Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Dies, Unleashing an Election Year Earthquake

Supreme Court associate justice and giant of US politics and constutional law, Antonin Scalia, 79, has died of apparent natural causes in Texas.

According to a report, Scalia arrived at the ranch on Friday and attended a private party with about 40 people. When he did not appear for breakfast, a person associated with the ranch went to his room and found a body.

Widely considered to be an “originalist”, Scalia actually used a “textual” interpretation of the Constitution, relying on the plain reading of the text as written to rule on cases. This interpretation placed him as one of the most conservative justices on the Court, and his intellect and integrity will make him impossible to replace.

It is no exaggeration to say that Justice Scalia was the most consequential jurist of the past 35 years. A persistent, pugnacious and persuasive advocate for textualist statutory interpretation and originalist constitutional interpretation, he had an outsize effect on his colleagues, the court and the course of the law. More than anyone else, Justice Scalia is responsible for the renaissance of these interpretive methodologies and the displacement of “living constitutionalism” and reliance upon legislative history.

He certainly won’t be replaced by President Obama.

Trump rallies the stormtroopers in Louisiana

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After driving two hours, standing in line for two hours, and catching most of Donald Trump’s hour and a half long sales pitch to a packed Baton Rouge River Center, I have a new, less charitable understanding of the phenomenon he has unleashed on the country.

I am not a Trump supporter, of course. I actually went to the event with the intention of holding up an anti-Trump sign and making my dissent known in person. But as the line nearly reached the door, I witnessed two gentlemen with similar, but more harshly worded signs than mine wrestled out of the building, to the ground, then one of the two tased by Baton Rouge PD after not going peacefully. After hauling away the protesters, the dozen remaining officers at the entrance were on high alert for any shenaningans, and I had a wife and children waiting at home for me. So I quietly tossed my sign in the trash on my way in. I decided to protest silently, then online instead.

The crowd was about what you would expect - almost exclusively white, conservative, polite but cocked and ready for action. When the scuffle ensued with the protesters, many got their phones out and scurried over to record and jeer the detainees. They stopped just short of calling for blood.

Trump was already speaking when I got inside, and the crowd was eating up every word. They weren’t transfixed in silence; there was lots of murmuring between friends and neighbors, going in and out from the bathroom and concession stand. After all, thousands of people were still getting inside as he spoke.

In Defense of the U.S. Constitution

Some libertarians have attacked the U.S. Constitution as being a “blueprint” of powerful government. They confuse the government as it exists today with what it was originally designed and understood to be at the time it was ratified.  Originally, the Constitution endorsed a very minimalist federal government.  For a national government that provides at least a court system and national defense, the Constitution is almost the ideal founding document.

While it is true that the federal government was weaker under the Articles of Confederation, it was weaker in ways that made it a worse government.  The government under the Articles of Confederation did not have the power to tax directly, instead it relied on the states to provide funds for the national government.  But this means that those states that refused to pay taxes got the benefits of the courts and national defense without having to pay the their portion of the costs.  States were encouraged to free ride on each other which would prevent a national defense capable of preventing further attacks by other foreign powers.

In 2016, Vision Matters More Than Experience

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Though it seems this election season started the morning after the 2014 midterms, last night marked just the second state to have cast votes for a presidential nominee. Historically, Americans have rarely chosen senators as their presidents, turning instead to governors (or generals) with a leadership record that can be examined. But this is no ordinary election year.

On the Democrat side, the only remaining candidates (not that they had many in the first place, with the DNC telegraphing a coronation) are former Senator (and Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton, and sitting Senator Bernie Sanders. On the Republican side, the current frontrunners are casino mogul Donald Trump, and Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio (though the last is a huge question mark after a disappointing fifth-place finish in New Hampshire).

Accelerating on the Path to Greece with Bernie Sanders (Hey New Hampshire: This is What You Voted For)

Originally posted at International Liberty ~ Ed.

Remember when I wrote a week ago that I was somewhat optimistic about entitlement reform? Well, given what just happened in New Hampshire, I must have been smoking crack. It would now be more accurate to say something will happen with entitlements, but it will be deform rather than reform.

That’s because a Bernie Sanders nomination victory followed by a win in November might pave the way for a massive expansion of government. Much of this would be a result of a single-payer healthcare scheme (oh, and don’t forget that the Republican victor in New Hampshire also has endorsed government-run healthcare).

Now that we have to take Senator Sanders seriously, let’s investigate his agenda.

Holman Jenkins of the Wall Street Journal is not a fan of the Vermont Senator’s statism.

