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Sunday, May 31, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via ABC’s Jake Tapper: First President in US History to Have Voted to Filibuster a Supreme Court Nominee Now Hopes for Clean Process

President Obama’s expressed hope today in his weekly address “that we can avoid the political posturing and ideological brinksmanship that has bogged down this (Supreme Court nomination) process, and Congress, in the past” runs against another historical first for the 44th president: his unique role in history as the first US President to have ever voted to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee.


In January 2024, then-Sen. Obama joined 24 colleagues in a futile effort led by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to filibuster the Supreme Court nomination of now-Justice Samuel Alito.

There will be some political hay made of this, no doubt (well, in fact, see: here, here and here). Well, this is what happens when a given political actor holds two different offices in a given governmental structure: they act differently according to the institution that they are occupying at a given moment. It just stands to reason, yes? Beyond that, isn’t the bottom line here that a Democrat once opposed a Republican nominee and now likes his own nominee and wants a quick and easy confirmation? Not exactly “stop the presses” kind of stuff, is it?

Now, I will say that as a matter of political trivia is it interesting to note that Obama is the first US President to vote to filibuster a SCOTUS nominee. Pack it away for Trivial Pursuit 2024s Edition, but in terms of political commentary, it ain’t much.

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Saturday, May 30, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via Think Progress (Barnes: Sotomayor ‘benefited’ from affirmative action ‘tremendously.’) is the following transcript of Fred Barnes talking to Bill Bennett on Bennett’s radio show earlier in the week:

BARNES: I think you can make the case that she’s one of those who has benefited from affirmative action over the years tremendously.

BENNETT: Yeah, well, maybe so. Did she get into Princeton on affirmative action, one wonders.

BARNES: One wonders.

BENNETT: Summa Cum Laude, I don’t think you get on affirmative action. I don’t know what her major was, but Summa Cum Laude’s a pretty big deal.

Setting aside for the moment any particular discussion of the relative merits of affirmative action, what struck me about this interchange is that it has to be one of the worst examples of an argument against affirmative action that one could muster. To wit: the idea behind affirmative action is that it allows opportunities for qualified people who otherwise would have been unable to access them because of racial/ethnic reasons. Indeed, the notion is that such persons actually deserve such opportunities and will excel if given them. The counter argument to affirmative action is basically that it allows less qualified persons of color to obtain slots in schools/jobs based on unfair preferential treatment.

Here’s the problem: if Sotomayor did receive affirmative action help in getting into school (and I don’t think that we know that she did) then she is a pretty lousy example of an undeserving recipient, as she clearly took full advantage of her opportunity. Someone who graduates Summa Cum Laude from Princeton clearly deserved to be there.

As such, she would be (again, assuming she even received such a benefit) a perfect argument for affirmative action.

Barnes’ capper on the above dialog is quite petty, underscoring perhaps his recognition that his argument was going off the rails:

BARNES: I guess it is, but you know, there’s some schools and maybe Princeton’s not one of them, where if you don’t get Summa Cum Laude then or some kind of Cum Laude, you then, you’re a D+ student.

I’ve heard of the past practice of gentleman’s C’s at Ivy League school before, but never the D+ Cum Laude. That’s a new one.

I was going to blog the above earlier in the week, but didn’t have the time and was reminded of it via Megan McArdle’s post, The Problem of Affirmative Action in which she concludes

Sonia Sotomayor is not manifestly unqualified to be a Supreme Court justice, so focusing on affirmative action is completely irrelevant. You can argue with her politics or her legal judgement, and hey, I’m all ears. But the affirmative action complaints aren’t advancing our quest to find out whether or not she’d be a good justice.

I must concur. Indeed, it is almost a reflexive reaction (the Dems talk about diversity, so the Reps have to rail on about affirmative action and reverse discrimination) that ultimately leads nowhere. If anything it a) does nothing for the Reps arguments about the Court itself, b) makes them look petty, and c) helps to alienate future voters.

Really, what is the point here of bringing up affirmative action? It seems to me that the net effect is to make affirmative action look good, Republicans to look bad, and for Sotomayor’s nomination to be utterly unaffected. This is the very trifecta of poor politics.

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Friday, May 29, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Lines of Green, Rays of Light


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By Steven L. Taylor

Salvia w/ Lantana Bokeh


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By Steven L. Taylor

I guess G. Gordon didn’t read Noonan today (via memeorandum):

Really, I thought such comments went out of vogue even amongst the misogynistic set some while ago. Of course, it got him what he wanted: attention.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Peggy Noonan’s column in today’s WSJ (Republicans, Let’s Play Grown-Up) well captures my general mood in regards to the Republican at the moment, both in terms of their general predicament as well as to the Sotomayor nomination in specific.

