If it had been Bush…

May 30, 2009

You know the answer: late-night comics would have been all over it, the network news shows would have had wall-to-wall coverage for three days, the New York Times would have called it "troubling." But, since it’s Obama, no biggie:

In which the president discovers an American intelligence agency at Five Guys

On his trip to get a burger with Brian Williams at Five Guys this afternoon, the president appears to have learned of the existence of a Defense Department intelligence arm, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, from an agency employee also at the burger restaurant.

"So explain to me exactly what this National Geospatial…" Obama said, after the worker mentioned his employer, according to a video of the event.

"We work with, uh, satellite imagery," the worker, Walter replied.

Maybe the President doesn’t know about them because they save all the pretty pictures for Biden.


"Rebut, then confirm"

May 29, 2009

Charles Krauthammer on how Republicans should handle the Sotomayor nomination:

When the hearings begin, Republicans should call Frank Ricci as their first witness. Democrats want justice rooted in empathy? Let Ricci tell his story and let the American people judge whether his promotion should have been denied because of his skin color in a procedure Sotomayor joined in calling "facially race-neutral."

Make the case for individual vs. group rights, for justice vs. empathy. Then vote to confirm Sotomayor solely on the grounds — consistently violated by the Democrats, including Sen. Obama — that a president is entitled to deference on his Supreme Court nominees, particularly one who so thoroughly reflects the mainstream views of the winning party. Elections have consequences.

Vote Democratic and you get mainstream liberalism: A judicially mandated racial spoils system and a jurisprudence of empathy that hinges on which litigant is less "advantaged."

Ricci, of course, is the central plaintiff in the case Ricci v. DeStefano; Judge Sotomayor’s decision on appeal has been heavily criticized.

I agree with Krauthammer, albeit with one caveat: Democrats have enough votes to pass Sotomayor through the Senate, and perhaps enough to beat a filibuster. So, Republicans should have their "teaching moment" (as Charles describes it) and pass her through the committee to the full Senate. There they should demand full debate to continue illuminating the judicial philosophy of Judge Sotomayor (and progressive liberalism in general) and then vote against her en bloc. Don’t bother to filibuster; that would serve no purpose. Just grant that the President will have his choice, but also that we will not acquiesce in approving a judge whose beliefs are so at odds with our traditions of jurisprudence.

Not only will it be a teaching moment, but it will make clear the fundamental differences between the two parties.


Voter intimidation OK when it’s "our" guys?

May 29, 2009

The Obama Justice Department has dismissed a voter-intimidation lawsuit against members of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. This suit was brought under the Voting Rights Act and alleged that:

…on Election Day, Nov. 4, 2008 in Philadelphia, NBPPSD members Samir Shabazz and Jerry Jackson were stationed at the entrance to a polling location at 1221 Fairmount Avenue, wearing the uniform of the organization. It also states Mr. Shabazz repeatedly brandished a “police-style baton weapon.”

The complaint said NBPPSD Chairman Malik Zulu Shabazz confirmed that the placement of Messrs. Shabazz and Jackson was part of a nationwide effort to deploy NBPPSD members at polling locations on Election Day. The Justice Department sought an injunction to prevent any similar future actions by NBPPSD members at polling locations.

“Intimidation outside of a polling place is contrary to the democratic process,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Grace Chung Becker at the time. “The Department takes allegations of voter intimidation seriously.”

I recall seeing news video of this incident at the time it happened. So, why was the suit dismissed? Does the Justice Department under Eric Holder not believe that attempts to intimidate voters are worth pursuing? Would these suits have been dismissed if the alleged intimidators had been White members of Aryan Nation attempting to discourage Obama voters, rather than African-American radicals and a local Democratic committee member intimidating White voters?

This is one of those incidents that genuinely calls for congressional investigation: Attorney General Holder and the Justice Department should have to explain publicly why obvious attempts to interfere with the voting rights of Philadelphia residents are not being prosecuted. Perhaps there was a legitimate reason for dropping the suit, but the public deserves to hear it.

But, in Chicago-on-the-Potomac, I wouldn’t bet on it.

LINKS: Ed Morrissey asks "Who put pressure on Justice?"

UPDATE: Perhaps I was wrong about that congressional investigation. There may be a spark of hope, yet.

UPDATE II: Oh, so that explains it. Congress! Investigate! Angry


The Obama Thugocracy

May 28, 2009


"Thugocracy" is the term Michael Barone coined before the election for the authoritarian, bullying tendencies he saw in the Obama campaign. At the time he had in mind their attempts to silence political critics and their support for "card check," which would mean the end of the secret ballot in union elections.

