The Rump Court

What does Antonin Scalia’s death mean for the action of the Court? In the broadest terms, there are four scenarios; three of which are unaffected, at least in purely numerical terms:

The Supreme Court reviews lower-court decisions. Let us call decisions that would be upheld by conservative justices (Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and, generally speaking, Roberts) ‘R’ decisions, and those that would be upheld by liberal justices (Breyer, Kagan, Sotomayor, Ginsburg) ‘L’ decisions. The swing vote is, as always, Anthony Kennedy (who in recent years has been, de facto, his own branch of government).

— For an ‘R’ lower-court decision in which Kennedy joins the liberal bloc, the ruling will be reversed. This outcome is unchanged by Justice Scalia’s death; the ruling will simply be reversed now by a larger margin.

— For an ‘L’ decision where Kennedy joins the liberal justices, the lower-court decision will stand. This is also unchanged by Mr. Scalia’s death.

— For an ‘R’ decision where Kennedy joins the conservative justices, a ruling that would have been upheld will be left unchanged, because lower-court rulings cannot be overturned by an evenly divided Court. Again, this outcome is the same as it would have been were Justice Scalia still alive.

— For an ‘L’ decision where Kennedy joins the conservatives, however, a ruling that would have been reversed will be allowed to stand. I am not sure, offhand, how many pending cases this is likely to apply to, but it’s going to be painful to watch it happen.

None of this takes into account, of course, Justice Scalia’s ability to persuade his fellow justices, in particular Mr. Kennedy.


  1. Kudzu Bob says

    I don’t follow these things very closely, but my vague impression is that Scalia wrote learned and witty dissenting opinions that did nothing to halt America’s leftward drift.

    Posted February 14, 2016 at 12:16 am | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Bob, you’re certainly right that Justice Scalia wrote learned and witty opinions – and of course he was often in the majority, too. But he was only one of nine.

    That said, he was a tremendously influential justice, and did a lot to rehabilitate originalism. What more can one man do?

    Posted February 14, 2016 at 12:32 am | Permalink
  3. JK says

    Posted February 14, 2016 at 12:47 am | Permalink
  4. JK says


    Posted February 14, 2016 at 12:53 am | Permalink
  5. Truly depressing news and you will have to rely on the GOP Senate to hold any new appointment off until next year . . .

    Oh bugger, that’s even worse news!

    Posted February 14, 2016 at 8:47 am | Permalink
  6. Whitewall says

    Obama knows the lay of the land and will use this event to stir up more racial strife. I anticipate a black candidate whose name will be DOA in the Senate. Thus the Rs are racist, and Hillary can run her campaign, if she manages to survive the FBI, on all race all the time. Bernie will bobble along with the meme.

    The Rs need to quit the showboating and slop slinging and pick a grown man who can see it straight and call it straight. This just may be the needed war to head off an all out war within the next decade.

    Posted February 14, 2016 at 9:00 am | Permalink
  7. Whitewall says

    JK, no bets. Part and parcel of the ongoing “Fergusson Effect” meme.

    Posted February 14, 2016 at 9:19 am | Permalink
  8. the one eyed man says

    The Constitution obligates the Senate to confirm or reject nominees to the Supreme Court. It would shock nobody if McConnell shirked his constitutional obligation, as his professed reverence for the constitution will go by the wayside when maintaining the Court’s conservative majority is at stake. However should he choose to abnegate his constitutional responsibility – for no reason besides the fact that his party does not hold the White House – there will be profound consequences.

    The judicial activists on the Court will be precluded from taking the unprecedented step of blocking an executive action after a lower court declined to do so. As a result, the Clean Power Plan will go forward. Conservative hopes to achieve desired rulings regarding immigration and abortion are similarly doomed. Oops!

    Keeping the seat vacant would be the best thing Hillary Clinton could wish for. Her advantage over Colonel Sanders is her electability over a weak Republican nominee. The possibility of a continuation of the most right wing Court since at least FDR will cause many of the Sandernistas to think twice before voting for someone whose probability of winning is far less than Hillary’s.

    Mitch McConnell is most often compared to a turtle. Given his predicament, I think the more apt comparison – for him and his retrograde caucus – is a koala.

    Posted February 14, 2016 at 10:52 am | Permalink
  9. Whitewall says

    OEM, consequences will be the result of Senators Leahy and Reid changing the rules at the request of Obama to ram through certain judges he wanted. Senator Graham told both Dem Senators that there would be consequences for that power grab. This will be it. The election will happen and Hillary may or may not survive the FBI investigation. One step at a time. Your desired felon may not be your nominee. The future will unfold as it will, but no nominee that Obama offers will survive before the election or the seating of a new Senate.

    Posted February 14, 2016 at 11:05 am | Permalink
  10. JK says

    The Constitution obligates the Senate to confirm or reject nominees to the Supreme Court.

