Will the Nomination Shift Focus from "Broader Problems"?

New Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito is on the scene.

Back in June, even before John Roberts was nominated, the Supreme Court Nomination blog posted a useful compilation of some key Alito opinions. SCOTUSblog is on top of things, too. So far it looks like the groups likely to oppose Alito most loudly haven't updated their sites yet, but for the first hints of opposition, keep an eye on groups like People for the American Way and NARAL. (Do conservatives wake up earlier in the morning than liberals do?)

On the front page of Sunday's Post was an analysis of a Washington Post-ABC News poll that found 55 percent of respondents believe the indictment of Scooter Libby on Friday is indicative of "broader problems with ethical wrongdoing in the Bush administration," while 41 percent say it's an isolated incident.

Christopher of the Middle America Chronicle blog looked at the poll results and wrote, "Bush needs to clean house, just like Ronald Reagan did after the Iran-Contra scandal."

The poll results could suggest the administration's "bad week" (some bloggers maintain it was actually a good week) might just have been the tip of the iceberg. But will the administration come to a Titanic end? Or will the Libby indictment just be one more thing that gets swept away by The Next Big Distraction?

A big fight over an ultra-conservative nominee could certainly serve as a distraction from the Libby indictment while also rallying the base. Over at the Confirm Them blog, there are already kudos being handed to Bush for the selection. Gary Bauer said on CNN this morning that Bush "hit a grand slam homerun" with the nomination. Is Alito conservative enough to rally the Dems' base as well? Most importantly, on which side would moderate voters come down if Democrats filibustered and Republicans turned to the so-called nuclear option?

By Emily Messner |  October 31, 2005; 8:26 AM ET  | Category:  Beltway Perspectives
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It is my belief that the entire conservative movement in America rests on one huge canard: That the American people are in full concert with the conservative agenda.

I hear this canard floated over and over again on talk radio, on blogs like this one, on television talk shows and in political speeches. Yet every poll that has been taken consistently reveals that Americans in significant majorities support a more moderate, centrist agenda. Whether the issue is national security, tax cuts, health care, social security, abortion, stem cell research, civil rights, privacy, even gun control--the American electorate consistently is to the left of the mainstream conservatives who make up about 35% of the electorate in the country.

Why then have conservatives been so successful? I believe it is because they always manage to make elections about one or two hot button issues within which they exploit the most basic primal fears of the country. In effect, our elections are rarely about the issues that most concern the people. Conservatives have become expert at honing in on some peripheral question--like John Kerry's war record so viciously and dishonestly exploited by the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth--that plant seeds of doubt in the public's mind about a candidate's fitness.

It remains to be seen if the jaded American public will take its present negativity toward the conservative agenda (the Bush agenda) into the next election cylcle or whether as they have done in the past, they so easily fall prey to the artful methodologies of the conservative propaganda machine which work to deflect their attention from the real issues.

Posted by: Jaxas | October 31, 2005 10:18 AM

Withdrawing the Meiers nomination the day before the indictment day and putting up Alito, a qualified but polarizing, candidate just before beginning of business the first business day after the indictments? If anything, I would say that these events are too well-timed, too obviously-orchastrated so that instead of taking the conversation off of Vlamegate it moves it to precisely the topic of the above article: is this being done to take the conversation off of Vlamegate? Which it obviously is. So the net gain is not as great as a mid-week appointment would have been.

Posted by: Matt | October 31, 2005 10:41 AM

I have a hard time understanding comments by Democrats like Chuck Schumer who say they had hoped Bush would nominate someone to the Court who would "unite" this country.

Have we all lost that much perspective on the Supreme Court? Justices are not politicians. Their job is not to unite Americans by taking a moderate stance and a pragmatic look at the Constitutional issues of the day to boost poll numbers. Their job is to interpret the Constitution in a principled manner and decide cases based on legal precedent. Part of the reason why thousands of lawyers and law students like myself hate O'Connor more than hard-core conservatives like Scalia or hard-core liberals like Ginsburg is because she doesn't take a principled approach to constitutional issues. She doesn't ground her decisions in legal precedent. Instead, she "unites" the country by taking an unprecendented and unprincipled middle ground (see "undue burden standard"), conveniently wielding enormous power as that all-too-important swing vote (the same can be said about Anthony Kennedy, as well).

I'm not a Republican or a Democrat, but I am a believer in our common law legal system and in the principle of stare decisis. Without passing judgment on Alito's interpretive principles, I applaud him for having interpretive principles. I applaud Stevens, Ginsburg, Souter, and Breyer for sticking to the principle that the Constitution is a living document that requires new interpretations beyond the words' essential core meanings to handle the issues of today. I applaud Scalia, Thomas, and the late Rehnquist for sticking to the principle that judges have limited roles and should practice restraint when interpreting a document.

As a final word to Democrats, just remember that Republicans did not like Ginsburg but approved her unanimously because she was qualified and PRINCIPLED - even if she was a principled activist. Keep that in mind when you look at Alito's qualifications and principles - even if they are conservative.

Posted by: Shawn | October 31, 2005 10:55 AM

Conservatives do wake up earlier. Heck, I'm still having my morning coffee.

Posted by: Jandro | October 31, 2005 11:55 AM

Interesting comment. I certainly hope that a close examination will reveal Alito to be rooted in principle & logic.

Some of his rulings seem promising, but others do not make much sense to me. So I am not at this point able to judge his principle as distinct from ideology. Perhaps we will find out more.

