Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Senate Storm Warning
Senate Storm Warning
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
In life, generally, honorable people play by the rules. This is particularly true in the United States Senate, which has historically defined itself by its adherence to its unique rules -- rather than, say, by its representational or proportional nature. And so, as we enter the confirmation process for Elena Kagan as Supreme Court associate justice, most Republican senators have sincerely expressed their intent to apply the traditional rules of confirmation.
Those rules might be summarized as follows: (1) The president is entitled to an appointee who generally shares his views (i.e., a liberal president is entitled to a liberal justice; a conservative president is entitled to a conservative justice). (2) A nominee should be confirmed if he or she is professionally qualified and of generally good character. (3) The only exception to Rule Two is if the nominee's views are provably and dangerously outside the mainstream of respectable thought.
By those rules, most people would probably conclude that Ms. Kagan is entitled to confirmation -- although I and others would argue that her restricted views on freedom of speech would disqualify her under Rule Three above.
But I want to make a different argument in this column: The current rules are obsolete, having come into being at a time when the federal courts had not yet been consciously politicized. Today, liberal presidents attempt to use their appointments with the intent to systematically undermine -- not uphold -- the Constitution. And they do so because their vision of an ever-more-statist America is inconsistent with the Constitution's fundamental purpose: to limit the size and scope of government.
And note, this is not a case of "both sides do it," although it is true that conservative presidents look for nominees who will support original intent, strict construction or other methods of trying to adhere to the Constitution.
But -- and this is paramount -- because liberal justices tend to seek to undermine the clear intent of the Constitution while conservative justices try to hold the line: The result is an inexorable march toward undermining the Constitution, with conservative appointments functioning as mere temporary holding actions.
As a conservative, I respect Republican senators who wish to venerate well-established traditions. But now, in the fateful spring of 2010, those senators need to consider which of conflicting traditions they intend to venerate. They can either venerate the traditional rules of confirmation or they can venerate the United States Constitution -- but not both.
I introduce, as Exhibit A on behalf of this choice, the provision in Obamacare that requires every American citizen to buy a health insurance policy. When the case challenging the constitutionality of that provision reaches the Supreme Court (as about 20 state attorneys general are currently attempting to accomplish by litigation), the government will argue that it is permitted under the power of the federal government to regulate interstate commerce.
They will be forced to argue that the mere inaction of an individual American citizen is an act of interstate commerce worthy of regulation. If that proposition is upheld by the Supreme Court -- then we no longer have a limited government. The government would then have the power to outlaw and punish (by fine or prison term) any American's decision not to exercise, not to vote, not to eat four servings of vegetables a day -- any human inaction would be sanctionable under the Interstate Commerce Clause -- and then adios liberty.
The president, who knows nominee Elena Kagan personally from their university days together, doubtlessly has chosen her in anticipation that she will uphold his legislation. Of course, the foregoing proposition cannot be proven because since 1987, when Robert Bork was "borked" for having opinions, Supreme Court aspirants of both left and right have learned the dreadful lesson that never expressing an opinion in print, or even in an evening bull session, is the surest path to the high court.
So the senators are stuck with the problem of having no evidence on which to base a conclusion that Ms. Kagan will likely uphold Obamacare and thereby undermine the Constitution and our ancient rights, which it has vouchsafed.
Or if that particular provision does not upset your sense of limited government, pick your poison. Obviously, from both evidence and first principles, the left -- the statists -- abhor limited government and the Constitution that was enacted to assure it.
The senators can no longer hide behind the claim that they have no evidence from the mouth or pen of a nominee that the nominee is a threat to our Constitution. If the senators (Republican and Democratic) still venerate the Constitution, they are going to have to use their common sense.
Because if they don't, you can damn well expect the voters will.
Any senator -- even with the most impeccable conservative credentials -- who votes for a nominee obviously selected to contract our liberties, will face an outraged electorate in November, or in 2012 or 2014, if that is their time in the tumbrel.
If senators continue to honor the rules of confirmation, then they are choosing to continue the march toward the end of constitutional, limited government and will deserve whatever demise the people have in store for them. There's a doozy of a storm brewing -- and not only Democratic ships are vulnerable to sinking.
Republicans On Track to Snatch Defeat from Jaws of Victory
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Republican consultants are doing a wonderful job raising expectations sky-high for the November elections, so that now, even if Republicans do smashingly well, it will look like a defeat (and an across-the-board endorsement of Obama's agenda). Thanks, Republicans!
