"Nothing says 'old-school Republican' better than Jeff Sessions"

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That's former Hillary Clinton spokesman Phil Singer responding to reports that Alabama Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III will be taking Sen. Arlen Specter's spot as minority leader of the Senate Judiciary Committee. All eyes are focused on the committee, of course, since it will soon be deciding the fate of President Barack Obama's nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter. Singer complained to The Chicago Tribune that promoting Sessions "is a tangible sign that the GOP has settled its internal debate on whether to forge a broader party or a purer one. They've clearly decided to go down the purity road." Expect to hear much more along those lines as the Republicans dig in against whatever "judicial activist" Obama nominates.

Not that Singer is necessarily wrong. The Grand Old Party ain't so grand anymore, and the confirmation battle is sure to bring out the worst. But the Democrats have their own record of confirmation shenanigans to account for as well. It'll certainly be rich to hear Obama officials lecturing the GOP on bipartisanship and "doing what's best for the country" with Vice President Joe Biden sitting around. In his own time on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden played a central role in the scorched earth fights over both Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas.

In his memoir My Grandfather's Son, for instance, Thomas alleges that Biden was intentionally dishonest throughout their confirmation dealings, claiming that Biden told him, "since I'd be nervous at first, he would start the questioning with a few 'softballs' that would help me relax and do my best." Instead, as Thomas tells it, Biden "threw a beanball straight at my head…[and] wrenched my words out of context."

It's also worth noting that Biden thought he might discredit Thomas by branding him as a loony libertarian. To that end, Biden waved around a copy of Richard Epstein's Takings, which argues that under the Fifth Amendment the government must pay just compensation to property holders affected by certain regulations, demanding to know if Thomas agreed with such lunacy. As Epstein later told Reason, "I took some pride in the fact that Joe Biden…said that anyone who believes what's in this book is certifiably unqualified to sit in on the Supreme Court. That's a compliment of sorts."

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  1. “It’ll certainly be rich to hear Obama officials lecturing the GOP on bipartisanship and “doing what’s best for the country” with Vice President Joe Biden sitting around.”

    The MSM will never explore that irony!

  2. Joe Biden’s role in the administration is that of the fat, ugly maid of honor. He’s only there to make the bride look good in comparison.

  3. The Daily Beast should compile a set of Biden outtakes like the Bachmann ones. That could be pretty entertaining.

  4. “Thomas alleges that Biden was intentionally dishonest throughout their confirmation dealings”

    I’d like to allege that Thomas was intentionally dishonest as well, saying that he hadn’t talked dirty to Anita Hill when he had, which was, you know, perjury.

    As for Biden throwing a beanball, please. Clarence Thomas’ capacity for self-pity approaches that of Bill Clinton (though Big Bill still wins by a nose).

  5. Ah, the GOP’s face on the committee goes from a Pennsylvanian to an Alabamain. Much more appropriate. One thing folks like me want to make sure of is that when folks hear that distinct Southern twang they think “GOP.”

  6. The Anita Hill thing always seemed like a huge non sequitur to me. After all, it shouldn’t matter very much if a Supreme Court justice is a huge asshole or not, just whether he knows the law.

    Epi: Biden is a piker until he asks a bunch of brown people if they still throw spears.

  7. The fact is, Justice Thomas is a great libertarian hero.

  8. Warty
    I think the thing they were going for was that Thomas was involved in sexual harassment, which would be in violation of the law and therefore make him unfit for the job or something.

  9. MNG, it is a huge victory for the conservative movement now that Specter has left. It clarifies the difference between the parties. I can only hope he takes Snowe, Collins, McCain, and Lugar with him.

  10. “The fact is, Justice Thomas is a great libertarian hero.”

    The guy who held with the majority in Hudson v. Michigan?

  11. And Atwater v. Lago Vista?

  12. I’ve always wondered how many of the congressfags who were excoriating CT in the hearings had just got done banging their pages.

  13. And Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada?

  14. And with the dissent in Oregon v. Gonzalez?

  15. “I can only hope he takes Snowe, Collins, McCain, and Lugar with him.”

    Oh Jack I can only hope so too!

  16. And the dissent in Lawrence v. Texas?

  17. And his opinion in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld?

  18. And his opinion in Board of Education v. Earls?

  19. I think you may have taken some bait, MNG.

  20. And his holding with the majority in Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton?

  21. And his dissent in GEORGIA v. RANDOLPH?

  22. Ok, sorry for all of those, but I’m sick of claims of Thomas and Scalia being libertarian friendly. You can only carry Kyllo and Raich so fucking far before you stumble across their entire history of cases on the bench.

  23. Vice President Joe Biden sitting around. In his own time on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden played a central role in the scorched earth fights over both Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas.

    Hell, Obama voted against Alito and Roberts, two uncontroversial nominees. If he gets a fight on anyone, he brought it on his own head.

  24. I think the thing they were going for was that Thomas was involved in sexual harassment, which would be in violation of the law and therefore make him unfit for the job or something.

    Kind of an odd position for Democrats to be taking, no?