John Roberts proved himself highly qualified, and was easily confirmed. Your avowed "independent" politics do not match your comments, with that crack at the Democrats.

I would also want to disagree with you on one matter: because somebody is a consistent swing vote does not mean they are lacking in principle.

It is certainly possible to agree with a conclusion but drastically disagree with the reasoning that was used.

What would you do? Vote mutely, or dissent so you can write a dissenting opinion and bring up points of law that the original opinion does not?

As a matter of principle, does the ends justify the means? Especially when the "means" will be dissected for decades if not centuries as a guide to legal thinking?

Swing-voting in that case can be a matter of principle.
If I understand the definition right, not being a lawyer, then the poll-tax or literacy tests can be a "undue burden" limiting the right to vote for minorities. This HAS occured in the past.

I don't see anything wrong with saying that states may NOT impose "undue burden laws" on a federally guaranteed right. Just because this is an "hot button issue" that is in dispute does not mean that weakening federal law with state legislation is appropriate.

For instance, if the ADA ensures access to all public buildings for the disabled, does the state have a right to impose "undue burden" type laws?

For instance, saying rather than revamp courts for public access, disabled people must ask for and receive permission to have a court case heard in a more accessible place? And if that permission is denied because the judge didn't "find that the person was disabled enough", the disabled person has no choice but to fail to attend and be in contempt of court for not filfulling his court obligations?

This is a silly example, but not so silly when you consider that all federal elections occur on state or local government property and there has been a recent case implying that states cannot be sued for failure to comply with the ADA. Therefore, there is a high risk of any state action that creates an undue burden on an individual to protect and rescue his/her rights.

"Undue burden" may not be in the constitution, but it is a reasonable approach to the gap and fault in the consititution that satisfied state leaders and permitted us to unite... but which weakness (lack of definition of state rights, supremecy of federal rule) has led to continual tension and a civil war.

If you can think of a better way to explain why a state law should be overturned because it restricts or contradicts a federal law in a significant manner, go ahead.
I look forward to seeing you arguing before the Supreme court on such a matter. I would be thrilled to see our rights protected in a more principled manner.

Best wishes.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 31, 2005 12:00 PM

I wonder why it is that conservatives who opposed Harriet Miers most vociferously also did so anonymously. Who, for example, was behind filibustermiers.com and why won't they name themselves? Will they come clean when the argument turns to the "nuclear option"?

As for "waking up earlier," I simply think it's easier to mount an argument when your side's in power and you get the news leaked to you in advance.

Posted by: nitpicker | October 31, 2005 12:08 PM

Do you understand what you are saying, Jaxas?

You are saying that although the majority of the country is moderate-to- liberal, they are too stupid to vote that way because those crafty conservatives fool them with fear-mongering on hot button issues.

What if the majority of the country is conservative-to-moderate and vote for like minded candidates regardless of how they are told they should vote by liberal elitists?

Liberal or conservative, anyone who assumes stupidity on the part of the American voter will lose every time.

As to the subject at hand, Alito is so well-qualified and reasonable that he was confirmed to the Federal Bench by a unanimous voice vote. Now, those who oppose him will reveal themselves to be intellectually dishonest ideologues who think the American People are stupid.

Posted by: Salt | October 31, 2005 12:11 PM

Nitpicker:

There's a difference between stupidity and ignorance. The conservatives have worked hard to keep the majority of this country ignorant of their actions and views by giving them bread and circuses. This is no different. I agree that assuming stupidity is a mistake. Assuming ignorance, however, would be a winning strategy -- as long as you don't start calling people ignorant, of course, because even though everyone is, to a certain extent, ignorant, the word has developed an undeservedly negative connotation.

As for your "conservative-to-moderate" point, poll after poll shows that, since neither conservatives nor liberals have views with which the majority agree, both "conservative-to-moderate" and "liberal-to-moderate" can claim a majority agrees with them. On the other hand, when "conservative" or "liberal" labels are removed from views, more people are in agreement with the liberals than with the conservatives, so the "liberal-to-moderate" POV can claim a *larger* majority.

Posted by: DMJ | October 31, 2005 12:28 PM

What I think is missing from the broader discussion is that many find Libby's attack on Ms. Wilson to punish her husband very surprising. Wilson himself said in an interview that he expected the WH to attack him, thats how Washington works, but he was shocked that they came at him by attacking his wife. He describes it as the kind of attack you see in high school but not in adulthood.

Wilson may have found it surprising but what I find more surprising, and I'm NO fan of Bush or his cronies, is that both Bush and Cheney came out praising Libby as a patriot after the news came out that he was indicted. Even Nixon did not have the arrogance to do that. I did not believe that Bush would allow crimes or unethical activity in his administration. Cheney I wasn't so sure about. But now I'm sure that the Bush administration is an administration run by men and not laws. And Bush knows it and nurtures it. Its time we begin thinking about how to stop him over the next three years and make him clean house. That can only be done through your elected representatives and by electing representatives in 2006 who will not support Bush. Its that simple. The congressional elections in 2006 is where those who made a mistake by believing the lies in 2004 and voted for Bush can redeem themselves.

Posted by: Sully | October 31, 2005 12:53 PM

Dear Wilbrod:

Thanks for your response. I take such a long and thoughtful direct response to my post as a compliment.

