The Morning Jolt

Politics & Policy

Gor-Such a Good Pick!

Gor-Such a Good Pick!

For any Trump fan who thought I was incapable of writing this: “Neil Gorsuch is a terrific pick, and President Trump should be congratulated for making it.”

I’ve never seen Ed Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, do a cartwheel before, but I think the Gorsuch nomination might spur him to try.

While he has rightly recognized that no one could ever replace Justice Scalia, there are strong reasons to expect Justice Gorsuch to be an eminently worthy successor to the great justice.

Gorsuch is a brilliant jurist and dedicated originalist and textualist. He thinks through issues deeply. He writes with clarity, force, and verve. And his many talents promise to give him an outsized influence on future generations of lawyers.

 . . . Gorsuch acknowledges that Justice Scalia’s project had its critics, from the secular moralist Ronald Dworkin to the pragmatist Richard Posner. He explains why he rejects those critics and instead sides with Justice Scalia in believing that “an assiduous focus on text, structure, and history is essential to the proper exercise of the judicial function.” The Constitution itself carefully separates the legislative and judicial powers. Whereas the legislative power is the “power to prescribe new rules of general applicability for the future,” the judicial power is a “means for resolving disputes about what existing law is and how it applies to discrete cases and controversies.” This separation of powers is “among the most important liberty-protecting devices of the constitutional design.” Among other things, if judges were to act as legislators by imposing their preferences as constitutional dictates, “how hard it would be to revise this so-easily-made judicial legislation to account for changes in the world or to fix mistakes.” Indeed, the “very idea of self-government would seem to wither to the point of pointlessness.”

I love this bit of cold logic from Kevin Williamson:

[Gorsuch is] “extreme”? Gorsuch sits on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. He was confirmed to that post unanimously. If he is an “extremist,” then Senate Democrats confirmed a right-wing extremist to one of the nation’s highest courts without a single vote against him.

Why would they do that? Why would Senator Obama have done that? The word “extremist” of course no longer means anything. It is something like what George Orwell said of “fascism.”

 . . . “Fascism,” he wrote, had come only to mean “something not desirable.” I do sometimes wonder, sincerely, at what appears to me to be a genuine lack of self-respect on the Left. No one believes Chuck Schumer helped put a right-wing extremist on a federal court, and no one believes Gorsuch is an extremist. But the ritual incantation must be made, because that is what is demanded.

Senator Ben Sasse tweeted that he “Went to the Supreme Court to talk to the protesters. But it turns out to be a Mad-Lib protest.”

The Judicial Crisis Network is launching a $10 million national campaign to confirm President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch. This phase consists of a $2 million broadcast, cable, satellite and digital ad buy starting in Missouri, Indiana, North Dakota, Montana, and the nation’s capital. (I guess we know which four Democratic senators will be facing the pressure.)

“Neil Gorsuch is exceptionally qualified – a fair and independent judge who bases his decisions on the Constitution, and he is widely respected on both sides of the aisle,” said Carrie Severino, Chief Counsel for the Judicial Crisis Network. “He was confirmed unanimously to one of our highest courts in 2006, and I am confident he will receive bipartisan support again this time. Some Democrats may be tempted to obstruct his nomination, but we have already launched a robust campaign in key states, and we will ultimately force vulnerable Senators to choose between obstructing and keeping their Senate seats.”

The message from the world of the Koch network: In the 36 states where the Americans for Prosperity, Generation Opportunity, the Libre Initiative, and Concerned Veterans of America are active, they’ll be getting their 3.2 million supporters to push their senators to support Gorsuch’s confirmation. Efforts and resources will focus in 10 targeted states with direct mail, door knocks, phone calls, and digital advocacy, i.e., paid ads and social media.

