Advice to President Barack Obama on Judicial Nominees

March 11, 2009

Today at The Heritage Foundation I had the opportunity to attend a panel hosted by former Attorney General Ed Meese. The panel was put in place to give President Barack Obama advice when he chooses his nominations for the Judicial system (the Supreme and Appellate courts). On the panel were Walter Dellinger, Stuart Taylor, and Jonathan Adler.

Dellinger had a bevy of advice for him. They were simple, yet important pieces of advice. The first piece was to select someone who is humble. He said that opinions would be far more persuasive if they were honest. Weighing both sides equally and walking us through the decision making process that lead them to whatever decision they made. Instead opinions are written explaining only their view and we are just supposed to accept it. He also said that Obama should pick judges that play nicely with others. If Justices can get other judges to be more bipartisan, it could help guide the Supreme Court as well as lower courts in future decisions.

Dellinger also stated that diversity is good, but Obama must understand the limits of it. He used the example of Roman-Catholic Judges. Once the third Roman-Catholic is appointed, it is no longer a story. There will always be a “Roman-Catholic seat” from then on. He also said that President Obama can look outside of the judicial world for qualified candidates. Justices do not necessarily have to be judges. Dellinger would nominate Lee Hamilton if he was nominating people. Dellinger wanted to hear a healthy debate on whether or not it is better to have Intellectuals or Practitioners on the Appellate Courts. Lastly, Dellinger stated that he should look for experience rather than someone who is trying to shape the future. He noted that there is a certain type of growth that stops when you are appointed to the bench.

Stuart Taylor echoed the need to nominate judges that had humility. Taylor also suggested that Obama appoint justices that were moderate. Not too far to the left, not too far to the right. He also noted that it will be difficult for Obama to reconcile campaign rhetoric (saying that he will appoint liberal judges) with votes and stances that he has taken. For example, he voted for controversial amendments to the Patriot Act, as well as wiretapping and a national fingerprint registry. A nominee that supports these initiatives will alienate his base, but a nominee that opposses these initiatives will erode his national security policies. (Dellinger disagreed with the notion that Obama had to support his base because he will never have a contested Democratic primary again).

Jonathan Adler was the last to speak. He commented that Obama will have power to shape the Court, but he will have much greater power to shape the appellate courts. He cited a Brookings study that stated that Obama will be able to nominate 1/3 of the Appellate Court judges in his first terms. Presidents usually appoint that many in two terms. Adler echoed humility, but also stressed the need to vett nominees, but at the same time, he cannot allow seats to sit empty. Renominating Bush appointees should also not be off the table. He weighed in on the question that Dellinger asked (whether or not it was better to have intellectuals or practitioners on the Appellate) saying it was better to have intellectuals on the Appellate. (He also applauded Mr. Meese and Reagan for making a conscience effort to get intellectuals like Bork on the Appellate).

The advice to the Senators confirming the Judges was to hang a big sign on the back wall that says : IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU!

Here is the video of the event

Todd Thurman

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The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same

February 22, 2009

I wrote this back in 2006. Still rings true today

Prop 86 is a terrible proposition for the State of California (much as MOST of them are). I can’t believe that this is on the ballot again!! How much do the smokers of California need to be punished? Why are smokers being singled out again? This is ridiculous. I am not a smoker (never will be) but I fight hard for smoker’s rights. I believe it should be up to the resteraunt owner to decide if they want to let people smoke in their resteraunt. Imagine that, a society where people who own property get to decide how they want to use it. Sounds like America to me, but not California.

Why smokers? Well, the authors of this proposition consider smokers an easy target. They saw that Prop 10, years ago passed, and they wanted to mimmick that success. However, the money in Prop 10 never went to our schools. They went directly into Rob Reiner’s preschool program (because who knows more about raising kids than a single multi-divorced fat slob?). Sounds like an enormous conflict of interest to me, but since when has the left allowed the law to stand in the way of their agenda?

