Thursday, February 11, 2016

Cruising the Web

John Yoo expresses what has bothered me about both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders: their approach to government is totally contrary to the vision set forth by our Founding Fathers. Or, as Yoo writes, they are "the Founders' worst nightmare."
They designed the Constitution to moderate the people at home while preparing a president to act quickly to counter emergencies, crises, and war abroad. Instead, the Republicans have a demagogue and the Democrats have an economic radical who promise swift, extreme change.

The men who met in Philadelphia in 1787 to write a new constitution designed it to prevent someone like Donald Trump from ever becoming president. One of their great fears was of a populist demagogue who would promise the people everything and respect nothing. As Alexander Hamilton, the key theorist of executive power during the Founding, warned in Federalist 67: "Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honours of a single state."
Sound like someone we've been seeing up close since June? Yet Trump is not the only one who should give us pause with respect to overturning the Founders' vision.
The Framers would also be aghast at Bernie Sanders. His calls for a political revolution, fomenting of class hatreds, and desires for a socialist economy also run directly contrary to the Framers design. The Framers believed our Constitution and our government should not view or think of people as economic classes or special interests. They were not na├»ve – they knew that what they called "factions" were an inevitable product of democracy. "Liberty is to faction what what air is to fire, an ailment, without which it instantly expires," James Madison wrote in Federalist 10. "But it could not be a less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air."

Our Constitution did not address the specter of factions by creating a government so strong that, in the hands of a crusading populist, it could crush special interests. Instead, it creates a decentralized government too difficult for one party to take over. It divides the national government between president, Congress, and the Judiciary. It further keeps federal power narrow and reserves authority over most of daily life to the 50 states. America would never suffer Sanders' political revolution or his wish to transfer the "means of production" (for those who have forgotten their Karl Marx since the fall of the Soviet Union, he is referring to private property and financial and intellectual capital) from private hands to the public. Ask the communist nations of Europe and Asia, with millions of lives lost and millions more oppressed from the 1930s-1980s, how that experiment turned out.
Ben Shapiro also sees the similarities between Sanders and Trump in their dangerous approach to government power. Shapiro provides excerpts from their speeches to note how alike their points are when they both inveigh against special interests and their influence on elections and free trade. Both urge using government power to limit the former and end the latter. They both promise to preserve entitlements shutting off any hope of reform on these financially failing programs. Bernie Sanders demonstrates a Trumpian opposition to illegal immigration because it brings down people's wages. And on foreign policy, they have a similar disinclination to use American force abroad. As you read the quotes, you might have trouble distinguishing which came from Trump and which from Sanders.

And they both are promising the same approach to fixing what they perceive as the nation's ills - more power in Washington to expand the power of government.
So why are Trump and Sanders soaring? Because they both represent a reaction to the corruption and entitlement culture of Washington D.C. – and both of those reactions are anti-democratic. Neither candidate ever talks about the proper role of government. They just talk about how they’ll increase its power to use it for their own purposes.

That’s what many of their supporters want. Many Trump supporters frequently comment that he “wins,” that he will “win” for America, that he’s capable of “making deals,” that he’s not beholden to anyone or anything. Sanders supporters say the same thing.

Many Trump supporters – the ones who believe he is a transformational figure – ignore the fact that Trump won’t change the nature of government in any real way. They’re looking for a singular authoritarian solution to the problems of their lives. They believe it takes a power broker to stop the power brokers. Hand Trump the ring of government power, and watch what he can do! He may not cast it into the fiery chasm from whence it came, but he’ll use it to fight Mordor sometimes.
Conservatives recoil at Sanders' efforts to use the government for socialist ends. But we should also be horrified at what Trump promises to do and his vision of the power of the executive to do just about anything he says.
Sanders’ supporters also object to a corrupt government – but they think that more government is the solution. They think the government is bought and paid for by outside parties, and they want an honest socialist dictator in charge to clean house. They want a Hugo Chavez to ride in on the wind and use the power of government to punish their enemies. Sanders may proclaim that his motivating feeling is hope, but the real motivation behind his campaign is bitter jealousy and petty vengefulness.

These are the wages of big government and an unendingly powerful executive branch. Too many people gain too much by its existence to do away with it; too many people want to control the guns and the money to back a true reformer. Every four years we now pick our dictator. It’s just a question of whether that dictator does the stuff you want, or whether you’re his target.
Both candidates appeal to the anger and fears of the public, but we should be extremely wary of electing a demagogue who will promise the public that he has the power to fix everything through his sole efforts. We have seen how that has worked under Obama. Do we truly want more of that unilateral approach to governing?

