Win One for Nino

From Charles Krauthammer:

Let’s understand something about the fight to fill the Supreme Court seat of Antonin (“Nino”) Scalia. This is about nothing but raw power. Any appeal you hear to high principle is phony — brazenly, embarrassingly so.

In Year Seven of the George W. Bush administration, Senator Chuck Schumer publicly opposed filling any Supreme Court vacancy until Bush left office. (“Except in extraordinary circumstances.” None such arose. Surprise!) Today he piously denounces Republicans for doing exactly the same for a vacancy created in Year Eight of Barack Obama.

Republicans, say the Democrats, owe the president deference. Elections have consequences, and Obama won reelection in 2012.

Yes. And the Republicans won the Senate in 2014 — if anything, a more proximal assertion of popular will. And both have equal standing in appointing a Supreme Court justice.

It’s hard to swallow demands for deference from a party that for seven years has cheered Obama’s serial constitutional depredations: his rewriting the immigration laws by executive order (stayed by the courts); his reordering the energy economy by regulation (stayed by the courts); his enacting the nuclear deal with Iran, the most important treaty of this generation, without the required two-thirds of the Senate (by declaring it an executive agreement).

Minority Leader Harry Reid complains about the Senate violating precedent if it refuses a lame-duck nominee. This is rich. It is Reid who just two years ago overthrew all precedent by abolishing the filibuster for most judicial and high executive appointments. In the name of what grand constitutional principle did Reid resort to a parliamentary maneuver so precedent-shattering that it was called “the nuclear option”? None. He did it in order to pack the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia with liberals who would reliably deflect challenges to Obamacare.

On Tuesday, Obama loftily called upon Congress to rise above ideology and partisanship in approving his nominee. When asked how he could square that with his 2006 support of a filibuster to stop the appointment of Samuel Alito, Obama replied with a four-minute word-salad signifying nothing. There is no answer. It was situational constitutional principle, i.e., transparent hypocrisy.

As I said, this is all about raw power. When the Democrats had it, they used it. The Republicans are today wholly justified in saying they will not allow this outgoing president to overturn the balance of the Supreme Court. The matter should be decided by the coming election. Does anyone doubt that Democrats would be saying exactly that if the circumstances were reversed?

Which makes this Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s moment. He and his cohorts have taken a lot of abuse from “anti-establishment” candidates and media for not using their congressional majorities to repeal Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood, block executive orders, etc.

What was the 2014 election about, they say? We won and got nothing. We were lied to and betrayed by a corrupt leadership beholden to the “Washington cartel.”

As it happens, under our Madisonian Constitution, the opposition party cannot govern without the acquiescence of the president, which it will not get, or a two-thirds majority of the Congress, which it does not have.

But no matter. Things are different now. Appointing a Supreme Court justice is a two-key operation. The president proposes, the Senate disposes. There is no reason McConnell cannot hold the line. And he must. The stakes here — a radical generation-long reversal of direction of the Supreme Court — are the highest this Senate will ever face.

If McConnell succeeds, he will have resoundingly answered the “what did we get for 2014?” question. Imagine if the Senate were now in Democratic hands. What we got in 2014 was the power to hold on to Scalia’s seat and to the Court’s conservative majority.

But only for now. Blocking an Obama nominee buys just a year. The final outcome depends on November 2016. If the GOP nominates an unelectable or unconservative candidate, a McConnell victory will be nothing more than a stay of execution.

In 2012, Scalia averred that he would not retire until there was a more ideologically congenial president in the White House. “I would not like to be replaced,” he explained, “by someone who immediately sets about undoing everything that I’ve tried to do for 25 years.”

Scalia never got to choose the timing of his leaving office. Those who value the legacy of those now-30 years will determine whether his last wish will be vindicated. Let McConnell do his thing. Then in November it’s for us to win one for Nino.

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The Bum that Wants to Do Wonderful Things

…with your money.

From Investors Business Daily:

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders said Monday his parents would never have thought their son would end up in the Senate and running for president. No kidding. He was a ne’er-do-well into his late 30s.

“It’s certainly something that I don’t think they ever believed would’ve happened,” the unabashed socialist remarked during CNN’s Democratic town hall forum, as polls show him taking the lead in Iowa and New Hampshire.

He explained his family couldn’t imagine his “success,” because “my brother and I and Mom and Dad grew up in a three-and-a-half-room rent-controlled apartment in Brooklyn, and we never had a whole lot of money.”

It wasn’t as bad as he says. His family managed to send him to the University of Chicago. Despite a prestigious degree, however, Sanders failed to earn a living, even as an adult. It took him 40 years to collect his first steady paycheck — and it was a government check.

“I never had any money my entire life,” Sanders told Vermont public TV in 1985, after settling into his first real job as mayor of Burlington.

Sanders spent most of his life as an angry radical and agitator who never accomplished much of anything. And yet now he thinks he deserves the power to run your life and your finances — “We will raise taxes;” he confirmed Monday, “yes, we will.”

One of his first jobs was registering people for food stamps, and it was all downhill from there.

Sanders took his first bride to live in a maple sugar shack with a dirt floor, and she soon left him. Penniless, he went on unemployment. Then he had a child out of wedlock. Desperate, he tried carpentry but could barely sink a nail. “He was a shi**y carpenter,” a friend told Politico Magazine. “His carpentry was not going to support him, and didn’t.”

