House GOP leader asks Jerry Brown: How would you replace Obamacare?

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has written to Gov. Jerry Brown and the leaders of other states soliciting their input for replacing Obamacare.

Dismantling President Barack Obama’s signature health care legislation has been central to debate in Washington since voters in November handed Republicans control of the White House and Congress.

“As Obamacare continues to saddle patients with less choice, higher costs, and mountains of mandates, it is clear that major health care reforms must be made to strengthen and improve health care for all Americans,” McCarthy wrote in the letter last month, which was signed by five other House Republicans, including Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas.

“Lawmakers, governors, and state insurance commissioners have a tremendous opportunity to achieve our shared goal of enacting health care reforms that lower costs, improve quality, empower states and individuals, and bring our health care system into the 21st century,” they added. …

Click here to read the full article

What President Trump Will Mean for California’s Economy

donald-trump-3Since Trump’s election we’ve seen a national rebound in consumer, small business and large corporate confidence. The American business and worker class seem to be saying what Californians don’t want to hear: We want an economy not stifled by environmental and tax regulations. We want a president that understands, “It’s the economy, stupid!” California once had that type of mentality, but now with an economy that mostly produces temporary, low paying, service sector jobs where are the positives for the California economy?

The answer is everywhere. Progressive policies were a great idea over a hundred years ago when they were meant to curb female abuse at the hands of alcoholic husbands, child labor in Chicago meatpacking sweatshops epitomized in Upton Sinclair’s, The Jungle, and breaking down corporate monopolies. Former President Theodore Roosevelt led that charge for the working man and woman.

That day has passed, and now gentrified environmental billionaires such as Tom Steyer and his legislative lackeys tow the global warming line for coastal elites. Unfortunately, most of California – and even wealthy Los Angeles – suffer the policies of leaders such as Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon’s job killer bill like SB32 and the boosting of AB32 into further restrictions on economic growth.

There isn’t a green economy that comes close to what Trump is proposing to do for energy exploration on public and private lands. Factually, there isn’t such a thing as the California green economy. It doesn’t exist. Nor does it produce anything resembling large-scale economic progress the way oil and gas exploration produces millions of jobs, and billions of tax revenues.

This is what President Trump will pursue when it comes fossil fuel extraction as a nationwide policy. And this will include California, especially if Trump does away with the moratoriums on deep water drilling for oil and natural gas off the California coastlines.

California has billions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas. The tax revenue produced by this could turn California into an economy that could reach the second largest in the world. If California would turn their back on the fallacy of the green economy and embrace sensible exploration our public schools could be the envy of the U.S., our infrastructure needs taken care of without tax increases, and a true, thriving middle class. Not the progressive haves and have-nots currently seen in California.

This is what Trump has in mind for the U.S., and dare it seems California could be on his radar to expand American energy opportunities.

Trump’s cabinet picks have all indicated economic growth will be their number one priority, and re-establishing America’s preeminence in the world through a larger blue water navy. What this means for California is hard to understand, but one thing is certain, the tech sector will see growth supplying the U.S. Navy with state of the art software. But China’s recent belligerence could be a bellwether of things to come for California’s economy; if the Chinese begin to make their markets even tougher to enter, this doesn’t bode well for California exports.

Sanctuary cities in California could also see a hit with cheaper labor on the downturn if Trump keeps his campaign promises and begins deporting illegals that are criminals, and not allowing the DREAM Act to continue through executive action. The rush for asylum could see Trump’s Justice Department and I.C.E. taking on Gov. Brown and the California Legislature.

Does California have the stomach for federal funds being cut off? Trump doesn’t need California, more than California needs the president-elect, and the federal dollars he is soon to control. The politics of this issue could be a harbinger for the legal fights and strength of the federal government California will be dealing with in 2017. What happens when Trump appoints the next Supreme Court justice, and then could go after the special status of illegal aliens/undocumented immigrants. California will lose. It’s hard to imagine Brown and the Legislature along with the Congressional delegation negotiating sensibly with Trump and his administration.

Special status will be reserved for California’s fixation on global warming led by Gov. Brown and coastal elites in San Francisco and the west side of Los Angeles. When Trump and his cabinet increase energy, but not necessarily renewables, California laws – AB32 and SB32 – won’t have the ability to make much of a difference. Though they don’t really work as intended anyway.

