January 28, 2010

Glenn Greenwald flails absurdly in a lame effort to take down Justice Alito.

Really, it drives me crazy to try to plow through the unedited dreck that Greenwald writes, but I feel compelled to defend Justice Samuel Alito who, when affronted by President Obama's accusation that the Supreme Court violated judicial norms, simply shook his head and mouthed (apparently) "not true."

Greenwald accuses Alito of "a serious and substantive breach of protocol that reflects very poorly on Alito and only further undermines the credibility of the Court." Further! Presumably, you're already against the Supreme Court, and Greenwald isn't using this post to bring you up to speed.
It has nothing to do with etiquette and everything to do with the Court's ability to adhere to its intended function.

There's a reason that Supreme Court Justices -- along with the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- never applaud or otherwise express any reaction at a State of the Union address. It's vital -- both as a matter of perception and reality -- that those institutions remain apolitical, separate and detached from partisan wars. 
Uh, yeah, which is why Obama's words were such an affront. Obama called the Citizens United case a "wrong," that is, a legal outrage of some sort, but, obviously, Alito's position is that the Court decided the case according to the law, that it said what the First Amendment means, and that its legal expertise is entitled to respect.

Alito's response didn't signify political disagreement. It was simply self-defense — a defense of the Court. It meant: We decide cases according to the law. That is apolitical.
Justice Alito's flamboyantly insinuating himself into a pure political event, in a highly politicized manner, will only hasten [the Court's] decline.
Shaking one's head and mouthing 2 or 3 words is "flamboyant"? Alito was sitting in his seat and he evinced a subtle reaction to a severe political attack. That doesn't make what he did "highly politicized." If anyone was "highly politicized," it was Obama. Alito's response was more of a reflex, and it was, I would assume, grounded in a belief that the Court does what it is supposed to do — decide cases according to the law.
On a night when both tradition and the Court's role dictate that he sit silent and inexpressive, he instead turned himself into a partisan sideshow -- a conservative Republican judge departing from protocol to openly criticize a Democratic President...
Oh, bullshit. He's a sideshow because he flinches when hit? He's modestly human and not a mannequin. I remember when Obama expressed a desire for Supreme Court Justices with a more sensitive emotional response. Empathy.
Obama is an elected politician in a political branch and has every right to express his views on such a significant court ruling. While the factual claims Obama made about the ruling are subject to reasonable dispute, they're well within the realm of acceptable political rhetoric and are far from being "false"...
But shouldn't Obama have shown some respect for the members of the third branch of government who honored him with their presence? What is the "acceptable political rhetoric" when one person has the microphone for over an hour and everyone else is supposed to listen respectfully? Really, if it were known in advance that Obama wanted to use the occasion this way, the Supreme Court Justices should have stayed home. Or send over 1 or 2 that do opinions that the big man likes.
While Presidents do not commonly criticize the Court in the SOTU address, it is far from unprecedented either
The link goes to Tony Mauro at The Legal Times, who says that this kind of talk is "almost unprecedented." "Almost unprecedented" = "far from unprecedented"? Come on, Glenn. Your sleaziness is showing.
[Alito] unmasked himself as a politicized and intemperate Republican as well. 
Huh? Alito flinched at a surprising jab. The President told the Justices to their face that they were, essentially, power abusers. It's not "Republican" to believe that your work is dutiful and honest. (Is it?) Alito's gestures meant nothing more than that.
Yale Law Professor Jack Balkin documents that roughly 25% of Franklin Roosevelt's 1937 State of the Union address was devoted to criticizing the Supreme Court and various rulings which struck down his domestic legislation. 
Roosevelt's attack on the Court — quoted by Balkin — was, at the most severe point: "We do not ask the Courts to call non-existent powers into being, but we have a right to expect that conceded powers or those legitimately implied shall be made effective instruments for the common good." Think about how much more respectful that was toward the Court than the blow that made Samuel Alito flinch last night.

Greenwald concludes:
Whatever one thinks of the one paragraph of Obama's address devoted to the Citizens United ruling, it was not "unprecedented."
Who is he quoting there? Balkin doesn't say "unprecedented." Is it Mauro's "almost unprecedented"? For all his annoying verbiage, Greenwald can't get anywhere in this effort to show that Obama was just fine and Alito did something outrageous. Pathetic!


Chennaul said...

On top of it all some people read Alito as saying-

"that's not right" which seems even less to get all flustered about.

And hell for all we know Alito was responding to something that a seat mate said like-

Wow I should take a nap!

miller said...

Unfortunately, there are those who pay attention to Gleenwald/Rick Ellers.

Ricardo said...

This whole thing is a non-event. Yawn.

Kensington said...

Making sense of Glenn Greenwald or trying to hold him to any standards of intellectual honesty? Good luck with that.

Synova said...

Obama prefaced his remarks with the easily understood "with all deference" butt covering. He knew he was not giving the SC their due.

And really... as a unit the Supreme Court is equal to the president.

Anonymous said...

So, Greenwald's position is that SCt justices have no First Amendment rights when they enter Congress for the SOTU? Or is it when they enter Congress? Do they abandon their constitutional rights when they cross certain doorways? Or is it that they have no First Amendment/ (constitutional) rights at all? Interesting.

Chennaul said...

And another thing do any of the Liberals listen to Obama's speeches?

Maybe Liberals are just more visual and into symbolism that's why they don't listen and think all of his speeches are great.

Maybe that's why the Left is into staging it such as campaign speechs in Europe, or with fake styro pillars...

So it's all style,or symbolism over substance-the hell with results.

Not a one of these Liberal pikers actually listen to the guy-hell I wonder if he listens to himself-that's why you get him talking about himself for twenty minutes at the town hall meeting in Ohio and then saying in the 21st minute that-

"this speech isn't about me"...

[which turns into an applause line with Liberals "listening".]

Or how during the campaign Obama promised to continue and/or stop missile defense.

Not one Liberal blog last night noticed that Obama advocated-

Nuclear power, Clean coal and offshore drilling what's that about?

