Photo of the day

Recent National Geographic photo of the day:

Picture of a turtle swimming at sunset on Mayotte Island, Comoros

Under the Sun

Photograph by Gaby Barathieu, National Geographic Your Shot

A turtle comes up for air at sunset near the Comoros’s Mayotte Island. Photographer Gaby Barathieu had been wanting to take this photo for many years and visited the island, known for its turtles, with that in mind. “This picture was taken on the first night,” Barathieu says.

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Would Trump be a “terrible” president?

I think so, but then again, I’m a Democrat.  What I love is that Pew asked respondents whether they thought all the presidential candidates would make great, good, average, poor, or terrible presidents (John Dickerson had a great series four years ago that we do a terrible job of assessing potential presidents).  The raw figures aren’t all that interesting (not surprisingly, Trump wins the “terrible” category and ties for Hillary in the great–only 11% for both, but that’s leading the pack).  The most interesting is seeing this broken down by partisanship, here:

PP_16.01.20_partisanRatings

Wow.  Republicans hate Jeb!  I’m confident that Trump would make a far worse president than Jeb.  And poor John Kasich.  Apparently, any hint of bipartisanship or moderation means you would probably be a terrible president.

Also, of note, the vast majority of Democrats are just fine with Hillary, a scant 3% (and I can think of one in particular) believe she would be terrible, same as for Bernie.

Remaining charts, show, not surprisingly,  a solid majority of Democrats think Trump would be terrible and Republicans think Hillary would be terrible.  That said, fast forward a few months and I’m pretty sure huge majorities will think the opposite party’s nominee would e a “terrible” president.

On Scalia and Originalism

Finally, Eric Posner with the Scalia article I’ve been wanting to see.  He doesn’t make the analogy, but just like fundamentalists interpret the bible by choosing to take (almost) every word literally, originalists interpret the Constitution in much the same way.  Point being, it’s interpretation, not universal truth, and there’s no way around that.  Posner:

Scalia is most famous for championing the judicial philosophy of originalism, which says that the Supreme Court should interpret the Constitution as it was understood at the time of its ratification (or at the ratification of individual amendments). He worked tirelessly to persuade his colleagues and the legal community that originalism was the only proper mode of constitutional decision-making.

Scalia argued that justices who committed themselves to originalism could not make such ideologically self-interested decisions. He cited himself as an example. He occasionally ruled in favor of criminal defendants and voted to strike down a statute that banned people from burning the American flag. He also upheld various liberal statutes. But no Supreme Court justice always rules in favor of the side that he sympathizes with…

Scalia refused to acknowledge that originalism does not enable justices to decide cases neutrally. If they choose to adopt this methodology, and manage to figure out a way to make it constrain them, they are committed to enforcing mostly 18th-century values—which are, by definition, conservative.

In fact, the historical sources are rarely clear, and foundational questions about how originalism is supposed to proceed—including how much weight (if any) should be given to post-founding judicial precedents that deviate from the original understanding, and how broadly constitutional principles like “due process” and “equal protection” should be understood—are irresolvable

Scalia’s interpretation of originalist sources has been frequently criticized, and in notable instances when he could not bend them to his will, he simply ignored them. His belief that campaign finance laws and commercial speech regulations violated the First Amendment would have surprised the founders, for example.

This is why originalism has no staying power except as a slogan.

Good stuff.

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