As for my dig at the Democrats exposing me as not so independent, I just happened to be criticizing Schumer at the time and offering advice to Democrats at the end. But here's a crack at Republicans to keep it "fair and balanced." I feel personally insulted that Bush would nominate someone utterly unqualified to sit as one of nine members of one of three branches of the federal government and expect people to go along just because he said so. "Trust me, I know she's qualified." P'shaw, Mr. President. What grade did you get in 1L Constitutional Law? Oh, that's right, you weren't a lawyer.

And here's another crack: the "fair and balanced" network is anything but.

But back to the substance of your post. If I agreed with the result of a decision but not its reasoning, I most certainly would concur and write my own opinion. You are absolutely right that the reasoning continues to get analyzed and wield enormous influence long after the decision has been overruled or fallen into obscurity. My problem with O'Connor is not that she concurred separately so often, but that her concurring opinions were not grounded in legal precedent. Instead, she created her own judicial doctrines and methodology without either the support of prior Supreme Court cases or of any of her colleagues (that's why she has had to write so many lone concurrences in the first place.)

I use "undue burden" as an example. Constitutional jurisprudence requires that judges use something called "strict scrutiny" when a challenged state or federal law impinges on a fundamental right. It means that such a law is constitutional only if there exists a compelling governmental interest and the law is the most narrowly tailored way to achieve that interest. The Court recognized abortion as a fundamental right in Roe v. Wade, and determined that the Texas law in question failed strict scrutiny.

Now, if the Court recognizes a right not as fundamental, it can use less rigorous analyses like "intermediate scrutiny" or "rational basis review." Clearly, these phrases don't appear in the Constitution, but Justices cannot interpret the words of the Constitution in a principled manner without some sort of jurisprudential methodology to guide their interpretation. However, O'Connor, as the crucial swing vote in the 1992 abortion case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, announced a new standard of review for abortion. Out of thin air. With no legal support. And by herself in concurrence. She said states can infringe on the right to an abortion unless it causes an "undue burden." This creation of a new judicial doctrine essentially creates a new abortion law. Again, with no legal support.

Wilbrod, I admire those who agree with a decision but concur separately because they disagree with the means by which the majority reached that end. Every single justice on the Court today has authored just such a concurrence. My concern is with O'Connor's reasoning. When one looks back at her opinions, one cannot help but notice the wealth of new legal doctrines she has created by herself, in the absence of legal precedent, and as the crucial swing vote. She "unites" the country with her opinions by taking just enough from each side of the constitutional debate to guarantee her status as the swing vote.

Posted by: Shawn | October 31, 2005 12:54 PM

Dear Wilbrod:

Thanks for your response. I take such a long and thoughtful direct response to my post as a compliment.

As for my dig at the Democrats exposing me as not so independent, I just happened to be criticizing Schumer at the time and offering advice to Democrats at the end. But here's a crack at Republicans to keep it "fair and balanced." I feel personally insulted that Bush would nominate someone utterly unqualified to sit as one of nine members of one of three branches of the federal government and expect people to go along just because he said so. "Trust me, I know she's qualified." P'shaw, Mr. President. What grade did you get in 1L Constitutional Law? Oh, that's right, you weren't a lawyer.

And here's another crack: the "fair and balanced" network is anything but.

But back to the substance of your post. If I agreed with the result of a decision but not its reasoning, I most certainly would concur and write my own opinion. You are absolutely right that the reasoning continues to get analyzed and wield enormous influence long after the decision has been overruled or fallen into obscurity. My problem with O'Connor is not that she concurred separately so often, but that her concurring opinions were not grounded in legal precedent. Instead, she created her own judicial doctrines and methodology without either the support of prior Supreme Court cases or of any of her colleagues (that's why she has had to write so many lone concurrences in the first place.)

I use "undue burden" as an example. Constitutional jurisprudence requires that judges use something called "strict scrutiny" when a challenged state or federal law impinges on a fundamental right. It means that such a law is constitutional only if there exists a compelling governmental interest and the law is the most narrowly tailored way to achieve that interest. The Court recognized abortion as a fundamental right in Roe v. Wade, and determined that the Texas law in question failed strict scrutiny.

Now, if the Court recognizes a right not as fundamental, it can use less rigorous analyses like "intermediate scrutiny" or "rational basis review." Clearly, these phrases don't appear in the Constitution, but Justices cannot interpret the words of the Constitution in a principled manner without some sort of jurisprudential methodology to guide their interpretation. However, O'Connor, as the crucial swing vote in the 1992 abortion case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, announced a new standard of review for abortion. Out of thin air. With no legal support. And by herself in concurrence. She said states can infringe on the right to an abortion unless it causes an "undue burden." This creation of a new judicial doctrine essentially creates a new abortion law. Again, with no legal support.

Wilbrod, I admire those who agree with a decision but concur separately because they disagree with the means by which the majority reached that end. Every single justice on the Court today has authored just such a concurrence. My concern is with O'Connor's reasoning. When one looks back at her opinions, one cannot help but notice the wealth of new legal doctrines she has created by herself, in the absence of legal precedent, and as the crucial swing vote. She "unites" the country with her opinions by taking just enough from each side of the constitutional debate to guarantee her status as the swing vote.

Posted by: Shawn | October 31, 2005 12:54 PM

Unfortunately, the press understands very little about "stare decisis" (a court should not overturn its own precedents unless there exists a compelling reason to do so) and that lack of understanding appears to be commonly shared among members of both epolitical extremes.

In fact, anyone posing the question of whether the Supreme Court will "overturn Roe v. Wade" almost immediately labels themselves as ignorant of the law and, in particular, of the legal hisory of this debate.