The clean coal is probably because they want the Senate seats in PA and Kentucky, don't know what they are worried about with the rest of it.

virgil xenophon said...

Where oh where to begin? "Pathetic" seems about right--both as a beginning AND as an ending. I regard Obama to be a base and recreant creature--unfit for his office. A more partisan, egotistical, narcissistic, mendacious person would be hard to find. An inverterant liar (transparency? right....) who believes, to borrow a phrase of Thomas Sowell's, that he, and he alone, possesses "The Vision of the Anointed."

lucid said...

It is so painfully obvious that Obama is not suited to be president that his defenders,like Greenwald, are reduced to calumnies and absurditites.

Kirk Parker said...

Alito should have kept quiet, and just given the POW salute instead.

HKatz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kansas City said...

I do not read Greenwald much, but he seems like a tempermental and shallow liberal.

It is inconceivable to me how anyone can focus on the incident without first focusing on the question of whether Obama's statement was truthful and apprpriate. I don't think it was either. And I think it is another example of his own inexperience/arrogance and that of his advisors.

Big Mike said...

It's not "Republican" to believe that your work is dutiful and honest. (Is it?)

I think it is.

The thing is, I agreed with everything you wrote, Professor. Very strange sensation, and one that makes me wonder whether I'm wrong.

Lem Former Twitter Aficionado said...

He's a sideshow because he flinches when hit?

Obama pissed on Alito and Glenn pretends it was just raining.

garage mahal said...

Obama never criticized the ruling on constitutional grounds, or that it was ruled politically, or even criticize the majority in the decision, only that precedents were overturned and that powerful money interests would game the system. Which is where predictably Alito started squirming and having his mini meltdown. He suddenly looked like a defendant in a case, and his private thoughts were on trial. And he looked guilty as hell.

Lem Former Twitter Aficionado said...

He's modestly human and not a mannequin.

Reminds me of Brendan Sullivan's line during the Iran-Contra hearings.

I'm not a potted plant.

It was priceless.

Mark O said...

I'll give Greenwald this much, his recitation of the obligation of the Supreme Court Justices to sit passively and remain expressionless irrespective of events, highlights what a (and here I insert my own lingo) chicken shit little coward the President was to use that opportunity to hector the Court.

What courage! What an example! What a feeble poltroon.

Palladian said...

Greenwald is Andrew Sullivan with a thesaurus and double the self-importance.

Brian Day said...

I don't read Greenwald much because of his views, but mainly for his past sock-puppetry.

"Shaking one's head and mouthing 2 or 3 words is "flamboyant"? Alito was sitting in his seat and he evinced a subtle reaction to a severe political attack."

Main Entry: evince
Pronunciation: \i-ˈvin(t)s\
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): evinced; evinc·ing
Etymology: Latin evincere to vanquish, win a point, from e- + vincere to conquer — more at victor
Date: 1604

1 : to constitute outward evidence of
2 : to display clearly : reveal

synonyms see show

I learned a new word today. (Great word, BTW) Thanks.

wv: bilvinge - revenge of the bilge?

XWL said...

"Really, it drives me crazy to try to plow through the unedited dreck that Greenwald writes,"

Better you than me.

Brevity is the soul of wit.

Greenwald lacks all three, brevity, soul and wit, just like the character Shakespeare chose to speak that line.

Palladian said...

Maybe Greenwald has his essays manufactured in China: the quality's abysmal but there's sure a hell of a lot of it, for cheap.

bagoh20 said...

And garage thinks it was a "meltdown". You guys are hilarious.

Is there any doubt that the same people would be defending this "meltdown" if it was the partisan reverse?

In the same vein, can you imagine if Limbaugh said what Chris Mathews did? Or for that matter any right side commentator?

The partisan glasses are so polarized that some people have lost all credibility, along with the guy they voted for.

ricpic said...

One of the reasons for doubting that Obama is all that bright was the stupidity of making his attack at a moment when millions of apolitical Americans had tuned in hoping for something positive and unifying from their president, especially given their economic distress...which of course meant squat to the cold bastard.

Palladian said...

Greenwald's tactic of argumentation is to go on so damn long at such density that most people just start nodding their heads, hoping he'll stop soon.

"A head-nod is agreement!" he shouts. "Another convert, thanks to me!"

SteveR said...

The issue as I understand is the statement by Obama about some of the implications of the SCOTUS decision. Thing which folks from all sides (e.g. Linda Greenhouse) have said were wrong.

Come on Garage, your characterization is intellectually shallow. Alito's not feeling guilty, Obama's speechwriter was legally incorrect.

Palladian said...

"And garage thinks it was a "meltdown". You guys are hilarious."

Everyday is a meltdown for garage. A volatile little fellow, he.

Steve M. Galbraith said...

He gets paid for this hysteria?

Yes, Alito shouldn't have responded even flinchingly. Decorum and protocol are not unimportant.

But to take his reaction and weave this tale of an out-of-control Supreme Court is risible.

Or should I say, people may consider the risiblity of the statement.

Palladian said...

"He gets paid for this hysteria?"

Andrew Sullivan is his mentor. Hysteria is their business.

bagoh20 said...

I'm under no illusions about judges. They have opinions, emotions, don't like being insulted and lied about in front of the whole country. As long as they are running the penis pump in court, I can accept them acting like the rest of us. Law is not holy.

As Dennis Miller just said a minute ago on my radio: Obama chose to call out the only 9 guys in the room that did their homework in law school. And the rest who ended up settling for politics stood and and cheer it.

That's the embarrassment - not the "flamboyant meltdown".

Anonymous said...

Shades of Henry VIII.

And a black comedy, of errors.

Led by a buffoon, the mob turned on the court - applauding swords and arrows and daggers.

Impeachment: Article 4: Incitement to riot.

Lem Former Twitter Aficionado said...

The President told the Justices to their face that they were, essentially, power abusers.

Worst, that they had sold-out the country.

Obama called them unpatriotic.

bagoh20 said...

