Monday, February 15, 2016

If that funny-talking Limey John Oliver thinks he can embarrass "Miss Mitch" McConnell, he's got another think coming


John Oliver tells us all about the "Thurmond Rule" -- and
shows us Miss Mitch calling it "this rule that doesn't exist"

"If the President has trouble doing nothing, we will be more than happy to show him how it is done."
-- Senate Majority Leader "Miss Mitch" McConnell, as
quoted this morning by the Borowitz Report (see below)

by Ken

First, a confidential to whoever thought it was a good idea to have John Oliver's Last Week Tonight off HBO's airwaves for three months: WTF??? I assume there were Reasons. There are always Reasons, aren't there?) I just trust that somewhere among those Reasons there's some assurance that the LWT team will be on the job with only minimal interruptions between now and the election.

As probably everyone knows by now -- since by this morning I saw the lead item plastered all over the Internet (here, for example, is Marlow Stern at The Daily Beast) -- the LWT gang was back last night. And as John explains, that lead item hadn't been in preparation for three months. It was only precipitated by Saturday's of the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and the subsequent declaration by Senate Majority Leader "Miss Mitch" McConnell that his cabal of crackpots and thugs will not consider any nomination for a new Supreme Court justice which comes from President Obama. And never mind that the Constitution clearly makes such a nomination not only the president's right but his responsibility.


WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In a television appearance on Sunday, the leading Senate Republican warned President Obama “in no uncertain terms” against doing anything in his remaining three hundred and forty days in office.

“The President should be aware that, for all intents and purposes, his term in office is already over,” Mitch McConnell said on Fox News. “It’s not the time to start doing things when you have a mere eight thousand one hundred and sixty hours left.”

While acknowledging that the President has eleven months remaining in the White House, McConnell said that he and the President “have an honest disagreement about how long eleven months is.”

“The President believes it is almost one year,” he said. “I believe it is almost zero years. I’m not a mathematician, but I believe I am right.”

As for how Obama should spend his remaining time in office, McConnell said, “If the President has trouble doing nothing, we will be more than happy to show him how it is done.”


They don't answer to the law or the Constitution. They answer to a higher power: their megalomania and psychotic delusions.

Writing Saturday night, arguing that "we mustn't pretend that Justice Nino was anything but, you know, what he was," I may have surprised readers by being fairly accepting of Miss Mitch's declaration that his cabal will not allow consideration of an Obama Supreme Court nomination. But I was simply  accepting the reality --
that as our system has evolved, there isn't much chance of Senate consideration of a Supreme Court nomination that's made in the final year of a presidential term, even though the Constitution doesn't offer any such proscription. But it is the reality, isn't it?
I did, though, add a footnote noting that if we were to play the game I'm so fond of, If the Shoe Were on the Other Foot, we could expect Miss Mitch and his fellow cabalists to sing a wildly different tune. "Of course," I wrote,
if it was a Republican president faced with a Supreme Court vacancy in February of the fourth year of his/her term, any attempt by Democrats to interfere with his/her constitutional responsibility to name a replacement would be greeted with choruses of right-wing outrage and cries of "tyranny!"
Even as I wrote, I had a hunch that some version of this game had already been played for real. Now the Last Week Tonight team has given us the video.


I confess that when I wrote Saturday, I was fuzzy on the exact time frame specified in what John explains is known as the Republicans' Thurmond Rule. That's why I took pains to describe the situation of a president "faced with a Supreme Court vacancy in February of the fourth year of his/her term." The LWT segment clarifies that the actual terms of the Thurmond Rule would disallow a presidential nomination for a lifetime judgeship in the last six months of his term. (Note: I don't think we have to say "of his/her term" where Strom Thurmond is concerned. For old Strom, the idea of a "her" president was probably as inconceivable as, say, the idea of a "colored" president.)

As John Oliver points out in the segment, the last six months of the Obama administration begin on July 20. Meaning that even under the Thurmond Rule-that-isn't-a-rule, we're nowhere near the Point of No Lifetime Judicial Nominations.