And with economic growth taking precedence over Paris Climate Agreements and the Clean Power Plan the rest of the U.S. will need cheaper energy that oil, natural gas and coal provide. Further, California’s dream of electric vehicles, solar panels and windmills powering California will not grow and the bullet train will be dead on arrival for the incoming administration and Congress.

California will also not be able, or allowed, to stop shipments of coal that the Obama administration encouraged and certainly didn’t stop. Not to mention the legality of the issue. California again will run into a juggernaut of federal laws, regulations and a hostile federal government if coal shipments are not allowed through California ports to reach an energy hungry China, India and the rest of Asia. Those are American jobs, and votes for Trump’s re-election that he more than likely won’t allow California environmental policy to dictate how and where coal is shipped from our ports. Global warming won’t be high on Trump’s vision of American growth, and it was misguided policy by the Obama administration that hurt Americans of all economic stripes.

We’ve already seen how Trump has dictated new water policies to California that doesn’t involve climate change, or EPA policies curbing manufacturing, but instead showed how water enhancement can assist farmers and development in the Central Valley. Anything that grows the economy will be at the forefront of the Trump administration, and not the reduction of greenhouse gases. These were all economic harbingers shunned by California and the Obama administration’s Commerce, Interior and Energy Departments along with his EPA. That won’t be the case with President Trump.

Economic opportunity will rule the next four years, and because California supported President Obama’s use of executive orders, and his famous, “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone,” form of governance, California can expect the same. The expansion of federal powers under Obama will be stretched to block California progressive laws that don’t coincide with Trump’s presidency.

A Republican House and Senate will thumb their nose at California’s economic and social gains seen under Obama that will be hard to stop if Trump decides he’s had enough of our voter’s malfeasance towards him. The problem with supporting Obama’s way he governed by executive fiat won’t be able to counter Trump is moving beyond the Constitution since that is what Obama has done for eight years with California supporters cheering his every step.

California was certain that Trump would lose and Clinton would expand every social whim most of America finds disdainful. Economic reality will be coming to California and our environmental laws, because Trump can ignore this state for his entire presidency. If you take away California’s bloated vote totals then he won the popular vote by over 1.6 million. We better understand a new dawn is arising, or our economy could be left behind in more ways than we can imagine.

CA’s Democratic Members of Congress Plead for Obama to Pardon “Dreamers”

As reported by the Los Angeles Times:

Led by members of the California delegation, dozens of House Democrats are again pleading with President Obama to pardon hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children to whom he granted temporary deportation deferrals.

Last month, several members of Congress asked Obama to use his pardon authority to forgive the past and future civil immigration offenses of the nearly 750,000 people granted deportation deferrals under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.

The lawmakers say that even though the so-called Dreamers would be left in legal limbo without work permits or visas, they could more easily apply for legal status from within the U.S. without immigration offenses on their records.

A White House official immediately batted down the idea, saying a pardon wouldn’t give them legal status. …

Click here to read the full story

 

Californians Must Know What NSA Spies Know About Us

President Obama is going to Hiroshima.

When the president travels to Japan later this month for a G-7 summit meeting, he will visit a memorial site that honors the memory of those killed in 1945 when President Harry Truman made the decision to use the atomic bomb to end World War II in the Pacific.

It’s a reminder that the fearsome power of the United States government is under the control of elected civilians.

The atomic bomb was new in 1945, but the structure that controlled its use dates to the 18th century. The U.S. Constitution gives the power to declare war — and to spend or withhold funds for it — not to military leaders or intelligence professionals but to Congress. The president is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, outranking everyone in uniform even if he (or she) never served in the military personally.

The design was intended to ensure that the American people control the U.S. government, and not the other way around.

barack obama nsa phone verizonThat’s why the information that has come to light about the National Security Agency’s secret data collection programs is so troubling. In the name of keeping the American people safe from terrorist attacks, the U.S. government has been collecting and saving the email and Internet activity records of innocent Americans and allowing government agents to search the data without a warrant.

Congress is asking questions, and not getting answers.

