Thursday, March 23, 2017

Cruising the Web

Will Baude posts at the Volokh Conspiracy about why Supreme Court nominees refuse to answer questions about issues that might come before the Court at some point in the future. He points out that senators could change this practice.
The reason that nominees do not give more in-depth answers about how they would rule in given cases, or whatever else, may simply be that they have no incentive to do so. In today’s political configurations, there are very few Senators who both 1, will vote against a nominee because he or she didn’t answer enough questions, and 2, would likely vote for that nominee if they got honest answers. In other words, I doubt that the Senators actually care whether nominees answer their questions, or at least they do not care enough to reward nominees they otherwise oppose, or to punish nominees they otherwise support.

I’m quite open to moving to a norm where nominees are expected to tell us much more than they currently do (though perhaps in a different format than the current theater). But if the Senators do not care, who can be surprised that the nominees follow suit?
I still don't think that nominees should say how they would rule on hypothetical cases that might come before the Court. A good judge would decide based on the specific details of any individual case. Do we really want nominees who would give answers as if they have stock responses for a case on issues such as abortion, campaign spending, or religious freedom without caring what the individual details are? I certainly don't.

The senators have enough information looking at how Judge Gorsuch has ruled in the past. There are plenty of cases and opinions out there for them to base their decision on. And let's face it, it would not matter at all how Gorsuch answered any of these specific questions.

Paul Crookston links to Judge Gorsuch's answer
to Dianne Feinstein's question as to whether originalism was in conflict with equal protection of the law. His answer is powerful and demonstrates that he doesn't have to answer on a specific issue in order to let us see what time of character the man has.
It would be a mistake to suggest that originalism turns on the secret intentions of the drafters of the language of the law. The point of originalism, textualism, whatever label you want to put on it — what a good judge always strives to do, and I think we all do — is strive to understand what the words on the page mean. Not import words that come from us, but apply what you, the people’s representative, the lawmakers, have done. And so when it comes to equal protection of the law, for example, it matters not a whit that some of the drafters of the 14th Amendment were racists, because they were, or sexists, because they were. The law they drafted promises equal protection of the laws to all persons. That’s what they wrote. And the original meaning of those words John Marshall Harlan captured in his dissent in Plessy. An equal protection of the laws doesn’t mean separate in advancing one particular race or gender — it means “equal.” And as I said yesterday I think that guarantee — equal protection of the law’s guarantee in the 14th Amendment, that it took a civil war for this country to win – is maybe the most radical guarantee in all of the constitution, and maybe in all of human history. It’s a fantastic thing, and that’s why it is chiseled in Vermont marble above the entrance to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Senator Grassley made a good point
about the hypocrisy of the Democrats who pretend to be so worried that a justice appointed by Donald Trump would be subservient to the president.
Grassley also pointed out it is telling that the same people who have so loudly demanded that Gorsuch demonstrate his independence from President Donald Trump are the ones demanding Gorsuch tip his hand on a whole host of issues that could come before him—such as voting rights, the Second Amendment, abortion, and even the controversial travel order that’s currently being litigated.

The WSJ highlights
what Judge Gorsuch said about freedom of speech.
Rhode Island limelighter Sheldon Whitehouse on Tuesday took to badgering Judge Gorsuch about some $10 million in “dark money” that is being spent on advertising to support his confirmation. He demanded to know if the appellate judge believes these dollars are “corrupting our politics.” Progressives like Mr. Whitehouse want to ban anonymous political spending, the better to harass and intimidate opponents from participating in politics. Recall the IRS attacks on Tea Party groups, or the Wisconsin John Doe raids against conservative activists.

Judge Gorsuch offered the Senator a tutorial on free speech. “The First Amendment, which I’m sworn to uphold as a judge, contains two competing messages,” he explained. On the one hand, Congress has the right to pass legislation requiring more disclosure in political spending. On the other hand, the Supreme Court has an obligation to ensure that such disclosure doesn’t “chill expression.” He cited in particular the 1958 Supreme Court decision, NAACP v. Alabama, that protected donors to the civil-rights group from disclosure in the Jim Crow era.

This is reassuring. In recent decades, the High Court with the honorable exception of Justice Clarence Thomas has been too willing to tolerate mandated donor disclosure, even as evidence mounts that activists and prosecutors have used it to target and shut down political opponents. A return to the NAACP standard would be an enormous boon to free speech and political participation.

Mr. Whitehouse complained that Judge Gorsuch wouldn’t recognize his “simple” point that money in politics is corruption. “I don’t think this is simple stuff at all. I think this is hard stuff,” the judge replied. Justice Thomas may soon have a new ally on the bench.
These days when people lose their jobs if they dared to contribute money to an unpopular cause such as opposing same-sex marriage, it is no small thing for a Supreme Court justice to be concerned about the impact of some financial disclosure of contributions.

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Politico reports that Democrats in the Senate are thinking of trying to get some sort of deal for not filibustering Gorsuch's confirmation.
The deal Democrats would be most likely to pursue, the sources said, would be to allow confirmation of Gorsuch in exchange for a commitment from Republicans not to kill the filibuster for a subsequent vacancy during President Donald Trump’s term. The next high court opening could alter the balance of the court, and some Democrats privately argue that fight will be far more consequential than the current one.

If Democrats move ahead with the plan — it’s still in the early discussion phase — it would require buy-in from some Republicans, but not necessarily Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) or his top deputies. At least three rank-and-file GOP members would have to pledge not to vote to unilaterally change the Senate rules through a majority-only vote later in Trump’s term — the so-called nu-style" clear option.
Perhaps there are a few squishy Republican senators who would go along with such a one-sided "Gang of 14-style" deal. Gorsuch is going to get confirmed and the Democrats are going to filibuster the next nominee whoever it is. With their anger over what happened to Merrick Garland, they could well filibuster any Trump nominee for the rest of his presidency. And here is one of the ideas that the Democrats are discussing.
In addition to talk of getting a GOP commitment on the next court vacancy, two other, less realistic options are also being discussed.

One would be an agreement to confirm Gorsuch in exchange for moving all judicial nominees back to the 60-vote requirement. Republicans are unlikely to agree, given that they are in the majority and have more than 100 lower-level vacancies to fill.

Another ambitious possibility: Some Democrats want to confirm Gorsuch only with an agreement that another justice retire and is replaced with Garland. The idea has almost no chance of success. But it’s being pushed by Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), who said that there’s too much “distrust” in the Senate to believe Republicans are willing to make a deal on a future vacancy, so they must make a deal now on Garland.
So would any Republican senators fall for such a "Tails I win; Heads, you lose" proposal. It might be a good sign that they banded together to block Garland's hearings last year. Why would they surrender that advantage this year? And why allow the Democrats to negotiate a return to the filibuster now that there is a Republican president set to make lots of judicial nominations?

It is funny that the Democrats are worried about how their leftist base is going to react to their not doing something to somehow block Gorsuch's confirmation. Having witnessed Congressional Republicans letting the tail wag their dog for years, it's funny to see the Democrats in the same predicament.

Daniel Henninger reminds us
of how the Obama administration took actions almost to ensure that there would be leaks of classified intelligence. We know this because of a New York Times story from a few weeks earlier. There are legitimate problems with the Obama administration's actions, but Trump's stupid tweets have overshadowed those actions.
The details of a March 1 New York Times story deserve to be repeated with as much manic intensity as news sites report the repudiation of Donald Trump’s claim that Mr. Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.

Well, he didn’t, but Mr. Obama did plenty else. This is the lead sentence of that Times story:

“In the Obama administration’s last days, some White House officials scrambled to spread information about Russian efforts to undermine the presidential election—and about possible contacts between associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump and Russians—across the government.”

This is what they did: “At intelligence agencies, there was a push to process as much raw intelligence as possible into analyses, and to keep the reports at a relatively low classification level to ensure as wide a readership as possible across the government—and, in some cases, among European allies.”

Earlier, on Jan. 12, the Times also reported that Attorney General Loretta Lynch signed rules that let the National Security Agency disseminate “raw signals intelligence information” to 16 other intelligence agencies.

That is, the Obama administration put in motion the tsunami of anonymously attributed stories that is engulfing and disabling America’s government today.

They knew the drill. In 2011 the Obama White House leaked details of SEAL Team Six’s assassination of Osama bin Laden within hours of the operation. They politicized the SEALs and commoditized leaking, just as they now have politicized and undermined public confidence in U.S. intelligence agencies.

Mirror No. 2 reflects the face of Donald Trump, who took a legitimate complaint about all this and then, via tweets and public statements, put himself and then his presidency at war with 17 intelligence agencies. The no-surprise result is pretty ugly.

As well, Mr. Trump brought on Paul Manafort and Roger Stone, who’ve built mansions on the foreign-connections swamp, and former Defense Intelligence Agency director Mike Flynn, who fantastically sat at a table in 2015 with Mr. Putin to celebrate RT, Russia’s primary external propaganda arm. No wonder someone took a look.

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Robert Tracinski explains why it is a good thing that Trump's budget seeks to end federal spending on the arts. First of all, we don't need to be funding a lot of the stuff that gets funded through these organizations.
The reason these specific government programs are considered so necessary to the Left—and so repugnant to the right—is actually pretty obvious. Everyone knows it. Government funding for art and ideas is a giant slush fund for the political and cultural left. Nobody has any doubt what political spin PBS and NPR are going to put on their news coverage. (“NPR” is practically a synonym for self-important upper-middle-class liberalism.) The National Endowment for the Humanities is yet another subsidy for the universities, which have become miniature one-party states. And a review of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts reveals numerous examples of politically tinged art that ranges from the tendentious to the downright propagandistic—from the Environmental Film Festival and “climate change-themed public art installations” to a play about anti-gun lesbians.

