Thursday, February 18, 2016

Cruising the Web

Wow! I am so happy about the Duke victory last night over the team that we call in our household, the UNCheaters. I couldn't believe it. I was so excited that I barely slept last night. It's funny how sports can affect one's equilibrium. I'm just glad to have some good news to celebrate.

My daughters and I were basically hoping for a moral victory going into the Dean Dome with one of our captains, Amile Jefferson, still out against the number five team at home. Some analysts are picking UNC to win it all this year. I don't think anyone was predicting Duke would win. And then another captain, Matt Jones, went down with a sprained ankle. And our one big man, Marshall Plumlee, had four fouls for a lot of the second half. Gosh! It just seemed all over. We couldn't defend the paint. UNC would get up by six points and we'd think that UNC was going to put the game away, but Duke get hanging in there. I just kept being surprised that Duke was still in it and hadn't gone away. And yet we gritted it out and ended up winning with just having five players in the second half. That was so exciting. What heart for the guys! What grit they displayed. And how humiliating for UNC. All the talk today is about how UNC and Roy Williams blew it. That's always fun. I can watch those last seconds of the game over and over.

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It would be nice if politicians and ideologues would just acknowledge their own hypocrisy when it comes to Supreme Court nominations, but that will never happen. I can say that, if the situation were reversed, I would want the Republican president to be able to appoint his nominee to the Court even if it were the last year of his term. If Ginsburg had died in 2007, I would have been ticked off if the Democrats had gone ahead and keep the nominee from being voted on or voted against a qualified candidate. And now, I fully hope that the Republicans block any Obama nominee from being confirmed. I don't have strong feelings as to whether they should go through the motions and hold a hearing and then vote the nominee down on a partisan basis or just never hold the hearings. The important thing is that the candidate is never confirmed.

But I am enjoying seeing Democrats twist themselves in knots to explain why it was okay to oppose Bush's nominees, but that it's totally different now. And here is a nice find by Jim Geraghty of what the New York Times wrote in October, 1987 as they urged the Democrats to vote down Robert Bork's nomination.
The President’s supporters insist vehemently that, having won the 1984 election, he has every right to try to change the Court’s direction. Yes, but the Democrats won the 1986 election, regaining control of the Senate, and they have every right to resist. This is not the same Senate that confirmed William Rehnquist as Chief Justice and Antonin Scalia as an associate justice last year.
Gee, I guess that means that the Republicans who won control of the Senate in 2014 have every right to resist, right? After all, this is not the same Senate that confirmed Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan…

As the Democrats absorb the crazy rules that their party has devised in the race for the nomination and the role of superdelegates, Bernie Sanders' supporters need not despair. Nate Silver explains why the superdelegates might not save Hillary.
If you’re a Sanders supporter, you might think this seems profoundly unfair. And you’d be right: It’s profoundly unfair. Superdelegates were created in part to give Democratic party elites the opportunity to put their finger on the scale and prevent nominations like those of George McGovern in 1972 or Jimmy Carter in 1976, which displeased party insiders.

Here’s the consolation, however. Unlike elected delegates, superdelegates are unbound to any candidate even on the first ballot. They can switch whenever they like, and some of them probably will switch to Sanders if he extends his winning streak into more diverse states and eventually appears to have more of a mandate than Clinton among Democratic voters.

Clinton knows this all too well; it’s exactly what happened to her in 2008 during her loss to Barack Obama. According to the website Democratic Convention Watch,1 Clinton began with a substantial advantage in superdelegates, leading Obama 154 to 50 when New Hampshire voted on Jan. 8, 2008. Obama narrowed his deficit in February and March, however, and overtook Clinton in superdelegates in mid-May. By the time Clinton ended her campaign on June 7, 2008, Obama had nearly a 2-to-1 superdelegate advantage over her.
Clinton knows this well. The difference this year is that Obama was a once-in-a-lifetime candidate engendering such excitement and worship on the left that the elected officials who are the superdelegates feared angering their constituents by bucking the Obama juggernaut. I just don't know that Bernie Sanders will provoke a similar level of support so that politicians will fear a backlash if they support Hillary Clinton. It might depend what is happening on the Republican side and if the Democrats think they're facing a Republican whom they have a good chance of defeating.

Every day I have a new reason to dislike Donald Trump. Some days, I have several. But his response to a question about Israel and Palestine really irritates me.
GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump on Wednesday refused to pick sides in the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

“You know, I don’t want to get into it,” he told hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski during a MSNBC town hall in Charleston, S.C.

“If I win, I don’t want to be in a position where I’m saying to you [my choice] and the other side now says, ‘We don’t want Trump involved,'" Trump said of potentially winning the presidency and then brokering a lasting peace deal.

“Let me be sort of a neutral guy,” the billionaire added.
Really? He sees no reason the stand by our strongest ally, the only democracy in the whole reason. He just has a moral equivalence. We don't need that sort of "neutrality" from a Republican. We've seen what that looks like from Obama already.

