Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review are pleased to see conservatives beginning to coalesce around Ted Cruz. They applaud the State Department for declaring ISIS guilty of genocide but scold the administration for apparently not planning to do much about it. And they react to a Trump supporter telling CNN that convention riots could be a good thing and that they would not be negative riots.
Archives for March 2016
President Obama nominated appeals court judge Merrick B. Garland to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, and a conservative legal expert says Garland is about as good of a a choice as Republicans could hope for but should still decline to consider any nominee until after the November elections.
Wednesday morning, Obama introduced Garland as his nominee in a Rose Garden ceremony. The 63-yearold Garland is the chief judge on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Obama’s choice caught many people by surprise.
“I think it’s deeply political,” said Ethics and Public Policy Center President Ed Whelan, who clerked for Scalia and later held prominent posts on Capitol Hill and in the Justice Department.
“The White House, if it had its druthers, if it had a Senate Democratic majority, would have gone with someone who is much more aggressively left-wing to excite the base among other things,” said Whelan.
Garland was believed to be on Obama’s short list in 2010, when the president ultimately nominated Elena Kagan to succeed Justice John Paul Stevens. While not at all urging Senate action, Whelan says Garland does have some strong qualities.
“At the risk of engaging in the soft bigotry of low expectations, I do think that Judge Garland is about the best one could hope for from this president. That doesn’t mean that Republicans should act at all, much less confirm,” he said.
“Merrick Garland is a remarkably intelligent, very decent man. He deserves to be treated with respect in the process,” said Whelan. “I think in all respects he comes across as a very standard liberal, again one of very high ability.”
Democrats and the mainstream media instantly labeled Garland a moderate who is unquestionably qualified for the high court. Observers say his opinions on the appeal court show he is generally tough on criminals and defers frequently to police and to the executive branch on matters of expanded power.
Gun rights advocates are not at all happy with the idea of Garland on the Supreme Court. In 2007, a three-judge panel of the D.C court of appeals voted to overturn the ban on handguns in the District of Columbia. Garland subsequently voted to send the case to the full appeals court.
In a statement, Gun Owners of America Executive Director Erich Pratt says that vote alone should disqualify Garland.
“He supported the DC gun ban in 2007, voting to reconsider the Heller case after a three judge panel had ruled against the ban.
“Hence, we don’t have to speculate as to how Garland would vote on Heller if confirmed to the Supreme Court. He’s already voted against Heller once before, thereby showing he’d effectively rip the Second Amendment from the Constitution,” said Pratt.
While experts debate Garland’s record in nearly two decades on the appeals court, Whelan says that paper trail is largely irrelevant.
“The particular cases that come up before any lower court, with Supreme Court precedent guiding them, are not going to provide the clearest indication of anything really. The New York Times has an interesting graphic today, predicting that Merrick Garland would end up slightly to the left of Elena Kagan and would consolidate a five-justice liberal majority to make the court more liberal than it’s been in 50 years,” said Whelan.
Bottom line, says Whelan, beware of anyone labeled a moderate.
“Anyone who is presented as a moderate, as Ruth Bader Ginsberg was back in 1993, ends up becoming a solid member of a liberal majority. I see nothing in Judge Garland’s record that would make me think it would be any different with him,” said Whelan.
But all assessment of Garland’s record for the next seven-and-a-half months is sheer academics for Whelan. He says Republican senators are taking exactly the right approach.
“I think this is a seat that needs to remain vacant through the election. I think Senate Republicans have drawn entirely the right line. If the American people choose to ratify the direction in which Merrick Garland would take the court, they have the opportunity to do that in November. The Senate could act on his nomination afterwards if it chose to,” said Whelan.
On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, reaffirmed that their refusal to consider the nomination had nothing to do with the person chosen by Obama but was simply a matter of giving Americans a voice on this critical issue through the ballot box.
A few GOP senators struck a different tone, with Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., saying he is ready to give the nomination his consideration. A handful of other Republicans said they would be willing to meet with Garland.