Needlessly to say, no such funds go to pro-Second Amendment plays or celebrations of traditional marriage or—God forbid!—movies expressing skepticism about global warming. Everybody knows this is how it works, so spare us the hyperventilation. If you make public art partisan, you can’t complain when it becomes a partisan issue.
He reminds us of how artists freed themselves from the limitations imposed on them by wealthy patrons, rulers, and popes. It is not such an awful thing to return to the culture before the LBJ Great Society created the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the NEA, and NEH. It isn't as if culture didn't exist before 1965.
Money is not the problem. The problem is the absence of any real conviction that the top achievements of Western Civilization are important enough to pass on. A smattering of federal funding is not going to make up for the death of the highbrow and for things like the mass abandonment of classical music.

In the mid-1950s, “The New York Metropolitan Opera’s Saturday afternoon radio broadcast drew a listenership of 15 million out of an overall population of 165 million.” Today, on selected Saturday afternoons you can go see The Met Live in HD at theaters across the country. I go to them regularly, and I am always disappointed to find that there is hardly another person there under the age of 50, even in a university town.

That may seem a bit like the collapse of Roman civilization, but it didn’t start with Donald Trump, and it has little to do with the flow of federal funds. We are a wealthy and educated society, more so than ever before in our history. Yet too many people treat support for culture the way they treat charity for the poor: not as something they personally need to do, but as something that ought to be done out there somewhere with somebody else’s tax money by a government bureaucrat.

If we wanted to pay for high culture, there could be an enormous market for it and plenty of money for its private support. If that isn’t happening, that’s because our high culture has been abandoned by the supposed cultural elites, who are too busy writing BeyoncĂ© thinkpieces. For them to complain that culture is dying because the feds aren’t doing something about it comes across as crocodile tears.

If we’re concerned about the survival of culture, we don’t need political slush funds like the NEA, the NEH, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. We need our own attention and effort. Culture, like charity, begins at home.

Maxine Waters has been making noise about impeaching Donald Trump. Yeah, as if that is going to happen with a Republican-led House. Even beyond that political reality, Waters is not the person who should be the point person on ethics charges.
During the height of the 2008 fiscal crisis, Waters helped arrange a meeting between the Treasury Department and top executives of a bank where her husband was a shareholder. Using her post on the House Financial Committee as leverage, she called Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson personally, asking him to meet with minority-owned banks.

When Treasury followed through, there was only one financial institution present: OneUnited. Had that bank gone under, the New York Times reported, Waters' husband would've lost as much as $350,000. Luckily for the Waters family, OneUnited received a cool $12 million in bailout funds.

After three years of special investigation, the ethics committee eventually ruled that Waters didn't technically break any rules. But that ruling came after unearthing her more than questionable family business practices, like making her grandson, Mikael Moore, her chief of staff.

Officially the committee ruled that Moore went behind the congresswoman's back to continue to lobby for special treatment. At best, that shows that Waters runs a haphazard office. At worst, it suggests she deliberately took steps to avoid prosecution.

Either way, Waters isn't in a position to tweet lectures about the conduct of any politician. Democrats would be wise to avoid her advice.

Glenn Reynolds has a theory
of why Americans are rejecting the advice of experts as argued by Thomas Nichols' book, The Death of Expertise. As Reynolds points out, experts don't have a good track record in a lot of areas.
Well, it’s certainly true that the “experts” don’t have the kind of authority that they possessed in the decade or two following World War II. Back then, the experts had given us vaccines, antibiotics, jet airplanes, nuclear power and space flight. The idea that they might really know best seemed pretty plausible.

But it also seems pretty plausible that Americans might look back on the last 50 years and say, “What have experts done for us lately?” Not only have the experts failed to deliver on the moon bases and flying cars they promised back in the day, but their track record in general is looking a lot spottier than it was in, say, 1965.

It was the experts — characterized in terms of their self-image by David Halberstam in The Best and the Brightest — who brought us the twin debacles of the Vietnam War, which we lost, and the War On Poverty, where we spent trillions and certainly didn’t win. In both cases, confident assertions by highly credentialed authorities foundered upon reality, at a dramatic cost in blood and treasure. Mostly other people’s blood and treasure.

And these are not isolated failures. The history of government nutritional advice from the 1960s to the present is an appalling one: The advice of “experts” was frequently wrong, and sometimes bought-and-paid-for by special interests, but always delivered with an air of unchallengeable certainty.

In the realm of foreign affairs, which should be of special interest to the people at Foreign Affairs, recent history has been particularly dreadful. Experts failed to foresee the fall of the Soviet Union, failed to deal especially well with that fall when it took place, and then failed to deal with the rise of Islamic terrorism that led to the 9/11 attacks. Post 9/11, experts botched the reconstruction of Iraq, then botched it again with a premature pullout.

On Syria, experts in Barack Obama’s administration produced a policy that led to countless deaths, millions of refugees flooding Europe, a new haven for Islamic terrorists, and the upending of established power relations in the mideast. In Libya, the experts urged a war, waged without the approval of Congress, to topple strongman Moammar Gadhafi, only to see — again — countless deaths, huge numbers of refugees and another haven for Islamist terror.

It was experts who brought us the housing bubble and the subprime crisis. It was experts who botched the Obamacare rollout. And, of course, the experts didn’t see Brexit coming, and seem to have responded mostly with injured pride and assaults on the intelligence of the electorate, rather than with constructive solutions.

CNN tackles the big questions facing the country today.
CNN on Wednesday morning aired a segment questioning whether President Trump is "afraid of stairs" and even asked the White House for an answer.

The segment on CNN's "New Day" and reported by national correspondent Jeanne Moos dovetailed on British news outlets and Vanity Fair magazine, which made light of Trump's January White House meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May, where the two were seen holding hands in an irregular way.

Moos said she had become "slightly obsessed with watching President Trump watch his step" ever since having heard a rumor that he has a phobia of stairs and ramps.

Moos said CNN asked the White House for comment on the issue and was told by a spokesperson, "No offense, but this is an absurd question."
I have no idea if Trump is afraid of steps or not, but I have sympathy for him if he does. I'm a decade younger than Trump, but there are times when I find myself taking care as I come down steps so that I don't fall. Is that such a bizarre thing for a 70-year old man to do?

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For some mysterious reason Variety has chosen Chelsea Clinton for a "Lifetime Impact" award for philanthropy. Leftists keep trying to make Chelsea a thing. Alan Smithee reminds us of all the jobs and money that Chelsea has received without any apparent accomplishment to deserve any of it. She was hired for $120,000 for her first job at a hedge fund with a $100,000 signing bonus at age 26. Most of her jobs have come from Democratic donors or those who sought to benefit from the connection to her parents. NBC hired her at an annual salary of $600,000 with no background in broadcasting. Why should anyone care about this woman? What has she ever accomplished that wasn't showered on her due to her parents? And now there is talk about her entering politics. Ugh! Are voters really pining for another Clinton?

Ace has the perfect headline for this story.
Nobel Prize Committee: No One Can Top Our Giving the Nobel Prize to Obama For Doing Nothing
Variety Magazine: We'll Take That As a Challenge

This is what liberals think about allowing college students hearing speakers with whom they disagree.
Six professors at Wellesley College sent an email to members of campus imploring the community not to invite controversial speakers who might upset certain students—speakers like Northwestern University Professor Laura Kipnis, the noted critic (and victim) of the Title IX bureaucracy.

The professors' statement is incredible. If their position was accepted by the college, it would demolish the entire foundation of higher education.

"There is no doubt that the speakers in question impose on the liberty of students, staff, and faculty at Wellesley," wrote the professors in their email.

To be clear, they are saying that extending a platform to any speaker whose ideas might be disliked by some member of the community is essentially a violation of the member's rights. Remedying this injustice requires not inviting such speakers and ignoring the rights of campus members who might actually like to hear a contrary perspective for once.

The professors go on to lament that the harms to students—"harm" being synonymous with offense in this instance—could have been avoided if only the people inviting controversial speakers had comprehended the likelihood of offense being given, and not moved forward with the invitation on that basis.
Robby Soave at Reason writes about this position which came about after some Wellesley students made a video criticizing Kipnis's talk at their school.
[C]onsider what these professors are doing: they are ceding total power to students who claim to be victimized by opinions they don't like. In their view, it is inappropriate for members of campus to invite a speaker whose views are not accepted by 100% of the student body. It is also inappropriate for a university professor to tell students that they are misguided about something.

If an institution of higher learning actually surrendered on these two issues, there would be no point to continue operating. There would be no point to having classes at all. Students would be paying for their own affirmation, rather than any kind of education.
Kipnis had a very thoughtful response.
"I find it absurd that six faculty members at Wellesley can call themselves defenders of free speech and also conflate my recent talk with bullying the disempowered," Kipnis told FIRE in an email. "What actually happened was that there was a lively back and forth after I spoke. The students were smart and articulate, including those who disagreed with me."

"I'm going to go further and say — as someone who's been teaching for a long time, and wants to see my students able to function in the world post-graduation — that protecting students from the 'distress' of someone's ideas isn't education, it's a $67,000 babysitting bill."

