Tuesday, May 26, 2009

McConnell on Sotomayor

Here's Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's reaction to the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court:

“Senate Republicans will treat Judge Sotomayor fairly. But we will thoroughly examine her record to ensure she understands that the role of a jurist in our democracy is to apply the law even-handedly, despite their own feelings or personal or political preferences.

“Our Democratic colleagues have often remarked that the Senate is not a ‘rubber stamp.’ Accordingly, we trust they will ensure there is adequate time to prepare for this nomination, and a full and fair opportunity to question the nominee and debate her qualifications.”

The Silver Lining on Sonia

David Frum (via Hot Air) has an interesting take on Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to replace Justice David Souter. According to Frum, Sotomayor may be so personally obnoxious that she will push Justice Anthony Kennedy into voting with the conservatives.

If so, the balance of power on the Court actually tips right, given that Souter voted reliably with the liberals; replacing Souter with a Democratic nominee changes nothing unless there are unintended consequences.

Judge Sotomayor To Be Named As Supreme Court Nominee

Several media outlets are reporting that President Obama will announce shortly that Judge Sonia Sotomayor is his nominee to replace Justice Souter. If she is selected, Judge Sotomayer would be an intriguing choice. Currently serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Judge Sotomayor was originally appointed to the bench in 1992 as a District Judge by President George H.W. Bush. President Clinton elevated her to the appellate court in 1997.

Given her connection to the first President Bush, one is tempted to believe that Judge Sotomayer will at least be open-minded to notions of judicial restraint. But then again, Bush appointed Justice Souter also, and we all know how that turned out.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Joe Biden Admits He's "Out of the Loop"

President Barack Obama promised he would restore the standing of America overseas. Yet look at how Britain's Daily Telegraph reports on his vice president:

It seems that all a reporter has to do to find out about the pickle Barack Obama's is really in over his promise to close the Guantanamo Bay prison is to ask the veep, who was talking to the press at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo on the final day of his trip to the Balkans.

So will Obama fulfill his vow - announced amid great fanfare in an executive order on day two of his presidency - to close the facility by January 2010? "I think so," Biden responded, according to
Newsweek's Holly Bailey.

So perhaps he will. Or perhaps not. We'll see.

Biden continued: "But, look, what the president said is that this is going to be hard. It's like opening Pandora's Box. We don't know what's inside the box." [Emphasis added.]

He also said that "to the best of my knowledge" the number of prisoners "who are a real danger who are not able to returned or tried" has "not been established" by the Obama administration.

So he basically just confirmed his predecessor Dick Cheney's analysis that the decision was taken "with little deliberation, and no plan".


Oh, but it gets wierder. For how those of us who don't want Gitmo terrorists in our jails, Biden suggested a good summer vacation road trip:

For those citizens who might be a tad concerned about hardened Islamist fighters being housed in jails on the American mainland, the veep suggested they should visit the Unabomber or Richard Reid at the Colorado's Supermax.

"There's a bit of a hysteria about, well, my God, these guys are so dangerous. Go to some maximum security cells if you want to know some dangerous people. Matter of fact, it might be an awakening to them."

Got that? Stop being hysterical and go buy a Greyhound ticket to the Supermax.

The buffoon who said these things is one heart beat away from being president, because that's the kind of quality decision we've come to expect from the Obama administration.

GOP Outraises Dems

For a party that's supposed to be on life support, there's a lot of money coming in. The Republican National Committee out-raised the Democratic National Committee $5.76 million to $4.52 last month.

When the Senatorial and Congressional Committees are added in, the totals for the parties are $10.92 million for the Republicans, $10.70 million for the Democrats. The Republican committees have no debt -- none-- whereas the combined debt for the Democratic committees is $17.33 million.

Looks like the Dems run the party the same way they run the country: lots of red ink. How long before the bailout?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

McConnell Gets Credit on Gitmo

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is getting the credit (and our thanks) for the Obama administration's stunning defeat yesterday in its quest to close Gitmo before it has a plan on where to relocate its terrorists.

