Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Breaking A Mirror Is 7 Years Of Bad Luck... Not Using A Condom Is A Lifetime....

If only Joseph Ray Perry had visited a service station restroom and put a quarter in the vending machine slot before he had sex with Amelia Holt Perry. Voilà! No Goodhair (But No Brains)! Talk about a living ad for Family Planning! However, the Perrys did the deed in June 1949 and gave the world Goodhair (But No Brains) on March 4, 1950. If only Joe Perry had opened that Trojan packet back in 1949, the Youngs Rubber Company would have a had a great slogan: "Not a single Goodhair in the box!" If this is (fair & balanced) wishful prophylaxis, so be it.

[x New Yorker]
By Simon Rich

Tag Cloud of the following piece of writing

created at TagCrowd.com

I [was] born in factory. They put me in wrapper. They seal me in box. Three of us in box.

In early days, they move us around. From factory to warehouse. From warehouse to truck. From truck to store.

One day in store, boy human sees us on shelf. He grabs us, hides us under shirt. He rushes outside.

He goes to house, runs into bedroom, locks door. He tears open box and takes me out. He puts me in wallet.

I stay in wallet long, long time.

This is story of my life inside wallet.

The first friend I meet in wallet is Student I.D. Jordi Hirschfeld. He is card. He has been around longest, he says. He introduces me to other cards. I meet Learner Permit Jordi Hirschfeld, Blockbuster Video Jordi Hirschfeld, Jamba Juice Value Card, GameStop PowerUp Card Jordi Hirschfeld, Business Card Albert Hirschfeld, D.D.S., Scarsdale Comic Book Explosion Discount Card.

In middle of wallet, there live dollars. I am less close to them, because they are always coming and going. But they are mostly nice. I meet many Ones and Fives, some Tens, a few Twenties. One time, I meet Hundred. He stay for long time. Came from birthday card, he said. Birthday card from an old person.

I also meet photograph of girl human. Very beautiful. Eyes like Blockbuster Video. Blue, blue, blue.

When I first get to wallet, I am “new guy.” But time passes. I stay for so long, I become veteran. When I first arrive, Jamba Juice has just two stamps. Next thing I know, he has five stamps—then six, then seven. When he gets ten stamps, he is gone. One day, Learner Permit disappears. In his place, there is new guy, Driver License. I become worried. Things are changing very fast.

Soon after, I am taken out of wallet. It is night. I am scared. I do not know what is happening. Then I see girl human. She is one from photograph. She looks same in real life, except now she wears no shirt. She is smiling, but when she sees me she becomes angry. There is arguing. I go back inside wallet.

A few days later, picture of girl human is gone.

That summer, I meet two new friends. The first is Student I.D. New York University Jordi Hirschfeld. The second is MetroCard.

MetroCard is from New York City and he never lets you forget it. He has real “attitude.” He is yellow and black, with Cirque du Soleil advertisement on back.

When MetroCard meets GameStop PowerUp Card Jordi Hirschfeld, he looks at me and says, No wonder Jordi Hirschfeld not yet use you. I become confused. Use me for what?

That night, MetroCard tells me many strange things about myself. At first, I do not believe what he says. But he insists all is true. When I start to panic, he laughs. He says, What did you think you were for? I am too embarrassed to admit truth, which is that I thought I was balloon.

It is around this time that we move. For more than two years, we had lived inside Velcro Batman. It is nice, comfy. One day, though, without warning, we are inside stiff brown leather. I am very upset—especially when I see that so many friends are gone.

No more GameStop PowerUp Card Jordi Hirschfeld. No more Blockbuster Video Jordi Hirschfeld. No more Scarsdale Comic Book Explosion Discount Card.

Only survivors are MetroCard, Driver License, Student I.D., myself, and a creepy new lady named Visa.

I am angry. What was wrong with Velcro Batman? It had many pockets and was warm. I miss my friends and I am lonely.

A few days later, I meet Film Forum Membership Jordan Hirschfeld.

At this point, I am in “panic mode.” What is “Film Forum”? Who is “Jordan Hirschfeld”?

Jordan Hirschfeld is same guy as Jordi Hirschfeld, MetroCard explains. He is just trying to “change his image.” I am confused. What is wrong with old image? That night, I poke my head out of wallet and look around pocket. It is dark, but I can see we have new neighbor. He says his name is Cigarettes Gauloises. He is very polite, but I get “weird vibe” from him.

It is about this time that I meet strip of notebook paper. On him is written, “rachelfeingold@nyu.edu.”

Now we’re getting somewhere, MetroCard says. I have never been more frightened in my life.