However, I think that stare decisis is less important to understanding what might happen post-Roe v. Wade than an understanding of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which helps to shed more light on how the Court might view a challenge.

In particular, for a majority of the Court, the issue of stare decisis was less important than the more general issue of the importance of Roe v. Wade as a "watershed decision" (to quote the Court). The issue in Planned Parenthood v. Casey was less whether Roe v. Wade had been correctly decided and more about what would be the social and legal effect if it were overturned.

Implicitly, what the Court said in its opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey was that the decision about whether abortion should or should not be legal should be left to the legislatures, not the Courts.

In point of fact, Roe v. Wade was a shakey decision insofar as protecting a woman's right to an abortion. The states, not the Federal government, regulate the practice of medicine (an argument which reappeared in Gonzales v. Oregon) in all instances save one, abortion. In fact, I think that Gonzales v. Oregon is going to be an interesting reflection of what the Court feels to be a compelling interest on the part of the Federal government to regulate what is at least as private a decision as whether to have an abortion: whether or not to end one's life.

As for Alito, what little we know of his position on abortion, it has been widely noted that he was the lone dissenter in Circuit Court's ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Unfortunately, the media has, so far, tried to characterize his opinion as being anti-abortion when, in reality, Alito was simply deferring to the (Pennsylvania) state legislature in presuming that the legislature had considered the issues surrounding spousal notification and had determined that the state had an interest in requiring this consent. While this might not sit well with pro-choice advocates, I think it says more about Alito's notions of Federalism than abortion.

I'm not so sure that one has to be a "Conservative" to agree with the notion the reason that our Constitution reserved so few powers for the central government is to allow laws to be created by the states through their elected representatives.

It makes litle sense to give the states the power to legislate what may occur within their borders if the Supreme Court can overturn such legislation on the basis of ideology rather than Constitutionality.

Posted by: Sean | October 31, 2005 12:55 PM

"ultraconservative"

Can we use terms that have meaning, please?

What exactly makes Alito "ultraconservative"--and just what is an "ultraconservative" in this specific context?

Is he going to overturn Roe? First: who can say for sure? But let's assume he will; isn't that what we call "conservative"? Why the "ultra"?

In any case, there is no evidence he'd do that; what he did do was uphold a peripheral restriction on abortion. Once. Meanwhile, he voted to strike down two other limits on abortion.

That's "ultra"?

Posted by: Septimus | October 31, 2005 12:55 PM

Seconding DMJ. The average voter doesn't keep a careful track of all the issues.
Thus, politicos who never explain but keep hitting emotionally charged points tend to succeed.
Do you think the average German agreed with Fascism wholeheartedly?

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 31, 2005 12:57 PM

DMJ,

I guess you were responding to me (Salt) when you addressed Nitpicker. I don't know if you did this out of stupidity or ignorance or just carelessness. (just kidding)

Whatever.

I find it amazing, but not surprising, that a liberal would admit that you think "Assuming ignorance, however, would be a winning strategy."

That is why liberals will never win big again in America. Most Americans are neither stupid nor ignorant (even using the benign connotation). They are well-informed, hard-working, ordinary people who do the extraordinary day after day because of one great motivation that liberals will never understand: Love.

Most Americans love their families so much that they will do anything to protect them, including voting for someone like Bush, because they truly believe he was the best bet for keeping their families safe.

They do not get caught up in Beltway games like Texas Air National Guard, Swift Boats, Cindy Sheehan, FEMA, Miers or Scooter. They know that Defense and the Economy are the main issues that directly affect the safety and security of their families.

The Bread and Circuses do not distract the majority of Americans from doing their best to do the right thing by their fellow man. They help their neighbors without Washington dictating when, where or how.

That's what makes them seem liberal at times. They are a caring and compassionate people. They just don't define "compassion" by how we spend our tax dollars alone. They define"compassion" by how hurting people are really helped. On the ground. Where the rubber meets the road.

So, go ahead, deem them stupid, ignorant, uninformed, unsophisticated or whatever and keep on losing elections.

Posted by: Salt | October 31, 2005 01:06 PM

Sean, you are in fact incorrect that "states, not the Federal government, regulate the practice of medicine (an argument which reappeared in Gonzales v. Oregon) in all instances save one, abortion."

The Food and Drug Administration regulates all medical devices, drugs that are intended to be used in medical purposes. The NIH regulates the process of getting medical devices and drugs approved for review with careful clinical trial guidelines.

States, as far as I can tell, simply have licensing boards for individual physicians by which they can revoke right to practice in a given state. This does not guarantee a physican will never practice again, because states do not communicate with each other on blacklisted doctors. Many bad or abusive doctors have changed states and continued practicing. In a few cases they have fled the country and practiced elsewhere.

States also have health boards that examine food establishments for safety, and public health agencies to address matters of public health.
Again, the center for disease control (CDC) has a major role in identifying epidemiological problems and advising states of emerging concerns, guidelines, etc. Doctors and hospitals are required by law to report certain diseases to the states. That data then goes to the CDC as well.

Even the federal government has a role in those signs telling employees to wash their hands before returning to work.

So I say that the regulation of medicine and health is in fact a joint practice between the federal government and the states, in which cooperation is prized.