Sometime next year, lawmakers will have to decide whether to reauthorize Section 702 of the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Amendments Act, which is set to expire. The law has allowed the U.S. attorney general and the director of national intelligence to intercept the communications of targeted foreign nationals, but it turns out that data from Americans has been swept up in the process.

How many Americans have had their emails and Internet activity records collected by this warrantless surveillance? The Obama administration won’t say. Last month 14 lawmakers from both parties sent a letter to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper demanding an answer, but Clapper would only say he’s looking at “several options” for providing the information, “none of which are optimal.”

In a recent hearing held by the Senate Judiciary Committee, senators were told that the intelligence agencies are ignoring the required “minimization” procedures, which call for the communications of innocent Americans to be deleted when discovered.

But a report by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board found that the information is never deleted. “It sits in the databases for five years, or sometimes longer,” board chairman David Medine told the senators, and the program “does not just target terrorists” but anyone with “foreign intelligence value.”

Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, expressed concern over the government’s “backdoor searches” of the collected data. Without a warrant, just by filing a “query,” government agents can read every private word.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, of California, insisted that the surveillance program has helped U.S. authorities foil terrorist plots. She said the government should declassify more reports so the public can see the value of the law.

That’s really not enough. The Fourth Amendment protects Americans from unreasonable searches and seizures and requires the government to get warrants. That constitutional right can’t simply be erased by a couple of declassified reports declaring the usefulness of warrantless searches.

If Congress doesn’t get answers to all its questions, lawmakers shouldn’t hesitate to let Section 702 fade into the sunset.

The power of the U.S. government is too great to be uncontrolled.

Obama-Backed CA Solar Plant Literally Incinerates Itself

Ivanpah solar energyThe world’s largest solar energy plant known for incinerating birds just got a taste of its own medicine. A fire at the plant Thursday morning, which may have been caused by “misaligned” mirrors used to reflect sunlight at boiler towers, broke out in the facilities interior — literally scorching parts of the plant.

NRG Energy, the company operating the Ivanpah solar plant in southern California, was forced to shut down one of its generating towers and is investigating if mirrors, or heliostats, failed and torched a boiling tower. Now, the plant which got $1.6 billion from the Obama administration, will only be able to generate electricity from one of its three towers.

An NRG spokesman said it’s too early to say exactly what caused the failure, but it’s likely due to misaligned heliostats, according to Gizmodo. Whatever the cause, workers and firefighters literally went through hell to douse the flames.

Gizmodo reports:

A small fire was reported yesterday morning at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) in California, forcing a temporary shutdown of the facility. It’s now running at a third of its capacity (a second tower is down due to scheduled maintenance), and it’s not immediately clear when the damaged tower will restart. It’s also unclear how the incident will impact California’s electricity supply.

Putting out the blaze was not easy task, either. Firefighters were forced to climb 300 feet up a boiler tower to get to the scene. Officials said the fire was located about two-thirds up the tower. Workers at the plant actually managed to subdue the flames by the time firefighters reached the spot, and it was officially extinguished about 20 minutes after it started.

The scorched tower is currently shut down, according to the Associated Press, and it’s not clear when it will come online again. It’s also unclear if this setback will affect California’s electricity supply.

This only adds to Ivanpah’s troubles. The plant was nearly shut down by California regulators for not producing nearly as much power as it was supposed to. Regulators have given the plant until the end of July to meet its power quotas, but this fire may make it hard for the plant to meet its goals.

Ivanpah only generated 45 percent of expected power in 2014 and only 68 percent in 2015, according to government data. And it does all this at a cost of $200 per megawatt hour — nearly six times the cost of electricity from natural gas-fired power plants. Interestingly enough, Ivanpah uses natural gas to supplement its solar production.

It wasn’t long after the plant opened, its operators asked the federal government for a $539 million federal grant to help pay off the $1.6 billion loan it got from the Energy Department.

Environmentalists quickly attacked the project for killing thousands of birds since it opened. Many birds were incinerated by the intense heat reflected off Ivanpah’s heliostats.

The Associated Press cited statistics presented by environmentalists in 2014 that “about a thousand… to 28,000” birds are incinerated by Ivanpah’s heliostats every year.