    Yes OE the Constitution certainly does so obligate. And – sit down OE – my Congressional delegation has been advised (by one admittedly) to go ahead with the process and to judge any nominee on the merits.

    (Though I expect OE, my opinion of “the merits” are decidedly opposed to yours. Unsurprisingly.)

    Posted February 14, 2016 at 1:25 pm | Permalink
  11. Malcolm says

    Peter, it is darkly amusing to see a statist myrmidon and canine Obama fanboy such as yourself suddenly reach for his pocket Constitution and start mouthing pieties about “constitutional responsibility”. It reminds me of the teen who, having taken an axe to his parents, begged the Court for mercy on the grounds that he was now an orphan.

    The Senate has no obligation to confirm anyone it doesn’t want to. This nation, riven to its very foundations, is now in a state of ideological war; it is an existential conflict that may very well escalate, before long, beyond mere politics.

    Gloat all you like about how the death of Justice Scalia facilitates your president’s despicable autocratic ambitions, but if you wish to influence the action of the Senate, don’t waste your breath here. I suggest instead that you hop on a plane to Vegas and go fellate your hero Harry Reid.

    Posted February 14, 2016 at 1:33 pm | Permalink
  12. pangur says

    Let’s be honest: any time “the Constitution” hangs in the balance of a 5-4 vote, it’s untenable and symptomatic of structural problems. As law and politics are downstream from culture, changes that need to be made won’t happen at the national level and won’t be rubber-stamped by the Supreme Court.

    Posted February 14, 2016 at 2:10 pm | Permalink
  13. pangur says

    “This nation, riven to its very foundations, is now in a state of ideological war; it is an existential conflict that may very well escalate, before long, beyond mere politics.”

    Yes, your house clown doesn’t seem to realize that Realignment 2016 is happening. The establishment left is as clueless about what’s going on as the GOPe is, and that the phenomenon of Trump isn’t about the man himself, but a sizeable faction.

    Posted February 14, 2016 at 2:40 pm | Permalink
  14. Malcolm says

    That’s right, pangur. The traditional architecture of the nation — a small central government, with explicitly enumerated powers, binding a federation of sovereign states; a finite system of clear and comprehensible Federal laws enacted by elected representatives; a robust system of checks and balances to stifle the ambitions of powerful factions in the several branches — all of this has been consumed by the cancerous growth of the Washington leviathan. State sovereignty exists now only at the pleasure of the Federal government, and the law-making power has, in explicit violation of bedrock Constitutional principles, been delegated again and again to a vast, unelected and entirely unaccountable bureaucracy that has become in effect a dominant branch of its own.

    The legislative branch has never been weaker: when it doesn’t do what the President wants, he just pulls out his “pen and phone”. The only recourse is the Court, which has become a proxy battlefield between two wholly incompatible visions of the American nation, and between two bitterly antagonistic factions who look at the Constitution and see entirely different documents. The result is that social and legal issues of historical and even existential importance come down to the balance of allegiance of a mere nine people appointed to the Court. Winning such an appointment is now a tactical victory no less important, in this cold Civil War, than any clash of arms in which nations have ever fought for their survival.

    This is going to become vividly apparent in the coming months. The tectonic plates have been locked and straining for a long time now; this shock will, I think, release tremendous energies. Don’t be surprised if the animals start looking fidgety.

    Posted February 14, 2016 at 2:58 pm | Permalink
  15. Malcolm says

    Also: don’t be surprised to see yet another surge in purchases of arms and ammunition.

    Posted February 14, 2016 at 3:05 pm | Permalink
  16. …; and he [President] 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, …

    — U. S. Constitution (Article. II., Section. 2.)

    The Constitution does not obligate the Senate to “reject” (as an alternative to “consent”) nominees to the Supreme Court. The only alternative to “consent” is to “withhold consent”. The word “reject” does not appear in the text of that section of the Constitution.

    As intelligent people know, the withholding of consent can be accomplished in the Senate by means of a filibuster — a technique used on both sides of the aisle.

    As is his wont, the OEM sneakily prevaricates in the course of his obnoxious propagandizing and posturing. I applaud Malcolm for putting him in his place, albeit I would have used a slightly coarser expression than “fellate”.

    Posted February 14, 2016 at 3:06 pm | Permalink
  17. JK says

    [D]on’t be surprised to see yet another surge in purchases of arms and ammunition.

    Situation is expectedly murky currently; stay tuned.

    County info;

    History tidbit;

    Posted February 14, 2016 at 3:13 pm | Permalink
  18. The one eyed man says

    Grow up, Malcolm. Let me know when you reach the maturity level to have a civil conversation.