I made a typo, so I want to go on record now opposing penis pumps in the courtroom...a hell they can do that too if they follow the law otherwise.

Bender said...

So much ado about so much nothing.

What would have really been a sight to see would have been if Alito had stood up and held Obama in contempt of court.

Harsh Pencil said...

It was bad form to do this during a SOTU address, since they were sitting right there, but overall, there is nothing wrong with a President verbally attacking the Supreme Court. I wish we had more of it. (Although I agree with the Court on this one.)

We need to confront judicial supremacy. The Constitution is what it is, not what these nine say it is.

bagoh20 said...

What if all nine stood up and gave him the finger. That would be awesome! I could see Scalia do that whole forearm move. I would just love that. Separation of powers, Motherf#&@er.

Big Mike said...

You know, I went back and watched the clip again. And this time something jumped out at me, which was the snarky way that Obama said "with all due deference." There's nothing wrong with the words, implying deference to one of the most cardinal principles of our form of government, but take another look at his body language -- it is expressing no amount of deference at all.

I guess as long as he can call upon fools and poltroons such as Glenn Greenwald (and trolls such as our very own Ritmo) he expects to get away with it. But will the people continue to let him get away with it?

So far there have been four elections since Obama took office, and Democrats won only one of them -- a Congressional election where the local Republican leadership put up a person who was to the left of the Democrat candidate on several issues. Maybe we the people are finding our voice?

Bob Ellison said...

I heard a guy in line at Wendy's saying Greenwald's analysis was unimpressive.

Henry said...

Greenwald might do better than cite Jack Balkin citing FDR's 1937 State of Union. At that time FDR was months away from announcing his court-packing plan, one of the most insidious attacks on the independence of the Supreme Court in the country's history.

In such context, Obama's rhetoric looks even more unsavory, especially when you consider that it surpasses FDR's State of Union remarks and approaches the scapegoating demagoguery of FDR's March 9th speech denouncing the majority on the court.

That speech is a chilling document. Go read it. Obama and his allies would do better than call up its memory.

Steve M. Galbraith said...

I heard a guy in line at Wendy's saying Greenwald's analysis was unimpressive

Was he a law professor too?

From Inwood said...

Prof A

You've said it all & well.

Lem Former Twitter Aficionado said...

And he looked guilty as hell.

He looked guilty?

btw - Is this is the same garage that defended Harry Reid's light skin/dark skin remarks?

Anonymous said...

These Obama guys and their supporters just don't do politics well. And by politics I mean the whole of it: getting stuff done with individuals and groups of people who don't agree.

I guess it was Althouse who originally pointed out that these people think they are so smart and so right that they don't stop to think how what they say will be perceived by people who don't agree and, more importantly, don't have a strong opinion.

WV: birthers. Ha!

Peter Hoh said...

Has Lithwick's defense of Alito been mentioned here already?

Wince said...

Let's see if the justices vote with their feet at Obama's next STOTUS.

PWS said...

OK - So this guy can't write (or think). Why are you "compelled" to defend Alito? As you've said to others, look at yourself and figure out why you are so taken with Alito's actions.

I think it is because he was, at that moment, a contrarian, the long theme that runs through so much of your blog.

Anyway, I don't think there was anything wrong with either Obama or Alito; separation (of the branches) doesn't mean isolation. Let 'em square off a bit!

Henry said...

Garage, Obama alluded to the wrong precedent and demagogued on the least likely kind of corporate influence.

As far as I'm concerned Alito showed great restraint.

I think anyone sitting through the crap that is the modern SOTU shows great restraint in not rolling their eyes and muttering curses throughout. I would grant everyone present at least one eyeroll and one bullshit call.

Lem Former Twitter Aficionado said...

I guess it was Althouse who originally pointed out that these people think they are so smart and so right that they don't stop to think how what they say will be perceived by people who don't agree and, more importantly, don't have a strong opinion.

Then again Obama probably knows exactly what he is doing..

Alinsky Rules for Radicals

13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it.

We are not talking about Obamas defeat in Mass and the death of Obamacare are we?

Revenant said...

Alito wasn't disruptive.

You could argue that he was disrespectful, but what of it? No President is automatically entitled to respect. He's just a politician, not a divinely-appointed King or something.

Fred4Pres said...

Blame it on Rio. Greenwald is just high as usual.

Fred4Pres said...

Mac really did come out with the ipad today.

MadTV has it covered.

garage mahal said...

I had no problem with Alito reacting at all. None. Just revealing. Obama brought up the decision tying it to the role of Congress in which he thinks they should have a role. He was in front of the Congress. Bush brought up "activist judges" in at least three of his SOTU. Big deal.

Steve M. Galbraith said...

Personally, I see absolutely nothing wrong with the President disagreeing - even strongly - with a Court's rulings.

The Court may have the final word on constitutional matters but they don't have the only one.

Whether the SOTU was the appropriate venue is another matter. Or at least modern SOTUs that have turned into political sports events more than addresses (and Reagan is to blame for much of this theatre, I think).

Jason (the commenter) said...

What no one seems to understand is that Obama didn't give a State of the Union Address, he gave a State of the Democratic Party Address.

Henry said...

Garage -- I agree with that. No big deal either way. Too bad no one got the memo to Greenwald.

bagoh20 said...

When you add it all up:

Giving the finger on stage during the campaign, twice

The clinging to their guns crack.

The stupid gifts to the British, twice

Snubbing the Prime Minister

Demeaning the Cambridge cop.

The constant blaming of his predecessor.

The constant demeaning of his own country overseas

This lame insult to the SCOTUS

and others I've forgotten at the moment

You just see an uncouth, not too bright, jerk, that's not up to the job even in the easy part: being respectful of the office he is holding.

Yea, I'm getting fed up all ready.

Anonymous said...

Bag -- Obama has a gift.

garage mahal said...

BTW, Greenwald agrees with the majority on this, and was one of the first to say so. Even scolding some liberals about it.

KCFleming said...

Lucky for Obama the focus is on a brief comment made sotto voce during his speech, rather than pointing out his first year as one utterly vacant of accomplishment, except for worsening the economy.

