Monday, August 6, 2018

David Axelrod Tries to Burn Trump on Climate Change

Cory Booker on American Heartbreak

At the Netroots Nation conference conference in New Orleans, Senator Cory Booker's pensive philosophy intimated how may proceed on his path to the White House in 2020.

Pity that he was not more observant about with whom he was posing for photos.  

Booker claims that he did not know but the poseurs (sic) probably would embrace his critical cri-de-couer theme. 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Victor Davis Hanson on Deep State Elites

Victor Davis Hanson on John Brennan as the Poster Boy for Deep State Elites

On Comey the Clown

Reacting to disgraced ex FBI chief James Comey entreating Americans to vote Democrat in the midterms elections, conservative radio icon Mark Levin labeled his partisan plea as a clownish ploy to avoid accountability. 

Conservative radio icon Mark Levin on Comey the Clown

Aside from removing the veneer of being a Republican, Comey's cloddish conduct in the Hillary Clinton email debacle as well as his own disgraceful leaks of his own classified memos further solidifies his clownish status as it drags down the FBI's reputation.

What will really take the cake is if Comey is foolish enough to belief his mainstream media headlines and really run for President in 2020.

Sebastian Gorka on Press Conferences

Sebastian Gorka on Press Conferences

Buck Sexton on Journalism

Buck Sexton on Journalism

Monday, July 16, 2018

Hillary Clinton on the Kavanaugh Nomination to the Supreme Court

Hillary Clinton Uses Kavanaugh Supreme Court Nomination to inimate that GOP wants to bring back slavery

When Hillary Clinton was speaking before the American Federation of Teachers conference in Pittsburgh, she intimated that President Trump's nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is an indication that Republicans want to bring back slavery.

Aside from the irony that the GOP was historically the party that ended slavery thru President Lincoln's  Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and passage of the 13th  Amendment in 1865, Hillary's hair on fire rhetoric is remarkable.

Instead of Mrs. Clinton continuing her loser tour around liberal circles which offered various excuses why she was beaten by Donald Trump in the 2016 election, she is focusing her wrath more firmly towards the rhetoric of "The Resistance".  Whether or not a old pol who profited off of insider deals, questionable charities and the aura of being an Elite can convince surging Democrat Socialists to support her is another story.

This is not the first time which Democrat operatives have sought to invoke slavery to advance their own campaign.  During the 2012 cycle, ex Vice President Joe Biden proclaimed "They want to put y'all back in chains" during a rally in Danville, Virginia (which was the last capital of the Confederacy).

It is uncertain in the era #WalkAway and record low black unemployment will work to get minorities to the polls in the midterms. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

On Turgid Constitutional Ignorance

In the alluvia of analysis and opinions which followed President Trump's nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, NBC New's Katy Tur attempted to ask an insightful question.

Katy Tur on the Constitution Aside from the liberal assumption embedded in the inquiry, Tur operated with an egregious error.  The Constitutional Convention was held in Philadelphia in 1787 not 1776. It seems that Little Katy did not grow up watching Schoolhouse Rock.

Maybe she should review the lesson as she might learn something.  

That simple mistake really costs her credibility.  So often we are inclined to impart wisdom on the pundits who pontificate on television.  If they get a basic civics fact wrong, why should we listen to them?

Although Katy Tur was awarded the 2017 Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism, I think it's  Unbelievable (sic).  That may be the title of her book with her year covering Donald Trump, but now I know better how to analyze her reportage: Progressive, propagandistic, polemic and nescient. 

Rejecting Tomi Lahren's Pink Slime Pro-Choice Perspectives

Fox News Commentator Tomi Lahren likens reversing Roe v. Wade to conservatives spitting on the Constitution

In offering analysis after President Donald Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to be on the Supreme Court, Fox News commentator Tomi Lahren opined that conservatives seeking to overturn Roe v. Wade are effectively spitting on the Constitution.

Lahren has been outspoken in her adherence to abortion rights.  She was separated from Glenn Beck's "The Blaze TV" last year because of her inconsistent opinions about abortion.  This was sparked by an appearance on ABC's The View in which she argued that it was hypocritical to be anti-choice and be a small government conservative.    Beck insisted that he wanted to terminate Lahren for lacking intellectual integrity.

“I can’t speak for the company and why they did it, but it had nothing to do with being pro-choice...
What I have a problem with is somebody who will change their point of view or that will say absolutely crazy, red meat things, and not have any intellectual firepower to back it up. Have the intellectual integrity to be able to back things up.”