    You are wrong on the facts, wrong on the law, and grossly ignorant of the Constitution and the responsibilities of the Senate. There is no exception in Article II Section Two for the last year of a Democratic administration, and the Senate does not have the luxury of enfeebling the Supreme Court for the next two sessions because Republicans want to gamble that they will gain the White House and retain the Senate. However if the only response you are capable of is that I should go blow Harry Reid: I’m not going to waste my time on puerile ad hominem which would embarrass a sixteen year old. An immature sixteen year old, at that.

    Posted February 14, 2016 at 8:02 pm | Permalink
  19. …, and grossly ignorant of the Constitution …

    What a preposterous assertion! No one who can read with comprehension can be grossly ignorant of the Constitution, with the exception of the so-called scholar of Constitutional law, AKA the 0bama.

    Posted February 14, 2016 at 8:31 pm | Permalink
  20. pangur says

    “However if the only response you are capable of is that I should go blow Harry Reid: I’m not going to waste my time on puerile ad hominem which would embarrass a sixteen year old.”

    Indeed, when you have better things to do (such as blowing Harry Reid), you should assuredly not waste your undoubtedly valuable time here.

    Posted February 14, 2016 at 9:09 pm | Permalink
  21. The OEM says:


    Posted February 14, 2016 at 9:54 pm | Permalink
  22. Malcolm says

    Peter, you roused me to uncharacteristically intemperate language with your japery and braggadocio on this tragic occasion. Need you have gloated, in that moment, about the fact that a great man’s death might facilitate the further expansion of your team’s usurpatious schemes, and taunted us with insults? Is it your idea of “civility”, and “maturity”, to visit someone as they are mourning a death, and once inside the door, to bray and jeer at them?

    And as for your vaunted Constitutional scholarship: have I been wrong all these years? Are you, in fact, an imbecile? Can you not read? The Constitution places no obligation whatsoever upon the Senate to consent to any particular judicial appointment, and I should think that anyone who would speak so condescendingly to others on this topic would know, at the very least, that the requirement of the consent of the Senate was explicitly intended by the Framers to act as a brake upon the ambitions of arrogant Executives. (Executives, that is, of exactly the sort that now occupies the White House.) In a time of national comity and unity, the opposition in the Senate might be expected graciously to accede, despite philosophical differences. But this is not such a time, and your pugnacious president has made it very clear that the gloves are off, and that he will do whatever it takes to force his destructive agenda upon a nation he was raised to despise. So he, and the statist tools he surely wishes to appoint, can go to hell.

    As can you. I am sick of arguing with you in these pages. Go away.

    Posted February 14, 2016 at 10:28 pm | Permalink
  23. peter connor says

    Democrats have routinely refused to consider nominations in election years, and indeed passed a Senate Resolution to such effect in 1960……so all this stuff about Constitutional duty to vote is just hooey.

    Posted February 14, 2016 at 11:01 pm | Permalink
  24. Doug says

    That there is a political crisis because Scalia is dead is indicative of how totally screwed up this Republic is. That one man’s passing has such an existential effect on the future of freedom and liberty goes against the entire idea of continuity of liberty and the rule of law, not to mention the idea of republican form of government and will of the governed.
    Everything is upside down. There is no more constitutional government. It is just force and influence and rule of men, a whole hell of a lot of people with their snouts in the public pig trough, and not just a few who are wondering when they are going to have to shoot back so they don’t end up dead by armed badged leg breakers in the snow like LaVoy Finnicum.

    Posted February 15, 2016 at 8:25 am | Permalink
  25. Doug says

    But to give a great and worthy man his due and gratitude, the fact there is such a turmoil over Mr. Scalia’s passing, says everything about the man’s character and virtue, not least of which was his indomitable will and belief in the rule of law and it’s great ideals.
    God bless him please.

    Posted February 15, 2016 at 8:30 am | Permalink
  26. Whitewall says

    It seems the modern era of Supreme Court as law maker got its start during the spectacle of Roe v. Wade. Robert Bork’s failed confirmation and the public media campaign against him was an introduction to the masses as to how liberals had come to regard the Court and each judge. Liberals out did themselves in vulgarity with the “high tech lynching” of Clarence Thomas.

    We have to face it, liberalism/progressivism is the never ending attempt to compromise every institution to advance its vulgar agenda. An honorable man can die and not even be examined by the coroner before a liberal will go on offense over a momentary advantage. For any ‘moderate’ conservative/Republican, this is yet another lesson in what the political opposition is made of and why. Deal with them accordingly. Trust but verify worked against the Soviets. With these ‘Democrats’, verify first. Never trust.

    Posted February 15, 2016 at 8:59 am | Permalink
  27. Napoleon said, “A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.” Indeed, there has been a long, and, in my opinion, misguided, tradition of fighting for honor.

    But honor, as well as good sense, can only be lost. What you must fight for is liberty.

    Posted February 15, 2016 at 12:08 pm | Permalink
  28. JK says

    However if the only response you are capable of is that I should go blow Harry Reid: I’m not going to waste my time on puerile ad hominem which would embarrass a sixteen year old.

