Today's "legal context" article in the NYT shifted the focus of the Alito confirmation hearings from abortion to the limits of presidential power. Once again, reporter Adam Liptak offers a confusing round-up of the issues Alito will likely face in the hearings today and during the week.
The opening line of the article, however, is key when asking some later questions:
"The opinion is more than 50 years old, and it is not even binding precedent."
The opinion Liptak is referring to is a 1952 decision from Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company v. Sawyer, in which President Truman attempted to sieze private steel mills in order to put down labor disputes during the Korean War. The Truman Administration argued that it was in the interest of national security to have steady steel production, but this position was rebuked a court which felt Truman was over-stepping his presidential authority.
A piece in today's NYT by Adam Liptak has numerous holes and discrepencies (just some documented here) that can be expected from a newspaper who officially endorsed the Democrats in the last two elections.
Apart from bringing up the name Ray Bork twice (even quoting him in an attempt to make it sound like Alito's words) and neglecting to mention any left-wing judges by name or deed, the piece is a confusing attempt to frame the confirmation hearing and subsequent issues that may arise during the proccedings.
Biggest among the potholes was the third graph, written thusly:
"Judge Roberts replaced Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, meaning that his nomination was a one-for-one, conservative-for-conservative swap. If Judge Alito is confirmed, he will replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, whose vote was often the fulcrum on which the Rehnquist court's decisions turned."
[This article was reprinted at length and with favor in "Inside Politics" in the Washington Times today (Thursday).]
A poll by Rasmussen Reports today (Wednesday) illustrates the pervasive dishonesty of the American press in dealing with the NY Times story about the National Security Agency’s (NSA) intercepts of international communications. There are both minor dishonesties and major ones in this story as first reported by the Times and later a gaggle of reports throughout the media.
The major dishonesties are demonstrated by the two questions asked in the Rasmussen poll just reported. Here’s the first, and the responses:
Should the National Security Agency be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States? Yes 64% No 23%
The key fact is that these conversations cross international boundaries. Many parts of the MSM persist in calling this “domestic” spying. This is a lie. These calls are international, not domestic.
Here’s the second question and the responses:
Is President Bush the first President to authorize a program for intercepting telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States? Yes 26% No 48%
In an amazingly influential way, the New York Times article on NSA intelligence gathering last week has touched off a feeding frenzy in the press, where every outlet is rushing to get out their stories about how the Bush administration is violating the rights of average American citizens in their paranoid fantasy about terrorist enemies. The latest entry comes from U.S. News & World Report as they reveal, in news that's sure to shock America, that the government is actually taking concerns about possible nuclear terrorism seriously.
In search of a terrorist nuclear bomb, the federal government since 9/11 has run a far-reaching, top secret program to monitor radiation levels at over a hundred Muslim sites in the Washington, D.C., area, including mosques, homes, businesses, and warehouses, plus similar sites in at least five other cities, U.S. News has learned.
(Down at the bottom of the piece, we find out that "officials... reject any notion that the program specifically has targeted Muslims. Which means that they're either lying, or putting political correctness ahead of efficiency.) In any event, this is obviously a bad thing.
Oh, you don't think it's obviously a bad thing? Well, read further.
Today’s New York Times featured a Carl Hulse article that depicted the future of the Republican Party as being almost as bright as Alaska for the next several weeks. In Hulse’s view, just about everything that has gone wrong in America in 2005 can be linked to Republicans, while, conversely, in a 27 paragraph piece, there was only one paragraph that suggested any problems for the party on the opposite side of the aisle. Frankly, this article read more like a press release from a political strategist than a column in a leading, national newspaper.
First, Hulse set the stage: “The ugly debate in the House on Friday over the Iraq war served as an emotional send-off for a holiday recess, capturing perfectly the political tensions coursing through the House and Senate in light of President Bush's slumping popularity, serious party policy fights, spreading ethics investigations and the approach of crucial midterm elections in less than a year.”
