Nate Silver Rumored for Treasury Secretary or OMB Head

Rumors are spreading this a.m. that the reality-based number cruncher at the New York Times, Nate Silver, may soon be appointed to a high position in the Obama Administration.**

Silver successfully humiliated the entire D.C. center-right pundit class and Fox News by nailing the polling and the high probability of an Obama election victory by looking at and understanding what polling numbers actually mean. He may now be picked to replace Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner or become head of the White House Office of Management and Budget or some other high advisory position where his skills are sadly missing.

While the White House has made no official announcement, several sources with close ties to the Administration confirmed the matter is under discussion.

“It would vastly improve America’s policies and help restore the economy if the White House began listening to someone with a proven track record and who actually uses and understands facts and numerical relationships, instead of discredited dogma,” a White House adviser who asked for anonymity remarked. “This would be especially good for the economy and the role actual facts, proven mathematical relationships, economic experience, and a commitment to rationality play in setting policies to improve employment, reduce inequality, which has continued it’s 40 year slide over the last four years, supporting growth and creating fairness in the tax code.

Silver is now acknowledged, even among a few Serious People, to have the ability and courage to use actual facts and numbers to predict the probability of events, and not being afraid to express them. These are skills several White House friends saw as noticeably missing in Mr. Obama’s first term and lacking among his key economic and political advisers. They cited several areas in which Silver’s type of reality-based predictions could benefit the country and help frame a more beneficial agenda for the President and Congress over the next few years. For example:

  • Silver would likely note that a policy of austerity, as currently advocated by both parties and the White House, particularly one focused on significant cuts in government domestic spending when the economy was still recovering, would have a high probability, likely 95.4%, of increasing unemployment and reducing GDP while stripping valuable services and needed investments from the federal budget .
  • Silver could read and understand the relevant, fact-based analyses/studies that show that reducing taxes on the rich would just increase the economic and political power of the extremely wealthy to the detriment of the middle class and poor, thus worsening inequality, slowing growth and undermining democratic principles. Probability: about 97.3 %.
  • He would also predict, with 84.7% confidence, that raising taxes on the very wealthy would have virtually no adverse effect on the economy, since all the claims they are the “job creators” driving the economy was just dogma.
  • Silver would do the math to show that proposed changes in the Social Security COLA formula likely to be accepted by Congress and the Administration would adversely impact the economically most vulnerable seniors, for no good reason. Probability: 100%
  • Silver would actually pay attention to, understand and explain the economic studies that show the current deficits are not a crises and that the long-run debt to GDP ratios are not a structural problem except for growing private (not government) health-care costs, and even that issue may be receding if, in fact, those costs are no longer rising at their previously unsustainable course, as recent studies suggest. Probability that most of Congress and the Administration will get this wrong: 82.5%.
  • Silver could use data from Hurrican Sandy, correlated with massive climate science, to predict the absurdity (92.8%) of continuing to pretend that these events are unrelated one-off events that won’t recur or get worse. He might also note, using real numbers, that a policy of “all of the above,” which he’d correctly note are mostly the carbon-based fuels that are creating the problem, would fail. (91.3 % probability.)

In short, paying attention to someone who thinks in a reality-based, rational world would lead to dramatic changes in US public policy. It would argue for a dramatic reversal of the expected (100%) destructive policies likely to be pursued in Washington.

Several pundits and D.C. politicians have already begun to predict that anyone with Silver’s skills, honesty, and attitude toward facts could never be appointed to any position of power or influence. Chris Cilliza noted that the likelihood of this happening was zero, so Serious People shouldn’t think about this further and should continue to be be misinformed by the Washington Post.

Speaker John Boehner said he’d rather the country go to hell and a hand basket before Congress should listen to someone whose statements were reality-based and diametrically the opposite of his members, who live in another universe. A Boehner aide later clarified Mr. Boehner meant that he believed the nation, and particularly the House existed in another universe, and we just had to accept that. Probability he would lose his job if he accepted Silver’s reality-based mindset: 100%.

**Satire probability: 100%

Nate Silver Rumored for Treasury Secretary or OMB Head

Rumors are spreading this a.m. that the reality-based number cruncher at the New York Times, Nate Silver, may soon be appointed to a high position in the Obama Administration.**

Silver successfully humiliated the entire D.C. center-right pundit class and Fox News  by nailing the polling and the high probability of an Obama election victory by looking at and understanding what polling numbers actually mean.  He may now be picked to replace Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner or become head of the White House Office of Management and Budget or some other high advisory position where his skills are sadly missing.

