As America prepares for a new President and uncertain times, many across the nation have had a tough time accepting the inevitable. In the coming days, the Obama Presidency will end. Even as folks do their best to sound reasonable and put on a brave face, the coming Inauguration is going to be difficult for a large part of this nation.
But thankfully, a much-needed healing agent is available to soothe us in our grief. If you missed BET’s Extraordinary Salute to President and First Lady Obama at the final White House musical event of his Presidency, it is highly recommended. Top notch performances abound from Jill Scott and Janelle Monae, to Usher, Common and De La Soul, Kierra Sheard, Yolanda Adams and Michelle Williams, this event might leave you crying, but it may also fill the soul with hope for the future. BET pulls all the stops to let our nation’s President an First Lady know that they are loved, and will be missed. As the President said himself, “thank you for coming to MY Block Party”!!
None of us can know what lies ahead, but we can be thankful for what this First Family has accomplished over the last 8 years: always graceful, always thoughtful, and ALWAYS taking the high road despite all of the challenges thrown their way. That is definitely worth a celebration.
To the nation’s Conservative movement, he will always be a legendary figure held in the highest regard. To the nation’s Liberals, he may very well have been the bane of their existence. But no matter one’s opinion of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s notorious views, it’s a safe bet that he always managed to provoke a strong and immediate reaction. This was perhaps the Justice’s greatest strength. If you were on the fence about a particular issue, Scalia knew how to make you choose a side.
At the heart of those controversial views was the rigid principle of Textualism. Here are the Justice’s own words on textualism from a 2012 PBS interview…
I have been very much devoted to textualism and to that branch of textualism that’s called originalism. That is, you not only use the text, but you give the text the meaning it had when it was adopted by the Congress, or by the people, if it’s a constitutional provision.
Although I have written a lot of opinions on the subject and spoken on the subject, and even written on the subject, I have never done hit in the depth that this book does.
The book is in two parts. one is — expresses, you know, my philosophy of judging and Bryan’s philosophy of judging. And the second part is a how-to-do-it part. Assuming you are a textualist, how do you go about doing it?
The process is not novel. I didn’t make it up. It shows that it is historically what American judges did, what English judges did. And it’s the other modes of interpretation that are novel and have to justify themselves.
So that was Justice Scalia’s firm belief, and the cornerstone of his judicial legacy. But that legacy, which Conservatives say that they hold near and dear to their hearts, is currently being dishonored by the Senate Majority. Just today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated that there would “be no hearings” for any Supreme Court nominee that President Obama would put forward.
Washington (CNN) In an unprecedented move, Senate Republicans vowed to deny holding confirmation hearings for President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee — even promising to deny meeting privately with whomever the President picks.
The historic move outraged Democrats and injected Supreme Court politics into the center of an already tense battle for the White House.
“I don’t know how many times we need to keep saying this: The Judiciary Committee has unanimously recommended to me that there be no hearing. I’ve said repeatedly and I’m now confident that my conference agrees that this decision ought to be made by the next president, whoever is elected,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday.
So here’s the problem with the Senate GOP’s attitude. Barack Hussein Obama is still the President of the United States. His term does not end for another 331 days, and a new President will not be sworn in until January 20th, 2017. Given the immense caseload and important decisions that must be made by the court, 1 year is far too much time for the American People to have to wait for another Supreme Court Justice to be confirmed.
Directly from the White House, here’s what the Constitution says about the President’s duties…
[The President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate,shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
Basically, the President is planning to do his job, while the Republican-controlled Senate (in which each Senator gets paid $174,000 /year, in case you forgot) has publicly stated that it has no intention of doing its job.
If you or I decided one day, that we just didn’t want to work for a minimum of 331 days, what are the chances that we would even HAVE a job on January 20th??
Senator McConnell and his Republican friends are completely out of line this time. If you don’t like the President’s nominee, reject them. That is the Senate’s responsibility. If they don’t want to confirm another Supreme Court Justice during President Obama’s remaining time in office, they don’t have to! But what MUST do is hold hearings, give that person an up or down vote, and be ready to explain to the American People WHY they were not confirmed. This should be a no-brainer for these many experienced Senators. And if they can’t find the time to do their jobs, maybe the American People should find someone else that can.