Shawn, thank you for your edifying dissection. I am not a lawyer or even a law student. Now I do see why you object to O'Connor's legal thinking. And I think almost everybody in America except W. thought Miers was unqualified.
I believe W. is interested in benching candidates who would support his stance on Gitmo bay and not enforce any sanctions for the administration ignoring or taking little action on the Supreme Court's July 2005 decision concerning giving those detainees lawyers and a fair hearing.
By this standard, nominating his own personal counsel was ideal. John Roberts also was supportive of his Gitmo bay decision.
I now wonder, what would happen if in fact the Supreme Court decided that the Bush Administration had violated its ruling, what would be the court's action be?

Watergate established even the President is not above the law. If the president and vice president are found to be in flagrant violation of a court order, what could be done? I keep wondering about this.
It would seem jail, impeachment, and an court order reassigning the presidency to the third in succession would be an entirely possible outcome. That is, if the Supreme court under John G. Robert had such a will to do so. (I doubt it.).

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 31, 2005 01:17 PM


Ya'll should take your discussion elsewhere because you're missing the point of this thread which is Alito as smokescreen. Or, perhaps, you can say that your bickering is the precise results which is intended. In response to Shawn's post, time to be an adult. The judicial arena is, and always has been, an extention of politics, the myth of the robe be damned. In his list of judges waiting for appointments, does Bush have any "liberal" judges? Of course not. Judicial nominations are results-driven: what will this individual do for my ideology over the life of their appointment. Bush's only mistake was making that completely obvious with his choice of Meiers. But, to return to the whole point of this: as I said above, I believe the timing of this was a little too staged to completely achieve its objective.

Posted by: Matt | October 31, 2005 01:22 PM

OK, Matt, comment, please:

As to the subject at hand, Alito is so well-qualified and reasonable that he was confirmed to the Federal Bench by a unanimous voice vote. Now, those who oppose him will reveal themselves to be intellectually dishonest ideologues who think the American People are stupid.

Posted by: Salt | October 31, 2005 01:34 PM

Matt, I'm more interested in the impact of Alito on the Supreme court. I just think Bush is not selecting on basis of ideology but for self-preservation.

It'd be nice if Bush in fact did select very principled conservative judges on pure ideology alone. Then there'd be a chance they may promptly say "We can't let anybody ignore Supreme Court decisions, that's illegal" and hold this administration to that to the fullest extent of the law. That'd be great. But sure... right.

I think they picked this timing to create a smokescreen on Alito so people can just focus on his known record, not on how he may influence the burning issue facing the White House... Will they get nabbed for ignoring the Gitmo Bay decision? You saw Bush is threatening to veto an anti-torture bill?
Again, Gitmo bay, Abu Gabrib.
Two things that shouldn't have happened and which should NOT be justified by the administration.

If the OK city bombing was one man's crazy terrorist revenge for Waco, what are we setting up right now for the future? what message do we send right now by allowing the president to override anti-torture bills, and ignore supreme court decisions saying the Gitmo Bay situation has to be changed?

Forget the smoke, it's what's under the smoke that counts.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 31, 2005 01:40 PM

Don't worry, the focus on the misdeeds of the Bushites will remain. Why? The war continues and will continue to be a disaster. The hurricane problem has not been addressed very well. The prices of home heating oil and gasoline -- what Joe Sixpack really cares about -- will continue to be shocking. Bush will not be able to use his nomination of Alito/Scalito, to his advantage.

Posted by: candide | October 31, 2005 01:49 PM

There is no doubt that this nomination was timed with two things in mind...Libby and tanking poll numbers. Bush only wins when he divides and polarizes the country. What happens now....simple....Alito gets roughed up some in the J committee, the repubs force a vote, the dems filibuster, the repubs change the rules....and a minority candiate from the fringe gets a lifetime appointment.

If the Dems are smart, they then nationalize the 2006 election on the themes of accountability, ethics and the dictatorship of an ideological minority. If they can articulate this in conjunction with a stronmg plan to make life better, the repubs lose theri majority. then we have real investigations into Bush's lies and incompetence. better late than never.

Posted by: lostdem | October 31, 2005 01:51 PM

Salt,

Leaving aside the issue of whether liberals, as human beings, are capable of love, can you please explain to an outsider if the American concern for personal and family safety is really as strong as your comments suggest? Why are Americans (or at least a very sizable minority of them) seemingly obsessed with perceived threats to their life and well-being?

Posted by: Pragmatical | October 31, 2005 01:51 PM

Comment on the above?

(a) Alito was confirmed to the federal bench by a unanimous voice vote. Any implication beyond that (that it was because he was, "so well-qualfied and reasonable", that nobody could find any reason to vote against him, that he had a good haircut, or that the Senate thought it was asking if they wanted ham sandwiches for lunch, would require further proof.

(b) It is completely possible to be suitable for one positon and unsuitable for another. Granted, there is a fair amount of qualification overlap between one spot on the federal judicial system and the supr. ct. but the overlap is not 100% and, as noted above, confirmed for one does not mean "qualified" ... it simply means "confirmed."

(c) The Supreme Court, particularly under its current alignment, is a body of scarce positions where each individual seat is crucial. Therefore, for the RealPolitic reasons that one set of people would urge their representatives to support a nomination, others will urge their representatives to vote against the nomination.

(d) This thread is not a discussion, really, of the substance of the nomination (which I'm sure you can find many places elsewhere if you really need to get this stuff out of your system), but of the political use of its timing. See the original article.

Posted by: Matt | October 31, 2005 01:52 PM

Wilbrod,

It's ok, Bro, You can relax and quit drinking the Liberal Myth Kool-Aid. There have been no verified incidents of torture committed or approved by American forces. There have been incidents of degradation, humiliation and deprivation that have been disavowed by the DOD and White House. But be careful tossing around a word like"torture".

