I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken

Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
-Bertrand Russell

What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell

February 16, 2016 - 11:27 a.m.

Precedents for the Present President

I'm meeting Steve for lunch at 1 PM today. That shouldn't put time pressure on me but it does. Some days I don't even start writing till then. I was going to skip breakfast but just changed my mind. OK I'll eat very fast and come back and write. Don't go anywhere.

OK now I'm back. Now you're in for a treat, an idiot story. I know you always look forward to that. When you do something stupid you can say to yourself, "Damn that was dumb but I know that Gordon probably did something stupider today. You know why? He's an idiot"

Yesterday I heard from Chris that he had my check from our fantasy baseball league. My anxiety kept me from the league party where it was given out. The problem was not the party but opening the email the invitation came in. It's not easy being me. The league treasurer gave the check to Chris as he sees me the most often. But then things being what they are I never got it. I wrote Chris and asked if I meet him in the City and pick it up. I was on my way to therapy in Union Square. I got there and saw that Chris wrote me back. He was going to be in the Village about the time I get out of therapy and we could meet then. Perfect. See how smart I am? I made this great plan. Then I got to therapy and the door was locked. Um, yeah. Last week the therapist told me that we had to reschedule this week as the building was closed for President's Day. It isn't easy not having a brain. I had not made plans where to meet Chris so I walked a bit closer to Village, down to Cosi on 8th street where I could sit an hour and wait for him. They have seats and internet and wouldn't bother me. That's all I needed. Does anyone else think Cosi Fan Tutti whenever they see a Cosi? I waited about an hour amusing myself on the phone till Chris showed up. Then I headed home. Thanks to Chris the trip wasn't a total waste of time.

I made one stop on the way home, at the 99 cent store. I bought a new cooking brush. I accidentally melted my old one. I need it to make Shai-Hulud potatoes. Guess what I made for dinner last night. You got it. But I tried something new. I cut some garlic cloves in half, smashed then sautéed them and inserted them between the potato slices before I put the potatoes back in for the second time after the second application of olive oil. So yes, these were even better. You can google Hasselback Potatoes to see what I'm talking about.

I'm on the radio tonight. I usually prepare for days but I couldn't because of the WFUV pledge drive. So I should have prepared all day yesterday but I didn't because I'm an idiot. At 10 PM I remembered what I had to do. I did what I knew I could do quickly and had planned on doing anyway' a show dedicated to my up and coming "can't miss artists." The acts that I pretty much see every time they play and that aren't playing large venues. They also have to have more than one album. My plan was to play three songs by each artist so I can't play them all. I started with music I've gotten in the last month that I haven't played on the station yet. One of those albums is by Honor Finnegan and she's on my list so I start with her. As one thing led to another this ended up being the all women edition of my favorites. Well OK there are men in Bobtown but the sound is primarily female voices. I will do some more shows like this.

Oh great, I linked to WFUV and didn't even mention the station that I'm on, WFDU. I'm on Brian Norton's show, It's All About the Music from 10 PM to 1 AM. The show is archived and you can listen for two weeks after that. This is who else you can expect to hear; Anaïs Mitchell, Anaïs Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer, Aoife O'Donovan, Bobtown, Harpeth Rising, Honor Finnegan, Jean Rohe, Kristin Andreassen, The Lords of Liechtenstein, and The Sea the Sea.

We are fundraising tonight so I planned on playing fewer songs than usual to give us time to pitch. Oh and yes, you should donate. Who else is going to let me come on the radio and play this great music. Even John Platt hasn't played the Jefferson and Anaïs album. If you are reading this there's a good chance you know one of these artists, there's a good chance you are one of these artists. Of course in that case you have no money.

Now a quick change of subject. Justice Anthony Scalia died and that opened a huge can of worms. By replacing him the president can change the entire balance of the court. Right now there is a conservative majority. Anthony Kennedy the swing vote used to be considered part of the conservative wing. He only became the swing vote when the court moved to the right with the retirement of Sandra Day O'Connor. She was the median justice and was replaced by the far right Alito. If the even further right Scalia is replaced by even a moderate liberal it has a huge effect.

