Sunday, May 31, 2009

More On Sotomayor

My good (albeit, liberal) friend Paula Rubin chastised me for my remarks on Judge Sotomayor made in the post below. She suggested that I took the Judge's statement about the difference between a white male judge and a Latina judge, out of context. Here's a little context:

"Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge [Miriam] Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O'Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, 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."

The portion in italics was what I initially quoted. Judge Sotomayor made that statement in a 2001 speech that was published in the Berkeley La Raza Journal.

Now, I want to be clear. I think that elections have consequences and one of those consequences is that the President nominates Federal judges. We elected a liberal Democrat President. He is not going to nominate Robert Bork. It has always been my view that unless a nominee is clearly unqualified, the President should get his choice.

Since the time of the Bork nomination, the Democrats have not concurred with that theory. It has been deemed perfectly reasonable to vote against a nominee because he was "too conservative". That was the basis on which the majority of Democratic Senators voted against the Alito and Roberts nominations. Republicans have generally adhered to the former theory, as evidenced by their support of the Breyer and Ginsburg nominations during the Clinton Administration.

I think it is fair to question a nominee to our highest Court about her judicial philosophy. It is quite clear that if a white, male judicial nominee expressed the view that his experiences as a white male better suited him to be a judge than those of a Latina, he would be pilloried. Thus, it seems that Judge Sotomayor ought to be asked to elaborate on those remarks.

Some questions in this regard come to mind. Did the fact that she is a Latina influence her thinking in reaching her decision in Ricci v. DeStefano? Does she think a white male judge would have reached a different decision? This was an affirmative action case that is now before the Supreme Court.

While I expect Judge Sotomayor to be confirmed, no conservative should be happy about it. Souter was a reliable liberal vote but Judge Sotomayor is likely to be a more vociferous advocate of left-wing causes. And, at age 55, she will likely be there for a long time.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sotomayor's Views Should Be Explored

As you know, the President has nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor to replace David Souter.

It is almost a certainty that she will be confirmed. I think, however, that it is amazing how many people have warned the GOP to be very cautious in criticising her. I guess I missed all those warnings to Democrats who have adamantly opposed virtually every Republican nominee from Robert Bork to Samuel Alito.

Moreover, any person being reviewed for such an important office ought to be given reasonable scrutiny. There are certainly a few legitimate issues that should be explored. For example, Judge Sotomayor is quoted as having made the following statement:

"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."

If a white male made the opposite observation, he would be immediately rejected by almost everyone. I will be quite interested to hear what the Judge says she meant by this. It seems to be a sentiment that is at odds with the notion that color of skin and ethnic background are not supposed to be factors in public life.

Battle For GOP Continues

I'm sure you have all been watching the battle brewing between conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney on one side and Colin Powell and Tom Ridge on the other.

Each side is claiming to represent the real GOP.

I'm no longer sure what the real GOP is. I am, however, pretty sure that Colin Powell does not represent a set of policy prerogatives of a party I'd want to be a member of. I hear that Powell and his supporters think the GOP should simply take a pass on the Sotomayor nomination. Their thinking goes "she's going to be confirmed, so opposition will just alienate women and Hispanics from the GOP".

David Broder wrote that "most intelligent Republican strategists" were alarmed by the loss of Hispanic support over the GOP's tough stance against immigration reform. He suggested that the GOP cannot afford to further alienate this group.

Well, I'm not a Republican strategist and I'm probably not that intelligent either, but, I cannot understand why supporting a law (immigration reform) which would increase the numbers of Hispanic voters, is considered intelligent. G.W. Bush did the best any Republican ever did with that group and he only got 40% of their vote.

More importantly, what kind of government leader casts votes solely on the basis of political impact?

Why could a majority of Democrats vote against Justices Roberts and Alito, solely on the grounds that their political views were too conservative, without any criticism, but a vote against Judge Sotomayor because she is too liberal is deemed partisan and wrong? President Obama voted against both Roberts and Alito despite acknowledging that both were first rate and well qualified. His no votes were based purely on political philosophy.

This brings me back to my main point. If the GOP is going to remain a serious, viable party, it has to have a discernible body of ideas and principles. The members of the party ought not be expected to subscribe to every single ideological position, but, they ought to agree to most of, if not all, of the core principles.

Colin Powell has indicated that we need a more "moderate" GOP. What does that mean? I want to know what principles and policies he thinks the GOP should advocate. Everything I've heard him say indicates that he agrees down the line with President Obama. If so, how can he deem himself a Republican. Obama's agenda is the most liberal we have ever seen.

From 1932 through 1994 the GOP rarely held a majority in either House or Senate. Everyone was cordial and they all got along. Bob Michel was a fine gentleman, Everett Dirksen a great guy. But, in the end, they were almost always in the minority. They got invited to dinner parties and played golf with the Democrats, but it was the Democrats that ran the country.

If the GOP is simply going to be a faint shadow of the Democrat party, its really not needed. I'll have to find a new party to call home. But there is a place in American politics for an active opposition party. I surely hope that the GOP does not become the Obama lapdog party that Gen. Powell seems to be advocating for.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pelosi: Politics Over Responsibility

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused the CIA of lying to her and other House Intelligence Committee members regarding the use of water boarding.