To me, going after smokers is just as ridiculous as going after anyone else in society. It’s like saying: let’s pass a measure to drastically cut teacher’s salaries and fire every teacher in a union. That will put an incredible amount of money back in our schools. Much more than any cigarette tax will.

Todd Thurman

Obama Lies, People Could Die

February 10, 2009

Hidden beneath the dark underbelly of, possibly, the worst piece of legislation Congress has ever had before them lies something that Obama EXPLICITLY said he would not do. Sneaked in to the bill by tax cheat former HHS Nominee Tom Daschle, this provision would allow all medical records to be electronic and would set up a bureaucracy that would tell doctors what to do. This is awfully close to the National Health Board that Daschle has been peddling to anyone who would listen.

Obama said that if we liked our health plan, we could keep it. I like my health plan. Why is it changing? Why would I want the government to have final say over my doctor of what is the best for my health. What does the government know? What I want to know is, how many people are going to die while government bureaucrats argue about which type of medicine from which special interest group they are going to tell a medical doctor what would work best? How many have to die before they realize that this plan is terrible? Why does anyone have to die? Anyone can see that this is a horrible, horrible idea.

Why is it so hard for Obama to keep his campaign promises? I think it is because his promises contradicted one another. You cannot cut taxes for “95%” of people and expect to raise spending. I guess Obama finally realized that the top 5 percent paid 40% of the taxes, and there was only so much water from that well. So he raised cigarette taxes by 156%. Signing that bill also broke his transparency promise. When is the last time Obama told the truth?

Todd Thurman

Thoughts on the Current State

February 9, 2009

All through the campaign, Obama ran as a moderate conservative. Moderate conservatives were willing to give him a shot because they agreed with a lot of what he said. Moderate liberals knew that he was not Bush and that was enough for them. Far left liberals were hoping that he was lying in his campaign and he would rule from the left (you know, exactly how he has his entire life). People on the far right did not have a horse in this race, so they voted for Sarah Palin.

He ran as a candidate of “change” that was going to clean up Washington. He said that his presidency would be the most transparent presidency in history. He changed the White House Web site and promised to put all of his Executive Orders and transcripts of press conferences. After a very rocky start of publishing none of that, they seem to be keeping up to date now.

Let’s now focus on the people he has nominated. Notwithstanding Charles Rangel, the Head of the House Ways and Means Committee (they actually write the tax code) not understading how taxes work, Obama nominated Tim Geithner to head up the Treasury (which includes the IRS) who has also failed to pay his taxes. The left claimed that it was merely an oversight. A $44,000 oversight. I love the hypocrisy here when the left crucified Joe the Plumber because they found out that he owed $1200 in back taxes, but look away when seemingly no one in their party pays taxes. How can a man head up the branch of government that collects taxes not know how to pay his own taxes? Makes absolutely no sense. How could he even be nominated?

Tom Daschle owed more in back taxes ($150,000) than 95% of the country makes in an entire year. It’s understandable though because he didn’t know he had to pay taxes for his personal driver. Forgive me if I don’t feel sorry for him in the least. Don’t people go to jail for not paying their taxes? Why are these people being elevated to some of the top positons in the land?

Everything comes circling back for Obama. See, he ran as a moderate conservative (tax cuts, more responsibility, less government spending). But anyone who was familiar with his record, knew that there was no chance of him being a far left liberal president. Which is why he nominated Tom Daschle. Daschle is in favor of a National Health Board which also breaks an Obama campaign promise of “if you like your health plan, you can keep it.”

Maybe I am just being cynical, but congress is the last entitty I would trust to do anything for me. OK, second to last. The Supreme Court is the very last thing I would trust to decide when life begins. No idea why the black robe makes people think they are clairvoyant like that.

Much, much more to be said – To be continued.

Is ‘Card Check’ Really Free Choice?