John Podhoretz also remarks
on the similarities between Sanders and Trump.
The most important takeaway, though, is this: The politics of resentment won Tuesday night. It hasn’t had a showing like this in the United States maybe since the 1890s.

Donald Trump and Sanders have a remarkably similar and remarkably simple message, and it’s this: You’re being screwed. They agree that international trade is screwing you, that health care companies are screwing you and that Wall Street is screwing you.

Sanders says he’s going to throw bankers in jail, raise everybody’s taxes — and provide universal health care.

Trump says he’ll deport every illegal immigrant, keep Muslims out of the country until “we can find out what the hell is going on,” force Mexico to build a wall, levy a 45 percent tariff on China — and provide universal health care.

Simple, straightforward and catchy — that’s the key. And none of it is your fault. Everything bad that’s happening, everything that makes you nervous and worried and uncertain about the future, is the result of a great wrong that is being done to you.

Sanders says it’s being done by malefactors of great wealth. Trump says it’s being done by morons and idiots who run Washington and are getting their hats handed to them by canny malefactors in Beijing and Mexico City.

Will this message carry beyond New Hampshire? Of course it will, whatever happens to the candidacies of these two men.

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In another similarity between Trump and Sanders, Howard Slugh explains in The Federalist how Trump would be a disaster for conservative jurisprudence. With three justices who will be in their eighties during the term of the next president, it is increasingly important that we have a true conservative, not a phony conservative like Trump, making the nominations.
As has been extensively chronicled, Trump is not a conservative. His views on the judiciary are no exception. Trump recently repeated liberal smears against Justice Scalia—painting him as a racist for questioning the efficacy of affirmative action.

Trump is also on the record supporting the Supreme Court’s Kelo decision “100 percent.” In Kelo, the Court greatly expanded the government’s authority to seize private property. In supporting Kelo, Trump sides with justices Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, Kennedy, and Breyer against justices Scalia, Thomas, Rehnquist, and O’Connor.

In general, Trump touts his ability to make deals and get along with everyone. This includes the likes of Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer. That is precisely what conservatives want to avoid from Supreme Court nominees. A president who compromises with Senate Democrats on judicial nominees is far more likely to nominate a Justice Souter or Kennedy than a Justice Scalia or Thomas.

If conservatives want to maximize the possibility of appointing justices who won’t balk at striking down Obamacare, overturning Roe, and preventing executive overreach, they need to elect a conservative president willing to stand on principle and expend political capital fighting on behalf of originalist nominees. This does not describe Donald Trump.
We've already seen how awry a nomination by a Republican president go when the justice gets on the Court. Remember that Justices Stevens and Souter, two of the most radically liberal justices of the past 40 years were both appointed by presidents. And we still have to wait breathlessly to find out which way Anthony Kennedy, a Reagan appointee, will lean on any given issue. Conservatives should be aware that many decisions of the past couple of decades have been narrow 5:4 decisions that could be easily overturned if the next president appoints the wrong justice.
The Court could find the death penalty unconstitutional, create a constitutional right to assisted suicide, eliminate any restrictions to abortion on demand, and vastly expand the power of agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency. The possibility of overturning Roe in such a circumstance would be precisely zero.

On the positive side of the ledger, the Court has recently protected the Second Amendment, refused to allow the government to censor movies that mention politics, protected religious liberty, and curbed some instances of President Obama’s executive overreach. A hypothetical Court dominated by justices nominated by presidents Obama and Clinton would reverse each of those precedents and push the law in the opposite direction.
And true conservatives should also be worried about the judges appointed to the lower courts.
This problem is not limited to the Supreme Court. Most lower-court judges also serve lifetime appointments. The vast majority of cases never reach the Supreme Court. In those cases, a lower court has the final word. Recently, lower courts have settled cases involving the right to carry firearms, Obamacare, and abortion because the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal. Lower-court decisions have significantly impacted Second Amendment doctrine in particular.
If two terms of Obama appointees are followed by the sorts of judges that Trump would likely appoint, we can just kiss the idea of courts following the guidance of the Founders good-bye. And how do we know Trump would appoint such judges. He has told us so. He said that he has praised his sister, a Clinton appointee to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, as someone who would be a phenomenal choice. So what do we know about Judge Maryanne Trump Barry's judicial choices?
She has been involved in hundreds of cases, but one of the first cases in her tenure sticks out the most: Planned Parenthood of Central New Jersey v. Farmer, which was argued in late 1999 and filed in July 2000.The Third Circuit struck down the New Jersey Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 1997, and Barry wrote in her majority opinion that the law “places an undue burden on a woman's constitutional right to obtain an abortion.”