That Saturday, five crisp Twenties show up. I assume they will stay long time, like most Twenties. But two hours later they are gone, replaced by receipt La Cucina.

MetroCard looks at receipt La Cucina and laughs. She better put out after that, he says. I am confused and worried.

Later on, I am minding my own business, when Jordi (sorry—“Jordan”) shoves his finger into me. I am terrified. What was that? I ask. MetroCard grins. He is checking to make sure you’re there, he says. For later.

My friends try to calm me down. One of the dollars, a One, tells me about the time he met Vending Machine Pepsi. He was stuffed in and out, in and out, so many times he almost died. I know he is trying to make me feel better, but I am, like, please stop talking about that.

Eventually, the moment comes. It is like other time. I am taken out of wallet and tossed on bed. It is very dark. I can make out shape of girl.

She picks me up and squints at me for a while. Then she turns on lamp.

I am confused. So is Jordan Hirschfeld.

“What’s wrong?” he asks.

His face is like Jamba Juice Value Card. Red, red, red.

“I think,” she says, “that this might actually be expired.”

There is long silence. And then, all of a sudden, the humans are laughing! And then the girl is hitting Jordan with pillow! And he is hitting her back with pillow! And they are laughing, laughing, laughing.

The girl reaches into her bag.

“Don’t worry,” she says. “I’ve got one.”

Part of me kind of wants to watch what happens next. But I am quickly covered in pile of clothes.

When I wake up next day, Jordan is dangling me over trash can. I look down into pit. Inside are Cigarettes Gauloises and Film Forum Schedule. They are talking “philosophy.” I sigh. I do not really want to move in with them, but what can I do? I figure this is “end of the line” for me.

Suddenly, though, Jordan carries me away—to other side of room. I am placed inside shoebox under his bed.

At first, I am afraid, because it is dark, but as vision adjusts I see I am not alone. There is strip of notebook paper rachelfeingold@nyu.edu. There is receipt La Cucina, on which is now written, “First Date.”

I spend long, long time in shoebox.

When I arrive, I am new guy. But as time passes I become veteran. I welcome many new friends: Birthday card Rachel. Happy Valentine’s Day Rachel. And many, many Post-it notes Rachel. I love you, Jordi. Rachel. Good morning, Jordi! Rachel. Everything in here is Rachel.

I do not know how things are in wallet these days. But I am glad to be in shoebox. I feel as if I have “made it.” I am happy. I am warm. I am safe. Ω

[Simon Rich is the younger son of Frank (The Butcher) Rich and Simon was the president of The Narvard Lampoon during his time leading to a BA from Harvard University. He has written five books (2 novels and 3 short story collections): Ant Farm: And Other Desperate Situations (2007), Free-Range Chickens (2009), Elliot Allagash: A Novel (2010), What in God's Name: A Novel (2012), and The Last Girlfriend on Earth: And Other Love Stories (2013).]

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Monday, July 28, 2014

The Dickster May Eschew Necks, But He Still Sucks!

Tom Tomorrow imagines an interview with The Dickster on "Action McNews" and poor Biff (sans Wanda) drew the short straw or the black bean. The vampire craze hasn't missed The Dickster. He doesn't suck necks, but he sucks nonetheless. The Dickster is E-V-I-L and Tom Tomorrow captures that quality with the horns, pointy ears, and ruddy complexion. The Dickster has wife Lynnne and daughter Liz fluttering overhead on batwings. Obviously, daughter Mary Cheney, the apostate lesbian, is nowhere in sight. If there is a Hell, may The Dickster, Lynne, and Liz burn there through eternity. If this is a (fair & balanced) fond hope for one of the worst families in the land, so be it.

[x This Modern World]
The Interview
By Tom Tomorrow (Dan Perkins)

Tom Tomorrow/Dan Perkins

[Dan Perkins is an editorial cartoonist better known by the pen name "Tom Tomorrow". His weekly comic strip, "This Modern World," which comments on current events from a strong liberal perspective, appears regularly in approximately 150 papers across the U.S., as well as on Daily Kos. The strip debuted in 1990 in SF Weekly. Perkins, a long time resident of Brooklyn, New York, currently lives in Connecticut. He received the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Journalism in both 1998 and 2002. When he is not working on projects related to his comic strip, Perkins writes a daily political weblog, also entitled "This Modern World," which he began in December 2001. More recently, Dan Perkins, pen name Tom Tomorrow, was named the winner of the 2013 Herblock Prize for editorial cartooning.]

