Sunday, May 31, 2009


The President's Power Worries

The President spent a good part of his introduction of Judge Sotomayor on her life story…which, while impressive, certainly has nothing on Justice Thomas’s in the feel-good department…which reminded me then about then-candidate Obama’s unkind words about Justice Thomas last August…which led me to rediscover this classic evaluation of our Chief Justice:

PASTOR RICK WARREN: How about John Roberts?
SEN. BARACK OBAMA: ….One of the most important jobs of, I believe, the Supreme Court is to guard against the encroachment of the executive branch on the other—the power of the other branches.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA: And I think that he has been a little bit too willing and eager to give an administration, whether it’s mine or George Bush’s, more power than I think the Constitution originally intended.

So, to add to my still-as-of-yet unanswered random questions: Can anyone point toward a single executive power that George Bush claimed that Barack Obama has since renounced?

His erstwhile supporters have been of little help: Legal left cools toward Obama - Josh Gerstein -

Friday, May 29, 2009


Mike Kinsley on Republican thinking

Michael Kinsley’s column today is of the kind that I find so particularly annoying – he opines on something he apparently has little familiarity with – in this case the Republican Party platform. Party platforms are usually tiresome reads and quickly forgotten but when someone is attempting to use parts of one against his political enemies, the least that person can do is get it right.

“Recent Republican platforms have pledged to appoint judges who not only will overturn Roe but will make clear that fetuses have the same rights as people under the 14th Amendment's guarantee of "equal protection of the laws…. The Republican Party platform effectively calls for a litmus test for judges: Will they rule abortion illegal in all 50 states no matter what the people want? Now that would be judicial activism with a vengeance.”

…except that’s not what the platform says:

We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation
to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.

Mr. Kinsley, as a liberal, no doubt conflates judicial activism and legislation but such sloppy legal reasoning should not be projected on others. Maybe it’s a Harvard Law thing.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


The Investor's President

President Obama on the right of an investor:

“"I don't think that we should micromanage," Obama has said. "But I think that like any investor, the American taxpayer has a right to scrutinize what's being proposed and make sure that their money is not just being thrown down the drain." U.S. Involvement in GM Won't End With Bankruptcy

President Obama when an investor tries to exercise that right:

"I don't stand with them.”


As moderate as Barack Obama has proven to be...

As a general rule, I am wary of counsel from those I really don’t think have my best (political) interest at heart. So when my good friend E’ J. Dionne, in a column that advances the idea that liberals should also hold their fire on this nominee, offers Republicans some kindly words of advice regarding Judge Sotomayor…

“And even though they should support her confirmation, liberals would be foolish to embrace Sotomayor as one of their own because her record is clearly that of a moderate.. …As for Republican senators, they have to ask if it's worth alienating Latino voters to wage a fierce battle against a woman who is, from their point of view, the best nominee Obama was likely to give them.”

Puh-leez! “Latino” voters who will be put off by Republican opposition to Ms. Sotomayor are probably already firmly encamped in Democratic circles. And to his larger point about her being a “moderate”, that can only mean one thing: she’s a screaming liberal. I simply cannot imagine Mr. Dionne describing any nominee of this president as a liberal – that would divert too much from the talking point of Barack Obama, Noted Centrist.

Besides the legally useless aspect of her “Latina” background, we know that the President brought her in because he believes she can provide the Court his version of “empathy” – the Left’s new standard of appellate qualification. And, as is typical of the Left and their faux diversity, we are once again getting more of the same catering to Democratic special interests, only this time it’s repackaged as Latina empathy.

However, this will not portend “empathy” for any unborn child; it is inconceivable that a Barack Obama nominee –with this President’s well documented indifference to that non-voting sector that is unborn children – could ever vote in any way that would weaken Roe.

Nor did this nominee show any “empathy” for New Haven firefighter Frank Ricci who found that being dyslexic was not enough to overcome his innate whiteness in being denied an earned promotion. (...and Judge Sotomayor didn’t even bother to explain her lack of empathy in a written decision.)

Mr. Dionne is probably correct that Ms. Sotomayor will not push the Court to the left as she is only replacing an already fairly reliable leftist vote. That in no way supports anyone thinking that she is a judicial moderate. I would love for her to prove to be the Democratic version of the Souter nomination…but I’m not holding my breath.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Judicial Philosophy 101

Now that President Obama has nominated Judge Sotomayor to be the newest Supreme Court Justice, we’ll probably be hearing a lot about judicial philosophy for the forseeable future, particularly the differences between “originalism” and “living constitutionalism.” Unfortunately, even proponents can’t quite agree on exactly what goes into each but generally, originalists contend that the constitution should be interpreted in light of the words’ plain and generally understood meaning at the time of ratification. Alternatively, a living constitutionalist would contend that the Constitution was designed to evolve and adapt to the times. [Full Disclosure: I fall in with the originalists.]

