February 24, 2016

President Obama posts at SCOTUSblog... to say that appointing a Supreme Court Justice is a "responsibility" he takes "seriously."

He's going to "devote considerable time, deep reflection, careful deliberation" to the selection process, you won't be surprised to hear. And he's going to pick someone who is "eminently qualified" and has "an independent mind, rigorous intellect, impeccable credentials, and a record of excellence and integrity."  And, he says, he wants someone who "recognizes the limits of the judiciary’s role; who understands that a judge’s job is to interpret the law, not make the law" and who will "approach decisions without any particular ideology or agenda, but rather a commitment to impartial justice, a respect for precedent, and a determination to faithfully apply the law to the facts at hand." You may doubt that, but it's absolutely standard boilerplate. It's what the nominees themselves will say at the confirmation hearings. They'll say it so consistently that you'll wonder why we need confirmations hearings. We'll just hear the person say that over and over again.

But there's a bit more, and this tinges into the controversial. In some cases, "a judge’s analysis necessarily will be shaped by his or her own perspective, ethics, and judgment." So he's looking for someone who doesn't see law as "abstract legal theory abstract legal theory" or "some footnote in a dusty casebook" or only "an intellectual exercise." There should be "life experience" and an understanding that law "affects the daily reality of people’s lives in a big, complicated democracy, and in rapidly changing times" which is "an essential element for arriving at just decisions and fair outcomes."

This strikes me as a watered down version of what he said back in May 2009, when he had his first Supreme Court vacancy to fill:
I will seek someone who understands that justice isn't about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a case book. It is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people's lives — whether they can make a living and care for their families; whether they feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation. I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people's hopes and struggles as an essential ingredient for arriving as just decisions and outcomes.
Today's statement doesn't include the key word "empathy." And that casebook with the footnote is now a "dusty casebook." "Essential ingredient" has become "essential element," which — pardon me for free associating — makes me speculate he's not picking a woman this time. 

153 comments:

Terry said...

"a judge’s analysis necessarily will be shaped by his or her own perspective, ethics, and judgment." So he's looking for someone who doesn't see law as "abstract legal theory abstract legal theory" or "some footnote in a dusty casebook" or only "an intellectual exercise." There should be "life experience" and an understanding that law "affects the daily reality of people’s lives in a big, complicated democracy, and in rapidly changing times" which is "an essential element for arriving at just decisions and fair outcomes."
This is called 'legislation.' We have elected people who do that. They are called 'legislators.'
My God how did Obama ever get through three years of Harvard Law? Is there any actual evidence that his intellectual ability increased between Occidental and HL?

Graham Powell said...

The "fair outcomes" bit gripes me. He wants the outcome to determine what the law is, instead of the other way around? He really wants the court to rescue Congress and other legislatures from the crappy laws they pass.

That's one reason I liked Scalia - if a crappy law lead to a bad outcome, well, that's the law. If you don't like it, you can change it, and having clear laws is better than having ambiguous ones that require stacks and stacks of opinions about their plain meanings and their implications.

Brando said...

He's sort of telegraphing that he'll put another Sotomayor on the Court. She's worse than Ginsburg.

Ideally the only thing that would matter is solid judicial experience and judgment, and politics would take a back seat. That's obviously never going to happen, as the criteria now are "who will defend my policies" and "who will please my coalition" and "who is young enough to be on this court for at least 30 years".

Dig in for the fight!

samanthasmom said...

We're getting someone who's "authentically black" this time. Not someone who's not really black like Clarence Thomas. Democrats are tired of the only African American on the court being one of the conservatives. It destroys the narrative.

holdfast said...

Who's up for a gay, Muslim, 1/2 Black, 1/4 Indian, 1/4 Native Indian, cripple with low-grade narcolepsy? And lots of really horrible life experiences, leading to a burning desire to "stick it to the man"?

Tank said...

So, he's a con man and a liar.

New?

tim maguire said...

Terry said...This is called 'legislation.' We have elected people who do that. They are called 'legislators.'

That's because you care about process, not just the result, but how we got to that result. You also care about fundamental rights protection. Caring about either of these things means you can't ever be a liberal.

Brando said...

Here's the deal--tell him you'll vote on his nominee to replace Scalia if (a) Ginsburg retires right now and (b) he nominates Miguel Estrada or Ted Cruz to replace her. Seems fair! Plus, he'll have the distinction of putting four people on the Court (a first since Nixon!), and at least two of them Hispanics. He can be the First Hispanic President! All we need is Hispanic Toni Morrison to tell us that's a thing.

Bay Area Guy said...

Can we cut through the bullshit?

Obama wants to appoint a Lefty to undo Heller, Citizens United, and several other precedents, they find repulsive.

The GOP wants the oppposite.

The Senate and Executive will battle it out. Who wins politically? Remains to be seen.

Mike Sylwester said...

Obama thinks that Judge Alito lacks empathy. In other words, Alito does not understand and identify with people's hopes and struggles.

That's why Senator Obama voted to filibuster to prevent a Senate vote on Alito's nomination.

rehajm said...

Obama wants to appoint a Lefty to undo Heller, Citizens United, and several other precedents, they find repulsive.

Don't Trump and Sanders make arguments against Citizens United sound silly?

Anthony said...

I really wonder: Does Obama ever get tired of lying?

madAsHell said...

President Obama posts as SCOTUSblog... to say that appointing a Supreme Court Justice is a "responsibility" he takes "seriously."

Why does he need to make this statement? It's almost like he doesn't take the rest of his job seriously.

damikesc said...

Here's the deal--tell him you'll vote on his nominee to replace Scalia if (a) Ginsburg retires right now and (b) he nominates Miguel Estrada or Ted Cruz to replace her. Seems fair! Plus, he'll have the distinction of putting four people on the Court (a first since Nixon!), and at least two of them Hispanics. He can be the First Hispanic President! All we need is Hispanic Toni Morrison to tell us that's a thing.

