Posts Tagged ‘obama’

This is What it Has Come To.

May 10, 2010

I am the first to admit that there is a cultural and political divide between people who live on the coasts and those that live in middle and southern part of the country.  But if the best you can come up with to go after Elena Kagan’s is the fact that she is not like you and your evidence is that she did not get her driver’s license until her 20s, you really are grasping for straws.  But there is the National Review, doing just that:

this passage  nicely captures Elena Kagan’s remoteness from the lives of most Americans:

Kagan … is such a product of New York City that she did not learn to drive until her late 20s. According to her friend John Q. Barrett, a law professor at St. John’s University, it is a skill she has not yet mastered.

Given  the fact that close to 40% of driving age NYers do not have licenses, it is not all that surprising that she did not get one until her late 20s.  Amazing that this is what it has come to.  But this is just another in a long line of thinly veiled attacks of those that live in places like NY, SF or LA (read:  the people who live there are  are not “real” Americans.).  They do not share your values.  I love the fact that areas that have a combined 45 million people out of  a total of 300 million, but they are not real Americans.

To be clear, I am taking it on faith that SG Kagan is a liberal based on clerkships and which Presidents she has worked for.  Because other than 3 (albeit important) law review articles, she has not said or written much.


My Head Starts To Hurt When I Try to Follow this Kind of Logic

April 14, 2010

For months now, Republicans, including Senate Republicans, have been arguing that Khalid Sheik Mohammad (the mastermind behind 9-11) should only be tried, if at all, in a military commission.  Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said:

Simply moving the 9/11 trials from New York City is not a solution.  As long as these trials are in civilian court they will bring severe costs and dangers with them wherever they go. There is only one venue change—and one policy—that will work: military commissions.  For that reason, I am joining with my colleagues today to introduce bipartisan legislation that bars funding for the civilian trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his cohorts. These trials are simply too misguided, too costly, and too dangerous.  We must not treat terrorism as a matter of routine law enforcement—and we must not treat terrorists like the innocent civilians they target.”


President Obama Should Not Nominate Someone Just To Avoid a Fight

April 12, 2010

No matter who President Obama nominates, short of it being John Yoo or Robert Bork, the Republicans are going to jump up and down and stomp their feet that the person is a liberal, communist, nazi, marxist,  judicial activist, who will substitute their judgment for that of the legislature or of the states or interpret the constitution to accommodate their policy preferences.

If he is going to have a fight on any nominee regardless of who he or she is, he should at least fight for someone he really wants (instead of trying to avoid a fight).

BTW, you should not pay any attention to Republicans who scream about judicial activism but support court challenges to Health Care Reform.  It will take great feat of judicial activism to not only overturn the legislation that passed both houses of congress and was signed into law by the president but also to overturn decades of precedents to get there.

One of the Most Interesting Article on Justice Stevens and Selecting a Nominee

April 10, 2010

I wanted to highlight one of the most interesting articles written about Justice Stevens and how important is it that the nominee meet some diversity requirement.  With any nomination opportunity as of late, especially for a Democratic President, there is always clamoring to pick this person, in part, because they are a woman, or that person, in part, because they are African American or that person because they are Jewish.  But Justice Stevens defied everyone when he became the leading liberal on the court.  Writing today on,  Dahlia Lithwick and Sonja West wrote:

But if the retirement of Justice Stevens highlights a single value we should demand in a justice, it’s got nothing to do with race or gender or even professional background and everything to do with empathy for others.

Yes. That’s right. We just said the e-word. . . .

There may be no sitting justice who better exemplified the difference between diversity and empathy than Justice Stevens. He grew up white, male, heterosexual, Protestant, and wealthy. At no point in time was he a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay or a frightened teenage girl. And yet, over the decades, his rulings and written opinions repeatedly showed us that he could see the world through the eyes of those with very different life experiences from his own. In other words, he tapped his inner “wise Latina woman” when the case called for it, and we are all better for it. Stevens used empathy not to skew or manipulate his jurisprudence, but to consider the effects of his decisions on real people and to accept that the law can look quite different depending on where you’re standing. That’s part of what made him such a great justice, and it’s a quality the president should bear in mind in selecting his replacement.

