Tag Archives: BlueTexan

And Now We’re Running Out Of Stamps, Too!

Fox News:

Some Democrats are upset and advocacy groups are outraged over the raiding of the food-stamp cupboard to fund a state-aid bailout that some call a gift to teachers and government union workers.

House members convened Tuesday and passed the multibillion-dollar bailout bill for cash-strapped states that provides $10 billion to school districts to rehire laid-off teachers or ensure that more teachers won’t be let go before the new school year begins, keeping more than 160,000 teachers on the job, the Obama administration says.

But the bill also requires that $12 billion be stripped from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, to help fund the new bill, prompting some Democrats to cringe at the notion of cutting back on one necessity to pay for another. The federal assistance program currently helps 41 million Americans.

Arguably one of the most outspoken opponents on the Democratic side is Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro, who has blasted the move as “a bitter pill to swallow” but still voted yes.

“I fought very hard for the food assistance money in the Recovery Act, and the fact is that participation in the food stamps program has jumped dramatically with the economic crisis, from 31.1 million persons to 38.2 million just in one year,” DeLauro said in an e-mail sent to FoxNews.com. “But I know that states across the nation and my own state of Connecticut also desperately need these resources to save jobs and avoid Draconian cuts to essential services for low income families.”

Carol Platt Liebau at Townhall:

The cynical political reasoning behind this move is the same as that which informs the Democrats’ position on school choice: Union members vote; poor people often don’t (and their children, trapped in terrible schools, can’t).

So much for the Democrats’ carefully cherished self-image as the “party of compassion”; let’s hope Americans don’t forget, when the rubber hit the road, where the Democrats’ first allegiance lay.

And I’d be willing to bet that a lot of those people collecting food stamps would rather simply get a job — that is, if they could, in the Obama economy.

Blue Texan at Firedoglake:

There was a study last year that showed half of all American children will at some point in their lives rely on food stamps.  Yes, 50%.

So how many children will have to go hungry because of a couple Republicans in the Senate?

Don Suber:

So Republicans hate children, do they?

The $26 billion stimulus bill to states — which included a $10 billion gift to the National Education Association and other teacher unions — came with a price: A curtailment in spending on food stamps.

Naturally, many of the robo-Democratic congressmen failed to read the bill as they flew in to D.C. to pass it, collect their sound-bites and fly back to vacation.

The public is reading the bill. It strips $12 billion from food stamps.

What is wrong with this picture?

SusanAnne Hiller at Big Government:

Same old rhetoric from Obama–punishing businesses–so it’s all ok.  States wouldn’t want to follow New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s lead, would they?  If the states could find the cuts, they wouldn’t need to pillage the American taxpayer, and then they wouldn’t need a bailout.  California is broke, yet their teachers are the highest paid in the nation.  So, private sector greed is bad, but public sector (taxpayer funded–as in, you are taking your neighbor’s hard-earned money) greed is good?

Everyone knows that what the Democrats passed is another bailout–but, while the Democrats help their teacher base and spin that it’s for the children during this election season, another segment of the Democrat base will eventually suffer–the poor and families on food stamps.   How will they explain that away?  Additionally, the military and other departments and programs will be hit hard as a result of this legislation.

Below is the list of budgetary rescissions compliments of the new “fiscal hawks” in Congress.  It’s interesting how Democrats can find budget cuts and have no problem hurting the poor, working families, middle class, defense, and military, when it benefits the teachers and the unions on the US taxpayer’s dime.

If the Democrats are so willing to make these cuts (some permanent), reallocate appropriated funds, and rescind funds from the original stimulus bill of 2009 to meet the pay-go requirement, then why did they use unemployed Americans as political pawns in June when a deficit neutral unemployment bill was introduced and reported here on Big Government?  They could have fast-tracked that bill so that millions of unemployed Americans could have continued to receive benefits without a break–all in a bipartisan manner.

David Poff at Redstate:

We’ve seen it splattered all across the front pages; more spending for jobs, more spending for bailouts, more spending for Unemployment, more spending for Teachers and Unions and special interests. We’ve also seen deficits rise and the National debt reach numbers that don’t fit on WalMart calculators.

America is bankrupt and they (the ruling Political class) don’t even know it…or they don’t seem to care anyway. What else explains why they’d happily starve the “least among us” or force them to trample each other to death, fighting over a paltry scrap from the Master’s table?

