of a Supreme Court decision matters only for a day or so and then it belongs to the legal scholars and history books.

The Hobby Lobby case got all the ink and headlines because it’s a horrible slap at women and their reproductive rights, but the conservative majority stuck it to labor unions too. If these two traditionally Democratic voting blocs still want to sit on their hands (and wallets) after the gut punches Roberts and company handed them, they deserve whatever dark plans the Republicans have in store in for both of them should they retake the Senate and hold the House.

While today’s pair of horrible decisions might seem like distinct issues, in fact they are both part of a larger war on women and workers.

The absurdity of the Hobby Lobby decision (only contraceptives are exempted for religious beliefs because of sluts) is obviously part of the Republican war on women, but it is also very much a war on the poor. An IUD costs about a month’s worth of wages at the minimum wage. If an executive can’t get birth control because her employer gets too hot and bothered thinking of her having sexy time, she can afford it on her own. A Hobby Lobby floor worker? Probably not. For women workers at closely held corporations, this decision will be devastating.

The Harris case is specifically about home care workers in Illinois. Who are home care workers? Women. Poor women. Lots of African-Americans, lots of Latinos, lots of undocumented workers. Home care workers are a major emphasis for SEIU right now; a close friend of mine has spent over a decade on a campaign to organize them in one city alone. Harris threatens all of this. But moreover, it shows how little Alito and the boys care about rights for women wherever they are. It’s hardly coincidental that this case comes down the same day as the contraception mandate. The Court evidently believes that the home is not a workplace, but of course it is a workplace, especially if someone is getting paid to do work. That it is women working in the home, as it has always been, just makes it easier for conservatives to devalue that work.

Of course, it’s about more than just working women and it opens the door for Alito and Roberts’ continued desire to mandate the New Gilded Age, so no doubt we will see new challenges to public sector unionism that will probably reach the Court in 2016 or maybe 2017 at the latest. I am not a legal expert, but my guess as to why Abood wasn’t overturned entirely is that there wasn’t 5 votes for it yet.

Regardless, both of today’s decisions are very much about keeping working women without power both on the job and at home.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, U.S. Supreme Court justice.

“What? Me Retire?” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Also, when we hear in 2016 that both parties are the same because of [insert pet issue here] and therefore vote for vanity third party candidate, let us remember this day and these decisions. If you think Strip Search Sammy Alito and Ruth Bader Ginsburg are the same, you might want to rethink your positions.

Indeed.

What matters most and in fact the only thing that matters to those disappointed, dismayed and disgusted with how the Court came down in these cases is Justice William Brennan‘s Rule of Five where Brennan would hold up five fingers to his clerks and say, ”Five votes can do anything around here.”

Brennan was a prophet and the Roberts Court is the proof of it.

From 1801 to 1940, less than 2 percent of the Supreme Court’s total rulings were resolved by 5-to-4 decisions. Since then, more than 16 percent of the Court’s rulings have been decided by “minimum-winning coalitions.” In the two most recent Courts, more than a fifth of all rulings were decided by 5-to-4 votes.

Scholars consider these narrow decisions the most political. Research indicates that 5-to-4 rulings are the most likely to be overturned by later Courts. They carry the same legal authority as more unanimous opinions — but not the same moral authority. In this vein, the one branch of government designed to be above partisanship echoes the rise in hyperpartisanship seen throughout Washington.

The Roberts Court has decided more cases by a 5-to-4 ruling (about 21.5 percent) than any Court before it, though only by a narrow margin. The previous Court, led by William Rehnquist, decided 20.5 percent of its cases by this minimum coalition. That rate, however, represents roughly twice the share of 5-to-4 rulings in the Stone Court, during World War II. And the Stone Court had more than three times the rate of 5-to-4 decisions of any Court prior.

Roberts noticed the trend early in his term. “I do think the rule of law is threatened by a steady term after term after term focus on 5-4 decisions,” Roberts told The New Republic’s Jeffrey Rosen in 2006. “I think the Court is ripe for a similar refocus on functioning as an institution, because if it doesn’t, it’s going to lose its credibility and legitimacy as an institution.”

Justice Ginsburg is 81. Stephen Breyer is 75. With the Court’s term over, the speculation will begin again will either one retire while President Obama and a Democratic majority are still in power? It’s doubtful for multiple reasons.

Neither Ginsburg or Breyer’s departure tips the Court’s ideological balance. But what if Antonin Scalia (78) or Clarence Thomas (66) were to get a sudden itch to go fishing’ or spend more time with their families? Or just leave the Supreme Court to try out for The View?

Okay. It’s not gonna happen. Scalia and Thomas will announce they’re secret lovers before ever they allow Obama to appoint their replacements.

But even if one of the Justices were to suffer an untimely demise, there’s no way a Republican-controlled Senate would allow Obama to tip the axis of power of the Court to the liberal minority.

This is the current membership of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Do you think there is anyone Obama could nominate Al Franken and Ted Cruz would both vote for?

As far as Brennan’s Rule of Five goes this is a battle the Left lost years ago and it may take many years before they begin to win any.