Then he tried his hand freelancing for leftist rags, writing about “masturbation and rape” and other crudities for $50 a story. He drove around in a rusted-out, Bondo-covered VW bug with no working windshield wipers. Friends said he was “always poor” and his “electricity was turned off a lot.” They described him as a slob who kept a messy apartment — and this is what his friends had to say about him.

The only thing he was good at was talking … non-stop … about socialism and how the rich were ripping everybody off. “The whole quality of life in America is based on greed,” the bitter layabout said. “I believe in the redistribution of wealth in this nation.”

So he tried politics, starting his own socialist party. Four times he ran for Vermont public office, and four times he lost — badly. He never attracted more than single-digit support — even in the People’s Republic of Vermont. In his 1971 bid for U.S. Senate, the local press said the 30-year-old “Sanders describes himself as a carpenter who has worked with ‘disturbed children.’ ” In other words, a real winner.

He finally wormed his way into the Senate in 2006, where he still ranks as one of the poorest members of Congress. Save for a municipal pension, Sanders lists no assets in his name. All the assets provided in his financial disclosure form are his second wife’s. He does, however, have as much as $65,000 in credit-card debt.

Sure, Sanders may not be a hypocrite, but this is nothing to brag about. His worthless background contrasts sharply with the successful careers of other “outsiders” in the race for the White House, including a billionaire developer, a world-renowned neurosurgeon and a Fortune 500 CEO.

The choice in this election is shaping up to be a very clear one. It will likely boil down to a battle between those who create and produce wealth, and those who take it and redistribute it.

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Obama Wants to Do Wonderful Things

…with more of your money.

From Kevin D. Williamson:

If you’re enjoying the low gasoline prices currently on offer throughout most of the country, some bad news: The Obama administration wants to levy a 31 percent tax on the stuff out of which gasoline is made.

But, not to fear: The tax will be paid by oil companies, which are big and mean and nasty and would never, ever, ever pass on the cost to a nice guy like you.

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The Most Nauseating Display in American Public Life

From Kevin D. Williamson:

The annual State of the Union pageant is a hideous, dispiriting, ugly, monotonous, un-American, un-republican, anti-democratic, dreary, backward, monarchical, retch-inducing, depressing, shameful, crypto-imperial display of official self-aggrandizement and piteous toadying, a black Mass during which every unholy order of teacup totalitarian and cringing courtier gathers under the towering dome of a faux-Roman temple to listen to a speech with no content given by a man with no content, to rise and to be seated as is called for by the order of worship — it is a wonder they have not started genuflecting — with one wretched representative of their number squirreled away in some well-upholstered Washington hidey-hole in order to preserve the illusion that those gathered constitute a special class of humanity without whom we could not live.

It’s the most nauseating display in American public life.

[…]

The State of the Union has not always been a grotesque spectacle. George Washington delivered his briefing in person, but he was dealing with a self-respecting Congress that understood itself to be his equal in government. When he wanted the Senate’s advice and consent for an Indian treaty, he visited the chamber personally to seek it — and was so put off by the questioning and debate to which he was subjected that he vowed never to put himself through that again. It was an excellent idea. Thomas Jefferson, ever watchful against monarchical pretensions in the federal apparatus, discontinued the practice of delivering the State of the Union in person before Congress, instead submitting a written report. For a blessed century, Jefferson’s example was followed, and, despite civil war and the occasional financial panic, the nation thrived without an ersatz Caesar to rule over it.

It will come as no surprise that the imperial model was reinstated by Woodrow Wilson, Princeton’s answer to Benito Mussolini and the most dangerous man ever elected to the American presidency, a would-be dictator who attempted to criminalize the act of criticizing the state, dismissed the very idea of individual rights as “a lot of nonsense,” and described his vision of the presidency as effectively unlimited (“The President is at liberty, both in law and conscience, to be as big a man as he can”). A big man needs a big show, and it is to Wilson’s totalitarian tastes that we owe the modern pageant.

The next Republican president should remember why his party is called the Republican party and put a stop to this.

The State of the Union is only one example of the deepening, terrifying cult of the state that has taken root here. Many heads of state — and some royals, for that matter — fly on commercial aircraft. Presidents of the Swiss federation and members of the federal council receive . . . an unlimited train pass. They have occasional access to a Cessna maintained by the air force, but are known to use mass transit — just like the people they are elected to represent. An American president stages a Roman triumph every time he heads out for a round of golf. The president’s household costs well more than $1 billion annually to operate. The president’s visage is more ubiquitous than was Vladimir Lenin’s in his prime, his reach Alexandrian, his sense of immortality (they call it “legacy”) pharaonic. Washington has become a deeply weird and alien place, a Renaissance court with armored sedans and hundred-million-dollar paydays.

It’s expensive maintaining an imperial class, but money isn’t really the object here, and neither is the current occupant of the White House, unlikeable as he is. Whether it’s Barack Obama or some subsequent pathological megalomaniac, Republican or Democrat, the increasingly ceremonial and quasi-religious aspect of the presidency is unseemly. It is profane. It is unbecoming of us as a people, and it has transformed the presidency into an office that can be truly attractive only to men who are unfit to hold it.

George Washington showed the world that men do not need a king. We, his heirs, have allowed the coronation of something much worse.

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