And for all that so-called “stimulus” money that promised jobs we still don’t have, homes we still can’t afford, and infrastructure improvements (that would keep America working for a generation) that remain undone, why are we paving roads that cars can’t drive on?? Why do I have to find out about it while skimming state news about National candidates instead of seeing it splattered all across the so-called Media?

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Filed under Economics, Entitlements

They Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Them

Alexander Bolton at The Hill:

Democrats are considering a plan to delay tax hikes on the wealthy for two years because the economic recovery is slow and they fear getting crushed in November’s election.

It could mean a big reprieve for families earning $250,000 and above annually.

President George W. Bush’s tax cuts will expire at the end of the year unless Congress acts to delay their sunset.

Some Democrats are now arguing forcefully that a delay is a win-win plan that would help the federal budget without hurting the economy.

Wealthy families would not have an incentive to cut back on spending and budget writers could assume an inflow of tax funds in future years, making five- and 10-year budget projections look less scary.

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), a member of the Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over taxes, said some of his Democratic colleagues have discussed the idea out of fear of impeding the nation’s economic recovery.

“I’ve heard some sentiment about raising the rate but not making it effective until 2012,” he said.

Derek Thompson at The Atlantic:

Sen. Kent Conrad (D., N.D.) said in an interview Wednesday that Congress shouldn’t allow taxes on the wealthy to rise until the economy is on a sounder footing. Sen. Ben Nelson (D., Neb.) said through a spokesman that he also supported extending all the expiring tax cuts for now, adding that he wanted to offset the impact on federal deficits as much as possible.

Brian Beutler at Talking Points Memo:

Has Kent Conrad done an about face and become a supporter of the Republican plan to endlessly extend tax cuts for the rich? Far from it.

“The Republicans’ proposal to me is a formula for the decline of the United States,” Conrad said last night in response to a question from TPMDC.

Conrad is among the only Senators whose hawkish rhetoric on deficits closely matches his voting record, and he surprised many — even senior members of his own party — when he was quoted widely supporting a continuation of the Bush tax cuts, including for high income earners.

“The general rule of thumb would be you’d not want to do tax changes, tax increases … until the recovery is on more solid ground,” he told reporters outside the Senate chamber yesterday afternoon.

And indeed, he reiterated that position at length when TPMDC caught up with him last night. But he also made it clear that he’s in no way supportive of the GOP position on taxes.

“In the short term, most economists would say raising taxes or cutting spending during an economic downturn is counterproductive,” Conrad said. “Now if you break it down, the high income would be the least problematic in terms of…a change in the tax rates, because they’re the least likely to spend the money. Middle income, far more important. And with [unemployment insurance], that’s actually the most important thing, because that money’s all going to get spent.”

In other words, a deficit-financed tax cut for the wealthy (as the GOP currently proposes) is the least stimulative of the options Conrad listed and ,though he’d like to preserve all of the current tax rates temporarily, tax cuts for the rich ought to be the first to go.

“[M]ost economists are saying that for the next 18 months or two years, we’re going to have continued economic weakness,” Conrad said. However, “the analysis has been done by CBO and others show that deficit-financed tax cuts actually hurt long term growth.

“I was answering what would be my reaction to the circumstance we face,” Conrad explained. “My reaction would be don’t cut spending, don’t raise taxes and that would mean on anyone. But this is the time to prepare to pivot, to put together a plan that does bring deficits and debt down over the more extended period of time.”

Jennifer Rubin at Commentary:

Nevertheless, these two plus Sen. Evan Bayh are “a departure from what appeared to be an emerging unified Democratic stance.” Maybe not so unified after all.

Remember Rep. Joe Sestak bemoaning the plight of small businesses the other day? Hmm, maybe he could join the reality-based Democrats. After all, those small businesses are the ones that will be hit if the top rate rises to 39.6%. (”Republicans and many business groups favor extending all the breaks, contending that increasing tax rates will hit small businesses hard.”) But I haven’t heard any of that from him. And really, is a guy who voted with Nancy Pelosi 97.8 percent of the time the lawmaker who is going to break with liberal orthodoxy? Not likely.

Blue Texan at Firedoglake:

Yeah, God forbid we restore the already historically low Clinton-era levels. The ’90s economy really sucked.

