Ignoring Clinton appointments if necessary

Ilya Shapiro argues in a Federalist column that the U.S. Senate could refuse to confirm any judicial nominees from Hillary Clinton if she’s elected president next month.

… [L]et’s get one thing out of the way first: the Constitution is completely silent on all this. It’s the president’s job to nominate and the Senate’s to provide “advice and consent,” but there’s no further textual explication.

During the battle over the current vacancy, some senators have said they’ve fulfilled their duty by giving President Obama the advice that they simply won’t confirm anyone. (Also, why hold farcical hearings that would be even more Kabuki theatre than what we’ve come to expect?) The voters seem to have evaluated this position and found it acceptable, although of course the GOP may lose its Senate majority for other reasons.

Similarly, if a majority of senators refused to confirm anyone to any offices, or pass any legislation whatsoever, that’s their prerogative. As a matter of constitutional law, the Senate is fully within its powers to let the Supreme Court die out, literally. I’m not sure such a position is politically tenable—barring some extraordinary circumstance like overwhelming public opinion against the legitimacy of the sitting president—but it’s definitely constitutional. …

… Indeed, Hillary Clinton herself said at the last presidential debate that the Supreme Court is meant to answer questions like “What kind of country are we going to be? What kind of opportunities will we provide for our citizens?” Well, gee, if those are the questions you ask, of course you’ll end up with super-legislators, presumably in ideological agreement with the president appointing them. If you want the judiciary determining public policy, of course you’d think that Supreme Court justices should “represent all of us.”

But that goes against the rule of law and the idea of a judge as neutral arbiter, doing his or her best to apply the law to the facts at issue. As Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts explained at his confirmation hearings, the little guy should win when the law favors him, and the big corporation should win when the law goes that way. …

… Should senators rubber-stamp judicial nominees of that ilk, who care not about the law but rather hew to particular policies, out of a sense of tradition or deference to the executive? I simply can’t blame politicians who follow their convictions. If you truly believe that a particular nominee would wreak havoc on America, why not do everything you can to stop him?

Obamacare and the U.S. Senate

Robert King of the Washington Examiner focuses on the potential impact of Affordable Care Act rate hikes on hotly contested U.S. Senate races across the country.

Some states with tight Senate races are seeing their Obamacare rates climbing next year even more than the average 22 percent increase announced by the Obama administration on Monday, as Republicans use the spikes to try to get the upper hand in a close battle for control of the chamber.

Two states with very tight Senate races are facing big increases: Pennsylvania with 53 percent and North Carolina with 40 percent. Incumbent Sens. Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania and Richard Burr in North Carolina are in close re-election battles.

In Illinois, another close Senate battle between Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth and incumbent GOP Sen. Mark Kirk, the rates will rise by up to 43 percent. While Duckworth is leading by about 7 points, according to RealClearPolitics, she could be hurt by the soaring premiums. …

… The National Senate Republican Committee pounced on the premium results, shooting off press releases pointing out support for the law from Democratic Senate candidates Katie McGinty and Maggie Hassan. McGinty is running against Toomey in Pennsylvania and Hassan against Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire.

The committee didn’t confirm whether it is producing any new ads highlighting the price spikes, but a spokeswoman said it would press the issue in the closing days of the election.

The media’s presidential choice

Charlie Hoffman of the Washington Free Beacon highlights interesting details about the mainstream national media’s approach to 2016 election campaign coverage. (Hint: Fans of the “Media Mangle” column will not be surprised.)

A report released Tuesday by the Media Research Center found that 91 percent of evening news coverage dedicated to Donald Trump was “hostile” to the Republican nominee.

Evening news coverage tended to focus on Trump’s personal controversies rather than scandals surrounding Hillary Clinton’s private email server and the Clinton Foundation, according to the study.

The Media Research Center, or MRC, focused its study on the three major broadcast channels, Politico reported.

For the study, MRC analyzed all 588 evening news stories that either discussed or mentioned the presidential campaign on the ABC, CBS, and NBC evening newscasts from July 29 through October 20 (including weekends). Of the total newscasts, the networks devoted 29 percent of their time to the campaign. The study did not include comments from the campaigns or candidates themselves, instead focusing on what the correspondents, anchors, expert commentators, and voters on the street said in order to try and hone in on any sort of slant from the networks.

Though neither candidate was necessarily celebrated, Clinton largely just stayed out of the line of fire.

Trump’s lewd comments about women from a 2005 video and his other alleged sexual and verbal indiscretions against women received the most coverage, totaling 102 minutes, while coverage of Clinton’s health and her private email server garnered 93 minutes of coverage combined.

Sowell targets turnout in talking about congressional control

Thomas Sowell‘s latest column at National Review Online focuses on the important role of voter turnout in determining control of the next Congress.

Some of us this election year don’t even want to say the words “Clinton” or “Trump” — and with good reason. However, there is one word that we should keep in mind: “turnout.”

If we sit home in disgust on Election Day, we forfeit the right — and the duty — to elect a Congress that can keep either of these dangerous people from doing permanent damage to this country and to the future of this generation — and generations yet unborn.