Soave also links to this story from Hampshire College where a student assaulted members of a visiting women's basketball team because they dared to braid their hair in cornrows.
The charges stem from a Jan. 27 incident at Hampshire College’s Robert Crown Center. According to court documents, Figueroa approached members the Central Maine Community College women’s basketball team and ordered them to remove braids from their hair citing “cultural appropriation.”

....When the players did not comply and began to leave the building, Figueroa allegedly initiated a fight towards one of the players. At the same time, another unknown Hampshire College student pulled the hair of a visiting women’s basketball player causing her to fall to the ground, according to court documents.

While the player was on the ground, police allege that Figueroa kicked and stepped on the player causing injury.

Another Maine player attempted to protect her fallen teammate but Figueroa “grabbed her by the head and threw her to the ground,” according to court documents.

The second player suffered scratches and other marks.

As coaches broke up the fight, Figueroa attempted to punch at the Maine students and “was screaming swears and racial slurs,” according to court documents.
Think of this student's behavior - she attacked a player simply because she didn't like the player daring to wear braids. When students feel that violence is a legitimate response to some imagined sin of cultural appropriation, we are indeed in a sorry situation.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Cruising the Web

Judge Gorsuch has demonstrated what a quality judge and person he is. When I watched the hearings after I got home from work, I was so impressed with his intelligence, his demeanor, and his ability to have a sense of humor after a long day of questioning. When our nation's leaders are so disappointing, it's a real pleasure to see one person who is so admirable. And conservatives have not had a lot to cheer about in recent years. Donald Trump is not a conservative and not someone conservatives can admire. When he does act in ways we like, it sometimes feel as a pleasant surprise. And the nomination of Neil Gorsuch is one such moment.

In fact, seeing him so calmly and intelligently answer the Democrats' questions should convince them to shut down these hearings because he looked better the longer it went on.

The Democrats have demonstrated that they have nothing legitimate to attack him on except wild accusations that he might not vote the way they would like. His only fault is the man who nominated him. Senator Durbin asked Neil Gorsuch about the accusation by a former law student of his, Jennifer Sisk, that he told students at the University of Colorado Law School in an ethics class that he taught that employers should ask female job applicants whether they plan to have children. Of course, Sisk is a staffer for former Democratic Senator Mark Udall and worked in the Obama administration. As National Review reports, quite a few of Gorsuch's former students, some of whom were in the same class with Jennifer Fisk have written in to say that she totally mischaracterized how Gorsuch taught the class. He was using a socratic method to discuss ethical questions that students might face as a lawyer and taking the role of devil's advocate to explore what students thought. Reading those students' letters, it's clear that Sisk either deliberately lied about what happened in class or just is so full of the victimization ethos that she turned a perfectly reasonable discussion into an accusation of what Gorsuch was saying. For example here is what one student who describes himself as a "liberal feminist Democrat" writes,
I was present in the class at issue and sat directly in front of the accusing student. I recall the hypothetical ethical dilemma discussed in the lecture that day. In that hypothetical ethical dilemma, a female law student, suffering financial hardship, is asked at an interview if she planned on having children and using the firms maternity leave policies. The female student in the hypothetical was planning on having children but nervous to tell the potential employer, for fear she might not get the position. Judge Gorsuch began to lead the class in debate as to what the appropriate course of action should be for the female law student. Judge Gorsuch made compelling points about the numerous issues and subtle discrimination women face in the workplace that many men are oblivious to. In fact, as a man, I had never really considered the extent of pregnancy related discrimination that women face in the workplace until this very class. True to form (and the Socratic teaching style), Judge Gorsuch also presented counterarguments presenting the hardships employers face due to paid maternity leave policies, which I, as a liberal feminist Democrat, as well as the majority of my colleagues rejected.

During Judge Gorsuch’s presentation of such counterarguments, I do not recall him accusing women of taking advantage of paid maternity leave policies, much less espousing such accusations as his personal beliefs. In class and in our conversations outside of class, Judge Gorsuch was always extremely respectful, inclusive, tolerant and open-minded. Additionally, Judge Gorsuch’s never shared his personal views on legal or ethical matters in class and was somewhat of an enigma. Had he made the statements he is accused of making, I would have surely noticed as they would be out of his character and had he said such things, I potentially would have even said something to him concerning these statements. That is not the Judge Gorsuch I know.
Gorsuch's answer to Durbin's question about this demonstrates how ludicrous the student's accusation was.
nd we talk about the pros and the cons in a Socratic dialogue so they can think through for themselves how they might answer that very difficult question. And senator, I do ask for a show of hands, not about the question you asked, but about the following question and I ask it of everybody: ‘How many of you have had questions like this asked of you in the employment environment, an inappropriate question about your family planning.’ And I am shocked every year, senator, how many young women raise their hand. It’s disturbing to me.”

Gorsuch said his mother, lawyer and former EPA Administrator Anne Gorsuch Burford, had to wait a year to take the bar exam because of her gender, and also pointed to former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who he said first worked as a legal secretary because no law firm would hire her as an attorney.

Gorsuch told the panel that there is no such thing as a Republican judge or a Democratic judge. Well, that's not how politicians look at a Supreme Court nominee.

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Dianne Feinstein has served on the Senate Judiciary Committee for a long time and seen many confirmation hearings. She knows that nominees won't and can't answer specific questions on issues that might come before the Court. They all follow the so-called Ginsburg standard in answering questions.
The modern standard for nominees in answering questions during their confirmation hearings is the so-called “Ginsburg Standard.” During her 1993 confirmation hearing, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg invoked her ethical obligation not to answer questions about cases likely to come before her on the Court. Justice Ginsburg testified, “A judge sworn to decide impartially can offer no forecasts, no hints; for that would show not only disregard for the specifics of the particular case, it would display disdain for the entire judicial process.” Over the course of her hearing, Justice Ginsburg refused to answer nearly 60 questions out of concern for maintaining her judicial independence and impartiality. Her reticence notwithstanding, Justice Ginsburg was overwhelmingly confirmed by a vote of 96-3.

Every subsequent nominee has followed the Ginsburg Standard.
Feinstein knows this and hasn't objected when Democrats used Ginsburg's precedent. But still she kept asking such questions of Gorsuch trying to get him to state his political beliefs.
But rather than grill Gorsuch on his former rulings, or ask questions that would reaffirm his impartiality if nominated to the bench, Feinstein used her time to ask questions pertaining to his political beliefs.

Feinstein received nearly identical answers — that Gorsuch strives for impartiality and it would be unfair to future litigants if he revealed his political beliefs — time and time again.

On the Second Amendment, Feinstein asked whether Gorsuch agreed with Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, a Supreme Court ruling that affirmed an individual’s right to possess firearms, or Justice John Paul Stevens’s dissenting opinion.

“Both Justice Scalia and Justice Stevens wrote excellent opinions in that case,” Gorsuch said. But, he explained, a nod in agreement with one opinion or the other would indicate to future litigants that he has already determined the outcome of their cases. “Whatever is in Heller is the law, and I follow the law,” he said.

Feinstein’s follow-up question? Whether Gorsuch agreed with Scalia’s opinion in Heller, specifically regarding his decision that military-style weapons may be banned.

“It’s not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing, senator,” Gorsuch said. “Respectfully, it’s a matter of it being the law, and my job is to apply and enforce the law.”

But Feinstein refused to accept that answer yet again, further asking which opinions by Scalia that he disagreed with. After Gorsuch explained why the question was inappropriate, Feinstein quipped, “Then how do we have confidence in you, that you won’t just be for the big corporations? That you will be for the little man?”

It seems that Feinstein and many of her Democratic colleagues do not set impartiality as a requirement for Supreme Court Justice nominees. Advocating the Democratic party’s agenda, however, is a necessity.

The most Dana Milbank can find to criticize about Gorsuch is that he appears gosh, golly just such a folksy, nice guy. For Milbank, Gorsuch is Eddie Haskell, indicating Milbank's self-assurance that no one with that level of education and credentials and conservative judicial ideology can really be that nice.
It’s a good bet that Gorsuch, once he has charmed the grown-ups and secured confirmation, will, like Haskell, reveal himself to be a rascal and cause all manner of mischief on the court with abortion and gun rights, money in politics and presidential power.
Because in Milbank's view, a conservative who is nice must be putting on a mask just waiting to lull everyone into complacency until he does something dastardly. Does Milbank know any actual conservatives or just see them as objects of ridicule.

One of Gorsuch's biggest critics in the Senate is Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal. Kathleen Parker reminds us of why no one should allow Blumenthal to be the one to say who has enough integrity to serve on the Supreme Court.
Gorsuch’s stubborn (and ethical) refusal to offer opinions on precedent spoke directly to his independence. To express an opinion, he said, would damage his credibility and perception of fairness with future litigants. It didn’t seem that there was any question that would throw Gorsuch off, which is what usually happens when one is secure in the truth and confident of one’s convictions.

But, importantly, all got to make their points, including the repellent Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), whose own record, frankly, should disqualify him as an arbiter of judicial integrity. Here is a man who committed one of the most craven betrayals of his generation — not sex with an intern, nor trafficking with prostitutes, but stealing valor.

How does a man who embellishes his military career — implying that he fought in Vietnam when, in fact, he received five deferments before serving stateside — consider himself worthy to prosecute the qualifications of one of the nation’s most brilliant jurists? When he did serve in the military, Blumenthal was able to secure a cushy position in the Marine Corps Reserve (which is not to impugn his ability to meet the Corps’ rigid physical requirements), where he was given such jobs as refurbishing a children’s campground and running a Toys for Tots drive.