Henry said...

Thanks, I didn't know that.

bagoh20 said...

Yea, to pull all that off in one year is a gift.

Automatic_Wing said...

It would've been cool if Obama and Alito had started rapping like the guys in that Keynes/Hayek video that someone linked to the other day.

Chase said...

I have always hated hypocrisy, but damn, Greenwald just helps make it look like it's all on the liberal side. Which is wrong, because only 96% is on the liberal side.

Peter V. Bella said...

Hey Seven, your comment reminds me of something. "The Smartest Guys in the Room." We know how that turned out.

bagoh20 said...

I understand how people felt embarrassed about W's Bushisms, but that was over eight years and I never saw him as trying to be a jerk. He respected the country and the office.

Obama's past, where I'm sure he was immersed in America hating by his Mom's friends, his Alinskyite friends, including the man himself and 20 years of Rev. Wright, had to leave him with a lot less natural respect for the things these people told him were crap, including the office he holds

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter V. Bella said...

Why no criticism of the inappropriate behavior and violation of protocol of Joe Biden. He was talking to himself, bobbling his head, futzing with his expensive designer duds and cuff links, laughing to himself like the idiot that he is, and behaving in the manner of a doddering fool.

Or is he the court jester and his behavior is allowed?

Jason (the commenter) said...

Justice Alito was just practicing his right to free speech.

John said...

One can only imagine the kind of bitchy hissy fit Greenwald would have thrown if Bush had criticized one of the Supreme Court decisions on terror suspects during one of his SOTU addresses. The self righteous smug ranting about the independence and the sanctity of the Court pretty much writes itself. But since this is not Bush, Greenwald is offended by Alito daring to mouth disapproval in the presence of the One.

If there is a bigger dishonest douche than Greenwald writing today, I am at pains to think of him. Greenwald makes Sullivan and Yglesias look honest by comparison.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that this whole thing was a strategic blunder on the part of President Obama. He went into his SOTU speech trying to jump start his agenda. But then, it turned too much into a campaign speech, where he looked less like a President than he should at this point.

But taking a swipe at the SCOTUS sitting right in front of him was, in my humble opinion, a poor move. By long tradition, they cannot hit back, but must stay above the fray. And he took a swipe at them.

That comes across to a lot of people as being a bully - hitting someone who can't hit back. And Americans don't like bullies, esp. people who bully Americans who cannot hit back (i.e. we are much less worried about bullying foreigners outside this country). It just isn't sporting, and shows lack of character.

So, instead of having the discussion today be about how great the speech was, how Obama has already saved our economy, and is going to save the world this next year, we are talking about how he bullied members of one of the most revered institutions in this country.

I don't think that was strategically smart.

pst314 said...

"When you add it all up:
Giving the finger on stage during the campaign, twice...."

Three times, actually.

All that talk about showing Obama the respect due to the office? Forget it. By his conduct he forfeited that right.

Peter V. Bella said...

Obama acted like Kanye West.

pst314 said...

"I think that this whole thing was a strategic blunder on the part of President Obama."

Well, if you look at who he has chosen as mentors and role models, it's no surprise that bullying comes naturally to him. At least he hasn't emulated everything that Bill Ayers did. :-P

Joe said...

Seriously, I've got a really bad feeling about this. Is Obama precipitating a crisis so he can pull something re: the Supreme Court? This just seems too blatant to be unintentional. Now the leftists start screeching about Alito's "breach of protocol." I'm not sure what the possibilities are, but could they be scheming to impeach the conservative justices? What happens next?

Beta Conservative said...


Just seeing if I liked doing that.

That is all.

Synova said...

"And this time something jumped out at me, which was the snarky way that Obama said "with all due deference." There's nothing wrong with the words,.."

That took a second viewing? And really, the words aren't innocent either.

"with all due deference" is the same as "with all due respect" which is the same as "bless his heart."

They are "get out of jail free" cards that signal a violation of protocol or manners.

No one says them *unless* they are about to step over a line. And they know they are stepping over a line.

So they throw out that "get out of jail free" card.

Well, okay, maybe there's a non-snarky way to use "bless his heart."

The Ghost said...

There is nothing wrong in a President criticizing the court. Of course what Obama did wasn't criticize. He lied about what the ruling meant. Had he kept it to, I disagree, then Alito wouldn’t have mouthed anything.

Henry said...


slarrow said...

To me, it looked like Obama acted true to form. He took advantage of a forum in which he's apparently allowed to say whatever he wants, true or not, but if his opponents react or rebut in any way, they're somehow breaking protocol and should just shut up.

You know who Barack Obama is? He's the guy who will only hit you when someone else is holding your arms. And in his political career, there's always been someone to hold the arms of his opponent.

His political opponents have their divorce records released. Criticize Obama, and his sycophants try to drum you out of polite society with the racist charge. When he gets called a liar, his Democratic allies come up with a resolution condemning the man. And when a Supreme Court justice mildly disagrees with a crass, cheap, dishonest attack, Greenwald and his ilk slither out of the weeds to grab those arms.

Because of all that, Obama struts around thinking he's tough. It's just a question of what comes first: he wises up, someone shrugs off the sycophants and clocks him one, or he's voted out of office. Time will tell.

Fat Man said...

If I were a SCOTUS justice, I would respond to last night by never showing up to be a prop at one of BO's parties again. Win re-election in 2012? Any notary public can administer an oath.

Unknown said...

In last night’s SOTU address, President Obama said:

We find unity in our incredible diversity, drawing on the promise enshrined in our Constitution: the notion that we are all created equal….

Wrong founding document, Mr. President. That is in our Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Some constitutional law scholar...

MeTooThenMail said...

Very late to the thread.

What was more telling than the mouthing of two or three words, "not true" (the outrage! ), was Alito's wince, the facial expression of shock and disbelief as to what he had just heard.

Ann has it correct, it was Alito's reaction to Obama's jab that was caught on video.

