Liberal groups - and some Democratic members of Congress - are picking dumb fights with two of President Obama's judicial nominees. The fights aren't dumb simply because they are trying to open a fissure when the party needs to close ranks behind the President, but rather because of the actual fights they have picked: in one case displaying the disastrous liberal ideologue propensity against compromise and in another, (of course), the liberal Benghazi: DRONES. Let's talk about them one by one.
David Barron: Circuit Judge Nominee, First Circuit
One of the president's nominees is Harvard Law Professor David Barron. His sin against dogmatic liberals? He wrote a Justice Department memo that provided legal grounds for the President to target a terrorist born and bred in America but recruiting for Al Queda in Yemen via drone attack. That has particularly stuck in the craws of the ACLU, who made strange bedfellows with the despicably racist Rand Paul to try to block Barron's nomination. On second thought, the ACLU and Rand Paul may not be that strange as bedfellows. After all, one can thank the ACLU for arguing to the Supreme Court that money is speech and for giving us the never-ending gift of Citizens United and Koch Brothers.
While the ACLU was busy performing the Constitutional perversion of money - which is a medium of commerce, something the Constitution gave Congress explicit control over - into speech - which the founders specifically protected from government interference, it has never explained just what part of the US Constitution exempts American citizens who take up arms against the United States and aide America's enemies from being met with the same fate as a foreign combatant against the United States. It has never explained just what part of the president's oath to protect the Constitution against enemies foreign and domestic created a special right for terrorists who happen to be born in the USA.
Not to get side-tracked on a personal rant here, but the ACLU-supported Citizens United decision alone is enough to risk every single progressive achievement ACLU has made in the last 100 years. Gay rights, civil rights (although I am expecting to get news any minute now that the ACLU has joined Rand Paul in his frank and open condemnation of the public accommodations part of the Civil Rights Act, a line of argument that would also seem to invalidate the Americans with Disabilities Act), voting rights - it could all go out the window in a system bought and paid for my billionaires. The systematic undermining of voting rights, workers' rights, and the ability of big money to claim exemptions from the law because of their concocted religious views prevent them from obeying the law can do far more damage to American democracy than even the ACLU is able to repair.
There comes a time when we must look at one's actions rather than one's intentions. I don't care if the ACLU comes with good intentions. But the direct consequences of their actions are the following: a right wing majority on the Supreme Court is providing green lights to billionaires to buy American democracy while the ACLU joins Rand Paul in blocking a Democratic nominee who could preserve some of it. Why? Because, you know, drones. I am so tired of the psychotic, if not suicidal, ravings of the Left's lunatics that keep insisting on burning down the village in order to save it.
There simply is no good reason to hold up the nomination of David Barron. This one is simple and easy. Liberals crying about drones is no better than conservatives whining about Benghazi, and neither is a good reason to hold up a federal judicial nomination.
Michael Boggs, District Judge Nominee, Northern District of Georgia
The other case, however, is tougher. At first look, no progressive really should find this nomination satisfying.
Liberals are incensed that the administration is pushing hard for Michael Boggs, a judge on Georgia's state Court of Appeals, to join the federal bench in Georgia. Boggs, a conservative Democrat, voted while in the state Legislature to reinstate a version of the Confederate flag as the state flag, opposed same-sex marriage and took positions on abortion that critics say would have limited women's rights.
You know what? I'd be incensed, too. IF this were all there was to the story. As it turns out, though, it isn't. The White House has pointed out that Boggs is a supporter of sentencing reform, a key issue for the president, but far more importantly, he's not the president's top choice. He is, rather, the only person that could get confirmed for the district court for which he's been nominated. And you can thank the Senate's liberal powerhouse Patrick Leahy (D-VT) for making it this way.
For years Georgia's two Republican senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, have blocked Obama's judicial nominees from that state. Although the filibuster is no more, the two senators have been able to maintain their veto because of a procedure, called a "blue slip," adopted by Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Under the blue slip rule, both senators from a nominee's state must give approval before a nomination can get a hearing.
Last year, Chambliss and Isakson made a deal with the White House to approve two nominees to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Georgia and several other Southern states, as well as three other district court nominees, in return for nominating Boggs.
The blue slip veto was not overturned when the Senate changed its rules to get rid of filibustering of presidential nominees, leaving the president no choice but to have to compromise with Neanderthals like Isakson and Chambliss.
Liberals should be angry that someone like Michael Biggs had to be nominated to the federal bench (though only at the district level). And we should be even more angry that this man is a Democrat. Liberals should be angry. But not at the president. The anger needs to be turned towards the Senate, which is more concerned about preserving the powers of individual senators - Heaven forbid we treat them like run-of-the-mill legislators rather than royalty - than with the future of our country. Our anger should be channeled against Chairman Leahy of the Judiciary Committee, who could, at any time, change the rules of the committee with his majority.
Ask Senator Leahy what he has to show for his so-called "blue slip rule" (ummm... WTF is up with that name?). Ask why he won't repeal the rule. Ask why organizations like Democracy for America and NARAL have their guns turned on President Obama, who only made the nomination under the gun of the blue slip rule, rather than the rule itself. And ask what their alternative is other than to prolong the historic and GOP-forced vacancy rates in the federal judiciary during this president's tenure.
The American liberal establishment seems to have finely honed two art forms: whining and shooting the messenger. Neither, however, will help us win elections in 2014 or 2016. Neither will help us move our country in a more progressive direction. If the progressive movement wants to make progress faster, it needs to concentrate on electing more Democrats, disabusing Senators of their royal notions, and supporting this president.