“Forensic Lab staff observed a falcon or falcon-like bird with a plume of smoke arising from the tail as it passed through the flux field,” according to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report from 2014.

Ivanpah — which is owned by BrightSource Energy, NRG Energy and Google — uses more than 170,000 large mirrors, or heliostats, to reflect sunlight towards water boilers set atop 450-foot towers that create steam to turn giant turbines and generate electricity.

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This article was originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation

New Data Shows Obama Least Transparent President Ever

Sunshine Transparency CartoonPresident Barack Obama promised at the outset of his White House tenure that his would be the “most transparent administration in history,” but new data made public Friday suggests it has been the least transparent.

Federal officials said they couldn’t find any records for more than one in six, or nearly 130,000, Freedom of Information Act requests, setting a new record low, The Associated Press reported Friday.

“It seems like they’re doing the minimal amount of work they need to do,” Vice News investigative journalist Jason Leopold told AP. “I just don’t believe them. I really question the integrity of their search.”

Leopold sat on a panel of journalists who shared FOIA horror stories with lawmakers in June and said reporters often need to sue agencies before getting any records.

AP similarly reported instances where the government released tens of thousands of records following a lawsuit, after previously telling FOIA requesters they couldn’t find any documents. The Department of State, for example, told Gawker they couldn’t find any correspondence between Hillary Clinton aide Phillipe Reines and journalists, but found 90,000 records after a lawsuit.

Leopold also recently reported the Department of Justice previously lobbied heavily against FOIA reform moving through Congress.

The Obama administration answered more record requests and reduced its backlog, Department of Justice spokeswoman Beverly Lumpkin told AP. Additionally, the administration completed a 769,903 requests – a 19 percent increase over 2014 and a new record, AP reported.

Also, 77 percent of requests were either redacted or denied. That includes those where the requester refused to pay for records or when the government said they couldn’t find documents or that a request was either unreasonable or improper.

But the White House reported 93 percent, in fact, were released in full or in part, since they don’t include such caveats in their calculations.

Meanwhile, the inability to pay isn’t necessarily a requester’s stinginess. The Department of Defense said one FOIA request would cost $660 million  – the price of an Australian island – the Center for Public Integrity recently reported.

Additionally, more than half of the federal agencies took longer to answer last year’s requests than in 2014.

“It’s incredibly unfortunate when someone waits months, or perhaps years, to get a response to their request – only to be told that the agency can’t find anything,” Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press attorney Adam Marshall told AP.

AP reviewed all 2015 requests to 100 federal agencies.

“It was impossible to know whether more requests last year involved non-existent files or whether federal workers were searching less than diligently before giving up to consider a case closed,” AP reported.

Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation

The Problem With Trump-esk Type Candidates

Donald Trump SNLFor months, I’ve wondered why people are attracted to Donald Trump. Is it his celebrity status? Is it his business savvy? Or is it his pure crassness?

While his fans cite all of these as their reasoning for supporting him, one point has been excluded: most Americans feel doomed and hopeless. They want someone who is a Washington outsider. They want someone to be a beacon of hope.

Sound familiar?

We had that same problem in 2008. People, especially those who are politically apathetic, began flocking to Obama. They were dazzled by his desire for “hope” and “change.” Others wanted to make history by voting for someone who could become the first African American president. Not only did they want to watch history, but they wanted to be a part of it.

Obama gained momentum and followers who blindly supported him without knowing what policies he advocated for.

The same thing is happening on the right side of the aisle. People are flocking to Trump without knowing why. My guess? They like his tell-it-like-it-is attitude and his bold policy idea of building a wall along Mexico and making the Mexican government pay for it.

Americans favor someone who is willing to be bold and present new ideas. Americans want a president who is willing to do everything in his or her power to protect the American public. I can get behind those ideas. The problem I see in a Trump type candidates: the ability to appeal to the “ignorant masses” (a political science coined term), something both Trump and Obama have in common.

Both men made the average American feel as though they have a personal connection with each and every one of their supporters. I met a Trump supporter last month who told me Trump called her “darling,” something that had her grinning from ear-to-ear. The glow in her eye was similar to that of an expecting mother. She had no other care in the world at the moment, other than reminiscing on The Donald swooning her.