February 4, 2009

Aside from the Stimulus Package, the Liberals in Congress have something else up their sleeve on their agenda. It is known as the “Employee Free Choice Act”, but names can be misleading. The premise of this bill is to “establish stronger penalties for violation of employee rights when workers seek to form a union and during first-contract negotiation.” However, the danger of this bill is laid out in Section 2: [Emphasis mine]

If the Board finds that a majority of the employees in a unit appropriate for bargaining has signed valid authorizations designating the individual or labor organization specified in the petition as their bargaining representative and that no other individual or labor organizations currently certified or recognizing as the exclusive representative of any of the employees in the unit, the Board shall not direct an election but shall certify the individual or labor organization as the representative in the subsection.

What this means is that as long as a simple majority (50%+1) of authorized signatures, they will forgo elections by a secret ballot. Much has been said on other blogs about the Employee Free Choice Act. But today, the Center for Union Facts released a poll that stated that 82% of non-unionized workers do not want to be unionized.

The fact remains that the current system is not broken, it is just that people don’t want to be in unions. Only 12% of salaried workers were unionized in 2008. What does this mean? Well, Big Labor would like you to believe that it is because of unfair labor practices. If that is the case, why then, would they still want to get rid of the secret ballot. If a worker has the right to vote in a secret ballot on who they want to be the next American Idol, should not they also have the right to vote in a secret ballot whether or not they are unionized?

George McGovern has been an outspoken critic of The “Employee Free Choice Act” specifically because of the provision I highlighted. The simple formula is that Big Labor wants more members to get more people to pay union dues. Liberals want more union dues because Unions often contribute to liberal politicians. So is getting n employee to join a union, without an election, and forcing said employee to pay dues to a cause they may, or may not, agree with really free choice?

Blago is Awesome

January 29, 2009

Politics, ethics, and morality aside, he is awesome. The theatrics that he displays are unmatched in the current political arena. He’s George Costanza come to life. I loved it every time he was on TV giving a speech. It was great TV. He plead his case to the public in a vain attempt to turn the overwhelming tide of public opinion against him.

Blago

Blago

Did he have a chance of changing anyone’s mind? No, of course not. He is a sleaze ball. In fact, he gives new meaning to the term sleaze. I think sleaze would be ashamed to hang around him. But, there is no one who had a more enjoyable ride down. From his first press conference complete with a crying baby and an old man in a wheelchair, I knew he was something to behold.

My assertions were reaffirmed today as he gave his remarks before the IL State Senate in what ended up being his last act as Governor of IL. He rattled off doozies like “charge it to my heart, charge it to my desire” and “If I thought I did something wrong, I would have resigned in December”. I could watch him all day. I hope to see him on TV again. He is the most riveting person on TV.

It would be great to hang out with him, if only for selfish reasons. No matter what you did, you could say to yourself, “Well, it’s not as bad as what Blago did” and suddenly feel better about yourself. Who needs Stuart Smalley when you can have Blago. To put it simply, I would not turn down in invitation to a game at Wrigley with him. Makes Republicans look good.

Todd

What Color is the Sky in Andrew Sullivan’s World?

December 4, 2008

I ask because Andrew Sullivan cannot live on this planet and think that what he writes is factual. His denigration of a once-great magazine has been documented elsewhere, but I wanted to further shine light on his pseudo reporting.

His post on December 1st claims “We are All Obamacans“. He hails his pick of “centrist” cabinet members. You know those centrists like Hillary Clinton, Tom Daschle, Janet Napolitano, and Bill Richardson. Granted, the rest of his cabinet could have been a lot worse (although no one would be worse than Jane Harmon for CIA Director), but I would hardly call it “centrist”.

His voting record for te 110th Congress is also not very “centrist”. Time and time again, Obama votes straight party line. He either voted party line or didn’t vote. He only crossed party lines a few times. The left claims that he only voted down party line in the Senate because he was a Junior Senator. That is true, but it is hardly the mark of a reformer.