Is there any reason to think that Miss Mitch cares any more about the terms of the wholly extra-constitutional Thurmond Rule than he cares about American law or the Constitution itself? He answers to no authority but the "Fuck America!" ethos of the 21st-century American Far Right, whose overriding goal is to turn the country into the toxic cesspool that is their minds.

Because, after all, Miss Mitch has done a lousy job of keeping it secret that throughout the Obama presidency his entire objective has been to obstruct and destroy. Fuck America! If he can't have his diseased vision of a fascist autocracy, then just fuck it, and Fuck All the Americans Who Don't Matter, because that's what right-wingers want to do: Fuck All the Americans Who Don't Matter. Of course for our One-Percenters, which is to say the most important group of Americans Who Matter, there's money to be made off the misery of the Americans Who Don't Matter. And for those who sense -- some rightly, some wrongly -- that they're being screwed but nevertheless embrace right-wing ideology, there's some kind of primitive satisfaction to be had in seeing those other poor souls screwed.

Otherwise, how to explain the existence, let alone the actual popular followings, of life forms like The Donald, Rafael "Ted from Alberta" Cruz, and the world's most immoderate "moderate," Marco Rubio? What has appalled me most about the creatures who have made up the Republican presidential "fields" in this and the last couple of presidential election cycles isn't that their politics is so reactionary and stupid but that they are all such screamingly horrible, inexcusable people.

And in their various ways they have all cynically embraced, even encouraged, modern-day America's Flight from Reality, something I've been squawking about for years now. It's the triumph of reality-substitute over reality -- of, as Stephen Colbert framed it, "truthiness" over truth.


In that Saturday footnote in which I speculated about the application of the If the Shoe Were on the Other Foot game to Miss Mitch's declaration of policy-by-hissy-fit. So what if it were to turn out that Miss Mitch was being hypocritical?
For right-wingers nowadays, hypocrisy is considered not just "no foul" but a virtual obligation. If you aren't being hypocritical, it's assumed you aren't really trying.
After all, hypocrisy is the least of it. Reality and truth have been prime casualties of the rise of the modern Far Right. Somewhere in the formative years of the new century, under the influence of propagandists like Karl Rove and Roger Ailes, and under the unwatchful eye and imbecile grin of George W. "Chimpy the Prez" Bush, the Right formally went off the truth standard, disclaiming any obligation at all to reality or truth.

Where Chimpy's own presidency faltered, it wasn't for lack of truthfulness, after all. He was never held to account for any of the lies with which his administration's policies had been sold. But well before he left the White House, Chimpy had begun to disappear before our very eyes, and it seemed clear to me that the public wasn't looking to him for truth -- about the disastrous Iraq and Afghanistan policies, for example -- but instead was insisting on its right to newer and better lies.

Instead the people got the Great Financial Meltdown of 2008. And even then they didn't connect the dots: that there's a price to be paid for government by the One Percent for the One Percent. Similarly, if there's any price to be paid for Government by Lies, the bill comes due far, far down the line, and can usually be fobbed off on some poor, unsuspecting souls.

The Right's Grand Disconnect from Reality hit home for me in the 2008 presidential campaign of Young Johnny McCranky, in which the candidate managed not just to avoid ever speaking the truth about anything but on most issues to offer a minimum of two, and usually more, mutually contradictory lies. After the election, I looked at the number of votes McCranky had nevertheless scored, and couldn't help but think there was going to be a price to pay for the GOP's official Disconnect from Reality. Even so, I couldn't have imagined the 2012 and 2016 GOP presidential "fields."

And the hard core of Democratic officialdom managed to remain only a few steps behind, making it official party philosophy that the very most that Dems had to do was be just the merest hair's breadth better than the R's.

Ain't this a kick in the pants? Compared with the nutso ravings of Miss Mitch and The Donald and Ted from Alberta and the rest, Colonel Jessup's argument sounds reasonable.


The great David Sipress is currently on "Daily Cartoon" duty at The New Yorker, and today's offering seems very much appropriate to the theme of "Reality as Perceived (and Promulgated) by the Modern-Day Right."

I had a dream last night that Planned Parenthood
did something new and horrible to a fetus! We need
to launch an immediate congressional investigation.

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