Dictionary.com defines "torture" thusly:
Infliction of severe physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion.
An instrument or a method for inflicting such pain.
Excruciating physical or mental pain; agony: the torture of waiting in suspense.
Something causing severe pain or anguish.

There has been none of that.

US Law embracing the Geneva Convention clearly prohibits torture. Only a judicial liberal activist would try and make the law mean something else.

Posted by: Salt | October 31, 2005 02:00 PM

Matt,

It doesn't matter about the timing.

Alito will spar with Kennedy, Shumer, et al, in committee, do well (a la Roberts), be approved and pass the full Senate 65-35.

No prob.

Remember, you read it here first.

Posted by: Salt | October 31, 2005 02:07 PM

I think Salt is whistling in the dark. At least one prisoner was beaten to death at Abu Ghraib.

Maybe the beating wasn't "excruciatingly painful"?

Posted by: Cal Gal | October 31, 2005 02:12 PM


The primary reason Alito got selected over other candidates was because of the timing. He presents the trifecta to the administration:

(1) he has the credentials to satisfy the intellectual right;

(2) he has the hard right stance to satisfy the bible-thumping right;

and (3) he is so far right that he will provoke a hard fight from the left, sparking fighting over points (1) & (2) and getting libby off of the headlines.

If everything was going right for the Bushies, Alito would've stayed where he was.

Posted by: Matt | October 31, 2005 02:14 PM

I'm sorry if I misspoke.

Can you send me the name, date of death and the US response, please?

I am always willing to learn.

Posted by: Salt | October 31, 2005 02:15 PM

But he will be confirmed, won't he?

Posted by: Salt | October 31, 2005 02:17 PM

Will Alito get confirmed? Maybe. He'll stay nominated as long as he serves Bush's interest but if Bush can put him up, have everyone beat each other up for a month, and then withdraw him, that's fine with him, too. Either way he's gotten everyone stopped from talking about Libby, Rove, and Cheney.

Posted by: Matt | October 31, 2005 02:24 PM

And then, if Bush withdraws him, he'll have the favorite political highground. When you're not in government, the best scapegoat to rally support is the government. When you are in government, the best scapegoat to rally support is other branches of government (in this case an "obstructionist Congress, I'm sure).

Posted by: Matt | October 31, 2005 02:27 PM

Matt,

I humbly disagree.

Everyone was not talking about Libby, Rove, Cheney. Only political junkies on the right and left.

The Most of America I referenced in an earlier post (who are motivated by familial love) are not surprised by political wars that cross lines of propriety and/or legality. They trust the judicial system to deal with whatever the latest News Media Driven Crisis is and accept it rather stoically. But, by and large, they wonder why pundits and journalists get so worked up over the natural, regularly occuring ugliness of our Political System.

Posted by: Salt | October 31, 2005 02:34 PM

If Most of America doesn't care about ethical lapses in politics, then Bush must have pretty politically naive to make the slogan of his 2000 race, "Restore Honor and Dignity to the White House", huh.

Posted by: Matt | October 31, 2005 02:41 PM

It's been fun, folks, but I've gtg.

I love you all, even you rabid left wing Bush hating, naive souls who seem to want the US to fail. You can still live here in peace as we defend your right to be wrong.

Posted by: Salt | October 31, 2005 02:41 PM

Sorry, Matt, one more thing.

I didn't say the Most of America doesn't care. I said they are not surprised when stuff happens in our political system and they do not consider every ethical lapse (which I'm not conceding in the Libby case) a monumental crisis of apocalyptic proportions.

As Hyman Roth said, "This is the business we've chosen."

Posted by: Salt | October 31, 2005 02:45 PM

Look up the Surpreme court decision on Gitmo Bay, Salt. You'll learn more about it than FOX news tells you.

You will win more respect if you speak for yourself, and do not put words in other people's mouths.

You don't know what other people are really thinking, only what they might have said to you, if you were listening.

I had a cousin die in Iraq. He thought he was fighting for the country, not a lie. I'm glad he never got to found out.

BTW, if you want to throw around that druggie stereotype, which is very outdated...
Most people swigging "Liberal kool-aid" have a much more clean drug record than Rush Limbaugh.
They also have served in the military more often, longer, and stronger.

Go calm down and think hard about it... people who disagree with you or your preferred candidate are not inhuman, loveless people.
Every person has a mind and a life experience that forms their opinion.

I work with extreme conservatives, liberals, and all colors in between. I have them in my family, among my friends. I hear a lot of different points of view., I try and keep current on major issues that affect our society.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 31, 2005 03:10 PM

Wilbrod,

I'm sorry you are so upset. I re-read my earlier post and I do not think I was intemperate in my remarks. If I was, I apologize.

I don't know what you are talking about ("You will win more respect if you speak for yourself, and do not put words in other people's mouths.

You don't know what other people are really thinking, only what they might have said to you, if you were listening." or "if you want to throw around that druggie stereotype" )
What is all that about?

Your cousin was right. You are wrong.

Posted by: Salt | October 31, 2005 03:25 PM

My Dear Wilbrod,

I read the Supreme Court's decision on Rasul v. Bush, No. 03-334, (which included Al Odah v. United States, No. 03-343).

It only deals with the rights of Gitmo detainees to bring suit and have their days in court. Habeas Corpus and Tort Law were referenced, but there was no mention of mistreatment or torture.

