“Trump’s Crazy Choices for the Courts”

Source: Trump’s Crazy Choices for the Courts – The New York Times

I put the title in quotes because it’s not me saying it. It’s a fine retired federal judge, Shira Scheindlin (Southern District of New York), writing in the Times.

Every presidential election, I irritate myself and probably everyone around me by repeating, “The Supreme Court, the Supreme Court, the Supreme–”

Many bad election choices can be rectified by future good election choices. An act of Congress can be mitigated or repealed.What can’t be changed is the Supreme Court, and federal court judgeships–because it isn’t just a Supreme Court justice who is on that bench for life. All federal judges are, too.

I used to believe federal judges (and Supremes, of course) were selected from the best and smartest lawyers and judges in the country.

Yeah, so. This is why I have nightmares.

I’m going to excerpt Judge Scheindlin’s comments on some people nominated for federal judgeships by Trump. Brace yourselves. I’ve reddened the names (think of it as blood) and bolded (the bloated black mark) the essence of their, um,”positions”:

Leonard Steven Grasz...received a rare “not qualified” rating from the American Bar Association because his “temperament issues, particularly bias and lack of open-mindedness, were problematic.” He serves on the board of an organization that has supported the closing of clinics offering women reproductive care, has condemned Supreme Court decisions that protect women’s rights, and has asserted that abortions put women’s lives at risk.

Mr. Grasz…has supported “conversion therapy” for gay youth and legislation that would allow employers to discriminate against gay employees under the guise of religious liberty. To Mr. Grasz, marriage equality is a “threat” and evolution should be taught as a theory, not as a fact.

Thomas A. Farr.…longstanding ties to racist politicians, and because of his opposition to voting rights, workers’ rights and economic equality…  instrumental in creating and defending North Carolina’s notorious 2013 voter suppression law, which the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals found had targeted black voters with “almost surgical precision.”

Damien Schiff, a lawyer for the libertarian Pacific Legal Foundation…has called the Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy a “judicial prostitute” because of his role as a swing voter. He also attacked the Supreme Court’s opinion…permitting race to be a consideration in college admissions to further diversity; he said it was akin to the court’s rulings in the Dred Scott decision (upholding fugitive slave laws), Plessy v. Ferguson (upholding states’ rights to require racially segregated public accommodations) and Korematsu v. United States (approving the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II).

Jeff Mateer described transgender children as part of “Satan’s plan.”

.Mark Norrissuggested that being Muslim is synonymous with being a terrorist. He also led efforts to prohibit communities from removing Confederate monuments in public places.

…[C]onfirmed:…John Bush...compared the Dred Scott decision to Roe v. Wade, saying that both “relied on similar reasoning and activist justices” and that “slavery and abortion” are the “two greatest tragedies in our country.” On his Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire he failed to disclose that he belonged to a social club that, for years, had excluded African-Americans, women and Jews.

Amy Coney Barrett... criticized the Supreme Court justice William Brennan for saying that his oath to uphold the law trumped any obligation to his Roman Catholic faith.

…also stated that judges need not adhere to precedent if they believe a case was wrongly decided. But our courts have always accepted the rule of “stare decisis,” which requires that judges respect and are bound by precedent unless and until revised by the Supreme Court. A Notre Dame law professor, Ms. Barrett opposes abortion rights. She is also against the idea that an employer should be required to provide contraception coverage, signing a letter that called it “a grave violation of religious freedom.”

A cast of villains that could have come right out of Dickens’s pages. Instead, they’re going to sit on our federal courts for life.

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I’m dedicating today to recovering from yesterday

At Costco.

My first visit. Results:

  • Exhaustion.
  • Awe.
  • I can’t seem to let my eyes subside from being propped wide open.
  • A great pair of new winter PJs.
  • More Advil than I’ll ever use in my lifetime.
  • A hotdog with mustard and relish (they were out of sauerkraut). I haven’t had a hotdog in years. It was good.
  • A big bag of kale.

Thanks to a friend who guided me through, I now know what everybody’s talking about.

And thanks, too, to all the zillions of people pushing massive carts around who did not–I repeat, not--bang them into me. This is a fear I developed not sure where but it keeps me out of Fairway’s lower level, I can tell you.

I did not acquire a toilet paper package that was larger than the closet into which I would have to store it.