Even MSNBC, no friend to Republicans, acknowledged that McConnell has led on this issue. Chuck Todd said on the Morning Joe:

Let's give Mitch McConnell political credit here. The Senate Republican leader, he’s been sort of a one man band on this issue for two months. Even in the face of criticism from members of his own party saying hey, why are you focusing on this, this is a distraction, this looks like the Republicans are out of touch, just obsessed with only one issue and guess what, he's created a pretty good political problem for this White House.

With 16 Senate floor speeches and numerous interviews and op-eds, McConnell has been relentless. McConnell has pounded the Obama administration for announcing that it would close Gitmo when the administration has not found a country or a state willing to take the detainees. As the Washington Post noted,

Republicans, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), have used the Gitmo closure as evidence that Obama is not fundamentally serious about the defense of the homeland.

Obama must be particularly stung that so many Democrats abandoned him. Yesterday the Senate voted 90-6 to bar the use of federal funds to “transfer, release or incarcerate” Guantanamo detainees “to or within the United States.” Given how few votes McConnell has these days, that's some margin of victory.

It's more than just a political victory for McConnell and Republicans. No terrorist has ever escaped from Gitmo. Keeping Gitmo open keeps us safer than if its Islamofascists are relocated to prisons around the country to recruit and radicalize the U.S. prison population -- or worse, to escape and kill again.

Grayson Inches Closer

Secretary of State Trey Grayson has formed a finance committee to support his exploratory committee regarding a run for the U.S. Senate. Finally, a Republican who wants this seat badly enough to do some actual fundraising.

Grayson's finance committee includes members from across the state, including some Republicans with a strong history of raising lots of cash for GOP candidates. Here's the list.

In a perfect world, the formation of Grayson's finance committee would be with Sen. Jim Bunning's blessing, preferably given at the news conference in which Bunning announces that he will retire upon completing his term. Regardless, it is good news for Republicans across the country, not just in Kentucky, that we now have a serious candidate for this pivotal seat.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Biden's Loose Lips

Vice President Joe Biden's need to show off how much he knows (because he's so important) transcends even his own desire to survive. Not just political survival, but survival of a terrorist attack or act of war.

Biden revealed the location of the previously undisclosed secure bunker where Vice President Dick Cheney spent time after 9/11: it's at Biden's home, at the Naval Observatory.

Biden's stupidity is incomprehensible. And this is the guy that President Barack Obama picked to be one heartbeat away from the presidency.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Poll Shift: More Americans Pro Life Than Pro Choice

For the first time since pollsters have asked the question, more Americans say they are "pro-life" than "pro-choice." A new Gallup poll revealed that the margin is not all that close: 51-42 percent.

I have maintained that technology eventually would cause those who are pro-choice to rethink their position. As someone who distrusts government generally, I can understand the desire to keep reproduction private -- the government is as ill-equipped to meddle in the bedroom as it is in the marketplace. That reasoning falters the first time one hears the sound of a baby's heart beat just a couple weeks after conception. And the image of a baby sucking its thumb on a sonogram makes it hard to dismiss this as a fetus or a choice.

But this is a polling shift that occurred over the course of one year; something else is at play besides fetal heart rate monitors and sonograms. The change is as sudden as it is profound:

The new results, obtained from Gallup's annual Values and Beliefs survey, represent a significant shift from a year ago, when 50% were pro-choice and 44% pro-life. Prior to now, the highest percentage identifying as pro-life was 46%, in both August 2001 and May 2002.

Is the election of our first pro-choice president in years the cause of the shift? Or his demand that taxpayers subsidize abortions for poor people (even though the U. S. Supreme Court held that there is no constitutional right to such a subsidy)?

Gallup writes

With the first pro-choice president in eight years already making changes to the nation's policies on funding abortion overseas, expressing his support for the Freedom of Choice Act, and moving toward rescinding federal job protections for medical workers who refuse to participate in abortion procedures, Americans -- and, in particular, Republicans -- seem to be taking a step back from the pro-choice position. However, the retreat is evident among political moderates as well as conservatives.