Was there another case you had in mind?

Love,

Salt

Posted by: Salt | October 31, 2005 03:38 PM

Since you confuse easily:

Bush lied, 2000 died.
His approval ratings are below 40%.
Bush ignored SC ruling.
Bush got the Patriot act approved.
Bush wants to veto the anti-torture bill.
We invaded 2 countries and remain in them without clear exit plans.

The military is shrinking because people of my age are rejecting the war and refusing to enlist for a bad cause.

Soldiers already in are finding they are in effect drafted to stay even longer by questionable means.

There are thousands of families struggling out there thanks to this war.

I personally did care packages for soldiers in Iraq, and was proud to help the troops there. But the fact is, they shouldn't be there, not in this manner, not based on lies.

My critique of putting words in other people's mouth is of your repeated statements such as "they think... they want..." If you are trolling for flames, then that would explain it.

And yes, I do think your comments about liberals being unable to love was way out of line, trolling or not. It was idiotic as well.

Let me clarify again, since you don't understand.

Based on his taste in nominees, I hypothesize that Bush picked Alito more because he may give him a chance to escape the consequences of ignoring the Gitmo Bay decision. This would explain the Miers nomination, and the Roberts nomination fits this pattern, as well.

Alito is not competent as part of a pattern. It's nice to know he may actually be. I'd be thrilled. I want good judges on the bench.

But frankly, if Bush could just appoint without the Senate's approval, Brownie would be on the Supreme Court right now with a keg.

It's not the nominee, it's the president behind the nominee that this blog is discussing, and the reasons for his nomination. I'm glad you find much to admire in Alito.

That line of thinking is my contribution to the topic. Personally, who know what Bush is thinking? We only know what he says, and that's not making much sense those days.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 31, 2005 05:46 PM

Salt,

First, my apologies (to you and to Nitpicker) for misdirecting my post. This was my first post to this forum and thus mis-read the attributions.

Assuming ignorance is absolutely a winning strategy for one simple reason: people don't understand what it is liberals support because they've allowed themselves to be painted as bad guys by the conservatives. Once people are allowed to grasp that, as polls show, they agree with the policies of the liberals and not the conservatives, they would actually vote for them. If they were, as you believe, well-informed, they would have known beyond doubt that Bush & co. were incompetent long before the election, but the Democrats didn't trust in that, so they offered their own brand of smoke and mirrors, much to their (yes, *their*, as I am not a Democrat) dismay.

I don't disagree that most Americans wish to help their fellow man, and in most cases do so quite admirably. However, to steer this back to the topic, the conservatives have done such a good job of blurring the issues, as with the timing of this appointment, that the average person can't even find the signal through the noise. That's how they can get the votes of the very people from whose mouths they're stealing the bread that goes with the circuses. It's all about sleight-of-hand.

Posted by: DMJ | October 31, 2005 06:07 PM

Salt states that liberals will never win big again.

In 1964 after Goldwater lost big it was suggested that Republicans could never win again.

In 1972 it was suggested that Democrats could never win again.

In each case the White House changed party occupants 4 years later.

I will not be surprised to see a Democrat win the presidency in 2008.

ApRhys

Posted by: ApRhys | October 31, 2005 06:12 PM

Thank you, Wilbrod.

I'm sorry that you're angry. I'm not.

I never said that liberals are unable to love. This is what I said, "Most Americans are neither stupid nor ignorant (even using the benign connotation). They are well-informed, hard-working, ordinary people who do the extraordinary day after day because of one great motivation that liberals will never understand: Love."

Liberals will never understand love as the great motivation of ordinary people. The reason ordinary Americans are both conservative and liberal is that they love their families and look to government for security, hence GOP support. But they also love their neighbors and look to government to look after those others who can't take care of themselves, hence Democratic support.

Liberals usually think that working-class people are sheep that are led astray by clever politicians or pundits. They are, rather, complicated people, who prioritize life differently from the sophisticated punditry.

This is what I believe.

I re-read my posts to see if there is anything I should apologize for. My posts are fine. I stated my beliefs in a temperate and loving manner. If you do not agree, that is your business. Your personal attacks are unnecessary and petty. Your anger is misplaced.

Back to Bush and Alito:

Tell me how Bush lied.

If I have offended in anything other than my political views, I am truly sorry.

I love you all.

Posted by: Salt | October 31, 2005 06:19 PM

ApRhys, I didn't say that the Democrats could not win big. I said that liberals cannot win big.

Who were the only Democrats to win the White House since 1964? Carter and Clinton-two Southern Governors who ran as moderate populists.

The Democratic Party could win big if it became a truly populist, working-class party. But it will not because it is as beholden to its special interest base as the GOP is beholden to its own.

Love to all.

Posted by: Salt | October 31, 2005 06:28 PM

I'm sure Alito is very well qualified to be a Supreme Court Justice. However, I believe most Americans wanted another woman on the court and nominating another white male will only toughen the fight. Harriet Miers was rejected by many conservatives, however she wasn't embraced by anyone. It became evident she wasn't going to be confirmed. And it's to bad the constitution was written in hieroglyphics such that only a select handful of people can actually interpret it. I'm surprised they even allow it to be published for us common folk to pretend to read.

Posted by: Russell | October 31, 2005 06:40 PM

With Alito the Court will have too many Catholics and too many Italians. Period.