While the White House has made no official announcement, several sources with close ties to the Administration confirmed the matter is under discussion.

“It would vastly improve America’s policies and help restore the economy if the White House began listening to someone with a proven track record and who actually uses and understands facts and numerical relationships, instead of discredited dogma,” a White House adviser who asked for anonymity remarked.   “This would be especially good for the economy and the role actual facts, proven mathematical relationships, economic experience, and a commitment to rationality play in setting policies to improve employment, reduce inequality, which has continued it’s 40 year slide over the last four years, supporting growth and creating fairness in the tax code.

Silver is now acknowledged, even among a few Serious People, to have the ability and courage to use actual facts and numbers to predict the probability of events, and not being afraid to express them.  These are skills several White House friends saw as noticeably missing in Mr. Obama’s first term and lacking among his key economic and political advisers.  They cited several areas in which Silver’s type of reality-based predictions could benefit the country and help frame a more beneficial agenda for the President and Congress over the next few years.  For example:

  • Silver would likely note that a policy of austerity, as currently advocated by both parties and the White House, particularly one focused on significant cuts in government domestic spending when the economy was still recovering, would have a high probability, likely 95.4%, of increasing unemployment and reducing GDP while stripping valuable services and needed investments from the federal budget .
  • Silver could read and understand the relevant, fact-based analyses/studies that show that reducing taxes on the rich would just increase the economic and political power of the extremely wealthy to the detriment of the middle class and poor, thus worsening inequality, slowing growth and undermining democratic principles.  Probability: about 97.3 %.
  • He would also predict, with 84.7% confidence, that raising taxes on the very wealthy would have virtually no adverse effect on the economy, since all the claims they are the “job creators” driving the economy was just dogma.

(more…)

MA SENATE: Elizabeth Warren Projected to Beat Scott Brown

(photo: Cong Oversight Committee)
Elizabeth Warren projected winner in Massachusetts Senate race

Hooray!  I’ve gone  through lots of elections in which I felt I was voting to prevent some clown, scoundrel or crook from getting elected, rather than for the person who won.

But this year, I voted enthusiastically for Elizabeth Warren, and she’s now projected to win.  It’s a nice feeling.

Congratulations to a very fine person, Elizabeth Warren, the next Senator from Massachusetts.

Little Paul Ryan, 12 Years Old, Has Nightmares about Central Planners, Whose Levees Are Saving New Orleans from Drowning

Hoover Dam by Ansel Adams, National Archives (Wikipedia)

Paul Ryan’s speech to the Republican National Convention will be praised by unthinking pundits today for its success is revving up the GOP base — and you can only shake your head at what that takes these days. From early reactions, I suspect the speech will be a litmus test for how much of the media made it to adulthood. Those who failed will likely ignore the destructive, infantile message Ryan was sending to the American people, proving how little he understands about a modern economy and how nations become strong and its people prosperous.

At a key moment, his voice rising, Ryan told the nation they should fear the “central planners” who are apparently sapping the entrepreneurial life juices from the American soul. That got a standing ovation from today’s Republican Party. Meanwhile, a thousand miles away, the Army Corp of Engineers, the epitome of government central planning, was operating the pumps and flood gates along the levees in and around the City of New Orleans desperately trying to keep the city from drowning again.

New Orleans did drown, seven years ago, as the nation and a clueless President watched helplessly from above. Mr. Bush was someone who believed, just as Paul Ryan does, that collective action in the public interest and government-funded public investments done with careful central planning are not an essential part of his job, unless you’re building aircraft carriers to facilitate wars you just lied the country into. As he circled the disaster of a drowning city, the pathetic President may have foreseen his approval ratings tanking as the unchecked flood waters rose, stranding thousands of victims. But that’s not the nightmare little Paul Ryan has.

No, 12 year old Paul Ryan worries that if the government at any level acts in the community interest to further the public good, then “some” *cough* kinds of people will view government programs as a “hammock” in which they will lie back and cease to strive. They will just live off the dole, at the expense of the “real” Americans, who themselves will get lazy and stop building all those small businesses that somehow sprang up in towns whose histories we’ve forgotten, whose streets, and lamplights, and water and sewer systems somehow spontaneously appeared. And we won’t mention the highways that carry goods and customers to and from that I-built-this self-made business, nor mention the small business loans, or the courts that enforce the contracts, or the levees that protect the city, nor the National Guard that helps out in times of crisis.