    Well OE; if your “fellow Democrats” decide to get on board with what’s being proposed in Kentucky, you’ll in the future be barred by law (unless I suppose you marry Harry).

    Posted February 15, 2016 at 12:12 pm | Permalink
  29. Whitewall says

    “What you must fight for is liberty”. Henry, it will be even better to fight for liberty when the least attentive begin to understand just who and what is the threat to their liberty. Our opposition has no honor save that which too many on our side mistakenly assign them.

    Posted February 15, 2016 at 12:29 pm | Permalink
  30. Whitewall says

    These sound just like ours…

    Posted February 15, 2016 at 5:00 pm | Permalink
  31. Thanks for your link, Robert. The author of the article must be a mind reader! I have surely had such very same thoughts, some of which I have even shared in these pages:

    How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Loathe the Left

    I sincerely believe that Leftism — whether you call it progressivism, communism, liberalism or radicalism — is responsible, either directly or indirectly for all the trouble in the world today. There are those who would argue that this accusation should be aimed at the disciples of Islam rather than those of the Left and I can understand why, but without its leftist enablers, the threat of Islam would have been extinguished long ago.

    Leftism is an insidious, cancerous mind-warp that seeks to subvert the body politic into its own image while destabilizing and deconstructing any belief system seen as a threat. Lies and disinformation are its stock in trade, as are intimidation and threats of violence. Leftism has not only invaded the political sphere, in many cases it has also inflicted itself upon the workplace, where it strives for control and the power to manipulate the workforce.


    Anybody who has been involved in any sort of a discussion with these people has found it to be a frustrating experience. For a start it is very easy to be forced onto the back foot in such exchanges, since leftists mainly argue on the basis of a formula rather than any empirical structure. And they will never tell you what they believe in, only what they are opposed to, which, as far as I can make out, is everything the rest of us stand for. Their weapon is total nihilism, and they utilize it to discover your core beliefs and use them against you. From the outset, aggressive arguments and supporting statistics ooze out of them at a bewildering speed and with disturbing ease, but in spite of appearances, these people are neither intelligent nor informed, just incredibly well-rehearsed. [Does the OEM come to mind? TBH]


    It has been written that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I am not sure whether or not this statement is true, but I am convinced that if there is a road to a socialist utopia, then it is paved not only with malign intent but also with malice aforethought.

    Posted February 15, 2016 at 6:48 pm | Permalink
  32. Whitewall says

    Henry, it is amazing how no matter the location, the Left is predictable. It may be genetic?

    Posted February 15, 2016 at 8:49 pm | Permalink
  33. From the outset, aggressive arguments and supporting statistics ooze out of them at a bewildering speed and with disturbing ease, but in spite of appearances, these people are neither intelligent nor informed, just incredibly well-rehearsed.

    That, Robert, describes precisely the OEM. From the very beginning (I am not exactly sure how many years it has been) I had him pegged as a poseur.

    Another characteristic trait of his is the long-running rants, often longer than Malcolm’s posts that they purported to refute. It made it that much more overwhelming to do any fact checking of his numerous assertions. Nevertheless, I did on occasion force myself to do some fact checking to confirm that he was, in fact, full of shiite.

    Posted February 15, 2016 at 9:55 pm | Permalink
  34. Musey says

    So, here is where I annoy everybody. The OEM is in the sin-bin because he can carry tongue in cheek too far and he does that all the time. But of late his tone has become more serious.

    I know how you all feel. You have deeply held beliefs and, I do think that there is a bit of a worldwide movement to shut you up. I’m speaking from an Australian perspective, in that I see thinking people who have”old fashioned” views mocked and then shut down.

    If you really want to put yourself in the firing line, be like me. Middle of the road. You wouldn’t believe how much crap comes in your direction when you see both sides, even “through a glass darkly”.

    Henry, you really have it in for the OEM. Why? He is the most erudite, cleverest voice putting forward another point of view. You don’t agree? That’s fine but stay civil.

    I left a little comment a while back which probably didn’t make much sense. For me, it was a drawing back, because I wrote a load of stuff and then deleted it. People are not reasonable, don’t argue. So I didn’t lose the comment, I just decided that I didn’t want the strife.

    And just to stay in Whitewall’s good books..I’m off to yoga tomorrow. It’s only to be sociable because a neighbour has bullied me into it!

    So, on that note I’m gone.

    Posted February 17, 2016 at 2:40 am | Permalink
  35. Henry, you really have it in for the OEM. Why?

    Why? I thought I made it perfectly clear why in the comments above. Oh, but I keep forgetting, you don’t actually read with comprehension. So I repeat —

    From the outset, aggressive arguments and supporting statistics ooze out of the OEM at a bewildering speed and with disturbing ease, but in spite of appearances, the OEM is neither intelligent nor informed, just incredibly well-rehearsed.