Copyright © 2014 Tom Tomorrow (Dan Perkins)

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Meet Generalisimo Goodhair (But No Brains)

In this YouTube clip of "Machete," Robert Rodriguez's portrayal of the immigration "problem" comes at the 1:48 mark when one of Machete's violent group — Jessica Alba — cries: "We didn't cross the border, the border crossed us."

[x YouTube/TeRockman Channel]
New Trailer — "Machete" [HD]

El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar correctly defines the Dumbo/Moron shibboleth of "border security" as a myth. Poke a Dumbo/Moron and he/she spouts: "Secure the Border" as a condition for any consideration of immigration reform. The walking, talking anal orifices like Governor Goodhair (But No Brains) will spend millions monthly on a nonsensical "surge" at the border, but the sumbitch will deny millions of Texans any Medicaid assistance. F*ck him and the horse he rode in on. If this is (fair & balanced) hatred of political hypocrisy, so be it.

[x NY Fishwrap]
Why The Border Crisis Is A Myth
By Veronica Escobar

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To hear the national news media tell the story, you would think my city, El Paso, and others along the Texas-Mexico border were being overrun by children — tens of thousands of them, some with their mothers, arriving from Central America in recent months, exploiting an immigration loophole to avoid deportation and putting a fatal strain on border state resources.

There’s no denying the impact of this latest immigration wave or the need for more resources. But there’s no crisis. Local communities like mine have done an amazing job of assisting these migrants.

Rather, the myth of a “crisis” is being used by politicians to justify ever-tighter restrictions on immigration, play to anti-immigrant voters in the fall elections and ignore the reasons so many children are coming here in the first place.

In the last month, about 2,500 refugees have been brought to El Paso after crossing the border elsewhere. The community quickly came together to support the women and children and Annunciation House, the organization coordinating the effort.

Contrary to the heated pronouncements, this is nothing we haven’t seen before. Groups of refugees arrive by plane and are processed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. When they are released, Annunciation House takes them to a shelter where they get a shower, a place to sleep, meals and even health care — all provided by volunteers and private donations.

The families of the refugees also help, often paying for travel costs and taking them into their homes. The refugees then move on, to Florida, Georgia, New York or elsewhere.

While the numbers of refugees arriving in El Paso are a fraction of the number arriving in McAllen, in southern Texas, the chain of events is generally the same. Like El Paso, South Texas is not the permanent destination for these refugees. And the response from McAllen’s citizens has been generous, too.

The same can’t be said of our politicians. What we are hearing from Austin and Washington is an almost Pavlovian response to immigration concerns. My governor, Rick Perry, a Republican, announced this week that he was sending 1,000 National Guard soldiers, at a cost of $12 million a month, to bolster the border.

And despite President Obama’s efforts to work with Central American leaders to address the root causes of the migration, his recently announced request for $3.7 billion, supposedly to deal with these new migrants, contains yet more border security measures: Almost $40 million would go to drone surveillance, and nearly 30 percent of it is for transportation and detention.

In Texas, state legislators and the Department of Public Safety are planning to spend an additional $30 million over six months to create a “surge” of state law enforcement resources, an expenditure that some in our state’s Capitol would like to see made permanent.

The costs are significant. Every day we detain an undocumented child immigrant, it costs Immigration and Customs Enforcement — i.e., the taxpayer — $259 per person, significantly more than we spend to educate a child in a middle-class school district.

The irony is that this cash-intensive strategy comes from leaders who consistently underfund health care, transportation and education. And they ignore the crucial fact that children crossing our borders aren’t trying to sneak around law enforcement: They are running to law enforcement.

What is most alarming, however, is the attempt to erode rights and protections created by intelligent, humane legislation.

The debate is centered on the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, a law signed by President George W. Bush to provide legal and humanitarian protections to unaccompanied migrant children from countries other than Mexico or Canada. The act passed with bipartisan support, yet the “crisis” is now being cited by some of the same legislators who supported the law as a reason to repeal or change it.

This effort to take away rights that were granted when there was significantly less anti-immigrant fervor isn’t just shortsighted and expensive, it’s un-American. We can debate the wisdom of providing greater protection to Central American children than to Mexican children, but there can be no doubt that giving safe haven to a child facing violence in a country that cannot protect its most vulnerable citizens is what a civilized country, with the resources we possess, should do.

Our border communities understand this. I hope the rest of the country, including our leaders in Austin and Washington, can follow our lead. Ω

[Veronica Escobar, a Democrat, is the county judge of El Paso County, TX since 2011. Escobar received a BA from the University of Texas at El Paso and an MA from New York University. In Texas, county judges may serve without a law degree.]