Whelan is not worried about Republicans keeping a united front.
“I think it will be difficult to keep together. Meeting with a judge is a trivial step for an individual senator to take. I don’t think that’s going to reflect any cracking of the coalition,” said Whelan.
One unexpected wrinkle in the plans of Senate Republicans wanting to wait for a president of their own party to win the White House is the emergence of Donald Trump as the most likely nominee at this point. Whelan says that shouldn’t alter GOP strategy at all.
“I have no particular confidence that Donald Trump would make strong nominations to the Supreme Court. But the chance that he would support a conservative is far higher than the chance that President Obama or a President Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders would,” said Whelan.
“There’s no significant downside to letting this play out,” he added.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Ian Tuttle of National Review discuss Tuesday’s sweeping wins for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and the realities going forward in both parties. They also assess what went wrong for Marco Rubio in the 2016 race. And they slam Trump for suggesting he must be given the nomination even without a majority of delegates or there will be riots.
Republicans are fuming after President Obama reversed his position on offshore oil and gas exploration and will now refuse to allow the sale of leases to energy companies to work off the Atlantic coast from Florida to Virginia.
Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-Texas, is a member of the House Natural Resources Committee. He says this is par fro the course from President Obama.
“Once again, he has shown that it is the exception when he keeps his word, rather than the rule,” said Gohmert, who offered examples of a longstanding pattern of broken Obama promises. ‘If you like your insurance you can keep it. If you like your doctor you can keep it. For me, marriage is between a man and a woman.'”
Gohmert also cited a famous movie to scold anyone who thought Obama would keep his word on allowing offshore drilling.
“I’m constantly reminded of that scene in ‘Animal House,’ where the older fraternity brother puts his arm around Flounder after they’ve just demolished his brother’s car. He basically says, ‘Hey, you messed up. You trusted us,'” said Gohmert.
“President Obama has just good-naturedly said, ‘Oh, you actually thought I was going to keep that promise and let you drill out there because that would make us energy independent. You fools. Don’t you realize I just gave Iran a hundred billion dollars. Do you think I’m really going to be serious about becoming energy independent?'” said Gohmert.
Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, is the former chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. He says the administration is deliberately trying to deny revenue to the states.
“Keeping the Atlantic off-limits basically establishes a second moratorium, which has been an objective of the Obama administration for years now, despite the significant economic contributions of the oil and gas industry,” said Vitter in a statement to us. “I will continue fighting the Obama administration’s anti-energy and anti-jobs agenda.”
While energy companies are crying foul in the wake of the Obama policy reversal, environmental groups are rejoicing because they see offshore oil and gas drilling as a threat to the environment both in general and in the event of a disaster like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon episode in the Gulf of Mexico.
Gohmert says ecological fears over offshore exploration have persisted for years and his state is proof those concerns are unwarranted.
“I remember when I was people said, ‘No, if you let them drill off the coast, it’ll kill off all the fishing,'” said Gohmert. “They started drilling and nowadays, most everybody on the coast knows that the drilling platforms have been a haven and have been a real boon to fishing,” said Gohmert.
The congressman says fish and other aquatic life enjoy the drilling rigs so much, old platforms are being converted into artificial reefs. Beyond that, he says there wouldn’t be any eyesores at the beaches since the policy on the Atlantic coast was for all exploration to occur at least 50 miles away from shore.
Vitter says the Obama policy actually hurts environmental efforts. He sponsors legislation that would allow states to gain more revenue from drilling and using the money to preserve the environment.
“We in Louisiana put our offshore oil revenue directly into coastal restoration, which is absolutely vital since we’re losing the size of a football field of land every hour,” said Vitter.
So what can proponents of offshore drilling do? Gohmert says to go after the money.
“We have the power of the purse to force him to do what he should do,” said Gohmert. “The only way we hold his feet to the fire is to get both houses that will protect our roles under the Constitution.”
Gohmert says lawmakers need to target whatever funding Obama care about most, from appropriations for the Environmental Protection Agency to taxpayer payments for Obama’s vacations and golf outings.
