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Monday, February 15, 2016

Appoint and Confirm: The New Hot Political Potato

The recent death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has certainly whipped up a firestorm of partisan politics. Republican Mitch McConnell almost immediately announced that the GOP controlled Senate will not confirm any appointee that President Barack Obama submits to them. Imagine that. The Republicans will not act to stabilize the country, the legislature or the Constitutional issues until they get their way.

People like Lindsey Graham have piped up with the rhetoric that no confirmation should be made in an election year even though Ronald Reagan, for one, did submit and have confirmed his conservative appointee in an election year. GOP Presidential hopeful, Ted Cruz, has already publicly announced that he is willing to appoint a Justice who is equivalent to the deceased Scalia in his conservative opinions.

Radio hoax and Internet purveyor of endless conspiracies, Alex Jones, has gone as far as to suggest that President Obama had Justice Scalia murdered in order to leave office with a legacy of change by flipping the 5-4 split of the court toward Liberal interpretations. I'd like to suggest if that conspiracy were true it should have been implemented 6 or 7 years ago and we would have avoided all the anti-human and pro-corporation rulings we will have to live with for decades to come. I call "Hogwash" on Alex Jones' tinfoil rhetoric.

The Senate will be taking a huge gamble in stymieing the confirmation of one or two appointees that Barack Obama could submit for the vacant position. They will be gambling on winning the White House in November 2016 in order to not have Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders inherit the duty and make whatever Liberal nomination they choose. If the GOP succeeds in tossing Obama appointees until November, they risk making major alteration to what the voter turnout and voter affiliation will otherwise be. The calculation will need to be very carefully considered and not be predicated on spurious polls.

Whoever the next President is, he or she will undoubted have the duty of appointing two additional replacement Supreme Court Justices. Not resolving the Scalia vacancy now, might lead to a GOP loss in November and thereby the opportunity to appoint the next two Justices. By age alone, Thomas - R and Ginsberg -D are the two most probable next vacancies. A President replacing both of them would not alter the pre-disposition to opinion of the 9-member court. Which ever way the election turns out, this Supreme Court Justice confirmation process WILL alter the outcome. Place your bets and take your chances.

Meanwhile, notwithstanding the reluctance of the 8-member court to address major issues, the math shows only a small difference. Any case presented will need to be a 5-3 to pass or reject the issue at hand. "In the event of such a tie, the court typically issues what's known as a per curiam decision. The opinion in such a decision is issued under the court's name, as opposed to consisting of a majority and a minority opinion." ~  This typically means that a lower court ruling stands.

However, as with several recent rulings of the court, the 5-4 vote included a defection from the Conservative camp to side with the Liberal minority. Those defections were rarely made by Scalia anyway. Getting one of Kennedy, Thomas or Alito support is all which is needed to rule in the Liberal direction.

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Author's Note: The book cover images in the side margins of this blog are my own publications of eBooks available at both Amazon and B&N. Please take a moment and go to the sites and read about them. Then if you like it, buy one or two.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Finicum's Last Stand

Robert LaVoy Finicum. What can I say? There was a man who knew his mind and saw his destiny unfolding before him even as a small portion of the American people came to know him as Blue Tarp Man. Now better known in ignominious death than in life, he sacrificed all in the hopes of a glorious demise at the hands of the evil Federales who were bound and determined to take him down.

I am reminded of the legendary Pancho, the one who "met his end, you know, on the desert down in Mexico." As with Pancho, for LaVoy "nobody heard his dying words. But that's the way it goes." Surely Lavoy knew that country-western song and internalized it to his life and his plan for immortality.

LaVoy, a rancher from Chino Valley, Arizona, hooked up with two Bundy boys from Nevada and took over the isolated location of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Warner County, Oregon. Right from the beginning he positioned himself front and center in the lights of news camera crews to proclaim his position. From under a blue tarp he participated in interviews regarding his stance on the occupation and his willingness to die for his cause. With a sheathed rifle and two sidearms at his hips, he announced that he would rather die than be caged. At that point in time there was only two outcomes from his actions: be caged or be killed. There was no opportunity for the FBI to opt to waive arrest and prosecution of Lavoy Finicum.

Although LaVoy repeatedly said that he would not shoot first, he did assert that if anyone pointed a gun at him he would point his back. Thus the lethal conditions were set in stone. After the federal, state and county authorities worked 23 days to reach a peaceful resolution to the standoff at Malheur, the FBI staged a roadblock on an equally isolated stretch of Highway 395 where only the perpetrators and the law enforcement officers would be within bullet range.

Two vehicle traveling from the Refuge to the town of John Day were stopped at a roadblock. One vehicle containing several of the leaders of the occupation of Malheur surrendered and were taken into custody. After a few minutes of being stationary the second vehicle driven by LaVoy Finicum sped away from the scene of arrest only to ne sidelined by a secondary roadblock further down the road. He swerved his vehicle and left the pavement ending up stopped in a snow drift on the left side of the road. Although there were three male adult and an 18 yo girl in the vehicle, LaVoy was the only person to exit the vehicle and stop about 10 yards from the snowbound vehicle only to be shot while doing what looks like reaching for a weapon at his hip.

Left-handed or right-handed draws notwithstanding, the Officers all knew LaVoy wore two guns as part of his daily attire and they he repeated vowed to not be taken alive. Now LaVoy was not an evil man, even if he was delusional about his importance and had a death wish, he did not want to jeopardize the lives and safety of the other people in his truck. They had to choose for themselves their fates. Even misguided criminals have a sense of propriety.

Lavoy moved a reasonable distance from the vehicle that contained co conspirator Ryan Bundy, another adult male and a young girl before making his last act of defiance. Finicum's Last Stand played out as it was destined from the first day of his arrival at the failed insurrection at the Wildlife Refuge. Even Butch Cassidy and Sundance knew they would end up in a cold grave at the end of their run. All the militants occupying the bird sanctuary buildings a Malheur sought enduring accolades, but all any of these three people could really hope for is a paragraph in an American History textbook. Well, they could hope for more, but the state of American education is such that nobody reads long enough to get to the denouement, let along even know what that is.

For now the jury is out on whether or not the protest yields any positive outcomes. The saying that to a hammer everything looks like a nail, is true in this case. These "Constitutional Patriots" believe they are taking back the country from the government. They fail to realize the government they seek to fight is the one they keep electing by voting for the "Conservatives" who want to wrest control of the land so it can be sold off to the very entities they seek to keep it from.

LaVoy Finicum will be far better remembered as the Blue Tarp Man than for any political stand he made. Or even the manner of his death.  R.I.P. LaVoy, may others see the folly of your convictions.