But that all reads fairly dry so perhaps a hypothetical may help to clarify the differences:

Assume a constitutional amendment was in place that said that Congress could pass no law that, should you ever find yourself with the Flintstones, impinged on your ability to “have a yabba dabba doo time, a dabba doo time, [to] have a gay old time.”

As it turns out a couple of guys from out west found themselves with the Flinstones. And, while they admittedly had “a dabba doo time”, they were disappointed when that did not also include a “gay” time…if you catch my drift. So, on the advice of a Yale educated attorney, they sued. Of course, the Ninth Circuit – being the Ninth Circuit - agreed with them and an obviously terrified Fred appealed to the Supreme Court.

For the originalists on the Court, this was an easy case: at the time it was written, “gay old time” clearly meant just a good and happy time; same-sex coupling was never implied. Further, Congress had never passed any laws dealing with our interactions with the Flintstones. Besides, as Justice Scalia wryly noted, if we were to adopt the more modern use of the word “gay”, wouldn’t it be just as logical to construe the word as it is used on “South Park”: meaning "not cool" or "lame”? Fred got four votes for this originalist approach: Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito.

But there were four votes he did not get; the four Justices most prone to living constitutionalism: Justices Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer. They began by noting the word “gay” had clearly taken on a new, more multi-culturally sensitive meaning; a meaning that our founding fathers would have gladly adapted…that is if they hadn’t all been “a bunch of straight, white, racist, homophobic, sexist pigs.” These justices were further impressed by the Ninth Circuit’s claim that if Fred et al. didn’t want to provide a “gay old time”, the constitution provided them the amendment process to change the wording. They also note that a right that is not derived at least in part by a federal court decision is hardly much of a right.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Ginsburg took judicial notice of the casting of Rosie O’Donnell as Betty Rubble in the movie version and called on Congress to pass a law outlawing South Park from ever using the word “gay” in a negative way.

So, as has become the norm in this divided court, Fred’s future as the quintessential straight guy was left to the whims of Justice Kennedy. Unfortunately, veteran Court observers advised him that seeing the Justice consult European Union texts was not a good sign…

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


North Korea - International Scofflaw

The President of the United States:

“Today, North Korea said that it has conducted a nuclear test in violation of international law.” Statement from the President

(Minor quibble –doesn’t that read like North Korea said its test was in violation of international law?)

US United Nations Ambassador:

“"The U.S. thinks this is a grave violation of international law and a threat to regional and international peace and security," said Susan Rice. "And therefore, the United States will seek a strong resolution with strong measures." VOA News - UN Security Council Condemns N. Korea Nuke Test; Begins Work on New Resolution

Okay – as serious as this matter is, exactly what “international law” is North Korea violating? Sure, the UN Security Council had previously spoken on this subject but it had also spoken on the matter of Iraq. The general enforcement of those sanctions has, of course, been generally denounced as a violation of international law. Further, North Korea is not a party to any treaty banning nuclear testing (which in of itself is not that meaningful since, for example, the much ballyhooed Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban treaty is not yet in force).

When we think of an action as a “violation of international law”, I worry that this tilts such actions towards being then described as “criminal enterprise”...and if that becomes the mindset, I just hope that our case against North Korea isn’t too dependent on hearsay.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Yeah, but he wasn't empathetic...

N. Korea Conducts 'Successful' Underground Nuclear Test

“North Korea exploded a nuclear device Monday morning, startling the world with its second underground test in three years and vexing the Obama administration, which has said it wants to solve the nuclear impasse with North Korea.”

Well, it didn’t startle the whole world (…and do you get the sense that “vexing” the Obama administration is what many will consider North Korea’s real sin.)

Get Ready for Another North Korean Nuke Test JOHN R. BOLTON, May 20,2009 Wall Street Journal

Yep -Easy to see why so many Senate Democrats (and at least one teary-eyed Republican) didn’t want him in the UN.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Robert Gibbs Refines Barack Obama's Resume

April 14, 2009:

“MR. GIBBS: This would not be the first time that I've stood at this podium and -- having read something in the newspaper that I found to not be accurate….Helen [Thomas].

“Q Why is the President blocking habeas corpus from prisoners at Bagram? I thought he taught constitutional law. And these prisoners have been there --

“MR. GIBBS: You're incorrect that he taught on constitutional law.” The White House - Press Office - Briefing by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, 4-14-09

May 20, 2009:

“Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs said the president is actively involved in the process but would not be more specific about where the decision-making stands.