Now Lahren laments that some conservatives want a Supreme Court to carry out religious judicial activism to get rid of Roe v. Wade (1973).  Tantalizing pro-choice red meat but it like the pink slime substitute which some fast food outlets use to sell dollar menu items to a hungry public even though it causes indigestion.

Lahren assumes that any rollback of Roe would be premised on religious issues.  Even the Roe decision recognizes that government has interests in unborn life in the last trimester that is viable.  Prenatal medicine has made great leaps of advancement so viability is pushed closer to the 20th week of pregnancy.  No signs of religion in this hermaneutic. And that does not even consider the scientific fact that human life begins at the moment of conception

Pro-Choice jurisprudence currently rests on the shaky foundation of abortion as being included in a right to privacy that is within  penumbras and emanations of the Bill of Rights, as applied to states by the Fourteenth Amendment.  Justice Blackmun's holding in Roe is a quintessential example of judicial activism, legislating from the bench for the entire nation.

Conceptually, a texualist originalist led Supreme Court could rule that "the right to privacy" is not enumerated within the Federal Constitution and that the Tenth Amendment is applicable.  This would throw the abortion issue back to the states, where it resided prior to the 1973 judicial fiat.  Some states, like California and New York, would have liberal abortion laws, while other states may be more restrictive.   That sort of subsidiary jurisprudence sounds like small government conservatism.

Maybe Lahren's political science studies at UNLV did not adequately cover jurisprudence.  She seems to think that it is unconstitutional for the Supreme Court to overrule bad precedent or is judicial activism.   In his confirmation hearing to become Chief Justice in 2005, John Roberts noted that stare decisis does not hold as a legal precedent when a matter was wrongly decided.  But in Tomi Lahren's legal logic, Brown v. Board of Education (1954) that overturned the Separate but Equal standard of  Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) was just spitting on the Constitution too. 

It is lamentable that Fox News turns to Tomi Lahren for legal analysis.  In little more than a year, she has shifted her abortion rights advocacy from being premised on what she believes is small government conservatism to combating religious judicial activism.  No wonder she burned her bridge at The Blaze TV for lacking intellectual integrity. 

Some may want to consume pink slime perspectives because they are spicy tasty morsel temptations, but assuredly many leave the establishment when such dreck is  seen on the television menu.

Terry McAulliffe on the Brett Kavanaugh Nomination

Prospective Democrat Presidential candidate Terry McAulliffe on the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination

President Donald Trump on Vetting SCOTUS Nominees

President Donald Trump on vetting Supreme Court nominees

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Considering SCOTUS Selection Strategies

Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement at the end of the 2017/18 Supreme Court term affords President Trump another opportunity to fill a seat on the Nation's High Court.   After the Borking of President Reagan's first choice in 1987, the confirmation process is no longer a gentile process of Senate vetting whether the President's choice is qualified.  While the vacancy is still up in the air, it is a fun political junkie parlor game to consider the strategies the President Trump may employee to make the nomination. Major factors include: timing; traits; temperament

I.  Timing

Firstly, there is a question of timing.  Democrats have been braying that there should be no confirmations until after the midterm elections.  They point to how President Obama was denied an opportunity to replace the Scalia vacancy with Merritt Garland as Republicans refused to confirm just before an election.  Of course, their objections are ahistorical, as Kagan was confirmed thee months before midterm elections.  But when do fact matter to partisans who talk out of both sides of their mouths to gain advantage?  The difference in 2016 is that Republicans were in the majority and set the agenda.

Some partisans focused on the political horse race postulate that it might make sense to hold the confirmation until after the midterms to have Trump supporters Get Out The Vote (GOTV).  Such a strategy is needless and short sighted.   While our elected officials do not work in a vacuum so they need to be mindful of elections, the decision should not be primarily driven by political advantage. However, the deferral of confirmation in 2016 was a prudential decision by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to let voters decide. This move respected a 73 year old tradition for about Supreme Court openings in the last year of a Presidential term.

If one looks through a partisan lens, it makes little sense to stall the confirmation until after the midterms. Republicans have a majority in the Senate.  Thanks to ex Democrat Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) blowing up comity in the Senate by exercising the Nuclear Option in 2013 and Democrat Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) leading a Supreme Court confirmation filibuster in 2017, cloture votes are obviated and a only a majority vote is required.   While Senate Democrats have a hard midterm election cycle, one never knows what the future holds, so it would be better to try to get it done sooner rather than later.