Copyright © 2014 The New York Times Company

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Current House Bet Is That Speaker John Boner (R-OH) Has A Bigger Gaffe Than Yours

Eags just threw a flurry of punches at House Speaker John Boner (R-OH) and most of them scored. We have comic opera on the Texas border and now we have comic opera in the U.S. House of Representatives. Boner has dropped the first shoe and we must await the other shoe: articles of impeachment accusing President Barack H. Obama of "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors...." This will be the equivalent of "Get a rope — there's an empty tree over there." Hide'n watch, the Dumbo/Teabaggers in the House are capable of sinking lower than a serpent's belly. It would be funny if it wasn't so stupid. If this is (fair & balanced) tragicomedy, so be it.

[x NY Fishwrap]
Ambulance Chaser In The House
By Timothy Egan

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You’re a member of Congress, and everyone hates you. You’re likely to be a lawyer — the leading profession for federal legislators — and most everyone hates lawyers, with a Pew survey finding that people rank them at the very bottom in contributing something to society. Is there anything you could do to generate more contempt?

Yes — sue somebody! The speaker of the House, John Boehner, has announced that Republicans in the House are likely to file suit against President Obama. They are doing this because he delayed parts of a law, the Affordable Care Act, that they have tried to repeal more than 50 times. If they win, business owners who have been given some breathing room from providing mandatory health care would have to quickly implement the very thing that Republicans say is a job-killing bullet to the economy.

It’s head-spinning, all of it. We’ve finally reached the point where the do-nothing, delay-everything, don’t-even-allow-a-vote-on-measures-a-majority-of-Americans-favor Congress has reached its logical position. They will not legislate. But they will litigate.

“Their big idea has been to sue me,” the president said earlier this month, unable to sustain a giggle. “That’s what they’re spending time on.”

To Boehner, the stunt, brought to you by the talk radio and Fox News wacko-sphere, is no laughing matter. He says the imperial president has governed by executive order, overstepping a Congress that will not govern by any order. Obama has issued 182 executive orders in his presidency, through the end of June. The tyrant.

The sainted Ronald Reagan issued 381 executive orders. The benign Dwight Eisenhower rolled out 484 of them. And Calvin Coolidge — Silent Cal, hero of young fogies in bow ties, asleep at the presidential wheel — signed more than 1,200 executive orders. Sue ’em all, retroactively.

So far, legal experts have reacted to Boehner’s potential lawsuit with the rhetorical equivalent of guffawing until their morning coffee runs out their noses. This might include Chief Justice John Roberts, who has sniffed at another political lawsuit because the plaintiffs lacked standing — that is, someone seeking “relief for an injury that affects him in a personal and individual way,” as Roberts wrote.

Earlier this week, a federal judge appointed by George W. Bush threw out a lawsuit by Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin against a health care provision, saying the Tea Party Republican had failed to show how he had been personally harmed by the law.

So, what Boehner needs is a plaintiff in a neck brace. Somebody fragile, and sympathetic-looking. He needs that person to be a member of Congress. And he needs that person to have suffered for lack of health insurance because of President Obama. The character played by Matthew McConaughey in “The Lincoln Lawyer,” an operator who practiced law out of a car, had better stuff to work with than this.

Another problem: Republicans have complained for decades about “activist judges” doing the work that legislators are supposed to do. Judges should be referees, not lawmakers or micro-managers. But here, Boehner would be asking a court to step in and require that President Obama’s signature law be managed a certain way.

Presidents routinely delay, modify or defer enforcement of certain laws. President George W. Bush decided — like some kind of monarch! — to waive penalty fees on seniors who missed a sign-up deadline for prescription drug coverage in 2006. He was ignoring a part of his own law. And what Wall Street-backed Republican is complaining about the many delays in implementing the Dodd-Frank Act?

That Bush appointee who threw out Senator Johnson’s claim, Judge William C. Griesbach, sent a warning shot in Boehner’s direction with his language. He wrote that “disputes between the executive and legislative branches over the extent of their respective powers are to be resolved through the political process, not by decisions issued by federal judges.”

The political process. You know — votes and things, lawmaking. That would require the House to do something. Ha! A bill to raise the minimum wage will not even come up for a vote. Immigration reform is dead for the year, Boehner said recently — no vote allowed. Even a fellow Republican, Representative Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, noted that if Boehner really wanted to do something to prevent the president from issuing more executive orders, he could, um, pass legislation.