"As somebody who has spent time...teaching the Constitution as a teacher -- and obviously the Constitution is the framework under which the president examines laws in his current job as president -- it's something that he's quite familiar with, and the decision-making progress on selecting a next nominee he's very active in," Gibbs said.”
Judge Diane Wood, Solicitor General Elena Kagan Seen as Supreme Court Hopefuls -

Maybe it’s a “penumbra” thing.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


David Ignatius: Why It's Different Now

David Ignatius is impressed with Barack Obama:

“The new president is not the poker-player sort of politician: When he decides to do something, he goes straight at it, laying his cards on the table face-up. That direct style is becoming an Obama signature, and it has subtly changed the dynamics of the U.S. dialogue with Israel.” Upping the Ante on Israel

Ah, yes; Change. Here’s what Mr. Ignatius didn’t like about the previous dynamics:

“This distaste for subtleties is probably part of what many Americans like about Bush -- he's not some fancy-pants diplomat talking all the time about "nuances." But the public should understand that however satisfying Bush's plain talk may be, it can be harmful to the nation's security.” A Handshake That Doesn't Help Israel


Welcome Ezra Klein

Ezra Klein is’s newest blogger. Not terribly surprising since he has enjoyed much success as a liberal blogger elsewhere. What is surprising is his intended subject matter: Economic and Domestic Policy.

We all have our opinions but honestly, I have no idea why anyone at the Post would associate Mr. Klein with economic expertise. (I know, I know – Steve Pearlstein works at the Post). Certainly, his resume and past writings give no hint of this and if this posting on proposed changes to the credit card industry is any indication…:

The credit card industry, in recent years, has developed something of a tiered model. Good customers are treated extremely well. There are rewards programs, favorable terms, and high limits. But those who don't prove as assiduous about their bills, or slip up amidst their payments, fall into a second tier that's as punishing and deceptive as the first tier is serene and straightforward. Hidden fees, unexpected rate increases, universal default, and all the rest. The result is that low income credit card holders effectively subsidize high income credit card holders.”

This, of course, is pure populist nonsense. The only way a credit card holder is “subsidized” is if the revenue accruing to the credit provider because of the cardholder’s account is less than the cost of that account to that same provider. And the claim that “low income credit card holders effectively subsidize high income credit card holders” certainly doesn’t follow from his litany of examples of the differences between good credit and poor credit behaviors (unless this progressive icon is equating lower income with not being “as assiduous about their bills”).

Markets adapt and some credit providers may foolishly conclude that the “second tier” types are just not worth the hassle. If so, I stand ready to applaud the likes of Ezra Klein who will put their money where their blog post is and provide - for less than the previous providers - that suddenly-missing credit. No doubt they’ll make up any losses in volume.

At any rate, welcome to the MSM, Mr. Klein - Barack Obama is going to need all the cheerleading he can get.

Monday, May 18, 2009


FCC - Federal Complete Control

Washington Post writer Cecilia Kang has a piece up: FCC Reviewing Arbitron's New Radio Ratings Device

“The Federal Communications Commission yesterday launched a review into whether a Columbia-based broadcast research firm undercounts minority radio listeners.”

Here’s a kind of Rorschach test for you: what was your first thought when you read that?

Without getting into name-calling, I’ll just note that this conservative-bordering-on-libertarian immediately wondered where the hell the FCC got jurisdiction over Arbitron. If your first thought was more about your concern for the alleged undercounted listeners then I’m going to guess we have very different ideas about the role of the federal government. Ms. Kang probably leans towards the latter as she exhibits no curiosity as to why anyone would have previously allowed the FCC to investigate the data gathering behind advertising decisions.

Anyway, I’m fairly certain that the FCC is just trying to further expand their sphere of power here and that applicable rules and regulations allow them no such jurisdiction. I'm also fairly certain that most of Washington does not consider that a matter for concern.


Maybe he just didn't think we could handle the truth...

For you non-believing cynics out there who still think McCain was the better choice, let me remind you why America voted for Barack Obama:

Federal Deficit

"Barack Obama will cut both taxes and spending, implementing a responsible budget that lowers the federal deficit by reducing wasteful spending." Organizing for America Economy

But don’t just take his campaign’s word for it, according to the Congressional Budget Office, “[f]rom 2010 to 2019, the cumulative deficit under the President’s proposals would total $9.3 trillion, more than double the cumulative deficit projected under the current-law assumptions embodied in CBO’s baseline (see Table 1-5).” CBO’s Baseline and Estimate of the President’s Budget

Okay - that's not so good but what about the McCain plan? Well, the Obama campaign warned us:

“Economists say McCain’s plan will add $3.4 trillion to the national debt.” Organizing for America Policy Issues

I’m sorry – what was my point again?


Another Random Question

Has anyone come across any McCain voters who, after reviewing the first 100+ days of the Obama Administration, now say about the President: “Wow – they were right, this guy is Awesome!!” ?