Today, my 93 year old dad — bless him — will be a passenger in a two truck caravan leaving Sacramento, California, packed with his last belongings, and driven by my little sister and brother in law. They’re headed towards Las Cruces, New Mexico, my home town and where my Dad worked for 45 years before retiring. They’ll be traveling partly on relatively safe highways, part of the Interstate Highway system built by that commie collectivist, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Las Cruces began as a thriving farming community that survived on the controlled waters of the Rio Grande River. Its flows are centrally managed from two modest up-river dams and reservoirs built by government in the Great Depression by a country knocked flat on its back by another private market financial collapse, but with the gumption to get up, willing to invest in the nation’s future and realizing it had an obligation to put able men to work to feed their families and build the things that needed building.

The town thrived again when it became the location of what is now New Mexico State University, one of those land grant ag colleges authorized by the American government starting a century and a half ago because the American people believe there was a community interest in educating its citizens at low cost to students and struggling families. It’s now a center of knowledge, engineering and agricultural research for all of Southern New Mexico.

Later on, Las Cruces would grow further from defense contractors and military researchers who worked out at the University’s Physical Science Lab or at White Sands Missile Range, just across the pass in the Organ Mountains to the east. That industry has since grown and there’s a NASA facility just up the mesa near the pass.

Today, Las Cruces is also becoming a retirement community, like much of the Southwest, and it’s a nice place to retire. Seniors can do that now, because no matter what else happened, they know — or knew until Paul Ryan’s band of juvenile delinquents came along — that they can count on Medicare covering most of their medical costs and Social Security providing a modest retirement income, even though the private investment markets looted and wiped out their life savings and the unregulated private banksters blew up the home equity they thought they’d have for retirement.

Thank heaven for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, because they too will help make Las Cruces a good place to retire. But don’t thank 12 year old Paul Ryan, because he just flat lied last night about how Medicare is still going to be there, not just for his mom, but for his kids. He’s going to replace it with a voucher system whose funding will grow more slowly that the cost of care, and Medicare beneficiaries will have to make up the difference or go without care. As for those seniors who rely on Medicaid — their security is now at risk because of Ryan’s budget plans.

Social Security may/may not fare better, but if it survives the 12 year olds and the faux adults in the White House and the scoundrels on the infamous catfood commission, it will only be because in 1983, a group of central planners decided they should raise the retirement age and increase taxes to create a multi-decade Trust Fund — now up to $2.7 trillion — that would cover retirees in the post-War baby boom while the federal government let taxes on the wealthy fall. Now it’s time for the wealthy to pay their share of that bargain, but 12 year old Paul Ryan wants to give them even more tax cuts in the name of “fiscal responsibility.” Give little Paul Ryan an “F” in responsible fiscal policy and civics.

Paul Ryan’s entire premise is so juvenile, so ridiculous, so oblivious to the reality of everyone’s everyday life that his speech should go down as one of the most absurd ever delivered at a national convention. But will any of our elite pundits notice?

As I said, this is a litmus test. Let’s see how many of our elite media make themselves look ridiculous by praising little Paul Ryan’s juvenile speech vs how many actually made it to adulthood. God helps us all, god save the central planners, and keep my family safe today.

John Chandley

Little Paul Ryan, 12 Years Old, Has Nightmares About Central Planners, Whose Levees Are Saving New Orleans From Drowning

Hoover Dam by Ansel Adams, National Archives (Wikipedia)

Paul Ryan’s speech to the Republican National Convention will be praised by unthinking pundits today for its success is revving up the GOP base — and you can only shake your head at what that takes these days. From early reactions, I suspect the speech will be a litmus test for how much of the media made it to adulthood. Those who failed will likely ignore the destructive, infantile message Ryan was sending to the American people, proving how little he understands about a modern economy and how nations become strong and its people prosperous.

At a key moment, his voice rising, Ryan told the nation they should fear the “central planners” who are apparently sapping the the entrepreneurial life juices from the American soul. That got a standing ovation from today’s Republican Party. Meanwhile, a thousand miles away, the Army Corp of Engineers, the epitome of government central planning, was operating the pumps and flood gates along the levees in and around the City of New Orleans desperately trying to keep the city from drowning again.