    In other words, he is a poseur who is well practiced in the obnoxious rantings of his cohort’s party line.

    Also, I don’t like the way he combs his hair.

    Posted February 17, 2016 at 3:22 am | Permalink
  36. Musey says

    You see Henry, you play right into my hands. I read with comprehension. You can repeat endlessly . It doesn’t matter.

    You are probably the least comprehending person who regularly opines here. I really don’t like you and yes…I know.

    Physics professors with autistic tendencies
    and zero social skills are pretty obvious. You’re cleverer than me Henry, by a factor of X, but actually you are clueless.

    As Malcolm would say, go away. I do like to observe the dress code;

    Posted February 17, 2016 at 3:52 am | Permalink
  37. I really don’t like you …

    I am shocked! Shocked, I tell you.

    It is not very civil of you to tell me to go away. After all, I preceded you at this salon by several years. Also, I even gave you your nom de clavier. I guess we’ll file this under “No good deed goes unpunished”.


    Posted February 17, 2016 at 4:17 am | Permalink
  38. Musey says

    Henry! Such restraint. You are to be commended.

    I have previously acknowledged that you christened me, but I’m considering a name change. It was pithier than my moniker, but heck, I have standards!

    Posted February 17, 2016 at 4:55 am | Permalink
  39. Whitewall says

    Musey! Good morning Dear Lady. Now that you are doing yoga, how do you feel? Sore or worse? I enjoy it as well as any novice in his mid 60s can.

    If you feel you must change your name, maybe you can ‘Latinize’ it? Think Stradivari-us.

    Posted February 17, 2016 at 7:56 am | Permalink
  40. Your standards remind me of the girls in junior high school (60 years ago) — nothing but drama 24/7.

    Posted February 17, 2016 at 10:11 am | Permalink
  41. BTW, Robert, if I remember my high-school Latin correctly, the “-us” suffix is used for the male gender, as in “alumnus” (rather than “alumna”, which refers to a female graduate).

    Perhaps there’s a hidden message in your “Stradivarius” suggestion?

    Posted February 17, 2016 at 1:20 pm | Permalink
  42. Malcolm says


    “He is the most erudite, cleverest voice putting forward another point of view.”

    Erudite? Hardly. He is an old and dear friend, but when it comes to politics, it pains me to say, he is nothing more than a reflexive, partisan shill, a handy skimmer of the Internet, and to the extent that he does not simply repeat Democratic talking points, a marginally facile sophist. When he does what he just did, though — drop in on a thread about the death of a great man, for whom I was grieving, to taunt and jeer, to thumb his nose at traditionally minded Americans — and then, of all things, haughtily to lecture me with claims about imaginary Constitutional strictures that were not only false, but plainly, obviously, and demonstrably false, then I reach my limit.

    He said to me that I was “wrong on the facts, wrong on the law, and grossly ignorant of the Constitution and the responsibilities of the Senate.” I am not. He is, as anyone who can read written English can easily ascertain.

    That he takes you in with his baloney is, I have to say, disappointing.

    Posted February 17, 2016 at 1:39 pm | Permalink
  43. Whitewall says

    Henry, no, no hidden meaning. Just a suggestion. I took 2 years of Latin and loved the first year. The teacher was young and pretty. Second year…the teacher taught after her votes in the Roman Senate.

    Posted February 17, 2016 at 1:51 pm | Permalink
  44. pangur says

    “If you really want to put yourself in the firing line, be like me. Middle of the road. You wouldn’t believe how much crap comes in your direction when you see both sides, even ‘through a glass darkly’.”

    If you are unable to ascertain that this is no time for moderate positions, you’re probably not as perceptive as you think. Moderation is for when people aren’t trying to destroy you and people like you.

    “He is the most erudite, cleverest voice putting forward another point of view. You don’t agree? That’s fine but stay civil.”

    Tone policing is for libs and cucks.

    As for OEM, he’s not clever, he’s a shill for the worst excesses of the left’s worst tendencies. He’s not smart, and as Malcolm noted, his representation of the law in question was either stupidly wrong or in bad faith, take your pick.

    Posted February 17, 2016 at 4:56 pm | Permalink
  45. Malcolm says

    He’s not smart…

    Actually, the vexing thing is that the man actually is very smart. I’ve known him for almost 50 years. Makes it all the more painful.

    Moderation is for when people aren’t trying to destroy you and people like you.

    With this, I agree wholeheartedly. Things are rushing ahead very quickly now, and the stakes are existential.

    That doesn’t mean that we can’t speak civilly, at least in here (although I admit my comment above was rather a lapse in that department). The real question, though, is not what we are going to say, but what on earth we are going to do.

    Posted February 17, 2016 at 5:36 pm | Permalink
  46. …, but what on earth we are going to do.

