He said it better than I could: Guest Writer Henry Racette on the open U.S. Supreme Court seat

He said it better than I could: Guest Writer Henry Racette on the open U.S. Supreme Court seat

Today, we feature another of our Ricochet writers, Henry Racette. Please enjoy and respond to his post on filling the new Supreme Court vacancy brought about by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Saturday.

About That Vacancy

Now that the coronavirus crisis is essentially over but for the continuing economic disaster being wrought by various governors and power-drunk state officials, we could do with yet another catastrophe to keep the press enthused through the end of this election year.

The passing this week of Justice Ginsburg will do just fine.

Let me explain why it is right, proper, and essential that the Court be restored to a full complement of nine members prior to the election.

GARLAND v (UNKNOWN)

You’ll hear endless babble about the way Senator McConnell handled the Garland nomination, President Obama’s lame duck nomination that McConnell refused to allow to be voted on by the Senate. People will say it’s hypocritical of the Senate to vote now, when it failed to vote on Obama’s nomination. They’ll argue that it’s a breach of trust with the American people, etc., etc.

That’s all wrong, and here’s why.

It isn’t hypocrisy to treat the two situations differently because the two situations are in fact different. Obama was a lame duck in his last year in office, filling a vacancy (Justice Scalia’s) created in that last year in office, and opposed by a Senate the electorate had handed to the Republicans. Never in U.S. history has the Senate confirmed a Supreme Court nomination in such circumstances; Senator McConnell wisely chose not to preside over the first Senate to do so.

In contrast, the President and the Senate are of the same party. If the Democrats had taken the Senate in 2018, it would be perfectly reasonable for them to block the President’s next nomination; I would expect nothing less (though I’d hope they didn’t stoop to the character assassination they displayed during the Kavanaugh confirmation). But the American people left the Senate in Republican hands, and I hope that Senate will support the President as he makes yet another excellent appointment.

BUT THE CONSTITUTION!

So ignore the hypocrisy claim. And absolutely scoff at anyone who pretends that there are actually constitutional barriers to a speedy appointment: that’s simply wrong. As an iconic Supreme Court Justice once observed, “there’s nothing in the Constitution that says the President stops being President in his last year.” (In fact, that was Justice Ginsburg herself.) Similarly, there is nothing in the Constitution that says the Senate stops being the Senate in an election year. There are no legal nor Constitutional barriers to a speedy nomination and confirmation.

LAST WISHES

There’s a particularly troubling claim you’ll hear, which is that Justice Ginsburg, in her final days, said the following:
“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

Let me be very clear. I will say nothing ill of the late Justice, and I applaud her tenacity and strength during what must have been extraordinarily difficult times. It is my hope that she didn’t in fact say what has been attributed to her, because the idea that she would have is repugnant to me and would diminish her in my eyes.

Filling a seat on the Supreme Court is a high honor, a position of service to the American people granted with great ceremony and enormous trust. But the seat is not the property of its occupant to be assigned by him or her to the next candidate, and the late Justice has no more right to determine who occupies it next than I have. I would like to believe that Justice Ginsburg appreciated the dignity of the court and its unique role to uphold the Constitution, and wouldn’t try to subvert the Constitutional provisions for peopling the Court by attempting to impose her own political vision upon her successor. That would be a kind of betrayal — though, in fairness, perhaps one forgivable in an old and critically ill woman.

WHY IT’S NECESSARY

There is no legal, Constitutional, procedural, or moral reason not to quickly confirm a new Supreme Court Justice. There are two practical reasons why it is extraordinarily important that we do appoint a new Supreme Court Justice as quickly as possible.

First, and most importantly, there is already ample reason to expect the 2020 election to be legally challenged regardless of outcome. The Democratic candidate himself has spoken openly, and strangely, of having the support of the military in the event that the election doesn’t appear to go in his favor. Secretary Clinton is on record as advising Vice President Biden that he should not concede, regardless of the electoral outcome. Given this, it is hard to see how a Trump victory will not be challenged in court.

Left-leaning and Democratic think tanks have been “war-gaming” (simulating) various scenarios for challenging the 2020 election results. The most widely published account finds only one electoral outcome that does *not* lead to widespread violence and/or a Constitutional crisis, and that is a landslide Democratic victory. Every other outcome leads to chaos.
Add to this the left’s enthusiasm for mail-in voting, which is inherently less secure than in-person voting and so more susceptible to challenge, and we have been put on notice: if the Democratic candidate doesn’t win, we should expect a Constitutional crisis.