New Orleans did drown, seven years ago, as the nation and a clueless President watched helplessly from above. Mr. Bush was someone who believed, just as Paul Ryan does, that collective action in the public interest and government-funded public investments done with careful central planning are not an essential part of his job, unless you’re building aircraft carriers to facilitate wars you just lied the country into. As he circled the disaster of a drowning city, the pathetic President may have foreseen his approval ratings tanking as the unchecked flood waters rose, stranding thousands of victims. But that’s not the nightmare little Paul Ryan has.

No, 12 year old Paul Ryan worries that if the government at any level acts in the community interest to further the public good, then “some” *cough* kinds of people will view government programs as a “hammock” in which they will lie back and cease to strive. They will just live off the dole, at the expense of the “real” Americans, who themselves will get lazy and stop building all those small businesses that somehow sprang up in towns whose histories we’ve forgotten, whose streets, and lamplights, and water and sewer systems somehow spontaneously appeared. And we won’t mention the highways that carry goods and customers to and from that I-built-this self-made business, nor mention the small business loans, or the courts that enforce the contracts, or the levees that protect the city, nor the National Guard that helps out in times of crisis.

Today, my 93 year old dad — bless him — will be a passenger in a two truck caravan leaving Sacramento, California, packed with his last belongings, and driven by my little sister and brother in law. They’re headed towards Las Cruces, New Mexico, my home town and where my Dad worked for 45 years before retiring. They’ll be traveling partly on relatively safe highways, part of the Interstate Highway system built by that commie collectivist, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Las Cruces began as a thriving farming community that survived on the controlled waters of the Rio Grande River. Its flows are centrally managed from two modest up-river dams and reservoirs built by government in the Great Depression by a country flat on its back but willing to invest in the nation’s future and realizing it had an obligation to put able men to work to feed their families. [cont’d.] (more…)

Marco Rubio: Mitt Is My Hero and Every Child in America Should Grow Up to Be Like Him

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Mitt Romney’s popularity/approval ratings have been in the dumps since the early primaries, and they’ve remained there or worse through the summer as the American people learned more about him.

So a recurring theme among Team Republican hacks has been that the one thing Mitt needs to do to capture the Presidency is to “tell us who he is,” as if the man who has been running for President since forever would become enormously popular if only he, his wife, and his friends would just reveal the “real” Mitt Romney.

That was the advice given on PBS News Hour Friday by the elite GOP hack David Brooks before the always smiling but incurious Judy Woodruff — who with Gwen Ifill will now be the PBS anchors making theirs the least competent national news team to cover the GOP convention.  But the “if you only knew him” theme was taken to extremes today on CBS’ Face the Nation when Bob Schieffer retired from journalism and handed over the entire program to Fla. Sen. Marco Rubio and a panel of GOP flacks to sing Mitt’s praises in defiance of everything we’ve learned about the man who may well become President of the United States.

Rubio repeatedly pinged the Mitt is my Daddy meter by telling us that Mitt Romney has always been his hero, that Mitt was America’s defining success story, that everywhere Mitt has gone he’s made it better, from private enterprise at Bain to the Massachusetts governorship.  But Rubio’s slobbering was not finished.

When Schieffer asked what Rubio was planning to say in his prime-time speech introducing Mitt Romney to the convention — assuming Mother Nature is more tolerant than the world’s dumbest collection of climate deniers deserve — Rubio restated he intended to define who Romney is.  He then added (paraphrasing), Mitt Romney “is a personal role model for men like me  . . . the kind of person we’d all be proud for our kids to grow up and be like.”

God save the children!  What utter gibberish.

You would think that after spending much of his life either in government or running for the presidency with national media trailing him as he spent tens of millions defining himself, the American people would now have a pretty clear picture of what kind of man Mitt Romney is.  If there are still some pieces missing it’s only because Romney has arrogantly refused to release his taxes, refused to provide specifics for most of his non-credible, math defying policy statements, and barely mentioned Massachusetts except to insist he was a resident and eligible to vote there even while living in Utah.  At the end of his term as Massachusetts governor, Romney’s approval ratings had crashed from above 50% to about 37%.

