Just a few thoughts to close out this week. As I said yesterday much of my time lately has been consumed with completing a major revision to my Gettysburg text. I completed that revision yesterday, and while there is still a good amount of editing, a couple of less massive chapter revisions, and a final chapter to write, I am starting to see that the end is in sight, but with the end always comes a new beginning. As Hedley Lamarr, Harvey Korman’s character in Mel Brooks’ classic movie Blazing Saddles remarked, “My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives.” So even as I work on this my mind is thinking about what to write next.
And speaking of rivulets of thought…
Last week the Y’all Qaida takeover of the wildlife refuge in Oregon by the Bundy Bunch came to an end, not with a bang but with a paranoid delusional wimper. When I heard that the FBI was closing in on the final four self-proclaimed freedom fighters I decided to listen to the live that they maintained with their supporters on the outside. I spent about two hours listening and for a while I honestly thought that at least one of them was going to try to become a martyr for their anti-government crusade.
Truthfully, as I listened I realized just how paranoid, delusional, and scary these people are. They voiced a convoluted worldview that blended a mixture of extreme-fundamentalist Christian and Mormon thought, conspiracy theories, including UFOs, white-supremacist ideology, and one of the most ill-informed understandings of the Constitution that I have ever heard; as well as myth masquerading as history where they are a new incarnation of the Minutemen who won the American Revolution. Sadly, I have either heard or listened to many of the same thoughts being broadcast on talk-radio and all over the Internet. Truthfully they reminded me of an American versions of the violent Muslim jihadists who do the same thing with their history and religion.
I was glad that the standoff ended with no more death, and that the whole Bundy Bunch, including the family patriarch Cliven Bundy will likely be going to prison for a very long time. I’m sure that some equally delusional reader will send me a nasty comment or two for saying what I just said, but it takes a hell of a lot of paranoid ideology and misplaced faith to believe the things that these people believe, even if you think the government has too much power.
Last Saturday as I was pounding away on my keyboard working on the Gettysburg text I got the news that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died alone in a hotel room in a posh hunting lodge in west Texas. Truthfully I take no delight in the death of anyone, well almost anyone; those who use terrorism to attack my country and our allies killing innocent civilians are another matter. But cannot rejoice in the deaths people that I disagree with on matters of politics, religion, or ideology. Justice Scalia was someone that I seldom agreed with in his interpretation of the Constitution, and how harmful his judicial opinions on civil rights, voting rights, the environment, women’s health, and the rights of people in the LGBTQ community were to people who have been long discrimated against. Honestly, I can understand why many people who have been harmed by his decisions rejoiced in his death. I cannot do that but I certainly can understand.
As far as his replacement, I think that the President has a constitutional duty to nominate a fully qualified individual toothed court, and that the Senate has the duty to provide a hearing for the nominee. I really believe that the vacancy should be filled, long before the next President takes office. I say that regardless of who the sitting President is, and regardless of their political ideology. A President’s duty under the Constitution does not end a year before his term expires wither they are a Republican, or a Democrat. Likewise there is no precedent in American history for the Supreme Court to have a vacancy lasting over a year, and there is nothing to say that another justice could die in office as most of them are not spring chickens, and then what?
Well, that is enough for the day. Enjoy your Friday.