Random Question

Can anyone point me toward a “Right” I had during the Clinton Administration that I then had taken from me during the Bush Administration only to get it back now that Barack Obama is my President?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Great Moments in Universal Healthcare

If you’re a fan of Depeche Mode, this is of some concern: Depeche Mode lead singer in hospital in Athens -

So, a British citizen takes ill in Greece. What to do?

“...Turkey's Anatolia news agency said Gahan would go to the United States for treatment…

But I could be misreading the situation – maybe all the flights back home were booked.


Congratulations, Soccer Dad!!

He was favorably linked by Michael Ledeen over at The Corner at NRO.

“Meanwhile, soccer dad has a good roundup of the Obama administration's various efforts to sooth the feelings of Messrs. Khamenei and Ahmadinejad.”

For the uninitiated, Soccer Dad has long been an excellent source for info on the goings on in the Mideast.

Monday, May 11, 2009


...because the intelligence community knows she has their backs!

“President Obama has said he plans to end U.S. combat operations in Iraq by August 2010, although he intends to leave behind a residual force of 35,000 to 50,000 soldiers. In the past, Pelosi has called for the troops' mission to be "clearly defined and narrowly focused," so as to require as small a presence as possible.

"If we are going to have a diminished physical military presence, we have to have a strong intelligence presence," Pelosi said at the news conference.” In Surprise Iraq Visit, Pelosi Promises Intense Political Involvement' by U.S. -

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


A Thought on Arlen Specter

Senator Arlen Specter:

“As a matter of principle, my political philosophy has come much closer to the Democrats now that the Republican Party has moved so far to the right and —“Questions for Arlen Specter - The Convert - Interview -

Senator Specter was first elected to the Senate in 1980, concurrent with Ronald Reagan’s election to the presidency. It should be a self-evident fact of politics that the Republican Party is not now a more conservative, right-wing outfit than it was during those days. Senator Specter’s glib use of the word “principle” notwithstanding, what has happened is that the (regrettable) lurch to the left by the Party has been somewhat slower than a similar move by the Senator. Kind of a political “relative motion.”

Senator Specter’s “political philosophy” has always been about enhancing the chances for Arlen Specter in the next election. His departure from the ranks of the GOP will surely have some short-term downsides. Long-term, it should prove to be a blessing.

Side Note: More Arlenisms:

“With your departure from the Republican Party, there are no more Jewish Republicans in the Senate. Do you care about that?

“I sure do. There’s still time for the Minnesota courts to do justice and declare Norm Coleman the winner.”

Predictably: Specter Says He ‘Misspoke” on Minnesota Senate Race

I think somebody reminded him then that if Al Franken wins, Mr. Specter would no longer be the “junior” Senator in the Democratic caucus. Specter Will Be Junior Democrat on Committees - Roll Call

Monday, May 04, 2009


The Pell Grant Profit Center

Washington Post writer Shailagh Murray reports that the President is trying to further expand Federal spending and control (I know, I know – dog bites man):

“At stake is a plan to expand the Pell Grant program, making it an entitlement akin to Medicare and Social Security.”

This is a story of some importance and a little reporting by Ms. Murray – beyond just accepting the Administration’s spin - would be nice.

“Shifting all lending authority to the government through its Direct Loan program would save $94 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office [CBO]. Obama would use that windfall to expand the Pell Grant program, created in 1965 to cover most tuition costs for low-income students.”

Well, yes, the CBO did estimate that a modification to the Family Federal Education Loan Program would inure to the benefit of the government of about $94 billion. But their very next line (from Table 1-5 – page 12) estimates that modifying Pell Grants will cost an additional $293 billion. They explain:

The current Pell grant program has discretionary and mandatory components. CBO’s estimate of the costs of modifying Pell grants includes the costs of setting the maximum award at $5,550 in 2010, indexing that award level for future years, and reclassifying the entire program as mandatory spending. That reclassification would result in eliminating spending for Pell grants in CBO’s discretionary baseline, which currently includes $195 billion in outlays for new grants over the 2010–2019 period. “ CBO Preliminary Analysis of President’s Budget March 2009

The bottom line then is a net increase in costs of $4 billion ($293b increase in mandatory less $195b decrease in discretionary = $98b increase as compared to the above-noted $94b decrease).

You may believe that a worthwhile activity/expenditure of your federal government. But any program change that entails a switch from discretionary to mandatory spending as well as identified extra costs surely deserves a bit more reporting - and skepticism -from the Washington Post.

Side Note: Nor is the “windfall” $94 billion a result of government efficiency beating out the private sector. Instead this results from moving the profits on student loans from the private sector directly to the government. I believe that nationalizing any enterprise doesn’t bode well for the profitability of that business activity so I’ll conclude that that “windfall” falls off the more time the federal government is responsible for generating it.

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