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After having trouble getting traction during President Obama’s tenure in some ways, Senate Republicans dug their heels in when Judge Samuel Alito passed away, blocking any practical conversation on a replacement until a new president could be sworn in.

According to one senator at the time, Mike Crapo of Idaho, “The current Supreme Court vacancy should be filled by an individual nominated by the next President of the United States.”  Today, Mike Crapo can say that he delivered tangible results, helping Republicans find an alternative Justice that was well-respected by legal minds on both sides of the aisle.

Alito’s mysterious death:

For those that follow Washington policy making, last year’s death of Justice Alito could have easily appeared as something out of a mystery novel.  An ailing judge books a dream trip to a Texas hunting lodge mostly alone.  He checks into his room and is found later dead in his bed.  He is then buried without any autopsy.

Naturally, there were some questions thrown at the process and the idea that there was no due process that was put into place to ensure that he was actually just perishing because of his heart condition.  The judge that was asked to do the decision-making determined that Alito died of natural causes and left it at that.

Some of the disquiet on the Republican side immediately following the announcement that there would be no autopsy has to do with the state of weapons in today’s society.  The Navy, the Army, gangs, real estate crews that ‘move’ targets pointed out by business rivals, and ‘we’ll help you lose your job’ crews have all trained with radar and sonic in order to be able to hit people with heart shots from up to a mile away.  It isn’t hard for them to figure out how to push someone who has a bad heart condition anyway over the edge.  In fact, there is some conjecture that John Roberts, the chief justice, was hit by a sonic attack many years ago in New England.

Part of the problem, perhaps is that according to the Pentagon, when you hit someone’s vagus nerve with a sonic or wave weapon so that it palpitates a bad heart, if it ends up causing a fatal heart attack there is no way that modern medicine can currently determine that it actually happened.  You manipulated a nerve with a frequency.  It doesn’t retain a record of that manipulation.

So, regardless of how people die when they are in positions of power, you will likely see the death attributed to natural causes until they can figure out how to measure whether or not it is different.

Led to a stalemate:

After Alito’s death, President Obama nominated his own candidate, someone who was conservative, yet not completely palatable to Republicans because the majority of them seemed to be saying that President Obama needed to recuse himself from nomination.  The net result was a stalemate that caused the nomination to be tabled until the election of President Trump.

In some ways, the timing of the nomination and the way the voting took place were unprecedented in the history of the Senate.  At the end of the day, a group of Senate Republicans took a stand and ended up winning the right to confirm a new Supreme Court Justice as a new President looked on.

In his farewell speech in Chicago, President Barack Obama has called on Americans to defend their democracy.

He told thousands of supporters: “By almost every measure, America is a better, stronger place than it was eight years ago.”

However, Barack Obama warned “democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted”.

The incumbent president implored Americans of all backgrounds to consider things from each other’s point of view, saying “we have to pay attention and listen”.

Barack Obama, who is America’s first black president, was first elected in 2008 on a message of hope and change.

His successor, Donald Trump, has vowed to undo some of Barack Obama’s signature policies.

Photo White House

Donald Trump will be sworn into office on Friday, January 20.

Raucous chants of “four more years” from the crowd were brushed aside by the president.

“I can’t do that,” Barack Obama said with a smile. US presidents are limited to two terms by the constitution.

“No, no, no, no no,” he said, when the crowd booed the prospect of Donald Trump replacing him.

Striking an upbeat tone, Barack Obama said that the peaceful transfer of power between presidents was a “hallmark” of American democracy.

However, Barack Obama outlined three threats to American democracy – economic inequality, racial divisions and the retreat of different segments of society into “bubbles”, where opinions are not based on “some common baseline of facts”.

“If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try to talk with one in real life,” he said to laughter and applause.

In his closing remarks, Barack Obama said he had one final request for Americans as president: “I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change – but in yours.”

Returning to Chicago, where he first declared victory in 2008, Barack Obama delivered a mostly positive message to Americans after a divisive election campaign which saw Donald Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Barack Obama said that young Americans – including those who worked on his campaigns, and who believe “in a fair, just, inclusive America” – left him feeling “even more optimistic about this country than I was when we started”.

In choosing Chicago, Barack Obama had earlier said he wanted to return to “where it all started” for him and First Lady Michelle Obama, instead of delivering the speech from the White House.

Barack Obama said that it was in Chicago as a young man, “still trying to figure out who I was, still searching for purpose in my life”, that he “witnessed the power of faith and dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss”.

“This is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved and they get engaged and they come together to demand it,” he said.

“After eight years as your president I still believe that.”

Some 18,000 people attended the farewell address at McCormick Place, the largest convention centre in North America and the venue for Barack Obama’s speech after he defeated Mitt Romney in the 2012 election.

The tickets were given out free, but were selling online for more than $1,000 each hours ahead of the speech.

As he leaves the Oval Office, President Barack Obama is viewed favorably by 57% of Americans, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, a similar level to Bill Clinton when he left office.