Too late for that. After next week, it’s vacation — for all of August, and into September. That will be followed by another loooooong break, from the first week of October until Election Day in November. This will give Boehner’s nonperforming lawmakers plenty of time to ask a dispirited electorate to return them so they can sit on their hands for another two years.

The primaries this year have produced record-low turnout, because of voters who have gotten nothing from their politicians. We could sue them, with standing. Or we could do what they refuse to do — take a vote of real consequence. Ω

[Timothy Egan writes "Outposts," a column at the NY Fishwrap online. Egan — winner of both a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 as a member of a team of reporters who wrote the series "How Race Is Lived in America" and a National Book Award (The Worst Hard Time in 2006) — graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in journalism, and was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters by Whitman College in 2000 for his environmental writings. Egan's most recent book is The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America (2009).]

Copyright © 2014 The New York Times Company

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Friday, July 25, 2014

The Incredible Shrinking SCOTUS

Before turning to the post o'the day, The New Yorker's Andy Borowitz had the final word on a border surge option for Governor Goodhair (But No Brains): send the Dallas Cowboys to the border! America's Team can tackle any kiddie jihadist who wades ashore in South Texas. One small problem — the Cowboys were last among NFL defenses last season.

Today, Jeff Greenfield offers a dismal assessment that a presidential appointment of a successor to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg is unlikely to gain Senate confirmation. In fact, Greenfield takes us on a review of the recent history of Supreme Court nominations and is less than sanguine about a 9-member Court if Justice Ginsberg retires or succumbs to a recurrence of cancer. If this is (fair & balanced) doom-and-gloom, so be it.

[x The Daily Beast]
The Supreme Court's Coming Paralysis
By Jeff Greenfield

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It’s a question that’s roiled the liberal universe for years: Why won’t 81-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg resign from the Supreme Court and give President Obama the chance to pick her successor, in case the Senate turns Republican after the mid-terms?

Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, one of the left’s jurisprudential heroes, had a ready answer to that question when it was posed to him at the University of California Santa Barbara late last month. There is, he said, not a chance in hell that this Senate would confirm her successor, no matter who he or she might be—not the way the process works today. And therein lies a tale about just how drastically the “advise and consent” process has changed, and why the smart bet would be on a paralyzed process, and perhaps even a Court with fewer than nine Justices, no matter what happens in November.

Once upon a time, the Senate took that “advise and consent” phrase of the Constitution literally: They sometimes advised, but almost always consented, to a President’s choice. From 1894 to 1967, only one Supreme Court nominee was rejected. (It was 1930, and as the Great Depression deepened, Judge John Parker’s alleged anti-labor and anti-civil rights rulings were deemed disqualifying). There were other controversial picks—lawyer Louis Brandeis was assailed as a dangerous radical when President Wilson named him to the bench in 1913 (and there was more than a hint of anti-Semitism in the opposition); Alabama Senator Hugo Black had to go on national radio to explain his membership in the Ku Klux after FDR named him in 1937.

But it wasn’t until 1968 that a President found his Supreme Court pick blocked. When Lyndon Johnson sought to elevate Justice Abe Fortas to the Chief Justice post to replace Earl Warren, a coalition of Southern Democrats and Republicans, angered by his liberal votes on civil liberties, his continued political counseling of LBJ, and some dicey financial dealings, successfully filibustered the nomination. (Republicans also hoped to stall the nomination, hoping their nominee could capture the White House in November. That strategy not only worked, but those financial dealings were to force Fortas off the Court a year later).

At that point, the process took a sharply different turn—to outright rejection of a nominee. President Nixon’s choice of Judge Clement Haynesworth to replace Abe Fortas was soundly defeated, 55-45, by senators who believed—not entirely accurately—that Haynesworth had demonstrated anti-labor and pro-segregationist tenancies in his rulings, and that he had had a financial interest in one of the cases he helped decide.

Nixon’s second nominee, Federal District Judge Harrold Carswell, may well have been the single least qualified nominee ever, fusing judicial incompetence with a political history of embracing white supremacy. Carswell’s reputation drew a famous defense by Senator Roman Hruska, who argued, "Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance? We can't have all Brandeises, Frankfurters and Cardozos.” (Hruskas’ choice of three Jewish Supreme Court justices was duly noted). Carswell’s nomination was rejected by a 51-45 vote.

In these two cases, something other than ideology was, at least ostensibly, at stake—qualifications or some kind of impropriety. That may be one explanation, perhaps, for the remarkably bipartisan nature of the votes. Nine Democrats voted for Hayneswroth; 17 Republicans voted against the nomination; 17 Democrats backed Carswell; 13 Republicans voted against him.

