Sunday, February 14, 2016

Ding-Dong; Tony's Dead

One Less Partisan

...If anything, the consensus among the [Republican] presidential candidates seems to be that George W. Bush didn’t cut taxes on the rich nearly enough, and should have made more use of torture... When we talk about partisanship, then, we’re not talking about arbitrary teams, we’re talking about a deep divide on values and policy...

...Justices have always had known political leanings, and the process of nomination and approval has often been contentious. Still, there was nothing like the situation we face now, in which Republicans have more or less unanimously declared that President Obama has no right even to nominate a replacement for Mr. Scalia...
-- Paul Krugman, "How America Was Lost", New York Times online, February 14, 2016
Scalia's gone, taken out in his sleep at an exclusive West Texas guest ranch where the conservative elite meet to shoot skeet, and quail.  I learned of his passing yesterday from a cellphone news alert while waiting on line in a coffee shop.

A lot of people were getting the same alert from their own newsfeeds at the same time; two women in line ahead of me looked at their smartphones, one saying, "Scalia's dead. Oh, thank God. I'm so glad it wasn't Ruth Ginsburg." Turning to me, she said, "I'm sure his family loved him, but that man was evil." She paused, waiting to see if she was talking to someone who agreed (I did). "I mean, he did evil things."  She paused again, then said quickly, and with emphasis, "He was a shit, and I'm glad he's dead." 

The News Punditi's general line in eulogizing Scalia for the Nightly News seems to include (A) His intellect, (B) His conservatism, (C) His pugnacity and "biting wit".  All of it combined in a single individual who, as a member of the highest court in this country, was party to (if not the intellectual engine behind) legal decisions which affected millions of Americans in a manifestly negative way.

Oh, and by way of proving he was "fair and balanced", the Punditi tell us he was friends with Ruth Bader Ginsburg. "We disagree, but we're still friends," one video clip has Tony saying.

I'm sure his family and friends see him much differently than I do. But, as the woman said to me in the coffeeshop line, based on his actions, I'm not at all sad he's gone.

In my life, I've met people who have done horrendous, evil, violent things. In a former occupation, leaders of RICO-level criminal enterprises, and their enforcers; and as a journalist, people who developed the original weapons of mass destruction. I've  met and interviewed for-real, actual nazi war criminals who had served their imposed sentences (I thought they should have been hung, and told one of them so -- no surprise, his response was a dry, Entschuldig; aber Ihren Meinung macht nichts [Excuse me, but your opinion makes no difference]). 

All of them had opinions about art and music and current events. Some were sentimental. Some liked this food or that; some of them were actually engaging, insightful, intelligent. They made jokes, told interesting stories.

And however they expressed it, all of them felt what they did was justified and natural in the scheme of things. Whether it was the demands of science, power of a nation-state, racial eugenics, or some outlaw code, each of them were convinced beyond question their actions were right, even necessary.

And it was Scalia's actions that leave me cold. I won't go through a list of cases where his influence was critical; it's almost enough that he added his vote to tip the scales in the Court's decisions, even if he didn't write the majority opinion (but, Bush v. Gore, and the Citizens United cases do come to mind). And when he found himself in the minority, his Opinions spewed bile on the appellants, and on the Opinions of the Justices in the Majority. Tony apparently never lost anything gracefully.

Scalia supported his opinions (written, or spoken) with long, intellectual arguments that tied back to a tradition of strictly interpreting the Constitution  -- which his beloved Federalist Society will claim stretches back to John Adams and other conservatives.

If you pull up any YouTub videos of Scalia talking (something he loved to do), it's clear he felt an absolute surety in his beliefs; not one iota of regret for the legal decisions he made; and not one drop of compassion for the individuals involved.  In fact, he seemed to enjoy taunting those whom the Court's decisions affected -- because they were liberals, leftists, different and wrong. They were his opponents, his enemies, and the enemy of what he believed in. 

For any of us, the great and the ordinary, what matters in the end is the sum total of our actions in this life towards other human beings, and the world. It doesn't matter if we told good jokes, or dressed well; that we went to the right colleges and worked for The Right People. It doesn't matter if we lived in a large home, invested wisely, knew which wines to order, and were one of the Smartest People In The Room.

Antonin Scalia was a Justice-For-Life. That position alone; being able to make partisan rulings in law that affected the lives of millions of people, meant he was not an ordinary man. And then he would often dismiss, ridicule and deride the people whose lives he affected -- as if 'winning' wasn't enough; he had to urinate on his opponents to prove it.

He was a shit for what he did, and I'm glad he won't be able to do it any more.

Hopla; Wir Leben

(I discovered a link on the miracle machine with no title, connecting me to something Bloggy.  I clicked, and it delivered this -- a draft of a post about the 2015 landmark gay marriage decision by the Supremes. Tubby Tony's true colors were on full display that day, giving all of us a taste of what in future we will be, uh, missing with his passing.

(Earlier, when the case was being argued, Tony gave us a preview. In an April 28, 2015 New Yorker article, Jeffrey Toobin noted: “There was a shocking, ugly moment during the argument of... the same-sex marriage case... a spectator rose from a back row and started screaming, ‘If you support gay marriage, you will burn in Hell... It’s an abomination!’ [G]uards carried him from the courtroom.

(“That wasn’t the ugly part, though. In the quiet moment after the man was removed, as his shouts vanished into the hallway, Justice Antonin Scalia filled the silence with a quip. ‘It was rather refreshing, actually,’ he said.”

(Tony: an impartial jurist and a class act; representing what is 'best' about American justice to the rest of the world.)
Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing on behalf of the court, said that the hope of gay people intending to marry "is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."
In a dissenting opinion, conservative Justice Antonin Scalia said the decision shows the court is a "threat to American democracy." The ruling "says that my ruler and the ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court," Scalia said.
Wasn't that true about the Citizens United decision, Tony? Of course, there's no comparison between allowing America's political system to be nakedly purchased by a wealthy elite, and recognizing that love, commitment and dignity deserve the protection of law. 

“If you are among the many Americans — of whatever sexual orientation — who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote. “Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”
“The opinion is couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egotistic,” Justice Scalia wrote of his colleague’s work. “Of course the opinion’s showy profundities are often profoundly incoherent.”
Poor 'Fat Tony' Scalia. Quite the ironic riposte from the architect behind the Bush v. Gore and 'Citizens United' decisions. But, mob bosses like Tony have never possessed much by way of humility or what was once referred to as "good sportsmanship".

MEHR, MIT NICHTACHTUNG:  Over the weekend, a friend and I agreed that there was just something hanging in the air around Scalia's demise.

We're not suggesting conspiracy, necessarily; however, the 'manager' of the "ranch" where Scalia was a guest described the Great Man as being found in a bed with sheets barely wrinkled, in "perfect repose", a pillow over his head. A judge pronounces an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court dead, by phone, and there is no autopsy.

"What'dya think?" my friend asked.

"Blow and Hoors," I said. "No doubt about it."


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Solly Chlly -- you had 'lebenty septobalizzion lines of blank space before your comment (below), and it was an aesthetic nightmare.

      "it's like the waiter said to lenny bruce when he heard he was no longer married - you are better off

      the world is - probably - better off now

      may the creative forces of the universe have mercy on his soul, if any"

    2. thanks for the orthographic improvement

  2. scalia's completion of his cycle of life reminded me of the first two lines below - the 3rd line is my own addition

    time flies like arrow
    fruit flies like a banana
    maggots like a corpse


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