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Donald Trump continues his deep dive into conspiracy theories. Now he's claiming to have secret information that the Saudis were the ones who knocked down the World Trade Center.
Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has made relitigating 9/11 a yuge part of his campaign, and has been doing so for a very long time, but he’s still breaking new ground on that front. No longer content to challenge Jeb Bush‘s assertion that his brother “kept us safe,” Trump is now alluding to the wheels within the wheels.

At a campaign event in Bluffton, South Carolina Wednesday morning, Trump was slamming the George W. Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq when he casually mentioned that there are “secret papers” that might show that “the Saudis” were actually responsible for the attacks on 9/11:
It wasn’t the Iraqis that knocked down the World Trade Center, we went after Iraq, we decimated the country, Iran’s taking over, okay. But it wasn’t the Iraqis, you will find out who really knocked down the World Trade Center, ‘cuz they have papers in there that are very secret, you may find it’s the Saudis, okay? But you will find out.
Of course, no investigation into 9/11 has ever found a connection between the 9/11 attacks and the Saudi government, but somehow Donald has ferreted out this deep, secret. And he has those secret papers, but he's not releasing them. What a patriot. Of course, he's still refusing

Kyle Smith ponders whether liberals dislike Obama as much or more as conservatives do. Just listen to Hillary and Bernie talk about how terrible the economy under Obama is. And now liberal radio host Bill Press has written a book, Buyer’s Remorse: How Obama Let Progressives Down, which goes after every aspect of the Obama presidency. I don't think that Republicans who got sick of either Bush presidency were as negative as Press sounds about Obama.
“Obama’s claim that everybody could keep his own plan and doctor was so far from true that Politifact actually gave it the worst possible designation: ‘Pants on Fire.’ For all the promises to abandon the Bush-Cheney policy of ‘anything goes’ in the war on terror, Obama would, for the most part, not only continue down that same path, but expand it.

“The place where progressives anticipated the most change is where, to their shock and chagrin, they found the least.”

“Not since Richard Nixon has a White House used the powers of the presidency to threaten or actually persecute journalists for seeking to uncover and report the truth. The Obama administration’s war on journalists raises serious questions about how much freedom of the press really exists today.”

“[Obama] let us down. He simply failed to lead.”

Perhaps most damagingly, Press admits racism had little to do with Obama’s failures. To say that “it’s all because he’s black” is “a very convenient excuse,” Press says. “But I don’t buy it.”
Obama has even lost Michael Moore. That's rough.

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The Clinton campaign have had real trouble finding a way to attack Bernie. The answer does not seem to be sending Chelsea out there to be their attack dog. She's not good at it.
“We are not electing a king, we are electing a president," Chelsea said, unloading on Sanders and suggesting that the Democratic socialist does not understand how the presidency works.
Oh, yes. Because when people think Bernie Sanders, they think someone with monarchical ambitions.

Oh, gee. How idiotic is this?
One of Ted Cruz ‘s biggest supporters think there’s a very powerful force behind the Texas senator’s bid for the White House, and it’s responsible for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death during an election year.

On Tuesday, conservative radio host and vocal Cruz backer Glenn Beck asserted on his talk show that God brought about the death of Scalia so America would “wake up” and vote for Cruz.

Speaking in the voice of the heavenly father, Beck told his audience, “You’re welcome. I just woke the American people up. I took them out of the game show moment and woke enough of them up to say, look at how close your liberty is to being lost.”
Aren't there other ways that the Lord could help Ted Cruz's campaign than killing off the most important conservative jurist in the Court's history?

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Parents, if you're spending your money to send your children to Northwestern University and you're white, this is what you may be paying for.
White college students are undergoing a weekly “deconstructing whiteness” program at Northwestern University.

The “6-part workshop series for undergraduate students who self-identify as white” launched in January and runs through March, according to the university’s website. Students enrolled chose to do so – it is voluntary.

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Why is Kanye West limiting his ambitions by saying he'll run for president when he think's he's "50 percent [more influential than] Stanley Kubrick, Picasso, Apostle Paul, f***ing Picasso and Escobar. By 50 percent more influential than any other human being.” If that is who he thinks he is, why settle for being president?

Trump has no answer for why, if Bush was lying about WMD, Trump wrote a book in 2000 saying that Saddam Hussein had a nuclear program and that, if we should attack, we should carry the attack to its conclusion. So that is what he believed in 2000, but now he has his own knowledge that Bush was lying about WMD? He just makes stuff up and then denies that he said what he actually said. And he gets away with it. Do we really want someone with such a loose connection to the truth to be our nation's leader?

We've already heard from Donald Trump that he basically thinks he has military experience since he went to a military high school. And now we get this clip from a 1997 interview with Howard Stern where he tells us about his own "personal Vietnam."
Draft-dodger Donald Trump once said that the danger he faced from getting sexually transmitted diseases was his own “personal Vietnam.”

In a 1997 interview with shock jock Howard Stern, Trump talked about how he had been “lucky” not to have contracted diseases when he was sleeping around.

“I’ve been so lucky in terms of that whole world. It is a dangerous world out there. It’s scary, like Vietnam. Sort of like the Vietnam-era,” Trump said in a video that resurfaced Tuesday on Buzzfeed, “It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier.”