When the Trump type of candidate comes along, they smile, wink and they’ve solidified a vote. Look what that got us over the last 8 years.

Conservatives complain about the people who flocked to Obama without knowing what he stood for, yet those same people are doing the exact same thing, but with Trump.

Trump scares me just as much as Obama did in 2008. I believe he is just as likely to pick up his phone and pen when he doesn’t get his way. After all, he can’t fire the other 535 people he’ll have to work with to run this country.

Beth Baumann is a public relations professional in Southern California, a contributor at PolitiChicks and former Communications Assistant at the American Conservation Union, who sponsors CPAC.

SCOTUS Showdown: Obama’s Dysfunctional Relationship With Congress

SCOTUSbuilding_1st_Street_SEAfter this week’s news that Republican Senate leaders will not even consider any Supreme Court nominee until a new president is in office, current President Obama is taking it to the streets in an effort to get his yet unnamed pick approved. Or at least to make some much-needed political hay.

In a guest column on the acronymically-named SCOTUSblog, Obama makes his case that he will do his constitutional duty by naming an appointment and he expects the Senate will do the same by giving the Obama nominee a fair hearing and, at least in Obama’s world, the thumbs up in an up-or-down vote.

The president’s implication is that he is fulfilling his duty while a Republican Senate contingent which has clearly stated it will not act on a Supreme Court replacement for Justice Scalia until the next president is in office, would be guilty of a dereliction of duty. If you read between the lines, it almost could be an admonition straight out of Gilbert and Sullivan: “He has done his duty. I will do mine. Go ye and do yours.”

Obama talks about his putative nominee’s virtuous qualities: fierce independence; understanding the role of the judiciary in interpreting, not making law; a keen intellect; faultless integrity. Of course. But let’s cut through the crap. At this stage it’s all political posturing. On both sides.

And in some ways, the president’s predicament reminds me of situations faced by the kids in my high school forensics class who after getting busted by the teacher for some infraction or other were faced with detention or another equally odious punishment. In such situations, Bonnie Miller’s response was invariably the same: “Sorry, hon, you did it to yourself.”

In the past, we have heard criticisms from the White House when Congress passed bills which the president had signaled he would veto. On such occasions it was as if one could hear in the background of the White House declarations Seinfeld’s Larry Thomas deliver one of his lesser-known classic lines with gusto: “Please, you’re wasting everyone’s time.” The president would then go on to veto the bill in question with a slight head-shake, as if to say “kids will be kids.”

On a number of occasions, if the president wanted to be spared the inconvenience of a veto, he got his Senate acolytes to use the filibuster. In this way, for example, he was able to see his recent Iran deal sail through, despite majority opposition in both houses of Congress. While the deal was voted down by the House, it failed to get an up-or-down vote in the Senate.

At that time, of course, it was the Republican Senate leadership which decried the Democrats’ use of the filibuster. As a key element of American foreign policy, the Iran deal, they claimed, deserved a full hearing and an up-or-down vote. The Democrats not only responded with the “waste of time” argument, but also suggested that the use of the filibuster was simply yet another way in which – through their duly elected Senators – the people of the United States were speaking. Sorry, Republicans, you didn’t have the votes. Next!

Now that the shoe is on the other foot, Democrats are crying “Foul!” and trying parse the differences between their own use of the filibuster and the Republicans’ unwillingness to consider any Obama SCOTUS nominee, which is in itself a form of filibuster.

“Ah, but the filibuster is often used when it comes to legislation. It is unprecedented when it comes to Supreme Court nominees.”

This is sheer nonsense, and it is all political game-playing within the wacky, arcane set of rules the Senate in all its old-school glory sets for itself. When you change those rules, as for instance when the Democrats under then-Majority Leader Harry Reid used the “nuclear option” to eliminate the filibuster for lower court nominees, don’t be surprised when the new rules are used against you if ever that shoe moves feet. And be even less surprised when the existing rules are used against you. You’re all playing by the same rules, unless, of course, you change them.