I think Cruz would be the greatest SCOTUS Justice we could hope for...but there is no way Obama would do that.

Terry said...

Brando said...
Here's the deal--tell him you'll vote on his nominee to replace Scalia if (a) Ginsburg retires right now and (b) he nominates Miguel Estrada or Ted Cruz to replace her.

Under normal circumstances, a workable compromise might be to have Ginsberg resign, with the GOP senate consenting to her replacement. In return, Obama would leave nominating a successor to Scalia for the next prez.
But there is no basis for such a gentleman's agreement. Obama has treated the senate with contempt since his party lost control of it in the 2010 elections. He has has no favors he can call in. Have Obama and McConnell ever spoken, in private, face to face? Like during a golf game?

Real American said...

translation: expect another left wing radical who checks off some combination of leftist boxes- black, gay, lesbian, tranny, Latino, etc.

given his poor track record with appointing judges who actually do what he says he's looking for, the Senate is rightfully refusing to entertain such a nominee.

Eustace Chilke said...

If he wanted to seriously fuck with their heads he could nominate someone who would be a credible replacement for Scalia. That would be funny to watch.

CatherineM said...

Terry is right of course. Obama doesn't like the legislative process because he doesn't get his way with Congress. He thinks they should just bend to his will and rubber stamp his demands because "I won," he is righteous, and knows better.

AlbertAnonymous said...

"Essential ingredient" has become "essential element," which — pardon me for free associating — makes me speculate he's not picking a woman this time.

Professor Althouse, would you mind explaining that one please? I have no idea how that translates in any way, shape or form to "not picking a woman".

R. Chatt said...

Ingredient > cooking > female

robother said...

"Fair outcomes." So much for the notion of cruel neutrality, of judge as umpire applying the law impartial or equally.

Instead, we get the childish, fanboy standard of "fairness:" If our team loses, its not fair! We wuz robbed! And note how the determination of fairness is always and only in who wins: the outcome.

YoungHegelian said...

And, he says, he wants someone who "recognizes the limits of the judiciary’s role; who understands that a judge’s job is to interpret the law, not make the law" and who will "approach decisions without any particular ideology or agenda, but rather a commitment to impartial justice, a respect for precedent, and a determination to faithfully apply the law to the facts at hand."

Like Sotomayor & Kagan. Suuuuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrre! Ask to pull your finger again, Barry!

James Pawlak said...

Unlike some other Republicans I support Senate hearings for a nominee---And, application of the Democrat developed Bork system.

Gahrie said...

Kamala Harris

Sebastian said...

"My God how did Obama ever get through three years of Harvard Law?" Easily. Suited him. Or you think they teach law-law there?

Dan Hossley said...

These are the sounds a lame duck makes.

Fritz said...

Are there any transsexuals among the federal judiciary?

Steve Uhr said...

Perhaps Obama and Hillary will agree on someone. Sucks if he/she is nominated, and Hillary wins and goes and picks someone else.

fyi,They do "teach law-law" at Harvard.

PB said...

As the ultimate narcissist, to Obama empathy is just a word.

icepilot said...

A President with no record of integrity promises to appoint a Justice with a record of integrity.
Right.

Meade said...

"Essential ingredient" has become "essential element," which — pardon me for free associating — makes me speculate he's not picking a woman this time.

Uh, Hillary, your element is essential enough.

Terry said...


Blogger Eustace Chilke said...
If he wanted to seriously fuck with their heads he could nominate someone who would be a credible replacement for Scalia. That would be funny to watch.

McConnell would confirm him or her in a heartbeat.

cubanbob said...

This where Trump should state that since he is going to be the next president Obama can save the country time and bother and nominate Cruz. Gets Cruz out of the way, pleases most of the Conservatives and most Republican Senators and makes anyone Obama nominates DOA.

Beldar said...

He'll pick a hard-core reliable leftie with good credentials -- someone who's passed all the Dems' litmus test.

Why are we pretending there's a story here? "Obama gives vague, disingenuous speech." That's hardly headline news.

Beldar said...

Ooops, sorry, "Obama posts a vague, disingenuous blog post." Even less newsworthy; some staffer wrote it.

CWJ said...

Steve Uhr petulantly(?) wrote -

"fyi,They do 'teach law-law' at Harvard."

Someone either went to, or had his application rejected by, Harvard.

Brando said...

"Under normal circumstances, a workable compromise might be to have Ginsberg resign, with the GOP senate consenting to her replacement. In return, Obama would leave nominating a successor to Scalia for the next prez.
But there is no basis for such a gentleman's agreement. Obama has treated the senate with contempt since his party lost control of it in the 2010 elections. He has has no favors he can call in. Have Obama and McConnell ever spoken, in private, face to face? Like during a golf game?"

"I think Cruz would be the greatest SCOTUS Justice we could hope for...but there is no way Obama would do that."

Yeah--I don't think this would ever happen, but it would be amusing to see the GOP suggest it.

The thing I like most about Cruz on the Court is like Scalia he takes the 2nd Amendment seriously. Heller I think was 5-4, and if Scalia is replaced by even a "soft" conservative on guns, that could easily go the other way.

Beldar said...

Cruz would be a fine member of the Supreme Court, after his second term in the White House expires.

tim in vermont said...

"And if you like your plan, you can keep your plan."

SteveR said...

There is no doubt his choice will be exactly what his record predicts. No surprises, no risk of a mistake. The solid four would become a solid five. Nothing to discuss.

Char Char Binks said...

R. Chatt said...
"Ingredient > cooking > female"

Sorry Chatt, but I have to agree with you. It will be a black woman who knows how to cook chitterlings.

Char Char Binks said...

I'm always in favor of having another woman on the SCROTUS.

Bob Ellison said...

Maybe E.T. It's an undocumented alien with uncertain gender and lots of empathy.

Hunter said...