Summers in the District of Calamity are often the silly season as political news is either trivial or outrageous, but typically few people pay attention as they are on vacation. Democrats are intent on fighting any Supreme Court nominee from President Trump tooth and nail, so the expected vitriol and direct action will not have as much resonance as it would be if it became a campaign issue.

If President Trump did not have a booming economy or positive news from foreign relations, it might make sense to make a SCOTUS nomination a campaign issue.  But George Barna pointed out through polling of evangelicals about the 2016 election, the two issues which that 11% segment of the population cared most about was the Supreme Court and pro-life positions.  Evangelical turned out 98% in 2016 and 96% voted for Trump, so there is little reason to gin up that base over a Supreme Court nomination.

It seems pretty clear that the nomination of Trump's second Supreme Court choice will be sooner rather than later.  During the 2016 Presidential election campaign, Mr. Trump had circulated a list of twenty five jurists who would be considered.  This list was augmented with five names after his inauguration which included now Justice Neil Gorsuch.

The White House indicated that it will announce the President's choice before he flies to Europe on July 10th. In fact, two days after Kennedy announced his retirement, President Trump announced that he had winnowed the frontrunners to five, including two women and set the selection announcement on July 9th.  So we will not play this Between the Beltways parlor game for long.

Moreover Majority Leader McConnell proclaimed that there will be a vote for confirmation by October.  This is in keeping with Senate Judiciary Chair Charles Grassley's (R-IA) timeline that from nomination to confirmation vote, the Senate could do its work in 78 days.

II. Traits

A Supreme Court nomination is one of the marquis decisions during a President's time in the Oval Office. The pick stays on the High Court long after the Chief Executive leaves the White House.  The fact that it is Justice Kennedy's replacement is even more significant.  Even though Kennedy was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1987, he has been a swing vote in his 31 years on the Supreme Court.  So Mr. Trump's choice will significantly impact the balance of power on the High Court.

At a campaign rally in Minnesota, President Trump mused that his choice could be on the bench for forty years.   Many of the jurists on the list are in their 40s and 50s so it seems that prospective longevity on the Supreme Court is an important attribute.

Does race or gender matter?  Perhaps.  Other Presidents have tried to make their mark by appointing "the first" identity group (e.g. Johnson with the first black of Thurgood Marshall in 1967, Reagan with the first woman Sandra Day O'Connor in 1982, Obama with the first Hispanic with Sonya Sotomayor in 2009). 

Trump is not likely to bow to political correctness or play identity politics.  Still, with 40% of Trump's short list being comprised with women, selecting a female could put vulnerable Democrats in a difficult position.  Prominent Democrats (and their media allies) have been strident in seeking to savage any pick made by President Trump.  There are already ten Senate Democrat incumbents in states where President Trump won in 2016 who have tough re-election races.  If these vulnerable Democrats are associated with an unjust evisceration of a female Supreme Court nominee, this may play very poorly for them during the midterms with key groups (suburban Moms, traditional Democrats, Independents).

Because of the timing of the selection, President Trump may want to ensure that the background vetting of a prospective nominee is speedy.  That might give an advantage to candidates who have recently been confirmed, as they have fresh FBI full field background investigations. So when speculation draws to a fevered pitch, consider who has been recently appointed to the federal bench.

III. Temperament

Despite contradictory indications during the 2016 primary campaign, President Trump has proven to be a Pro-Life President.  Yet he maintained that he will not ask about abortion when he interviews his short list.  This is hardly surprising because a good Supreme Court candidate will wisely deflect such a probing question, pointing to not answering hypothetical questions or not tipping one's hand on pending matters.  As the left has made abortion rights a keystone issue, much of the pre-nomination hysteria revolves around the potential overruling of Roe v. Wade (1973).  Any prospective candidate for the nation's High Court needs to be prepared for hard questions from the Senate Minority.

This points to a couple of qualities which Supreme Court nominees need to possess at least through confirmation.  A SCOTUS choice must be prepared.  Harriet Miers was a failed choice of President George W. Bush, in part, because she was not impressive in constitutional chit chat with Senate Majority members when making courtesy calls.

To present well in the Senate Judiciary Committee, successful candidates must master "Murder Boards",  that is the harsh mock interviews preparing for the hard questions.  Once they are on the bench, Supreme Court members deliberate in private.  But before confirmation, they must skillfully parry with hostile questions, which generally do not tip the hand of a prospective justice yet sufficiently satisfy the interlocutor. 

