Patterico's Pontifications

11/21/2013

More Stunning Hypocrisy from Harry Reid on Filibusters of Judicial Nominees

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:17 pm

No, keep reading; you haven’t heard this one yet. Revel in this delicious hypocrisy from Harry Reid:

Good morning. I’m Harry Reid from Nevada, the Democratic Leader in the Senate.

This weekend, spring has made it to Washington DC. From the window in my office in the Capitol, I can see down the Mall, past the Washington Monument and to the Lincoln Memorial. It’s a long way from my hometown of Searchlight, Nevada, and it’s quite a view. The famous cherry blossoms are in full bloom and the city is crowded with visitors — especially young people, here with their families or with their schools.

As the kids line up at the National Archives to see the original copies of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, they’ll learn about “checks and balances” and “freedom of speech.” And when they’re done, I wish they would come down the street to the Capitol and teach some of what they’ve learned to the Congressional leaders of the Republican Party.

You see, in the past weeks, we’ve seen Republicans in Congress abuse their power in too many ways. We have a Republican leader threatening judges who protect our rights and corrupting our government by running roughshod over the ethics committee to protect himself.

Republicans are trying to increase their power even if it means ignoring rules that go back to America’s beginnings. They seem to think that they know better than our Founding Fathers. Somehow, I doubt that’s true.

In their latest move, President Bush and the Republican leadership are trying to ram through radical choices for judges who will serve a lifetime on the bench. They are trying to eliminate a two-hundred-year-old American rule that says that every member of the Senate has the right to rise to say their piece and speak on behalf of the people that sent them here.

This isn’t about some arcane procedures of the Senate. It is about protecting liberty and our limited government.

This isn’t about politics. In the past…two Democratic Presidents tried to take control of the judicial branch and Americans of all political stripes rightly spoke up to defeat those efforts.

It isn’t even about judges. The fact is that this President has a better record of having his judicial nominees approved than any President in the past twenty-five years. Only ten of 214 nominations have been turned down. And those ten had views that were totally out-of-touch with the mainstream values Americans share.

When it comes down to it, stripping away these important checks and balances is about the arrogance of those in power who want to rewrite the rules so that they can get their way.

It would mean that the U.S. Senate becomes merely a rubber stamp for the president.

It would mean that one political party – be it Republicans today or Democrats tomorrow – gets to have all the say over our nation’s highest courts.

It would remove the checks on the President’s power…meaning that one man, sitting in the White House, could personally hand out lifetime jobs to judges whose rulings on our basic rights can last forever.

That’s not how America works.

Here, in America, the people rule – and all the people have a voice.

Here, in America, our judges should be independent – not puppets dancing to the pull of one person in power or one political party’s agenda.

We cannot sit by and allow the corruption of America’s values in America’s Congress. The Republicans who run Washington should start using their power for the good of all Americans, not abusing it for their own benefit.

Our Constitution tells us that the courts should be free from political pressure and that our rights are protected by checks and balances.

Our children know that you can’t change the rules just to get your way. I think it’s time that Washington Republicans remembered those truths.

This is Senator Harry Reid. Thanks for listening.

Mad props to Morgen R. for that wonderful link. But please: don’t just read the transcript. Go to this link and listen to this mook solemnly intone these words. It really is the only way you get the full effect.

Isn’t that beautiful? The absolute professed devotion to principles, and the determined denial that it has anything to do with politics or judges, is not only classic hypocrisy of the first rank, but it also really helps put the lie to all the explanations we’re hearing today for why every Democrat on Earth has had a change of heart on this issue.

Now for the stuff you’ve already read and heard today — just in case any of you missed it. First, if you want some other juicy Harry Reid quotes on this issue, many are collected here (thanks to Hot Air). More analysis from Roger Pilon via Instapundit.

And now, of course, we have the Liar in Chief:

Obama 2005:

Obama 2013:

Between all this and the rank and laughable hypocrisy from the New York Times that I revealed earlier this evening, it is absolutely astounding that any thinking person would take any of these people seriously ever again.

AND NOW, FOR A SHORT AND JOYOUS THUMB-SUCKER ABOUT WHAT IT ALL MEANS: To me, this is liberating. I never believed in filibustering judicial nominees to begin with. Elections have consequences. Presidents deserve an up or down vote. The filibuster does not comport with the Constitution and it never did. We were fools to let the Democrats do it. Fools. Now, it’s never going to happen again. It is good and damned well never going to happen to a solid Republican nominee like Miguel Estrada again. Ever.

And those people who fretted about how they would take it from us if we took it from them? Guess what? We didn’t take it from them and they still took it from us. So what good did that achieve? Huh?