As has been pointed out, the notion that a judge should employ "empathy" based on his/her "life experience" when ruling on cases is fundamentally at odds with the idea of judges being impartial and ruling only on what the law says. Empathy is what legislators and executives should be employing when they create laws and policy.

Even laws crafted with pure intention and close consideration can have bad outcomes; this is not a reason for judges to upend the law when it suits them. A law can be stupid and harmful and yet still be constitutional -- a point that Scalia often made.

Terry said...

If Obama says he is going to appoint 'the Hidden Imam', I am going to start taking those 'Iranian influence' stories more seriously.

hombre said...

Minority woman gets the nod.

Terry said...

Ginsberg was awful in her dissent to Ledbetter v Goodyear. The anti-discrimination law was worked out by legislators with various constituencies. A law was created which was a compromise between equal-pay-for equal work types and business interests. The law put a time limit on claims to prevent companies from the threat of lawsuits which punished behavior decades in the past.
Ginsberg didn't like that part so she just wanted to do away with it. She literally wanted to remake the law, and, as is her practice, she assembled bits and pieces of cherry-picked precedent to support her desire to remake the law.

tim in vermont said...

"an essential element for arriving at just decisions and fair outcomes."

It's always bout the outcome with him so he needs to find the right process to produce it is all.

Bill Peschel said...

Sounds like a sock puppet to me.

Tank said...

Stolen from Lem's

“It is difficult to maintain the illusion that we are interpreting a Constitution, rather than inventing one.” ― Antonin Scalia

If Zero could nominate one of these, then we'd be OK.

DanTheMan said...

>>Who's up for a gay, Muslim, 1/2 Black, 1/4 Indian, 1/4 Native Indian, cripple with low-grade narcolepsy? And lots of really horrible life experiences, leading to a burning desire to "stick it to the man"?

Obama would appoint himself???

mikee said...

I, for one, want no more justices who can say, as four now do for example, that the 2nd Amendment does indeed describe an individual right to keep and bear firearms and stops the federal government from infringing that right, but that banning all firearms from private, individual ownership is acceptable because the government says so. Such reasoning is disturbing to my non-lawyer mind.

David Pecchia said...

"And, he says, he wants someone who "recognizes the limits of the judiciary’s role; who understands that a judge’s job is to interpret the law, not make the law" and who will "approach decisions without any particular ideology or agenda, but rather a commitment to impartial justice, a respect for precedent, and a determination to faithfully apply the law to the facts at hand." You may doubt that, but it's absolutely standard boilerplate."

It is expected that he would say something like this but to what purpose? There are only two types which believe him: 1) The blindly-loyal cadres of low-information followers. 2) People like me who think the president is so insulated from reality that he actually believes whomever he nominates will truly fit the above description. And neither of these are likely to change their expectations based on this boilerplate.

readering said...

There's a reason
Alexander Bickel, following one of the founders, referred to the federal judiciary as the least dangerous branch. There are much more important issues than who will appoint judges in near future.

William said...

I have a suggestion. Why not nominate Trump's sister. She's said to be a liberal with steadfast pro choice convictions. If you're looking to throw a monkey wrench at the Republicans, she can't be beat.

Danno said...

Why is this even being discussed? There will be no nomination hearings since it is payback time for borking and the high-tech lynching!

Yancey Ward said...

I see the story is going around that Obama is "considering" Brian Sandoval, laughing my ass off.

Robert Cook said...

"A President with no record of integrity promises to appoint a Justice with a record of integrity.

"Right."


How is this any different than the circumstances of the last 40 years or more?

themightypuck said...

That last one is a doozy. It kind of swallows the first two.

Brando said...

I think the recent all time low was Sotomayor's "race matters" opinion (at least I think it was in one of her opinions, rather than an outside writing). Just reading that made me certain that this person has no place on a bench anywhere and everyone complicit in her various appointments should be deeply ashamed.

Here's the deal--get Sotomayor to resign, and we pick two justices by throwing a dart at the board. We could hardly do worse than Sotomayor.

Roughcoat said...

Oh, bullshit. He's going to try to appoint a lefty.

Simon said...

Brando said...
"He's sort of telegraphing that he'll put another Sotomayor on the Court. She's worse than Ginsburg."

She is worse than Ginsburg, isn't she? She, alone, dissented in Carr, now I come to think of it. She's just awful—and what a striking contrast to the winsome Kagan. Lookit, the President's guff aside, the reality is that the bracket here is his two previous nominees: A mediocre affirmative-action pick who's a progressive and an intelligent, clear-thinking pick who's a progressive. He will assuredly nominate a progressive, but whether she will be a dullard or a bright light depends on whether he follows the Sotomayor mold or the Kagan mold. And if he wants it, there are obvious candidates for the latter: Diane Wood springs to mind.

Eustace Chilke said...
"If he wanted to seriously fuck with their heads he could nominate someone who would be a credible replacement for Scalia. That would be funny to watch."

Well, of course he could, but he won't. Scalia is irreplaceable, but there are any number of people who could succeed him: Diane Sykes or Jeff Sutton if you want a judge, John Manning or Steve Calabresi if you want an academic, Paul Clement if you want a practitioner. Heck, send Easterbrook. If Obama wants someone who won't serve for decades to come, he could send Frank Easterbrook who is probably the second most important American jurist of my lifetime. (Cases could be made for the late Henry Friendly and the once-credible Richard Posner, I suppose.)

Will said...

Some of Obama's best writing since his treatise on Apes and Figs.

Not quite as good as Apes and Figs, but almost. Maybe his second best writing..

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Let's do the double standard dance and look at how frequently the "liberal" justices vote together vs. how frequently the "conservatives" justices do. Justice Thomas voted similarly to Justice Scalia a number of times and that is taken as evidence that those votes are ideological (and, in true racist fashion, that Justice Thomas is too dull to vote on his own and instead blindly follows the smarter Scalia). How frequently do Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, and Ginsburg vote together? Why is the "conservative" wing's voting together somehow improper (or an example of the politicization of the judiciary) but the "liberal" wing's voting together somehow proper?