It is possible that, through his abortion policies, Obama has pushed the public's understanding of what it means to be "pro-choice" slightly to the left, politically. While Democrats may support that, as they generally support everything Obama is doing as president, it may be driving others in the opposite direction.

Maybe this newest poll will cause the Obama administration to moderate on the issue. I'd rather lose an issue and save lives. At the very least, it should encourage Republicans to hold fast to our beliefs and reject pressure to move to the center.

Metro Council Votes to Waste More $

The Metro Counsel voted at 1:30 this morning to require that contractors on its projects that cost more than $500,000 pay the prevailing wage. This was a Democratic initiative, and the Republicans argued strenuously against it but did not have enough votes.

The Courier-Journal has done a good job covering the issue. The prevailing wage,

is defined by state statutes as the “predominant” wage paid to trades in a locality, in this case Jefferson County. It is calculated by taking the average of wages paid on all public projects, similar private projects and union wages.

The problem with it is that by forcing the city to pay union wages, it distorts the market -- it artificially inflates the cost of public construction by preventing anyone from undercutting the unions (and thereby saving taxpayers money).

Earlier this week, the C-J noted that the Chamber of Commerce and Greater Louisville, Inc. fear that the prevailing wage ordinance could put Louisville at a disadvantage when recruiting new businesses to move here. Why? Because the ordinance will apply even if the city is involved a small percent of a project that is primarily paid for with private dollars.

Billy Parson, president and CEO of the Associated Builders & Contractors of Kentuckiana, Inc., said the big difference between union and non-union wages is the amount paid for benefits.

Parson said union carpenters can expect to earn just over $32 an hour, including about $11 in benefits. Nonunion carpenters earn more like $23 an hour, with about $5 an hour going to benefits, he said.


"This is just government interference in the free market and will add unnecessary costs to projects," Parson said, adding that under prevailing wage, a carpenter with one year of experience could earn the same as a carpenter with 20 years of experience.

Those who support the bill say that it somehow levels the playing field.

Democratic council members Jim King (10th District) and Rick Blackwell (12th) are sponsoring the ordinance, saying it's necessary to ensure that local workers see a proper return on city tax dollars invested in big projects.

"It's important to make sure, as much as we can, that jobs produced by local tax dollars keep our local people working," Blackwell said. "For me, it's about local jobs for local workers."

But the ordinance discriminates against anyone -- including local workers -- who would underbid the going rate that the union charges. So this is not just about "local jobs for local workers" but rather government-subsidized jobs for local union workers.

The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition has been all over the prevailing wage issue as it relates to artificially inflating the cost of school construction. Check out their blog as this issue heats up.

Now that our federal government is the majority shareholder in GM ("Government Motors"), it seems our Metro government has decided to enter the construction business -- unless Mayor Jerry understands that this is not the time to inflate the cost of anything the city does and vetoes this ordinance.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hold the Lawyer Jokes

Narcissism is alive and well in the legal profession. Take the U of L law school graduate who was outraged that Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell gave a commencement speech in which McConnell revealed that (gasp!) he holds conservative views on many issues.

Adam Jarboe, a 2009 graduate of University of Lousiville's Brandeis School of Law, took his liberal angst to the Courier-Journal, which dutifully printed it as a letter to the editor.

Not content to have a national figure -- who happens to be a U of L alum -- give a policy address at his commencement, Jarboe whines that McConnell did not pay adequate obeisance to the fact that the graduate had, well, graduated:

Graduation day was supposed to be my day. The day I worked toward for three painstaking years as I trudged through law school. The day was supposed to be about my accomplishments and those of my classmates. [Emphasis added.]

Or to paraphrase the nascent lawyer, "It's all about me, Me, ME!!!"