Barry didn’t stop there. She continued by giving a full-throated defense for legalizing infanticide:

“The Legislature's argument that Roe and Casey are inapplicable to ‘partial-birth” abortion procedures because such procedures are infanticide rather than abortion is based on semantic machinations, irrational line-drawing, and an obvious attempt to inflame public opinion instead of logic or medical evidence,” Barry wrote.

“…In what can only be described as a desperate attempt to circumvent over twenty-five years of abortion jurisprudence, the Legislature would draw a line based upon the location in the woman’s body where the fetus expires,” Barry continued. “Establishing the cervix as the demarcation line between abortion and infanticide is nonsensical on its face as well as inaccurate because that line may be crossed in any number of abortion procedures which the Legislature concedes are constitutionally protected.… The Legislature’s attempt to label the Act a birth, instead of an abortion, regulation is nothing more than an effort to cloud the issues and avoid clear precedent.”

Wow — all that coming from a “Republican” judge! Barry’s argument was essentially a legal defense of a birth not being a birth unless the person giving birth desires it to be a birth. According to Judge Barry, there should be no other considerations — and none whatsoever for the living, breathing child itself.

And this is who Donald Trump thinks of first for a Supreme Court Justice nominee?
We have it from Trump's own words what a phenomenal member of the Supreme Court his sister would be. He has spoken on record that he is pro-choice. When questioned about that in one debate, he said he changed his mind to become pro-life when a friend had a baby they had considering aborting and the child turned out to be a wonderful person so he changed the pro-choice position he had had all his life up to then. Notice that, in his own explanation, he didn't change his mind because he considers a fetus to be a human life to be protected; it's all because that particular baby grew up to be a wonderful person that he wants to protect life. What if that child had grown up to be obnoxious or stupid? Is that still a life worth protecting? And has he really changed his view? This is what he said in an interview with Mark Halperin:
Halperin: Say a woman is pregnant and is not in any of those exception categories [rape, incest, or life of the mother], and she chooses to have an abortion.

Trump: It depends when. It depends when.
Is that the answer of someone who is truly pro-life? Pro-life proponents might argue about whether exceptions to bans on abortion should be allowed in the cases of rape, incest, or threats to the health of the mother, but they would not argue that abortions should be okay up to some point in the pregnancy. He's still arguing in the rhetoric of a man who, until he decided to run for the presidency as a Republican, supported partial-birth abortion. Do those Republicans getting to ready to vote for him in South Carolina know Trump's history on abortion and his weak proclamations of a conversion to being pro-life? If not, is anyone going to point it out to them"

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It's just typical of the convoluted process the Democrats are using for their nomination process that Bernie Sanders could have an overwhelmingly popular vote victory over Hillary Clinton, but she still emerges from Tuesday's vote with more delegates than he did. It's all because of their superdelegates rules.
Though Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire primary in a landslide over Hillary Clinton, he will likely receive fewer delegates than she will.
Sanders won 60 percent of the vote, but thanks to the Democratic Party’s nominating system, he leaves the Granite State with at least 13 delegates while she leaves with at least 15 delegates.

New Hampshire has 24 “pledged” delegates, which are allotted based on the popular vote. Sanders has 13, and Clinton has 9, with 2 currently allotted to neither.

But under Democratic National Committee rules, New Hampshire also has 8 “superdelegates,” party officials who are free to commit to whomever they like, regardless of how their state votes. Their votes count the same as delegates won through the primary.

New Hampshire has 8 superdelegates, 6 of which are committed to Hillary Clinton, giving her a total of 15 delegates from New Hampshire as of Wednesday at 9 a.m.

The state’s 2 remaining superdelegates remain uncommitted.

In the overall delegate count, Clinton holds a commanding lead after a razor-thin victory in Iowa and a shellacking in New Hampshire. Clinton has 394 delegates, both super and electorally assigned, to only 42 for Sanders.
Of course, she had a commanding lead among superdelegates in 2008 but they eventually, as I'd been predicting all along to my students that year, switched over to Obama once it became clear that he was winning the popular vote in their states. Superdelegates are, above all, politicians. And if they see their constituents supporting Bernie Sanders, they will suddenly see the light just as they did with Barack Obama. So don't count those delegate totals with the superdelegates as written in stone.

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Jennifer Rubin has some good advice for Marco Rubio if he's going to be able to stage a comeback, something that is looking more and more problematic for his candidacy after New Hampshire and the renewed life given to Bush and Kasich.
First, he should take a page from Jeb Bush’s playbook and become entirely accessible to the media. He should be talking to them daily on the stump, in interviews, anywhere and everywhere. Eschew the process-talk and expound on issues, focusing on not just analysis of the problems but also on detailed solutions. Overwhelm the press with depth and spontaneity, and the coverage will change.

