by Rod D. Martin
February 19, 2016

The Half-Full Report is Dr. Jack Wheeler’s weekly column at To The Point News. Rod is filling in for Jack this month.

In Memoriam: Justice Antonin Scalia, 1936-2016.

Scalia
Antonin Scalia’s passing is a great blow to the Republic, as inevitable as death may be for us all. He was a towering jurist, the greatest Supreme Court intellect in our lifetimes, and an unwavering defender of textualism and original intent.

Perhaps even more important for our wayward nation, Scalia refused to bow at the altar of stare decisis. For decades, conservative judges held the stupefying view that the essence of conservatism was the upholding of precedent, no matter how recent and no matter how utterly at odds with the Constitution they were sworn to uphold. In practice, this meant that leftist judges pushed the law further and further their way, after which conservative judges would defend their gains at any cost. It was the Brezhnev Doctrine, transplanted to the Potomac.

Scalia dissented from this perverse convention, and thus opened the doors to a newer generation willing to toss bad law, restore the Constitution as the standard, and embolden our hopes for a better, brighter future.

As they say, someone will surely succeed Justice Scalia. But no one may replace him.

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Needless to say, Barack Obama hopes to replace him, preferably with a 40 year old Alinskyite.

Unfortunately for the President, he is more than a bit hoist by his own petard. As Leon Wolf pointed out here two days ago, Obama can wax poetic about the Senate’s duty to confirm his nominees till the cows come home, but as a Senator, Obama personally filibustered Justice Alito’s nomination (he says he “regrets” that now).

Chuckie Schumer, who assisted in that effort, two years later (but while George W. Bush had seven months longer in office than Obama does now) called for the Senate to block all Bush Supreme Court nominees whatsoever. And Vice President Joe Biden was the architect of the ugly 1987 Senate battle that made Robert Bork’s surname a verb.

These guys’ hands are made of dirt.

But that’s far from all of it. As far back as 1960, Democrats passed a Senate resolution to prevent Dwight Eisenhower from placing anyone on the Court before the end of his term. The assault on Scalia colleague Clarence Thomas was perhaps the ugliest in the history of Supreme Court nominations. And even as we speak, Democrats in New Jersey are in their sixth year of blocking Chris Christie from filling a Supreme Court vacancy there.

As always, Democrats demand “civility for me but not for thee.”

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The media used to casually toss such facts down the memory hole. The internet now renders that impossible, which is perhaps its greatest contribution to civilization.

Now, with their entire party enflamed, Republican leaders are finding their spines to a degree most of us feared unlikely. Few were surprised when Ted Cruz promised to filibuster any Obama nominee (God love him). But in this morning’s Washington Post, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley penned this wonderful op-ed, “Democrats Shouldn’t Rob Voters of Chance to Replace Scalia”.

In it, two men most Republicans consider spineless RINOs make the strong case that Obamaism was repudiated at the last national election, and that the American people should decide for themselves whether or not the Supreme Court will be dramatically tilted a completely new direction for the next generation.

It’s worth a read. And as a practical matter, if McConnell and Grassley stick to their guns, any Obama nomination will be DOA.

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Well, DOA unless Obama can pull off a recess appointment. The question is, can he?

I’ve asked some pretty highly placed folks exactly this question. The consensus seems to be “probably not,” at least if McConnell and Grassley stay on top of things. But it’s worrisome (and not just because we’re counting on McConnell and Grassley).

On the half-full side of the debate is this great analysis from SCOTUSblog, which analyses the 2014 Supreme Court ruling on exactly this issue. In NLRB v. Canning, the Court gave the Senate broad leeway to determine when it is and is not in recess.

So there’s hope. But it’s far from a certainty.

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One last note before we move on: in his usual and customary fashion, our ever-childish President has let it be known he’s skipping Scalia’s funeral. Even Chicago Democrats are disgusted.

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Elsewhere, the race to replace America’s tackiest-ever President just keeps getting more interesting.

On the Dem side, Fox News now has Bernie Sanders leading Hillary for the first time nationally: 47% to 44%. That’s a ten point jump for Sanders, Hillary having dropped 14 points among “regular Democrats,” 13 points among whites, and an incredible 25 points among women.

The Fox poll is an outlier, but its trend is not. USA Today has the race at Hillary 50%, Bernie 40%, an 11-point surge for Sanders.

We reported Hillary’s free fall among women last week, and particularly Millennial women, who in New Hampshire went 82% for Bernie. That was punctuated this week by Susan Sarandon’s memorable tweet, “I don’t vote with my vagina.”

If that doesn’t qualify for the “Special Place in Hell” file, nothing does.

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Hillary’s inability to persuade the party of groupthink that it must nominate a woman (it’s a shame they can’t get Bruce Jenner to run) is far worse than a couple of national polls. The Nevada caucus is starting to look like Iowa, with Hillary holding a mere 1% lead, down 23 points from December.

This is provoking panic in Clintonland. As one longtime Clinton friend told The Hill, if Hillary loses Nevada, “the sh*t will hit the fan.” Plenty of others aren’t waiting for Saturday. MSNBC reports a lackadaisical Clinton effort in South Carolina with a fraction of Bernie’s boots on the ground. And just minutes ago, Drudge posted this headline: “Salon Surrender: She Can’t Win”.

Maybe, maybe not. But as I’ve been reporting for some time now, Hillary is in a lot deeper trouble than is being commonly reported, for reasons that look a lot like 2008.