Professor Geoffrey Stone on Justice's voting patterns

Money quote: What I discovered was that the justices who are generally regarded as “conservative”– Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito – voted together 99 percent of the time in these cases. The only vote that departed from this pattern was Chief Justice Roberts’ vote in the Affordable Care Act case, which is no doubt why all the conservatives in the country were so upset with him. I also found that the justices who are thought of as “liberal” – Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor – voted together 97 percent of the time in these cases. Justices Kennedy and O’Connor were the only justices who did not vote in a consistent, invariable pattern. They voted, each independently, roughly two-thirds of the time with the conservative justices and roughly one-third of the time with the liberal justices. This explains and ratifies the perception that O’Connor and Kennedy were the “swing votes” in this era.


So 99% vs 97% (just in the cases in the study)...and the Media wants to pretend that the 2% represents a real (moral, intellectual) difference.

Simon said...

Brando said...
"I think the recent all time low was Sotomayor's "race matters" opinion (at least I think it was in one of her opinions, rather than an outside writing). Just reading that made me certain that this person has no place on a bench anywhere and everyone complicit in her various appointments should be deeply ashamed."

Schuette v. BAMN. She's an embarrassment—ironia ironiarum, she seems to be what the left falsely accuses Justice Thomas of being: A dimwitted affirmative-action pick promoted far beyond her competence, smoldering with grievances and reliant on smarter justices and manipulative clerks to tell her how to vote.

Widmerpool said...

Why is anyone spending any time on this? This is going absolutely nowhere. The Republicans have the votes, have made their position very clear, and it seems to me there's a zero percent chance there would be a groundswell of public opinion to make them reconsider their stand. Am I missing something here?

Terry said...

Obama: "AG Lynch, is there any legal reason I can't appoint myself to replace Scalia on the Supreme Court?"
AG Lynch: "There's no legal reason you can't appoint yourself as replacement for all the current justices, your majesty."
Obama: "I like the way you think, Lynch. When I have restored the Caliphate, you will be high in my council."

sostander said...

Would the President or perhaps Josh Earnest like to tell us which "responsilities" he doesn't take seriously?

Skeptical Voter said...


Back in the days of Jimmy Carter, we used to call statements like this "more mush from the wimp".

Well Democrat presidents have evolved since then. We now call this more bullpuckey from Barack.

Simon said...

Widmerpool said...
"The Republicans have the votes, have made their position very clear, and it seems to me there's a zero percent chance there would be a groundswell of public opinion to make them reconsider their stand. Am I missing something here?"

Their complete lack of any spine, and their addiction to chasing votes they won't win at the expense of votes they take for granted.

wildswan said...

"Why is anyone spending any time on this? This is going absolutely nowhere"

It's battle space preparation for the general election. But having to fight for someone who will continue the country in Obama's direction - which 70 % of the country thinks is the wrong direction - will just be another albatross around HClinton's neck. Obama isn't just bad for this country, for Nato, for Syria, for Libya. He's bad for the Democrats. They gloss over that for party reasons. But Obama trying to control this nomination and insert his "legacy" in this election is an example of how he stabs even his own party and own friends in the back. "What does he care if the world's got trouble? What does he care that the land ain't free?"

grimson said...

Obama plans to troll the GOP not with a particular nominee, but with a series of potential nominees that fulfill the Democrat penchant for identity politics, knowing that everything he says and writes about these nominees regarding their judicial philosophy and incomparable qualifications will be reported unquestioningly by the media.

Dan Hossley said...

Obama says he's going to devote considerable time to the quest. I suggest 10 months and save us all a lot of faux angst.

Terry said...

I heard that Obama was going to nominate a ham sandwich, but it got indicted.

ken in tx said...

Obama: "AG Lynch, is there any legal reason I can't appoint myself to replace Scalia on the Supreme Court?"
AG Lynch: "There's no legal reason you can't appoint yourself as replacement for all the current justices, your majesty."
Obama: "I like the way you think, Lynch. When I have restored the Caliphate, you will be high in my council."

This is the tactic that Octavian used to become Caesar Augustus. He appointed himself to fill all the major offices of the Roman Republic--even chief priest, Pontifex Maximus. This is why there is a provision in the US constitution why no federal officer may old more than one official office at the same time. The founders were very familiar with ancient Rome.

n.n said...

grimson:

Obama plans to troll

Given his history, he will either propose a nominally Republican candidate, or someone wholly leftist and subsequently subject Americans to a propaganda blitz through public and private channels, and harassment of key interests, a la congruence ("=") movement.

That said, given that liberal nature is endemic to youth and immaturity, the choices of actual and covert qualifying candidates creates an obvious opportunity to appoint an ideologically viable candidate for the left. The Republicans should be wary of liberals and establishment masquerading in conservative clothing.

Michael K said...

" he'll put another Sotomayor on the Court. She's worse than Ginsburg."

Ginsburg and Kagen are actually intelligent, even if lefties. Sotomayor is an idiot.

YoungHegelian said...

@Michael K,

Ginsburg and Kagen are actually intelligent, even if lefties. Sotomayor is an idiot.

Ginsburg is very intelligent, even if I don't like her brand of jurisprudence. I can see why she & Scalia were buds.

Kagan has her good & bad days.

But, Sotomayor, OMG, where did they find her? How did she get through an Ivy League school? (rhetorical question....do not answer)

walter said...

I note he only mentions the constitution in reference to his own rights/duty.
But you know..for his nominee..might be too bit abstract and dusty for these modern times....