And please. Don’t assign any weight to the notion that the filibuster is still good for Supreme Court nominees. That’s the same sucker’s bet that you guys took when you let Democrats filibuster Miguel Estrada and try to filibuster Alito. You know what? The filibuster is still there for Supreme Court nominees . . . until the Democrats decide that it isn’t. And then, it won’t be. Read that Harry Reid quote again, and tell me that you think there is an ounce of principle on the Democratic side in the entire Senate. The second they decide they need to take away the filibuster for a controversial Supreme Court nominee, they will.

So rejoice in the disappearance of the filibuster on judicial nominees. It never should have been used to begin with, and it will never be used again, and good riddance. It may hurt a little in the short term, but in the long term, this is better for us.

We are going to ram this down their throats one day. Let me say that again. We are going to ram it right down their throats. And man, is that ever gonna feel good.

Hysterical Hypocrisy on Filibusters from the New York Times

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:51 pm

The New York Times editorial board today, November 21, 2013, editorializing in favor of the judicial filibuster, at a time when we have a Democratic President and Senate majority:

For five years, Senate Republicans have refused to allow confirmation votes on dozens of perfectly qualified candidates nominated by President Obama for government positions. They tried to nullify entire federal agencies by denying them leaders. They abused Senate rules past the point of tolerance or responsibility. And so they were left enraged and threatening revenge on Thursday when a majority did the only logical thing and stripped away their power to block the president’s nominees.

In a 52-to-48 vote that substantially altered the balance of power in Washington, the Senate changed its most infuriating rule and effectively ended the filibuster on executive and judicial appointments. From now on, if any senator tries to filibuster a presidential nominee, that filibuster can be stopped with a simple majority, not the 60-vote requirement of the past. That means a return to the democratic process of giving nominees an up-or-down vote, allowing them to be either confirmed or rejected by a simple majority.

. . . .

Republicans warned that the rule change could haunt the Democrats if they lose the White House and the Senate. But the Constitution gives presidents the right to nominate top officials in their administration and name judges, and says nothing about the ability of a Senate minority to stop them. (The practice barely existed before the 1970s.)

Thank God we have a “return to the democratic process of giving nominees an up-or-down vote.” After all, the filibuster barely existed before the 1970s, meaning history is on the Democrats’ side in demanding an up-or-down vote!

You know what’s coming, don’t you? Of course you do.

The New York Times editorial board on May 18, 2005, editorializing against the judicial filibuster, at a time when we had a Republican President and Senate majority:

Of all the hollow arguments Senate Republicans have made in their attempt to scrap the opposition’s right to have a say on President Bush’s judicial nominees, the one that’s most hypocritical insists that history is on their side in demanding a “simple up-or-down vote” on the Senate floor. Republicans and Democrats have used a variety of tactics, from filibuster threats to stealthy committee inaction on individual nominations, in blocking hundreds of presidential appointments across history, including about one in five Supreme Court nominees. This is all part of the Senate’s time-honored deliberative role and of its protection of minority rights, which Republican leaders would now desecrate in overreaching from their majority perch.

. . . .

Democrats have hardly been obstructionists in their constitutional role of giving advice and consent; they have confirmed more than 200 Bush nominees, while balking at a mere seven who should be blocked on the merits, not for partisan reasons. This is a worthy fight, and the filibuster is a necessary weapon, considering that these are lifetime appointments to the powerful appellate judiciary, just below the Supreme Court. In more than two centuries, only 11 federal judges have been impeached for abusive court behavior. Clearly, uninhibited Senate debate in the deliberative stage, with the minority’s voice preserved, is a crucial requirement.

In 2005, we received dark warnings about the specter of divisive partisanship that would result from discarding those sacred rights of the political minority in the Senate:

Senator Frist, with the help of Vice President Dick Cheney, would sidestep a Senate precedent requiring two-thirds’ approval for a rules change and instead have a simple majority strike down the filibuster on judicial nominees. He promises that there would be no effect on other legislation, but the damage would be incalculable. Democrats are already vowing procedural paybacks and gridlock.

A few moderate senators from both parties – realizing that the Senate’s prestige is at stake, as much as its history – are seeking a compromise. We hope President Bush will step in to help find a solution. Otherwise, warns his fellow Republican Arlen Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the result will be the harmful crimping of minority rights in a proud deliberative body and “a dark, protracted era of divisive partisanship.”