He believes House Republicans have the votes to force Obama’s hand, but he says Senate GOP leaders need to be ready for a fight.
“It’s going to take Republican leaders in the Senate to be a leader and say, ‘I’m reclaiming majority leader status that I’ve had for over a year. I just haven’t used it. We’re going to use it now and we’re going to stop the president from violating the law,'” said Gohmert.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review react to Hillary Clinton saying no Americans were lost in Libya. They also discuss Ben Carson endorsing Trump and saying if he’s bad president it will only last four years. And they have fun with Trump taking a shot at his friend Chris Christie to discuss how John Kasich has been out of Ohio a lot.
Political protests leading to violence against police and the murder of yet another officer show violence against law enforcement reaching a fevered pitch, and Manhattan Institute expert Heather MacDonald says politicians and the media are ignoring the statistics and giving credence for increased hatred against the men and women in blue.
On Friday, protesters forced the cancellation of a Donald Trump rally at the University of Illinois-Chicago and then spilled into the streets where they confronted police, resulting in injury to two officers. Sunday, a young police officer was ambushed and murdered in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
MacDonald, who is author of “The War on Cops: How the New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe,” says we are not seeing some statistical anomaly. She says we’re in the midst of a troubling cultural slide when it comes to respect for those in authority.
“Cops are certainly seeing greater hostility growing towards them. When you have not just President Obama but now the two Democratic contenders for the presidency routinely saying that cops think that black lives are cheap and we have a racist criminal justice system, what cops are seeing on the streets is more resistance to their lawful authority,” said MacDonald.
She says routine stops are now fraught with danger in many parts of the country.
“It’s a real breakdown of law and order in the inner city now. When cops go to make an arrest, they find themselves routinely surrounded by people, cursing at them, throwing things at them, throwing diapers, throwing ice-hardened bottles, brick,” said MacDonald.
“It’s not surprising that that kind of hostility is going to result sometimes in even more lethal use of force,” said MacDonald.
She adds such behavior is only going to result in more tragedy.
“The resistance to arrest that is happening now at such high levels and such dangerous levels in the inner city is wrong and it’s going to lead to an escalation of force on the part of the officers and possibly putting innocent bystanders’ lives at risk,” said MacDonald.
In addition to slamming politicians for fanning the impression that police are hostile to people of color, MacDonald says the media are also doing the public a major disservice.
“There’s always a mysterious jump between public rhetoric and an act to that degree of heinousness,” said MacDonald, in reference to the Maryland murder of 28-year-old officer Jacai Colson.
“We have a media culture now that actively encourages the Black Lives Matter movement, which is based on complete lies about shootings. The media buy into the narrative about this being a fundamentally racist society and police sort of as the vanguard of that racism,” she added.
MacDonald says the facts shatter the narrative, including the notion that police are killing black people at alarming rates.
“Police officers are two-and-a-half times more likely to be killed by a black person than a black male is to be killed by a police officer,” said MacDonald.
She says additional research shows whites and Hispanics are more likely to be killed by police than blacks. Her data show 12 percent of murders among whites and Hispanics come from police. That number is four percent among black homicides, which are overwhelming committed by other black civilians.
MacDonald says the current or the next president could accomplish a great deal of healing by helping all Americans see the truth. She says for now, the political left sees an advantage in perpetuating the narrative and inciting violence at places like Trump rallies.
“I think there’s a desire to try to incite violence at these rallies,” said MacDonald.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review discuss the ugly scene in Chicago Friday as protesters trigger chaos at a Trump rally and spill into the streets. We unpack the very public dysfunction at Breitbart News. And we slam John Kasich for his clueless campaign strategy.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton says there needs to be much for focus on national security issues by Republican presidential candidates to convince voters they are ready to be commander-in-chief and would be far better than Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
Virtually all of the Democratic debates have focused heavily on domestic issues, with the exception of the event that came just one day after the November terrorist attacks in Paris. Republicans had one debate devoted to national security, but most of the other encounters have also spent less time on foreign policy.