Not that those aren’t important.

Blumenthal did issue a public apology in 2010, saying he had meant that he had served during the war, which was and is nonsense. Blumenthal, nonetheless, has found the courage to hit the airwaves and bray his intention to become Gorsuch’s fiercest opponent by promising to filibuster.

Gorsuch’s hearing should reassure Americans that there are still grown-ups around who are willing to serve. It was also heartening to hear him say that “no man is above the law, no man.”

Ronald Cass explains why the Democrats' attacks on judges for ruling in favor of a corporation against "the little guy" in a specific case is such a dangerous standard.
Despite the cartoon-version descriptions of a judge who "has sided" with the wrong people, the judge’s job isn’t to choose David vs. Goliath, to stand up for the little guy, to smack down the big guy.

The way little guys get protected isn’t to have a judge who votes on his or her gut sympathies. Instead, it’s to have a legal system that functions according to rules, legitimately enacted by constitutionally appropriate bodies and procedures, enforced in principled, predictable ways by judges who read the law carefully and apply it as written, no matter what the judge feels about the people on either side of the case.

Despots want judges who make decisions based on who is helped or hurt. Making decisions on the basis of principles, fixed in law and knowable in advance, is the exact opposite — and the essence of the rule of law. As Justice Antonin Scalia often said, a judge who’s always happy with who wins and loses is doing something wrong.

Beyond having the wrong goal for judging, there’s a bit of flimflam in Warren’s attack. Of course, among the thousands of cases Gorsuch has voted on, he inevitably has decided for employers, and against them; for corporations, and against them; for insurance companies, and against them. But he hasn’t decided consistently or inappropriately for or against anyone, any group, or any class....

The “wrong side” argument also mistakenly assumes that a rule that helps one group necessarily hurts another, big guys or little guys. That is completely wrong. For instance, adherence to fixed, clear rules on contracts helps rich investors such as Warren Buffett — and also helps poor investors whose life savings go into the same sort of funds.

Constant, unsubstantiated and ill-considered assertions of judicial misbehavior have become part of the standard attack on nominees. But the claim that Gorsuch has sided with the wrong sort of litigant is so patently misguided, so obviously wrong and so at odds with the essence of the rule of law, that even aspiring political stars should consider taking it out of the arsenal.

The Democrats know they don't have any way to shake Gorsuch, so they kept asking specific questions about issues that might come before the Court one day that they knew he couldn't and wouldn't answer and then blasted him for not answering those questions.
Despite the cartoon-version descriptions of a judge who "has sided" with the wrong people, the judge’s job isn’t to choose David vs. Goliath, to stand up for the little guy, to smack down the big guy.

The way little guys get protected isn’t to have a judge who votes on his or her gut sympathies. Instead, it’s to have a legal system that functions according to rules, legitimately enacted by constitutionally appropriate bodies and procedures, enforced in principled, predictable ways by judges who read the law carefully and apply it as written, no matter what the judge feels about the people on either side of the case.

Despots want judges who make decisions based on who is helped or hurt. Making decisions on the basis of principles, fixed in law and knowable in advance, is the exact opposite — and the essence of the rule of law. As Justice Antonin Scalia often said, a judge who’s always happy with who wins and loses is doing something wrong.

Beyond having the wrong goal for judging, there’s a bit of flimflam in Warren’s attack. Of course, among the thousands of cases Gorsuch has voted on, he inevitably has decided for employers, and against them; for corporations, and against them; for insurance companies, and against them. But he hasn’t decided consistently or inappropriately for or against anyone, any group, or any class.

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Jonathan S. Tobin refutes
the assumption that some people seem to have accepted that Russia stole the election. There is nothing to support such a belief. Yes, Russia did interfere in the election. But that is different from saying that that interference led to Trump's victory.
But despite the seriousness of the administration’s predicament, it is still worthwhile pointing out that one key element of the Democratic narrative about Trump and Russia is still utter nonsense. The notion that Russian efforts succeeded in stealing the presidential election from Hillary Clinton has no basis in fact.

As both Comey and Admiral Michael Rogers of the National Security Agency affirmed, there is no doubt that the Russians undertook activities designed to undermine faith in American democracy. It is equally true that the Putin regime preferred to see Trump rather than Clinton elected president of the United States. But the notion that these dots must somehow connect in a plot between Trump and Putin to steal the election requires faith in the sort of discredited claims (such as the Steele dossier) and conspiracy theories that Democrats laughed at when they were put forward by the far Right against Obama.

Yet Democrats are making progress toward achieving a more realistic goal: casting doubt on the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency by claiming, as almost all Democratic members asserted during the Comey hearing, that it was Putin’s intervention that put him over the top.

As with the collusion scenarios, there is a certain superficial logic to that assertion. Since Trump won a majority of Electoral College votes by virtue of some close victories in swing states — a mere 80,000 votes flipped from Trump to Clinton in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin would have handed her the presidency — it’s possible to claim that any one of a number of factors proved decisive. But even if we concede that to be true, the idea that the Russians were one such factor requires not merely a leap of imagination but a case of amnesia about events that took place only a few months ago.

When Democrats speak of Russian intervention working to defeat Clinton, they are referring to only one thing: the WikiLeaks documents dump. If the Russians did try to hack into the vote counts or to actively sabotage Democratic campaign work, including the Clinton camp’s sophisticated get-out-the-vote and micro-targeting efforts, they failed. But they were able to purloin the e-mails of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton-campaign chairman John Podesta.

The release of those e-mails was embarrassing, but Democrats forget that there was very little in any of them that was directly tied to Clinton
Do Democrats really believe that anyone voted differently because of what they learned about Debbie Wasserman Shultz or John Podesta? Putin wasn't the one who forced Hillary to set up a server in her house.
If voters didn’t trust Clinton, it was not because of anything WikiLeaks revealed but was rather the result of the Democrat’s unwillingness to tell the truth — or even keep her story straight — about her e-mail scandal or claim that the terror attack on the American consulate in Benghazi was the work of angry film critics. It was not WikiLeaks that gave her a reputation for mendacity but rather the revelations in Peter Schweizer’s Clinton Cash and subsequent follow-ups by the New York Times and Washington Post about the conflicts of interest involving Clinton Foundation donors and her work at the State Department.

More importantly, it must also be remembered that the stories about WikiLeaks document dumps were repeatedly overshadowed by Trump’s scandals. In particular, the publication of Podesta’s e-mails were almost immediately overshadowed by the discovery days later of the Entertainment Tonight video in which Trump was heard to boast of behavior that amounted to sexual assault. Nothing that WikiLeaks put out got a fraction of the coverage during the campaign as that video did. The same can be said for the way Trump’s insult of a Gold Star family knocked earlier WikiLeaks dumps out of the news.
Democrats can't admit that their candidate was such an awful candidate that she lost to Donald Trump.

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Rich Lowry looks
at how Trump is undermining his own presidency with his silly tweets.
Every administration gets knocked off its game early on by something. What makes the furor over President Trump’s wiretapping claims so remarkable is how unnecessary it is. The flap didn’t arise from events outside of the administration’s control, nor was it a clever trap sprung by its adversaries. The president went out of his way to initiate it. He picked up his phone and tweeted allegations that he had no idea were true or not, either to distract from what he thought was a bad news cycle, or to vent, or both.

The fallout has proved that there is no such a thing as “just a tweet” from the most powerful man on the planet. Trump’s aides have scrambled to find some justification for the statements after-the-fact and offended an age-old foreign ally in the process (White House press secretary Sean Spicer suggested it was British intelligence that might have been monitoring Trump); congressional leaders have become consumed with the matter; and it has dominated news coverage for weeks. Such is the power of a couple of blasts of 140 characters or less from the president of the United States.

The flap has probably undermined Trump’s political standing, and at the very least has diverted him and his team from much more important work on Capitol Hill, where his agenda will rise or fall. In an alternative and more conventional universe, the White House would be crowing over Judge Gorsuch’s testimony before Congress. Instead it is jousting with the FBI director over wayward tweets.
The man is 70 years old. Apparently, he is unable to learn a lesson and change his behavior.

As the WSJ writes, it matters that the president of the United States is a person of credibility.
If President Trump announces that North Korea launched a missile that landed within 100 miles of Hawaii, would most Americans believe him? Would the rest of the world? We’re not sure, which speaks to the damage that Mr. Trump is doing to his Presidency with his seemingly endless stream of exaggerations, evidence-free accusations, implausible denials and other falsehoods.

The latest example is Mr. Trump’s refusal to back off his Saturday morning tweet of three weeks ago that he had “found out that [Barack] Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory” on Election Day. He has offered no evidence for his claim, and a parade of intelligence officials, senior Republicans and Democrats have since said they have seen no such evidence.

Yet the President clings to his assertion like a drunk to an empty gin bottle, rolling out his press spokesman to make more dubious claims. Sean Spicer—who doesn’t deserve this treatment—was dispatched last week to repeat an assertion by a Fox News commentator that perhaps the Obama Administration had subcontracted the wiretap to British intelligence.

That bungle led to a public denial from the British Government Communications Headquarters, and British news reports said the U.S. apologized. But then the White House claimed there was no apology. For the sake of grasping for any evidence to back up his original tweet, and the sin of pride in not admitting error, Mr. Trump had his spokesman repeat an unchecked TV claim that insulted an ally.