And as for that $174k a piece that we’re shelling out?? Doesn’t seem very “Conservative” to pay people for NOT working. Texas Leftist wonders what Senator McConnell and the rest of the GOP think on that.
Texas Democrats have much to celebrate this week as San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro clears Senate confirmation. And as Texas Leftist discusses, his appoint brings some much needed geographic diversity to the President’s cabinet.
The most important stories in Texas last week were the border refugee crisis and President Obama’s fundraising visits to Dallas and Austin, and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs, assembled several of the various reactions to both.
Neil at All People Have Value posted from Cincinnati, Ohio this past week. Neil offered nice pictures of Cincinnati & wrote about seeing his friends and the passage of time. All People Have Value is part of NeilAquino.com.
And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.
Greg Wythe analyzes City of Houston turnout patterns to get a handle on how the attempt to repeal the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance may play out.
Texas Vox believes that US solar manufacturing could make a comeback.
The Texas Election Law blog reviews the lawsuit filed by college students challenging North Carolina’s voter ID law.
Unfair Park lauds the Texas Clean Fleet Program, which is designed to get old diesel-powered school buses off the streets.
LGBTQ Insider gives a fond farewell to former Fort Worth City Council member Joel Burns.
Texas Watch reports that workers exposed to cancer-causing asbestos have just had their lives made harder by the state Supreme Court.
Scott Braddock documents the resistance Texas business leaders face on immigration reform.
The Super Bowl is undoubtedly the United States’ largest annual sporting event. The football brawl is a day for most Americans to relax with friends, consume massive amounts of calories and yell at the tv. The game and all of the hype leading up to it have become one of the country’s most revered and respected traditions. During Super Bowl week, it’s also sufficient to say that lots of other news stories take a back seat to pre-game postulation.
But one interesting event is starting to become something of a tradition on Super Bowl night is political in nature. For the second time Fox News prime-time host Bill O’Reilly landed a major interview with President Barack Obama. Including an appearance on the O’Reilly Factor with then-candidate Obama, Sunday’s brawl marked the third time the President has interviewed with the cable news mogul. As Washington Post writer Dana Milbank notes, the most interesting take-away from this latest installment was much less about Obama, and more about growing mistrust within the country’s right flank.
This was O’Reilly’s third such session with Obama — and as such it served as a milepost on the conservative movement’s road to Obama hysteria. O’Reilly’s first sitdown with Obama, in 2008, was a lengthy and affectionate encounter. The second meeting, another Super Bowl interview in 2011, had its share of interruptions, but there was lighthearted banter and the questions were more neutral (“What is it about the job that has surprised you the most?”).
But this time, O’Reilly gave only a passing pleasantry at the end (“I think your heart is in the right place”) and otherwise was hostile from the start. He leaned forward in his seat, waving his pen and pointing his finger at the president. He shook his head doubtfully at some of Obama’s answers.
No doubt the Fox News viewers got what they wanted from the session. But there’s a whole other viewership that the President seems to be ignoring out there… the one that is left-of-center. By contrast to O’Reilly, MSNBC’s lead anchor Rachel Maddow has had only one session with candidate Barack Obama, and has NEVER been granted an interview during his Presidency. That’s right folks… arguably the most Progressive voice on television has been locked out of the White House for over 5 years.
One can only speculate the reason for this. Perhaps it has to do with the known fact that Bill O’Reilly’s program is the highest rated in Prime-time cable news. But if that were the case, then why would the President grant interviews to Jake Tapper at CNN, whose program is much lower than Maddow? Ratings has little or nothing to do with the decision. Or perhaps Maddow’s first and only interview was a bit too harsh for Obama to take. But then why would he even deal with O’Reilly??
Regardless of reason, this losing streak for Maddow needs to end. This country is more than just Conservatives and Independents… Progressives are just as American as anyone else, and we deserve to have our issued discussed with the President and American public too. I call upon President Obama to grant Rachel Maddow an interview this year. Whether it turns into a ‘Super Brawl’ or not… this interview is LONG overdue.