Not so in the case of Judge Robert Bork, whose background as a Yale law professor and federal judge made him clearly qualified on intellectual grounds. The case against Bork was, in the broadest sense of the word, “political”—that his views on privacy, civil rights, and other issues put him “outside the mainstream.” Senator Ted Kennedy unleashed one of the harsher assessments ever aimed at a high court nominee when he said: “Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government…” It was, to put it mildly, a reach. But the argument, along with Bork’s less than winning personality in the witness chair, led the newly Democratic Senate (with the help of six Republicans) to reject the nomination by a decisive 58-42 margin.

It was a faction of Senate Democrats that saved the nomination of Clarence Thomas in 1991. After the unprecedented charges and counter-charges—of sexual harassment, perjurious witnesses, and a nominee’s bitter accusation of “a high-tech lynching”—10 Democrats, from the still-significant moderate-conservative wing of the party, voted to confirm him.

The Clarence Thomas nomination was the last time a Senate controlled by one party approved the nomination made by the President of another party.

This might be considered highly significant, except that the Thomas nomination was the last time a President of one party offered up a nomination to a Senate controlled by the other party. By a quirk of the calendar, Bill Clinton faced two vacancies that opened up in 1993, when Democrats had a 57-seat majority; in the six years after Democrats lost the Senate in 1994, there were none. George W. Bush’s two nominations came when his party had 55 seats; there were no vacancies after Democrats won the Senate in 2006. Obama named Sotomayor and Kagan when his party had a near-super majority 60 votes; there have been none since the 2010 midterms sharply reduced the Democratic edge.

And while no President since George H.W. Bush has had to offer a nomination to an opposition controlled Senate, all recent Presidents have had the benefit of virtual unity in their own parties. Only two Republicans voted against Clarence Thomas: Vermont’s Jim Jeffords, who would bolt the GOP a decade later, and Oregon’s Bob Packwood, whose own entanglement with sexual harassment charges would force him out of the Senate four years later.

Since then, whether nominations have succeeded overwhelmingly (Ginsburg, Breyer) or with substantial opposition (Alito, Sotomayor, Kagan), only one member of the President’s party has ever voted thumbs down. (It was Rhode Island’s Lincoln Chaffee, now the state’s independent governor, who voted against Samuel Alito’s confirmation).

This might suggest that the future of any prospective Obama nomination will turn on who winds up controlling the Senate; except, of course, it doesn’t. When Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid invoked the “nuclear option” last November, which ruled the filibuster out of order with respect to lower federal court judges, he explicitly exempted the Supreme Court. That, of course, only explains what a Senate minority can do. It’s the current political climate that tells us what Senate Republicans, whether in the majority or minority, are likely to do.

The best way to see how different the terrain is today is to look back on past contentious nominations and ask why a determined minority did not filibuster them to death. The short answer comes from the last scene of Ibsen’s "Hedda Gabbler." After the protagonist shoots herself, a shocked Judge Brack exclaims: ‘Good God! But people don’t do such things!” Even during the intensely passionate debate over Clarence Thomas’ qualifications, behavior, and candor, it did not occur to his opponents to block his nomination; instead, it went to a vote, and a 52-48 majority—the narrowest margin ever for a nominee—confirmed him. When George W. Bush named Samuel Alito to replace the centrist Sandra Day O’Connor in 2005—a choice certain to shift the balance of the Court dramatically—only 25 of the 44 Democrats backed the filibuster.

Now ask yourself a question about today’s Senate: How many of the 45 Republicans now in the Senate would break with their party and vote to end a filibuster of an Obama Supreme Court appointment? How many would risk a Tea Party primary opponent, or a talk radio onslaught, and step away from a fight to stop Obama from putting a pro-choice, “living Constitution” Justice on the Court for the next generation?

And if that meant leaving the Court with only eight justices—or seven, should a second vacancy develop—the Republican minority would be more than happy to live with that. There’s nothing that requires the Congress to fill all nine positions on the Court. Indeed, the case for leaving a seat empty was made by a prominent academic liberal, after the contested 2000 election. Yale Law professor Bruce Ackerman argued then that “when sitting justices retire or die, the Senate should refuse to confirm any nominations offered up by President Bush” until 2004, when the country could decide the legitimacy of Bush’s tenure. (As it happened, there were no vacancies in his first term, and Bush won a clear, if narrow, victory in 2004.) Given the zeal with which the Republican base argues that Obama is a lawless, Constitution-shredding chief executive, it is an easy step to argue that we should wait until a new chief executive is chosen in 2016.

