Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Personal Aside: Liberal Media Have Themselves to Blame with Circulation Drops: Take The New York Times on Obama for Example.
Just as Hollywood perversely continues making many films people dont want to see, The Da Vinci Code and now Ron Howards latest anti-Catholic tirade Angels and Demons, most urban newspapers cling to liberalism as the only way to sell papers when it should be obvious the public has decided it doesnt care for the conclusions the Sun-Times and Tribune purvey.
Take The New York Times for instance.
This supposed newspaper of record on a front-page a week ago Sunday spread written by one Jodi Kantor in adulatory facts-dont-matter fashion wildly misstated his credentials last week in an over-the-top article that presented Obama as a deep-thinking jurisprudential figure. Said The Times: Many American presidents have been lawyers but almost none have come to office with Barack Obamas knowledge of the Supreme Court. Before he was 30, he was editing articles by eminent legal scholars on the courts decisions. Later as a law professor, he led students through landmark decisions from Plessy v. Ferguson to Bush v. Gore.
Thats about as great a departure from the truth about Obamas scholarship as is possible to get. Even Obamas campaign biography does not make that contention.
As one who has made a study of media hype-Obama I have to say this:
Sorry, Jodi, but Obama was never a law professor. He was a lecturer at the University of Chicago and was later promoted to senior lecturer which is not the same thing as professor. He lectured there for twelve years and was never a lecturer in constitutional law, either although as all law lecturers do, discussed, on occasion, key Supreme Court decisions. During his time at the U of C (12 years as lecturer, 8 as senior lecturer) he taught courses in due process, equal protections, voting rights and a course of his own invention, racism and the law. He was offered tenure but turned it down. He published no legal scholarly works. His staff has resolutely blocked the media from examining any of the papers he was required to write as a student.
Further, Jodi, it will interest you and the good folks at the Times, to learn that so engrossed in legal affairs was Obama that he allowed his law license to expire. In 1993 he joined a 12-attorney law firm specializing in civil rights litigation and neighborhood community development (Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland) where he was not a partner but an associate for three years (1993-96) and of counsel for eight. He allowed his law license to expire in 2002.
Kantor then puffs up Obamas scholarly reputation frenetically with a bicycle pump. He is a pragmatist, she writes (which is supposed to console those who know him as a consummate legal radical): Former students and colleagues describe Mr. Obama as a minimalist (skeptical of court-led efforts at social change) and a structuralist (interested in how the law metes out power in society). And more than anything else, he is a pragmatist who urged those around him to be more keenly attuned to the real-life impact of decisions. This may be his distinguishing quality as a legal scholar [sic]: an unwillingness to deal in abstraction, a constant desire to know how court decisions affect peoples lives. .
My comment: Sorry again, Jodi theres no proof whatsoever of this minimalist assumption. As president of the Harvard Law Review he left no substantive paper trail. His name doesnt appear on any document of legal scholarshipwhich is unique among many other Law Review presidents. And his staff has seen to it that none of his memos from Harvard will see the light of day. Far from minimalist, take a listen to hat he said as preserved on a 2001 audio tape where he was talking about the Supreme Court and the Constitution:
If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court, I think where it succeeded was to invest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples But the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society. That doesnt sound like minimalist or pragmatist to me, Jodi. The phrases dispossessed, redistribution of wealth and political and economic justice are from the Saul Alinsky glossary.
Further, lets look at his evaluation of the Warren Court.
Obama: As radical as I think people tried to characterize the Warren court, it wasnt that radical. It didnt break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution. .
Oh no? Not the usurpative rulings driving God out of the classroom and inventing a spurious right of privacy? Heres the zombie media again accepting as given everything he says. What about the school prayer issues? The 1st amendment, all legal scholars say was written not to ban mention of God by the federal government or the states but to ensure that government be neutral among the religions. In 1962 in Engel v. Vitale , the Warren court ruled recitation of a nondenominational prayer in public school is unconstitutional, although no student was required to participate. The prayer: Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee and we beg thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country. The next year the Warren court forbade recitation of the Lords prayer and bible reading in public schools.
Not to forget that the Warren court wove out of whole cloth a whole new rightthe right to privacy which lay the foundation for Roe v. Wade by the Burger court. In 1965 it enumerated the constitutional right in the Justice William O. Douglas words penumbras formed by emanations from the Bill of Rights. These are the major steps taken by the Warren court that Obama calls no departures.
And what about the exclusionary rule expanded by the Warren court which blocks much criminal activity from admission in court. It stems from the 4th amendment against unreasonable searches. But that pertained to abuse of official search warrants issued by the kings officials in civil actions. The Warren court expanded it to exclude culpable evidence that proved to be a boon to criminal activity ever sinceincluding school discipline cases where authorities in inner-city schools must jump through numerous legal hurdles to take guns away from students.
The Miranda warnings, familiar to all TV crime show viewers (you have the right to remain silent etc.) was never regarded as necessary by the Founders, aids lawbreakers. Even Chief Justice Earl Warren himself acknowledged in his opinion that to be sure, the records do not evince overt physical coercion or patent psychological ploys. Miranda turned the balance on law enforcement to favor criminals in one of the most radical ruptures of common law.
These are the major issues that Obama feels stayed true to constitutional precedent.
Empathy Instead of Scholarship.
What standards will he use to pick the next Justice? This is what he said about his forthcoming nominee: I will seek someone who understands that justice isnt about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a case book. It is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of peoples liveswhether they can make a living and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation. I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with peoples hopes and struggles, as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes. I will seek somebody who is dedicated to the rule of law, who honors our constitutional traditions, who respects the integrity of the judicial process and the appropriate limits of the judicial role.