The wiretap tweet is also costing Mr. Trump politically as he hands his opponents a sword. Mr. Trump has a legitimate question about why the U.S. was listening to his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and who leaked news of his meeting with the Russian ambassador. But that question never gets a hearing because the near-daily repudiation of his false tweet is a bigger media story.
Trump continues to shoot himself in his own foot because he can't admit that he made an error so he just doubles down on stupid.
All of this continues the pattern from the campaign that Mr. Trump is his own worst political enemy. He survived his many false claims as a candidate because his core supporters treated it as mere hyperbole and his opponent was untrustworthy Hillary Clinton. But now he’s President, and he needs support beyond the Breitbart cheering section that will excuse anything. As he is learning with the health-care bill, Mr. Trump needs partners in his own party to pass his agenda. He also needs friends abroad who are willing to trust him when he asks for support, not least in a crisis.

This week should be dominated by the smooth political sailing for Mr. Trump’s Supreme Court nominee and the progress of health-care reform on Capitol Hill. These are historic events, and success will show he can deliver on his promises. But instead the week has been dominated by the news that he was repudiated by his own FBI director.

I thought they told us that there is no voter fraud. But then we get a story like this.
The debate over noncitizens voting was a hot topic a few years ago in Frederick County, a prosperous Maryland suburb wedged between Washington’s urban metropolis and the state’s rural western gateway to the rest of America.
Conservative activists went to court to show that noncitizens were registering fraudulently to vote. A court employee met their request by turning over pages of residents’ names disqualified from jury duty because of alien status.
When those lists were compared with voting records for just three years — 2007, 2008 and 2011 — nearly 180 noncitizens were found to have registered to vote. Of those, 63 had voted, some in multiple elections. The 180 registered votes came from 1,400 disqualified noncitizens in those three years, a rate of 12.8 percent.
That is one county in one state. With the 2000 election settled by 537 votes in Florida, suddenly such numbers don't seem so insignificant.

ESPN has the back story of how Tom Brady's jersey was tracked down to a Mexican journalist who had, apparently, also stolen Brady's 2015 jersey and Von Miller's helmet.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Cruising the Web

If Trump hadn't recklessly tweeted an accusation that Obama had his campaign wiretapped, think of what the focus would have been after yesterday's Intelligence Committee hearing would have been. Trey Gowdy's interrogation about leaks about Michael Flynn's conversation with the Russian ambassador would have had more prominent billing. With all the speculation about connections between Trump's campaign and Russia, those leaks are the only law broken that we know about at this moment. We'd hear from Comey that they are investigating connections between the campaign and Russia, but that is mostly old news. And we'd also hear from Comey that Russia's meddling in the election actually had more to do with hurting Hillary's reputation because they thought she was going to win.
FBI Director James Comey repeatedly referred to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s personal animus to Hillary Clinton as one of the major motivations in Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election during congressional testimony Tuesday.

Comey described how Putin “hated Hillary Clinton so much” he developed a preference for President Donald Trump. Comey deployed a sports metaphor, saying, “I hate the New England Patriots, and no matter who they play, I’d like them to lose.”

His statements echo the main findings of the Jan. 6 U.S. intelligence community’s report on Russian attempts to undermine the 2016 election. “Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency,” the report’s key judgement found.

Comey’s statement and the report’s key judgement contradict major media reports that Putin’s primary aim was to help the Trump campaign, and discount the role of Putin’s feelings regarding Clinton. The FBI director in part deployed his New England Patriots analogy to walk back such accusations.

Comey described how Putin’s campaign to denigrate Clinton accelerated after Trump won the Republican presidential nomination, an assertion which is also found in the Jan. 6 report, “Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.”

Former President Barack Obama’s ambassador to Russia Michael McCaul confirmed he shared this feeling to NBCNews in December, saying that Putin “has had a vendetta against Hillary Clinton, that has been known for a long time because of what she said about his elections back in the parliamentary elections of 2011.”

Russia’s government did not even believe Trump would win the election, by the intelligence community’s own admission, and focused the latter part of its influence campaign towards undermining Clinton’s future presidency.
So, to sum up, we learned that the FBI is investigating links between some people connected to the Trump campaign and Russia and that someone illegally leaked that news to the media. We learned that Putin's interest in the campaign wasn't to help Trump but to damage a future President Clinton. That is the story, but it got sidetracked into the cul-de-sac of Trump's tweets.

Instead we heard over and over again about how there was no evidence for Trump's stupid tweets about Obama taping Trump Towers. And since Trump will never, ever back down and admit he made a mistake, this story will go on and on. How many news cycles have been lost for Trump due to baseless accusations on Twitter? We're now over two weeks after Trump's first early-morning tweet and there has been absolutely no evidence to support his accusation. The most Trump had was a public reference to Andrew Napolitano's speculation that British intelligence was involved in spying on Trump. So the Trump administration repeated that speculation even though there was no evidence to back up the allegation. But Trump didn't seem to think that there is any problem making baseless charges against an ally's intelligence agency.

As Jim Geraghty writes, this was a "self-inflicted wound."
By refusing, over and over again, to back down from Trump’s original, farfetched charge, his administration has inflicted a lot of completely unnecessary damage upon itself, and even upon the so-called special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom. This is what happens when the White House prioritizes winning the daily news cycle above all else. This is the natural result of an amazingly shortsighted approach to governing.
Of course, if Trump really thought this was true, there are things he could do since he is, you know, the President of the United States.
At any moment he can call the FBI Director, the NSA director, or anyone else into his office and ask, “What is the meaning of this?” He can declassify anything he likes — logs, records, transcripts — particularly if it exposes criminal behavior by government officials. When he made his shocking charge, he was in the best possible position to back it up.
Geraghty is rightly appalled that Trump doesn't seem to realize that the president of the United States can't just go making unfounded allegations against a former president and another country's intelligence agencies.
Maybe during his decades as a star of the New York tabloids, Trump came to believe that he could get out of trouble by making outrageous counter-accusations against his tormentors. Maybe in that realm, his belief was well founded. But the rules are different when you’re president. The commander in chief cannot publicly accuse anyone, much less his predecessor, of criminal wrongdoing and expect that the accusation won’t be investigated. The White House press secretary cannot suggest that an allied intelligence agency spied on American citizens for political reasons and expect that the rest of the world won’t sit up, take notice, and demand proof.

With every such unsubstantiated accusation, the administration loses a bit of credibility that it will need when it makes an accurate charge. Unless it wants to spend the next four years perceived as the boy who cried wolf, the White House should show more regard for the truth going forward.

The Democrats did a lot of grandstanding at the opening of Neil Gorsuch's confirmation hearing yesterday. It was clear that they had nothing against him specifically. They're angry about the treatment that Merrick Garland received. But that's not Gorsuch's fault. And Dianne Feinstein made a statement about how troubled she is about "originalist judicial philosophy," which she doesn't seem to understand and thinks it's about evaluating "our constitutional rights and privileges as they were understood in 1789." Well, there have been amendments added to the Constitution since then. We didn't have the Fourteenth Amendment in 1789 or even the entire Bill of Rights. She's all about the Living Constitution.
At no point did Feinstein articulate constitutionally codified rights as timeless. Also ignored were legal options for change via constitutional amendment or the passage of constitutionally-compatible legislation.

Feinstein implied that slavery was abolished as a result of judicial perceptions of the Constitution as a “living document." She made no mention of the Civil War, preceding and subsequent abolitionist movements or the Reconstruction Amendments. The Supreme Court, she continued, should engage in ongoing constitutional reinterpretation in accordance with contemporary perceptions of Supreme Court justices.

Governmentally sanctioned and enforced racial discrimination (i.e. Jim Crow), and the burning of women accused of witchcraft (i.e. Salem witch trials) would still be ongoing, suggested Feinstein, in the absence of fluid constitutional reinterpretation (emphases added):

I firmly believe the American Constitution is a living document intended to evolve as our country evolves. In 1789, the population of the United States was under four million. Today, we're 325 million and growing. At the time of our founding, African-Americans were enslaved. It was not so long after women had been burned at the stake for witchcraft, and the idea of an automobile, let alone the internet, was unfathomable. In fact, if we were to dogmatically adhere to originalist interpretations, then we would still have segregated schools, and bans on interracial marriage. Women wouldn’t be entitled to equal protection under the law, and government discrimination against LGBT Americans would be permitted.

So I am concerned when I hear that Judge Gorsuch is an originalist and a strict constructionist.”
And this woman is the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. She's apparently clueless about Constitutional history and hasn't heard of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment or the Thirteenth Amendment ending slavery. She is unaware of how the First Amendment has been used in cases involving the internet. Of course, this is a woman who thinks that Roe v. Wade is some sort of "super precedent."

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There is a long tradition in Senate judicial confirmation hearings, going back at least to Turgood Marshall, that nominees will not answer questions based on specific issues that might come before them on the Court. But the Democrats seem to want Judge Gorsuch to ignore such impartiality in order to agree to vote as they would like.
Vermont Senator Pat Leahy said last week he would “insist on real answers from Judge Gorsuch.” At Monday’s opening day of Senate hearings, Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal told Judge Gorsuch that while the committee might ordinarily respect a nominee’s reticence on cases, ordinary rules don’t apply for President Trump’s nominee. “If you fail to be explicit and forthcoming,” he said, the committee would have to assume his views were in line with Mr. Trump’s.