Amanda said...

http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/2015/NHWISupremeCourtPolls22416.pdf?platform=hootsuite

"Earlier this week Public Policy Polling surveys found that Pat Toomey and Rob Portman were endangering their reelection chances with their opposition to even considering a replacement for Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. Now you can add Kelly Ayotte and Ron Johnson to that list. New polls in New Hampshire and Wisconsin find strong support for filling the seat this year, and that Ayotte and Johnson’s already dodgy reelection prospects could become even more perilous because of their opposition.
Key findings from the survey include:

-Johnson and Ayotte are already both in trouble this fall because of their weak approval numbers. Johnson has just a 33% approval rating, with 50% of voters disapproving of him. Ayotte isn’t doing much better, with 42% of voters giving her good marks and 48% bad ones. Johnson and Ayotte also have to deal with the overall damaging brand of Senate Republicans as they seek second terms- Mitch McConnell is a remarkably unpopular figure with a 14/58 approval spread in both Wisconsin and New Hampshire.
-Strong majorities of voters in both states think that the vacant seat on the Supreme Court should be filled this year. It’s a 62/35 spread in favor of doing so in Wisconsin, and 59/36 in New Hampshire. One thing that really stands out in both states is what a strong mandate there is from independents for filling the seat- it’s 67/30 in Wisconsin and 60/33 in New Hampshire. Those are the voters who will end up determining whether Johnson and Ayotte get reelected this fall, and they disagree with them on this issue."

Bay Area Guy said...

@Amanda

That is, actually, a very good point. Marginal GOP Senate and House seats may be endangered by the SCOTUS fight.

However, losing the Senate is much less important than preventing Lame Duck Obama from appointing some crazed Leftist to the Supreme Court.



madAsHell said...

Sotomayor is an idiot.

Wait!!! What??? The wise Latina?? Race matters! /sarc

Kirk Parker said...

JRB ftw!!!!

Amanda said...

Bay Area Guy,
Losing the Senate isn't important to Republicans? Just how do you think a Republican President will get his SC nominee through? Should a Democratic Senate do the same exact thing this Republican Senate is doing now, only perhaps they could start the obstructionism immediately after the Inaguration. Or perhaps a Democratic President and a majority Democratic Senate will get at least two more Justices through with no problems. So I guess the immediate gratification of obstructing Obama now is worth losing the Senate, oky doky then.

Mac McConnell said...

Looks like Trump might be the next President. So I'm practicing the future political rhetoric soon to be common place in DC.

Obama can suck my dick! He's a loser and a liar and born in Kenya! I'll make America great!

Drago said...

Amanda: "Should a Democratic Senate do the same exact thing this Republican Senate is doing now, only perhaps they could start the obstructionism immediately after the Inaguration"

Apparently, history began yesterday for Amanda.

Amanda said...

Oh please. Drago. We all know that this has been the most obstructionist Congress in history. You can try to stand reality up on its head but those who live in the real world know what has happened here.

rcocean said...

If Obama had a sense of humor he would nominate Ted Cruz.

Curious George said...

"Amanda said...
Oh please. Drago. We all know that this has been the most obstructionist Congress in history. You can try to stand reality up on its head but those who live in the real world know what has happened here."

That's powerful argument. Here let me play:

Amanda, we all know you are a dumb twat and Obama is the worst President ever and a liar....

See, fun!

Curious George said...

"grimson said...
Obama plans to troll the GOP not with a particular nominee, but with a series of potential nominees that fulfill the Democrat penchant for identity politics, knowing that everything he says and writes about these nominees regarding their judicial philosophy and incomparable qualifications will be reported unquestioningly by the media."

Exactly. Here is a headline from NBC News today:

"President Obama Explains What He Wants in Supreme Court Nominee
by ERIK ORTIZ

The next justice of the Supreme Court will be an independent thinker with a strong intellect and sterling credentials — if President Barack Obama gets his way."

So Obama says it, it's now fact. Fucking unbelievable.

CWJ said...

Curious George,

That's some serious boot licking right there!

CWJ said...

Obama to NBC:

I'll say it. You frame it. Mmmkay? Together we make a great team.

Curious George said...

"CWJ said...
Curious George,

That's some serious boot licking right there!"

By Mr. Ortiz, and not me, I presume.

Curious George said...

"CWJ said...
Obama to NBC:

I'll say it. You frame it. Mmmkay? Together we make a great team."

It's unbelievable.

Paul said...

Obama can GTH. He has spent seven years spewing hate, all the while refusing to work with Congress.

No. He'll no. He can spend the last 11 months of his presidency in a golf course. Don't give him anything.

Saint Croix said...

WSJ reports that a Republican governor is on the shortlist.

That's a pretty smart move for Obama. Brian Sandoval is liberal on several issues. Pro-choice on abortion. But he's a Republican. That might crack the united front.

gadfly said...

Every day at the 19th Hole Lounge our first black president contemplates his legacy while admiring pictures of himself on his cell phone. He reaallieeeee wants to change the court.

I recently acquired a new word, thanks to Andy McCarthy's use of the word "silopsist" in describing Donald Trump. Self-bias also applies to Barry Soetoro and according to Wiki, solipsists maintain that the self is the only existing reality and that all other reality, including the external world and other persons, are representations of that self, and have no independent existence. The mental picture of Narcissus staring at his reflection in a pond is blown away by this metaphysical mind adventure.

Curious George said...

"Saint Croix said...
WSJ reports that a Republican governor is on the shortlist."

Well, if he does it didn't take long to kiss "eminently qualified" and has "an independent mind, rigorous intellect, impeccable credentials, and a record of excellence and integrity" goodbye.

Curious George said...

Sandoval will make the left go nuts. No way in hell Obama does it.

SGT Ted said...

Captain Bullshit makes noises pretending to be serious. Whatever.

Skeptical Voter said...

Curious George guy re Amanda. You go guy!

Amanda said...

It's pretty obvious why Trump appeals to a certain segment of conservatives. Trump didn't have any trouble recruiting his Brown Shirts.

Simon said...

Amanda said...
"It's pretty obvious why Trump appeals to a certain segment of conservatives."