  25. The funny thing is Sessions himself had his nomination as a federal judge derailed by the Judiciary Committee.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Sessions

  26. MNG,

    No Supreme Court justice is likely libertarian friendly. Indeed, it is quite unlikely that a SCJ would ever be drawn from the 10%-15% of the population of the U.S. that is libertarian. That isn’t because of a lack of talent, etc., it is because of the nature of the U.S. political system.

  27. One thing folks like me want to make sure of is that when folks hear that distinct Southern twang — you mean Jimmy “Nucular” Carter and Bill “Bubba” Clinton? — they think “GOP.”

    What is your point about about Southerners?

  28. We’re parties supposed to be about platforms and issues, not about maneuvering the issues to get votes?

    I welcome the republican party’s attempts to stay “pure.” Let the free market electorate vote them out; let the party die as their positions become less relevant to voters. Then their disenfranchised former members can build up a strong independent bloc, or a viable third party.

    The alternative is R becoming even more like D, no third parties, less independents, and ultimately less choice on the campaign trail.

  29. Jack, on the other thread, your invitation to go Galt gets a warm welcome from me. However, I believe that MNG just eviscerated your assertion that Thomas is a liberatrian justice.

  30. I knew I should have previewed.

    “Weren’t…” not, “We’re…”

  31. MNG,

    BTW, Democrats need Southern EVs to have a good chance of retaining the Presidency.

  32. “Ah, the GOP’s face on the committee goes from a Pennsylvanian to an Alabamain.”

    The problem with those Alabamains is, they don’t spell good.

    Pennsylvania politicians have always been pillars of liberalism – just look at Frank Rizzo!

    And Pennsylvania has always been synonymous with “good government.”

    Check this out:

    ‘The sheer number of lawmakers in Pennsylvania alleged, charged and convicted of public corruption lately is virtually mind-numbing. High profile cases like the conviction of Sen. Vince Fumo and the indictments against the former number-two House Democrat significantly understate the problem. In recent years, nine other members of the legislature have been convicted of various types of public corruption.

    ‘Nor are state lawmakers solo offenders in the growing corruption. Two Luzerne County judges notoriously made national news lately when they admitted accepting more than $2.5 million in kickbacks and committing income tax invasion in exchange for sending thousands of juveniles to detention centers. Another jurist, a former Superior Court judge, bilked an insurance company out of thousands for falsifying an injury in an automobile accident. . . .

    ‘Traditionally, the values of Pennsylvania’s political culture have been complicit in the episodic bouts of corruption occurring since the Civil War. Labeled “individualist-entrepreneurial,” political scientists have argued that Pennsylvania state politicians are schooled to think of politics as a venue to better themselves rather than making things better. Pennsylvania’s political culture, going back to the time of William Penn himself, has encouraged a kind of practical utilitarian approach to public affairs. Consequently, politics comes to be seen as something of a business, and the business of politics includes making money for those in it. This “culture,” it is argued, leads to corrupt behavior by too easily tempted politicians.’

  33. Mad Max,

    Well, that just goes along with the observation of public choice theory that politicians are as individually oriented as anyone outside the realm of politics.

  34. MNG

    I often find myself disagreeing with Thomas, but in many of his opinions he clearly states that if he were making laws he would act differently than he does when he rules on the constitutionality of a law.

    Unfortunately for libertarians the Constitution is far from a perfectly libertarian document.

    I believe everyone fails when they start seeing too many of their own predjudices in its shadows.

  35. MNG, screw you, you intolerant bigot.

  36. Can I have people kicked out of the country if they attack my Southerness? Or is that just in the UK?

  37. I watched those hearings, and I found Anita Hill completely unconvincing. This impression was confirmed as far as i was concerned when I read that she’d actually followed Thomas from one agency to another. That’s what made the bullshit meter self-destruct.

    -jcr

  38. Can I have people kicked out of the country if they attack my Southerness?

    Seems not. The new regime looks at us as a bunch of slave trading farmers, drinking mint julips (however the hell you write that), wearing white suits and panama hats, living in trailers AND in big plantation homes, raping our slaves and marrying our relatives. Don’t forget being dirt poor, driving monster trucks and tractors, going to Church, supporting abolition, smoking cigarettes, growing tobacco and running moonshine.

  39. JCR,

    Wasn’t she dug up by the Dems. and never wanted to testify anyway? Might be misremembering there.

  40. HEB, I thought everybody looked at ProL that way. But you forgot to add that he’s a lawyer, which is even worse.

  41. But you forgot to add that he’s a lawyer, which is even worse.

    Ah, so add “throwing Black people in jail and murdering Freedom Riders”.

  42. I wonder if Mr. Sessions ancient racism will be held against him in the same way Ron Paul’s newsletters were held against Dr. Paul? Here’s officially DOUBTING it…I have yet to see one standard from the neocons, and I don’t expect it now, but I’m gonna be shovin’ this one in their faces FREQUENTLY. They obviously need the lesson.