It wasn’t the only time the Republican frontrunner for president would liken his personal life to wartime service: Trump has claimed that his military-themed boarding school education was essentially equivalent to having being trained in the military.
We've gone from the shock that Jimmy Carter would give an interview to Playboy and talk about how he sometimes had "lust in his heart" to Trump talking about what a "very brave soldier" because of all the sex he had with various women in the 1970s. Such bravery.

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Kevin Williamson marvels at Antonin Scalia's approach to judging by basing his decision on what the words actually mean or meant at the time they were written seems so weird to so many.
The habitual labeling of Scalia as a “conservative,” as though he were simply using the Court to do what Jeff Sessions does in the Senate or Ken Buck does in the House, is a libel. As opposed to the outcome-oriented, decision-first/reasoning-afterward approach of the Court’s Alice in Wonderland progressives, Scalia often reached decisions that annoyed conservative political activists — because the law demanded it. The Left complains that Scalia was an unthinking “fundamentalist” on the Second Amendment, without taking a moment to consider that he approached the First Amendment in precisely the same way. When conservative legislators wanted to abridge free-speech protections by passing a statute against flag burning, it was Scalia who stood in the way.

Likewise, conservatives who were inclined to ride roughshod over the rights of criminal defendants and Americans deemed “enemy combatants” by the president often ran into the brick wall of Scalia’s jurisprudence. Not because criminals and jihadists had a friend in Scalia, but because they have a friend in the law, to which he was committed. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg described Scalia as “one of the most pro–Fourth Amendment judges on the Court.” In fact, he was as a justice “pro” all of the operative amendments. As Lawrence Lessig put it, Scalia wasn’t a judicial conservative but an “originalist who was a conservative.”

The discussion surrounding Scalia and the fight over his replacement treats Scalia’s philosophy — that the law says what it means and means what it says — as though it were exotic, or as if it were a quaint relic of some simpler age.

But what is the alternative?

The alternative is to make the Supreme Court a nine-person mob in a mob-rule society. We already are dangerously close to that point. No thinking person doubts that Ginsburg, Kagan, Sotomayor, and Breyer will find a way to produce the outcome that the Left desires in any important case. Kagan lied to the Senate about her thinking on the question of gay marriage in order to have the opportunity to enact that thinking from the highest court. Never mind that the Constitution does not actually say what they wish it said about gay marriage, abortion, gun ownership, or the fact that First Amendment protections go well beyond the editorial board of the New York Times: If the Left demands a constitutional right to late-term abortion manufactured out of whole cloth, or that the words “the right of the people” be magically transformed into “the National Guard” in the case of the Second Amendment, these so-called justices will deliver.
But, contrary to all logic and history, the liberals' approach is regarded today as the correct approach these days.

A liberal lawyer who clerked for Justice Scalia reflects on what she learned from him.
I missed the mark a few times when I made assumptions about what Justice Scalia would think, based on his political leanings. In one particular criminal case, I tried to anticipate his reaction and gave him the analysis I thought he wanted. But when I suggested he might want to follow the more conventionally conservative line of thinking, he looked at me incredulously and said, “We can’t do that.” There was another case, where we were tasked with writing the majority opinion, when I saw him struggle and ultimately change his mind after realizing that the text of the statute would not support the position he initially wanted to take. That was the one time the Justice — who was very respectful of personal time and valued his own — called me on a weekend and asked me to come into chambers. As we worked through the case together, the power went out in our wing of the Court. Rather than taking a break, we moved our chairs and books into the hallway, using the natural light that came through the courtyard. This prompted Justice David Souter (who was famously averse to using modern technology, including, seemingly, the light bulb) to poke fun at our inability to read in dim light.

If there was a true surprise during my year clerking for Scalia, it was how little reference he made to political outcomes. What he cared about was the law, and where the words on the page took him. More than any one opinion, this will be his lasting contribution to legal thought. Whatever our beliefs, he forced lawyers and scholars to engage on his terms — textual analysis and original meaning. He forced us all to acknowledge that words cannot mean anything we want them to mean; that we have to impose a degree of discipline on our thinking. A discipline I value to this day.

Justice Scalia treated me with enormous respect and always seemed to value my opinion — a heady experience for someone just a year out of law school. I never felt as though he looked at me differently than my conservative counterparts; his trust felt implicit, which is, perhaps, why I struggled so much between wanting to challenge him and wanting to please. He was also, hands down, the smartest person I’ve ever known. What would take me weeks to understand would take him minutes to process. I’ll never forget my first experience handing him an opinion and watching him, in a matter of minutes, type a few lines into his typewriter (yes, a typewriter, even in 2004), and instantly cut to the heart of the issue in a way that I’d simply been unable to do. When I read his new draft, I realized that I’d tried too hard to bridge the difference between his opinion and that of another justice in order to hold our majority. His changes strengthened the argument but also, I feared, risked putting us in the dissent. But Justice Scalia didn’t compromise his principles, even on the smallest issues.

He knew his own mind, and taught me the importance of knowing my own.