If this analysis is correct, then what happens in November almost doesn’t matter. Yes, a Republican Senate takeover would give the GOP control of the Judiciary Committee, which means that all federal judicial nominations might die a slow but certain death. But even if the Democrats hold the Senate—even if, by some hard-to-imagine turns of events they kept their 55-seat majority—the likeliest outcome of any Supreme Court nomination is a filibuster and a vacancy or two that will endure until the country chooses a new President. Ω

[Jeff Greenfield is a TV journalist and author; he currently hosts PBS's "Need To Know" and also does political commentary on NBC Nightly News. Greenfield is the recipient of three Emmy Awards (1985, 1990, and 1992) for his reports. His most recent book is If Kennedy Lived: The First and Second Terms of President John F. Kennedy: An Alternate History (2013(. He received a BA from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and an JD from the from Yale Law School.]

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mea Culpa (For Yesterday's Post)

Yesterday, this blogger committed his first-ever error in this blog. In a frenzy of delight over Governor Goodhair (But No Brains)'s deployment of a thousand Texas National Guard troops to the border and linded by the folly of it all, this blogger pegged the cost of the "surge" to Texas tzxpayers at $17.1M daily. Au contraire! That is the monthly cost of the comic-opera deployment; the daily cost comes to $500K+. Of course, $500K here and $500K there and we're talkin' about some real money in short order. Actually, the total tab for the "surge" of Weekend Warriors and Smokies from the Texas Department of Public Safety produces the $17.1M cost per month for Goodhair's Folly. Why doesn't the stupid Governor arrange for air transport of the hordes of kiddie invaders to Guantanamo? Hell, the little terrorists belong in orange jumpsuits in Camp X-Ray. Why stop with a border surge? Goohair (But No Brains) could really wow the Dumbos/Morons with a mass incarcerations from the Texas border with all of the other deadly terrorists who are too dangerous for mainland prisons and mainland courts. Goodhair (But No Brains) is missin' a helluva photo op. If this is (fair & balanced) immigration insanity, so be it.

[x TX Trib]
Perry Sending Guard Troops To The Border
By Jay Root

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*Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

Governor Rick Perry, leaping again into the national spotlight on illegal immigration, announced Monday he is sending up to 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border, where an influx of young Central Americans has overwhelmed the federal government.

Democrats blasted the decision as a political stunt by a governor with presidential ambitions. But Perry, who has the power to call up Guard troops to deal with a broad variety of crises, said Texas had to act because the federal government has offered nothing but “lip service and empty promises” while the border is overrun with illegal activity.

“I will not stand idly by while our citizens are under assault and little children from Central America are detained in squalor,” Perry told a packed press conference at the Texas Capitol. “We are too good a country for that to occur.”

Monday’s announcement marked the second time this month that Perry, who is considering another run for the White House in 2016, has thrust himself into the center of national debate about the crisis along border. He met with President Obama in Dallas on July 9, in part, to press his demands that the feds send — and pay for — a National Guard deployment.

Absent a federal activation, Perry said he acted on his own, meaning that Texans will pick up the $12-million-a-month tab authorities say the deployment will cost. The governor and other Republican elected officials said they would ask the federal government to pay for the mobilization.

The Guard will not act in a primary law enforcement role but rather as a “force multiplier” under “Operation Strong Safety,” the border surge effort being led by the Texas Department of Public Safety and other state police, Perry said.

That ongoing state police operation is estimated to cost about $5 million a month, so Texas could be spending $17 million or more per month for border security when the operation is in full swing. House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, said the Legislature will mull how to pay for the increased border presence as costs continue to escalate.

Adjutant General John Nichols, head of the Texas Military Forces, said he expected 1,000 troops to be mobilized within a month. The National Guard will also provide helicopters that will offer nighttime surveillance to law enforcement, he said.

“Technically speaking, if we were asked to we could detain people but we’re not planning on that,” said Nichols, who joined Perry at the press conference. “We’re planning on referring and deterring — so deterring them with physical presence and referring any people that we see that we think are illegal immigrants to DPS.”

Nichols said most of the soldiers are trained in life-saving techniques and will be prepared to deal with unaccompanied minors from Central America. The young immigrants generally turn themselves in to authorities and are later released pending adjudication in the courts, which sometimes takes years.

“We think that they will come to us and say please take us to a Border Patrol station,” Nichols said. “We’re going to be prepared to have water there, to render aid if they need it.”

He said he expected to be in communication with law enforcement to help process the immigrants.

The decision to activate the National Guard was generally well received among Republicans. Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican candidate for governor, applauded Perry’s “decisive action.”