    For an ordinary voting citizen like me, there is only one thing to do — vote against HRC no matter what the election and no matter who her opponent is (yes, even if the opponent is a yellow dog of either gender). Otherwise, if she is elected President, it will be 0bama III. And that might just be the tipping point, heaven forbid.

    Posted February 17, 2016 at 6:17 pm | Permalink
  47. It goes without saying that if HRC is not the Democrat nominee, then you vote against the socialist clown. But you do vote for the clown if you are eligible to vote in a Democrat primary. Because HRC is, without a doubt, the greater evil.

    Posted February 17, 2016 at 7:44 pm | Permalink
  48. Musey says

    Whitewall, I had my first yoga class this morning. It’s not really my thing and I was definitely not up to standard amongst all the bendy people. Also had a little trouble staying serious when the man was droning on telling us all to…”relaaaaaaaaaax”. I’ll have to go again next week because my lovely neighbour enjoyed herself immensely and is very enthusiastic.

    Pangur, I’m not American and so it is from this blog that I get the sense that you feel threatened. Unsurprisingly, the main stream media doesn’t take the same view. In so far as what happens to your country affects what happens elsewhere in the world I take an interest. The USA is still, and will be for a long time yet, the most powerful country in the world. When I see the likes of Donald Trump hurling insults in a “debate” it worries me. I’m no fan of Hillary but I’d rather her than him because she may be unlikeable but she’s sane.(You will argue, I know) I mean, Henry and I can fling mud at each other and it is of no consequence but we should expect much better from one who aspires to be the most powerful man in the world. Of course, I keep hearing that the guy will not go the distance but he was never supposed to get this far.

    A moderate position can be seen as weakness or a lack of commitment, wishy washy yes men are moderates hey? But if you’ve ever seen a dispute being resolved in a peaceful way it’s the moderates who can bring the two sides together.

    We can see here, on a small scale, how hardliners lock horns and will never agree or budge an inch from their firmly held views.

    I see here how factionalism stops good government whereby any proposal from one side is automatically opposed by the other as a point of principle. It creates a stalemate which lets problems escalate because no one will take the tough decisions. At some point, someone is going to have to show some courage but for now we just kick the can down the road.

    Fortunately we can kick out our Prime Ministers and we frequently do. You’re stuck with your president for four(?) years at least. That’s a lot of time for madcap Donald to have his finger on the nuclear button.

    I studied Latin, as well. For five years. It’s very useful for that party trick where you seem to have an encyclopedic knowledge regarding the meaning of obscure words. Oh, and as for the suggestion that Whitewall was using the “us” suffix in some derogatory way, nah..he’s way too nice. Anyway, you can’t have it both ways…ascribing some male characteristics to me and then, in the next line comparing me to a high school girl isn’t very consistent. Tell me, were you popular with the girls in junior high? Hmmm, you don’t have to answer that question because I already know the truth.

    Completely off topic but I have a question for Pangur. Was it you who described yourself as the finest that the eastern seaboard could produce? Or words to that effect. If it was, good man you!

    Posted February 17, 2016 at 9:14 pm | Permalink
  49. When I was in junior high, valium had not yet been invented. So no, none of the guys was very interested in becoming “popular” with the scrawny little lunatics who were at each other’s throats most of the time. Besides, the few so-called “nice” girls weren’t ready to dispense blowjobs yet, so it just wasn’t in the cards for us until high school. But I’m sure you know what it must have been like since you are still at that stage of immaturity.

    You really need to get some more prescriptions from your doctor. In junior high, when one of the drama twats twits was totally out of control we’d tell her to take an aerial intercourse on a perambulating piece of perforated pastry. You can consider having been told.

    Posted February 17, 2016 at 11:40 pm | Permalink
  50. Musey says

    Henry, I am cut to the quick.

    I do get the impression that you don’t like women very much, however mature. Even “scrawny little lunatics” have a degree of discernment which would steer them clear of someone like you. Do you know what’s really funny? It’s you describing young girls “being at each others throats”. You are the most bad tempered, hostile, unnecessarily defensive, stupid man. Consider that you old birdbrain!

    Posted February 18, 2016 at 1:40 am | Permalink
  51. I gotta hand it to you, Musey. That is about as hateful an outburst as I have ever had hurled in my direction. If you are still pondering a name change, I suggest you take Adolf. It fits.

    Posted February 18, 2016 at 2:26 am | Permalink
  52. Essential Eugenia says

    The Ladies and I tender our apologies and ask for your gentlemanly indulgence – this means yours too, TheBigHenry, so just sit still and say no words for a spell, would you please, sir? The Ladies have heard quite enough, thank you.

    As I was saying, Gentleman, the Ladies and I of the Ladies’ Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society, busy as always rolling bandages for those wounded in the culture wars, are well aware we have of late dreadfully neglected our duty to the good Gentlemen of Man Chat.