The Republicans know this and don't want Obama to appoint the successor. They will go to great lengths to prevent it and I pretty much figured from the start that the Republican majority in the senate would not approve anyone Obama appoints and run out the clock till we have a new president. I said that on Facebook and many people said they would never do that. They have clearly not been paying attention since the Republicans took control of Congress in 2010. Then the Senate Majority Leader McConnell said that he wouldn't even bring a confirmation of an Obama appointee up for a vote. I did not expect them to be that blatant about it. But since then I've read a lot of nonsense about the legality and traditions of appointments in the last year of a president's term. The truth is there is nothing in the constitution about when the senate must confirm an appointment so it's not unconstitutional for them to refuse to confirm someone. It's bad for the country but that's a political assessment. Democratic senates have denied quite a few Republican appointments; it took Nixon had two nominees rejected before Powell was appointed. Bork and Ginsburg were rejected before Reagan appointed Kennedy. He is far less conservative than the other two. But of course what the Republicans are threatening is to not confirm anyone and saying Obama shouldn't have the power to make an appointment which is absurd. That is nowhere in the constitution or tradition.

But here's the point I really want to get at; this is a very unusual situation and people are making false analogies. I hear people saying, "Look the Democrats confirmed Kennedy in Reagan's last year." That ignores the fact that the opening didn't occur in his last year in office but the year before and the only reason it was filled in his last year was that the two previous nominees were not confirmed. That is a totally different situation. In fact, in the history of the country there have only been four cases of a justice leaving office in a president's last year in office and this is how they fared; it's all over the place.

In March 1888 Justice Waite died and Democrat Cleveland appointed Melville Fuller who was confirmed by the Republican Senate in October, very shortly before the election which was won by the Republican B. Harrison. So the Republicans are wrong when they said that this never happens.

Oliver Wendell Holmes died in January 1932. Herbert Hoover appointed Benjamin Cardozo (my high school was named for him) and he was approved by a Republican Senate in July. That's not a good analogy as the Republicans knew they'd lose the election and Democrats would control both the White House and Congress. This was their last chance to appoint someone and Cardozo was one of the "nine old men" that resisted the New Deal.

Justice Minton died in October 1956 right before the election. The senate was not in session and Eisenhower made the recess appointment of liberal Democrat William Brennan which he thought would help in the election. After the election the Democratic Senate did approve. This has almost nothing in common with the current situation

Justice Daniel died on May 31, 1860 at the time of greatest partisan divide in the country's history. There was a Democratic majority but it wasn't maintained. People were changing allegiances over slavery. Not only was his successor not confirmed Lincoln didn't get someone confirmed till July 1862 more than two years later. So it would not be unheard of for the next president to appoint Scalia's successor.

As for me I think that the senate should have hearings and vet whoever Obama appoints and vote on it. They have every right to not confirm his appointment just as the Democrats rejected Bork and Ginsburg. If the situation was reversed and let's say Bush had to make this appointment in 2008 there's at least a good chance that the Democrats would not confirm whoever he appointed. I'm also pretty sure they wouldn't say they would refuse to consider a candidate before he is named as the Republicans have done. But I'm also pretty sure that many of the people now denouncing the Republicans the loudest would have denounced any Democrat that voted to confirm a traitor and not a progressive and a Dino.

The real crisis is after the election. If as seems likely a Democrat wins and the Republicans till control the senate will they be willing to approve anyone that isn't a conservative. What if they have a minority will they filibuster? Either would be terrible for the country. Democrats have approved conservatives like Alito, Scalia, and Thomas. We'll be in trouble with an eight member divided court if they don't do their duty.

I'll be in trouble if I don't post this and take a shower. I have to get going to meet Steve.

I signed the Pro-Truth Pledge:
please hold me accountable.

Memories: Not that Horrid Song - May 29, 2018
Wise Madness is Now In Session - May 28, 2018
The NFL and the First Amendment - May 27, 2018
On The Road Again - May 26, 2018
Oliver the Three-Eyed Crow - May 25, 2018

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Horvendile February 16, 2016
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