That’s wildly inappropriate since Judge Gorsuch can’t know the facts or the law of future cases that would come before the Court. If he were to speak out extensively on any case at the confirmation hearing, his comments could require his recusal.

Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor didn’t have to meet this open-kimono standard. Neither did Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who said at the time of her confirmation hearings in 1993 that “[a] judge sworn to decide impartially can offer no forecasts, no hints; for that would show not only disregard for the specifics of the particular case, it would display disdain for the entire judicial process.”

Mr. Leahy told nominee Ginsburg at the time that he “certainly” did not want her “to have to lay out a test here in the abstract which might determine what your vote or your test would be in a case you have yet to see that may well come before the Supreme Court.” At the 1967 hearings for Thurgood Marshall, then Senator Edward Kennedy called it a “sound legal precedent” that “any nominee to the Supreme Court would have to defer any comments on any matters which are either before the court or very likely to appear before the court.”
But such traditions don't mean anything when there is political posturing to be done.
If Democrats want genuine insight into how Judge Gorsuch would rule, they can always look at his extensive record on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. Of the 789 opinions he wrote, only 15 had dissents from other judges. Progressive groups claim Judge Gorsuch will rule against women but that doesn’t hold with his record on gender discrimination. According to Harvard Law and Policy Review, employees win fewer than 11% of gender discrimination cases. Judge Gorsuch was more likely to rule in favor of the employees—in some 25% of cases.

The Democrats’ Trump disavowal standard is especially disingenuous. They want him to declare his independence from the executive, but in doing so he would be making himself more dependent on Congress for the sake of confirmation. As a judge under Article III of the Constitution, he owes Congress and the White House only such deference as the Constitution dictates, no more or less.

What’s really going on here is that Democrats are grasping for a reason, any reason, to justify a vote against Judge Gorsuch. Their liberal supporters are demanding opposition—you know, “the resistance”—and if they can’t find something on the record they’ll invent something that isn’t on the record.

Carrie Severino has listened
to statements by Democratic senators about Judge Gorsuch and notes how many times there were references to Donald Trump rather than to anything Gorsuch has said or done. She contrasts the attitude that Gorsuch should have a higher bar to jump over because of the president who nominated him with questions that weren't asked of previous nominees.
“Judge Ginsburg, the president who nominated you has been accused of carrying on a 12-year affair with Gennifer Flowers and in an 60-minutes interview admitted he had caused ‘pain in his marriage.’ How do you square your role as a defender of women’s rights with the many reports of his infidelity?”

“Judge Breyer, earlier this year President Clinton was sued for sexual harassment by Paula Jones and has been engaged in a smear campaign against his accuser. I want to give you the opportunity to distance yourself from this scandal-ridden administration – would you like to comment?”

“General Kagan, President Obama ignited controversy at this year’s State of the Union address by publicly taking the Supreme Court to task for a decision he disagreed with. Do you feel it’s appropriate for a sitting President to use the authority of his office to criticize decisions with which he disagrees?”

If you don’t have a vivid recollection of any of those questions, it’s no surprise. Those types of explorations of a Supreme Court nominee’s commentary on political questions and debates have never actually come up because they are entirely inappropriate during the confirmation process. Many presidents have said and done controversial things in the past, but never have their judicial nominees been called to account for them.

Until now.
Such questions of Gorsuch would be an inappropriate politicization of the confirmation hearing. And it is especially ironic that Neil Gorsuch is the vehicle for those attacks since he has a history of opposing overbroad deference to the executive branch and desiring limits on government's power.
But even if these attacks were not so silly in light of Gorsuch’s own record, they should be universally rejected as inappropriate for a judicial hearing. A sitting judge should not be asked to wade into the political swamp. The focus of this week’s hearings should be his record, and he shouldn’t be asked to weigh in on criticism of President Trump any more than he should be asked his opinion of Obama’s thinly-veiled threats against the Court or Bill Clinton’s sexual exploitation of Monica Lewinsky and his subsequent character assassination of the intern he seduced.

Cheers to Nikki Haley for her speech as to why the U.S. is going to boycott the noxious UN Human Rights Council.
America is boycotting a weeklong session at the UN Human Rights Council that started Monday, and is pressuring others to oppose five related resolutions expected to be raised on Friday, at the end of that session.

As US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley pointed out Monday, only one country is subjected to regular scrutiny and condemnation in each of the three annual sessions of the 47-member Geneva-based human-rights body.

Guess which one.

“It’s not Syria, where the regime has systematically slaughtered and tortured its own people,” Haley said.

“It’s not Iran, where public hangings are a regular occurrence. It’s not North Korea, where the regime uses forced labor camps to crush its people into submission.

“It’s Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East.”

The council was established in 2006 to replace the discredited Human Rights Commission. It was widely hailed by UN supporters as major “reform,” but it turned out that this rose by another name smelled just as rotten.

The George W. Bush administration didn’t buy it and refused to join in.

Then President Barack Obama’s State Department, while admitting the council was still obsessed with Israel, argued that by joining, America could effect change from the inside.

Team Obama forced the adoption of resolutions about North Korea, Syria and other areas of concern. But the fundamental nature of the council remained.

According to the group UN Watch, in the decade since its inception, the council condemned Israel 68 times, compared to 67 condemnations of all other countries combined.

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Jim Geraghty wonders if Republicans are now feeling a bit of what Democrats felt through Clinton's presidency.
It’s easy to think of the 1990s as just a rollicking good time, a roaring dot-com economy, salacious sex scandals and a comforting if illusory sense that the world was at peace. Certainly, our recent experience with the Obama presidency probably persuaded some Republicans that Bill Clinton was not the worst Democratic president of our lifetime and in fact there’s a good chance he was the best, depending on how long your life has been. Welfare reform, a budgetary surplus, crime dropping – in a lot of ways, times were good.

But there was this nagging problem of Bill Clinton lying habitually and breaking the law pretty regularly. The Lewinsky scandal is remembered the most, but there were plenty: firing the White House travel-office staffers, the “accidental” access to the FBI files of prominent Republicans, the suspicion of financial misdeeds and fraud in the Whitewater Development Corporation, Paula Jones, the Chinese money in the 1996 campaign, the de facto renting out of the Lincoln Bedroom, the bombing of the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Sudan . . .

Even when there was no crime proven, things looked odd and troubling and highly unusual for the White House. Vince Foster was the highest-level government official to commit suicide since Secretary of Defense James Forrestal in 1949. (And as with Foster, there was a lot of speculation that Forrestal’s death wasn’t a suicide.)

During all this time, when Republicans objected to the behavior ranging from tawdry to illegal, most Democrats and plenty of apolitical Americans would just shake their heads with a smile and sigh, “Oh, that rascal! Our president is just incorrigible!” It’s not that they applauded much of that behavior; they just didn’t think it was worth getting upset about. If the economy was rocking and rolling, and everything else seemed to be going well, then we could all “compartmentalize” the way the president did and disapprove of him as a man but approve of the job he was doing.

There aren’t a lot of conservatives who like Trump making a shocking claim of illegal wiretapping and offering no supporting evidence. They just don’t see it as something worth getting that upset about. Trump is a vessel to enact their goals, and everybody knows this is the way he operates. The Red Sox used to say, “That’s just Manny being Manny.” This is just Trump being Trump. He’s karma for all the times figures on the Left told lies and the fact-checkers were asleep at the switch.

Is this a good way to think of our leaders? Back in the 1990s, we were told that sophisticated Europeans didn’t worry about the character of their leaders; they simply focused upon results. At this moment, Democrats will scoff that character is destiny (let’s all pause to let Bill Bennett wipe the coffee from his screen) and there’s no comparison between the Clinton economy and the Trump economy.
Republicans claimed that Clinton's character was important and his performance as president shouldn't be separated from his character flaws. They shouldn't now decide all of a sudden that character doesn't matter.

A man wears a "Make America Great Again" hat to walk around New York City and reports on the reactions he received. It reminds me of the video of ten hours of a woman walking around New York City and the catcalls she received. This guy should have taped his experience. It would have had more impact than just writing an article about it.

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Who knew that our world maps were promoting social inequality all these years? It's all due to the Mercator projection maps.
For almost 500 years, the Mercator projection has been the norm for maps of the world, ubiquitous in atlases, pinned on peeling school walls.

Gerardus Mercator, a renowned Flemish cartographer, devised his map in 1569, principally to aid navigation along colonial trade routes by drawing straight lines across the oceans. An exaggeration of the whole northern hemisphere, his depiction made North America and Europe bigger than South America and Africa. He also placed western Europe in the middle of his map.

Mercator’s distortions affect continents as well as nations. For example, South America is made to look about the same size as Europe, when in fact it is almost twice as large, and Greenland looks roughly the size of Africa when it is actually about 14 times smaller. Alaska looks bigger than Mexico and Germany is in the middle of the picture, not to the north – because Mercator moved the equator.

Three days ago, Boston’s public schools began phasing in the lesser-known Peters projection, which cuts the US, Britain and the rest of Europe down to size.

The newest outrage du jour comes from feminists who are upset that Wonder Woman shaves her armpits. Seriously.
The newest trailer for Wonder Woman just came out last weekend and was met with mostly positive reception, but now there is another controversy surrounding the titular hero. Fans of the iconic Amazon Princess have noticed a particularly strange moment in the trailer, which is at the 1:41 mark. Here Gal Gadot raises up her arms and it appears that she does not have any armpit hair at all. This is making lots of fans upset. Here are some notable criticisms:

"Is this seriously still happening in 2017," stated Slate Magazine.