And make no mistake about it, Obama's words were scripted, chosen with purpose, and in this case their aim and intent were to sting the Justices.

It would have been impossible for any thoughtful, temperate, and earnest individual to have not responded to such a deliberate attack, let alone a Justice of the SCOTUS.

To impune Alito's reaction to Obama's premeditated attack, and not also criticize the attack, smacks of rank and blind partisanship.


Paul Kirchner said...

I've been reading Althouse for a month or so and this is the first time I've seen Ann really KICK ASS. I like it!

Freeman Hunt said...

Somebody get Greenwald an icepack.

Freeman Hunt said...

Oh, and anyone taking bets on whether or not the Supremes show up next year?

jamrat said...

I wanna know what Thomas Ellers thinks.

Mondo said...

On this topic, you make perfect sense.

"Perfect sense" is the phrase I use when someone agrees with what I believe.

Good take-down of a sloppy elitist.

JAL said...

Kirk Parker said...
Alito should have kept quiet, and just given the POW salute instead.

Or he could have "scratched his nose," or "rubbed his cheek" with a little smile like some guy from Chicago who was campaigning for the Presidency did a few times.

But being a Jersey kid, he had better manners.

holdfast said...

You know who Barack Obama is? He's the guy who will only hit you when someone else is holding your arms.

Exactly right, his 100% that guy. He'll talk trash all day long, but won't thrown down the gloves. He is a cheap-hit artist, and he has yet to meet his Todd Bertuzzi.

sonicfrog said...

Headlines We’d Like To See – Obama Apologizes To Supreme Court, Asks For Beer Summit!

Unknown said...

Mr. Dooley says:

Good Lord, I bet this Justice Guy is so stupid he thinks we don't know what he was thinking, even though he tried to conceal it!!!! In the 21st century, surely you know that just thinking certain thoughts (and we do know what you're thinking!!!)is enough to have you labeled and condemned. In these cases a Beer, even a White House Beer, is bitter, indeed.

We need complete silence and compliance if we are to get to complicity, cooperation and finally, collaboration from a docile citizenry in this matter. And if people think they are going to get away with ("silent" HEH!!!)mutterings under their breaths, in these early stages, or at any stage during our struggle, it might behoove them to check out the writings of another 2010 Nobel Prize winner, given not for oratory and promises, but for literature. Herta Muller, born in 1953, lived in Ceausescu's ROMANIA until 1987. Many tips are to be found there on functioning in a modern day tyranny.

That is, not necessarily functioning successfully, just staying alive, mostly.

As for the Justice's slip from silence into the "almost realm" of free speech, in the face of persistent and repeated contemptuous lying from the most powerful man in the government of the United States, I wish him and the rest of the Supreme Court the best of luck. With Chavez to show the President the way in this matter, they and the rest of the judiciary will have need of that luck.

Lawyers, of all people, should have some knowledge of how "keeping silent" worked for that eminent lawyer, Thomas Merton whose forever silent head won a place atop a pike on London Bridge. And yes, it remained silent.

Best Regards,

Mr. Dooley

Beth said...

This seems a little tempest in a teapot to me. Alito didn't do anything wrong by reacting silently, nor do I see what's wrong with this president talking about judicial decisions in his SOTU, as others presidents have done and future presidents might do. The reactions from right and left to condemn Obama and Alito are overreaching.

Revenant said...

Beth, I agree that it is pretty much a non-event. But I do think that Obama was a bit of a bully -- attacking people who had no choice but to sit there and take it.

There's nothing wrong with attacking the Court itself. But attacking the Justices while they're forced to sit there silently shows a lack of class.

Beth said...

I don't know, Revenant. I'm wary of the "class" meme. I keep hearing it - Bush had class, Obama has no class. Often from the same people who say "Stop talking about Bush already," when they don't like the comparison, so it sounds a lot like a talking point to me. (I'm not saying that's you - I'm just paying attention to how these images become part of the public debate.)

Congress critters have had to sit there while presidents go off on them however obliquely during the SOTU; I don't think this was a unique attack. The Supremes don't even have to attend, do they?

Chase said...

Congress critters have had to sit there while presidents go off on them however obliquely during the SOTU;

Yes, but Congress and the President are political branches - and they knew it when they signed up. Despite the fact that everyone seeks to place every court decision on the right -to -left scale, the Supreme Court is above that. It was grossly unfair and disrespectful of the President to call out people he knows cannot respond to him then. Congressional memebers can applaud, boo, whatever, but the disrespect the President showed to the Members of the Supreme Court in front of him is a shameful example for our nation's children and all of it's citizens. Any President of any political stripe would be out of line doing what Obama did on any issue. Obama could clearly have phrased his point far more elegantly.Shame on him for not doing so.

Revenant said...

Beth, here is a link to all of the State of the Union addresses. I don't want to get into a discussion of whether or not Bush had "class". But his addresses were pretty non-partisan.

Anonymous said...

Beth said...
This seems a little tempest in a teapot to me. Alito didn't do anything wrong by reacting silently, nor do I see what's wrong with this president talking about judicial decisions in his SOTU, as others presidents have done and future presidents might do. The reactions from right and left to condemn Obama and Alito are overreaching.

Lets see Obama flat out lies to the people in his speech, not a misstatement but a rehearsed lie and that is a tempest in a tea cup to you? Is Obama so illiterate that he can't even read the constitution he swore to uphold and defend? He defames the court and the justices there are simply supposed to sit still while that asshole carries on? Obama is a disgrace, an idiot and if he had any decency he would resign today.

Caroline said...

When asked whether it was difficult for justices to control their reactions during the SOTU address, Alito responded:

"Your worst enemy was your own nervous system. At any moment the tension inside you was liable to translate itself into some visible symptom."

(Just kidding. That's from "1984" .)

Anonymous said...

Chase -- The Supreme Court is definitely a political branch, just the least political branch when compared to two very political branches.

wGraves said...

What will happen if the SCOTUS doesn't show at the next SOTU speach? Will they be arrested and chained to their seats? Why show up just to be used as punching bags? The real question is whether the newest member will support it?

wGraves said...

