Battle Over Supreme Court Vacancy Looms
The inconveniently timed death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia last weekend has set the stage for a major confrontation over the appointment of his successor. On the one hand, President Obama has asserted his determination to fill the position as soon as possible and denounced any opposition as "irresponsible." On the other hand key Republicans have proposed that the vacancy be filled after the November elections, arguing that voters should be allowed to elect the person they feel the most confidence in to make the appointment.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ken) pointed to "an 80-year Senate tradition of holding off on approving nominees during an election year. Since Justices typically serve for decades it seems inappropriate that a 'lame duck' president should make such a momentous decision."
Presidential Press Secretary Josh Earnest ridiculed McConnell's contention, observing that "the Senate approved Reagan's nomination of Anthony Kennedy in 1988. So, if a majority Democratic senate could confirm a Republican president's nominee then, why can't a majority Republican senate confirm a Democratic president's nominee now?"
McConnell denied that the two circumstances were analogous. "Kennedy's confirmation occurred in 1988 because senate Democrats blocked Robert Bork's nomination in 1987," he reminded. "Not only did Democrats block a distinguished judge from assuming a place on the Supreme Court, they also trashed his reputation for purely ideological reasons."
The Senator also went on to mention that "before he became President Obama he was a senator who participated in the Democratic Party's persistent obstruction of President Bush's nominees for many court positions. Court vacancies went on for years as Democrats in the senate prevented an 'up or down' vote. And he participated in filibustering the nomination of Justice Samuel Alito in 2006 despite acknowledging that Alito was 'an accomplished jurist.'"
Earnest contended that "McConnell's stance is indefensible. These Republican nominees were on the wrong side of the march of history. Elevating them to high positions in our court system would simply have retarded the progress of the social revolution that Democrats have strenuously worked for over many decades. The GOP cannot equate the President's prior struggle against counter-revolutionaries to their own efforts to thwart the advance of social justice and progressive values that any nominee he names for the vacancy will pursue."
McConnell's senate Democratic colleagues expressed confidence that an Obama nominee will be approved this year. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), one of the leaders of the filibuster against Alito, predicted that "Mitch will fold. He's the most spineless wimp I've ever seen in all my years in government. He may have all the high cards—precedent, evidence, logic, and votes—but he'll throw in his hand at the first sign of a Democrat or the media challenginging his position."
Trump Tries to Clarify Heath Care Views
At a South Carolina "town hall" event GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump expressed criticism of Obamacare, but professed support for the mandate provision of the law. "Look, we can't have people dying in the streets," he said. "Unless the law compels everyone to buy insurance there will be some who don't have coverage. I want everyone to be covered. My plan will take care of everyone."
Trump also argued that "by making the purchase of health insurance compulsory we will ensure the profitability of the industry. A requirement that people must buy insurance assures a larger revenue stream than if people may buy insurance. That's simple economics."
The candidate held that his approach "would be superior to Obamacare because we will closely monitor every aspect of the health care system to make sure all the prices are fair, that only the best therapies are permitted, and that no money is wasted on hopeless cases. It will be fantastic."
That his "fantastic" plan seems suspiciously like Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders' "single payer" plan didn't seem to bother Trump who insisted "I'm not talking about a total government takeover. There will still be private insurers, private doctors and the like. But if government takes a bigger role on behalf of Americans it can dictate better prices by using either the 'carrot' or the 'stick' as seems appropriate."
Clinton Says She Tries to Tell the Truth
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was cornered in an interview on CBS this week when she was asked by Scott Pelley whether she could make a Jimmy Carter-like promise to never lie to the American people.
For her part, Hillary professed to be "working hard to try to tell the truth," but admitted that "it hasn't always been easy. There are times when the greater good requires that the truth be suppressed or that a fiction be concocted. Should we slavishly adhere to the truth at the cost of allowing political enemies to tear us down like Reagan did to President Carter? Wouldn't the nation have been better off if Carter had been more flexible regarding the truth? If he had been, perhaps the nightmare years of the Reagan era could've been averted."
"I think American voters are sophisticated enough to understand and appreciate the reasons why their president may need to lie to them for their own benefit," she added. "They need a leader who will do whatever it takes to govern. If this means the president must cross ethical boundaries that would be considered sins or crimes in other circumstances we must hope that the person we elect is up to the task. Of those currently running I believe that I best embody the character and strength to undertake any dirty deeds that might be necessary."