Today? If you’re in the minority, you’ll just have to suck it up — and making the change with a simple majority is just fine:

From now on, voters will have to understand that presidents are likely to get their way on nominations if their party controls the Senate. . . . Democrats made the filibuster change with a simple-majority vote, which Republicans insisted was a violation of the rules. There is ample precedent for this kind of change, though it should be used judiciously.

Comical hypocrisy from an unserious publication.

P.S. When the last Democrat was president, in 1995, they felt the same way they do today:

Once a rarely used tactic reserved for issues on which senators held passionate convictions, the filibuster has become the tool of the sore loser, dooming any measure that cannot command the 60 required votes. . . . Now is the perfect moment for them to unite with like-minded Democrats to get rid of an archaic rule that frustrates democracy and serves no useful purpose.

They really don’t even try to pretend that hard to be interested in principle, do they?

Reid to Go Nuclear

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:41 am

Harry Reid is once again talking about going nuclear:

For at least the third time this year, Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid is threatening the “nuclear option” to filibuster reform after he extracted minor victories in January and July employing the same tactic.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told TIME that he has been in discussions with the Democratic leadership, a role revisited multiple times from at least 2005 through this year. Reid rejected an offer by McCain Wednesday, according to an aide familiar with the discussions, since the proposal did not allow the Senate to move forward to allow a vote on all three of President Obama’s nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Over the past three weeks, Republicans have filibustered the nominations.

MEMO
TO: HARRY REID
FROM: PATTERICO
RE: YOUR NEED TO TREAD CAREFULLY

Mr. Reid:

Y’all filibustered Miguel Estrada. I for one will never forgive you for it. Live by the sword, die by the sword. I argued against the filibuster when we were in the majority. Those (like me) who argued against the filibuster of judicial nominees lost. Now you have to live with the consequences of what you did.

Take away this tool from us, and we will take it away from you. There will be no more playing by different rules when we are in the majority again. This is your final warning. That is all.

You Can’t Trust *Anything* from This Government — Even “Data”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:30 am

I am late in noting the report about the faked unemployment data just before the 2012 election, but let me now note it for the record, and put it in context:

In the home stretch of the 2012 presidential campaign, from August to September, the unemployment rate fell sharply — raising eyebrows from Wall Street to Washington.

The decline — from 8.1 percent in August to 7.8 percent in September — might not have been all it seemed. The numbers, according to a reliable source, were manipulated.

And the Census Bureau, which does the unemployment survey, knew it.

Just two years before the presidential election, the Census Bureau had caught an employee fabricating data that went into the unemployment report, which is one of the most closely watched measures of the economy.

And a knowledgeable source says the deception went beyond that one employee — that it escalated at the time President Obama was seeking reelection in 2012 and continues today.

“He’s not the only one,” said the source, who asked to remain anonymous for now but is willing to talk with the Labor Department and Congress if asked.

This is the thing: this government lies constantly. Obama lied about ObamaCare not being a tax, and about how you could keep your plan and your doctor. He sent lawyers into the Supreme Court to contradict his pledges on both. He passed the biggest middle class tax increase in ages after pledging he never would.

But these are political lies, almost expected. The problem here is getting worse. Actual data is getting manipulated.

It’s not just the unemployment numbers, although we can start with those. The above article suggests that the numbers were cooked for a very specific report. But the numbers are always meaningless anyway. They don’t track what people actually think unemployment is: what percentage of the population is working? They don’t include people on disability, or people who have dropped out of the workforce. Every report that comes out has a single-digit number (generally with a decimal) which is trumpeted, and then analysts have to pick through the details to see what is really happening: losses in full-time jobs being traded for part-time jobs as a reaction to ObamaCare, increasing numbers of people dropping out of the workforce entirely because they have given up hope finding a job, and so forth. The books are always cooked; it’s just not always this blatant.

Or we have the data on the national debt. But nobody ever talks about our unfunded liabilities, or the effects of quantitative easing, all of which drowns out our relatively piddling (!) $17 trillion debt.

Or these numbers on ObamaCare “enrollment” which count someone as being “enrolled” if they have selected a plan and placed it into their shopping cart. But you’re not enrolled for purposes of the law if you have not paid your first premium, and these incompetents haven’t even built the part of the web site that makes sure the premiums get paid to the insurers. So we’re told about tens of thousands of people enrolling, when nobody has.

See, they’re not just lying about politics now. They’re lying about data. They’re lying about everything. All the time. Constantly.

It’s what you have to do to prop up an unsustainable government based on giving people stuff by creating debt that will never ever ever be paid back. You lie and lie and lie and lie and lie and lie and lie.

And when it all crashes, people will tell the biggest lie: that nobody really saw it coming.


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