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By the way, if Susan Sarandon weren’t enough, the Obama HOPE poster guy just came out for Bernie.

Hillary probably isn’t helping matters a lot, as the following video illustrates:

Yes, if she were anyone but Hillary Clinton, what you just watched would be the “Dean Scream” of 2016. Perhaps Jack was wrong after all. She is not the PIAPS: she’s the DIAPS.

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On the Republican side, it’s been a brutal, ugly week, starting with the most mudslinging ever seen in a GOP debate. But unlike usual, Donald Trump seems to be getting the worst of it.

Yesterday’s NBC News / Wall Street Journal poll has Ted Cruz leading nationally for the very first time, 28% to 26%. That’s a seven point drop for Trump and his lowest numbers since October. The same poll – admittedly an outlier – has Rubio 17%, Kasich 11%, Carson 10%, Bush 4%.

South Carolina? A similar Cruz surge: Trump 28%, Cruz 23%. That’s down from a 16 point Trump lead before New Hampshire. (The poll also has Rubio 15%, Bush 13%, Kasich and Carson 9%,

As with the Dems in Nevada, this is starting to look a lot like Iowa. And Cruz’s ground game is every bit as superior to Trump’s in the Palmetto State. If it’s close, Cruz is likely to win.

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I stress again: the NBC/WSJ poll is an outlier. But I’ve talked to insiders with several campaigns, and what I hear is that Cruz’s surge tracks with their internals. This may be very real.

Trump’s actions in the last weeks certainly seem to confirm that. He has acted a lot less like his normal politically incorrect self and a lot more like a man who’s freaking out.

Take his threat of a lawsuit against Cruz. On the surface, this seems like classic Trump: force the other guy to apologize (in this case, for an ad which accurately depicts Trump’s record) and thus show who’s the alpha male.

But there’s no forcing Ted Cruz to do any such thing, and no one should know that better than Donald Trump. Utterly predictably, Cruz’s response was “bring it on.” And more than that, this:

One of the things I look forward to most of all is deposing Donald Trump. And for that particular endeavor I may not use outside counsel. I may take the deposition myself. And I will say this: Whether in a deposition or in a court of law, getting Donald Trump under oath, under penalty of perjury, answering these questions? Well I’ll point out, it didn’t work out very well for Bill Clinton. Donald Trump does not want to be under oath answering questions about his own record.

Indeed he does not. And it’s not like Trump to take on someone who can’t be bullied. He’s worried.

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If the Cruz surge is real, it’s probably at least in part due to Scalia: does anyone really want Donald Trump replacing him? Anyone? Seriously?

But Trump just keeps piling dirt on himself. This week, he actually said that Republicans lost the White House in 2012 because the Romney/Ryan ticket was “too conservative.”

Now that’s encouraging.

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Seemingly to Trump’s rescue, the Pope decided it was a good idea to weigh in on the U.S. Presidential race this week, announcing (ex cathedra?) that The Donald is not a Christian, due to his stance on immigration.

Note that this is the same Pope who has embraced Castro.

Pope Francis, of course, is the Head of State of a country whose border looks like this:

Vatican Wall 1

And this:

Vatican Wall 2

Indeed, the independent state of Vatican City has what has been described as the single most restrictive immigration policy on Earth.

Does the Bible have any words for religious leaders like this? Other than “Socialist” I mean?

Hmmm….

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To his great credit, Jeff Sessions pointed out that the Pope should re-read the Book of Nehemiah, which recounts God’s people faithfully re-building the walls of Jerusalem.

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Iraq announced this week that it is desperately searching for stolen radioactive materials Democrats have assured us it doesn’t have, which it fears have been stolen by ISIS to make a dirty bomb.

Iran announced this week that it will conduct a space launch, in direct violation of Obama’s nuclear deal. As with North Korea’s space launch on Feb. 7, the danger is not of expanded Iranian television options: space launch technology is ICBM technology, and Iranian/NORK space programs mean not only a capability to reach the U.S. with nukes, but a capability to place nuclear bombs in satellites, silently waiting to conduct a nuclear or EMP Pearl Harbor.

Obama says we’ll sanction the NORKs, possibly the most useless idea ever. No word yet on his legacy-cementing Iran Deal.

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It’s no wonder that Obama is increasingly held in contempt abroad. Take this poster appearing on Moscow subways:

Obama Poster - Moscow

The caption? “Smoking Kills More People Than Obama.”

He’s certainly earned that Nobel Peace Prize, now hasn’t he.

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We’ll know a lot more about the future, of America and the world, after tomorrow. South Carolina and Nevada have potential to change everything.

But as we close, it’s important to remember what we’re fighting, “the real enemy” as it were:

The Right Enemy

Bernie Sanders thinks the enemy is the wealthy. He’s wrong. The enemy is all those who want to take rather than create.

The creators have given us the entire modern world, from life-saving drugs to cheap airline tickets to go see loved ones, to the abolition of famine in much of the world, to simple things like toilet paper.

And not only that, in doing so, they’ve greatly democratized wealth. Most of the things we have, from Google Maps to Wikipedia to the seeming omnipresence of fresh produce depends on crowdsourcing, a mass market, or both. We’re not only better off: we’re only better off because we’re all better off.

2016 is about whether that understanding of the world will prevail. We will all be infinitely poorer if it does not.

This article originally appeared at To The Point News.