He then established the goal: “Capitol Hill was always certain to be swept up in brutal political gamesmanship as lawmakers headed into 2006 - the midpoint of this second presidential term and, perhaps, a chance for Democrats to cut into Republican majorities or even seize power in one chamber or the other.”
Then, Hulse enumerated all the Republican shortcomings:
There’s been a lot of suggestion by the media lately -- especially since the elections last Tuesday -- that the Republican Party is in dire trouble, and could lose control of the House and the Senate in 2006. For those interested in a side of this debate that the media are ignoring, you should watch today’s “Meet the Press,” in particular the second-half with DNC chairman Howard Dean.
Some of the pertinent exchanges of note:
DR. DEAN: I think Democrats always have to stand up and tell the truth and that's what we're doing. The truth is that the president misled America when he sent us to war. They did--he even didn't tell the truth in the speech he gave. First of all, think there were a lot of veterans were kind of upset that the president chose their day to make a partisan speech.
On NBC’s “Meet The Press” this morning, host Tim Russert stocked his panel with three left-of-center journalists – Nina Totenberg of NPR, Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times, and David Gregory of NBC News – to discuss the events of the week. When they got to the nomination of Samuel Alito to replace retiring justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Russert mentioned that when Bill Clinton was president, both Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, despite obvious Liberal leanings, were approved by a strong majority of both Democrats and Republicans. “And they say, ‘Why can't we have the same courtesy to conservative jurists under President Bush?’"
In response, Totenberg said: “If you look at the Ginsburg nomination, for example, she'd been a judge, I think, for 12 years. She'd been, actually, a pretty conservative liberal judge, if you can be such a thing.” This could be the first time that anyone has referred to the former general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union as being “pretty conservative.”
As the discussion ensued, Totenberg expressed frustration with the president’s second choice to replace Sandra Day O’Connor:
Within seconds of President Bush finishing his announcement of Samuel Alito as the nominee to replace Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court, the CNN “American Morning” team was ready to attack and criticize this decision (video links to follow). First, Candy Crowley said, “I think what you're going to see is some disappointment that this is obviously a white male replacing a female, leaving just one female on the Supreme Court.”
Next up was Ed Henry:
“Candy is absolutely right. She set the stage perfectly. The word I'm hearing over and over from Democrats is ‘provocative.’ They basically say the president, A, did not consult with Democrats as he did with Chief Justice John Roberts, as he did before Harriet Miers was nominated. Also that they feel that Judge Alito is more conservative than they expected. They were hoping more of a consensus choice. This is already opening the door for Democrats to try to make the case that there are extraordinary circumstances here, i.e. that they may filibuster the nominee. That's why you heard the president immediately say that Judge Alito deserves an up or down vote. That is code for don't filibuster this nominee.”
In wake of the Harriet Miers withdrawal of her nomination to the US Supreme Court, the Associated Press wasted little time in releasing an article trashing conservatives. Terrence Hunt found plenty of people to quote in regards to how "extreme" the Republican party is, but could find no one with any reasonable counter-arguments.
He quotes Democrats as saying: Bush has bowed to the "radical right wing of the Republican Party."
He found Ted Kennedy: "The president has an opportunity now to unite the country. In appointing the next nominee, he must listen to all Americans, not just the far right."
He found Democratic Leader Harry Reid: "The radical right wing of the Republican Party killed the Harriet Miers nomination. They want a nominee with a proven record of supporting their skewed goals."
While the House of Representatives was getting serious about legal reform, CNN was calling it “silly” and other TV news outlets ignored it.
The House passed the “cheeseburger bill” October 19 – a bill that makes people, not the food industry, responsible for consequences of their eating habits. The bill passed 307 to 119 and will go to the Senate.
Andy Serwer on CNN’s “American Morning” October 20 stated that “the only thing sillier than suing McDonald's for being fat is passing a law preventing people from suing McDonalds from being fat.” But Serwer didn’t explain the drain that lawsuits create on the American economy.
Washington Post columnist Tina Brown today took the opportunity to mark the 80th birthday of Margaret Thatcher, Britain's first female prime minister, with a scathing attack on Harriet Miers.