The SCOTUS should just boycott the next State of the Union Address, like Hill did? Will the newest member go along?

Kensington said...

"I'm wary of the "class" meme. I keep hearing it - Bush had class, Obama has no class."

I don't blame you, Beth, and I sympathize: if I had to defend a man of such little class as Barack Obama, I'd be wary of it, too.

But there it is: Bush had class, and Obama does not. Yet. I hope he develops some. Surely it's not impossible, but I'm not optimistic.

Anthony said...

The British do this better. The Queen's Speech is about 10 minutes long, if that. Part of it is simply her saying where she plans to visit for the year. The rest is simply a list of projects the government intends to lay before Parliament. She says it in a neutral voice and the assemblage makes no noise.

The ceremonial parts (the ride to Parliament, the robing, the proccession, the door slamming and the ambling procession of MPs to the House of Lords then back takes longer than the speech.

Let's chuck the SOTU and replace it with a written report, like every president did from Jefferson through Taft.

Ben (The Tiger in Exile) said...

It's not "Republican" to believe that your work is dutiful and honest. (Is it?)

Ooh. Passive-aggressive jab from Althouse!

Maggie said...

William and Legal Insurrection has also covered the Greenwald attack on Alito. It seems that Greenwald well and truly got his nose out of joint over a very simple and innocent comment.

I write here as a foreigner. What I saw was something quite shameful - I am not talking about Alito. POTUS was wrong to have made that attack on a decision of the Supreme Court relating to free speech. It was his attack that caused Alito to wince and to mouth his "that's not right response".

The question is why? Well, first of all the POTUS has not read the judgment properly and does not seem familiar with McCain-Feingold. The particular provision relating to foreign corporations has not been struck down. Yet POTUS, in front of the world, claimed that a provision relating to foreign corporations and campaign funding had been struck down. POTUS lied. It was a Jim Wilson moment.

The Citizens United vs FEC was correctly decided on the grounds of first amendment rights. The various media outlets are corporations yet media is exempt from the provisions. Yet, a small group of people who got 0.03% of their funding from a corporation to bring out a film called "Hillary the Movie" were prevented from screening the movie because of the existence of McCain-Feingold. The LSM went out of their way to not provide information to voters. They went out of their way not to report the truth about candidates. Here was a film that was not flattering to Hillary, and the FEC would not allow it to be shown because of a funding to the value of 0.03% of the film? It was a breach of their first amendment rights.

On the other hand we have the situation of the funds raised by the Obot. Exactly how much of the $630 million that was raised through the very shadowy PACs came from foreign corporations?

If you were the POTUS and had managed to raise so much through subterfuge wouldn't you be soiling your undies at the thought of having your campaign donations scrutinized?

I hope the Obot has an adequate supply of undies because he is going to need extras.....

Cedarford said...

Up early, watching the Australian Open and Federer demolishing Jo-Willy Tsonga of France....

Madawaskan - Nuclear power, Clean coal and offshore drilling what's that about?

This is likely Obama offering "sweeteners" - to people he hope he can entice into backing Obamacare Rev 3
-Or, more likely - as his bait to moderates and those DC special interests he and Pelosi hope to co-opt. For his push for Cap n' Trade to please his Lefty-Greenie base and keep his approval by the non-ignorant & morally superior Europeans intact.

I suspect that there will be no money for backing nukes - just light tweaking on regs that Obama knows will die in the liberal Dem wing of Congress.

Some research into clean coal - which is basic garbage if you look at sequestration because the energy it takes to collect and pump CO2 underground in high pressure reservoirs means you have to burn lots more coal for the same amount of electricity because the net efficiency of the coal-to-electricity cycle drops so much. And there is the Lake Nyos problem - several hundred million tons of CO2 under the homes of millions of Americans waiting to be released through rock faulting, post-glacial land rebound, earthquake? I'd rather have a nuke waste dump 5,000 feet under my house than enough CO2 to kill every living animal in 20 square miles if it ever escapes.

Drilling? YOu know that ANWR is a sacred "symbol" to Dems..no drilling, ever! So they will likely try limiting it to the Gulf, with Florida land speculators trying to block drilling anywhere near them, Californians will want to be off-limits..and that leaves a few areas off SC & NC that "might" be permitted some exploratory wells.

Ofc. Krupke said...

I heard a guy in line at Wendy's saying Greenwald's analysis was unimpressive.

It's good to hear John Edwards is keeping up with current events.

AllenS said...

I'm not sure on which SOTU speech Obama gives, but he'll blame his lack of success on racism. You just wait for it.

WV: metal

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

The writer stares with glassy eyes
Defies the empty page
His beard is white, his face is lined
And streaked with tears of rage

Thirty years ago, how the words would flow
With passion and precision
But now his mind is dark and dulled
By sickness and indecision

And he stares out the kitchen door
Where the sun will rise no more...

Some are born to move the world
To live their fantasies
But most of us just dream about
The things we'd like to be
Sadder still to watch it die
Than never to have known it
For you, the blind who once could see
The bell tolls for thee...

- Losing It, RUSH

Robert Cook said...

Someone here said, referring to Obama:

"A more partisan, egotistical, narcissistic, mendacious person would be hard to find."

Simply look back to Obama's predecessor, who occupied the Oval Office for 8 years, and you'll find your man.

Always On Watch said...

BHO was way out of line to scold the Supreme Court during a State of the Union Address. The serious and substantive breach of protocol (Greenwald) was BHO's.

Furthermore, BHO clearly does have disregard for the Constitution. He's stated so on more than one occasion -- in dulcet tones, of course.

As for FDR and SCOTUS, well, FDR packed the Supreme Court. This move did not reflect well upon him later as the packing of the court was all about ramming through various programs, which actually delayed recovery from the Great Depression.

Dan from Madison said...

I am putting the over/under at 2 on justices showing up for the SOTU next year. Soto and whoever replaces Ginsburg.

Fen said...

Thats so much bullshit, Robert.