For a contentious candidate, mouthing the mantra "I can't comment on a prospective matter" or "Courts adjudicate real cases and I do not comment on hypotheticals" will not suffice.  As Roe v. Wade will mostly likely be touchstone for skeptical questioning, whoever is nominated must be well prepped to answer questions about "the right to privacy" and the primacy precedence (a.k.a. stare decisis).

When John Roberts went through his confirmation hearings, he did not totally deflect about questions of precedence, noting that there are some instances of bad precedence that should be upheld (like "Separate but Equal" Plessey v. Ferguson in 1896 which was overturned in 1954 by Brown v. Board of Education).

Nominees also must be mindful how simple questions can be abused by opponents to their confirmation.  When Judge Bork was asked why he looked forward to being on the High Court, and Bork answered that it would be an intellectual feast.  That answer was twisted to portray Bork as being an elite intellectual who was only in the position for himself.  Combined with vilification of Bork's record by liberal Senators, chiefly Ted Kennedy (D-MA), the nomination was defeated. 

While Supreme Court candidates should be sufficiently deferential to tough questioning, sometimes they can successfully fight back.  The left tried to "Bork" Clarence Thomas in 1991 with allegations about a subordinate employee Anita Hill.  Thomas famously refuted his treatment as a "high tech lynching of an uppity negro."  Despite that contentious quip, Thomas was narrowly confirmed.

As for judicial temperament, President Trump's list of 30 prospective selections, prima facia most would be deemed conservatives.  But their legal logic is not necessarily uniform.  Justice Thomas's jurisprudence rests on "natural law", whereas Justice Gorsuch is a textualist who looks to the letter of the law  which defers to the will of the legislature (even if they pass stupid laws).  Then there is originalism, which sees things through the prism of an understanding of the Constitution when it was originally ratified. 

A judicial trait which seems to be in favor with President Trump is the notion of judicial humility.  

Former Judge Andrew Napolitano characterizes this jurisprudence to interpret the law and apply the Constitution to the laws Congress has written. Judicial humility has not been the prevailing model of Supreme Court activism over the last sixty years, with the High Court legislating from the bench by inventing rights (e.g. "The Right to Privacy") or rewriting law to rule it constitutional (e.g. "Obamacare").

Since the Kennedy retirement has been announced, there has been rampant speculation about Mr. Trump's picks.  Even though the President has interviewed seven prospective SCOTUS picks, it has been generally considered that the list has been narrowed to four candidates.  Some even say that there are just two front runners.  Senator Orrin Hatch stirred up the rumor mill when he stated in an Op/Ed that he will fight for Mr. Trump's pick.  But some wonder if he had insider information, as Hatch's release  opined

"But no matter the nominee's background or credentials, progressives will do everything they can to paint her as a closet partisan, if not an outright extremist."

This could well be a MacGuffin to throw off all speculation, a ghostwriter using inclusive language or a retiring Senator tipping the hand. If Hatch was not just being deceptive or politically correct, there is only one female on the short list of choices, Judge  Amy Coney Barrett, who made headlines when Senator Diane Feinstein rebuked her by saying: "The [Catholic] dogma lives loudly within her" during her September 2017 confirmation hearings.   If President Trump is raring for a fight, picking Barrett could paint Democrats as being bigoted towards Catholics, and hint that Roe v. Wade might not stand.  But considering the vitriol which Democrats have been displaying and the importance that they place on abortion rights, this may also be a dangerous donnybrook.

One thing can be said with certainty -- the Simpsons were being satirical rather than sagacious with their rending of a Trumpian Supreme Court pick.

Ivanka will not be sporting a black robe (in public) anytime soon. 

Friday, June 29, 2018

Editor's Notes: About the Archives

It is unclear as to whether glitches in the distribution and dissemination of The District of Calamity posts are due to cyber gremlins or a niggling digital nanny.

Nevertheless, it has become necessary to establish an archive and host on another IP address.  

So all of the District of Calamity postings from 2012-2016 can be accessed at  Use the search button to ferret out key words.

Due to some quirks, some archived pieces are also replicated at so that they may be easily shared on social media. 

Vladimir Lenin on the Media

Vladimir Lenin on the Media

Thursday, June 28, 2018

A Poignant Reaction to the Annapolis Shooting

Capital Gazette Reporter Phil Davis gave first hand reaction to the Annapolis shooting

On Applying the Nuclear Option and Comity

Article II Section 2 of the Constitution gives the United States Senate the prerogative to give "Advice and Consent" in confirming Executive Branch nominations, especially the judiciary. For most of the Republic, confirmations of Supreme Court justices were not voted on in a markedly partisan manner. 

