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.


mardony said...

Betsy -
Sorry. Trump's problems go a bit deeper than his indiscriminate "silly" tweets and his inability to say he was wrong. The voters he snookered, e.g., in coal country, are onto him.

trigger warning said...

I'm sure Clinton would have kept her promise:

"We are going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business."

mardony said...

Instead of embracing Hillary's plan and vision to help move the coal industry into renewables, coal country had this isolated soundbyte without context hammered into them by Trump's wingnut stoolies, and they now know they've been had.

"You might remember, during the campaign Donald Trump billed himself as the “last shot” for coal country, boasting that he alone could “save regions like Appalachia that had long suffered from poverty and dwindling coal jobs.” And voters in West Virginia and eastern Kentucky believed him — choosing Trump over Hillary Clintonby wide, wide margins. Well, they just learned they’ve been conned."

"The sad truth became evident when they realized that President Trump’s first budget proposal would slash and burn several key programs aimed at promoting economic development in coal regions — most notably, the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Economic Development Administration. In recent years, these programs have focused on aiding communities that have been left behind as mining jobs vanished." (Political.dig)

The $30 billion plan she (Clinton) proposes calls for increased job training, small-business development, and infrastructure investment, especially in Appalachia. The plan also seeks to safeguard miners' healthcare and pensions. "I have been talking about helping coal country for a very long time," Clinton said. (NPR, May 2016)

trigger warning said...

ARC is a welfare slush fund for Appalachian politicians.

"Hillary's plan and vision to help move the coal industry into renewables..."



Hillary's "plan" for the Middle East and Syria.

Hillary's "plan" for the Russian reset... sorry, overcharge. The silly walleyed twit couldn't get one word right on a junky little box with the full translation capabilities of the DoE behind her.

Hillary"s "plan" to...


mardony said...

Tigger georgie - aren't you supposed to be at your militia meeting?

mardony said...

Neocon Jonathan Tobin, who usually toils schmirning the Likud Party, is featured by Betsy today to slime Hillary in some fakakta effort to make Trump look acceptable by comparison. Tobin's use of Clinton Cash, rife with unsubstantiated allegations about the Clintons, reveals the desperation of these Protect Trump efforts. Breaking news: Trump and his buds are the subject of an official FBI investigation. You wouldn't know it from Betsy's Page.