While Bush has more than his share of character flaws, partisan, egotistical, narcissistic are not amoung them.

Cedarford said...

Henry - Obama's rhetoric looks even more unsavory, especially when you consider that it surpasses FDR's State of Union remarks and approaches the scapegoating demagoguery of FDR's March 9th speech denouncing the majority on the court.

That speech is a chilling document. Go read it.

Henry, the conventional narrative is that FDR erred badly in questioning the inerrant wisdom of the 9 lawyers dressed in robes - and the New Sanhedrin justly prevailed over FDR's "assault on the Sacred Parchment".

The historical truth, IMO, is far more on the side of those who believe that the Court over-reached in opposing FDR and inventing things not in the language of the Constitution or Federal Law. FDR was the strict constructionist. The Court legislating from the bench.

To understand why many opposed the Court-packing, you have to understand the times. America looked abroad in 1937 and saw nothing but unchecked Executive despots holding sway - Franco, Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler, the Emperor. A solid sea of Caribbean and Latin American dictatorships. And Britain and France holding much of the rest of the world in an imperial grip.
The fear was FDR as despot without limits. Even by many who were vehemently against the Court's usurpation of legislative and executive actions and the sabotaging of necessary change.

What actually happened was a near perfect solution that escaped America later when an imperial judiciary began asserting a supremacy without a literal word backing in the Constitution or Code. Pulling "emenations and penumbras" out their asses.

What then hapened was "The Switch in Time That Saved Nine".
Meaning that the lawyers in robes, relishing their power and position, began to play ball. And ceased asserting judicial supremacy over any change to America they culturally or as luminaries of wealthy elite families opposed.
FDR's court packing threat was a necessity, ultimately a very wise strategy. It restored Constitutional balances and drove the lawyers back into a box of strict constructionism.

test said...

Maggie is right. Alito wasn't responding to Obama's attack generally. He was responding to the factual error Obama made claiming the ruling removes restrictions on foreign corporations.

Cedarford said...

Henry -
From the 1937 Fireside Chat you find "chilling"......but I don't

Justice Stone said that the majority were actually reading into the Constitution their own "personal economic predilections," and that if the legislative power is not left free to choose the methods of solving the problems of poverty, subsistence, and health of large numbers in the community, then "government is to be rendered impotent." And two other justices agreed with him.

In the face of these dissenting opinions, there is no basis for the claim made by some members of the Court that something in the Constitution has compelled them regretfully to thwart the will of the people.

The Court in addition to the proper use of its judicial functions has improperly set itself up as a third house of the Congress - a super-legislature,.. reading into the Constitution words and implications which are not there, and which were never intended to be there.

We want a Supreme Court which will do justice under the Constitution and not over it. In our courts we want a government of laws and not of men.

I want - as all Americans want - an independent judiciary as proposed by the framers of the Constitution. That means a Supreme Court that will enforce the Constitution as written, that will refuse to amend the Constitution by the arbitrary exercise of judicial power - in other words by judicial say-so. It does not mean a judiciary so independent that it can deny the existence of facts which are universally recognized.

Sounds reasonable. And FDR was saying what Reagan, Eisenhower, Nixon, even some centrist Dems have said - lawyers are less than 1/10,000th of 1% of the population, and they cannot be an aristocracy that dictates to the masses and encroaches on authorities implicit in the Constitition for other Institutions. Best they be limited to strict construction and not pulling justification out of their ass to use courts to push their individual cultural or political agendas over all other Americans and their elected leaders.

Roger J. said...

Beth--my favorite liberal on this site--as usual provides a measured and appropriate response. Sorry Beth--the saints are in big trouble a week sunday. Now my lady and I are going to Lafayette for mardi gras and a weekend of cajun dancing, which will be a lot more fun than the ridiculous game of politics.
laissez les bon temp roulez

mrs whatsit said...

Ann, I just want to change one word in your otherwise pitch-perfect takedown of Greenwald and Obama:

Really, if it were known in advance that Obama wanted to use the occasion this way, the Supreme Court Justices should have stayed home. Or send over 1 or 2 that do opinions that the little man likes.

There. Fixed.

KCFleming said...

"FDR was the strict constructionist. The Court legislating from the bench."

Worst history lesson ever.

jmurphy said...

Seems like Greenwald's biggest decision before writing is to determine the ratio between hand waving and hand wringing. In this article the ratio appears to be evenly split.

KCFleming said...

"the Court's usurpation of legislative and executive actions and the sabotaging of necessary change."


It deepened and extended the Depression, and ultimately set the stage for government-induced economic bubbles and unsustainable state pension, medical, and welfare programs.

Necessary like a hole in the head.

Cedarford said...

Match done in Australia. It will now be Federer against the brilliant, gifted young Scot - Andy Murray. The one many think will be the next dominant player after Federer and his "Federer kryptonite" - Rafa Nadal. (Who may have killed his long-term career with knee tendonitis from playing at 120% each point) Just-not-yet! The Swiss great hopes...
Another plus on FDR's court packing was he wanted a vital reform to the Judiciary and noted that Congress had legislated other Federal employees careers by age, and by fitness standards. He wanted Justices limited by fitness after age 70, which in 1937 was an age when performance (except Charles Evans Hughes) had historically fallen off...

Such a succession of appointments should have provided a Court well balanced as to age. But chance and the disinclination of individuals to leave the Supreme bench have now given us a Court in which five justices will be over seventy-five years of age before next June and one over seventy.

That was the other problem. What FDR had was a gerentocracy in a time when everywhere else, in jobless America but also strongly culturally --- the old were expected to retire at 63 or 65. And 70 in 1937 is like 80 today. He had Justices that were fearful of automobiles and one that shunned electricity in his home and chambers. Many came from wealthy families that had opposed reforms of any nature - going back to Chester Arthur's.

Allowing replacements while keeping the codgers on in some capacity is still a raging debate today about medically unfit Senators and Justices....with lower Fed courts putting their semi-senile or incapacitated physically or low energy judges into an "Emeritus" status...

