The 2020 Dem spectacle: Spartacus and the Native American

Democrats have demanded recounts, challenged the Electoral College, shot Republican congressmen playing softball, shot themselves in the foot, yelled obscenities at the president, claimed Russian collusion, assaulted conservative campus speakers and worn pink hats.

But Donald Trump is still president. So Dems are now down to their last resort: Defeating him in the next presidential election.

But with whom? Or as a Dem would say, with who? Joe Biden is too old, Barrack Obama is too 2008 and Hillary is, well, too Hillary.

Ah, but the Dems have nothing if not a deep and diverse bench. Take their junior senator from New Jersey, a fellow who declared in the senate’s nationally televised Supreme Court nominee hearings, “I am Spartacus.”

Well, I suppose “I am Spartacus” has a better ring to it than “I am Slick Willy.”

This man’s claim to be the leader of a Roman slave rebellion two millennia ago rests on, he grandstanded, his violation of senate rules. He bragged that he’d released confidential documents about the nominee to the press.

He evidently thinks that’s something Spartzcus would do. He dared the Republicans to discipline him for his rule-breaking the same way the Romans disciplined the other Spartuacus for his rule-breaking. Well, maybe not exactly the same way.

It made great spectacle for a moment, at least in relation to the rest of the tiresome circus. What courage! What leadership! What resistance!

What bull.

It turned out that the so-called confidential documents had already been released from confidentiality the night before. Spartacus knew that, as did everyone else. This big resistance moment was staged for the television cameras.

Leave it to a Dem to abide by the rules the one time he wants to get caught breaking them.

At the time of that Supreme Court nomination, there was no evidence that Spartacus — formerly a guy from New Jersey named Cory Booker — had ever heard of the nominee. Nor had Spartacus read any of the nominee’s 300-some judicial opinions and many other writings which earned him praise from scores of legal scholars and Supreme Court practitioners of all political stripes and every single one of his 33 liberal and conservative female law clerks over the course of a decade.

But when the cameras are rolling, who needs facts? Spartacus promptly proclaimed that this man who coaches his daughter’s softball team and feeds the homeless at a soup kitchen is “evil.”

That’s how Booker became Spartacus. Or Batman. Or maybe Johnny Carson or anything else that might get people to tune in. Meanwhile, our valiant hero is already packing his rubber sword for the 2020 primaries in Iowa.

If only the first Spartacus had been as versatile as this Jersey one.

Then there’s the blond and blue-eyed Dem senator from Massachusetts who boasted she is part Cherokee to maneuver her way up the ladder of quota-conscious academia.

Skeptics have suggested she take a DNA test to prove her bona fides. She apparently has taken that test privately and didn’t like the results, because she refuses to take one publicly. Instead, she tells us to trust those high cheekbones of hers (which sounds vaguely racist to me).

Real native Americans remain unconvinced. And they’re unhappy because her bogus claim stole a seat in the affirmative action derby. But native Americans don’t matter to the Dems because there aren’t many of them and they don’t vote much.

Trump characteristically skewered her with a name as devastating as it is politically incorrect. I won’t repeat it because mocking a person for falsely claiming to be native American to manipulate the quota system is racist if the person is a Dem.

So which will the Dems nominate for president in 2020? How can the Dems choose between such worthy cinema?

I have the solution. Spartacus for president and the other one for his VP. Oh, but that wouldn’t be fair to the Dem identity group of women falsely claiming to be Native American.

How about the other one for president and Spartacus for her VP? Oh, but that wouldn’t be fair to the Dem identity group of guys from Jersey who think they’re Spartacus.

Maybe a fake co-presidency shared by the fake Spartacus and the fake Native American, where each gets a plastic trophy for participating.

Meanwhile, the rest of us will decide on a real president to lead the nation.