Pope Castigates American Capitalism
In his visit to the U.S.-Mexican border, Pope Francis took the occasion to criticize American capitalism for the suffering of the poor.
"In pursuit of profit the capitalists enslave working men and women, compelling them to exchange their precious time for money," the Pope complained. "Though not literally in chains, those forced to labor for their survival are rousted from repose to travel on often difficult and dangerous roads to arrive at an employer's place of exploitation. There they are given tiresome chores by cruel taskmasters. If they fail to perform satisfactorily they may be cast out into the streets."
Francis contrasted this grim picture of life under capitalism with "the life of prayer and charity that God wants us all to have and which the Church has modeled for nearly 2,000 years. The Church has not only survived, but has grown and thrived on the gifts given by the faithful. It has demonstrated that profit is not required for a life of goodness and joy. America must put aside personal greed and open its doors to take in the poor of the world."
The Pope chided efforts by politicians, like presidential candidate Donald Trump, to block migrants from entering the United States "in order to obtain their fair share of the abundance God has bestowed upon that land" calling such efforts "selfish and unchristian. It is God's wish that those who have the ability to produce more than they need share the surplus with those who have less than they need. The fear that this would lead to universal impoverishment is overwrought. Jesus owned nothing. He survived on the generosity of friends and supporters. If such a lifestyle is good enough for the Son of God why is it not good enough for everyone on Earth?"
Satanic Sacrament of Abortion Nixed by Missouri Court
The New York-based Satanic Temple's suit to overturn a Missouri informed consent law requiring that women seeking abortions in the state must first receive information about the procedure and its consequences 72 hours ahead of undergoing the surgery was dismissed by Cole County Circuit Judge Joe Beteem.
The plaintiff, identified only as "Mary Doe," to protect her from the infamy that might attend her public exposure as a Satanist, argued that "the law is an unconstitutional infringement on my right to freely practice my religion. Worship of Satan requires that we periodically offer up human sacrifices. Abortions are the most feasible option for me to meet this religious obligation."
It was Doe's contention that "the sacrament of abortion deserves the same legal protection as the sacrament of communion does in the Catholic Church. If Catholics can eat the body and drink the blood of Jesus with the full cooperation of the law, then we must be allowed to sacrifice the unborn for the glory of our satanic master."
Beteem ruled "Doe's litigation is frivolous. The informed consent law, in itself, does not bar any woman from obtaining an abortion. It merely imposes a 72-hour waiting period and instructs abortion providers to make available some pamphlets. No woman is forced to read the pamphlets. There is no quiz she must pass. She can proceed to her abortion procedure in complete ignorance if she wishes to do so."
Doe has vowed to appeal Beteem's ruling, warning that "forcing women to wait 72 hours before paying homage to Satan is both oppressive and dangerous. Clearly, we are being treated differently on the basis of our religion. How can this not be unconstitutional? Further our good standing with our deity is imperiled. Satan's wrath is a risk we should not be compelled to bear by intrusive and inhumane state meddling in our religious freedom."
Democrat Wants New Restrictions on Viagra
Kentucky State Representative Mary Lou Marzian (D-Louisville) has introduced legislation (HB396) that would impose tighter restrictions on the availability of Viagra. If passed, the law would limit Viagra availability to married men who have their spouse's written permission.
"Right now erectile dysfunction is a woman's first line of defense against rape," Marzian declared. "We should not tear down this barrier willy-nilly by allowing any man who can get a doctor to write him a prescription have this drug. Ideally, we should put something in the water that negates every man's capability to get an erection. This would practically eliminate the crime of rape. By restricting access to drugs that treat erectile dysfunction in such a way that women decide who gets it we turn control over to the half of the population that must bear a disproportional share of the consequences of sexual intercourse."
Marzian cast her bill as "a countermeasure to offset the burdens placed on women by laws restricting access to abortions. If we pass laws that infringe on a woman's right to control her body, why shouldn't we pass laws that similarly infringe on a man's rights?"
The Representative also claimed her bill "will protect men from the bad consequences of their own animal urges. Men with ED are less likely to get sexually transmitted diseases. Men unable to sexually perform will have time for more worthy pursuits like earning more money to buy their wives nicer gifts or to pay higher taxes for more social services. Finally, the scourge of excessive population growth can be abated."