Pick Wayne's Brain

October 7, 2012

Why Mitt Should Worry But I Won’t

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 10:54 PM

One of my favorite sites for checking the Electoral College predictions is Electoral-Vote.com. Not only do they publish a map with the results of all polls factored in, they even have a special map that omits polling by Rasmussen, on account of Rasmussen’s undeniable Republican leaning and skewing. With the Rasmussen polls factored in, they have Obama with 319, Romney with 206, and 13 (VA) up for grabs. Without Rasmussen, they have Obama with 332, Romney with 191, and 15 (NC) up for grabs.

Look, save yourselves some worrying come Election Night. The winner needs 270 electoral votes to win. Obama is a certain lock to win California (55), Oregon (7), Washington (12) and Hawaii (4). That’s 78 votes right there on the West Coast and beyond. So once you see him hit 192 once the polls close in the Midwest, you can go to bed confident that he’ll continue to be our president. (I know I will, except for the fact that Jane and I are taking the next day off so we can stay up and watch the House and Senate race results, too.)

In the Northeast, he’s gonna win Maine (4), Vermont (3), Massachusetts (11), Rhode Island (4), Connecticut (7), New York (29), New Jersey (14), Pennsylvania (20), Delaware (3), Maryland (10), and DC (3). Throw in a very likely New Hampshire (4) and that’s another 112, bringing the number he needs down to 80. He’s going to win Illinois, so that’s another 20, and New Mexico (5), though that’s not Midwest, just a very strong Dem state, bringing the magic number down to 55. As of now, Minnesota (10) and Michigan (16) are likely Dem states and you’re down to 39 needed.

The states listed as “barely Dem” are Ohio (18), Wisconsin (10), Colorado (9), Iowa (6), and Florida (29). North Carolina (15) has been going back and forth, and if you ignore Rasmussen (as we all should), Virginia (13) may be his, too. And he just has to get 39 among all of those to win. Romney can only count on 206 votes right now, and that’s if he holds onto Missouri (10) (despite Todd Akin) and North Carolina (15), which has been oscillating between Obama and Romney. Romney’s behind in the other states I mentioned above.

Winning Ohio alone won’t clinch it for Obama (so there’s not likely to be a repeat of last election’s Great Moment when Brit Hume broke the news to Karl Rove that Ohio went for Obama [video, sadly, not available], and Karl’s evil mind started spinning trying to figure out how McCain could win), but Ohio-Florida does it, as does Ohio-Wisconsin-Colorado-Iowa, and even Wisconsin-Colorado-Iowa-North Carolina (without Ohio or Florida), plus a few more scenarios.

Having said all that, personally, I feel good about Obama’s chances at winning re-election, but that doesn’t mean you should stay home. The real fight is over control of the Congress, especially the Senate. A Republican-controlled Congress would be a disaster for the country, as nothing constructive would get done. The debt ceiling would be fought over many times, the Defense budget would continue to soar as Republicans would refuse to let it go down despite the wastefulness in much of the spending, and poor people may have to resort to eating their shoes to get by because they won’t raise the debt ceiling to borrow the money to spend on Defense.

Then there’s the matter of the Supreme Court. Currently there are four Justices who are in their 70s, with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 79 and battling pancreatic cancer, being the oldest. She has said she wants a Democrat to name her replacement. Justice Antonin Scalia, who at 76 is the Court’s longest serving justice, has said he doesn’t want a replacement named who would undo everything he’s done. (That strongly suggests to me that he isn’t so sure that his decisions are on solid Constitutional footing, or else he wouldn’t need to worry about that.) I don’t care for Justice Scalia, personally. I think he’s a terrible Justice with a very limited understanding of the Constitution. He describes himself as a “textualist,” which “means he applies the words in the Constitution as they were understood by the people who wrote and adopted them.” That raises a question for me: How would he interpret the 27th Amendment?

It was actually written with the original 10 that became known as the Bill of Rights, but it didn’t get ratified and become part of the Constitution until 1992. The same people who wrote it were long dead by the time a whole different set of people adopted it. Though it’s a very simple Amendment (“No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.”), should it be interpreted the way the authors wrote it in 1789 or the way the People and States ratified it in 1992? To my mind, a clear reading of it prohibits annual pay raises for Congress, so how would he interpret it should someone take the time and money to challenge the annual pay raises Congress managed to vote themselves? I guess it involves what one means by “take effect.” Does that mean the first time Congress raised their salaries they had to wait only for one round of Representatives to get elected? Or does it “take effect” each time they try to raise their salaries (which they do through new legislation, not through the first law they passed), which would mean they can’t raise their pay each year? If he prefers to go with the interpretation of the people who adopted it, then clearly he has to see the Constitution as a living document, which he refuses to do.

Speaking at the American Enterprise Institute, he said:

“The death penalty? Give me a break. It’s easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion. Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state,” Scalia said at the American Enterprise Institute.

Hold on there, Nino. As for the death penalty, it is clear that the Constitution does not ban it outright (it mentions people answering for a capital or infamous crime), but that does not mean people can be sentenced to die in cruel and unusual ways. The way in which people can be sentenced to die may violate the Eighth Amendment. So I wouldn’t be so quick to say “It’s easy.” I can think of a lot of ways to kill someone slowly and painfully. Does Nino think they’re all constitutional?

And how does he think that “Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion”? The word “abortion” appears nowhere in the Constitution, nor do the words “pregnancy” or “fetus.” According to a plain reading of the Ninth Amendment, the right to have an abortion is an unenumerated right. And the Tenth Amendment tells me that since it was mentioned nowhere in the Constitution, it’s a right of the People. Which brings up another point: For some reason I’ll never understand (if one is trying to be consistent), Conservatives like Scalia would gladly let the States take away your rights but refuse to let the federal government do it. I have news for them. We tried the whole “States’ Rights” approach to governance. It was called the “Articles of Confederation” and it was such a disaster that we scrapped them and replaced them with the Constitution.

Lastly, I find it interesting that he refers to “homosexual sodomy” as being something the states were free to ban (again, in contradiction to both the Ninth and Tenth Amendments). Does he know what the words mean? Sodomy is considered to be any kind of sex other than “normal” penis-vaginal intercourse, the kind that brought most of us into the world. (Yea!) That would mean that oral sex or anal sex between a man and a woman would, according to Scalia, be perfectly okay and states could not prohibit them (though they’ve tried.) Like abortion, sex is mentioned nowhere in the Constitution, so how does one get the idea that the States are free to regulate it? And if marriage is a state matter, then how is the federal Defense of Marriage Act constitutional?

While Justice Scalia would certainly hope to hold out until 2017 when a new president (probably Hillary Clinton) will take over, there’s a chance that he may be forced to step down (or he may die, though I would never wish that on anyone), and the next Senate we choose will have to confirm his replacement. If, like me, you oppose the use of capital punishment (any method could be found cruel, even lethal injection, which doesn’t always work the first time), if you favor the right of women to choose for themselves whether or not to have an abortion or carry a baby to term, or if you favor the rights of the LGBT community to marry the ones they love, then it matters who you vote to be in the U.S. Senate. If the Republicans get even just 40 reliable votes, under current Senate rules they can easily block just about anything from happening. And even though they’ve claimed that using the filibuster on judicial nominees violates Senate rules, they’ll do it anyway. No matter how sick of Congress you’ve become, the only chance we have to make it better is for you to VOTE!

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