(Published Sept. 23, 2018 in the Aspen Times at https://www.aspentimes.com/opinion/glenn-k-beaton-the-2020-dem-spectacle-spartacus-and-the-native-american/)

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The de-fanged and sickly poodle press

Over 200 bigly newspapers, or at least what passes for that in today’s world of belittled newspapers, assured us a few weeks ago in similar editorials against President Donald Trump published all on the same day that there is no collusion among them to take him down.

They said that they are not the enemy; he is. In fact, they imply that he’s … (you know what’s coming) … a fascist. They say this impervious to the irony that they freely excoriate this so-called fascist daily without consequence other than to drive away their few remaining subscribers.

Don’t call this collusion, they say, because they’re anti-collusion at this particular moment in time and, besides, it can’t be collusion if there are no Republicans in the room. Believe me, there are very few Republicans in any news rooms.

Yes, the fawning poodle press of the Barack Obama era wants to grow fangs and take a bite out of the Republican president. But these days the press isn’t so much a pit bull as a blind, incompetent, incontinent, 17-year-old labradoodle suffering through its last night. Because big media is not just biased, but inept. Continue reading

There are no slam dunks in baseball

On a sweltering Atlanta evening recently, the Colorado Rockies looked like they just wanted to go home. They were down 3-0 in the ninth inning with two outs, one strike and too hot. Nobody was on base and seemingly nobody wanted to be on base.

They had swatted more flies than fly balls. The pine tar on their bats was melting, and there was concern that the wood might be next. Even the Central American players thought it was unbearably humid.

The Atlanta Braves needed just one more weak grounder to send the Rox back to the place they apparently wanted to be — their air-conditioned hotel. It was a slam dunk.

But there are no slam dunks in baseball. Continue reading

We ask too much of the Supreme Court and too little of ourselves

Remember the latest scandal at the Supreme Court?

It’s understandable if you don’t. It occurred back in the 1960s when Justice Abe Fortas resigned after it was discovered that he’d accepted a fat yearly “retainer” for life from an indicted Wall Street financier. He then, allegedly, lobbied President Lyndon Johnson, who’d appointed Fortas, to pardon the financier. But the lobbying part was never proven and the financier was never pardoned.

He also received big fees for speaking engagements funded by potential Court litigants. (No, the Clintons didn’t invent the scam of selling influence in the guise of giving implausibly expensive speeches. They just perfected it.)

In the half-century since Fortas, the Court has been scandal-free. The justices are extremely able and decent people. You may disagree with their decisions sometimes, as I do, but it’s one branch of American government that works.

To understand the Court, it’s helpful to understand the setting. Only nine justices serve at a time (or less if a vacancy is unfilled) and in the history of the Court a total of only 113 have served. They’re terrific lawyers. In private practice, they could make a multiple of their government salary.

They chose instead to serve their country on the Court because they love that service, love their country, love the Court and sometimes love their colleagues. One of the great friendships on the Court was between liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and the late, great conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.

In the courtroom, lawyers sit at counsel tables just a few feet away from the elevated bench where the justices sit. I remember sitting so close in front of Scalia that I thought I could smell his sulfuric wit.

The lectern where lawyers present their arguments is between the counsel tables and also just a few feet in front of the elevated bench.

The bench is in three sections. At the center section is the chief justice and the two senior-most justices. On each flank is a section for three other justices. The two flanking sections are angled inward to partially encircle the lectern. Behind the bench are massive marble columns.

The effect is that a lawyer standing at the lectern feels like he is in a mausoleum surrounded by black-robed giants looking down on him. The lawyer is outnumbered, out-dressed and, in my case and most others, outsmarted.

It’s intimidating, partly by design. The power of the judiciary rests on respect.

The reason the Court has maintained its power over the years, however, is not just that they bask in the trappings of it. It’s also because they are careful not to overuse it.

As judges, they are charged with deciding the case in front of them, no more and no less. Usually (not always) they avoid inventing a new law but instead apply the law that is plainly in the Constitution or in legislation enacted by the people’s representatives.