Pelosi got herself into this mess because she hoped to get political mileage out of a possible "truth commission" regarding Bush Administration interrogation policies. Her efforts to embarrass Bush and the GOP backfired on her as it came out that she was briefed on the techniques she now criticises but about which she had no complaint in 2002.

She upped the ante in her so-far feeble attempts to extricate herself from the mess she created by claiming that the CIA intentionally misled Congress regarding the use of water boarding. GOP members of the Committee who were also briefed were quick to dispute her views.

The most amazing part of her press conference (at least in my mind) was Pelosi's answer to the question of why she did not act to stop water boarding in 2003 when (she now admits) she did learn of its use (and, if we believe her claims about the 2002 briefing, that the CIA lied to the Committee). She said that instead of registering a protest to the Administration, she wanted to help Democrats win control of Congress and elect a Democrat President.

Isn't that great? Well, at least we know she isn't lying about her priorities!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Can You Spare A Dime, Continued.

As I wrote last week, the recent Treasury bond auction did not go well.

Megan McArdle discussed some of the consequenses of growing difficulty for Federal borrowing in this article, linked to by Instapundit.

McArdle notes:

"For a while now, I've been asking people at conferences, on and off the record, what America's sovereign debt risk is? That is, how long until people stop treating treasuries as the "risk free" securities, and start demanding a premium for the risk that we might default.The answer from the right has been a nervous (perhaps hopeful) 2-3 years. The answer from the left, and professional Democratic wonks, is some unspecified time in the future. Probably, there will be a Republican in charge. Markets hate Republicans.

But last Thursday (5/7), the Treasury auction was . . . well, descriptions vary from "weak" to "horrible". This raises the unpleasant possibility that markets are, as my business school professors insisted, "forward looking". Voters may believe that getting a bunch of special interests to agree in principal that costs should be cut is the same thing as actually cutting costs. Bond markets don't."

McArdle goes on to point out that as the Obama Administration continues to borrow, with no apparent end in sight, a big day of reckoning may be upon us.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?

What if you held an auction of Treasury securities and nobody came to buy?

Well, it hasn't reached that point yet, but we may be headed in that direction. There was a weak response to the most recent auction, as noted in this AP report. The government was forced to pay higher interest than it planned.

By the way, Wall Street noticed, and stocks tumbled.

So, do you still think Obama's plans to spend us out of all of our problems are good ideas? We can only pay for government spending in three ways. First, we can raise taxes. Of course, we are already doing that and there aren't enough "rich" people to pay for everything. Second, we can borrow. Unfortunately, the massive growth of our debt and the administration's underhanded dealing with banks and Chrysler's creditors, may be putting a dent in our ability to borrow. Finally, the Treasury can just print more money. That will, of course, lead to inflation.

Oh well, maybe I'll go out and buy a wheel-barrow.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

More Torture

As a follow-up to my torture post below, take a look at this article by Andrew McCarthy from the National Review OnLine.

McCarthy points out that the Obama Justice Department is planning to refer the Bush era Justice Dept. officials to their respective State Bars for discliplinary proceedings for their memos regarding torture while simultaneously arguing that the standard those lawyers enumerated should be adopted by an appeals court in the Demjanjuk deportation case.

Here is one excerpt:

"On April 23 of this year, only a day after Holder — taking his lead from the president — promised to investigate Bybee, Yoo, and other government lawyers, the Justice Department filed a brief in a case called Demjanjuk v. Holder in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Ohio. The brief urges the federal courts to consider the same torture analysis over which Holder is targeting the Bush lawyers with such fanfare."

Read the whole thing; the hypocrisy is staggering!

My Two-Cents On Torture

I think this whole torture debate is bunk.

First, I do not think water-boarding is torture. It certainly doesn't rank up there with cattle prods and decapitation.

Moreover, I think its crazy that our government has openly stated that it would not use certain "enhanced interrogation techniques". Is the President saying that if we had 3100 Americans in mortal danger and we had a person in captivity who had information that could save them, we would not use whatever methods were needed to extract that information? If so, I'd like him to say that openly to the American people. I doubt they would applaud.

This is so much about politics. Check out this PowerLine post on the topic. The bad news is that the president's political gain was purchased by weakening our defenses against terrorists.

Even more pathetic is Nancy Pelosi's claim that she didn't object to the CIA's plans to use water-boarding when she was briefed after 9/11, because she did not realize they were going to use the technique. Now, after year's of being kept safe from terrorists, she's all for Bush bashing on torture.

Souter's Last Shot

My reaction to Justice David Souter's announcement that he was retiring was "what does this guy have against the Bush family"?

First, Souter makes George the Elder look like a dupe by going far left in his judicial career. Then, he quits just a bit more than 3 months after George the Younger leaves office. He just couldn't wait to give President Obama a shot to pick a flaming liberal for the Supreme Court.

The sad reality is that he'll be remembered only for being a closet liberal, not for any important legal precedent. He never penned a significant opinion. He was just a reliable vote for the left-wing.

Thanks for nothing, Dave.

More Specter

The other day I noted that Winston Churchill once said "anyone can rat (switch parties) but it takes real style to re-rat".

There are some commenters who noting that the Democrats are treating Arlen badly are suggesting that he should come back to the GOP. What would Winston say about a "double re-rat"?