In, "You've Come a Long Way, Ladies," Brown begins:
The healthiest aspect of the Harriet Miers nomination is that women haven't rallied to her cause. Ten years ago, there would have been a lot of reflexive solidarity about keeping the Sandra Day O'Connor spot on the Supreme Court from reverting to male type. But every female lawyer I've spoken with in the past week skips right past the sisterly support into a rant about Miers's meager qualifications or her abject obeisance to power. The good news is that for women, it seems, Miers's nomination is like the moment for blacks in Hollywood when it was suddenly okay to cast an African American actor as something other than a perfect hero. The Sidney Poitier phase is definitively over.
What follows is a brief exchange from Friday's edition of the PBS NewsHour, during a discussion with liberal columnist Mark Shields and conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks on the Harriet Miers nomination. Notice that while conservative critics of the Miers nomination are properly labeled as conservatives, Lehrer insists on watering down the liberal label for Justice David Souter:
The Corner reports that Nina Totenberg, the legal reporter for National Public Radio, wants the next round of confirmation hearings scheduled around her vacation:
"Nearby, Nina Totenberg, the legal reporter for National Public Radio, cornered the chief of staff of Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Penn., who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee; Totenberg was lobbying to schedule the next round of Supreme Court hearings around her vacation plans, which she had scheduled to coincide with her wedding anniversary."
Don't worry, Nina. Just write something in opposition to the nominee and drop it off with your editor before you leave.
To begin, the "Times" mistates the full scope of the jurisdiction of the Court, making it seem far smaller than it actually is, "Three years ago the Bush administration began prodding countries to shield Americans from the fledgling International Criminal Court in The Hague, which was intended to be the first permanent tribunal for prosecuting crimes like genocide." The reality of the matter is that any issue can be brought before the Court by against anyone, even if their country is not a part of the ICC, by anyone for any reason so long as the accuser claims the act is "a crime against humanity." What "crime against humanity" means is never defined by the ICC and has been claimed by many groups to include Camp Gitmo, and over fishing of the world's oceans, none of which are reported by "The Times."
Sunday night at 8pm EDT, 7pm CDT (to air at 8pm PDT), NBC re-ran the May 25 season finale of NBC's Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which portrayed House Majority Leader Tom DeLay as a hero to white supremacist gun nuts suspected of murdering two judges, one of them black, and who had expressed the view that the white woman judge who was murdered was a "race traitor" who raised her family in the "Zionist enclave of Riverdale."
When the ballistics on the bullet which killed the black judge showed it was fired by the same rifle which was used to kill the white judge, New York City Police Department "Detective Alexandra Eames" suggested to her fellow detectives and an Assistant District Attorney: "Maybe we should put out an APB for somebody in a Tom DeLay T-shirt." Another detective then presented evidence the shooter came from the West, prompting Eames to point out: "Home of a lot of white supremacist groups."
For a full transcript of the scene, MP3 audio as well as Real and Windows Media video, check the May 26 MRC CyberAlert.
On 10 August, 2005, the Chicago Sun-Times website published an article which (accidentally) revealed the nature of the new President of the American Bar Association, Michael Greco. The revelation came not from what the article said, but what it did not say. Both the APA President and the reporter should have noticed the holes in the article, entitled "Courts threatened by extremists: ABA leader."
President Greco’s politics are suggested here: "He also asked the Rev. Robert Drinan, a former Democratic U.S. representative from Massachusetts and his mentor at Boston College Law School, to stand." Father Drinan was one of the most far-left members to serve in the House, as political junkies know, but the reporter does not mention.
Greco proposed to send lawyers into schools to teach civics. He was "alarmed" that 40 percent of Americans cannot name the three branches of government and 48 percent cannot explain "separation of powers." Immediately after that, Greco demonstrated that he does not understand those subjects. He said, "Our own courts are under unprecedented attack. They are being threatened by extremists, who would tear down our courts for political or financial gain."