They are very reluctant to overturn existing cases. They know it’s disruptive and unfair to change the rules in the middle of the game. The odds of Roe v. Wade — or anything else — being overturned are remote.

This system has worked well for over two centuries. But over the past few decades the job of these justices has gotten harder. To their detriment and ours, we now ask too much of them.

We now ask the Court to decide, for example, whether carbon dioxide is a pollutant and whether contraceptive benefits should be mandated for Catholic nuns. Those issues wound up before the Court because Congress refused to decide them. Instead, Congress delegated the decision to unaccountable administrators at the EPA and unelected bureaucrats at the IRS.

These are not issues of law, but issues of policy. Congress dodges them for craven political reasons. They want to avoid disappointing one or another of their constituent groups. Congress does this because it works — for Congress.

The people are not blind to this game. That’s why they overwhelmingly disapprove of Congress as a whole. But they still allow themselves to be seduced by their own representatives over and over at election time. Being seduced is destructive but seductive.

It’s a failure of democracy, and it’s our own fault.

Congress’s abdication to the Court now risks the Court’s reputation upon which its authority rests. The current justices — and also newly nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh — are extremely talented judges and very decent human beings. But they are only so-so policymakers and, moreover, they are unaccountable to the people.

Let’s restore democracy. A good start would be for the Court to invalidate vague legislation that illegitimately delegates policy-making to unaccountable administrative agencies for review by unelected judges.

That would force Congress to make the hard policy decisions. That’s Congress’ job.

And it would force us to hold Congress accountable for those decisions at election time. That’s our job.

P.S. Noted lawyer and author Peter Wallison, who was White House Counsel to President Ronald Reagan when Reagan nominated Scalia, informs me that these issues are considered in depth in his upcoming book “Judicial Fortitude.”

(Published Aug. 12, 2018 in the Aspen Times at https://www.aspentimes.com/opinion/glenn-k-beaton-we-ask-too-much-of-the-supreme-court-and-too-little-of-ourselves/)

 

Please Cool the Hitler Rhetoric Before Someone Else Gets Hurt

Back when Democrats ran the country and Republicans mostly objected to how, that icon of the left, the New York Times, often got its panties in a bind about incivility.

To hear the Times tell it back then, Republican incivility was not only annoying to the Times and other Dems but was downright dangerous to the republic.

But over the past, oh, about 18 months, times have changed and so has the Times. America’s self-described “newspaper of record” went on record this month with a column proclaiming in its title that civility is “white America’s age-old, misguided obsession.”

There’s something vaguely racist in the contention that civility is just a white thing, but I’ll save that point for another day. Today’s point is that the left is candidly abandoning civility and is on the verge of embracing outright violence.

A restaurant evicted public servants because they were of the “wrong” political party. An actor on national TV shouted “f—” President Donald Trump and received a standing ovation for it. A cable TV host called the president’s daughter a “feckless —-” (I won’t type even a single letter of that one).

Yes, the incivility is bad. But the violent rhetoric is even worse.

A fake actor who’s the son of a real one stated that someone “should rip (the president’s son) from his mother’s arms and put him in a cage with pedophiles.” The former vice president boasted that he would “beat the hell out of” the president. Another actor ruminated about the “last time” an actor assassinated a president. A singer bragged that she had “thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House.”

A so-called comedienne posed for a photograph holding up a severed head in the likeness of the president. A production of Shakespeare’s Caesar in Central Park last summer depicted the slain Caesar as a tall man with wild blond hair and a red tie.

We’ve seen that violent rhetoric leads to violent acts. A Bernie Sanders supporter gunned down congressmen playing softball simply because they were Republicans.

It’s curious. To some on the left, it’s not enough to say the other side is wrong. They have to say they’re “fascists.” Depicting their severed head or advocating their assassination or even gunning them down is therefore part of a noble resistance.