That was the 2nd purpose in "Court packing" and still a worthy discussion. Given how some Justices (and Senators) in the past would not be deemed competent to discharge their duties in any other official position in America.

But the aged had accumulated so much that it wasn't replacing just a semi-senile Thurgood Marshall or a Douglas mentally impaired by strokes or a Reinquist selfishly clinging on to personal power while unfit to appear in Court. Part of the objection was FDR had 6 aged Justices he wanted to get new blood in to supplant in a single year...Six appointments just seemed too much.

Opus One Media said...

Thank you Ann. Love you Ann. Wish you well Ann. But Alito's shaking his head is, in the end, bullshit.

Fen said...

Obama, Rezko, Auchi

According to the Chicago Tribune, Antoin "Tony" Rezko, one of Obama's main political contributors, was arrested Monday morning for concealing a $3.5 million payment the indicted slumlord received from a Beruit company tied to a certain Nadhmi Auchi, a Iraqi billionaire embroiled in a corruption scandal in France.

Libtards? Echo?

master cylinder said...

I thought this was all about free speech, you all don't seem to think everyone deserves free speech?
Only for the Joe Wilsons?

KCFleming said...

"But Alito's shaking his head is, in the end, bullshit."

Well that settles it, then.

Jamie said...

Justice Alito didn't even call the President out - his "not true," even if reflexive, DID NOT accuse the President of lying, but only of misspeaking. As if it could've been an honest mistake rather than a deliberate attempt to obfuscate.

IOW, Justice Alito's reflexive response was more polite and deferential than President Obama's scripted statement. ISTM that each branch of government, by design, should feel free to criticize the others... but they shouldn't get all huffy when the other side comes back at 'em, either. And critiques should be substantive (but I won't hold my breath), and they should be delivered in a forum wherein response is both permissible and possible. Somehow it's become a truism that the SOTU is not such a forum.

rhhardin said...

The point of a sotto voce remark is to show yourself that you can't be counted on to go along.

I imagine Alito will do as resolved.

Anonymous said...

Alito should have walked out.

Ernesto Ariel Suárez said...

In all the analyses, and all the commentaries, people have skipped the other justices' reaction. Did you see Gingsburg gaze of death? And what about Sotomayor's truly pissed and annoyed expression?

wv: proodem

Stan said...

The one point I haven't seen made in the Alito/Obama argument is that Obama wasn't just disagreeing with the Court. He was slandering them. And slander is something that Obama does all the time. He doesn't just express disagreement, he slanders people.

No president has ever slandered so many people so often. Bo-zo's rhetoric violates presidential protocol so badly and so often we don't even notice it much anymore.

Henry said...

Cedarford -- Just start with FDR's throat-clearing:

I am reminded of that evening in March, four years ago, when I made my first radio report to you. We were then in the midst of the great banking crisis.

Soon after, with the authority of the Congress, we asked the nation to turn over all of its privately held gold, dollar for dollar, to the government of the United States.

But when, almost two years later, it came before the Supreme Court its constitutionality was upheld only by a five-to-four vote. The change of one vote would have thrown all the affairs of this great nation back into hopeless chaos. In effect, four justices ruled that the right under a private contract to exact a pound of flesh was more sacred than the main objectives of the Constitution to establish an enduring nation.

This is FDR's great example of what he could accomplish given a compliant court. Why should courts honor private contracts when the government needs power?

In FDR's phrasing, the role of the court is not to provide a check and balance, but to pull "in unison" with the other branches of government. This makes a mockery of the constitution and the concerns of the founders.

In the end FDR got what he wanted, without packing the court.

And what did he accomplish in 1937? He plunged the nation back into depression.

Dewave said...

The only serious breach of protocol was Obama's. You don't insult your guests, period. If someone is obligated to sit there without responding, then you are obligated not to attack them.

The fact that what Obama said was unequivocally false simply seals the deal - you can never require anyone to sit silently by while he is slandered. If you break the barrier dignity and courtesy and protocol demand of you, then they are freed from those restraints as well.

I think he should have jumped up and started yelling "YOU LIE". That would have made for an interesting spectacle. I can't believe people are getting worked up over someone shaking their head. That's 'flamboyant'? Good heavens.

Troubled Voter said...

please more blogging heads with you and emily bazelon. i love you both and know this would make for a very interesting discussion

Tom DeGisi said...

"A more partisan, egotistical, narcissistic, mendacious person would be hard to find."

Simply look back to Obama's predecessor, who occupied the Oval Office for 8 years, and you'll find your man.

Nah, you both are forgetting John Edwards. More partisan. More egotistical. Way more narcissistic. And way, way more mendacious. Also easy to find - which did not prevent the mainstream media from failing to find him for years....


Beth said...

Roger, the Saints thrive as underdogs and they rise to a challenge. It will be a great game.

Cajun Mardi Gras is a real spectacle! I know y'all will have a wonderful time.

Trooper York said...

Are you still drunk since they won Sunday?

The Colts are gonna run wild if they take Earl Morall out and put Johnny U back in to start the game.

Chase said...

Beth--my favorite liberal on this siteI believe most regular commenters agree with that, I certainly do. In fact, the way Beth defends her positions without ever stooping to personal attacks is something we can all strive for (at least for those of us who are not already achieving it).

Chase said...

. . . (at least for those of us who are not already achieving it - which includes me). I shall strive to do far better.

miller said...

Beth is calm and reasonable and not easily flustered. I appreciate her contributions. She is sometimes the recipient of unfounded criticism, but she wisely tempers her responses.

Now if we could just convince her to come over to the dark side...

miller said...

Oh, and by the way, I try not to think of people as being "liberal" or "conservative"; instead, I try to think of them as "accurate" or "inaccurate."

I will confess it gives me pleasure at times to refer to the "librul" side, but I do it in fun. I'm sure there are affection names for conservatives, too. Not that I've heard them.

Chase said...

One of my best friends - a to the death American liberal I have known since my liberal days in college, refers to me, his now somewhat politically conservative friend as "butthead"