But the last people I want to hear from are the smug elitists and professional cynics who say “there’s no difference between the Democrats and Republicans.” Yeah, sure. Look at how the justices selected by Democratic and Republican presidents voted and tell me that one again.

Don’t tell me you’re appalled (or even surprised) by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority deciding corporations have more rights than women. Tell me what you’re going to DO about it. The first thing is to vote and keep the Senate in Democratic control. That is, unless you want Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell telling President Obama whom he will allow to sit on the Supreme Court when a vacancy opens up.

"Me?  And justice?  Now THAT'S funny!'

“Me? And justice? Now THAT’S funny!’

Yes, Uncle Ruckus Thomas Still Hates Your Black Ass

“Paula Deen doesn’t like Blacks? Me neither!”

In my previous post I predicted two of the Supreme Court’s most important decisions would result as follows:  “affirmative action is further weakened and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is gutted.”

Turns out I was only half right.   Affirmative action lives, but only for now and the most important provision of the Voting Rights Act, Section Five, was curb-stomped by four White conservative judges and a house slave happier than Stephen in Django Unchained.

The Supreme Court punted the affirmative action case back down to the lower court, but made it clear the policy of considering race in college admissions is hanging by the thinnest of threads.    While Justice Anthony Kennedy is no fan of affirmative action, he’s not ready to provide the scissors that cuts it into shreds.

Clarence The Cruel Thomas has no such reluctance.   He’s ready to hack affirmative action into bloody chunks with a machete.    While the decision to return Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin  to the lower appeals court was 7-1 (with Justice Elena Kagan abstaining and Ruth Bader Ginsburg objecting), Thomas concurred with the majority, but wrote a separate 20 page opinion comparing affirmative action to slavery.

“Slaveholders argued that slavery was a ‘positive good’ that civilized blacks and elevated them in every dimension of life,” Thomas wrote in a separate opinion on Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. “A century later, segregationists similarly asserted that segregation was not only benign, but good for black students.”

“Following in these inauspicious footsteps, the University would have us believe that its discrimination is likewise benign. I think the lesson of history is clear enough: Racial discrimination is never benign.  The University’s professed good intentions cannot excuse its outright racial discrimination any more than such intentions justified the now-denounced arguments of slaveholders and segregationists.”

“Although cloaked in good intentions, the University’s racial tinkering harms the very people it claims to be helping. 

   “The worst forms of racial discrimination in this nation have always been accompanied by straight-faced representations that discrimination helped minorities.”

The ULTIMATE affirmative action hire talks smack about the policy that put his incompetent ass on the Court. Pot calling kettle…

What’s the main argument against affirmative action? That it gives unqualified and unprepared Blacks an unfair advantage into jobs they would never qualify for based upon their individual merits?

Uncle Ruckus Thomas, shuffle on over!

“We wuz both cursed by this damn Black skin!”

With the case of Clarence Thomas being a notable exception. When Bush 41 put his name into nomination he said, “He was the most qualified man I could find” which was a total lie. Thomas wasn’t even the most qualified Black judge Bush could have selected. Thomas had kissed the right rings and they knew he was NEVER going to change or become an independent judge the way David Souter did.

Thomas is an AA baby right down to his toes and he got a lifetime appointment to a job he wasn’t remotely qualified for.  He knows it and bitterly resents it.   But Thomas has spent 22 years making sure  the rest of Black America suffers for his humiliation.

“I was disappointed because what I think what the court did today is stab the Voting Rights Act of 1965 right in its very heart,” Congressman John Lewis explained to MSNBC. “It is a major setback. We may not have people being beaten today, maybe they’re not being denied the right to participate, to register to vote, they’re not being chased by police dogs or trampled by horses. But in the 11 states of the old Confederacy and even in some of the states outside of the South, there has been a systematic, deliberate attempt to take us back to another period.”

“And these men that voted to strip the Voting Rights Act of its power, they never stood in unmovable lines, they never had to pass a so-called literacy test. It took us almost a hundred years to get where we are today. So, will it take another hundred years to fix it, to change it?”

There are only eight years difference in age between Representative Lewis and Judge Thomas.  There is a yawning chasm between how the two men perceive where Black Americans were regarding racism and where they are.

Say bye-bye to early voting, same-day registration, and weekend voting and say hello to more voter I.D. requirements, more polling places closed in Black and Latino neighborhoods, long waits in long lines and every other restriction Republican-run statehouses can dream up.   It will start down South (and already has in Texas, North Carolina, Georgia and other states covered by Section 5), but will it be too long before it winds it way up to Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Ohio as well?

I  hope all my good liberal/progressive friends who have been LOSING THEIR SHIT for the past few weeks over the NSA domestic surveillance and the theoretical threats to liberty and democracy are equally fired up over what a conservative cabal has done to turn not the clock, but the calendar back.  This is 2013, but the Court may just have decided the 2016 presidential election.  Hillary Clinton or any other Democratic contender will rue the day a right-wing majority of the Court decided they were tired of racism and declared it a thing of the past.   At least racism directed toward non-Whites.