Now, of all things, we’re seeing further signs of it in the ailing auto industry. As part of its bankruptcy plan, Chrysler has announced plans to close 25% of its dealerships, As Mark Tapscott notes, all but one of those failed to donate to the Obama campaign:

The basic issue raised here is this: How do we account for the fact millions of dollars were contributed to GOP candidates by Chrysler who are being closed by the government, but only one has been found so far that is being closed that contributed to the Obama campaign in 2008?

Florida Rep. Vern Buchanan learned from a House colleague that his Venice, Florida, dealership is on the hit list. Buchanan also has a Nissan franchise paired with the Chrysler facility in Venice.

"It’s an outrage. It’s not about me. I’m going to be fine," said Buchanan, the dealership’s majority owner. "You’re talking over 100,000 jobs. We’re supposed to be in the business of creating jobs, not killing jobs," Buchanan told News 10, a local Florida television station.

Buchanan, who succeeded former Rep. Katharine Harris in 2006, reportedly learned of his dealership’s termination from Rep.Candace Miller, R-MI. Buchanan owns a total of 23 dealerships in Florida and North Carolina.

Also fueling the controversy is the fact the RLJ-McCarty-Landers chain of Arkansas and Missouri dealerships aren’t being closed, but many of their local competitors are being eliminated. Go here for a detailed look at this situation. McClarty is the former Clinton senior aide. The "J" is Robert Johnson, founder of the Black Entertainment Television, a heavy Democratic contributor.

A lawyer representing a group of  Chrysler dealers who are on the hit list deposed senior Chrysler executives and later told Reuters that he believes the closings have been forced on the company by the White House.

"It became clear to us that Chrysler does not see the wisdom of terminating 25 percent of its dealers. It really wasn’t Chrysler’s decision. They are under enormous pressure from the President’s automotive task force," said attorney Leonard Bellavia.

Emphasis added.

So here we have the federal government becoming the dominant partner in a major private industry, bullying legal creditors and evidently closing businesses to punish citizens who opposed them. This probably violates a subsection of Godwin’s Law, but, I have to ask…

When do we see the black shirts and a march on Rome? Waiting

LINKS: Lots more from Doug Ross, with updated information.


UPDATE: Allahpundit at Hot Air points out that data shows car dealerships skew largely GOP in their donations, which might explain the disparity in closures between Republican and Democrat donors.  On the other hand, it does not explain why some dealerships -profitable ones- were closed and other were left open.

UPDATE II: Tom Maguire thinks the statistical evidence is so up in the air that it’s hard to see if there’s any case for anything beyond crony capitalism in this, while Doug Ross in another post looks at the odds and thinks they’re significant. I’ve now moved to agnostic, but I’ve no doubt of of President Obama’s bent toward corrupted rule, whether one calls it Chicago-style crony capitalism, corporatism, or liberal fascism.

The case(s) against Judge Sotomayor

May 27, 2009

Yesterday I explained my reasons for opposing the confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor as a Supreme Court Justice on philosophical grounds. This morning, the Heritage Foundation’s Foundry blog provides three cases ruled on by Judge Sotomayor that should at the least trouble any thoughtful observer concerned about the Constitution and the equal application of the law:

Equal Opportunity: In Ricci v. Destefano, Sotomayor joined an unsigned opinion rejecting a lawsuit from a group of firefighters who claimed the city of New Haven, Connecticut violated their civil rights by invalidating the results of a test administered to fill 15 captain and lieutenant vacancies. The lead plaintiff, Frank Ricci, battled dyslexia and spent months studying for the test, which he passed, but because no African-American firefighters passed he was denied a promotion. Sotomayor’s curt rejection of Ricci’s claims prompted President Bill Clinton appointed Second Circuit Judge Jose Cabranes to write: “The opinion contains no reference whatsoever to the constitutional claims at the core of this case. This perfunctory disposition rests uneasily with the weighty issues presented by this appeal.”

Second Amendment: In Maloney v. Cuomo, Sotomayor joined an opinion holding that “it is settled law” that the Second Amendment only limits federal, and not state, gun control laws. Even the famously liberal Ninth Circuit reached the opposite conclusion last month in Nordyke v. King.

Property Rights: In Didden v. Village of Port Chester, Sotomayor joined an unsigned opinion affirming Port Chester’s condemnation of land which plaintiff Bart Didden planned to build a pharmacy on. Didden had been approached by a politically connected developer who demanded either $800,000 from Didden or 50% stake in his pharmacy. When Didden did not comply, Port Chester condemned the land the very next day through eminent domain.

