Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sotomayor not a bipartisan pick

Ed Whelan has this note regarding how Judge Sotomayor was selected by the George HW Bush White House to be a district court judge:

. . . when President Bush nominated Sotomayor to the district court in 1991, the New York senators, Moynihan and D’Amato, had forced on the White House a deal that enabled the senator not of the president’s party to name one of every four district-court nominees in New York. Sotomayor was Moynihan’s pick. I am reliably informed that Bush 41’s White House nonetheless resisted nominating her because she was so liberal and did so in the end only as part of a package to move along other nominees whom Moynihan was holding up.

So not only did Bush put Souter on the Court, he paved the way for Sotomayor. And Whelan indicates she will be a far left-wing voice.

But as I said before, her lack of intellectual firepower compared to Scalia and Roberts means she won't be an influential one (*cough*Stevens*cough*).

Easy confirmation, no superstar

Pres. Obama took the quick and easy path by nominating Hon. Sonia Sotomayor to replace David Souter on the Supreme Court.

First, she's a two-party appointee. Pres. Bush (I) appointed her to a Federal district court bench during his sole term in office, Pres. Clinton appointed her to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (which handles appeals from cases filed in district courts in New York, Connecticut and Vermont).

Second, she is female. As only the third female nominee, she'll receive great deference from the Senate (only three Senators total have voted against a female Supreme Court appointee -- the three dissenters to Justice Ginsburg).

Third, she is Latina. This is the minority category du jour that "deserves" a place on the Supreme Court. Miguel Estrada would have been the first undoubted Latino to serve on the Supreme Court if the Democrats had not filibustered his Court of Appeals nomination under Pres. Bush (II). Whether Justice Benjamin Cardozo (served 1932-38) was Hispanic is an open question.

Fourth, her paper trail, while not overwhelming the average Rhodes Scholar for its intellectual content, is not overly controversial. For a Democrat's nominee to be "controversial" to the media, the nominee would have to take opposite positions on Iraq War or War on Terror issues (Elena Kagan) or have doubts about the legality of abortion. For such a nominee to be controversial in general, the nominee would have to espouse a judicial philosophy that questions whether the law should be applied as written. Her comments that a wise Latina woman with the experiences of growing up poor, female, and Latina should reach the right conclusion in a case more often than a white male who was never poor nor Latino, is nonsense and preposterous on its face. It's the same "empathy" quality that elevates the feelings of the litigants over the rule of law. But it's less easy to challenge her dedication to the rule of law than Obama's alleged favorite.

Obama had a Supreme Court candidate whose dedication to the rule of law is highly questionable. That candidate was Diane Wood, a judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. She seemed to be the favorite of liberal interest groups and the professoriat because she supposedly has the intellectual candlepower to go toe-to-toe with Scalia and Roberts. That's highly unlikely. But Wood was also the most controversial candidate possible precisely because her dedication to the rule of law is more open to question than any of the other rumored candidates (Kagan, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Sotomayor). After Sen. Jon Kyl said Republicans would fight any nominee who placed empathy over analysis (a shot at Wood), Sotomayor became the most logical pick.

Possibility of her nomination passing the Senate = 100%.

Possibility of her appointment passing without dissenting votes = 45%.

Possibility of her reasoning in decisions ever being equally persuasive as Scalia's = 0%.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Why Government Can't Run A Business*

John Steele Gordon's column today in the Wall Street Journal on why government cannot by its nature run businesses efficiently is the best I've ever read. The piece requires very little commentary but if there is one fact to take away it's: 

Governments make political decisions whereas running a business requires sound economic decisions.

By all means read it all but here are the bullet points:

1) Governments are run by politicians, not businessmen.

2) Politicians need headlines.

3) Governments use other people's money.

4) Government does not tolerate competition.

5) Government enterprises are almost always monopolies and thus do not face competition at all.

6) Successful corporations are run by benevolent despots.

7) Government is regulated by government.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Obamessiah is Wrong

Cliff Asness, founding principal of AQR Capital Management which runs $20 billion, savaged President Obama for his attack on hedge funds during the Chrysler bankruptcy process. It's exceptionally well-written. The key point:

The President's attempted diktat takes money from bondholders and gives it to a labor union that delivers money and votes for him. Why is he not calling on his party to "sacrifice" some campaign contributions, and votes, for the greater good? Shaking down lenders for the benefit of political donors is recycled corruption and abuse of power.

As for the arrogance of this administration I would draw attention to the comment by White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs this week: "We cannot rule out management changes after the stress-tests."

Specifically as Obamessiah executed Rick Wagoner at GM, they won't hesitate to execute bank and finance company CEOs.

Arlen Ambushed

My initial reaction on learning that Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania had crossed the aisle to become a Democrat was something like "That EFFING TRAITOR!!#$" in large part as Specter would give the Democratic caucus cloture proof sixty votes in the Senate which is in reality the last real obstacle to a liberal President and liberal Congress running rampant.

For many conservatives Specter has been a RINO (Republican In Name Only) for some years now in particular on his judicially activist views specifically calling Roe v. Wade and its subsequent survival a super-precedent. There were also those rancid "Kerry/Specter" lawn signs from 2004. On the other hand he did shepherd though the not particularly easy appointment of Samuel Alito the high bench.

It was amusing and a pleasant surprise this week when it turned out that the Senate Democratic leadership led by the sanctimonious snake Harry Reid that they essentially screwed Specter. Specter, who apparently was promised that he would maintain his Senate seniority if he switched parties, found himself treated as the most junior Democrat on Senate committees. This is a deep blow to Specter who attempted to sound Reaganesque on the reasons for his switch, i.e., "I didn't leave the Republican Party, THEY left me" but admitted that the catalyst of his switch was the fact that conservative Pat Toomey would run against him in Republican primary in 2010 and that the likelihood of him prevailing in that contest was bleak.

Essentially he switched parties, a month after stating unequivocally that he would not, to save his exalted seat in the Senate.

There may a silver lining somewhere in all of this.

2010 is a long way away but assuming that Pat Toomey is the Republican candidate, Specter is more likely than not to be a Democratic candidate. A Specter left out in the political cold is likely a very disgruntled Specter (remember his nickname IS Snarlin' Arlen) who won't get many Republican votes at all and might see the most liberal Democrats too disgusted to vote for him. A well run campaign by Toomey and a dulling of the gloss of Obamessiah may be enough to put this seat back in Republican hands. Even if Specter won, he would be a moderate to conservative Democrat rather than perhaps a liberal Democrat so this switch, while not a good thing, may not be such a bad thing after all.

Reid and the Democrats despite Specter's orneriness (still supporting Norm Coleman in Minnesota) should have welcomed Arlen with open arms and just bit their tongue and make sure Specter was in the tent p*ssing out.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Just Watch


No idea if there is a backstory to this; e.g., perhaps Bush asked the White House press corps NOT to stand.

I am an Occam's Razor guy and seems to be me that the press has found their Messiah. Just hope it's not the false Messiah from Revelation.