It is unclear why Jarboe "trudged through law school." This was the University of Louisville, not the University of Siberia. Perhaps he's a plodder. Or maybe trudging is a new phys ed initative to combat obesity. In any event, I hope he has a job, because most clients want the attorney who whizzed or skated through law school, not the guy who "trudged."

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and guess that Jarboe is no conservative:

It is very sad that our final memory of the law school experience boils down to a U.S. senator taking our day and turning it into a stump speech for the "NoBama" campaign as it dwindles further into irrelevance.

Clearly, Jarboe's problem was not that McConnell discussed issues of public import but rather that Jarboe does not like McConnell's positions . Doubtless he wishes that President Barack Obama was giving the commencement address at U of L instead of Notre Dame.

McConnell told the graduates, “Starting today, your life as a lawyer means a lifetime of tackling issues vital to our country. " Rather than resting on platitudes, McConnell gave specific examples of some of the most pressing legal issues of our time, including the role of a judge in upholding the rule of law:

The constitutional rights of foreign fighters, Guantanamo Bay, the role of a justice on the highest court in the land—these are serious issues. As lawyers, you will have the privilege of shaping them, as you launch your legal career.

And if that prospect makes you excited, thrilled, even a little nervous—congratulations. You’ve chosen the right profession.

McConnell's big failure, according to Jarboe, is that

he didn't bother congratulating us in any significant way or recognizing that our ideas are the key to the future. (Because, it's all about me, Me, ME!!!)

So congratulations, Jarboe. As soon as you pass the bar exam, you can call yourself "esquire," unless you feel that is too pretentious for a guy who "trudged through law school." You are about to learn that it is not about you. It's about the client.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Kathleen Sullivan Would Be a Great Justice

Stanford Law professor Kathleen Sullivan has apparently made the short list to replace U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter.

Some conservatives are complaining that she should be disqualified because she failed the California bar exam the first time she took it.

Kathleen Sullivan taught me (and Michelle Obama) criminal law at Harvard Law School. It was her first year on the faculty, as I recall. She was a terrific teacher. All Harvard Law professors are bright but not all of them are human. Sullivan is human. She actually cared about her students and wanted us to succeed as lawyers and as people.

Now, this is not to say that I accept the Obama view that judges must be empathetic. Rather, I refuse to see this woman unfairly characterized as unqualified. That she failed the hardest bar exam in the country just shows that she didn't prepare adequately: she needed a lesson in humility when she was younger (who doesn't?).

Anyone who has ever met Sullivan can see in short order that she is highly intelligent. There can be no serious suggestion (as there was with Harriet Myers) that she lacks the intellectual firepower to survive on the Court.

Unlike many members of the Harvard Law faculty at the time, Sullivan was open to divergent points of view -- that is, she didn't shut down conservatives just because she might not agree with us. In fact, Sullivan's teaching method did not particularly disclose much about her politics (though she was a Larry Tribe protege, so we assumed that she was liberal). I do not think she would legislate from the bench; I expect that she'd apply law to facts as impartially as humanly possible.

Sullivan's sexuality neither qualifies her for the Court nor disqualifies her. It is irrelevant.

I probably won't like many of her votes, if she is nominated and confirmed. But conservatives need to remember: our team lost. The best we can hope for is someone who is smart, ethical, fair and has the humiltiy to recognize that the Supreme Court is not a super-legislature for imposing one's personal agenda. Sullivan is all that and more.

McConnell: Keep These Thugs at Gitmo

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has a piece in The Hill's Congress Blog that highlights three of the terrorists who would be released from Gitmo -- and perhaps housed on U.S. soil -- if the Obama administration persists in closing Gitmo. McConnell has complained for weeks that the administration announced its intent to close Gitmo even though it has no plan whatsoever on where to put the enemy combatants housed there.

McConnell notes that

[One]reason we haven’t been attacked is because some men who are most likely to do so are locked up in Guantanamo. These inmates aren’t spectators. They’re the enemy. They’re the plotters, the planners, the funders, the ones who pull the trigger.

. . .