The Senate, which liked to consider itself as the world's greatest deliberative body, usually operated in a manner which vetted high court nominees in a conscientiously deferential manner to the President.  For example, Ruth Bader Ginsburg had been chief counsel of the ACLU and a noted feminist attorney, yet she garnered a 93-3 confirmation vote in 1993. 

Admittedly, this was not always the case. President George H.W. Bush's nominee of Clarence Thomas endured a contentious confirmation hearings  in 1991 which he likened to a "high tech lynching for uppity blacks".  

And  of course the vitriolic attacks on Robert Bork, President Ronald Reagan's 1987 pick to fill a Supreme Court opening, resulted in the verb "to Bork" to be added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2002.  But the adamant opposition from the left stemmed, however peripherally, to nitpicking "flaws" in the nominees.

Much of the comity that the Senate enjoyed was due to Cloture Rule (Senate Rule XXII) which was instituted in 1917.  In order to end debate on a filibuster, three-fifths of Senators (today 60 votes) is required.  Applying that to judicial nominees, Presidents often picked less stridently partisan or controversial candidates, as some Senate Minority votes were needed in order to advance to the confirmation vote.  

Former Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) found this 3/5ths Cloture requirement to be inconvenient in his effort to aid President Barack Obama in packing the judiciary (particularly changing the balance in the 4th Circuit, a.k.a. "The Rocket Docket").  Thus, in 2013 Reid exercised "The Nuclear Option" which abrogated Senate Rule XXII for judicial confirmations save Supreme Court nominees. 

 Reid was warned on the Senate floor by then Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that you will regret using the nuclear option.   In the 115th Congress, when Senate Democrats became openly obstructionistic about any nominations made by President Donald Trump, Majority Leader McConnell extended the "nuclear option" to include Supreme Court nominees, which resulted in Neil Gorsuch being confirmed by a 54-45 vote.

After Justice Anthony Kennedy's announced retirement from the Nation's High Court, Democrats have campaigned for the Senate to delay confirmation hearings for the SCOTUS opening until after the 2018 midterm elections.  Their facile rationalization is that Republicans ought to follow the same standard used to deny Merritt Garland a confirmation hearing in 2016 because it was an election year.  Of course, this partisan plea ignores that it was a Presidential election year and had over 70 years of precedent.  In addition, Democrats are not in the majority and they set the agenda. Elections do have consequences.  

So does changing and exploiting rules.  Democrats might have some gravitas to their suggestion to stall SCOTUS confirmation hearing until after the midterms if they were not already slow walking nearly all Trump confirmations.   Senate rules allow for 30 hours of debate on each nominee.  Democrats have been routinely requiring the entire 30 hours of debate, which would mean that President Trump's picks could receive senatorial "advise and consent" in nine years. So the threat that Democrats will further slow walk Senate proceedings in retaliation or to forestall a SCOTUS confirmation vote is meaningless. 

The recalcitrant response of Democrats should be a cue to Majority Leader McConnell on how to react to the diminution of comity in the Senate.  If Democrats are going to slow walk everything in retaliation or retribution for the Senate leadership for exercising their "advice and consent" on Supreme Court nominees in a timely manner, then keep them in session.  McConnell already effectively cancelled the traditional long summer recess so they can meet their budgetary duties. So they get to spend the dog days of summer on Capital Hill and enjoy the swampy weather in the District of Calamity (sic).

But the lack of comity and the need for elected officials to do their job might mean spending more time on Capitol Hill.  Since Democrats seem to relish filibusters and slowing the process down, the Majority Leader should change how filibutsters are treated.  Instead of the failure of a cloture vote resulting in the legislation (or the nomination) being pulled, let the debate continue.  If legislators want to invoke "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and talk until they are hoarse and drop from exhaustion, that is their prerogative.  But just as the nuclear option changed things in unexpected ways, tinkering with the filibuster might have adverse effects on Senate minority rights in the future.

Moreover, so that the Senate is not simply the place where legislation goes to and dies, remain in session through October instead of taking the election break.  From an objective standpoint, they will be doing their jobs (instead of concentrating on getting re-elected).  Politically, this hurts Senate Democrats (as they have 25 of 33 seats up, including 10 in states where Mr. Trump won).  And it might make obstructionism less appealing and allow incumbents to give comity a chance.