So before you think President Obama needs to nominate a half-asian, half black, disabled, gay, Protestant, just think of Justice Stevens and his background.

When Thinking About Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee, Just Remember the Law of 5

April 9, 2010

As I said in post last year when Justice Souter announced his retirement, I warned that putting a liberal Scalia on the bench would be an epic mistake.  In that post, I said the most important rule to remember is the “Law of 5,” referring to the proposition that Justice Brennan lived by–“You can do anything with 5 votes.”  What we have seen in the past decade is Justice Stevens take on the role once performed by Justice Brennan.  With a Court evenly dividend between the “liberal” and “conservative” Justice with Justice Kennedy in the middle on many votes, Justice Stevens used the “political” skills acquired over a career of 34 years to convince Justice Kennedy to side with the liberals rather than with the conservatives many times.  Using those skills, Justice Stevens was able to shape areas such as the War on Terrorism, Death Penalty jurisprudence and the environment.  He did this by making compromises on the legal basis for many decisions, narrowing the results others or using his power to assign the opinions to Kennedy to get Kennedy’s vote.

Did he win all of these battles?  No, just look at cases such as Bush v Gore or Citizens United v FEC.  But he did get a majority for more liberal results more times than could be thought possible given the fact that for most of the past 20 years,  7 of the 9 Justices (including himself) were appointed by Republican Presidents.  It is this skill over all others and over any specific ideology that will be missed most by liberals.  And it is the skill to convince 4 others to join you that President Obama should keep front and center as he makes his decision on whom to nominate.

Let’s Get Ready to Rumble

April 9, 2010


Associate Justice John Paul Stevens, leader of the liberal wing of the Supreme Court, announced on Friday that he would retire at the end of this term, setting up a confirmation battle over his replacement that is virtually certain to dominate the political scene this summer.

And the Republicans, even before he retired and well before President Obama nominated a successor, have threatened to filibuster his choice. It is going to be a fun summer.  I just hope that the President picks someone who has done of one of the following things: (1) stepped foot in a trial court and litigated cases, (2) worked for or before an administrative agency for a significant period of time or (3) worked in state government in a significant capacity such as being a legislator or a state court judge.  I think one of the worst things he could do was nominate someone who has only been a law professor or appellate judge.  I think having actually seen what it is like to be in the real world gives a person a perspective that is almost wholly lacking on the Court now.

Where Will It End?

April 7, 2010

At his inauguration, President Obama said,

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.  Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations.  Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake

I have written numerous times about the Bush Administration utter disregard for the Constitution and the separation of powers.  I wrote numerous posts about their claims of Article II powers to incarcerate anyone they labeled a terrorist without charges, the right to counsel or the right to challenge their detention in court.  Now, it turns out that the Obama administration has upped the ante.  According to the NYTimes,

The Obama administration has taken the extraordinary step of authorizing the targeted killing of an American citizen, the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is believed to have shifted from encouraging attacks on the United States to directly participating in them, intelligence and counterterrorism officials said Tuesday.


Scott Brown, Thank You

March 25, 2010

Now that Health Care Reform (“HCR”) has passed, I want to personally thank Senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.)  and the voters of Massachusetts who elected you.  By getting elected and denying the Democrats their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, I believe you actually made it possible for the Democrats to finally pass HCR.  And here is why:


The Unconstitutionality of the “Stupak” Executive Order

March 21, 2010

Bart Stupak and the rest of his “Stupak 12” just got hoodwinked by the President.  The President and the group agreed to an executive order stating that the “Hyde Amendment” which is voted on every year to forbid HHS Deparment funds from being used to fund abortions applies to the health care reform bill.  In return, the Stupak “12” agreed to vote for Health Care Reform.  But the President, acting alone, cannot enact this restriction without Congressional authorization.