Even as they compete to see who can call the president a fascist the fastest, they also imagine, laughably, that this pandering to their fellow travelers in the fever swamps is an act of courage.

Here in Aspen — the left-most outpost between Berkeley and Boston — a newspaper columnist assured his faithful that the president is a not even a human being. He’s a “hate-filled avatar” of one who is engaged in “creeping fascism.”

OK, once you’ve name-called someone a non-human and a fascist because you disagree with his political position, which of you is really the fascist?

Another columnist compared border guards to Nazis. That’s because the guards deny illegal entry into our country in accordance with laws duly enacted by large bipartisan majorities.

The implication is that this makes the boss of these so-called Nazis — namely the current president who was married to a Jewish woman, has a Jewish son-in-law and moved the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem — just like Adolf Hitler who slaughtered 6 million Jews.

Never mind that these same so-called Nazi border guards also enforced these same immigration laws under their last boss, namely the last president, who deported more illegal immigrants than any president in history. That president apparently wasn’t like Hitler because he wasn’t a Republican.

The Hitler trope is now standard operating procedure for the left. They do it not because it works; it doesn’t. In fact, their shark-jumping usually backfires because it’s so off-putting to middle Americans who decide elections. Indeed, notice that the president’s approval ratings keep rising.

No, the reason the left vilifies and dehumanizes their opponents is because it feels good to them.

Beclowning oneself by ridiculously equating political opponents to sub-human villains, comic book style, may indeed feel good. But there are two dangers.

One is that such name-calling precludes honest debate about the issues of the day.

The second danger is worse. Not everyone recognizes that these fascism comparisons are ridiculous. Violent crazies are out there — the kind who gun down congressmen playing softball.

In Hitler’s Germany, Catholic priest Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed for plotting to kill Hitler. He is correctly viewed today as a hero.

When the President of the United States is equated with Hitler and the mob roars its approval to depictions of his assassination, how long before a person lacking the intelligence, judgment and ethics of Bonhoeffer comes to believe that he too will be a hero if he pulls a Bonhoeffer?

I say to decent and responsible people what the New York Times will not: Please cool the violent rhetoric and Hitler stuff before someone else gets hurt.

(Published July 29, 2001 in the Aspen Times at https://www.aspentimes.com/opinion/glenn-k-beaton-please-cool-the-hitler-rhetoric-before-someone-else-gets-hurt/#fb-comment-box-272958)

Plastic Straw Feel-Goodery

Teachers here recently put children up to sending a letter to this newspaper proclaiming that “plastic straws are toxic and are destroying our planet” because they wind up in the oceans. The letter asked Aspen to ban them.

Not that I really care about straws. I don’t like straws — or vegetables or little umbrellas — in my scotch anyway.

But notice that the kids weren’t asked to make any real sacrifice. I’m guessing they too don’t like straws or vegetables in their scotch, though they may like the little umbrellas.

I wonder if the kids would have completed this assignment from theater class (I hope it wasn’t from science class, for reasons I’ll get to) if they’d been asked, say, to sacrifice their rides in mom’s gas-guzzling SUV each day and instead take that icky bus.

Aspen Skiing Co. also has jumped on the plastic bandwagon. Continue reading

We will not worship the Colorado Civil Rights Commission

The bigotry of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission earned it a spanking from the United States Supreme Court this month. Here’s the story.

A born-again Christian named Jack Phillips ran a bakery. Aware of Phillips’ heartfelt religious beliefs, a gay couple demanded that he violate those beliefs by designing and creating an artistic cake to celebrate their marriage. This was even before Colorado had legalized gay marriage.

Phillips politely told the couple that they were welcome in his bakery and that he would be happy to sell them anything off-the-shelf. But he could not violate his faith. He even offered to find them an alternative bakery for their cake (which is easy).

But the couple weren’t satisfied. They didn’t really come to Phillips for a cake; they came for his scalp. Continue reading