Jonathan Chait at TNR:

This isn’t the worst idea in the world, if they do sunset the tax cuts in 2012. There are a couple problems, though. First, it’s not a cost-effective way to stimulate the economy. The Bush tax cuts were not designed to encourage consumption. They were designed to incentivize the rich to work harder and more productively, out of the theory that Clinton-era tax rates had dampened the entrepreneurial spirit and the desire to invest. (Obviously, right? Nobody was trying to get rich in the 1990s.) Alternatively, this theory was a handy excuse to enact a policy designed to make rich people richer. In either case, nobody was claiming that it was a way to increase consumer spending. Indeed, one prevailing right-wing justification from the era was that upper-bracket tax cuts were needed because the rich save more money than the poor and middle class. (That was true, though if you want to promote saving, deficit reduction was far more efficient.)

John Cole:

We enacted these tax cuts, there was no job creation, debt exploded, and only the wealthiest of the wealthy profited. So tell me, Mr. Fiscal Conservative Kent Conrad, why should we not let the tax cuts for the rich expire?

And if it is not evident to you by now, the best way to get our finances back in order is to systematically ignore anyone who calls himself a fiscal conservative. If I could find a bank run by dirty hippies I would put my money there, because I just don’t trust these people in pinstripes anymore.

UPDATE: David Stockman at NYT

Barry Ritholtz at Big Picture

Bruce Bartlett

Sam Stein at Huffington Post

UPDATE #2: Derek Thompson at The Atlantic

Ezra Klein

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Filed under Economics, Legislation Pending

New For 2011, Government Motors Presents The Obamamobile

Chris Bicknell at Car Domain:

General Motors announced yesterday that they have fully repaid their government loan plus interest, five years ahead of schedule.
Although GM has has a lot of work ahead to get back on track, it seems like they are making steps in the right direction. I guess time will tell just how much they’ve learned from their past mistakes.

Matthew DeBord at Big Money:

General Motors’ CEO Ed Whitacre informed the public and media yesterday that GM will be paying back some of the many billions loaned to it by the United States and Canada. But more importantly, he went on the stump for a GM IPO, which could, and some say must, come before the November midterm elections. This is from the Detroit Free Press:

“I think the government and us — the taxpayers — made a terrific investment and I think it’s going to pay off big time,” said Whitacre, who later Wednesday chartered a plane to Washington, D.C., to meet with government officials.

He revealed new investments for factories in Detroit and Kansas City and said the company’s first-quarter results, due in May, are impressive.

He also said the highly anticipated Chevrolet Volt electric car would be released in October ahead of an expected November release.

Stephen Markley at Kicking Tires:

Following GM’s announcement today that it has repaid the $5.8 billion in U.S. and Canadian loans months ahead of schedule, you may be wondering how exactly the automaker managed this. The answer is a $16.4 billion escrow account set up by the Obama administration during GM’s bankruptcy. Those funds are in exchange for the GM shares that make up part of the government’s stake in the company.

The Treasury Department had to figure out how much of a cushion the company would need after emerging from bankruptcy. The escrow account was set up when the government bought a 61% stake in the company, but there was a string attached: GM had to get the Treasury Department’s OK before spending the money.

Thus far, it used the fund to pay out $2.7 billion for the Delphi bankruptcy resolution and previous loan repayments. Rules required any money left in the account by June 30 to be used for loan repayment. With the loans fully repaid, restrictions on the escrow fund will be lifted and GM will be allowed add the remaining $5.5 billion to its reserves.

So what’s the bottom line?

Essentially, GM no longer needs emergency government aid to stay afloat. While the taxpayer still has a sizable investment wrapped up in the automaker, GM has returned to decent health for the time being.

Philip Levy at American Enterprise Institute:

Here’s a little corrective perspective. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the government invested $48 billion in General Motors Company. Of that, $7 billion is in loans, and the rest in preferred and common stock. (It also invested $17 billion in GMAC, an affiliated company that is important for financing GM car purchases). U.S. taxpayers got a 60.8 percent stake in the post-bankruptcy GM and a 56.3 percent stake in GMAC.

So was this a good investment? The government was motivated by far more than pure financial return; it was worried about the systemic damage a liquidation of GM might cause. Even from a purely financial perspective, final tallies cannot occur until the government’s stake in GM has been sold.

One recent analysis by Andrew Bary in Barron’s speculated that GM might go public this year with a valuation of $50 billion, giving the taxpayer stake a value of roughly $30 billion.