It's pretty obvious why Trump appeals to a certain segment of the electorate. That segment is not, however, one that reads the National Review; if Trump has any appeal to conservatives, I have yet to see any evidence of it.

Curious George said...

"Amanda said...
It's pretty obvious why Trump appeals to a certain segment of conservatives. Trump didn't have any trouble recruiting his Brown Shirts."

First, the Brown Shirts were lefties dumbass. Second, name any actions by Trump supporters that parallel the Brown Shirts.

Amanda said...

No Monkey. The Brownshirts were Fascists, which was a far right ideology. Dumb monkey.

fas·cism
ˈfaSHˌizəm/
noun
an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.
synonyms: authoritarianism, totalitarianism, dictatorship, despotism, autocracy; More
(in general use) extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practice.

Drago said...

Amanda: "It's pretty obvious why Trump appeals to a certain segment of conservatives. Trump didn't have any trouble recruiting his Brown Shirts"

Can somebody get me some muscle over here?

Drago said...

fas·cism (făsh′ĭz′əm)
n.
1. often Fascism
a. A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, a capitalist economy subject to stringent governmental controls, violent suppression of the opposition, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.
b. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a system of government.
2. Oppressive, dictatorial control.

"A system of government marked by centralization of authority"

Gee, that doesn't sound like leftists at all, does it?

Violent suppression of the opposition? See Maduro/Venezuela: https://www.hrw.org/news/2014/05/05/venezuela-unarmed-protestors-beaten-shot

"a capitalist economy subject to stringent governmental controls", hmmmmmmm

"typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism", Japanese internment? Woodrow Wilson?

Wow, that's quite the list of "right wingers" isn't it?

Drago said...

That FDR, what a "right winger"!

Drago said...

BTW, anyone following how many journalists/protestors have been murdered by the leftist Mexican PRI government of Pena Nieto?

I guess that guy is a right-winger too.

Remember, the Amanda's of the world were running around trying to convince everyone that Stalin was a "right winger"!

Why does the left love Castro so much? Wasn't he the guy that ordered homosexuals arrested and lobotomized? Why yes, yes he was.

But again, in a very non-left-wing sort of way. Naturally.

Curious George said...

"Amanda said...
No Monkey. The Brownshirts were Fascists, which was a far right ideology. Dumb monkey.

fas·cism
ˈfaSHˌizəm/
noun
an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.
synonyms: authoritarianism, totalitarianism, dictatorship, despotism, autocracy; More
(in general use) extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practice."

LOL, there isn't a dimes worth of difference. Read Jonah Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism". Let me know if you get stuck on a big words.

Steve Uhr said...

Trump does incite violence at his speeches. Most recently on Monday in Las Vegas he said in response to a protester that "I'd like to punch him in the face" and that in the "old days" "he'd be carried out on a stretcher." Not to hard to imagine one of his followers taking this to heart.

I think most people would find that crosses a line.

Howard said...

Obozo is soooo up inside you 'wingers heads. 11-more months of being his punk-assed bitch. You are gonna miss it when there ain't a Black Man around to put you in your place.

Steve Uhr said...

If the Nazi's were left wing, could someone explain what a right-wing totalitarian system looks like? Or by definition such a thing cannot exist?

Curious George said...

"Steve Uhr said...
Trump does incite violence at his speeches. Most recently on Monday in Las Vegas he said in response to a protester that "I'd like to punch him in the face" and that in the "old days" "he'd be carried out on a stretcher." Not to hard to imagine one of his followers taking this to heart.

I think most people would find that crosses a line."

“If you get hit, we will punch back twice as hard,” (Obama Dep COS) Jim Messina said, according to an official who attended the meeting.

“If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” Obama told the audience. “Because from what I understand folks in Philly like a good brawl. I’ve seen Eagles fans.”

“Argue With Neighbors, Get In Their Face” Obama campaigning



Steve Uhr said...

Didn't you learn in third grade that two wrongs don't make a right?

Fabi said...

I love it when you talk dirty, Howard!

Amanda said...

Poor Monkey doesn't seem to understand metaphors.

Terry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Terry said...

I think that we can all agree that Mussolini was a fascist? He invented the word. He wrote a book called The Doctrine of Fascism that essentially said 'this is the thing that I have invented called fascism'
Mussolini's one sentence description of fascism was:
'All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.'
Does that sound like Trump? Cruz? Rubio? Obama? Hillary? Sanders? If it sounds more like the GOP candidate, tell me about how the institution of marriage is defined and controlled by non-state actors.

Fabi said...

The statements of Trump's didn't advocate violence and they came nowhere close to inciting.

Amanda said...

"I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out in a stretcher, folks,” he said to applause.

“Here is a guy, throwing punches, nasty as hell, screaming at everything else when we are talking, and we are not allowed — the guards are very gentle with him. He’s walking out, big high fives, smiling, laughing. I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell ya,” Trump said."

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/donald-trump-on-protester-id-like-to-punch-him-in-the-face/

Fabi said...

You're good at cutting and pasting, Amanda. Can you identify any advocacy or inciting in those statements?

Steve Uhr said...

On a scale of one to ten where 1 are communists and 10 are fascists, all the candidates fall between 4 and 6. Maybe Sanders is a 3.5 and Cruz is a 7. Not a whole lot changes with a new administration -- with the possible exception of SCOTUS.

Terry said...

"Maybe Sanders is a 3.5 and Cruz is a 7"
Then you know nothing about Left or right.
Sanders is so far left he won't call himself a Democrat.
Cruz is a Center-right figure. What fascist raits do you see in Cruz, Steve Uhr, other than "I don't like him."
Real fascists had no problem with abortion -- as long as the right people were being aborted.

Steve Uhr said...

incite --
encourage or stir up (violent or unlawful behavior).
synonyms: stir up, whip up, encourage, fan the flames of, stoke up, fuel, kindle, ignite, inflame, stimulate, instigate, provoke, excite, arouse, awaken, inspire, engender, trigger, spark off, ferment, foment; More
urge or persuade (someone) to act in a violent or unlawful way.