  43. Y’all come down to the plantation and have some bourbon and brook water with me.

  44. “I’d like to allege that Thomas was intentionally dishonest as well, saying that he hadn’t talked dirty to Anita Hill when he had, which was, you know, perjury.”

    No, the liar was Anita Hill. I watched EVERY MINUTE of the confirmation hearings. That bitch was lying.

  45. “The fact is, Justice Thomas is a great libertarian hero.”

    Absolutely.

  46. slave trading farmers, drinking mint julips (however the hell you write that), wearing white suits and panama hats, living in trailers AND in big plantation homes, raping our slaves and marrying our relatives. Don’t forget being dirt poor, driving monster trucks and tractors, going to Church, supporting abolition, smoking cigarettes, growing tobacco and running moonshine.

    You forgot caning ill-mannered political opponents.

  47. “Wasn’t she dug up by the Dems. and never wanted to testify anyway? Might be misremembering there.”

    Yes, that is true. The media drove her decision to testify.

  48. You forgot caning ill-mannered political opponents.

    What is negative about that one?

  49. No way of knowing the truth in the Hill-Thomas mess, but I found it unlikely that her testimony wasn’t politically motivated. She was senior enough at the EEOC to know how to file a complaint on sexual harassment, and, as someone heading for academia, anyway, there’s no reason to suspect that she’d have feared any major repercussions in filing.

    Of course, that doesn’t make her testimony false, though I thought at the time that there had to be some exaggeration, especially since there didn’t seem to be much independent corroboration. And if Thomas was as out of control as portrayed, why no other complaints? Compare with Bill Clinton, who had a long line of women he harassed or otherwise solicited.

  50. I wonder if MNG would ever go to the south and tell them what he thinks of them in person instead on anonymously slandering them on the internet. Of course that would take real balls to go down there and tell those Alpha Male hicks what for to there face.

    I know it is much easier to say it to his effeminate beta male elitists with their pretensions to moral and intellectual superiority. After all they simply tell a few tired old redneck jokes that stopped being funny when my grandfather was born afterwords before moving on to the next issue for discussion in their quasi-intellectual circlejerk. But Bubba might actually kick your ass before sicking his dog on you.

  51. “I wonder if MNG would ever go to the south and tell them what he thinks of them in person instead on anonymously slandering them on the internet. Of course that would take real balls to go down there and tell those Alpha Male hicks what for to there face.”

    Ben, I lived in the South for most of my life and told folks how I felt fairly freely. I know you’d like to think of liberal Yankees as effeminate beta males and Southerner’s as good old boy hulks, but I’ve lived in both places and you are far more likely to have your ass handed to you by a Northerner.

    There’s a reason why the South got its ass so thoroughly kicked the one time they got froggy with the North. Thinking you’re tough and being tough are not the same thing.

    Shit, I thought the South stunk when I was a Republican. It does not have to do with Blue/Red but with Civilized/Uncivilized…

  52. Why is it okay to generalize about 120 million people who live in a particular region but not about races, sexes, religions, etc., etc.?

  53. BECAUSE NORTHERN LIBERALS FEAR THE POWER OF THE SOUTHERN MALE AND FEEL THEIR SCROTAL SACS RETREAT INTO THEIR BODIES AT THE VERY THOUGHT OF YOU. THE URKOBOLD NOTED A SIMILAR PHENOMENON WITH THE FRENCH AND THE GERMANS.

    THE URKOBOLD HAS USED THIS FEAR TO MORE EASILY REMOVE THE TAINTS OF OFFENDING NORTHERNERS OF THE LIBERAL BENT. CONSERVATIVE AND LIBERTARIAN NORTHERNERS REQUIRE THE STRATEGIC APPLICATION OF A CROWBAR AND ACETYLENE TORCH FOR TAINT DISPATCHING.

  54. “There’s a reason why the South got its ass so thoroughly kicked the one time they got froggy with the North.”

    Smaller population, less industry, less transportation infrastructure fighting what became a war of attrition. Lack of individual toughness? Not so much.

    Frankly, the soldiers on both sides of that war were impressively tough. Anyone who’s going to stand up in a field in bunched formations facing rifle and cannon fire and not run away screaming has nothing to apologize for in the courage department.

    The South had most of the accomplished officers from the antebellum US Army, which gave it much success in the beginning. The war was in no way a foregone conclusion, especially in the first couple of years.

  55. Enough of this nonsense. It’s time for intelligently and rationally calling them out everytime they bully, ridicule, twist facts, marginalize, act dismissively, distort reality, use bad logic and faulty arguments, and act hypocritically.
    Arm yourselves with facts, critical thinking, and a cool head.
    Challenge what’s already been considered to be the norm or unquestionable.
    Refuse to accept bullying tactics, straw man arguments, or intimidation – instead POINT IT OUT and EXPOSE IT, and then refute the error and falsehood.

  56. The South had most of the accomplished officers from the antebellum US Army, which gave it much success in the beginning.

    It’s always amazed me that they held out as long as they did. Robert E. Lee was the most talented strategist in America, hands down.

    -jcr

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