If we assume that the payment in the news today clears the loan portion (Whitacre is claiming to repay all loans with interest), that leaves $41 billion invested. If the taxpayer recoups $30 billion in a privatization, that leaves them $11 billion light.

So, in this rosy scenario, even after full loan repayment, the taxpayer comes out about $11 billion short on GM alone (plus a normal return on holding $50 billion for a year). Where did that money go?

Bary elaborates that in this scenario, the United Auto Workers would get $16 billion. Normally, as unsecured creditors, the UAW would have gotten nothing until senior creditors, including the U.S. taxpayer, were repaid in full. These are not normal times.

Blue Texan at Firedoglake:

Suck on this, Hewitt.

Fallen giant General Motors Co. accelerated toward recovery Wednesday, announcing the repayment of $8.1 billion in U.S. and Canadian government loans five years ahead of schedule.

The Obama administration crowed about the “turnaround” at GM and fellow bailout recipient Chrysler LLC, saying the government’s unpopular rescue of Detroit’s automakers is paying off.

Paying off loans with interest? So capitalist. Why doesn’t GM just name their next hemp-powered car the Obamamobile in tribute?

Look, Obama should be crowing — but let’s not forget where all this “socialism” started.

Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit:

Someone needs to forward this to the loons at FireDogLake.

Government Motors repaid 8 billion of bailout money back to the US government this week.

They were awarded a total of $52 billion in bailouts from the US.

John D. McKinnon at WSJ:

A top Republican says General Motors’ announcement this week that it will repay its federal loans early is “nothing more than an elaborate TARP money shuffle.”

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa fumes that the source of the funds for the $4.7 billion repayment is not GM earnings, but rather a Treasury escrow account. He chides the company and the administration for suggesting in recent statements that the money is coming from GM earnings.

Grassley writes that GM’s early repayment of the federal loan is aimed at diverting attention from another uncomfortable issue – the big break the car company would get on a proposed tax to recoup TARP losses. GM is expected to generate some of the biggest losses in the TARP program, but it won’t have to pay any money under the so-called TARP tax the Obama administration wants to impose on large financial institutions.

Treasury and GM officials don’t dispute that the money to repay the loan is coming from TARP funds. But they said that’s been clearly disclosed.

Scott Johnson at Powerline:

But that’s not all. GM does not appear to have repaid the public funds denominated a loan out of operating profits, as Whitacre’s column implies. Fox News reports the comments of TARP Special Inspector General Neil Barofsky: “I think the one thing that a lot of people overlook with this is where they got the money to pay back the loan. And it isn’t from earnings….It’s actually from another pool of TARP money that they’ve already received. I don’t think we should exaggerate it too much. Remember that the source of this money is just other TARP money.”

Barofsky told the Senate Finance Committee the same thing Tuesday, and said the main way for the federal government to earn money out of GM would be through “a liquidation of its ownership interest.” Senator Grassley comments here; Ed Morrissey has more.

Remember: Whitacre is the chairman and chief executive officer of GM. He isn’t some salesman peddling the goods (though he is doing that as well) with an allowance for puffing. If Whitacre’s column were subject to the securities laws, Whitacre would be guilty of fraud. Or so it appears to me.

David Boaz at Cato:

And finally, of course, most of the bailout money was transferred to GM in return for a 60 percent stake in the company. And the taxpayers will get that money back if and when GM becomes a publicly traded company again, provided that the company’s market capitalization is eventually higher than it’s ever been in history. Don’t hold your breath.

These are called GM ads, but they could just as well be called BS ads.

UPDATE: Nick Gillespie at Reason:

Gretchen Morgenson at NYT

Ed Morrissey

James Joyner

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Filed under Economics, The Crisis

Come On, 1070, Light My Fire

Alia Beard Rau at The Arizona Republic:

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer today signed into law an immigration bill that gives the state toughest law in the nation, making it a state crime to be in the country illegally and requiring local police to enforce federal immigration laws.

Brewer said she signed the bill in response to “the crisis the federal government has refused to fix.”

Hispanic leaders addressing the hundreds of protesters at the Capitol immediately vowed to wage a legal fight, and Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon said he wants the city to sue.

The new immigration law will require anyone whom police suspect of being in the country illegally to produce “an alien registration document,” such as a green card, or other proof of citizenship such as a passport or Arizona driver’s license.

It also makes it illegal to impede the flow of traffic by picking up day laborers for work. A day laborer who gets picked up for work, thus impeding traffic, would also be committing a criminal act.

