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Currently Browsing: Politics

Help or Hurt?

Bitter and I were debating this morning about whether the latest news that GOP candidate in Montana’s special election, Grew Gianforte, body slammer a reporter who wouldn’t get a microphone out of his face. It’s my opinion that if anything, it’ll boost Gianforte. Bitter isn’t so sure. Thanks to early voting (don’t even get me started on that), about 1/3rd of the ballots are already cast.

I don’t think it’s a good thing, but the rules are changing. We were all very fortunate to grow up in a period of relative political and social stability. We’re witnessing the unraveling of the post World War II order, and it’s a global phenomena. Everything is at stake and up for renegotiation. When politicians say “I’ll fight for you,” their supporters are increasingly expecting that to be literal.

In the past we’ve been far worse. Fist fights were once common on the House floor. Prior to and after the Civil War, a lot of Members of Congress carried pistols, for their protection… from their colleagues. I’m reminded of a bit of research Dave Hardy was doing, when he uncovered this bit:

Prior to the Civil War, Sen. Ben Wade (R-Ohio) said something on the floor which was deemed insulting to Sen. Robert Toombs (D-Ga), and a friend told Toombs, “you must challenge the old wretch!” Toombs replied, “No, I mustn’t, for that old wretch is the deadliest shot in the District. Wade and I have been out practicing many times together, and he can hit a ten-cent piece at thirty paces every time, and to tell you the truth, sir, I cannot!”

Ben Wade was one of the Radical Republicans, who was largely responsible for the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, and who favored a Reconstruction policy far more punitive than Lincoln did. Are we headed back to that kind of political climate? I fear we are.

What Happens When There’s no Sheriff?

Apparently Blair County, PA lost its Sheriff, and due to a lack of someone to sign LTCs, they just stopped issuing them. A judge has authorized the Chief Deputy to act in the Sheriff’s stead until a replacement can be confirmed. It looks, in this case, like the seat has only been vacated since April 9th, and Sheriffs have 45 days by statute to issue.

This kind of licensing scheme would never be allowed in any other context. There’s a movement now to let people vote without first having to register to do so. If we ever get judges willing to take the Second Amendment seriously, as opposed to judges who are fine with it being a second-class right, this kind of thing is what will eventually take down licensing regimes.

The Supreme Family Tree

In light of Trump’s victory, Gorsuch’s confirmation, and another 3 1/2 years of the term, it’s reasonable to discuss what’s next for SCOTUS. The topic becomes a bit morbid when you’re talking about non-retirement openings that could change the Court because one study found that “the justice’s death-in-office odds are about tripled” when the sitting president is from a different party than the that of the president who appointed the justice.

Sebastian & I were curious about the chances of an unplanned opening on the SCOTUS (aka not a retirement) and realized that family history can yield some important clues to the health of descendants. This post isn’t meant to indicate we’re wishing any negative health to sitting justices, it’s just an interesting intersection of law and genealogy. Here’s a look at the oldest Justices on the Court right now.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Much has been discussed about her health since she was diagnosed with one of the deadliest cancers a few years ago. However, it was caught early and things seem to be fine with her. Regardless, she is the oldest member of the SCOTUS at 84.

I actually can’t trace Ruth’s family back very far because her father was an immigrant and her mother was the daughter of immigrants. What makes it worse is that she’s from New York which is generally a nightmare for records. (There’s a reason that Reclaim the Records has had to sue them the most.) However, I have learned that Ruth may well have a fine collections of furs in her closet since her family was big in the fur business. I’d love if she’d flaunt them.

Regardless of the challenges, Ruth has far surpassed the average age I’ve been able to confirm with any confidence of her direct ancestors – 61.5. That number is largely so low because her mother died very young of cancer. Once you factor in collateral relatives such as aunts/uncles, the average age jumps up to 79.38.

