Donald Trump is not a racist, misogynist, or a corporatist…but he DID stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.
Pascal’s Wager: the argument that it is in one’s own best interest to behave as if God exists, since the possibility of eternal punishment in hell outweighs any advantage of believing otherwise.
I was reminded of Pascal’s Wager while listening to a talking head going on about the GOP’s refusal to follow the Constitution with regards to allowing any Obama nominee from even getting a confirmation hearing. The GOP is, I think, not being very strategic in its handling of this, and any misstep with appointing a new Supreme Court Justice is one that you’re stuck with for a generation.
The next President may get the chance to replace as many as 3 – even 4 justices, depending on how the health goes of the oldest members. Ruth Bader-Ginsburg at the very least, has to be ready to retire, I’m sure. She turns 83 next month. Kennedy turns 80 this year. Breyer turns 78. If those three leave the court during the next Presidential cycle, that makes for FOUR justices including replacing Scalia, split 50-50 between those appointed by a Republican (Reagan) and by a Democrat (Clinton).
The GOP is proceeding as if they’re going to win the White House. This is not a safe assumption at all.
Scalia was appointed by Reagan, and was among the most socially conservative justices in the modern era, and arguably the most influential. If the GOP is able to push off his replacement to the next President, and they _fail_ to take the White House, they lose the chance to get even a moderate in there, and that swings the conservative-liberal balance of the court in the favor of the liberals (well, sorta liberal; I’ve got a real problem with Sotomayor).
However, if they choose my Pascal’s “Supreme” Wager, they get an excellent chance of getting a moderate Republican on the bench, because Obama has an unfortunate record of capitulating to Republicans by giving them as much as he’s willing to on his opening bid in any negotiation he has with them. They could easily get a moderate Republican like Sandoval in there now, while they have the chance, and then the chance to replace as many as two additional justices – liberal justices (Ginsberg and Breyer) in the next cycle.
Their worst-case scenario, however, is looking all-too plausible. Let’s assume Trump gets the nomination (extremely likely, unless someone else is chosen in a brokered convention). GOP party leaders have openly said they expect the GOP to be ‘broken’ as a party if Trump wins the nomination, as down-ballot races will suffer greatly, and you can expect an excellent chance of losing the Senate to the Democrats if that happens (which may happen anyway, but the chances go way up in this scenario).
Now let’s further assume that Trump loses the election (entirely plausible depending on Democratic voter turnout, which may be incentive by a Trump candidacy). Now the next President is still a Democrat, and has a Democratic Senate to pass any nominee they want. And in that scenario, there is nothing to stop that Democratic President from nominating – and getting – any ultra liberal they want. If they get the chance at all four possible new justices, the court swings from 5 conservative, 4 liberal-ish, to a possible 3 conservative, 6 liberal makeup, and it would be entirely likely to remain that way for decades hence. Scalia served for over 29 years, and Kennedy has already served 28. In the history of the court, Scalia was only the 15th longest-service justice. Saying a justice can serve for a generation is not an exaggeration.
Now let’s get really vicious, and say that Sanders wins the White House. Do you think he’s going to appoint anything less than uber-ultra-left liberals to the court, both socially and otherwise? You may consider Sotomayor a liberal, but when it comes to issues involving corporations, she’s had a disturbing history of siding with corporations. Sanders would certainly have none of that.
Ultimate Scenario Time(tm): Sanders chooses Elizabeth Warren as his VP, and he serves one or two terms, and Warren then wins the next round. Now we’ve got a chance for ever more liberal justices.
Thomas turns 68 this year, and Alito turns 66. If we have even 2 or 3 Democratic terms, the odds are very good that one or both of those will be leaving the court by the end of that time, thus altering the court makeup for a ridiculously long time, indeed. Two of the three _youngest_ justices – Sotomayor and Kagan – were appointed by Obama.
The GOP should take the chance they have right now of getting someone who at least identifies on the surface as a conservative, while they have a guaranteed chance of doing so. It may be the last they get for an incredibly long time.
Devil’s Advocate – In common parlance, a devil’s advocate is someone who, given a certain argument, takes a position they do not necessarily agree with, for the sake of debate or to explore the thought further.
Pundits the world over have been gnashing their collective teeth the last few weeks, trying to figure out Donald Trump, his motivations – as well as the reason he’s polling so well with the Republican-voting populace. While the reasons for his polling success are obvious and depressing, that’s not what I want to talk about today. I heard a phrase in a meeting today (about a totally unrelated topic) that instantly resonated with me in describing Donald Trump and his motivations.
You’ve heard the term Devil’s Advocate many times – there’s even a movie with that title. But the phrase I heard this morning was uttered by someone who was jokingly disparaging himself. Instead of Devil’s Advocate, he called himself Devil’s Jerk. Doesn’t that sound familiar?
Trump’s ego won’t let him shut up – not about himself (or anything else, apparently) but the ideas he throws out there don’t seem to be – in the normal Devil’s Advocate usage – for the purpose of exploring a thought he may not hold himself – but instead to just be a jerk. Winning the debate at any cost seems to be his motivation, and I can’t help but think this new term Devil’s Jerk describes that perfectly.
Believe it or not, North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-Un, has now invented time travel. Considering his past accomplishments in fields like golf (the first he picked up a club, he shot a 38 under par, including 11 holes in one), literature (he wrote 1,500 books during his 3 years at university), and music (during university, he also wrote 3 full operas which are considered better than anything else in the history of music). And let’s not forget the fact – fact, mind you – that his birth was divine, and he doesn’t even have to go to the bathroom. I shit you not!
His latest move – time travel – seems a natural next step. Naturally, Western media have been grossly inaccurate about this development, and are merely talking about a 30 minute clock change, but in reality, Fearless Leader invented time travel quite some time ago – by moving North Korea 100 years into the past. This 30 minute jump isn’t even a rounding error, really.
What with Elizabeth Warren’s new book out, and her promotional tour in full swing, everyone is talking about whether she’s really going to run for President or not (she says she’s not, but, that’s how the game is played at this stage). There is a lot of talk about whether there would be support for a two-woman Democratic ticket (Clinton/Warren). Get real – is this any less credible than a two-man ticket? Does anyone really think that anyone who has a problem with a two-woman ticket is likely to be voting Democratic ticket anyway? Warren as VP can only help Clinton as far as I’m concerned. It would give her some real credibility with progressives that she lacks (though she’s certainly more progressive than Obama).
“Now is the time for Americans to set aside their differences and do what I want.”
“Don’t go away mad; just go away.”
There’s always next year!
We now return you to your regularly scheduled four years of irrelevancy, already in progress.
In general, what she’s saying is what one of our founding fathers said long ago:
”All accumulation of personal property, beyond what a man’s own hands produce, is derived to him by living in society; and he owes on every principle of justice, of gratitude, and of civilization, a part of that accumulation back again to society from whence the whole came.”
– Thomas Paine (author of Common Sense)