We will need a Supreme Court with an odd number of Justices present. A hung Court unable to resolve a contested outcome of the 2020 election will leave the country in a precarious and dangerous condition: for the first time in history, the transition of power will be uncertain.

That possibility alone demands that we restore the Court to nine members before the election. A failure to do so will be inexcusably reckless, endangering the world’s greatest democracy and its uninterrupted tradition of peaceful transition of power.

The second reason that it is essential that we fill the court is that there are those who fear widespread civil unrest and violence if the Senate does act quickly.

There’s a word for that, for the threat of violence if a particular political demand is not delivered. It’s called terrorism. The United States should not submit to the demands of terrorists, whether they’re foreign or domestic. Anyone who argues that the Senate must not act for fear of triggering a violent backlash is calling for the appeasement and rewarding of domestic terrorists.

To hell with that. We don’t surrender our Constitution because one side isn’t willing to lose with grace. Congressmen are about as spineless a species as one will find, but when given the choice of answering to the mob or answering to the Constitution they’d best not find it a hard decision to make.

ONE LAST THING

Those reasons are more than enough, but there’s one more practical consideration. President Trump has made hundreds of very good judicial appointments. There’s every reason to believe that his next Supreme Court nomination will also be very good. There’s every reason to believe that a Democratic nomination will not be good at all.

People are confused about what “conservative” means when we’re speaking of the Supreme Court. “Conservative” and “liberal” when it comes to the Supreme Court is a bit like “firefighter” and “arsonist” when it comes to house fires. The purpose of the Supreme Court is to interpret and uphold the Constitution. Its purpose isn’t to rewrite the Constitution, to reinvent the Constitution, or to “fix” the Constitution. It isn’t to burn the Constitution down.

“Conservative,” in the context of the Supreme Court, means pro-Constitution. Everyone who values Constitutional governance should support conservative Justices.

Lens-Artists Challenge #115 Inspiration

I am always inspired by the monumental, and not-so-monumental, works of human ingenuity.  Whenever I see a bridge, or a mountain road, or a tall building, it reminds me of how people, down through the ages, have altered their environment by building things to make their lives easier, or to commemorate occasions or people.  Structures built by people have survived over thousands of years, like the Pyramids of Egypt, or the Western Wall of the Temple in Jerusalem.

Wailing WallWhen I was in Jerusalem and visited the Wall, I was able to take a picture of my own hand on the Wall, connecting myself for a short time to the history of my people, the Jews.  Just think, that cut stone has remained in its place for over 2,000 years.

My hand on Wailing Wall

The pipe organ below is another sublime work of human ingenuity.  The instrument took over two years to build, in my state of Washington, before being installed in the new Christ Chapel at Hillsdale College.  The workings of a pipe organ have not materially changed in hundreds of years; this one also has some new electronic capabilities that Johann Sebastian Bach would marvel at.  But the principles remain the same, and the sound cannot be surpassed.

FrittsOrgan

Switches-organ

The organist can play the three keyboards with both hands and both feet, all at once-see the pedals have both black and white “keys”! A true inspiration, for a string-player who is lucky to be able to play with just the two hands.

WindTurbines

I will swallow a bit of pride here, and admire the designers and builders of these huge wind-turbines, on rolling hills of Eastern Washington.  They look pretty simple, but the mechanism is incredible complex, and they are just huge.  On our trip to South Dakota, we saw at least ten flatbed trucks carrying turbine blades, and they are longer than the longest-available trailer-at least fifty feet long.  The majority of these turbines were working, turning slowly in the near-constant wind, supplying power to the homes, farms, and towns nearby.

GoldenGate

I expect everyone knows what this is. The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, standing for about 100 years now.  A true inspiration, and indication of the vast powers of the Human Mind and Body.  And then, actually not far away…

SF-OaklandBayBridge

The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.  This bridge has a curve to it that must have been an engineering feat to design and build.  And beautiful, too.

Speaking of beautiful, here’s something a little closer to home, and to my heart.  Hubby is an aeronautical engineer, and he worked on this aircraft from the very beginning.  And as part of my job, I purchased circuit-card assemblies for the flight-deck of this plane.  So a little of both of us is in each one built.  This picture was taken on the “rollout” day in July of 2007, when it was formally presented to the world.  Personally, I think this is one of the most awe-inspiring airplanes ever designed and built by any maker.