Thanks to President Obama’s somewhat surprising decision to consult Congress before any attack is waged on Syria, the United States of America is now in the throes of a vigorous debate. Here is my contribution to that debate.
But first this is from the President’s own remarks on Syria, full text via the Washington Post…
“Let me say this to the American people: I know well that we are weary of war. We’ve ended one war in Iraq. We’re ending another in Afghanistan. And the American people have the good sense to know we cannot resolve the underlying conflict in Syria with our military. In that part of the world, there are ancient sectarian differences, and the hopes of the Arab Spring have unleashed forces of change that are going to take many years to resolve. And that’s why we’re not contemplating putting our troops in the middle of someone else’s war.”
And therein lies the question that Americans have to ask themselves… Is Syria really “someone else’s war”?
It’s a loaded question, but let’s break it down into sections for a moment. Syria is a country that is not in or near the United States. We do not share a physical border of any kind. They are a sovereign nation with their own leaders, and their own issues. Just like the United States in our Civil War, other nations mostly stayed out of our conflict, despite the fact that over 600,000 people died in the American Civil War. It was a tragedy of epic proportions, but other nations chose NOT to intervene. Were this war happening in a nation like Canada or Mexico, it would be another matter entirelyw, because what happens in those nations could quickly spill over into ours. This isn’t the case with Syria, and it never will be.
Which leads to the next issue… Syria’s war does not pose an imminent threat to the United States. The last time we had an attack on our shores was 9/11. There’s been no coordinated effort by Syria to attack us… NONE.
This is not to say that the US doesn’t care about Syria or its people. Everyone is horrified by the murders being committed there, whether by use of chemical weapons or not. But now that other nations are pretty sure that those weapons were used, is it OUR responsibility to do something about it if the US is not under an imminent threat?
So the next issue… If the US isn’t under imminent threat, then who is? Nations like Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey… all US allies, and all staying out of Syria’s war. If anyone has a reason to act against Assad’s use of chemical warfare, it would be these nations. But they’ve chosen to do nothing. In fact, the entire Arab League has been mum on Obama’s plan for a punitive attack. This is a critical difference between now and 2011… When the President chose to use US forces to aid Libyan rebels and eventually overthrow Qaddafi, the Middle East nations of Jordan, Qutar and Turkey were important players in that incident. If the nations most affected by Syria’s actions are not willing to act or ask for help, why should the US bear this burden alone? We cannot and should not fight wars that no one is asking us to.
What the President should do (and what I sincerely hope he is trying to do) is work with Syria’s neighbor nations to make them understand why chemical warfare is unacceptable. If we fire weapons into Syria without any substantial support from other nations, we are inviting ourselves to war. We’re also inviting them to attack us. It’s ironic how the Obama administration phrases their plan for Syria as “targeted and limited”. Given that the 9/11 attack didn’t involve ground troops, and occurred all within the span of a few short hours, one could argue it was very “targeted and limited” as well. Funny how a few hours can change the course of American history. Are we blind and deaf enough to think an attack on Syria would affect them any differently??
Americans need to stop this nonsense of trying to police the world. With all of the issues that we have internally, there is plenty to do in this nation other than meddle in someone else’s war. Sorry Team America… It’s time to retire.
In what has been a week of high emotions in the continuing Civil War in Syria, President Obama spoke from the Rose Garden and answered some critical questions for the American People today.
After definitive evidence was discovered that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons on its own people, the President and his administration have been prepping to strike the nation for punitive measures. Many Americans disagree with the action of intervention in Syria, and would especially disagree if the President made the strike without the involvement of Congress. At the very least, the latter fear was calmed today.
President Obama, speaking from the White House Rose Garden, announced that although the United States Military is ready to attack Syria at any time, he has decided to seek a full vote from Congress before any actions are taken.
“We should have this debate.” The President said. Congress is currently on vacation until September 9th.
From the White House, here are the 23 Executive Orders just signed by President Obama (via TPM)…
1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.
3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.
11. Nominate an ATF director.
12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.
13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.
16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.
17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.
18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.
19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.
22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.
23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.