Glad to See The New Republic Agrees with My Take

February 26, 2010

Today, in two blog posts, TNR writer Jonathan Cohn writes essentially the same I did yesterday:


The Truth on Reconciliation

February 26, 2010

In my previous post, I described how almost all of our health care legislation in the past 30 years has been through reconciliation.  I do not want to leave anyone with the impression that health care reform this year is being passed through that process.  Health Care Reform has passed the senate on Christmas Eve 2009 with 60 votes .  It got passed a filibuster and received a super majority.  What will be passed through the house and senate with simple majorities, will be fixes to the bill, such as removing a provision which says that only Nebraska will get extra funding to expand Medicaid or only Florida will be exempt from the repeal of Medicare Advantage.  What is not being passed through reconciliation with a simple majority is the entire health care bill.  It is only these small fixes that Republicans will not let through for an up or down vote.  So when you hear Republicans complain that Democrats are “jamming health care through with a bare majority” pay no attention to them.  They are flat out lying.  The Republicans required a 60 vote majority to pass HCR and the Democrats got the required votes.  Only these minor fixes are being passed through on a majority vote.

Verdict from the Health Care Summitt: No Chance of Compromise or Agreement

February 26, 2010

Having watched or listened to about half of today’s health care summit, one thing is painfully obvious:  there is no chance of compromise.  And there is a simple reason:  the two sides do not want the same thing.  It is one thing to compromise and give and take if the goal of two negotiating parties is the same.  But here, what Democrats want and what Republicans want is drastically different.  What you heard from Republicans is they want incremental change so that may be an additional 3 million people will get coverage.  The Democrats, on the other hand, have had enough with incremental change, and aim to cover more than 30 million people.  Since both parties do not want universal coverage or incremental change to bring down some people’s premium and give a few more people coverage, there is nothing really to compromise.  Given that the Republicans do not aim to cover most, if not all, of the uninsured, there is nothing that Democrats can given them.


I Won’t Say They Have No Ideas, But No Ideas that Anyone Wants

February 2, 2010

Today, while the President released his budget for FY’11, Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan released his own budget and legislative proposals.  His goal is to eliminate all budget deficits for the next 75 years.  And if implemented, the CBO says his plan will actually run a surplus over the next 75 years.  That is the same time frame where we are currently projected to run massive deficits, mainly because of health care spending that will sky rocket as a result of baby-boomers becoming eligible for Medicare.  Well that is the good.


In Case You Missed It Yesterday, Watch President Obama School House Republicans in a 68 Minute, Televised Q&A

January 31, 2010

While this type of Q&A happens frequently in England, it never occurs here (C-SPAN used to run it every Sunday night from the House of Commons).  President Obama took 68 minutes worth of questions from House Republicans and it was televised.  It got so bad for Republicans that they later told reporters that it was a big mistake to “let the cameras in”.  Furthermore, instead of televising the end of this bloodbath, FoxNews cut away with 22 minutes left.

These 68 minutes show how out of touch with facts and reality Republicans really are. The last question, from a so-called rising start, Jeb Henserling, who sits on the Budget Committee accused, Obama of running $1.3 trillion deficits A MONTH. A MONTH!! I do not know if he knows how to add, but that would be a yearly deficit of $15.6 trillion, which is more than our national debt. As Senator Moynihan (I think) used to say: you are entitled to your opinions but not your own facts. This forum was great for the President because he got to confront his opponents at the same time they made they ridiculous charges. If they are dumb enough to agree to it, Obama should do this more often.

Why Not Open Up Medicare to Everyone?

December 8, 2009

In the latest effort to get a “public option” in the health care reform bill, 10 senators are negotiating to open Medicare up to some people who are 55-64, but require them to “buy-in” to the system.  In this proposal, certain people from the ages of 55-64 would be able to purchase insurance through the Medicare system that currently insures our seniors.  (It is unclear if this program would be available to all people ages 55 to 64 or only those who cannot get insurance now).  This will give all of the benefits of Medicare to a larger pool of people without the government having to set-up a whole new “public” insurance program.  This will alleviate the federal government from having to set-up a new public insurance program because the infrastructure already exists.  And from all of the polling data, Medicare seems to be extremely popular with its beneficiaries.


Alternate Universe

December 3, 2009

Over the past year, I have been following the health care debate closely. But only recently have I realized how ridiculous parts of the debate are. Well, that is not exactly true. It has just gotten more ridiculous since August.