Bolton says that’s a disservice to voters.
“There still hasn’t been enough discussion of the issue. There has been intermittently. I think consideration of terrorism, how to deal with ISIS and the expanding threat of radical Islam (has been discussed at length),” said Bolton.
“I don’t really consider these debates. I consider them serial press conferences,” he added, in reference to the brief time given to answer questions and contrast positions.
He says the media should be doing a better job.
“The moderators should be asking more questions about it because the most important job of the president is to keep the country safe internationally. We need to hear what the various candidates’ views are,” said Bolton.
Bolton says Republicans could build a big advantage by discussing national security issues more because Democrats are largely ignoring them.
“The people are going to be deprived of a real opportunity to judge among the candidates. That’s why I have long argued that the Republican Party is, of the two parties, it’s the only one that’s the party of national security. If there’s no debate in the Republican Party, there’s not going to be a debate at all. I think that’s very dangerous for the country,” said Bolton.
While the position of the candidates is important, Bolton believes voters can get an important glimpse into how candidates approach a national security crisis by hearing them discuss issues now.
“It’s not just their views on what China’s doing in the South China Sea that threatens us or what Russia’s doing in eastern Europe that threatens us. It’s how people think about these issues. The next president is going to face threats and challenges that we can’t even predict at the moment,” said Bolton.
“It’s critical people have a way of judging their character, their integrity and their ability to deal with problems,” said Bolton.
On top of that, Bolton stresses there are many critical issues facing the next president in addition to the fight against radical Islamic terrorism.
“Terrorism is the most imminent threat we face. But there are larger strategic threats from China in East Asia, from Russia in East Europe and others in this hemisphere, the Castro brothers and the mistakes President Obama has made opening relations with them, possibly giving the Guantanamo naval facility back to Cuba. There’s a long list,” he said.
In Thursday’s debate, the biggest international flashpoint was over how the president should approach the Middle East peace process. Donald Trump said he is very pro-Israel but would approach talks in an impartial way. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio say they would stand with Israel and John Kasich believes the peace process is largely a waste of time right now.
Bolton says the U.S. must stand with Israel or else no one else will, although he says given all the other problems in the Middle East, he does not expect the next president to address the Israeli-Palestinian question anytime soon.
Bolton briefly flirted a 2016 bid of his own in order to keep the focus on foreign policy. Instead he says he is in communication with multiple candidates and provides feedback on their ideas for a wide range of issues.
He is not endorsing anyone at this time, but Bolton is perfectly willing to sound the alarm as to why Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders should not be commander-in-chief.
When it comes to Clinton, he says her entire at the State Department is a red flag to the nation, especially after the disastrous response in Benghazi.
“It’s just a dereliction of duty, really, to see your people in danger, not just in Libya but potentially all around the Middle East, and to go home. It sends a signal within the bureaucracy that the secretary doesn’t care enough to stay at her desk, late at night if need be, until all Americans are accounted for,” said Bolton.
He also says Hillary’s handling of State Department email on an unsecured, private server also depicts a troubling lack of judgment.
In Wednesday’s Democratic debate, Bernie Sanders came under fire for comments he made in 1985, suggesting the Cuban people weren’t all that upset with the Castro regime. When asked to clarify his current position, Sanders lamented that Cuba remains an authoritarian state but also lauded it’s work in education and health care.
Bolton was horrified.
“It shows what an astoundingly left-wing radical this man still is at an age when common sense normally begins to descend on people,” said Bolton, while slamming the Obama administration for getting nothing in exchange for opening diplomatic relations with Cuba.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review applaud a substantive debate but are glad the debate season is just about over. They also shake their heads as Dr. Ben Carson endorses Donald Trump, the man who once compared Carson to a child molester. And they dissect the Trump campaign’s response to allegations campaign manager Corey Lewandowski roughed up a female reporter.