The Bonfire of the Public’s Trust in the Media

My podcast co-host Mickey White, writing at RedState, notices that in just four days, major members of the mainstream media botched stories and declared falsehoods in five major ways:

  • Whatever you think of Trump’s executive order, and there’s plenty to criticize, it isn’t a “Muslim ban.”
  • When the New York Taxi Unions decided to protest at the Airports, they canceled service for Saturday night. Uber drivers picked up stranded passengers at those airports and suspended “surge pricing.” By Sunday morning, the unions had convinced their liberal allies that Uber had somehow aligned itself with Trump and was trying to profit from Trump’s policy.
  • Liberals convinced themselves that Trump was preparing “an executive order opening up discrimination against the LGBTQ community on the basis of religious belief.”
  • The “Monday Night massacre“ consisted of the president firing one person who refused to defend a legal executive order, as her job required.

Finally, here’s an actual New York Daily News headline: “First President Trump-ordered raid kills 8-year-old American girl.” This was a U.S. Navy SEAL raid in Yemen that targeted the local al-Qaeda branch that is among the world’s most dangerous. This is the group that organized the Charlie Hebdo magazine attack in Paris in 2015 and has repeatedly tried to down U.S. planes. The girl was Nawar al-Awlaki, U.S.-born daughter of Yemeni terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki. No 8-year-old deserves to die, but this is what happens when wanted terrorists hide with their families. There is no option for raiding dangerous individuals like this that does not put their families at risk as well. The headlines easily leave the impression that Trump ordered a child executed.

The interesting question is whether leftist agitation in the news pages actually works to help leftist causes anymore. The answer increasingly appears to be, “no.”

Why You Hate Twitter

Christopher Cooper – a.k.a. “Coop” – is an artist with some libertarian sensibilities known for skateboards, concert posters, album covers. He noted Monday night that he’s thinking of leaving Twitter. His thoughts, cleaned-up for a family newsletter:

Had lunch today with a friend (with way more twitter followers that me) and we both agreed we’re just about ready to shutter our accounts. Neither of us needs the promotion badly enough to deal with the constant barrage of ****heads. If you tweet about politics, you get trolled by ****s, and if you deliberately do not tweet about politics, you get attacked by “woke” ****s. I’ve also seen too many of my friends on here get threats against their families from ****heads & I don’t want to go down that road.

Whatever Twitter once was – I initially used it to stay in touch with far-off friends – it’s now a way to reach a mass audience. Almost anyone can interact with almost anyone. The bad news is, this gives almost anyone in the world an ability to send you messages, and to do so anonymously. No inventor ever likes to contemplate the worst possible application of their new creation; surely Jack Dorsey didn’t think in 2006, “Hey, I’ve just found an amazing way to empower racists, stalkers, psychos, and the most malevolent voices in society!”

Will Rogers famously said he never met a man he didn’t like. Put him on Twitter today and within a week he would turn into H.L. Mencken. Jean-Paul Sartre was close; Hell is other people on Twitter.

The world is full of people who you would never choose to have a conversation with – not because you aren’t open minded or you’re hypersensitive, but because you have better things to do with your life than to spend time around people who mock, berate, sneer, or just overall hate you. And yet, on Twitter, they’re metaphorically right in front of you. Yes, you can block them with the touch of the button. But very few people like being hated, or being reminded that they are hated. And in 2017 America, whatever your view on politics is, someone hates you for holding that view, and is eager to let you know how much they hate you.

(All of this should be a deep, deep concern to the Twitter company.)

So why is anyone on Twitter? Because there’s positive feedback, and that feels good. It feels like an affirmation. You’re right. People agree with you. People like you. They like your one-line joke, your thought, your snappy headline, your photo of what you’re about to eat. Every once in a while, they react in ways that make you think or reconsider what you thought before.

On Twitter, the ratio of useful/enjoyable interaction to useless/unenjoyable interaction has been steadily sliding in the wrong direction.

ADDENDA: Yesterday I did a Facebook Live chat about the Koch network winter meeting and the then-upcoming Supreme Court pick. Thanks to the 10,000 or so viewers!

One last observation from the Koch winter meeting. At a gathering of free-market libertarian/conservatives, the line, “I didn’t know you were a mercantilist” is the social equivalent of a “yo momma” joke.

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