I think you got the word incite confused with excite or dogbite ...

Michael K said...

"You are gonna miss it when there ain't a Black Man around to put you in your place."

I see Looney Tunes is playing tonight.

Steve Uhr said...

Okay, Cruz is a 6.25. Happy?

Fabi said...

So no incitement using your definition. Thanks, Steve!

Terry said...

"Blogger Steve Uhr said...
Okay, Cruz is a 6.25. Happy?"
Actually, I asked you what fascist traits you saw in Cruz. The only fascist trait I see is a tendency to refer centralized state solutions to political problems rather than state-based solutions to political problems. That is one reason I would have a problem voting for him.
It is important to make the distinction between nazi-style socialism and Italian-style socialism. The nazis believed a strong state was necessary to fight a race war, the Italian fascists believed that a government with a strong, all-encompassing state was necessary to create a stable society. Mussolini had been an international socialist. He developed fascism as an alternative to marxist communism because he believed that attachment to social class and national identity were so powerful that a marxist classless, nationless society was an impossibility.

Terry said...

It is illuminating watch the first of Capra's WW2 propaganda films, "Why We fight." (Prelude to War, 1942). It can be found on archive.org here: https://archive.org/details/PreludeToWar
This was filmed when we were nominally allied with the Soviet Union, and while we knew about Hitler's racial obsession, it was before we knew about the his genocide (it was just getting underway in '42).
The three American values that are stressed, again and again, as reasons 'why we fight', are preserving peace and prosperity, preserving freedom of religion, and preserving trade unionism.

rcommal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rcommal said...

"Dusty"

Now, there's an apt word regarding so much of what is going on right now, to which I say: "Time to dust off 'dusty' and understand why the time is apt to dust it off, in so many ways."

buwaya puti said...

An attempt at sorting political ideologies out - clearest was "Today's Isms" - Ebenstein.
This is however, upon closer examination, very misleading. All of these are arbitrary categories that shade away in every direction, and what seem to be defining characteristics almost always turn out to be pre-existing ideas adopted automatically, sometimes by default. Paul Johnsons "Modern Times" is a start as to the antecedents of Fascism, which is a fascinating treatment.
Fascism in particular is very much an "eye of the beholder" condition. Much of Italian Fascism for instance turns out to be just the wholesale adoption of the fanatical strain of Italian nationalism inherited from the previous century's "liberal" intellectual milieu, or what passed for it in Italy.
Everything that was some part of Fascism was present in a host of societies which would be difficult to give that name. The French Third Republic for instance. Everything turns out to be a mass of local idiosyncracies. The urge to categorize in this is absurd.
The hardest, most easily defined ideological system, is in fact probably the only one that CAN be categorized, because uniquely it required the complete abolition of private property and the State owning and operating all production. In reality the taxonomy of ideology consists of Communism, standing alone, and everything else, in infinite and uncategorizable variety.
Anyone who says anything else is a dim bulb.

amielalune said...


I hope Zero spends most of the rest of his time in office worrying about making this appointment. And that he keeps writing (or having written for him) these persuasive articles, which he has no intention of following but will make him look good to the stupid enemedia.

The more time he spends on this issue, the less he has to devote to the downfall of this country. I believe the GOP will stand firm on this, no matter what he does. So I hope he worries excessively about it.

PianoLessons said...

Anyone interested or worried about Fascism just because the US Senate exercises its Constitutional Power to block President Obama's Constitutional Power to Nominate a SCOTUS member to fill Justice Scalia's spot? Get a grip and pay attention.

Today news: It is SO funny Reid/Obama think Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (fake R) is a tempting SCOTUS candidate as Recommend by the Truly Creepy Boss Harry Reid, This is not a joke but a n Obama FU to us all. BTW - Obama does this a lot in his Presidency. Someone should write a book.

Anyway...

Harry Reid's hold over Nevada makes Al Capone's neighborhood look like Sesame Street.

I pray often that someone will capture Reid and his family corruption fully in a respected (has to be unauthorized LOL) biography that includes all we know in this age of citizen driven social media that the MSM NEVER touches. Predict it will sell well,

My social media sources are exploding tonight with notion that Obama/Reid have offered GOP Senate someone too delicious to not consider. Everyone sees through the scheme - not well executed which suggests a bit of panic on Obama team? Who knows - who cares?

What a joke. Nevada is such a FUBAR state because of Harry Reid - can they be annexed to CA when we decide to just make them their own little nation of Get Off OUR LAWN.

GOP finally gets act together and says "We'll meet in nine months with our newly elected President"

Terry said...

"In reality the taxonomy of ideology consists of Communism, standing alone, and everything else, in infinite and uncategorizable variety."
I mostly agree, buwaya puti. Was Tito a fascist or a communist? Was Franco a fascist or a strongman? When you read American lit written from around the turn of the 20th century until WW2, it is hard to make a distinction between communist socialism and national socialism. What category does Jack London belong in?
If the 20th century was a book titled Alternatives to Empire, there would be two chapters, one on international communism and one on nationalism.

tim in vermont said...

I have to admit, Amanda really livens this place up.

Bay Area Guy said...

We need more Amanda-types here. That's how you figure stuff out - by testing it on worthy opponents. True, it's a bit of bar-room brawl mentality here, but those are the rules. Althouse meets Roadhouse (mildly entertaining movie with Patrick Swayze as a bouncer in Southern Honky-Tonk bar)

Brando said...

"If the Nazi's were left wing, could someone explain what a right-wing totalitarian system looks like? Or by definition such a thing cannot exist?"

Calling a totalitarian system "left wing" or "right wing" misses the mark--there is totalitarianism on one extreme and anarchy on the other. Libertarians prefer to be closer to the anarchy side of things (though not necessarily near the extreme) and collectivists prefer to be closer to the totalitarian side of things (though not necessarily near the extreme).