Refinery29 called for a time where Wonder Woman could "prove that women - even those who are superheroes - don't have to cater to beauty standards that are meant to make them more attractive to men."

....Critics of Wonder Woman's lack of armpit hair say that it would only make sense for an Amazonian to have lots of body hair, including armpit hair. These critics are also saying that Gadot's armpits were digitally altered in post-production, and they blame the studio for being afraid of showing women with armpit hair. Gal Gadot has yet to comment on this #Armpitgate controversy.
I guess that is yet another indication that feminism has achieved all its goals if people are now being outraged over a comic book movie heroine's pits.

Well, our long national mystery is over. We now apparently know who stole Tom Brady's Super Bowl jersey. And it was a member of the Mexican media. And the guy also had Brady's 2015 jersey and Von Miller's helmet. It's amazing that he wasn't found until now considering that there are video cameras in these locker rooms. I guess that Roger Goodell is glad that this is one attack on Brady of which he's innocent.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Cruising the Web

So will the Trumpians stop talking about this now?
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Sunday there "never was" evidence that former President Barack Obama — or anyone else — wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential campaign.

"If you take the president literally, it didn't happen," Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said on "Fox News Sunday." "Was there a physical wiretap of Trump Tower? No, there never was, and the information on Friday continues to lead us in that direction."
Or once the accusations get released into the political bloodstream, does it even matter that there is no evidence out there?

Michael Goodwin has a good recommendation of what Trump should be saying about wiretaps. It's what Trump should have been saying all along instead of making wild tweets and silly accusations in front of Angela Merkel.

As Neil Gorsuch begins his hearing today, it's remarkable how weak the Democrats' attacks against him have been.
Democrats cite Hwang v. Kansas State, in which Judge Gorsuch ruled that when a school declined to extend the length of a six-month leave of absence to a teacher who had cancer, the decision did not qualify her for a discrimination claim under the Rehabilitation Act. They also make much of Thompson R2-J School District v. Luke P., in which the court ruled against parents seeking reimbursement for the cost of a private program after they took their autistic son out of public school. But these were correct rulings based on statute and precedent, and they were unanimous rulings joined by liberal judges.

Mr. Schumer says that in employment-discrimination cases Mr. Gorsuch “sided with employers 60% of the time.” But judging isn’t a statistical exercise in which perfect impartiality is defined by a 50-50 divide between employers and employed. Among Judge Gorsuch’s 171 labor and employment cases, 89% were unanimous decisions.

Democrats want to ignore cases when Judge Gorsuch ruled against corporations and business interests. In 2015 in Cook v. Rockwell, the judge ruled in favor of allowing a decades-long class action over whether the Rocky Flats nuclear-weapons plant had contaminated land with leaked plutonium. In Energy and Environment Legal Institute v. Epel, Judge Gorsuch ruled to uphold the constitutionality of Colorado’s renewable-energy mandate.

Democrats are also trying to conjure something nefarious because Judge Gorsuch is friendly with billionaire businessman Philip Anschutz. Well, they do both live in Denver, Judge Gorsuch represented Mr. Anschutz while in private practice, and Mr. Anschutz later recommended him for a federal judgeship.

Again, so what? Mr. Anschutz has also been connected to Democratic Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, who was an executive at Anschutz Investment Co. The Denver Post reported in 2010 that family members and Anschutz executives were major patrons of Mr. Bennet. We presume Democrats don’t think that relationship compromised the integrity of Mr. Bennet.

If this is all they’ve come up with, Democrats might as well start counting the votes. Judge Gorsuch has been praised by President Obama’s former Solicitor General Neal Katyal, and the judge’s record of skepticism toward executive power is exactly what Democrats might hope for in a Donald Trump appointee. He also has a libertarian streak on criminal law.
Some Democrats are making noise about filibustering Gorsuch. That would be a gift to the Republicans. They could use the Democrats' intransigence as a good excuse for nuking the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations. With such a well-respected nominee, Democrats have a hard time being persuasive that he's so extreme that he should be filibustered. Much better for the Republicans to get rid of the filibuster for Gorsuch and then have it gone if there should be another opening.

Ilya Shapiro has some recommendations of serious questions that senators could ask Judge Gorsuch this week to get beyond the predicted Kabuki theater of asking questions that the nominee can just punt on.

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James Taranto ponders the argument that liberals make that "Jesus was a socialist." Nicholas Kristof recently wrote that, basically, Paul Ryan is a bad Catholic because he wants to end Obamacare.
Without wrestling with any difficult questions of faith or logic, Mr. Kristof simply casts the federal bureaucracy in the role of Jesus. Then the Timesman proceeds to suggest through satire that by seeking to reduce outlays and improve incentives in federal programs, Mr. Ryan is defying the will of his God. Of course if federal agencies were ever actually given the statutory mission to do as Jesus would do, Mr. Kristof would be as horrified as anyone. But this seems to be a political season when people who spend much of the year driving religion out of public life abruptly drag it back in as they attempt to justify big government. It’s not necessarily persuasive.

The ancient book has numerous admonitions to perform charity and various condemnations of greed, but it’s not easy to find a passage in which Jesus says that government is the best vehicle to provide aid, or that anyone should force others to donate.

Even casual readers of the Bible may notice that Jesus doesn’t get along all that well with the political authorities of his time and (spoiler alert!) his relationship with government ends rather badly. Back then, tax collectors were not presumed to be the dedicated public servants that we appreciate so much today. And in our own time, social conservatives who think the U.S. Government has become hostile to religion—Christianity in particular—should consider what Jesus had to put up with.

Fortunately, in part because of the influence of the Bible on America’s founders, we enjoy a form of government that is much more humane than the one that Jesus encountered. This raises the interesting question of what Jesus would say about our contemporary political debates. Perhaps he would gaze approvingly upon the $4 trillion annual federal budget and intone, “Whatever you do to the least of my appropriations, you do to me.” But would he still say that after examining all the line items? Beyond questions of specific allocations for Planned Parenthood and the like, would Jesus see even a relatively benign government like ours as superior to individual acts of charity in comforting the afflicted?

Why is Chelsea Clinton someone that corporations are still wooing? Expedia just put her on their board of directors. And she's writing a children's book with the obvious ploy of trying to appeal to the Elizabeth Warren crowd by calling it "She Persisted." The Clinton machine is not going away.
This seemingly inexplicable media fascination with Clinton—who has not, as far as we can tell, shown any evidence of being a charismatic leader or innovative political thinker—makes more sense once you remember the reach and scope of the Clinton machine. The Clinton family has bestrode American politics for a generation on the power of its vast network of activists and apparatchiks and donors and loyalist nonprofits. Once political machines are set in motion—once checks are flowing, galas are scheduled, the loyalists are hired—they are hard to wind down. And that means that, as we have said before, “there has to be a Clinton in the political arena.”

What we are now seeing are the last gasps of a vast political machine trying to keep its gears spinning despite every indication that it is time for a new model. It may or may not be successful, but one thing is clear: The Clinton machine will not let itself be shut down without a fight.

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Alice B. Lloyd links to a study from Manhattan Institute's Max Eden looking at what has happened since schools started following "Dear Colleague" guidance from the Obama Education Department to schools to make sure that they don't suspend minority students in higher numbers than they suspend non-minorities. Eden's study contrasts the response in New York City's schools based on the surveys that students and teachers fill out about the learning conditions in their schools. At the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year Bloomberg had instituted reforms that prevented teachers from issuing suspensions for first-time, low-level offenses. Sounds like a common-sense reform, but Mayor de Blasio went further, and in 2014-2015, required principals to get permission from district administrators to suspend a student.
This report analyzes student and teacher surveys covering the five-year period of 2011–12 to 2015–16. The key findings: school climate remained relatively steady under Bloomberg’s discipline reform, but deteriorated rapidly under de Blasio’s. Specifically, teachers report less order and discipline, and students report less mutual respect among their peers, as well as more violence, drug and alcohol use, and gang activity. There was also a significant differential racial impact: nonelementary schools where more than 90% of students were minorities experienced the worst shift in school climate under the de Blasio reform.
Lloyd comments,
"School Discipline" zeroes in on data from New York City schools, but its broader implications are undeniable: At inner-city schools forced by federal guidance to cut back on suspensions, students struggle to succeed in increasingly chaotic classrooms. Ruling out a clear-cut consequence for disruptive misbehavior, even in the well-intended interest of keeping kids in school at whatever the cost, creates an unstable school climate—a disservice to all students. Tellingly, the data show that a declining number of suspensions does not correlate to a deteriorating school culture as neatly as the removal of suspension as a disciplinary tool does—but don't take it from me:
[I]n both [2012-2014] and [2014-2016], the distribution of differences between schools with neutral suspension rates and those with declining suspension rates was similar for all [climate survey] questions. The significant shift between the two periods and the lack of a significant differential between schools that saw neutral and lower suspension rates suggests that the number of suspensions may matter less for school climate than the dynamics fostered by a new set of disciplinary rules. (In other words, the mere possibility that disruptive students may not be suspended may contribute to a general increase in disorderly behavior.)
The fact that the mere existence of a dependable consequence for misbehavior would maintain order makes intuitive sense to all of us who've lived in a structured society. The federal guidance, a reinterpretation of existing law to promote the administration's goals, makes less sense.
Duncan's letter determined that a school would be guilty of "unlawful discrimination" if its disciplinary policy is "neutral on its face—meaning that the policy itself does not mention race—and is administered in an evenhanded manner but has a disparate impact, i.e., a disproportionate and unjustified effect on students of a particular race."