Needless to say, it’s understandably why some on the left are upset that she didn’t retire under Obama. However, if she takes after a couple of uncles, then she’s got another ~3 years to meet their lifespan, and that’s enough to get into another administration should Trump not win another term should he run again. In fact, given better healthcare, it’s possible she could last through 2 terms of Trump if he can pull off a win in 2020.

Anthony Kennedy
As the next oldest member of the Court, Anthony Kennedy also has a strong recent immigrant background that makes it a little harder to trace his family tree. However, he’s the first one I found that has any line going back to the Revolution. (I don’t think that’s required or anything, but it’s just interesting.)

Anthony Kennedy is turning 81 years old this summer. The average lifespan of his direct ancestors is only 69.4 years. Factoring in those indirect relatives in reasonably close generations drops that average to 62.3 years.

It’s fair to consider that Kennedy may not want to pass on the bench. If he doesn’t want to do that, then he probably would want to retire soon. Based on his family history, he is rather lucky to have these extra years. (Granted, I don’t know the causes of death for his family, so it could well be that medical advances would have easily extended their lifetimes.)

Stephen Breyer
The third in line based on age is Stephen Breyer who will turn 79 this summer. What I can research of his tree doesn’t go back very far since his maternal grandparents were the immigrants on that branch and all great grandparents on the paternal side made the trek to America.

Direct ancestors and indirect lines come out to the same average – 73.1 years. In that regard, family history would indicate that maybe Obama’s term may have been a better time to retire if he wanted to confidently keep his seat in liberal hands.

***
I’ll do further research on the younger justices soon. And, based on suggestions at the bar this weekend, I may also expand this to study the family histories of any other potential nominees. (Watch, this will result in judges having to submit a family tree to be considered for SCOTUS!)

Firearms Preemption Update

Passed the Senate by a veto-proof margin. That’s not something that happens often in this state! If we can do that well in the House, we may be able to get this, despite the Dem governor. The GOP currently has a comfortable majority in the House, and pro-gun Dems are not yet extinct in this state. This might be doable!

Not a bad idea to call your senator and thank them. Shows we’re paying attention.

Toomey Cozy With Gun Control Crowd

We spent years trying to get rid of Arlen Spector, and now Pat Toomey being Arlen reborn is probably a best case scenario for guns:

The big question now is whether we’ve lost Toomey for good on the gun issue, or whether he’s just going to play both sides like his predecessor did. If Toomey is intent on being anti-gun, I can have a Democrat do that job just as well as a Republican. Just sayin, Pat.

Can We Please Start Seeking Congressional Authorization to Fight Wars as Our Constitution Demands?

It doesn’t get any more right when it’s “our” side that does it:

All of this is true, but it’s also true that the President launched the attack without approval from Congress and no clear and present danger to the United States or our allies.

The precedent for going to war under these conditions was set by the previous Administration, but that doesn’t mean that the current Administration should necessarily follow it.

It was wrong for Obama to intervene in the Syrian Civil War without even so much as consulting Congress when Obama did it, and likewise Trump should seek approval from Congress if he’s going to continue it. If he can’t get approval from Congress, that should say something.

I do think the President can act without Congress in the face of clear, immediate threats, and Assad might be a butcher, but we ought to demand our elected leaders follow the law.

UPDATE: For the comments: how many of your lefty friends on social media are acting like Obama hasn’t been bombing targets in Syria for several years now?

Gorsuch Vote Goes Nuclear

The GOP pushed the button on the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, clearing the way for Neil Gorsuch to be confirmed. Personally, I think they ought to nuke the filibuster for everything. Well, not completely nuke, just go back to the old rule that a Senator has to hold the floor to filibuster. The way some people have been talking you’d think the filibuster rule was carried down from Mount Horeb on stone tablets. In reality the filibuster rule that does not require the Senator to hold the floor only dates to 1975. Before that, it’s use prior to the 20th century was almost unheard of. In the 20th century, before the 1975 rule, it was mostly used to hold up civil rights legislation. So this idea that it’s a longstanding, revered institution is mostly nonsense.