Dreamliner

One more thing.  The building you see is another marvel, the largest single building in the world, manufacturing airplanes since the 1960s.

Truly, the capabilities of humanity are always expanding, and always inspiring.

 

 

Link to original article.

Freedom…It’s a beautiful thing!

For the first eleven days of September, Hubby and I drove from our home in Washington State to South Dakota and back.  We went through the states of Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota and North Dakota.

The State of Washington has a state-wide “mask mandate”, requiring all open businesses to require all their customers who go inside their establishments to wear a “face covering”.  Effectively, this deputizes all state businesses as enforcers of the Mask Mandate.  A business who allows non-mask-wearing individuals into their premises can lose its license if the state deems it at fault.  No business wants to risk losing its license, so the mandate is fairly well-enforced, everywhere in the state.  Highway rest areas in Washington have signs on the doors of the bathrooms stating that masks are required (rarely or never enforced).  This is manifestly unconstitutional, but has never been challenged in our state.

It was very refreshing, in all the other states we visited, to find either NO mask rules at all (WY, SD, ND, ID), or rules that were not enforced (MT).  We stayed at motels everywhere, of our favorite brand; the Hotel Corporate Office had a mask rule, but I never obeyed it anywhere, even in Montana, and was never challenged.

Once we got to South Dakota, there were never any rules posted.  We went to restaurants for lunch and dinner with our group of up to 14 members, and no one wore a mask, other than the restaurant employees.  Freedom!  We found some stores that required masks inside, and we did comply when visiting Safeway and Walmart stores.  But it was such a relief not to have to worry about where my mask was, and if I would need one.  Many of our members went to the Sturgis Mustang Rally, and no masks were found there.

I can’t believe how wonderful it was, to go through a state and actually be able to see the faces of their people.  Everywhere we went, we saw people wearing masks, and people not wearing masks. It was their choice, not the State’s rule.  Big companies are within their rights to require masks of their customers, but States are way outside theirs to demand all residents wear masks whenever indoors.  As for me, I have always prided myself on being liberated, and incendiary.  I am willing to take my chances on being exposed to the Evil Wuhan Coronavirus (as did our 84-year-old friend we visited in Montana, who did not wear a mask or ask that we wear them).

If I get infected by the virus, then so be it.  If I get very sick, it’s on me.  And if I die of the infection, I can be comforted by the fact that I lived, and died, a Free Person, not cowering under my bed in fear.

Freedom!  It’s a wonderful thing!

Scenes from South Dakota

On September 1, my Hubby and I got into our car, and drove to South Dakota, for a Ricochet meetup with members from all over the US.  Our drive took us through Eastern Washington, Northern Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota finally.  It was an uneventful drive, and the scenery we saw was spectacular.  We had been that way before, and we didn’t stop much on the way.  We did stop at the first rest area in SD.

SD Rest area

And we saw some beautiful land.

SDBluffsSDVista

Thursday night, when we hit Rapid City, we had very little time to sightsee, just met the gang for a great dinner.

On Friday, we did a lot of driving new roads, and picture-taking.  We met some members at the Powder House restaurant just after breakfast, and got a chance to check out the cars our friends would drive in to the Sturgis Mustang Rally the next day.  There were two Mustangs and a Toyota MR2.

 

Next, we drove the roads to Custer State Park, along what is known as the “Needles Highway”. Needles, indeed!

There was a tunnel along the highway.

What a beautiful view through the end of that tunnel! Recognize it?

I remember being fascinated by the trees I saw, growing rough up out of the rocks. Those trees are helping to break down the granite of the Black Hills, eventually reducing the mountains to broken stone (in a few million years!).

Along the road, I held up my phone, and took some video of the turns we went through. You need a strong stomach to drive the Needles Highway.


Between the Needles was a very beautiful vista of the Black Hills.

On Saturday, we visited the Mammoth Site. It was spectacular, and deserves a post of its own, which I will publish later.

On Sunday, we drove the Spearfish Highway, which was supposed to be spectacular. It was nice, but we were basically not too impressed. We have scenery just as good on our North Cascades Highway in Washington. However, in the town of Lead, we visited Roughlock Falls, which turned out to be very beautiful. Most of the falls are at just below ground level, and the water is very clear. I found it relaxing.

And if you walk further down the path, you find the Lower Falls, different from the Upper Falls.