Allah Pundit:

Here’s the text of the bill, by the way; the important stuff is on page 1. If statutory language isn’t your thing, try the legislative fact sheet instead. The media is telling me that this bill will do all sorts of draconian things, like require citizens to carry proof of citizenship at all times. After skimming the bill, I can’t find it. I think this is the money section:

B. FOR ANY LAWFUL CONTACT MADE BY A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL OR AGENCY OF THIS STATE OR A COUNTY, CITY, TOWN OR OTHER POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF THIS STATE WHERE REASONABLE SUSPICION EXISTS THAT THE PERSON IS AN ALIEN WHO IS UNLAWFULLY PRESENT IN THE UNITED STATES, A REASONABLE ATTEMPT SHALL BE MADE, WHEN PRACTICABLE, TO DETERMINE THE IMMIGRATION STATUS OF THE PERSON. THE PERSON’S IMMIGRATION STATUS SHALL BE VERIFIED WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PURSUANT TO 8 UNITED STATES CODE SECTION 1373(c).

The alarmist theory, I guess, is that merely being Latino will be treated as “reasonable suspicion” and that if you don’t have a driver’s license or birth certificate with you when the cop asks for it, then it’s to jail you’ll be going. I don’t read it that way; Brewer said at today’s ceremony that she won’t tolerate racial profiling and issued an executive order authorizing the state police board to develop standards for “reasonable suspicion.” Article 8, Section F of the bill (on page 2) seems to say that cops can’t be prevented from checking your status, but that doesn’t mean “carry papers or go to jail.” It means they can run your name through a computer to confirm whether you’re here legally and no left-leaning municipal authority can stop them. There may be something in the bill requiring immigrants to keep proof of legal status with them, but I honestly can’t find it. Can anyone help?

Ann Althouse:

Why is it so inflammatory for the people of a state to deal with a problem of disorder within their own borders?

Even before she signed the bill at a 4:30 p.m. news conference here, President Obama strongly criticized it….

Saying the failure of officials in Washington to act on immigration would open the door to “irresponsibility by others,” he said the Arizona bill threatened “to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”

What is irresponsible and unfair about what Arizona did?

David Weigel:

Arizona’s SB 1070, the legislation that would allow law enforcement to demand proof of citizenship from anyone they find suspicious, is getting some clutch support from the local tea party movement.

From the Arizona Tea Party’s page on how to rally for the bill:

We are asking for you to spread the word to see if anyone is available to come down there… to show your support of the bill.They are meeting by the Arizona Flag on the House Lawn. Bring American Flags and signs if possible… Signs: We support “LEGAL” Immigration, In Mexico, You Must Be Legal… Why not here? – etc…The call for protesters is a response to the teeming anti-SB 1070 protests outside of the Capitol.

So, here is one effort to give government more power that tea partiers are not pounding the pavement to oppose.

Alex Altman at Swampland at Time:

It will be interesting to see how Congressional Democrats proceed. It’s too soon to book financial re-regulation in the win column, but with a cloture vote slated for late Monday afternoon, there’s been a lot of buzz over whether immigration reform will leapfrog energy legislation as the next item on the Democratic agenda. The sweeping nature of the Arizona legislation — the bill, which is sitting on Republican Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk, which Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed Friday afternoon*, will require police to stop suspected illegal immigrants and arrest those who lack proper documentation — may have played a role in spurring Democrats to address an issue central to one of its core constituencies. And while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicates she will take up immigration reform if the Senate acts first, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, the party’s point man on both issues, is urging Majority Leader Harry Reid to stick to the original script.

Audrey Singer at The New Republic:

Among its most stringent and divisive tactics is the provision that would grant police the authority to stop anyone suspected of being present in the country illegally. The act is intended to “discourage and deter the unlawful entry and presence of aliens and economic activity by persons unlawfully present in the United States.” Critics, including President Obama, charge that it will encourage racial profiling while discouraging immigrants from asking for help from law enforcement when they need it.

Brewer’s signature demonstrates that Arizona–already well-known on this front due to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s law enforcement strategies–continues to lead the nation on tough immigration enforcement. Arizona’s immigrant population skyrocketed in the 1990s and 2000s until the recession struck. Now Phoenix, once one of the fastest growing destinations for immigrant newcomers, has seen a significant decline in its foreign-born population.

