PowerLine – The eight member Supreme Court as an expression of congressional disgust

PowerLine – The eight member Supreme Court as an expression of congressional disgust


Sweden Has a Problem

Posted: 19 Apr 2016 03:40 PM PDT

(John Hinderaker)

In January, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom accused Israel of “extrajudicial executions” of Palestinians–apparently those who were in the act of perpetrating terrorist attacks–and called for an investigation. Yesterday, Sweden’s housing minister, Mehmet Kaplan, resigned after a video emerged of him saying that “Israelis treat Palestinians in a way that is very like that in which Jews were treated in Germany in the 1930s.”

To cap off the trifecta, earlier today Sweden’s Deputy Prime Minister, Åsa Romson, came under fire for her comments on Kaplan’s resignation:

PowerLine Daily digest - Old Guard Audio.com

PowerLine Daily digest – Old Guard Audio.com

Romson said: “He [Kaplan] has been chairman for Swedish Young Muslims in tough situations like around the September 11 accidents and similar.”

Ms. Romson refused to back down or retract her characterization of the September 11 attacks as “accidents.” She explained:

Romson later defended her comment, saying: “The ‘accident’ [of 9/11] is that we ended up with a very harsh debate on integration and how society grows with different religions side by side, and the discrimination that followed.”

So Romson belongs to the school that holds that the big problem with Islamic terrorism is that it might give people a bad impression of Islam.

I think we are detecting a pattern here. If all the anti-Israel, terror-accommodating Swedish officials were forced to resign, they wouldn’t be able to staff a government.

Peak Hoaxing?

Posted: 19 Apr 2016 03:33 PM PDT

(Steven Hayward)

Never mind the Whole Foods hate cake hoax, or the various campus hate crime hoaxes that happen almost daily right now. I think I may have spotted the greatest hoax against pretentiousness since Clifford Irving fooled the New York publishing industry with his Howard Hughes “autobiography”40 years ago. It’s called “Helena,” and it’s website opens with this:

Helena is an organization of thirty global influencers who work together to achieve positive world impact.

The group collaborates to create breakthrough ideas, then leverages its collective reach, strategic partnerships, and network to make them happen.

Half of Helena’s members are under the age of twenty-five, and half are older than twenty-five. Every Helena member represents the pinnacle of accomplishment in their field.

They have fought diseases, created currencies, and commanded armies. They have disrupted industries, overcome oppression, and discovered technologies. They are actors, linguists, economists, biochemists, activists, technologists, explorers, financiers, filmmakers, and much more.

The result is a broad and powerful platform that spans talents, skills, and generations. When Helena’s members collaborate, their diverse abilities, generational experiences and influence come together to address issues, advance technologies and guide movements in previously unexplored ways.

Oh-kay. There follows glam photos of a disparate range of famous and semi-famous people, and there’s a slide deck that suggests PR is being handled by Rogers & Cowan, one of the top marketing firms in Hollywood. You can also get their slide deck (PDF file), which includes such gems as:

Breakthrough solutions and innovations happen in rooms filled with people who are all exceptional at different things. Everyone in Helena is exceptional at a different thing.


Helena is not a conference, a summit, or an event. We believe that making real, lasting change requires some of the most powerful and creative people in the world, collaborating throughout the year on issues they care about. That’s why Helena is designed for concerted, lasting collaboration.

As you keep going the whole thing becomes repetitive and self-referential:

Helena is not an event. It is a sustained community and a long-term impact engine. Massive global change happens when great people collaborate throughout the year, not just once.

Impact-focused organizations often have large memberships. And yet rarely do their members connect in a way that leads to collective action. Often, senior members worry about being overburdened, remaining inaccessible or declining to join such groups altogether.

Helena members meet together and individually throughout the year, collaborating on a sustained, ongoing basis. Their relationships are organic, forging paths that might otherwise never cross.

Next slide:

Helena extends far beyond a networking group. We come up with powerful ideas, then leverage collective influence and outside partnerships to make them happen.

We benefit from the strength of a collective network that reaches far beyond single-issue organizations. When Helena creates initiatives, ventures, and other efforts, we call upon our relationships both inside and outside of Helena, where we retain partnerships with some of the world’s most capable and innovative governments, organizations, and companies.

Together, we utilize our unique reach to create change on the ground, through message dissemination, monetary efforts, and policy change.

This has to be an elaborate practical joke, right? Gawker is on the story and is similarly skeptical. Inc. magazine was apparently conned into doing a story that is just a rehash of Helena’s press release and slide deck.

My hat’s off to the folks behind Helena because I expect people will fall for it, chiefly because we live in an age when this parody of a TED talk sounds shockingly plausible:

Whole Foods Hate Cake Update

Posted: 19 Apr 2016 12:12 PM PDT

(Steven Hayward)

Regarding our item yesterday on the supposed “hate cake” from the Austin, TX Whole Foods—yup, it was a complete fraud. Whole Foods has released the following security camera footage showing the complainant, the “Rev.” Jordan Brown, checking out with the cake at Whole Foods, where the top of the cake was clearly visible through the cellophane window (Brown turns up at the lower right late in this one-minute video). [UPDATE: For some reason Whole Foods has taken down the video. I suspect their legal counsel may be behind this move, but I also suspect it will reappear someday. For now, I’m going to leave the placeholder here. UPDATE 2: A new, shorter version that works has been posted. Who knows if it will stay up.]