Control of Congress has probably never mattered more than in this election, simply because of two out-of-control people, one of whom is going to become president of the United States.

We need a Congress that can block dangerous legislative proposals coming from the White House, and block dangerous nominees to the federal courts, including especially the Supreme Court. More than that, we need a Congress that can remove a dangerous president who ignores the law and commits impeachable offenses. Any Congress theoretically can do so, since the House of Representatives has the power to impeach and the Senate then votes on whether to remove the president from office.

However, as we have seen over the past seven years, that theoretical power means nothing, if neither House of Congress has the incentives and the guts to use the power they have.

Climate McCarthyism exposed

Robert Bryce explains at National Review Online one way in which left-of-center activists have tried to shut down debate about climate change.

The latest WikiLeaks dump contains plenty of insider dirt on John Podesta, the founder of the Center for American Progress and the campaign manager for Hillary Clinton. Perhaps the tawdriest story to be exposed by Podesta’s pilfered e-mails is the bragging by an employee of ThinkProgress, an arm of the Center for American Progress, about how they got Roger Pielke Jr.’s scalp.

A July 2014 e-mail from Judd Legum, an editor at ThinkProgress, to billionaire Democratic climate activist (and former coal-mine investor) Tom Steyer exposes the climate-change McCarthyism that the Left — and its myriad allies in the liberal media — use to discredit or silence anyone who doesn’t adhere to the orthodoxy of the climate catastrophists.

In the e-mail, Legum boasted to Steyer about how ThinkProgress had silenced Pielke by preventing him from publishing at Nate Silver’s then-new website, fivethirtyeight.com, on the issue of climate change. Legum was also asking Steyer, indirectly, for more money. Steyer and Podesta both sit on the board of the Center for American Progress. Between 2008 and 2014, Steyer gave the Center for American Progress some $3.85 million. …

… Pielke, a professor at the University of Colorado since 2001, holds degrees in mathematics, public policy, and political science. He has authored or co-authored seven books. He has won several awards for his academic work. For about two decades, he was a prolific writer and speaker on climate issues. In 2013, he testified before Congress and declared that there is “exceedingly little scientific support for claims found in the media and political debate that hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and drought have increased in frequency or intensity on climate timescales either in the United States or globally.” During that same testimony, he said that global weather-related losses have not increased since 1990 as a proportion of GDP. He went on, saying that there were also no observable increases in floods, tornadoes, or droughts.

Pielke’s work was backed up by data and, in many cases, by the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But that didn’t matter to Podesta’s attack dogs at ThinkProgress. Long before his congressional testimony, Pielke had been the subject of a years-long smear campaign led by ThinkProgress’s Joe Romm. In fact, Romm had what can only be described as an obsession with Pielke. In a recent Twitter posting, Pielke wrote: “Propaganda works: I count more than 160 articles at the Center for American Progress trashing me over the years.”

New Carolina Journal Online features

Don Carrington reports for Carolina Journal Online on a lawsuit challenging the state attorney general’s hog waste “slush fund.”

Andy Taylor’s Daily Journal explains how the Donald Trump presidential nomination affects GOP attempts to pick a national “electoral lock.”

When the Next Big Thing turns out not to be so big, case #8,762,398

Google Fiber. From the Associate Press via the Charlotte Observer:

Google’s parent company is halting operations and laying off staff in a number of cities where it once hoped to bring high-speed internet access by installing new fiber-optic networks.

The company also announced that Craig Barratt, a veteran tech executive who led the ambitious – and expensive – Google Fiber program, is stepping down as CEO of Access, the division of Google corporate parent, Alphabet Inc., that operates the 5-year-old program.

In a statement, Barratt said Google Fiber will continue to provide service in a handful of cities where it’s already operating, including Charlotte; Raleigh-Durham; Atlanta and Austin, Texas.

Google Fiber’s announcement this week doesn’t change its plans in Charlotte, and work here continues as planned, said Kate Luck, a spokeswoman for the city.

Does anybody really think that what’s left of Google Fiber will now as aggressively build out its network in Charlotte or the Triangle? No, didn’t think so.

“It is not clear whether the RTT grants improved student achievement”

The above statement comes from a Mathematica Policy Research assessment of Race to the Top (RTT), a federal grant program that awarded more than $4 billion dollars in grants to states.  North Carolina received a $400 million grant during Round 2 of the competition in 2010.

The authors conclude,

…there is no conclusive evidence on whether the RTT program (or the policies and practices promoted by the program) improves student outcomes. In addition, few studies on the implementation of RTT-promoted policies and practices comprehensively examine all the areas described in the RTT application, and few examine whether the policies and practices used by RTT states differ from those used by other states.

Simply put, states may have raised student achievement, but the researchers could not determine if RTT had anything to do with it.

The Obama administration claimed that RTT would improve educational outcomes, yet they made it impossible for evaluators to determine if grant recipients achieved that goal.  That is both infuriating and predictable.