But it’s his runs for office that have exposed everything Americans didn’t want to hear about any man presuming to be qualified for President.  The fact is, voters have been more thoroughly exposed to Mitt Romney’s character than probably any other candidate in the last half century, and what we’ve learned is deeply disturbing, not only about the man’s character but about the character of any party that would have him as their nominee.

The exposure came first in Mitt’s run for the Senate against Ted Kennedy, where after seeming a likely winner, he was exposed to ads about what Bain actually did to people; he got crushed. It came again against the GOP’s clown show last winter, where various candidates took turns exposing Romney for having taken both sides (and more) of every issue that matters to GOP voters.  He was shown to have condemned or abandoned conservative principles he now claims to hold dear and practiced a brand of “predatory capitalism” at Bain that is better defined as stripping, looting and tax evasion, along with total indifference to what it did to the real people who lost their jobs, their pensions, their insurance, and their futures.

In the last several months, the media has further exposed Romney’s business ethics at Bain: they essentially stripped companies of capital, used their borrowing leverage to extract short run profits for Bain and its investors, fired workers, outsourced jobs to avoid pensions and health benefits, and then extracted management fees and other profits, even when the “saved” firms were headed towards bankruptcy.

More recent exposures regarding Bain practices and Romney’s tax evasion, still largely concealed, show that Mitt Romney became rich not through superior management but through aggressive income concealment and tax avoidance schemes, some legal, some likely not.  We now know, for example, that Mitt likely managed to keep his tax rates low despite huge multi-million dollar annual incomes by structuring Bain deals so that he could classify almost all his huge income, including management fees, as “carried interest” and thus taxed at only 15%, even though millions in management fees should have been taxed as ordinary income at 35%.

And that’s just one of the numerous tax evasion schemes Romney used (and concealed) to enrich himself, his wife and his family and which he further shielded through offshore accounts in the Caymen Islands and elsewhere.  Tell us again, Senator Rubio, why you think a serial tax evader, corporate looter and job destroyer should be the role model for America’s children?

Brooks and others also want Team Romney to tell us about Mr. Romney’s piety, what a decent, generous man he is at a personal and religious level.  Excuse me, but I don’t care if Mitt helped out some couple and called it charity.  What the American people want to know is how his policies will affect millions of people struggling without jobs, without insurance, without higher education, and without hope. He’s running for President, for christ sake, not Vicar.

So far, what we know about Mitt’s economic and social policy proposals is that they mirror almost exactly how the man made his money and evaded taxes. So no one should be surprised that Mitt’s economic policy is to use Paul Ryan’s scams to strip Medicare and Medicaid benefits from the middle class and the poor and use the trillions to lower tax rates for the rich, while promising that tanking federal spending will somehow boost a demand-deficient economy.

Let us not forget that Mitt’s notions of patriotism consist of avoiding the draft, spending a year in France, and making his sons rich enough so they never even think of joining up in America’s wars.  But they’ll all wave the flag on July 4th.

So if Team Romney thinks they can schedule Ann Romney in prime time to tell us what a decent, generous guy her husband is and how he always gives money to his church (so it can fund hate-filled, anti-gay initiatives in California and elsewhere?), just save it.

This election should have been over.  The only reason the Republican candidate is not swamping Barack Obama, who has clearly failed to earn reelection, is because their candidate is a first class jerk trying to lie his way into the Oval Office. The American people have figured this out, they have an accurate measure of the man, even though many in our lazy, elite media can’t bring themselves to see or report on the awful dilemma facing the nation.

Dick Cheney’s VP Advice to Mitt Romney: Pick Me! Pick Me!

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It seems almost predictable that with Mitt Romney in Israel encouraging their government to start an unnecessary war, that the man whose lies and paranoia led America into a disastrous, unjustified and unnecessary war would have the chutzpah to presume to advise the apparent GOP nominee whom to select as his Vice Presidential running mate.

It’s now generally accepted that Dick Cheney’s advice to George Bush — pick me! pick me! – helped lead to over 4,500 pointless American deaths, tens of thousands of wounded, hundreds of thousands of tragic Iraqi deaths, millions of exiles and untold civil destruction that still makes the front pages of our newspapers. Once you add in the incalculable damage Dick Cheney’s team did to the US Constitution, international laws against torture, the rule of law in general, and American prestige, it’s hard to imagine a more disastrous choice for Vice President in our history.