It arose from a stated departmental agenda to tackle the school-to-prison pipeline, couched in statistical proof that children who are suspended from school are more likely to drop out of school and land in prison—and this pipeline, Duncan posed, is rooted in teachers' racism. Black students were three times as likely to be suspended in 2011 because of, Duncan said, "differences in training, professional development, and discipline policies. It is adult behavior that needs to change."

But, per Eden's analysis, where teachers' practices have changed, student behavior has worsened. In absence of a disciplinary tool, a consistent consequence to discourage disruptive behavior, chaos reportedly consumes increasingly many classrooms. Other students' unchecked disruptive behavior, meanwhile, proves to be a foremost detractor from classroom learning and daily progress. Hardworking and well-behaved students suffer for the administration's overcorrection.

Kevin Drum, no conservative, weighs in on "The Great Meals on Wheels Debacle." Trump's OMB director is getting blasted for supposedly cutting funding to Meals on Wheels and saying that “we're not going to spend [money] on programs that cannot show that they actually deliver the promises that we’ve made to people.” How can he be so cruel as cutting off funding for delivering meals to the elderly? The Trump proposed budget is cutting funding for the Community Development Block Grant program which delivers funding to various community programs.
Some bright bulb noticed that a few states use a small portion of their HUD CDBG money to fund Meals on Wheels. Actually, small isn't the right word. Microscopic is the the right word. Elderly nutrition programs like Meals on Wheels receive about $700 million from other government sources—most of which aren't targeted one way or the other in the Trump budget—but hardly anything from CDBG grants.
The block grants go to states and the states choose whether to spend the money on Meals on Wheels or some other program. As Drum points out, the media was misleading in how they pulled out one part of Mulvaney's press conference and then put it together with another part to make it seem that he was being hard-hearted and claiming that Meals on Wheels is a program that doesn't work.
Mulvaney, obviously, wasn't saying that Meals on Wheels doesn't work. He was saying that CDBGs don't work. Meals on Wheels might be great, but community grants aren't, and he wants to eliminate them. But by smushing together three quotes delivered at three different points, it sounds like Mulvaney was gleefully killing off food for the elderly.

I'm no expert on community block grants. I don't know if they're a good idea or not. And God knows the Trump "skinny budget" is a disgraceful piece of work for the richest country on the planet. But spinning this as "Mulvaney guts Meals on Wheels" is pretty ridiculous. The vast majority of federal funding for Meals on Wheels—which comes via HHS's Administration on Aging, not HUD's CDBGs—remains intact. Someone managed to plant this idea with reporters, and more power to them. Good job! But reporters ought to be smart enough not to fall for it.
When Kevin Drum is defending a Trump official from the media, the media should take note.

Scott Shackford at Reason explains why outrage over cuts on the Community Development BLock Grant is misplaced.
The big problem here is that "We help fund Meals on Wheels" is how the government sells the CDBG program, but how it actually operates in the cities and communities that get the money is far different. The CDBG program is chock full of cronyism and corruption and should be eliminated. Much like the corrupt city redevelopment agencies, what actually ends up happening is that this money gets funneled by politicians to friends with connections for various projects that aren't really about helping the poor at all....

The money often is not going to Meals on Wheels or even to the neediest communities. As a Reason Foundation analysis also from 2013 shows, wealthier communities get the larger chunks of the money, particularly counties that—what a coincidence!—are in proximity to Washington, D.C.

Here's an example of how this grant money is actually used:
In 2011, Comstock Township, Michigan decided to grant Bell's Brewery $220,000 in CDBG funds to help pay for a two-year expansion project. This is an even more blatant crony capitalist use of community development subsidies. The brewery benefits from the government subsidies at taxpayers' expense, but it also benefits from a financial advantage over competing breweries—such as the Arcadia Brewing Company one town over in Battle Creek and even alternative products such as liquor made by Big Cedar Distilling Inc. down the road in Sturgis, neither of which are receiving any block grant money. Other small craft breweries may struggle to compete with a brewery like Bell's when the government is subsidizing its expansion.

Tad DeHaven has a list of some of the projects that have snagged CDBG funds instead of things that actually help the poor:

$588,000 for a marina in Alexandria, Lousiana
$245,000 for the expansion of an art museum in Allentown, Pennsylvania
$147,000 for a canopy walk at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens in Georgia
$196,000 for expanding the Calvin Coolidge State historic site in Vermont
$294,000 for a community recreational facility in New Haven, Connecticut
$196,000 for the construction of an auditorium in Casper, Wyoming
$441,000 to replace a county exposition center in Umatilla, Oregon
$98,000 for the Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts in Spring, Texas
$245,000 for renovations to awnings at a historical market in Roanoke, Virginia
$294,000 for the development of an educational program at the Houston Zoo in Texas

DeHaven also noted how a good chunk of the funds of the program get siphoned out due to administrative costs. A good quarter of the funding goes to the various multi-level government bureaucracies to actually operate the grant process. One of the biggest beneficiaries of the CDBG program are the people who operate the program.
But as long the media assists by portraying this as a tender-hearted program to help the elderly, out, the grant program will be protected. It's not that the Trump budget is ideal.
It's truly a shame that Trump's suggestion to cut the program entirely isn't tied to a commitment to push that revenue back to the states to handle. The budget proposal says that these community activities should be handled by states and local governments, which is true, but given that Trump isn't actually cutting the budget at all and merely shifting spending around, they're not getting the funds to do so. That means even the parts of the program that aren't corrupt get hosed because the states won't be getting to keep that revenue to deploy to help the poor.

Noah Rothman pays tribute
to the job that Nikki Haley is doing at the United Nations exposing the bigotry of that organization against Israel. She's already been quite outspoken calling out the hypocrisy of the UN. It's such a contrast to the attitude of the Obama administration.
Perhaps the most promising display of righteousness occurred this week when Ambassador Haley condemned the repulsive report issued by the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). The report, issued by a group based in Beirut comprising 18 Arab nations—including the non-existent “state of Palestine”—accused Israel of imposing apartheid on the Arabs in Judea and Samaria. Among the report’s authors was former special UN rapporteur Richard Falk, whose anti-Israel prejudice is matched by few. Falk has praised terrorist organizations like Hamas, likening them to the French resistance, excused the targeting of Israeli Jews in attacks, and claimed that U.S. officials have given rise to “conspiratorial explanations” for the 9/11 attacks. The report is so obviously detached from reality that even the United Nations Secretary-General’s office refused to endorse its findings.

“The United States is outraged by the report,” read a statement from Haley. “The United Nations Secretariat was right to distance itself from this report, but it must go further and withdraw the report altogether.”

She added: “That anti-Israel propaganda would come from a body whose membership nearly universally does not recognize Israel is unsurprising.” It is a sad commentary on the recent history of the United Nations that displays of basic morality are in such short supply. That’s in part why Haley’s defenses of Israel from a depraved institution like the United Nations are so refreshing.

Two Democrats, Andrew Stein and Douglas Schoen, bemoan how their party has become the anti-Israel party.
How did this happen? There was once an inexorable link between support for Israel and for the civil-rights movement. Both were responses to invidious discrimination—anti-Semitism and racism. Starting in the mid-1960s, however, an anti-Israel minority emerged in the form of the New Left. These groups—such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Students for a Democratic Society, and the Black Panthers—saw Israelis as oppressors and Palestinians as engaged in a “just struggle for liberation” as Panthers founder Huey P. Newton put it.

In the 1970s elements of the left became steadily more hostile to Israel. A turning point came in 1975, when the U.N. passed a resolution equating Zionism with racism. That provided an intellectual and political opening for those who wanted to drive a wedge between supporters of Israel and of civil rights.

An organization called Basic—Black Americans to Support Israel Committee—was formed to condemn the resolution. “We seek to defend democracy in the Mideast, and therefore we support Israel,” the civil-rights leader Bayard Rustin declared. Unfortunately, that was the last time the organized Jewish and black communities worked together.

In 1979 President Carter fired U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, the first African-American to hold that position, for violating U.S. policy by meeting with a representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Mr. Young’s dismissal led several black leaders to break with their Jewish allies on Israel.

In 1984 Jesse Jackson, who’d publicly embraced PLO head Yasser Arafat five years earlier, ran for the Democratic presidential nomination. A Washington Post story about his difficult relationship with Jews quoted him as using the slur “Hymie” and calling New York City “Hymietown.” Mr. Jackson won 3.3 million votes in the primaries. He ran again in 1988 and more than doubled the total, to 6.9 million—another sign of the party’s slow shift.

There are still pro-Israel Democrats, but they are beleaguered and equivocal. New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, now the minority leader, described himself in 2010 as the Senate’s protector of Israel: “My name . . . comes from a Hebrew word. It comes from the word shomer, which mean guardian.” But how effectively has he played that role?

In 2015 Mr. Schumer was one of four Senate Democrats to vote against Mr. Obama’s Iran deal. But killing it would have taken 13 Democrats, and Politico reported Mr. Schumer phoned Democratic colleagues to “assure them he would not be whipping opposition to the deal.” Mr. Schumer—whose Brooklyn apartment building has been protested by leftist opponents of President Trump—was also an early backer of Mr. Ellison for the party chairmanship.

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Here's a great listing of well-worn sports clichés . I've heard a lot of them this weekend while watching March Madness.