Why President Obama Should Not Declassify Documents Showing What Information We Gained As A Result of Torture

May 18, 2009

Since President Obama took office and the possibility of criminal prosecutions for the torturing of detainees became a reality, supporters of the Bush Administration have been screaming that this is simply the criminalization of policy differences.  Now, former VP-Cheney, in his effort to justify the use of torture, has called on President Obama to declassify certain documents he argues will show that the Bush Administration’s torture policy kept us safe.



May 14, 2009

Since President Obama proposed his stimulus, conservatives have been shrieking at the top of their lungs that President Obama is seeking to ration health care. There primary piece of evidence is inclusion of funding ($700mm) for what is known as Comparative Effectiveness Research (“CER”). What CER seeks to do is study the costs and benefits of certain medical treatments, procedures or drugs. For example, it would study whether physical therapy is more effective than shoulder surgery for healing an ailing shoulder. What people like Betsy McCaughey, author of the Bloomberg Op-Ed cited above, argue is that this is will lead to the Government deciding which treatments your doctor will be able to prescribe, and not you and your doctor. For example, if the Government believes that therapy is more cost effective for a certain amount of benefits as compared to surgery, you will not be able to choose surgery. In the end, according to Ms. McCaughey, the Government will simply ration health care as it sees fit. As will come as no surprise, I find many problems with the position advocated by these conservatives.


It’s Like the NYTimes Read My Blog

May 7, 2009

In today’s NYTimes, Adam Liptak, in an article about replacing Justice Souter, wrote:

The first rule of the Supreme Court, Justice Brennan would say, holding up his open hand, is to get to five — meaning persuading five of the nine justices. . . “The replacement to Souter is not going to make an ideological majority for progressives,” said Abner J. Mikva, a former federal judge who taught with Mr. Obama at the University of Chicago“The new justice has got to be someone who can persuade Kennedy and maybe even Alito.” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy is the court’s swing justice, and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., a conservative, is the court’s newest member.

Like I said before, the only thing that matters is 5.  While it would be nice to have a Justice who could write memorable opinions, if they are mostly dissenting opinions, it won’t matter.

No Liberal Scalias

May 6, 2009

With President Obama set to name his first nominee to the Supreme Court Democrats and liberals are debating whether the President should name a “Liberal Scalia?”  On February 3, 2009, Dahlia Lithwick wrote on, “Indeed, the most consistent aspect of the liberal grousing about the court is that there is no left-wing counterpart for Justice Antonin Scalia.”

But appointing a liberal Scalia would be a mistake of epic proportion.  There is no doubt Justice Scalia is incredibly smart, and a very gifted writer.  In person, he is one of the funniest people I have heard speak.  His intellect and writing skills make his opinions some of the most memorable you will read.  Readability of writing and clarity of legal principles is what many liberals desire.


Let the Speculation Begin: Justice Souter is Retiring at the End of the Term

May 1, 2009

Pete Williams of MSNBC News is reporting that Justice David Souter will retire at the end of the term.  If President Obama does not select a Hispanic (and there will be a lot of pressure to do so), my two “dark” horse picks for the seat are Professor Pam Karlan of Stanford Law School and if he picks a white male, Seth Waxman, former Solicitor General, now a partner at WilmerHale.

I make these “crass” political statements about selecting people based on race and sex, not because I think it is a good criteria for selecting Justices, but, rather, because I live in the real world and know every news story between now and when Obama selects someone will focus on women and Hispanics.

Update: I chose not to put any sitting judges on my list of candidates, because Pres. Obama indicated that it was important to have non-judges on the Court.  If he were to put a sitting judge on the Court, my money is on Judge Diane Wood of the 7th Circuit in Chicago.

Update #2: It’s official, Justice David Souter will retire at the end of the term (seemingly regardless of whether a replacement has been confirmed).  Here are President Obama’s remarks to the WH press corp regarding the retirement.

Our Security vs. Our Ideals

April 30, 2009

“As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.  Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake,” so said President Obama during his inauguration.

I have heard no more idealistic statement by a politician who actually held power since I started following politics more than 20 years ago.  It was such a refreshing view of our country’s dreams, hopes, and ideals, especially after 8 years of utter disgrace.