    Please, be at your ease, Gentlemen, the Ladies are come.

    For those in mourning, you will find black broadcloth armbands to denote your state. For those in need of a stiff drink, we hope The Glenlevit suits. For those desiring to talk politics, please make your selection from our tempting array of Cuban cigars, and light up, Gentlemen, the better to enjoy your smoke filled back room pleasures.

    Be comfortable. And please be assured the Ladies shall return once we snap our garters and straighten our seams. Gentleman . . .

    Ah Musey, my dear, yours is a voice of measured womanly reason in a pack of shrill and overly emotional men, so thank you!

    Malcolm, you are grieving and your grief is clouding your judgment. Please look back at the posts, dear host, and I am confident you will see that the OEM was not taunting you or jeering at your grief, or in any way jabbing at society regarding the passing of Justice Scalia.

    It is you, Malcolm, our host, who is taunting, jeering, and jabbing; and that is no way to treat a guest, a friend, or the man who introduced you to your wife, the lovely Nina.

    Consider cooling your jets, Mr Pollack, sir, before you embarrass yourself further.

    Or farther. Either is correct, isn’t that right, JK?

    I thank you, JK, most heartily for the tribute a while back. You rascally rascal, you, you made me blush like a rose!

    And Whitewall, such a gentleman, so fierce and so kind, a pleasure, as always.

    No, no, no, no, Henry, TheBigHenry, no words now, please. We have heard more than enough from you, thank you very much.

    Crude lacks charm, Henry.

    If you would take a lesson in charm, Henry, please do notice how one grumpy old Jew from Brooklyn is seriously bringing the sexy, and consider making a correction.

    To all of you in Man Chat: Would you rein in the war talk, please? Such talk is dangerous and irresponsible. Whether you reference That Unpleasantness between the States or The War of Northern Aggression or the Civil War, let us not go there again, ever.

    Let us reason together, shall we?

    And let us begin by attempting to broker the peace between Malcolm and the OEM.

    Or has the war started already?

    Posted February 18, 2016 at 3:02 am | Permalink
  53. pangur says

    “Was it you who described yourself as the finest that the eastern seaboard could produce?”


    Posted February 18, 2016 at 3:10 am | Permalink
  54. Musey says

    Pangur, apologies. It was someone else then, fairly recently, and I have to say that it gave me a good laugh at the time.

    Henry, would you please read what you wrote, aimed squarely at me, before accusing me of hate speak? I react to your intemperance not the other way around. May I suggest to you that you are the most perfect example of one who can dish it out but can’t take it.

    Essential Eugenia, you are so lovely! Thank you for your sisterly support. It is much appreciated.

    Posted February 18, 2016 at 4:35 am | Permalink
  55. Malcolm says

    Begging your pardon, Eugenia, but if you read the posts, you will see that the OEM leapt in to provide a pre-emptive, disingenuous jab at the Republican Senate, including haughty finger-wagging about purely imaginary Constitutional obligations, and to gloat about how the strategy he expected them so stupidly to follow would blow up in their faces. (Oops!)

    That not being enough, he posted a condescending video mocking, again, Republican leadership. (This is not to say that Mitch McConnell does not deserve the scorn of conservatives — Lord knows he does — but for an Obama foot-soldier to do such concern-trolling here, in that moment, was grossly provocative.)

    You have read this blog long enough to know that I am nothing if not patient and civil, even when deliberately provoked. My angry comment about how Peter might influence the Senate was uncharacteristically vulgar, and I wish that I had not printed it.

    That said, the OEM then seized upon my lapse of temperance to lecture me, in the haughtiest terms, about being “wrong on the facts, wrong on the law, and grossly ignorant of the Constitution and the responsibilities of the Senate.” I am, however, none of those things; it is he, as is so often the case, who understands the institutions of this nation not as they are, or how they were intended to be by them great men who created them, but only as he wishes they were. It is one thing to be corrected when one is in error; it is quite another to be harangued in one’s own salon by someone who is so besotted with partisan zeal as to be utterly unconcerned with the truth, and in fact to present as holy Truth that which is obviously false.

    I repeat: the Senate has no constitutional obligation to confirm any appointment. Originally, at the Constitutional convention, the idea was merely to give the Senate a veto, but after some discussion it seemed a surer brake on factional overreach, and a better check on Presidential power, to give it the power to snuff a nominee ab ovo, merely by withholding consent. Anyone who is not himself “grossly ignorant of the Constitution”, or who is in fact a thoughtful student of history — you know, the kind of person who, in his spare time, actually reads books about the Framing, and makes genuine efforts to educate himself about the historical and intellectual underpinnings of the Constitution, rather than batting around golf-balls in the balmy California sunshine, and pausing only briefly to skim Vox and Salon before unbosoming himself of snotty and ignorant opinions on other people’s blogs — would know all of this. In happy times, some deference is given for qualified, but partisan, appointments. These, however, are not such times, and the Democrats have set no precedent for anything but a naked struggle for power.