And, on the way back to Rapid City, we discovered something we were not expecting to find. We discovered a lake that we didn’t know was even there. It is a reservoir on Rapid Creek, known as the Pactola Reservoir. Rapid City gets its water from that reservoir. And if you follow the link, you can learn its secret.

We also did the obligatory tour of Mount Rushmore, with some other Rico friends. My readers will know that we went there before, and I posted many pictures then, so I didn’t take very many this year.

On Monday, we headed toward home, via North Dakota. But we saw some nice country on our way out of South Dakota. Now, the rest of the weekend had been sunny and warm, but Monday was rainy, and the forecast for the more mountainous areas was…wait for it…Snow! We didn’t see any.

In the 1930s, they built a wall.

In the 1930s, in the depths of the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration sent crews to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the Little Missouri National Grasslands portion, and set them to work building infrastructure.  By the side of the North Dakota highway, there is a turnout with a viewpoint, and a low wall demarcating the limits of the turnout area.   The wall is roughly built, with a poor grade of cement containing many pieces of obvious local stone.

Turnout wall, ND

You can see that the cement holding the stones together has not weathered the years well.

Now, while looking at this wall, I noticed some components that might be very valuable, just incorporated into this wall in a random manner. I focused on one particular piece of material in the wall.

Valuable?

Upon closer inspection, this looked to me like a large piece of petrified wood. In the Eastern part of Washington State, we have a Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park, where many old trees have been preserved, their woody portions replaced by stone. In my experience, petrified wood is very rare, and valuable. I looked closer at another of the stones in the wall.

Petrified Wood

Isn’t it remarkable, that you can see the wood-grain, and in the top photo you can tell where the branches of the tree grew out of the trunk? It seems to me that those wall-builders didn’t know what they had, and simply built big chunks of petrified wood into their quite ordinary stone wall on a highway turnout. I wonder if other tourists who stop at this highway turnout bother to look closely at the simple wall built from local stone? I wonder if the National Park Service, who is now responsible for the maintenance of the park, even knows today what they have?

Lens-Artists Challenge #114-Negative Space

As I understand it, Negative Space in a photograph is the space around the subject, not the subject.  The Wide Open Spaces of Montana and North Dakota supplied some excellent subjects on our recent trip across country.

They don’t call Montana Big Sky Country for nothing.

Montana Big Sky

The white barn almost disappears in the Big Sky, under the Big Cloud.  This picture was taken from a moving car, from the passenger-side window.

Then, on our way home, we stopped at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.  The park is little-known, but definitely worth a visit if you are in the Northwest part of the state.  In encompasses multiple terrains, from tall bluffs to the winding Little Missouri River Valley.  Many of the structures in the Park date from the 1930s Works Progress Administration.  On a plateau above the meandering river, there is an observation platform/shelter, that forms a perfect frame for a view of the opposite bluffs.

The Little Missouri River wore away the sedimentary rock, leaving the bluffs with their many-colored layers for geologists and photographers to appreciate.  The Negative Space sets off the terrain beautifully.

In another part of the park, the worn-away bluffs have exposed some very intriguing features.  They are aptly-named “Cannonballs”, though not all are spherical like their namesake.  In the photo below, multiple cannonballs emerge from their substrate, and the surface looks like someone poured concrete down the face of the bluff.  What is the subject, and what is the negative space?

What do you think?  Mother Nature is the artist here.  The so-called Cannonballs are accretions of chemicals, assembled by Nature from dripping liquid that is different from the surrounding material.  They are harder than the bluff itself, and appear gradually as the bluff erodes around them.  Below this face, many cannonballs litter the ground, and some are quite large.

Sometimes, negative space can actually be positive, setting off the subjects.

Link to original post.

 

 

Facebook Supports Antifa, the Destroyers

Facebook Supports Antifa, the Destroyers

In violation of its own standards against so-called “hate groups”, Facebook allows Rose City (Portland, OR) Antifa to recruit online, on its platform.  You have, no doubt, seen all the news stories of the violent riots in Portland for the past 100+ days.  Please read the linked article above, and then sever all ties you have with Facebook.

We already know that Facebook supports and listens to the sleazy Southern Poverty Law Center when it deems groups such as the totally non-violent Tea Party and educational site Prager U “hate groups”, because they happen to strenuously disagree with the current Social Justice Warrior philosophy.  It is time to give up Facebook.  Forever.  Your family can find you on your WordPress Blog, can’t they?