McConnell highlights three of the terrorist who -- if Obama has his way -- might be coming to a prison near you:

Thug No. 1

One of the men who’s locked away safely at Guantanamo is Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, the man who actually organized the 9/11 attacks. We captured him while he was planning follow-up attacks to 9/11, including a plot to destroy a West Coast skyscraper. If we hadn’t captured Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, he may very well have succeeded in carrying out the same kind of attack on the West Coast that he carried out on the East Coast.

This is a man who boasts about using his, quote, ‘blessed right hand’ to decapitate the American journalist Daniel Pearl. And he’s unrepentant: earlier this year, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad joined a number of other detainees at Guantanamo in declaring themselves, quote, ‘terrorists to the bone,’ and proclaiming September 11, 2001, as a, quote, ‘blessed’ day.


Thug No. 2

Another inmate who still declares himself a ‘terrorist to the bone’ is Ali Abd al-Azeez Ali, who served as a key lieutenant for KSM on several plots against the United States and the United Kingdom, including the 9/11 attacks. During what he describes as the, quote, ‘Blessed 11 September operation,’ Ali transferred money to U.S.-based operatives and served as a sort of travel agent for some of the hijackers. This man is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans.

Thug No. 3

Another terrorist at Guantanamo who is responsible for the death of Americans is Abd Al-Rahim Al Nashiri, who masterminded the attack on the USS Cole, which killed 17 U.S. sailors in 2000. When he was arrested, Nashiri was planning new terrorist attacks, including a plot to crash an airplane into a Western naval vessel and a plan targeting a U.S. housing compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

And these are just three of many. None of them has been able to kill another American since they were "detained" at Gitmo.

Why mess with success?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Keep Gitmo Detainees Out of Kentucky

The Obama Administration has not said what it will do with all the detainees after it closes the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. The administration is not saying because it does not know. Plainly, the administration has no plan for where to put these thugs. Germany doesn't want them, and Saudi Arabia has refused them. (So much for the Obama World Appeasement Tour making America lovable again.)

Even Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid is complaining about the administration's lack of specific on where it will send the terrorists.

A state senator in Louisiana has introduced a resolution stating that Louisiana does not want the detainees.

Kentucky needs to do the same during the upcoming special session. All accounts of the overcrowding at the Fayette County jail suggest that we cannot even accommodate our home bred criminals. We don't need to supplement the population with jihadists.

Such a resolution is perhaps the only proactive thing our state legislature can do that won't require a single tax dollar. So let's make clear that if Obama wants to persist in his foolhardy plan to close Gitmo, we don't want these detainees in our backyard.

Update: France has agreed to take one (1) Gitmo detainee! I feel so much safer.

Joe Gerth Mocks Bunning

Joe Gerth from the Courier-Journal has taken his investigative skills to Sen. Jim Bunning's campaign site, and results would be funny if they weren't so pathetic. Bunning's campaign site looks slick enough at first glance, replete with photos and endorsements.

And there's a nice letter from Bunning that says, "Almost six years ago, Kentuckians elected me to serve them in the U.S. Senate and I have been privileged to represent them. It was a competitive and close race that came down to the final stretch, but we won the open seat by a mere 6,766 votes."

Six years ago? 6,766 votes? He won relection four years ago. By nearly 23,000 votes.

Wait a minute.

And those endoresements are from the 2004 election.

This website hasn't been updated in four years.

Why does his wife allow him to persist in this alleged campaign? Or has Mrs. Bunning tried to talk some sense into her husband and he refuses to listen to her (as he does everyone else)?

Somebody, please make him stop.

Bill Lamb Blasts Bunning

Fox 41's Bill Lamb minced no words last night regarding Sen. Jim Bunning. In Lamb's Point of View segment, he said that Bunning is "not a bad guy" but is a "bad politician." Bunning -- who recently refused to speak to a Fox 41 reporter, apparently because he's mad at Lamb -- is "clearly no longer a viable candidate."