In the State Senate he had more experience so he could be more like a “Centrist” right? Well according to the New York Times he sponsored several things that would not be considered “centrist”. He sponsored far left bills like Universal Health Care, embryonic stem cell research, provisions against treating minors as adults in certain criminal cases, and the real kicker, a bill that would set up funding for Supreme Court Races.

So people like Andrew Sullivan claim that the GOP painted Obama as far left leaning liberal. Obama has shown more evidence that he is a leftist liberal then he has shown that he is a “centrist”. Doesn’t stop Sullivan from reporting it as fact.

Todd

Old Ideas in a Web 2.0 World

December 3, 2008

Many may ask, why cling to old ideas in a world that is rapidly changing at the drop of a hat? I graduated from college four years ago, and when I graduated we all still took notes on paper. There was no WiFi and one Ethernet port per classroom on the off-chance that someone brought in a laptop. Now, four short (and might I add quick) years later, all freshman get a laptop, the school is completely networked for WiFi and no one takes notes on paper. So in a world where everything changes quickly, why cling to old ideas? Why, because they work. They worked in 1776, 1876, 1976, and will continue to work. Even though everythging around us is changing freedom, liberty, and prosperity remain constant. The government was the problem then and remains to be the problem. The more we can weaken it, the better. Poeple have always been the best advocates for themselves.

A lot has been said, since the election, that the conservative movement is dead (especially by sites like The Daily Kos and Talking Points Memo). The conservative movement is not dead, nor do we need to press the “reset button” as some have stated. All we need to is realize how valuable things like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social networking sites really are. The message does not need to be changed, just the way we deliver it. The days of postcards, and robocallers are dead. That is how we came to power in the 80s and mid-90s. That was 15 years ago. A lot has changed since then.

We also need to promote the right message. We cannot get tied down in the petty games of unimportant problems (the Obama birth certificate is the most recent and most ridiculous). We need to focus on the real issues, not issues that are irrelevant to the average person (McCain learned this the hard way with William Ayers). We also need to have plans for our policies (as Eric Cantor pointed out). I think most of the conservative blogosphere is doing a relatively good job of that, but we need to be doing a lot better.

A week, or so, ago I was in the headquarters of Americans for Tax Reform attending a social media roundtable with a who’s who of young conservatives. The main speakers were the people behind The Next Right and RebuildtheParty (the same people).  The purpose of these gatherings is to share best practices and tips with other conservatives. Since this was the first meeting, they just gave an overview of why the Web is important to the future of conservatism. That also happened to be the day the Washington Post article about Obama’s success on the Web came out so that was the main subject. I believe the mark was missed. All they talked about was incredible it was that he got 13 million names to sign up for his e-mail list. How much of a genius he was and how techy he was.

As my colleague so astutely pointed out, Obama is not some Internet guru. He was a social sensation. Had Reagan been running in 2008, he would have had 13 million e-mail addresses too. Obama captivated people and made himself available on the Internet. It was very smart strategy for Obama to invest so much time and money in the Internet from the very start of his campaign, but he just tapped into an already existing market that was waiting for him. No one on McCain’s side was waiting for him, so he started from scratch. He did all the same things Obama did with YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and the like. He just didn’t captivate people. How did Obama get this ready-made network to tap into? The left blogosphere made it for him.

The left blogosphere rose to prominence by pointing out missteps of Republicans. When what was said didn’t match with what was done, they were on the Web informing people. the right rarely does anything like that. Instead, the Web is treating like talk radio. Instead of going after policiy issues, they go after misstatements that are, most of the time, taken out of context. That will only succeed in driving people away. Matt Sheffield should be a model to us all. His site, Ratherbiased.com exposed Dan Rather’s misrepresentation of facts on Bush and helped to get him off TV. That is real activism that people can get behind. My Colleague, Conn Carroll, has been doing his best to keep up with the trials of the left.

If we are to succeed in the 21st century we need to adapt to new technology as it changes, not after we lose elections because we were scared to adapt. We can be the trendsetters. We have to be.

Todd