The Alabama Supreme Court upheld an earlier decision banning state officials from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples last week, and while the legal road is far from over for traditional marriage supporters, they believe the facts of the case and the Constitution are on their side.
The fight stems from early 2015, when Alabama justices ruled early in 2015 that probate judges should not obey federal court orders striking down the state’s laws defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2015 that the Constitution contains the right to same-sex marriage, offices of probate judges began issuing licenses again. That policy was challenged by Liberty Counsel, leading to the most recent ruling on March 3.
“They put their stamp of approval on what they had previously done. The net result is they are reaffirming that marriage in Alabama is the union of a man and a woman and that the probate judges are barred from issuing marriage licences to same-sex couples. That is the net result and that is a huge victory,” said Liberty Counsel Chairman Mathew Staver.
But it’s not the end of the fight. Staver believes the actions of probate judges on marriage licenses will thrust the issue back into the courts one way or another.
“One option is that the probate judges will not issue the same-sex marriage licenses. They might be sued to try to get them to comply to issue the license,” said Staver. “On the other hand, there are other probate judges who are issuing the licenses. they might be sued because they are in contempt of the Alabama Supreme Court opinion.”
Staver elaborated on the latter issue and why refusing the Alabama Supreme Court decision could mean big trouble for probate judges in the state.
“They are governed by the Alabama Supreme Court, in particular the chief justice as the chief administrative officer of the judiciary. And they have to abide by what the supreme court says. If they do not, they can be found in contempt of court. They can even be removed from office,” said Staver.
But does the Alabama Supreme Court have a chance of winning this fight in the long term given the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year? Staver believes it can.
First, he says the flimsy rationale for the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges is critical.
“The Supreme Court’s 5-4 opinion is just that. It’s an opinion and it doesn’t represent the rule of law. It’s illegitimate. It’s not founded in the Constitution or in any of the court’s precedents. And it is simply contrary to millennia of human history,” said Staver.
But he also argues Obergefell only applies to a few states since the court ruled on a case coming from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which covers Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.
“It doesn’t apply to Alabama even if in fact it was the rule of law because it only applies to the parties in that particular case. None of the people in Alabama, none of the probate judges were parties of that U.S. Supreme Court decision,” said Staver.
Does this mean U.S. Supreme Court decisions do not have to be followed if opponents believe there is no constitutional basis for the decision? Will there be an endless ping pong of cases between the state and federal systems when states decide to defy a court ruling?
Staver says the precedent is still for U.S. Supreme Court decisions to be followed but there are exceptions and we see them in history, including the infamous 1857 Dred Scott decision, in which the high court upheld the Fugitive Slave Act, denying equal rights for black citizens.
“That case came out of Wisconsin. When it went back to Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Supreme Court said, ‘We’re not going to abide by that. We refuse to implement that rule.’ They continued to insist they would not follow the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Staver.
“To this day, they pride themselves that they were on the right side of the Constitution,” he added.
Staver says presidents have ignored Supreme Court decisions too.
“Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln (and) Andrew Jackson resisted unlawful, illegitimate legal actions. In the case of Abraham Lincoln, he famously advocated that the Dred Scott decision was illegitimate and did not represent the rule of law,” said Staver.
He says the bottom line is no branch of the federal government is all-powerful, including the Supreme Court.
“The Supreme Court has gotten way beyond its original authority, way beyond the Constitution. It doesn’t have unlimited power any more than the president or the Congress. It has certain prescribed powers,” said Staver.
“When they walk outside of those powers, outside of that authority, they are on their own. We cannot and should not, because to do so is literally unconstitutional. It’s lawless and it undermines the very republic that we love,” said Staver.
He says an overreaching, activist judiciary is one of the greatest threats facing the United States.
“What we have right now is a cancer, a cancer that will eat up the republic, a cancer that will undermine our freedom, a cancer that replaces ‘We the People’ with five individuals who are unelected at the Supreme Court,” said Staver. “We need to excise out the cancer. The judiciary, starting with the U.S. Supreme Court, has become the cancer of our basic liberties. We need to bring it back into check.”