State Senator Dan Patrick of Houston, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, released a statement supporting the decision before it was announced.

“More manpower and more resources are needed. It’s time to mobilize the National Guard,” Patrick said. “This should be done by President Obama, but if he refuses, and Governor Perry decides to act, I fully support that decision.”

State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, said Republicans were using the border crisis to appeal to their base voters — not to solve the problem.

“It’s the wrong message and it is not needed. We do not need to militarize the border,” he said. “We have families and kids that are coming across that are unarmed.”

Likewise, U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, said the state should focus on providing humanitarian relief, not more law enforcement.

"We should be sending the Red Cross to the border, not the National Guard," Castro told The Texas Tribune in a text message. "These children are not trying to evade Border Patrol and there's no reason to confront them with soldiers."

State Senator Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, the Democratic candidate for governor, agreed more law enforcement is needed along the border, and she pointed the finger at Washington leaders who have failed to “live up to their responsibility.”

But she said Perry should call the Legislature into a special session to provide more money to hire deputy sheriffs instead of activating the National Guard.

Perry ignored a question at the end of the press conference about whether a special session might be needed, but earlier he blasted those who call the deployment a “militarization” of the Texas-Mexico border. He said the National Guard is made up of Texans from all walks of life — many of whom have served along the border in humanitarian missions.

“This idea that somehow or another there is a militarization going on is frankly a little offensive to the folks at the National Guard who travel to the border on a regular basis to help,” Perry said. “This is about border security.” Ω

[Jay Root was Austin bureau chief of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for a dozen years. He also covered politics and the Legislature for The Associated Press before joining the staff of the Texas Tribune. He is the author of Oops! A Diary From The 2012 Campaign Trail (2012), Root received a BA (journalism) from The University of Texas at Austin.]

Copyright © 2014 The Texas Tribune

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Governor Goodhair (But No Brains) Channels His Inner Dubster

Governor Goodhair (But No Brains) has mobilized the National Guard of Texas and ordered them down to McAllen, TX on the border. Their function will be to repel the hordes of children who have fled (most sans parents) the violencia in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Obviously, these jihadists, who range from infancy to adolescence, are a threat to national security. Goodhair (But No Brains) donned his Clark-Kent-eyeglasses while announcing his unilateral action to save the nation. Interestingly, this "surge" of Guard troops will cost Texas taxpayers $17.1M daily. The Texas AG, Greg (Hotwheels) Abbott — who lives to sue the federal government — has pledged to replace the state funds with Fed money. Good luck with that, Hotwheels. In the meantime, the lamestream media has breathlessly reported this non-event as if it equaled The Dubster's "Mission Accomplished" show after the fall of Iraq. As Borowitz notes, Goodhair (But No Brains) has ordered the mobilization of the Guard to the border without a "defined objective, mission, or exit strategy." In other words, a clusterf*ck. If this is (fair & balanced) political theater (at $17.1M per diem), so be it.

[x The New Yorker]
Perry Boosts Presidential Stature By Using Troops For No Reason
By Andy Borowitz

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An aide to Rick Perry is confident that the Texas Governor proved he “has what it takes to be President” with his decision on Monday to send troops somewhere for no reason.

By deploying a thousand National Guardsmen to the U.S.-Mexico border, Perry has shown that as President he would be “ready and willing” to use troops without a defined objective, mission, or exit strategy, the aide confirmed.

“Sending troops someplace with no clear idea of why they are going or what they are supposed to be doing once they get there is a key part of the Presidential skill set,” said the aide, Harland Dorrinson. “Rick Perry has just shown that he’s got that nailed down.”

Dorrinson acknowledged that the gold standard for using troops for no reason might have been set by Perry’s predecessor in Texas, George W. Bush, but added, “If anyone can beat that record, it’s Rick.”

According to the aide, Perry’s “extremely Presidential response” to the immigration crisis is already winning him the praise of G.O.P. voters. “Nothing unites Republicans more than standing up to children,” he said. Ω

[Andy Borowitz is the creator the "Borowitz Report," a Web site that is a lot funnier than the stuff posted by Matt Drudge and his ilk. Borowitz is a comedian and writer whose work appears regularly in The New Yorker. He is the first winner of the National Press Club's humor award and has won seven Dot-Comedy Awards for his web site. His most recent book (and Amazon's Best Kindle Single of the Year) is An Unexpected Twist  (2012). Borowitz is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College.]

Copyright © 2013 The New Yorker/Condé Nast Digital

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Copyright © 2014 Sapper's (Fair & Balanced) Rants & Raves