My father was what Thomas thinks he is: a strong and proud Black man.   He despised Thomas for his slave mentality.   He wanted to take Thomas, Pat Buchanan, Robert Novak and all those other despicable right-wingers and beat all their asses with a baseball bat.

The house slave who Bush 41 selected to occupy the seat vacated by Thurgood Marshall, the iconic champion of Black progress and civil rights,  continued to mock his predecessor’s legacy in joining his conservative brethren on the Court to gut Section Five and throw his own people to the tender mercies of racist Southern politicians.

I knew this ruling by the Supreme Court was coming.   I fully expected how the vote would go.   But I still want to beat Clarence Thomas’ punk ass with a baseball bat.

Black robes, white hoods.

Black robes, white hoods.

Roberts and Obama: The Best of Frenemies

The future Chief Justice meets the future Commander-in-Chief in 2005.

When The Most Powerful Man in the World woke up the morning of June 28, he knew one thing for certain: the Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder would be cited for contempt of Congress by a partisan, Tea Party controlled House of Representatives.

He also knew his most important accomplishment of his political career was on the verge of being undone and possibly signal the end of it.

What President Obama didn’t know is how the Supreme Court would rule on the constitutionality of his signature domestic policy accomplishment, healthcare reform, or “Obamacare.”

When the Court is about to hand down a critical decision, the president does not get any advance notification on which way the Supremes are going. He learns the same time the rest of us do. Obama knew the vote would probably go 5-4, but which way? Would the Court strike down the entire law or the individual mandate, the thread which once pulled would cause the entire plan to unravel.

Or would they throw out other provisions and let the rest stay intact. There were also better than even odds the justices would uphold the law. The question was who had the fifth vote? Otherwise know as TIME magazine’s “The Decider,” Anthony Kennedy who was on the majority side over 90 percent. Would he side with the four hardcore conservatives, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito or had Kennedy joined the Court’s moderates (there are no liberals on this Supreme Court) , Ginsberg, Kagan, Breyer and Sotomayor?

The Court would announce its decision at 10:00 a.m. as the press and their legion of experts stood ready to offer instant analysis. The Republicans had dispatched several members to pronounce the eulogy for Obamacare despite House Speaker John Boehner declaring there would be no “spiking of the football” if the Court slapped down the president. Democrats had begun to send out fundraising appeals the day before fully expecting the Roberts Court would hand them a devastating defeat.

The future looks a bit brighter for Obamacare.

After all, it was a forgone conclusion that Scalia, Thomas and Alito wouldn’t give the president the sweat off their balls if he were in the desert dying of thirst. As for Chief John Roberts, why should he feel inclined to do Obama any favors? Hadn’t Senator Obama been one of the 22 who voted against his confirmation in 2005? Three years later, Roberts embarrassed himself (and noticeably irked Obama) by botching the oath of office while swearing-in the new president thus forcing a “do over” ceremony the next day.

Relations between the Supreme Court and President Obama got even worse when after the Citizens United ruling that opened the door for corporations and wealthy individuals to spend however much they like on political campaigns, the president broke Washington protocol by directly chiding the decision while members of the Court were in attendance at the State of the Union address.

When Obama writes his autobiography of his presidential years, he may reveal what was going through his mind while he stood in the White House watching four televisions announcing the ruling. Initially, CNN and Fox News reported the individual mandate had been struck down. but a White House attorney cleared up the confusion with a thumbs-up to the president that the mandate had survived and the Affordable Care Act was still the law of the land.

The surprise came when it was learned the fifth vote to uphold had come not from Kennedy as expected, but Roberts. As it turns out Kennedy made it clear in the dissenting opinion he authored for Scalia, Thomas and Alito, he was firmly opposed to Obamacare writing, “in our view, the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety.”

So much for the media myth of Tony Kennedy the closet moderate.  This might be the moment to recall it was TIME that also called Jon Huntsman the Republican candidate Obama most feared.

“So you’re ‘The Decider’, huh? That’s pretty funny.”

Supreme Court watchers who were speculating how the justices would rule and which one would save Obamacare or sink it, have now turned to wondering aloud, why Roberts saved the president from a humiliating defeat in June that could have been the catalyst for a total meltdown in November.   Some theorize Roberts did not want a repeat of the scorn and contempt heaped on the Court as it was in 2000 when they stopped the recount in Florida and appointed George W. Bush as the president.   Others believe the Chief was looking down the road to the fall when Obama faces the voters for a second term.   If the Republicans are triumphant they may get the chance to gut healthcare reform themselves and spare the court from criticism of being right-wing  judicial activists (which by the way, they are).

It’s too soon to tell when Inauguration Day comes in January 2013 if it will be Barack Obama raising his right arm to take the oath of office for a second time or Willard Romney for the first, but regardless of which of the two it is, John Roberts will be there to administer it and that insincere smile he wears will be in part because how he ruled on Obamacare weighed heavily in reelecting the incumbent or electing his challenger.