What’s the Opposite of a Second Amendment Lawsuit?

New Jersey legislators are suing Governor Christie over New Jersey’s loosened concealed carry permit requirements. Note that Christie did not make New Jersey in any way, shape or form shall-issue. He just made it such that someone facing bonafide threats could qualify. That’s more like Maryland’s standard. It’s almost as if they don’t want the peons able to protect themselves at all! From ANJRPC:

“Although 43 states recognize the right to defend yourself with a firearm outside the home, New Jersey remains one of a handful of backward states that apparently prefer their citizens to become victims – except for legislators, who themselves hypocritically enjoy the armed protection of State House security,” said ANJRPC Executive Director Scott Bach.  “Only in the Garden State do lawmakers actively block those facing serious threats from defending themselves. New Jersey’s days denying right to carry to its citizens are numbered.”

Let’s hope they are numbered. Whether the case comes from the Third Circuit or some other, I don’t care.

The Gorsuch Shoe Will Drop This Week

Sounds like we’ll find out whether McConnell has to go to the nuclear option to get Gorsuch confirmed by Thursday. I think from a strategic perspective, Schumer would be making an awful mistake to force a nuclear strike over Gorsuch. It makes a lot more sense for the Dems to save that fire when the time comes to fight for one of their seats. Rumor has it that Kennedy might retire this summer, which would be more consequential than replacing Scalia with Gorsuch. This really doesn’t change anything on the Court.

Chuck Schumer is a lot of things, but stupid isn’t one of them. He’s probably one of the most coy politicians I can think of. If he’s not intent on blowing up his munitions stockpile to appease the angry base, he’ll arrange things so that enough red state Democrats and a few non-vulnerable blue ones vote for cloture to let Gorsuch eke by.

UPDATE: Jim Geraghty also notes Dems might want to hold off until later:

But imagine that Trump picks someone else. We can skip past the nominations of Judge Judy, Pirro, Dredd and Reinhold, but let’s assume Andrew Napolitano is right when he boasts that Trump is considering nominating him for the Supreme Court. Or Trump nominates his sister, or he nominates any figure who leaves conservative legal minds unnerved from a thin record or other flaws.

In other words, imagine Trump nominating his own version of Harriet Miers.

In that scenario, not only would Democrats be likely to have the votes to filibuster the nominee, but they might have some Republicans willing to join as well. Mitch McConnell and other Senate Republicans will nuke the filibuster without a second thought when it’s being used to block a sterling judge like Gorsuch.

That’s another good reason. Don’t believe it couldn’t get far worse.

Nazi-Era Guns

Apparently a Canadian MP running for Prime Minister decided to do a photo op shooting a pistol, causing the Canadian outlet “The Hill Times” to opine that said MP, who was shooting a 1972 Walther P1, was firing a “nazi-era handgun.” Twitter, of course, immediately started having fun with the accusation. My comments:

  • Congratulations to Canadian gun owners: you’ve made it. You’ve become a constituency the politically ambitious feel they should pander to. Note this is different from getting them to actually do something for you (that will, sadly, always be pulling teeth), but if you keep at it you might have some victories ahead of you.
  • I’m always reluctant to comment on firearms in foreign markets. For different reasons, different firearms are more common or less common in other countries. So if you go by what you’d expect here, you might be wrong. I often wonder how often “experts” really means “friends I know who like guns.” Apparently there are a lot of P1s in Canada, which is a postwar variant of the P38. So not even a “nazi-era handgun,” anymore than a Volkswagon Beetle is a “nazi-era car” (a point made quite humorously on the Twitter thread).

It was a cheap shot by The Hill Times, and I’m glad to see if backfire. The story showing now has obviously been edited to not quite be so comically bad. I actually have a Mauser 98K manufactured by Sauer and John in 1938 (Russian capture, and in not great shape, so no big collector’s item). Am I now a nazi-sympathizer, as The Hill Times was obviously trying to imply here?

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