In regards to the general predicament:

Some, and they are idiots, look at Judge Sotomayor and say: attack, attack, kill. A conservative activist told the New York Times, “We need to brand her.” Another told me a fight is needed to excite the base.

Excite the base? How about excite a moderate, or interest an independent? How about gain the attention of people who aren’t already on your side?

The base is plenty excited already, as you know if you’ve ever read a comment thread on a conservative blog. Comment-thread conservatives, like their mirror-image warriors on the left (“Worst person in the woooorrrlllddd!”) are perpetually agitated, permanently enraged. They don’t need to be revved, they’re already revved. Newt Gingrich twitters that Judge Sotomayor is a racist. Does anyone believe that? He should rest his dancing thumbs, stop trying to position himself as the choice and voice of the base in 2024, and think.


While the example here is the nomination, the broader point is on target: enough, already with the perpetual outrage. Yes, I realize that there are plenty of folks on both sides of the aisle who are perpetually inflamed about something. However, it is my view (and I don’t think it is a controversial, or even contestable point) that such voices dominant the Republican Party/conservative movement these days.

Specific to the Sotomayor nomination:

The choice for Republicans isn’t between “attack” and “roll over.” It’s broader than that, and more interesting. There’s a new and fresh opportunity here for Republicans in the Senate to be serious, and, in their seriousness, to be seen and understood in a new light.

In fact, if the Republicans treat this as simply an opportunity to score some cheap political points, they have to understand that they are destined to lose, as barring an as yet unrevealed scandal, Sotomayor will be confirmed.

As such, Noonan correctly observes:

Republicans can be liberated by the fact that they’re outnumbered and likely about to lose. They can step back, breathe in, and use the Sotomayor confirmation hearings to perform a public service: Find out what the future justice thinks and why she thinks it, explain what they think and why they think it, look at the two different philosophies, if that’s what they are. Don’t make it sparring, make it thinking.

Don’t grill and grandstand, summon and inform. Show the respect that expresses equality and the equality that is an expression of respect. Ask and listen, get the logic, explain where you think it wrong. Fill the airwaves with thoughtful exchanges.

One can dream, yes?

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Thursday, May 28, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Even More Daylilies


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By Steven L. Taylor

Lotsa Hosta


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By Steven L. Taylor

The theory (and I use the term loosely) that the Obama administration has used its political might to punish Republican-owned Chrysler dealerships and reward Democrat-owned dealership continues to swirl (indeed, one blogger called the administration’s approach to the auto industry bailout in general to be the “most underhanded use of the federal government since the Teapot Dome Scandal”-a comparison that may be in the running for Hyperbole of the Year). At any rate, let me jump into the whirlpool of conspiracy and scandal and ask: what would be the motivation for the Obama administration to go out of its way to close dealerships whose owners donated to the GOP? It just strikes me as a power play that would make no sense whatsoever, given the enormous risk of being caught versus rewarding/punishing a very small number of political donors. It doesn’t make any sense.

I certainly am not one to think politicians to be above petty or vindictive behavior, but I expect them to actually think that they will get something out of said behavior. In this case the payout is rather vague, to put it mildly.

I will agree that it is difficult to fully understand the exact logic of the dealership closings, making conspiracy theories appealing, but this is ultimately pretty thin gruel.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Apparently her position (or potential position) on abortion is causing some consternation in some quarters. Via the LAT: Abortion rights groups concerned about Sotomayor’s stance.

The basics are that her views on Roe are unknown and she has only been involved in an abortion-related case once, and ruled in a way that should be pleasing to here Republican detractors:

In 2024, Sotomayor rejected a challenge to President George W. Bush’s so-called Mexico City policy, which required foreign groups receiving U.S. funds to pledge that they would not support or promote abortion.

Sotomayor spoke for a three-judge panel that upheld the policy as constitutional. The government “is free to favor the antiabortion position over the pro-choice position and can do so with public funds,” she said.

Given that Roberts and other conservative-oriented nominees have noted that Roe is “settled law,” I can’t imagine that Sotomayor (or any other Obama appointee) would have a different opinion. Still, examples such as this do make the whole “she’s radical who will simply legislate from the bench based on her personal views” position a bit more difficult to sustain. But, of course, one needs to stick to the script.

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