    So yes, my temper was strained a bit. Peter, I apologize for my crude suggestion about Mr. Reid, which was beneath my standards. I am always willing to bury the hatchet for the sake of an old friendship, but I would ask, at least, for a reciprocal apology.

    As for the “war talk”, we are indeed nearing a great storm in America — and the clouds are even darker in Europe. I understand that such things are upsetting to you ladies; sadly, it falls upon us menfolk to be vigilant. Rest assured that when the crisis comes, we will shelter and defend your safety, and your honor, with our very lives. But until then, we hate to trouble you so; perhaps you should focus on your needlepoint, and your fascinating tales of romance, and leave these darker realities to us.

    Posted February 18, 2016 at 10:45 am | Permalink
  56. Essential Eugenia says

    Of course, my dear!

    The Ladies and I are just sorry we couldn’t make it to the party sooner, Musey, but needs must. What with bringing a dollop or two of heavy whipped cream to the cattlemen previously occupying a bird sactuary in Oregon – the Ladies and I couldn’t fathom how cattlemen could put out a call for Carnation French Vanilla Creamer when surely they must have had a milch cow somewhere to hand – but no!

    If patriotism is, as the Chinese assert, the love of food one ate as a child, then perhaps we are to conclude that Tarp Man, that self proclaimed real American, that cowboy, took a bullet in defense of non-dairy creamer.

    Clearly, Musey, America is in a muddle.

    Consider: Why just the other day, the Ladies and I were attending a meeting of our local chapter of the DAR, Daughters of the American Revolution. It was strictly a pearls and gloves, hats and veils affair – such a polished veneer of venerable respectability, such a dowdy glamour tossed over those of us who are, by our own declaration, daughters of sedition, daughters of true revolutionaries, daughters of those who were traitors to their King. And not just during the American Revolution either, but during the English Civil War too, and, as far as that goes, even further back beyond even Runymede, where our forefathers forced the hand of bad King John.

    Some of us have had skin in this game a very long time. In contrast, Musey, Malcolm is a Johnny Come Lately, and, like many converts, particularly observant in his practice.

    Nonethless, the Ladies and I must acknowledge Malcolm in having braved, as a wee small lad, the arduous Canadian border crossing, which was, let us recall, particularly harrowing during the Eisenhower administration. Let it never be said that the Ladies failed to give credit where credit is due!

    Some of us know keenly the generations long ramifications of a bitter and bloody fight between fathers and sons, with brothers warring against brothers; we are not eager to go there again.

    When you write as you do so often, Malcolm, your words skid perilously close to sedition; yours are treasonous words coming alarmingly close to an outright call for armed insurrection against the United States of America.

    I am calling you out, sir. Please cease and desist.

    And mend your friendship with the OEM. Is this the hill you want to die on?

    Musey, dear Lady, happy trails to you, until we meet again . . .

    Posted February 18, 2016 at 11:39 am | Permalink
  57. Malcolm says

    Ah, Eugenia — a meeting of the DAR. So brave! Such proud “traitors“, in your veils and gloves!

    If we are really to exhume our ancestries here, I am descended from Scottish kings, and we know a thing or two, also, about “skin in the game”.

    My parents endured the Blitz, in Glasgow and London. My father later fought in the Royal Navy. My wife’s family were wiped out in the Holocaust. I do hope you don’t think my line is naught but hockey fans and Molson drinkers. Canada is nothing to me; it was just a two-year stopover for my young British parents. My home is here in the Colonies.

    Where have I called for civil war? Where have I advocated for armed insurrection? Indeed I call your attention to this post, in which I do exactly the opposite.

    What I do say is: that I see a great division widening in America; that our current course is unsustainable; that the traditional American nation, which your own ancestors fought and died for, is tottering, under continuous assault from within; that if we look to Europe we see a foreshadowing of what may well happen here; that it is hard for me to see how the deepening fissures dividing our nation can ever be bridged; that the original “operating system” installed at the nation’s founding is increasingly incompatible with the “hardware” it must run on today; that the nation is too vast and too diverse for a centralized government to manage it effectively; that there is a boiling anger in much of America that threatens to tear the nation to pieces; and that I expect that a crisis will occur. These are observations, not exhortations. I believe them to be matters of fact. They are not calls to arms — although I of course think it wise, in such times, to be armed — and if you think I somehow relish the thought of national collapse, and the sanguinary chaos that would certainly follow, you have gravely misread me. I love this nation, and it grieves me to see what’s become of it.

    I will not “cease and desist” from commenting on what’s happening here in the West, and on where I think it’s likely to lead. If you would prefer to be blind-sided by this tempest when it comes — and it is coming — then look to your knitting.

    Posted February 18, 2016 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

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