I admire the several people I saw whose cart-loads were so massive, so towering, you couldn’t see the person pushing. Although I am wondering whether several boxes of avocados was at least one box too far. (Until I realized some people were buying for restaurants and small shops.)

The people who work in Costco are so nice! Really nice. And the little snacks of which you can avail yourself throughout the store, to keep up your energy, were really delicious. And filling.

As you can see, I’ve lost something in my capacity for language here. I’d blame it on Costco except I don’t want to blame anything on Costco: it’s too mighty.

So that’s it for today. I have nothing to say about Roy Moore, about the GOP, about evangelicals, about the possibility that Michael Flynn was planning to kidnap a dissident Turkish cleric…about anything important.

I’m in recovery. I postulate my recovery to last for one day.

I’m going to the library now. And to Bed Bath & Beyond, because among the things I should have but did not buy at Costco was mouthwash.

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The Facts of Life: Conservative writer is wrong, wrong, wrong

Source: Mueller’s Investigation Won’t Shake Trump’s Base – The New York Times

Don’t know about you, but I’ve given up designations like right/left, conservative/liberal, right-wing/progressive.

I can’t properly identify myself by any one of those terms. I like to think I’m too complicated for knee-jerk labels. And I certainly do not choose what to read or watch by such labels.

When it comes to news, especially news about politics, I first gather the facts. Then I read and listen to opinions. Pre-consciously, but close to the conscious surface, I run those opinions through the fact filter.

I’m not locked into some conspiratorial theory that everybody lies or makes stuff up, but I do occasionally pick up errors. Usually they’re small errors. Sometimes, even when small, an error can suggest an attempt to influence a reader’s thinking along the specific current of the writer’s politics. But since I have the facts, I’m not going to be persuaded by an error deliberately inserted to influence my thinking.

And by the way I don’t know why anybody should be afraid of reading a political opinion that differs from his or hers. What does anybody think will happen? Brainwashing? Hypnosis? Nah. The worst that can happen is actually very good: you’ll get gut-offended by an opinion and, if you’re sane and smart, you’ll take the time to think through why you’re so irritated. Which, in turn, will build and deepen your own rational and intellectual strength.

(David Brooks is one of my favorite tools for strengthening my own logic. He’s kind of like a Nautilus circuit for my brain. How many times do I read one of his paragraphs and think, “Well, you’re heartfelt, David, but so damn wrong!” Or, as my late, wonderful Aunt Naomi used to say to my late, wonderful Uncle Saul, “Saul, you’re wrong, wrong, wrong!”)

All that is something of a tangent. It’s a tangent I’ve been meaning to explore but let’s get back to the point, which is how a writer will make an erroneous statement that’s worse than deliberately distorting a fact to influence my thinking.

What’s worse? Being nakedly, openly ignorant, and doing it with the imprimatur of a respectable political journal.

To wit, David French in a recent Times op page. His goal, as clearly stated in the title of his piece (see link, above), is to show us–and he’s sad about it, so sad–how and why Trump worshipers will never give up on their idol. He writes from Tennessee and talks about going to church and a conversation he had with a fellow churchgoer to prove his point.

But before that, he writes this (I’ve bolded the relevant sentence):

It’s an unfortunate truth that the Republican base not only accepts but also often angrily defends conduct from Mr. Trump that they would never, ever accept in a Democratic president. Forget this week’s news for a moment and take a look at the recent past. Would Republicans have stood idly by if Barack Obama fired an F.B.I. director during an investigation of the president’s top aides and then misled Americans about the reason? Would conservatives tolerate a President Hillary Clinton demanding that praying football players keep their religion to themselves, then calling for firings and boycotts if they didn’t comply?

Never mind French’s knee-jerk sleaziness in setting up President Obama and Hillary Clinton as the default displacement figures. I don’t believe French made his egregious error deliberately–although for many reasons I’d suggest he spend more time on Sundays watching football than going to church. Or he could have checked his facts before making this infuriating, dimwitted mistake.

Because he’s dead wrong, as pretty much all of us know. Football players aren’t kneeling to pray. They’re kneeling to protest, Mr. French. To protest civil rights abuses, being killed by cops for being black.

French, who is cited as a senior editor of the National Review — a conservative journal and here the designation is important — is thus discrediting his own magazine, as well as himself, and discrediting conservative journalism in general.

Here he is, a Christian political hack who’s so smug he doesn’t even bother to check facts before publishing in the New York Times.

 

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