A veto might have been seen as a call for a widespread, strategic federal response, putting pressure on Congress to address immigration reform sensibly, responsibly, and very swiftly. Despite some recent jockeying on Capitol Hill, it remains to be seen whether politics will allow a bipartisan solution on this highly politicized and emotional issue in a rational way.

Governor Brewer has cracked the immigration reform debate wide open again. This time, it seems even more urgent for Congress to act to provide coherent and reasonable leadership on an issue that should be in the hands of federal lawmakers.

UPDATE: Byron York in The Washington Examiner

Rich Lowry at RealClearPolitics

John McCormack at The Weekly Standard

Damon Root at Reason

Blue Texan at Firedoglake

Scott Lemieux at Lawyers Guns and Money

UPDATE #2: George Will in WaPo

Julian Sanchez on Will

James Joyner on Will

Andrew Sullivan with a round-up

UPDATE #3: Andrew Sullivan gives us Megan McArdle and Matt Welch at Reason

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Filed under Immigration

Everybody’s Talkin’ Sotomayor, I Can’t Hear A Word They’re Saying

The Sotomayor battle has already contained: food, language, firefighters, Princeton, Yale, dumbness, race politics, La Raza, Twitter, empathy, kabuki, Alito, Scalia, single mothers (and the fact that she is not one), diabetes, her savings account, affirmative action, activist judges, liberal, moderate, Cardozo, the Bronx, baseball and, of course, Jeffrey Rosen. It is a firestorm that is impossible to keep up with, for the threads of conversation are tangled and many. And this is just the first week! Next week, we predict the conversation will contain: Oliver Wendell Holmes, chile peppers, The Federalist Society, Puerto Rican independence, gay marriage, Hula Hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no-go. Sorry, we went all Billy Joel there for a second.

We try and play it down the middle here and just give you what they’re saying. But they’ve been saying a lot of things, as we said before, so it’s been hard to keep up. We got a spat of MSM columnists weighing in and most of them are not weighing on Sotomayor herself, but what the GOP should do about Sotomayor.

Peggy Noonan

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 2012, and think.

A few—very few—agitate to go at Judge Sotomayor as the Democrats went after Robert Bork in 1987. The abuse suffered by that good man is a still suppurating wound within the GOP, but it is also a wound for the Democrats, the worst kind, a self-inflicted one. They damaged our national political culture and lowered their own standing with their assault, and their victory left them looking not strong and uncompromising but mean and ferocious. And on some level they know it. Ask Ted Kennedy, if he had it to do over again, if he would repeat all his intemperate and unjust words about “Bob Bork’s America” and “back-alley abortions” and blacks turned away from lunch counters. He’d be a fool if he said yes. He damaged himself in that battle.

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.

Charles Krauthammer

What should a principled conservative do? Use the upcoming hearings not to deny her the seat, but to illuminate her views. No magazine gossip from anonymous court clerks. No “temperament” insinuations. Nothing ad hominem. The argument should be elevated, respectful and entirely about judicial philosophy.

On the Ricci case. And on her statements about the inherent differences between groups, and the superior wisdom she believes her Latina physiology, culture and background grant her over a white male judge. They perfectly reflect the Democrats’ enthrallment with identity politics, which assigns free citizens to ethnic and racial groups possessing a hierarchy of wisdom and entitled to a hierarchy of claims upon society.

Sotomayor shares President Obama’s vision of empathy as lying at the heart of judicial decision-making — sympathetic concern for litigants’ background and current circumstances, and for how any judicial decision would affect their lives.

Michael Kinsley

Listening, via the media, to the debate inside the Republican Party, you also have to wonder about the party’s commitment to a colorblind society. The Democrats’ too, but Democrats don’t carry on about colorblindness the way Republicans do. It’s clear that the one paralyzing fact about Sonia Sotomayor, to Republicans, is the color of her skin. If she weren’t Latino, they would be in full revenge-for-Clarence-Thomas mode. Instead, they are in an agony of indecision, with GOP strategists openly warning: Support the Latina or die. If the 40 remaining Republican senators end up voting for Sotomayor, her race will be the reason. Democrats, meanwhile, can enjoy supporting her for her impressive intellectual qualifications. They don’t even need to mention the obvious: that these qualifications aren’t the main reason President Obama picked her.

Yes, of course, ethnicity in politics is different from ethnic job quotas, and a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court is a special kind of job. Nowhere is a bit of diversity more obviously desirable. Nowhere is the case stronger for taking race, ethnicity and gender into account. And conservatives apparently agree. If only they could bring themselves to say so.