So it’s astonishing that anyone would ask Dick Cheney for his advice about whom Mitt Romney should choose for a running mate, but ABC is beyond embarrassment on such matters. And their report can’t even explain what’s so absurd about Cheney’s comments about Sarah Palin. From ABC’s Cheney interview:

Cheney would not comment on what he told Romney and Myers, but he was harsh in his assessment of McCain’s decision to pick Palin.

“That one,” Cheney said, “I don’t think was well handled.”

“The test to get on that small list has to be, ‘Is this person capable of being president of the United States?’”

Cheney believes Sarah Palin failed that test.

“I like Governor Palin. I’ve met her. I know her. She – attractive candidate. But based on her background, she’d only been governor for, what, two years. I don’t think she passed that test…of being ready to take over. And I think that was a mistake.”

Well, no, Dick. The problem with John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin had very little to do with her lack of experience, which Cheney equates with “capable of being president . . .” The problem with Sarah Palin was that she was and still is a nitwit. Most sentient beings — and certainly anyone responsible for vetting candidates — would be able to determine she was a nitwit after listening to her for five minutes. No amount of experience was going to cure that, and they knew that. But the desperate and elderly John McCain didn’t care that a clueless nitwit might become President. He just wanted a miracle to help spark and save his candidacy, regardless of the risks it posed for the country. That utter lack of character should disqualify the man from ever being asked for his opinion again.

But the problem is not just McCain’s spectacularly irresponsible judgment. Cheney is merely repeating the standard view that “capable of being President” is primarily about relevant experience — which most candidates never possess because the job is so unique — and not about the character and predilections of the women/men who presume to be qualified. What matters is what values and beliefs they hold paramount and what they’re willing to do to further or protect those values, given the national situation and the challenges it faces.

In 2008, the relevant question for John McCain and Barack Obama to answer was what view they had about the nature and causes of the nation’s troubles and what, given our institutions, our history, our capabilities, we could and should do about those problems. It turns out that neither man (nor their primary opponents) had a credible and convincing understanding of what was pulling America apart and most Americans into peril. And they still don’t. (Mitt isn’t even in the right book)

One of the most serious problems America faces in this period is that neither Presidential candidate, neither party, and none of the people in positions of leadership or running for office, let alone those preening to be Romney’s running mate, seems to understand, care, or proposes to address the fact that America’s mega-corporate/financial sectors have inordinate power, have corrupted all levels of American government and which now facilitates the systematic looting of the country with almost no legal accountability. There isn’t a single leader explaining that this combination, and the corrupt billionaires funding the misdirection needed to keep the perpetrators in power, pose an existential threat to the national economy and the security and well-being of ordinary citizens. No one is running on a platform that admits that his pervasive corruption, when harnessed to an exceptionalist justification for American militarism, also poses a threat to the safety of people in many other nations.

The notion that Dick Cheney, the former Halliburton exec, would recommend anyone other than someone who would perpetuate and exacerbate this human calamity is preposterous. Indeed, Sarah Palin’s clueless incompetence might even be a plus, but the last thing we need is another MiniMe.

Did Justice Scalia Just Encourage the Next Crazy to Aim a Real RPG at the Supreme Court?

Supreme Court Justice and RPG Enthusiast Antonin Scalia

It is a well know fact that when a right wing zealot is invited onto Fox News, you’re likely to hear the the most extreme forms of right wing nuttiness, while the Fox interviewer barely flinches at the sheer nuttiness. And that rule apparently applies to radical right wing Supreme Court Justices.

Zach Ford at Think Progress caught Justice Antonin Scalia telling Chris Wallace and Fox viewers that under his view of the Constitution’s 2nd Amendment, the “right to keep and bear arms” extends to whatever a man not affiliated with any militia can physically carry and aim at another human being, including a launcher for rocket propelled grenades. From Think Progress:

Scalia admitted there could be [limits], such as “frighting” (carrying a big ax just to scare people), but they would still have to be determined with an 18th-Century perspective in mind. According to his originalism, if a weapon can be hand-held, though, it probably still falls under the right to “bear arms”:

WALLACE: What about… a weapon that can fire a hundred shots in a minute?