Let me make it clear: I personally believe the Republicans in the Senate should give any Obama nominee a hearing (though I do not feel their “advise and consent” role obligates them to an up-or-down vote). If anything, the Republicans are playing within those old-school rules which allow them to make a decision without actually voting on it. They are not changing the rules, as the Democrats did when they used the nuclear option.

Now it is the president who is on notice that his nominee has no chance of clearing the Senate, as the Senate exercises its constitutionally mandated “advise and consent” role. In this case of reversed fortunes, it is the Senate which effectively is threatening a veto. And yet, just as the Republicans in Congress don’t always pay heed to the president’s veto threat when it comes to legislation, the president himself seems undeterred by the Senate’s veto threat.

It’s a classic game of political chicken. This time the Republicans will want to frame the matter as one of the American People’s right to decide the matter through the upcoming presidential election; they will want to paint the president as “wasting time.”  The president will want to paint the Republicans as “obstructionist” and “derelict in their duties.” Each side will attempt to inflict the maximum amount of political damage on the other in this election year.

In a sense, the president is reaping what he has sowed through his inability to reach across the aisle during his 7+ years in office. Ultimately, the SCOTUS showdown and game-playing are nothing more than a symptom of his dysfunctional relationship with the Republicans in Congress, which has been exacerbated by his own abuse of executive orders. In short: how can Republicans in Congress trust the president to pick a justice who understands the Supreme Court’s constitutionally mandated role when he himself doesn’t seem to understand his own?

Just as Republicans shouldn’t be surprised when the president follows through with a threatened veto, so should the president not be surprised when the Senate, led by the Republicans, exercises its veto. The immortal words of Bonnie Miller seem to ring truer than ever before.

John Mirisch has served on the Beverly Hills City Council since 2009.  He is currently Vice Mayor and will become Mayor next month.  In a previous turn as Mayor he created the Sunshine Task Force to increase transparency and public engagement in local government.

Comity is Dead – A Reflection on the Supreme Court Vacancy

Photo courtesy Envios, flickr

Photo courtesy Envios, flickr

We began this drama with Republicans suggesting there will be no action on any Obama nomination, followed by Democratic outrage.

I have been convinced all along that the Senate will not go down that path; it would be too easy for the Democrats to portray inaction as a willful refusal to do a task required by the Constitution, and thus even worse than the government shutdown.  That could cost the GOP control of the Senate in November, which will be decided by a handful of races, most likely the open seats in Nevada and Florida.

But a vote by the 54 GOP Senators to reject the nomination is more likely and far more justifiable. Senate Judiciary Chair Charles Grassley signaled in his interview on Tuesday that he would consider holding hearings, at least hinting at that strategy.

THE 2016 ELECTION

Despite the many predictions that the court vacancy and deadlock will be a winning issue for Democrats this year, the issue may benefit Republicans just as much. In the opening primaries, the energy on the right was very high (see record turnout in Iowa), and conservatives have long emphasized the importance of the court majority as the last line of defense of their views.  And in general, the side that fears losing something it now has will always be the most passionate – and that is the conservatives. A new liberal justice could, among other things, overturn the Second Amendment right to gun ownership. But it seems unlikely that replacing Scalia with a like-minded jurist would lead to the end of abortion rights or other existing freedoms.

Republicans need to talk about the context behind their strategy. President Obama spent all of 2015 expanding the reach of the Imperial Presidency beyond anything Richard Nixon ever did. His foreign policy initiatives, such as restoration of relations with Cuba, are more defensible, given that presidents have their greatest power in foreign affairs, but he is on shakier ground with his domestic “orders.” His immigration policy and coal rules represent a much broader assertion of new powers, and are being challenged in the lower federal courts, with mixed results so far.

The president believes he has a mandate to enact his views, and despite losing a net of 69 House and 14 Senate seats since 2009, he has basically said, “I’m doing what I believe in because Congress will not act.”

The Senate response is then to reciprocate by voting no on any nominee, which is an explicitly granted constitutional power. It is the same kind of maximalist posture that the president has been employing for a year. So we can say with certainty that comity among the branches of government is dead.

