Various and Sundry, 2/16/16
In which I catch up, briefly, on all the things:
* Hey, did you hear that Antonin Scalia died? Well, he did. I heard about just before I did my book signing session at ConDFW (which was lovely, more on that in a second), and roughly every fourth person in the signing line took it on themselves to let me know he’d died! In Texas! While I was in the same state! Isn’t that odd!
(It’s not odd. Texas is a big damn state, and Scalia was 79. These things happen.)
I wasn’t a fan of Scalia’s interpretation of the Constitution most of the time, and oh yes, Scalia interpreted the Constitution as much as any “activist judge” could be accused of; “Originalism” in general is a bunch of happy horseshit, since it pretty much boils down to “I’m going to rule however I want and blame it on James Madison.” Nice try, Scalia (and others), but no. That said, he and I have a few points in common, typically as they related to free speech — See Texas v. Johnson, United States v. Eichman and so on — so I can’t say there haven’t been moments where I didn’t appreciate him being on the bench, even if on balance I saw him being on the wrong side of history rather more often than not.
Now that Scalia’s dead, Mitch McConnell and other Republicans are trying to float the idea that Obama shouldn’t be allowed to name Scalia’s successor because “the people should have their say,” as if a) presidents have not nominated (and the Senate approved) judges in election years numerous times before, b) presidential terms somehow magically end more than eleven months before the new president takes up the gig. Speaking as one of “the people,” and specifically one of the people who voted for Obama in 2012 and will vote in the election of 2016, I know I didn’t and don’t vote for a president to have three quarters of a term; I voted for them to have a whole one.
Also, you know, the Constitution, of which Scalia was reportedly fond of, does not say “The president shall nominate Justices to the Supreme Court, unless it’s, like, less than a year before he’s out of office, or Mitch McConnell doesn’t like him, in which case screw that dude.” In this situation, what would Scalia do? The answer, as noted above, is “whatever he wanted, then he would blame Madison,” but in this specific case, the Constitution is pretty non-ambiguous about what needs to happen.
Bear in mind that if the Senate really is going to try to block Obama from making an appointment, no matter who he nominates, what they are doing is giving him a bludgeon, with which to pummel the entire Republican party, during an election year. I think Obama, who since the 2014 election is definitely in the “no fucks to give” phase of his presidency, will be delighted to pummel the GOP all the merry day long. So, you know. Go ahead, Mitch! You did a bang up job of limiting Obama to a single term. I’m sure this spectacular new plan of yours could in no way fail.
* On the subject of Republicans, a friend wrote me to complain that I had not written on the Saturday GOP debate. My excuse is that I was at a science fiction convention so my brain was busy elsewhere, and also that evening given the choice of watching the GOP debate or not, I went with not and watched Bridge of Spies instead. Hey, my pal Tom is in that movie! And I suspected it was going to be more coherent than anything that could come out of that debate. And wouldn’t you know, having seen the “highlights” of that debate, I was entirely correct!
At this point I can’t even image what it’s like to be a potential GOP voter here in 2016, and knowing that your top three choices for the job of Most Powerful Human Being on the Planet are a racist buffoon, a fumbling empty suit, and The Most Disliked Man in Politics, Ever. I’m not saying the GOP doesn’t deserve this; this is the bed it’s been making for itself since 1994 at least. But the rest of the country doesn’t deserve it. We’re getting it anyway.
(Oh, and the spectacle of Trump threatening to sue Cruz unless he stops being mean and lying all the time? It’s perfect, in the sense of “perfect” which means “Bless both their hearts.”)
* Moving away from politics, I spent last weekend at ConDFW, a very nice convention in Dallas, where I was on a bunch of panels, did a reading, and played the spaceship simulator Artemis, acting as the captain of the USS Scamperbeast. The game had a 20-minute time limit, and before we started I was asked if I wanted the game to go longer. I said “no, 20 minutes is perfect.” And then we played the game, and literally as the USS Scamperbeast was out of weapons, energy and shields, and two enemy spaceships were literally seconds away from blowing us out of the sky — our 20 minutes were up. That counts as a win, people. Also I’ve learned that I am a competent starship captain for exactly 20 minutes. After that: doooooooooom. But until then, I’m your man.
* Traveling to a convention and back again meant I was scarce here the last several days. Well, guess what? I’m soon to get on a boat, and will not be going online at all unless absolutely necessary, for about a week. So enjoy me while you have me, people!