And on empathy, Michael Gerson:

The principle is simple: A court should be a place where all are judged impartially, as individuals. The Obama/Sotomayor doctrine of empathy challenges this long-established belief. It is not a minor matter.

As a young senator involved in judicial nomination debates, Obama showed no deference to presidential choices. Instead, he developed a theory that Supreme Court justices should favor socially unfavored groups. He opposed John Roberts for using his skills “on behalf of the strong in opposition to the weak.” He criticized Samuel Alito for siding with “the powerful against the powerless.” Obama made these distinguished judges sound monstrous because they stood for the impartial application of the law.

By Obama’s empathy standard, Sotomayor is a natural choice. She has argued: “The aspiration to impartiality is just that — it’s an aspiration because it denies the fact that we are by our experiences making different choices than others.” And these culturally conditioned choices are not just “different.” She contends that a “wise Latina woman” will “more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

David Brooks

[…] In reality, decisions are made by imperfect minds in ambiguous circumstances. It is incoherent to say that a judge should base an opinion on reason and not emotion because emotions are an inherent part of decision-making. Emotions are the processes we use to assign value to different possibilities. Emotions move us toward things and ideas that produce pleasure and away from things and ideas that produce pain.

People without emotions cannot make sensible decisions because they don’t know how much anything is worth. People without social emotions like empathy are not objective decision-makers. They are sociopaths who sometimes end up on death row.

Supreme Court justices, like all of us, are emotional intuitionists. They begin their decision-making processes with certain models in their heads. These are models of how the world works and should work, which have been idiosyncratically ingrained by genes, culture, education, parents and events. These models shape the way judges perceive the world.

Now, whose commenting on those columns? Commenting on the commenting on the commenting?

Mark Krikorian at The Corner agreeing with Krauthammer.

Andrew Sullivan and Rod Dreher on Krauthammer and John Cornyn

James Joyner on Noonan

BlueTexan at Firedoglake on Noonan

Dan Froomkin on Brooks, Gerson and empathy

Doug J on Brooks, Gerson and empathy

Michelle Cottle at TNR on Brooks

And so:

EARLIER:

I’ll Take Things Having To Do With The Mouth And Supreme Court Nominees For $800, Alex

The Spanish Word For “Kabuki” Is Kabuki

Justice Sotomayor

Jeffrey Rosen Gets A Post Of His Own

$100 on Sonia Sotomayor?

UPDATE #1: Jennfier Rubin in Commentary

Allah Pundit

UPDATE #2: Adam Sewer in Tapped

Kevin Drum

UPDATE #3: Andrew Gelman on Kinsley

Charles Johnson at LGF on Noonan

UPDATE #4: Ramesh Ponnuru on Brooks. Matt Y on Ponnuru and Brooks.

UPDATE #5: Mark Krikorian and Jonah Goldberg on Noonan

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Filed under Political Figures, Supreme Court

Liberal And Conservative Bloggers Head To Their Tree Forts, Arm The Pea Shooters, And Fire

Spankie_No Homers

To sift through all the responses to the Obama/Cheney speech-off today is impossible. Everyone’s got their post up. And nobody on the left liked Cheney. Nobody on the right liked Obama. This was a surprising outcome. You might as well go to TNR’s The Plank for the left and NRO’s The Corner for the right.

The Left

At TNR:

Jason Zengerle

Michael Crowley

Jonathan Chait

Outside TNR:

Andrew Sullivan comes back from vacation to give his thoughts on Obama and Cheney

Glenn Greenwald

Dday

John Cole

Steve Benen

Dave Weigel

Spencer Ackerman

Joe Klein in Swampland

Dave Noon

BlueTexan at Firedoglake

The Right

There’s a ton of posts at NRO. Just a few:

Dana Perino

Michael Rubin

Jay Nordlinger

Peter Kirsanow

More Nordlinger

Outside NRO:

John Podhoretz in Commentary

Abe Greenwald in Commentary

Jennifer Rubin in Commentary

Michelle Malkin

Allah Pundit on Obama

Allah Pundit on Cheney

Bill Kristol in The Weekly Standard

Michael Goldfarb in The Weekly Standard

Stephen Hayes in The Weekly Standard

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Filed under Foreign Affairs, GWOT, Political Figures