Second, be aggressive and freewheeling in the debates. Rubio has too often played defense, waiting to be attacked on immigration or on his experience. Instead, he should aggressively go after Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Donald Trump on national security and their inability to articulate a cogent strategy for defeating the Islamic State. Moreover, neither one of them has a workable tax plan (Trump would add $10 trillion to the debt; Cruz wants a value-added tax), entitlement reform plan (Trump won’t even touch Social Security) or overall growth strategy. Their appeals to nativism and protectionism are anti-growth, akin to the populism of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Rubio should keep at them with the “How?” questions. (How do you beat the Islamic State from the air? How do you grow the economy? How do you save Social Security?) In the assaults on the not-serious-about-policy candidates, he will find some help from both Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
It sounds as if Rubio has already determined to follow the first part of that advice by spending 45 minutes on his charter flight to South Carolina taking questions from the media on the plane.
He took questions from reporters aboard his charter flight to South Carolina for nearly 45 minutes, longer, he said, than any news conference he has given since he was a state senator and speaker of the House in Florida in 2006.

As he spoke, he made it clear that he was entering a new phase of his campaign, one less burdened by the caution and message discipline that have made him seem mechanical and scripted at times.
He's also finding ways to laugh at his glitch moment in last weekend's debate.
When asked if that moment would be similar to the time Rick Perry forgot his line and uttered “Oops,” a mistake that essentially ended his 2012 campaign, Mr. Rubio, laughing, said that his problem was just the opposite.

“There’s a big difference,” Mr. Rubio said. “He couldn’t remember what he wanted to say. Apparently, I remembered it too well.”

With flashes of humor, candor and emotion that have been so rare during his campaign, Mr. Rubio was making an effort to push back against the emerging caricature of him as a candidate: robotic, stiff and over-rehearsed.

He described how his four children were a big factor in his decision to acknowledge how badly he had performed in the debate.

“More than what I’ll ever say to them is what they watch me do,” he said. “And I want them to see it. Their dad, hey, you know what? It didn’t work out. I didn’t do well enough. I’ve got to do better. I taught them more last night in that experience, I feel, than any words I’ll ever share with them.”
I had listened to a podcast before the debate and New Hampshire (but I can't remember which it was since I listen to a lot of political podcasts while driving and doing housework) and the reporter said that Rubio didn't show a sense of humor on the stump and that Cruz was actually quite funny and Trump is always cracking up his audiences, but Rubio was always serious. She thought that that was preventing people from warming up to Rubio. Maybe, in laughing at himself, Rubio can cross that humor divide.

Chris Deaton writes in The Weekly Standard that Obama's proposed new budget makes Rubio's point for him that Obama knows exactly what he wants to do.
There has been further restructuring of American policy since that law [Obamacare] took shape: An economic agenda built on "fair shares" at home, and a self-imposed suppression of the country's influence abroad. But Obama hasn't witnessed all of his desired changes become law. There's more to be accomplished on the issues of climate change, education, gun control and immigration. Guantanamo Bay is still open. The nation's healthcare system is his ongoing project.

Freed of the burden of winning another election, he has advocated his positions on these matters unreservedly.

"I intend to get as much done in the next 22 months as possible," he said last May. There are still about 11 left. And even when those months have passed, he said his presidency "is not a project that stops after a certain term in office, and it's not a project that stops after an election."

Rather, it "is something that we have to sustain over the long term."

....There's one other sentence in Rubio's debate answer for which you'll rarely hear him or another Republican express regret, though: "Barack Obama is undertaking a systematic effort to change this country." In case the people he is trying to persuade needed a reminder, here comes one more budget from the president's desk, this one the boldest of any he has released. The proposal, submitted Tuesday, spends more than $4.1 trillion next fiscal year. The revenue it claims to raise from taxes—$2.6 trillion over the next 10 years—is mostly old news. Here's something fresh: a new tax on oil companies of $10 per barrel.

The president has often claimed that the tax code favors millionaires and billionaires over teachers and nurses. There's never been any discussion of environmentalists versus families that lack access to public transportation.

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Gosh, I love Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. His sideline interviews where his terse, but amused, answers express his contempt for the requirement that coaches should talk to the media while the game is still in progress. We all know what he's thinking and the interviewers know it also, but they also recognize that the public loves seeing how he'll shoot down the stupid questions that the reporters always ask him. That's why, if you watch a Spurs game, the announcers will tout an upcoming Popovich interview as if it's the highlight of the entire game. This interview that he gave Tuesday night is nothing new except for the response he gave when the reporter ended the interview by telling him that Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump had just won the New Hampshire primary.