SCALIA: We’ll see. Obviously the Amendment does not apply to arms that cannot be hand-carried — it’s to keep and “bear,” so it doesn’t apply to cannons — but I suppose here are hand-held rocket launchers that can bring down airplanes, that will have to be decided.

WALLACE: How do you decide that if you’re a textualist?

SCALIA: Very carefully.

Well, gee, Antonin, thanks for leaving that one out there as undecided.

Under Justice Scalia, the 2nd Amendment’s reference to “a well regulated militia” is mostly superfluous; it has no effect on deciding who gets to carry lethal weapons or what manner of “arms” anyone can “keep and bear.” What matters is whether a potential mass murdered can actually hold the weapon and bear it into the vicinity of the target.

Scalia's view of a well armed non-militia? (U.S.Army photo by Gary L. Kieffer)

And since under this right wing quackery, the point has some connection to nut cases protecting their individual notions of personal liberty, and not a “regulated militia protecting the community, then I suppose his view of the purpose of the 2nd Amendment is to make sure citizens can be armed with sufficiently lethal weapons, not constrained by 18th century technology, to pose a meaningful threat to whatever institution our now fully armed and freedom loving nut case views as a threat to his/her personal liberty.

We should stop here to recall that the Tea-Party/GOP has consistently maintained the entire Affordable Care Act’s “mandate” is the most serious threat to individual liberty ever conceived in the minds of a Kenyan Socialist, a conservative think tank, or the GOP Presidential nominee. And notwithstanding this serious threat to individual liberty, the mandate was saved by none other than conservative Chief Justice Roberts.

So Justice Scalia’s theory would appear to support the right of any nutcase to purchase rocket propelled grenades and launcher, because you never know when a freedom loving psychopath that any well regulated militia would exclude as unfit for service wants to aim an RPG towards the offices of the Chief Justice of the United States.

Dick Cheney’s VP Advice to Mitt Romney: Pick Me! Pick Me!

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It seems almost predictable that with Mitt Romney in Israel encouraging their government to start an unnecessary war, that the man whose lies and paranoia led America into a disastrous, unjustified and unnecessary war would have the chutzpah to presume to advise the apparent GOP nominee whom to select as his Vice Presidential running mate.

It’s now generally accepted that Dick Cheney’s advice to George Bush — pick me! pick me! – helped lead to over 4,500 pointless American deaths, tens of thousands of wounded, hundreds of thousands of tragic Iraqi deaths, millions of exiles and untold civil destruction that still makes the front pages of our newspapers.  Once you add in the incalculable damage Dick Cheney’s team did to the US Constitution, international laws against torture, the rule of law in general, and American prestige, it’s hard to imagine a more disastrous choice for Vice President in our history.

So it’s astonishing that anyone would ask Dick Cheney for his advice about whom Mitt Romney should choose for a running mate, but ABC is beyond embarrassment on such matters.  And their report can’t even explain what’s so absurd about Cheney’s comments about Sarah Palin.  From ABC’s Cheney interview:

Cheney would not comment on what he told Romney and Myers, but he was harsh in his assessment of McCain’s decision to pick Palin.

“That one,” Cheney said, “I don’t think was well handled.”

“The test to get on that small list has to be, ‘Is this person capable of being president of the United States?’”

Cheney believes Sarah Palin failed that test.

“I like Governor Palin. I’ve met her. I know her. She – attractive candidate. But based on her background, she’d only been governor for, what, two years. I don’t think she passed that test…of being ready to take over. And I think that was a mistake.”

Well, no, Dick.  The problem with John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin had very little to do with her lack of experience, which Cheney equates with “capable of being president . . .”  The problem with Sarah Palin was that she was and still is a nitwit.  Most sentient beings — and certainly anyone responsible for vetting candidates — would be able to determine she was a nitwit after listening to her for five minutes.  No amount of experience was going to cure that, and they knew that.  But the desperate and elderly John McCain didn’t care that a clueless nitwit might become President.  He just wanted a miracle to help spark and save his candidacy, regardless of the risks it posed for the country.  That utter lack of character should disqualify the man from ever being asked for his opinion again.

But the problem is not just McCain’s spectacularly irresponsible judgment.  Cheney is merely repeating the standard view that “capable of being President” is primarily about relevant experience — which most candidates never possess because the job is so unique — and not about the character and predilections of the women/men who presume to be qualified. What matters is what values and beliefs they hold paramount and what they’re willing to do to further or protect those values, given the national situation and the challenges it faces.