That last is even worse than the abominable Kelo decision. It’s clear that Judge Sotomayor has no regard for the property rights of the individual and may indeed be bigoted against White plaintiffs. These three cases should be explored thoroughly in the committee and the judge compelled to explain her reasoning. That may be impossible in the Ricci case, however, since that may well be going to the Supreme Court. Thus, it would be inappropriate for her to comment on it. It should still be raised by the Senators, however.

Again, I think these cases, when combined with her public statements on the role and conduct of judges, should disqualify her from serving on the Supreme Court.

RELATED: Jonah Goldberg looks at the difference between "empathy" and "activism" and argues Ricci was a racist, reactionary decision. Rich Lowry calls it a bad day for impartiality.


Axis of Evil watch

May 26, 2009

Are Venezuela and Bolivia providing Iran with uranium for its nuclear-weapons program?



May 26, 2009

This morning President Obama announced his pick to fill the Supreme Court seat of retiring Justice David Souter: Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. While others far more learned in the law will weigh in on this, I find her unacceptable for two reasons:

She is on video stating that the Court of Appeals is a policy-making body:

“…Court of Appeals is where policy is made. And I know, and I know, that this is on tape, and I should never say that. Because we don’t ‘make law,’ I know. [audience laughter] Okay, I know. I know. I’m not promoting it, and I’m not advocating it. I’m, you know. [audience laughter]”

See for yourself:

Her clumsy disavowals aside, what Judge Sotomayor is advocating is nothing less than judicial imperialism. It’s rule by the courts in which judges make up the law to fit their sense of justice, rather than apply it based on the letter of the law, the intent of those who wrote it, and its admissibility under the Constitution. And it is anti-democratic to the core: under our system, policy -the laws under which we live- is made by the elected representatives of the People in the legislatures, not by unelected judges who serve for life and who never again have to face audit by the People for their decisions.

What Judge Sotomayor is advocating is an oligarchy of the black robes in which judges not only rule on the law, but create it, answerable only narrower layers of the oligarchy above them. Her opinion is anti-constitutional and would appall the Founders, and should itself disqualify her from the Supreme Court.

But wait, there’s more!

Judge Sotomayor has said race, gender, and ethnicity should play a factor in how a judge decides the law:

In 2001, Sonia Sotomayor, an appeals court judge, gave a speech declaring that the ethnicity and sex of a judge “may and will make a difference in our judging.”

In her speech, Judge Sotomayor questioned the famous notion — often invoked by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her retired Supreme Court colleague, Sandra Day O’Connor — that a wise old man and a wise old woman would reach the same conclusion when deciding cases.

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,” said Judge Sotomayor,….

She must never have noticed that statue of blind Justice around her courtrooms. This is so obvious, I can’t believe I have to make this point, but justice under the law applies equally to all, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, political belief, or gender. Yes, we’ve often fallen short of that over our history, but it the ideal at which we aim and the standard to which we hold ourselves. There is not one justice for White males and another for Chinese women, and no judge should claim a special knowledge of what is just or of a different justice, just because she was born into one or another group. Our rights under the Constitution are the birthright of each and every citizen, regardless of birth, and the most basic right of all is that the law applies equally to each and every citizen as a citizen, and for no other reason.

If Judge Sotomayor truly believes that ethnicity gives her insight into true justice, then she is not fit for the federal bench at all, not just the Supreme Court.

That said, the hearings begin in July, and I expect she will be confirmed. The Democrats have the votes, and the Republicans probably won’t have the will to sustain a filibuster. There’s a principle that Presidents should have their nominees passed, barring incompetence or corruption. Yeah, I know. The Democrats made a mockery of that principle when Bush was in office, but it’s still there. I’d argue that Judge Sotomayor’s positions outlined above imply an incompetent judicial philosophy, but I doubt that argument would carry the day.

Also, Obama played a trump card by nominating someone who would be the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court, thus pandering to a key group that voted for him in 2008, and among whom the Republicans are very weak. The Senate caucus will probably find it very difficult to oppose her and risk further alienating a group very deep into identity politics. Chicago-style politics at its best.

Still, I firmly believe the reasons I gave above are enough to mount a strong opposition to Judge Sotomayor’s nomination: if it can’t be derailed, then the Republicans can at least fight to expose her disturbing beliefs to the general public and force the Obama Administration and Senate Democrats to defend their support for judicial imperialism and the "principle" of unequal justice for all.

(via Don Surber)

UPDATE: Another reason to oppose Sotomayor’s nomination:

"[W]e who judge must not deny the differences resulting from experience or heritage but attempt… continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies, and prejudices are appropriate."

Emphasis added. Contrast that with her oath of office.