That's what happened in the 1998 congressional elections, nearly foiling Clinton's impeachment. It's what happened to the Conservative Party in Britain a week ago. And that's what happened this week in the 12th Congressional District of Pennsylvania, formerly represented by Rep. John Murtha.
Note to Republicans: Whenever possible, victory parties should be held after the election, not before it.
The result of the election in Murtha's old district on Tuesday was that the rabidly anti-ObamaCare, pro-life, pro-gun candidate won! Yippee!
But the news on Wednesday morning was that the election "dealt a blow to Republicans," as The New York Times reported.
The reason the Times' description was not utter madness (in violation of New York Times' official policy) is because the anti-ObamaCare, pro-life, pro-gun candidate was a Democrat and, for the past two months, every Republican on TV has been predicting a Republican victory in Murtha's district.
Thanks to all the happy talk, if the Republican actually had won, it would have been Page 16 news. But when the Democrat won, it seemed like an against-all-odds, come-from-behind Hoosiers victory!
Why were Republicans predicting victory in a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1? Given a choice between two candidates who both hate ObamaCare, why would lifelong Democrats not vote for the Democrat?
Republicans are playing the same raised-expectations game with the November elections. Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner is ludicrously predicting Republicans will pick up 100 seats in the House in November. Newt Gingrich puts the figure at an equally insane (and weirdly precise) 78. He also predicts the Cubs will win 132 games this season and six games will be rained out.
Keep it up, Republicans, and I'm going to keep naming names. I have Nexis.
For more than half a century, the average midterm pickup for the party out of power has been 24 seats.
Your job, Republicans, is not to go on Fox News and whisper sweet nothings in conservatives' ears. Your job is to repeal the Obama agenda. Raising expectations so high that a 30-seat Republican pickup will seem like a loss is not helping.
Moreover, we're not going to pick up any seats this November if Republicans keep chumming around with the Democrats' pals on Wall Street.
Roughly since the Harding administration, Wall Street has overwhelmingly favored Democrats. According to a recent report from ABC News, for example, the five largest hedge funds gave "almost all their donations to Democrats."
For the past year, the Democrats' Wall Street BFFs have had lower public approval ratings than Hitler. (When I say "Hitler," I don't mean Dick Cheney or George W. Bush; I actually mean Adolf Hitler.) While Hitler continues to enjoy great personal popularity, there is a growing dissatisfaction with his policies.
How could Republicans possibly screw that up? We try harder.
No sooner had the news come out that Goldman Sachs (Joseph Goebbels in this metaphor) had given Obama an astronomical $1 million in campaign donations, than Republican John Boehner decided that this was the time to suck up to Wall Street! So Boehner flew to New York to meet with Wall Street bankers and ask them to be Republicans' friends.
Boehner is like the guy who just got raped in prison and doesn't know what happened to him. Hey -- what was that? Should I have thanked the guy?
As Pat Caddell says, Democrats are whores, but they expect to be paid; Republicans' names are scrawled on the bathroom wall: "For a good time, call the GOP!"
As depressing as it is to watch the Republican Party dive headlong off a cliff, at least we have Dick Blumenthal.
Connecticut's attorney general, pompous, freakishly ambitious, self-righteous, hold-a-press-conference-every-day Blumenthal, was a shoo-in to take Chris Dodd's Senate seat this fall.
After all, he was a Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star and Purple Heart winner from his days as a four-star general in Vietnam. (And captain of the Harvard swim team to boot!)
But now we find out from a front-page article in The New York Times that, despite Blumenthal's repeated references to serving "in Vietnam" -- he was never in Vietnam. He got five draft deferments and then joined an elite unit of the Marine Reserves to avoid going to war, serving in their heroic "Toys for Tots" brigade.
He also wasn't on the Harvard swim team. (Oddly enough, though, the story Blumenthal likes to tell about owning a necklace of human ears? That one's actually true.)
Blumenthal may as well have shown up for a press conference in a dress. Suddenly, Connecticut is in play!
Naturally, therefore, Republicans are planning on running a World Wrestling Entertainment "impresario" against Blumenthal. Yes, in Connecticut ... a state that is among the wealthiest and most highly educated in the nation ... a state that isn't Minnesota. The average Nutmegger doesn't even know what a turnbuckle is, and that includes me.
Republicans could run Rob Simmons, a Connecticut legislator with a distinguished record of service in the House of Representatives, the CIA, and as a Yale political science professor -- who actually did serve in Vietnam, winning two Bronze Stars and retiring as a colonel.
But defeat is so close! Republicans can almost taste the bitterness of yet another crushing loss!
Posted by Brett at 10:13 AM