Republicans also need to bring up the history. Democratic politicians insist that a president has the right to have a qualified nominee confirmed. Yet while there has been occasional mention of the 1968 rejection by a Democratic Senate of Abe Fortas, everyone seems to have forgotten the 1987 nomination of Robert Bork, which was rejected on ideological grounds by a Democratic Senate.

THE POLITICS OF SELECTION

If any nominee is doomed, that means candidates for the most prestigious and important legal body in the world are now being weighed and measured on how they will boost election turnout among certain groups – e.g., will Hillary Clinton get a larger boost in key states from an African American or a Latino nominee? That is a sad state of affairs indeed.

This has led many to predict that an African American woman will be chosen. Names floated include Attorney General Kamala Harris and Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the federal District Court in D.C. And if it were up to me, I might push for Justice Leondra Kruger of the California Supreme Court, who used to work in the Obama administration.

However, the early leader in the speculation derby was Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who has the advantage of having been fully vetted by the Senate.

But court watchers have noted a problem. We know Senate Judiciary will ask for every conceivable piece of information on a nominee, in the hopes of finding something that will make a rejection easy. And the incumbent AG may have internal documents that directly address discussions of or investigations into Benghazi, the email servers or the Clinton Foundation.

If such documents exist, they might reflect unfavorably on Secretary Clinton, or might make it appear DoJ has shown favoritism in its investigations. Justice would then have to choose between withholding the material, giving the Senate a reason to reject Lynch, or releasing it, at a potential cost to Mrs. Clinton.

The other choice facing the president is moderate or firebrand? Most seem to think he will avoid the firebrands – no Sen. Elizabeth Warren types – as that offers the best chance of political success.

Choosing a nominee known to stand for overturning 5-4 decisions that absolutely infuriate the left, especially the Heller case establishing an individual right to gun ownership and the Citizens United decision on campaign spending, will help motivate and turn out core Democrats. But an activist nominee eager to overturn recent rulings could be more easily rejected as someone who lacked the appropriate judicial temperament.

The alternative approach would be to nominate a judge whose views are less known and/or more moderate, and who ideally has already been confirmed. While her defeat would be less motivating to the Bernie Sanders demographic, it would allow Democrats to attack the GOP all year as rejecting a qualified woman for purely political reasons (and perhaps throw in accusations of racism as well). That does seem like a winning strategy for the president. But who knows? If there’s one thing we can count on this election cycle, it’s that what we think we know turns out to be wrong.

Lawrence Molton is an attorney and political consultant in the San Francisco Bay Area.

‘Nothing Historic’ About Paris Climate Deal

Global WarmingThe energy industry is already saying Saturday’s Paris global warming agreement is “unenforceable, underfunded, and non-binding.”

“There is nothing historic about this deal,” said American Energy Alliance President Thomas Pyle in an email to the Daily Caller News Foundation. “The Obama administration clearly doesn’t have the support of Congress or the American people—making the agreement nothing more than a paper tiger. Unfortunately, this won’t stop the president from pursuing a domestic climate agenda that will raise energy prices on American families, but will have no impact on the climate.”

The Obama administration states that the deal will encourage nearly 200 countries to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, slowing global warming. Despite the doubt, President Obama is already celebrating the deal, as shown by this Tweet:

This is huge. Almost every country in the world just signed on to the #parisagreement on climate change — thanks to American leadership.

However, members of Obama’s own cabinet disagree. Secretary of State John Kerry admitted that reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. and developed world will not help the environment or even slow down global warming at the Paris summit Wednesday.

Kerry previously stated that the talks would not deliver a “treaty” that legally requires countries to cut carbon dioxide emissions. However, European Union previously asserted that the deal will be a legally binding treaty, contradicting Kerry’s direct statements.

The current deal allows countries to set “non-binding” CO2 emissions targets for themselves, but contains no mechanism to enforce the agreement. The Obama administration seems to have gotten a deal that contains no legally-binding measures and is thus not a “treaty.” This weakens legal arguments that the agreement needs the approval of the hostile U.S. Senate, which must ratify all treaties.

Environmental groups were skeptical of the deal during the negotiation process, as it contains only voluntary, not mandatory, CO2 cuts. Many environmental groups blame the failure of the 2009 Copenhagen Accords on the lack of mandatory CO2 cuts.

Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation

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