In 2008, the relevant question for John McCain and Barack Obama to answer was what view they had about the nature and causes of the nation’s troubles and what, given our institutions, our history, our capabilities, we could and should do about those problems.  It turns out that neither man (nor their primary opponents) had a credible and convincing understanding of what was pulling America apart and most Americans into peril. And they still don’t.  (Mitt isn’t even in the right book)

One of the most serious problems America faces in this period is that neither Presidential candidate, neither party, and none of the people in positions of leadership or running for office, let alone those preening to be Romney’s running mate, seems to understand, care, or proposes to address the fact that America’s mega-corporate/financial sectors have inordinate power, have corrupted all levels of American government and which now facilitates the systematic looting of the country with almost no legal accountability.  There isn’t a single leader explaining that this combination, and the corrupt billionaires funding the misdirection needed to keep the perpetrators in power,  pose an existential threat to the national economy and the security and well-being of ordinary citizens.  No one is running on a platform that admits that this pervasive corruption, when harnessed to an exceptionalist justification for American militarism, also poses a threat to the safety of people in many other nations.

The notion that Dick Cheney, the former Halliburton exec, would recommend anyone other than someone who would perpetuate and exacerbate this human calamity is preposterous.  Indeed, Sarah Palin’s clueless incompetence might even be a plus, but the last thing we need is another MiniMe.

Did Justice Scalia Just Encourage the Next Crazy to Aim a Real RPG at the Supreme Court?

Supreme Court Justice and RPG Enthusiast Antonin Scalia

It is a well know fact that when a right wing zealot is invited onto Fox News, you’re likely to hear the the most extreme forms of right wing nuttiness, while the Fox interviewer barely flinches at the sheer nuttiness.  And that rule apparently applies to radical right wing Supreme Court Justices.

Zach Ford at Think Progress caught Justice Antonin Scalia telling Chris Wallace and Fox viewers that under his view of the Constitution’s 2nd Amendment, the “right to keep and bear arms” extends to whatever a man not affiliated with any militia can physically carry and aim at another human being, including a launcher for rocket propelled grenades.  From Think Progress:

Scalia admitted there could be [limits], such as “frighting” (carrying a big ax just to scare people), but they would still have to be determined with an 18th-Century perspective in mind. According to his originalism, if a weapon can be hand-held, though, it probably still falls under the right to “bear arms”:

WALLACE: What about… a weapon that can fire a hundred shots in a minute?

SCALIA: We’ll see. Obviously the Amendment does not apply to arms that cannot be hand-carried — it’s to keep and “bear,” so it doesn’t apply to cannons — but I suppose here are hand-held rocket launchers that can bring down airplanes, that will have to be decided.

WALLACE: How do you decide that if you’re a textualist?

SCALIA: Very carefully.

Well, gee, Antonin, thanks for leaving that one out there as undecided.

Under Justice Scalia, the 2nd Amendment’s reference to “a well regulated militia” is mostly superfluous; it has no effect on deciding who gets to carry lethal weapons or what manner of “arms” anyone can “keep and bear.”  What matters is whether a potential mass murderer can actually hold the weapon and bear it into the vicinity of the target.

Scalia's view of a well armed non-militia? (U.S.Army photo by Gary L. Kieffer)

And since under this right wing quackery, the point has some connection to nut cases protecting their individual notions of personal liberty, and not a “regulated militia protecting the community, then I suppose his view of the purpose of the 2nd Amendment is to make sure citizens can be armed with sufficiently lethal weapons, not constrained by 18th century technology, to pose a meaningful threat to whatever institution our now fully armed and freedom loving nut case views as a threat to his/her personal liberty.

We should stop here to recall that the Tea-Party/GOP has consistently maintained the entire Affordable Care Act’s “mandate” is the most serious threat to individual liberty ever conceived in the minds of a Kenyan Socialist, a conservative think tank, or the GOP Presidential nominee.  And notwithstanding this serious threat to individual liberty, the mandate was saved by none other than conservative Chief Justice Roberts.

So Justice Scalia’s theory would appear to support the right of any nutcase to purchase rocket propelled grenades and launcher, because you never know when a freedom loving psychopath that any well regulated militia would exclude as unfit for service wants to aim an RPG towards the offices of the Chief Justice of the United States.