Posted by: candide | October 31, 2005 07:00 PM

Saw you preaching and boasting earlier in this post about why liberals will never again win a national election. You say it's because liberals don't understand "love" and you also said that your version of Americans don't care about all the lying and poor judgements made by your hero, G.W., whom you view as some sort of cloud gliding Great Protector watching down on the industrious, God fearing American people.

My goodness, man, you have really lost it. You almost wet your pants there.

Protector? Where was his protection on Sept. 11, 2001? More than 2,000 American troops surely can't feel protected in the grave, nor can those who mourn them. What about all the Americans who will die in the future because he recruited so much anti-American feeling in the middle east and all over the world? American protector my ass.

Liberals don't understand love? Is it love to destroy the lives of not only your own countrymen, but 30,000 Iraqis, many of whom were innocent, because engaging in war is good politics? Who championed voting rights? Liberals, and giving people a voice in our democracy is an act of love. Who recognized that Viet Nam was a war that we could never win and forced this nation to stop killing brown-skinned people of a backward nation. I know its tough in your testicles to admit that your nation was wrong to begin and engage in a war but it was right to stop it, but ending killing is an act of love. Which political ideology began and fights for programs that feed the hungry and give people strength to see beyond the hopelessness of their situation. Liberals, my friend.

History tells us that the political pendulum swings back and forth. George W. Bush's brand of conservatism - the shifting of the tax code to favor the super rich, the disregard for thought and reason, the fear-mongering, the almost facist contempt for tolerance, the reliance on the corporate lobby to set policy--all of G.W. Bush's conservatism is marking the time when the pendulum stopped and began its slow, long glide away from the dark, greed-based conservative ideology.

People have had it with your phony. But then again to know that you'd have to actually read public opinion.

Let's chat again on election night, 2006.

Posted by: R.D. | October 31, 2005 07:06 PM

I think the right wing should get everything their stingy little hearts desire:

unlimited corporatism.
rolling back abortion rights.
getting rid of social security.
War without end.

When all this is in place, one of two things will happen: either the country as a whole will vomit up the ugly mess, or the country will divide, and the Re'thug'licans will be exposed as the party of the Confederate South.

I think we may as well go all the way. Clearly Watergate, McCarthyism, Iran-Contra, none of this was enough to show the voters the corruption and extremism in modern day Re'thugs.

Posted by: camille roy | October 31, 2005 07:18 PM

Surprisingly, Bush has nominated a person who is neither female, nor from the minorities such as blacks or hispanics. This is clearly a flaw. Even Laura Bush suggested that the nominee succeeding Sandra O'Connor better be a woman.

Bush's choice is bound to thrill a certain section of vociferous conservatives such as George Will, Charles Krauthammer and others in their mold. But the big test is yet to come. If Alito's performance at the Senate hearings turn out as good as, or close to, that of John Roberts (that is, dodging the bullet of sharp questioning on hot button issues such as abortion, affirmative action, respect for due process even in cases of "detainees" etc.), then he will be supported by most of the Republican Senators. His track record seems to support their assumptions about Alito.

Democrats should not be seen as obstructionists, either. If Alito proves himself to be a competent candidate there should be no hesitation in confirming him. They must go with an open mind and not be blinded by ideology. (This applies to Republicans, as well).

Posted by: Joe M. | October 31, 2005 07:34 PM

R.D. and Camille Roy,

I'm sorry you're so angry.

Your misrepresentation of truth is not helpful to a reasoned discussion of issues.

Your ad hominem attacks are proof of the weaknesses of your statements.

Love, Salt

Posted by: Salt | October 31, 2005 07:47 PM

Salt,
The way you profess 'love' and slime your opponents as not understanding 'love'is a form of ad hominem attack. It's annoying. If you have something to say, say it, but don't emote all over me. I feel like I have to wipe you off - yucky!

And, salty, don't appoint yourself spokesman for the working classes. You don't know diddly about me. I bet I make half the income you do! And not for want of trying. How many times in the last 5 years did you qualify for the Earned Income Tax credit?

Or are you one of those Re'thugs who yearns for authenticity so bad, so hard, that you're willing to pretend you're 'working class'. Kind of like Bill O'Reilly. That dude lovers to pretend he's from 'Levittown', it gives him crediblity & cover while he's advocating the Re'thug policies that shaft those of us who work hard for our shrinking incomes.

Welcome to the new Re'thug America:
of CLASS WAR!

You wanted these Re'thugs, now you got ALL their wars. Welcome to the party, Salty.

Posted by: camille roy | November 1, 2005 01:05 AM

Scott Mclellan should resign. It is clear that he was repeatedly lied to by the White House staff working for both the President and Vice President and then hung out to dry on the White House laundry line. While Libby has resigned, Karl Rove has not and it does not appear that he will be fired. Since Rove is probably a primary source for much of Mclellan's daily material, anything Mclellan says in the future should be vetted multiple times before it can be believed. He is clearly not sufficiently "in the know" to know if what he is saying is real or the figment of someone's imagination.

I have no reason to believe that Scott Mclellan is anything but honest, truthful, and ethical. Unfortunately, his superiors have put him in a box with a massive credibility gap. I think he is in a "Rove or me" position right now for remaining at the White House.

Posted by: rd | November 1, 2005 07:39 AM

The Ginsberg argument is fraudulent. Republicans went along with Ginsberg because they had a significant role in the selection process. Clinton discussed the nominee with Republican senators - get this now -- BEFORE the nominee became the nominee.

Posted by: whittyone | November 1, 2005 04:24 PM

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