"Left wing" and "right wing" have changing meanings depending on time and place. Today in America, "left wing" means more collectivist and more concerned with economic justice (i.e., economic results) than freedom, while "right wing" means more concerned with rule of law, limits on central power and more individual rights. But this wasn't always true everywhere--just look at what was a "tory" in 19th Century Britain, and who was a "liberal". Those meanings are very different even in Britain today.

No one wants to claim the most vile of dictatorships like Hitler or Stalin, but the worlds they created have more in common with an extreme form of modern American leftism (restrictions on individual rights for the sake of the mass) than with the right (emphasis on individual freedoms and private property). That's not to say every leftist is so extreme they have to own Hitler and Stalin, but it'd ludicrous to compare libertarian/rightists in today's America with those dictators.

tim in vermont said...

I would say that if you are looking for an example of a brutal libertarian government, one need look no further than the 19th century United States. It's all there. Genocide, massive deprivation of property rights of the aborigines. I guess you would call the US govt at that time "National Libertarian."

amielalune said...


Professor Althouse has the same problem that our media do -- you insist on analyzing Obama's words as if he ever actually means a d*mn thing he says. Rubes.

Rusty said...

Howard said...
Obozo is soooo up inside you 'wingers heads. 11-more months of being his punk-assed bitch. You are gonna miss it when there ain't a Black Man around to put you in your place.

Stupid people tend to do that to the more intelligent.

Birkel said...

The proper taxonomy is collectivist versus individualist.

That avoids all the Leftist dissembling between one form of collectivist nightmare and the next collectivist nightmare. Cuba, Soviet Union, North Korea, Venezuela... distinctions with too little difference to matter.

Birkel said...

Centralized versus decentralized also works.

Brando said...

"The proper taxonomy is collectivist versus individualist."

Yeah, I'd go with that too. I still often use "liberal" and "conservative" as they are common usage, but they often don't fit. Was Gorbachev a "liberal" compared to his more old-line communist Politburo? Is the Taliban more "conservative" than the anti-Taliban forces the U.S. is supporting?

Brando said...

Clever move by Obama if he picks Brian Sandoval--but only if Sandoval agrees. Maybe the remaining GOP candidates can all agree to pick Sandoval for the VP slot to prevent this.

CWJ said...

Brando @ 6:18,

That's a fine thoughtful comment. Amanda's snark probably doesn't deserve such a serious response. Nonetheless, her challenge got me to thinking what would constitute a right wing totalitarian system. Today, in the US in particular, your totalitarian-anarchy spectrum does a good job of anchoring the extreme left and right endpoints. Viewed in that way, Amanda's dismissive characterization is true.

On the other hand, I believe that the historic left right distinction was one of sovereignty. Was it derived ultimately from the people as a whole, or from some external source, usually God, acting through an individual sovereign or aristocracy. The distinction is summed up between whether an ordinary person is meaningfully styled a citizen or a subject.

Is that still useful today in a world where monarchy has been eliminated, or subjugated to popular government? Yes, I think so. There are still a few right wing regimes of which I think Saudi Arabia is the best example.

Howard said...

Rusty: If that is true, Rusty, then you must think Trump is stupid.

Brando said...

"On the other hand, I believe that the historic left right distinction was one of sovereignty. Was it derived ultimately from the people as a whole, or from some external source, usually God, acting through an individual sovereign or aristocracy. The distinction is summed up between whether an ordinary person is meaningfully styled a citizen or a subject."

I think there's also an element of "back to something in the past/preserving something from the past" vs. "change towards the future" in the liberal/conservative comparison. But that too gets muddled--when the social welfare programs of the late 1800s and the New Deal were new, they could be called "liberal" in that sense, but were they really liberal by the 1990s when Republicans wanted to roll back some of that? Were the Republicans the liberals and the FDR-Democrats the conservatives at that point? Or for that matter was what the GOP proposed to do about welfare a move towards the "new" or reaching back to the "old"?

Hagar said...

I think I saw an article that Brian Sandoval said that if the White House was vetting him for SCOTUS, it was news to him.
This soap bubble apparently derives from a stunt of Harry Reid's in sending a fake list of his proposed nominees to the White House and leaking it.

CWJ said...

Brando,

Yes it does get too muddled. After all, I was not making a liberal vs. conservative comparison. If left-right simply boils down to whatever political binary you choose, then the distinction is meaningless.

I happen to believe that the original sovereignty based distinction has lessons to teach us even today. I was responding to Amanda's original challenge phrased in terms of totalitarianism. That itself is problematic definitionally, but I think we can agree that it is a subset of autocracy. Now a traditionally right wing regime has no problem with autocracy. In geico terms, it's what you do. So the question for me is why government based upon popular sovereignty becomes autocratic.

There is no doubt that both the national socialists and Soviets formally derived their legitimacy in the name of the volk and norodny respectively. Left wing. And yet became effectively autocratic. Our own government I would argue is left wing in the historic sense. But has not yet descended into autocracy. The lesson that should have been learned is that for popular sovereignty to succeed, it requires effective institutional mediation between the people and the executive unless he/she becomes an autocrat, plus effective constraints, not merely restraint, upon upon the exercise of legitimate power. Our founders understood that, which is why we have so far been a successful example of popular sovereignty

The National Socialists and Soviets, other than exhortation, had neither of these and therefore predictabily slid naturally into autocracy.

Robert Cook said...

""If the Nazi's were left wing, could someone explain what a right-wing totalitarian system looks like?"

It looks like...the Nazis.

"Or by definition such a thing cannot exist?"

Hahahahaha! Oh, such a thing can exist!

RonF said...

"And, he says, he wants someone who 'recognizes the limits of the judiciary’s role; who understands that a judge’s job is to interpret the law, not make the law'"

If Pres. Obama said this then he's a lying sack of $h!t.