His socialism is farcical in a country that can’t afford the entitlements it already has. …Mr. Sanders, far from being a radical departure, is merely a perfection of what Democrats have offered since the Clinton era, namely denial. Ignore the problem. If forced to acknowledge it, insist there’s no problem because the rich will pay. In the meantime, savage every reform proposal as an attack on “unmet needs.” Collect the political rents from serving as defender of every spending interest in our overcommitted republic. …Bernie…, for all his exotic pretenses, is just another machine Democrat.

New Hampshire Polls Have Created a Political Narrative Perfect Storm

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Election polling is always wrong. Except when it’s not. And even then sometimes. But especially in New Hampshire this year. Confused yet? You should be.

Every single poll that’s come out in the last week has said something completely different is happening in the first primary, and not even in a linear trending way, with certain candidates ascending or descending. They’re literally all over the place.

The following is a list of all the polls currently included in the Real Clear Politics average for New Hampshire.

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From this data we can tell only three things:

  1. Trump is leading in New Hampshire.
  2. There is a fight for second place between Rubio, Kasich, Cruz, and Bush.
  3. Christie, Fiorina, and Carson should probably have dropped out yesterday.

Second is where the real mystery is. Every poll shows a different person (or tie) in second place behind Trump [highlighted above in yellow]. Rubio comes in second place in one poll and ties for second in two others, but so does Bush in one, Cruz in one and ties in another, and Kasich in two and ties in another.

Some of these individual polls even show trends from earlier data, which usually signal a real change in support. But even here those trends are contradictory. In the CNN poll, Rubio has gained 6 points from the same poll taken a little over a week ago, while the other candidates have only gained 1 point. But in other polls, like the UMass daily tracking poll, Rubio has lost 2 points over the last week.

Trumpbama

The polls opened in New Hampshire at midnight, and early results are favoring Bernie Sanders and John Kasich. That’s not really unexpected.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie relentlessly went after a stunned Marco Rubio at the last GOP debate — and in the days following — to prove the younger Senator is inexperienced and not ready to be president. That’s not really unexpected either.

Jeb Bush seems to be upping his profile a bit and gaining some word-of-mouth ground (thanks in part to Christie’s attack on Rubio), while Ted Cruz is being forced to answer for some questionable campaign decisions that have people wondering if they can trust him. Politicians making use of another politician’s crisis and behaving in a possibly sketchy way? Definitely not unexpected.

This, however, is:

Sorry, You’ll Find No Rand Paul “Haters” Here

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Apparently explaining the reasons Senator Rand Paul couldn’t connect with Republican voters in his now-suspended presidential campaign makes us here at United Liberty “haters”, according to Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel.

In an interview before the Republican debates in Boulder, Paul told me ruefully that he had more haters than anyone else running for president, visible at blogs like United Liberty; fans of Ron Paul obsessed and condemned any Paul feint to the center-right.

Despite that silliness, the whole thing is worth your time, as is everything Weigel writes. He is among the best political reporters of his our generation. But really, what in the world, Dave?

There is plenty of Rand Paul hate to go around, to be sure, but you will find none of it on this server. Here’s a sampling of some of the Rand Paul headlines on this site since the presidential campaign started last year:

Does Rachel Maddow think Hillary or Bernie would be a mistake?

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During Thursday’s Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders traded insults, complements, innuendo, and big government solutions to problems created by big government. Although there were plenty of absurd ideas tossed back and forth, perhaps the strangest comment came not from a candidate, but from a moderator.

After the debate had concluded, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow wrapped up with a salutation and a supplication.

We also want to thank our host, the University of New Hampshire, and the people of New Hampshire. You guys get to vote in just five days. I can’t wait to see how it turns out. Don’t screw up.

“Don’t screw up”? Huh?

Maddow seems to be implying that New Hampshire voters could “screw up” by selecting the wrong candidate when they go to the polls on Tuesday. But how?

Cruz Wins Iowa, But What’s Next?

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Who will occupy it next?

 

The results of the Iowa caucuses have shown us several important things; 1) that everybody hates the establishment of both parties, 2) no one trusts the media anymore, and 3) pollsters have no clue how to conduct polling in the fast-paced world of smartphones and social media.

Ted Cruz easily won the Iowa caucuses on the Republican side, despite being behind Trump by as much as 20-points in some polls taken just before the caucus, and despite the entirety of the GOP establishment doing their best to take him down. In fact, it is arguably the low regard among the GOP establishment in which Cruz is held that gives him such popularity among the base. Despite being hated by the establishment, Cruz’s net favorability leads all Republican candidates with a rating of +45% (61% favorable, 16% unfavorable) among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, according to a recent Gallup poll. Establishment favorite Jeb Bush has a net favorability of -1%.

 


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