As often with Obamas statements, its too clever by halftelling us far more than he intended. The first part of his statement ignores certainly willfully what judges do. They do not make laws whatsoever, least of all laws concerning the daily realities of peoples lives. That is the function of legislatures, state and federal, including laws that make citizens feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation. Federal judges decide what laws, already passed, mean. And whether or not laws already enacted by legislatures are in synch or in violation with the Constitution. Obama knows this.
Thus the strong indication is that he is preparing the nation for the appointment of a hard-left activist who will act as a legislator not interpreter. After all, as senator he voted against John Roberts for chief justice, Sam Alito for associate and volunteered to participate in filibusters against them, which is almost never done. He told Rick Warren during the campaign, I would not nominate Clarence Thomas. I dont think he was a strong enough jurist or legal thinker at the time for that elevation, setting aside the fact that I profoundly disagree with his interpretations of a lot of the Constitution. He added, I would not nominate Justice Scalia, although I dont think theres any doubt about his intellectual brilliance, because he and I just disagree.
Obama applied the wordsmiths art to provide a little confusion: Abortion will be an important issue though we shouldnt apply a strict litmus test. Thats an attempt to pacify conservativesagain, too clever by half. He also says he will seek the advice of all sides, presumably conservatives as well. Dont hold your breath that traditional legal views will even be considered.
But, all the same, I am somebody who believes that Roe v. Wade was rightly decided. So this is going to be an important issue. I will look for those judges who have an outstanding judicial record, who have the intellect and who hopefully, have a sense of what real-world folks are going through.
The gooey rhetoric about a jurist who has empathy, one filled with understanding and identifying with peoples hopes and struggles, as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes is radical- liberal boilerplate that stretches the role of jurist far out of proportion to what the founders intended. In this case the word empathyand Obama is almost a demonically perverse wordsmithis code for soft on criminals, cozy with plaintiffs in personal injury matters (the trial bar is one of the heaviest contributors to the Democratic party), homosexual activists, pro-abort lobbying groups and others who support the liberal agenda.
About Souter, one of the most predictable liberals on the Court, named by George H. W. Bush through the importuning of his chief of staff John Sununu, Obama said: He has the quality of empathy. Theres that word empathy again. By the time he made his speech to Planned Parenthood on July 17, 2007, he was using it as a cliché. We need somebody whos got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what its like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what its like to be poor, or African-American or gay, or disabled, or old. And thats the criteria by which Im going to be selecting my judges.
Undoubtedly Oprah Winfrey on the Supreme Court would be just perfect.
Obamas standards require a living Constitution the parchment document becoming as stretchable as if it were of silly putty to include affirmative action considerations for the sacred cow minorities gays, poor, single moms whom he mentions continually.
The Waterboarding Diffusion.
Parsing Obamas often murky linguistic juggling was never more fun than with his discussion of torture. Diffusing opinion as he goes, Obama told a news conference not long ago that water-boarding violates our ideals and our values, pointing out I put an end to these practices. I am thoroughly convinced it was the right thing to do, not because there might not have been information that was yielded by these various detainees who were subjected to the treatment, but because we could have gotten this information in other ways. .
We could have gotten this information in other ways. Really? His own CIA denies this. He never says how nor is it possible to imagine how. In all, water-boarding was used in three instances because information could not have been obtained in different ways. With Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind behind 9/11 who personally decapitated Daniel Pearl of the Wall Street Journal with a butcher knife, when pressed about future plans he knew about, he responded curtly, soon you will know. Which meant this: in the future you will count the dead that will pile up. In its memos, the CIA reported that it would not have been able to obtain the information from the detainees without enhanced techniques. Meaning: they tried the regular techniques and they didnt work. Also, suspected terrorists are not part of an army, are not covered by the Geneva convention.
Then there is his sleight of hand tricks on the economy. To the adulatory media, he identified $2 trillion in deficit reductions over the next decade. Sound good? Thats what they thought. But most of the $2 trillion is illusory, spun up not by cuts but by refraining from spending $180 billion a year on the military. It is as if I told my wife I plan to save our budget $100,000 next yearby not buying a classic deluxe Lamborghini 400G1 Espada four-seater. For all his wordsmith dexterity his claiming that when his domestic priorities kick in (universal health care, federalized education from k-1 to college) at his last news conference, Obama could not explain how the Democrat-controlled Congressional Budget Office has projected deficits increasing in the last seven years of the decade to $1.2 trillion by 2019 from $672 billion annually. Reason: he has no answer.
I am delighted to report that chickens have come home to roost to big corporate executives who gave money to and enthusiastically voted for Obama. His plan announced last week to impose U.S. taxes on corporate Americas overseas profits has terrified hi-tech bellwethers like Hewlett-Parkard, IBM, Cisco Systems, Microsoft and Google. Each received benefits of more than $1 billion from lower foreign tax rates in the last two fiscal years. HP, IBM, Cisco, Microsoft and Google lowered their tax bills by a combined $7.4 billion in their last fiscal years by taking advantage of lower tax rates outside the U. S. The U. S. has the highest corporate tax rates in the western world. Last week executives were treated to the sight of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, no less who had to scurry to make right his own tax deficiencies calling them to account for not paying sufficient taxes.
This may cause Big Business to rue the day so many of its club supported Obama. But thats of no concern to the zombie-like media who thrill just to be along for the charismatic ride.