Lamb dismissed Bunning's attempt to blame Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell for Bunning's central problem -- that he is unelectable. "In blaming just about everyone but himself for his political woes," Bunning "fails to see the real problem."

"While Sen. Bunning might not like what he's hearing, he would do well to listen to his critics instead of dismissing them as disloyal traitors."

Those who have publicly or privately told Bunning not to run are not traitors; they are trying to save him from the embarrassment of ending a distinguished career with a crushing loss. Friends speak the truth to one another, whether it's spinach on the teeth, toilet paper on the shoe or a reelection bid that has taken on the stench of certain defeat.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Bunning in His Own Words

Twice during Sen. Jim Bunning's conference call with reporters, an ambulance blared its siren in the background. It seemed a fitting sound effect for a campaign that does not have enough energy (or money) to get off the ground.

Bunning was quite articulate -- and genuinely conservative -- when discussing policy. That made the rest of the call even sadder: when taking questions about his own race, Bunning sounded unhinged. His logic became hard to follow and his tone became shrill and condescending.

For example, Bunning said that he won't be doing much polling not because his campaign is broke but rather because "there are a lot of free polls coming out so why should I poll?" He cited the Courier-Journal as an example of a "non-partisan poll" that he could rely on. And he did not appear to be joking or engaging in sarcasm. To be sure, whatever media outlet commissions a poll would like us to accept it as non-partisan, but that's a leap of faith no serious candidate can afford to take.

However, Bunning is not relying on the C-J to get him reelected. He's talking to a former adviser from the McCain campaign (and we know how well that turned out). Heaven help the poor man.

Bunning insisted that it was his idea for Secretary of State Trey Grayson to form an exploratory committee for statewide federal office, and that he "would have preferred Trey filed earlier." Yet Bunning maintains that the Greyson exploratory committee could be used down the road: "people don't always run in the year they file."

He conceded that Grayson's exploratory committee could be used for the 2010 Senate race but said that it also could be used for "some larger race in 2011." Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but there is no federal race in Kentucky in 2011 -- barring a special election.

He denied that the Grayson committee would dry up his own fundraising, in direct contradiction of his complaint that Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's fundraising had precluded Bunning from raising much money by competing for scarce dollars.

Bunning's logic on McConnell was flawed in other respects. On the one hand, he complained that McConnell "wants to run everybody." On the other hand, Bunning attributed every Republican Senate seat lost to McConnell. He called McConnell "selfish," notwithstanding that it was McConnell who saved Bunning from losing his last election. Bunning's real problem is that he cannot win without McConnell once again rescuing him.

Bunning said he "won't walk into 2010 with less than $1 million," conceding that the race will cost between $7-10 million. His next financial report is due in mid July.

Thank goodness Trey Grayson is not waiting to mid July to see the inevitable -- that Bunning's 30 year career in public service, while honorable and consistently conservative, is coming to an end that's painful to watch.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

More Liberal Hypocrisy

For those whose hypocrisy meters did not explode over Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner announcing that he will crack down on tax cheats (other than himself), check out Sen. John Kerry's Congressional hearings.

It seems that when not wind surfing or injecting Botox, Kerry enjoys getting the print from dying newspapers all over his well-manicured hands. He's worried that the likes of the Boston Globe stand on the verge of bankruptcy because the little people no longer subscribe. He is on the case, according to Yahoo!:

Sen. John Kerry said Wednesday's hearing on the future of journalism comes as many papers falter and new ways of delivering information multiply by the day.

The Boston Globe in Kerry's home state of Massachusetts is the latest major paper facing the threat of closure unless it can cut costs.

Kerry said steps must be taken so the news media can stay diverse and independent.


"Diverse and independent" . . . wonder if Kerry will propose a newspaper bailout, with President Barack Obama as Editor-in-Chief. (Hey, he was president of the Harvard Law Review; he has more experience for E-i-C than for Commander-in-Chief).

If Kerry & Friends go the newspaper bailout route, our own Courier-Journal might find itself in the awkward position of urging Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to seek an earmark.