Whole Foods is planning to sue Mr. Brown and his lawyer, noting that the video Brown posted yesterday alleging the hate speech clearly lied about where the UPC scanning label was placed, which can also be made in the video above when the checker scans the top of the cake box:

“After a deeper investigation of Mr. Brown’s claim, we believe his accusations are fraudulent and we intend to take legal action against both Mr. Brown and his attorney,” the company said in the statement.

The retailer said Monday in response to Brown’s claims that their bakery team member wrote “Love Wins” at the top of the cake. This, the retailer recounted on Tuesday, was visible to Mr. Brown through the clear portion of the packaging.

“That’s exactly how the cake was packaged and sold at the store,” the company said. “Whole Foods Market has a strict policy that prohibits team members from accepting or designing bakery orders that include language or images that are offensive.”

The retailer went on to say Brown admitted that he was in sole possession and control of the cake until he posted his video, which showed the UPC label on the bottom and side of the box.

“After reviewing their security footage of Mr. Brown, it’s clear that the UPC label was in fact on top of the cake box, not on the side of the package,” Whole Foods said. “This is evident as the cashier scans the UPC code on top of the box. . .”

Clearly the Rev. Brown must have flunked out of Rev. Sharpton’s school of shakedowns. Over at The Federalist, Mollie Hemingway explains “5 Tips for a Successful Social Justice Warrior Cake Hoax.”

The eight-member Supreme Court as an expression of congressional disgust

Posted: 19 Apr 2016 09:44 AM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)

In defending their unwillingness to proceed with the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, Republican Senators argue that the confirmation of a new Justice should await the upcoming election. “Let the people decide” has become the mantra.

It’s an okay argument, made stronger by decades of Senate practice regarding the treatment of judicial nominees in a presidential election year. But it implies that there should be no obstruction of a nominee once a new president takes office.

That’s not a concession I’m eager to make. Nor does precedent require that we make it. Following the 2000 election, the Democrats blocked numerous appeals court nominees of President Bush. (There was no Supreme Court nominee for them to block).

But on what principle could the Senate obstruct a Supreme Court nominee appointed by a recently elected president?

Such obstruction could, I believe, be justified as a means of expressing disapproval of the Court. The branches of our federal government have various means of expressing disapproval of one another. The Supreme Court can do so easily by striking down legislation passed by Congress and executive action by the president.

In a given case, the Court isn’t so much expressing disapproval as simply deciding the matter before it. But a string of decisions can, and probably should, be viewed as an expression of disapproval. The most obvious example is the line of cases striking down New Deal legislation in the 1930s.

The president can express his disapproval of Congress in a number of ways. He can refuse to consult with it, for example. Obama shows his disdain by circumventing congressional will through executive orders. There should be limits on his ability to do so. However, as I noted yesterday, it seems that the four liberals on the Court don’t perceive any meaningful ones. (Because this stance undermines the authority of Congress, a strong congressional expression of disapproval seems imperative).

Congress has ways of thwarting the president. Refusing to confirm nominees is one. Withholding funds is another.

But how does Congress express its disgust with the Supreme Court? Trimming its budget is one way, but it has limits. The nation needs a functioning federal judiciary, including a functioning Supreme Court.

In the present circumstances, keeping Court membership at eight Justices seems like a good response to the way the Supreme Court is behaving. Even an ideologically divided eight-member Court can resolve the big majority of cases before it because most cases don’t involve highly charged ideological issues. Thus, keeping Court membership at eight won’t throw a monkey-wrench into the system.

However, the current Court will be hard-pressed to render precedent-setting decisions in big, controversial cases. In other words, its ability to do harm will be severely constrained.

I’d like to think that the liberal bloc might receive and take serious note of the message that the Senate is disgusted by its left-wing, result-oriented solidarity (such solidarity doesn’t quite exist among the conservative bloc — Justice Kennedy votes this way and that, and Chief Justice Roberts voted with the liberals in both of the Obamacare cases). I’m not optimistic, though.

Sooner or later, one side will obtain a majority on the Supreme Court. If Republicans win the White House and the presidency, I’ll be hoping it’s sooner. But the idea of holding on to the eight-Justice Court for a few years isn’t something conservatives should rule out.

The New Republic: The Unserious Bernie Sanders

Posted: 19 Apr 2016 09:40 AM PDT

(Steven Hayward)

I suppose I could file this and the previous item under our “Civil War on the Left” series. It’s not just the Washington Post; it’s also The New Republic (which I didn’t know still existed) attacking Bernie for his anti-nuclear power stance:

There’s one issue on which Sanders has been hype consistently wrong. One yuuuuge-ly important, planet-saving, tiny little thing. It’s his irrational, evidence-free opposition to nuclear energy.

Sanders—along with much of the left—needs to take another look at this issue. Because with his democratic-socialist, public-sector ethic, Sanders may just be the only candidate who could actually deliver the sort of mass build-out of nuclear power that the world desperately needs if we are to stave off catastrophic climate change. And even if he doesn’t become president, an informed change of heart on nuclear could convince many of his fans to follow suit. . .

Sanders’s waking up to the facts that have persuaded this new generation of environmentalists to embrace nuclear could help make support for the power source—and the vast energy wealth it can bring to humanity—the great left-wing cause it should be.

While I’m encouraged by the number of lefty environmentalists who have publicly changed their mind about nuclear power, I’m not holding my breath for it to catch on with the broader Left to anytime soon.

Meanwhile, nice to see that Iron Man has come around to supporting nuclear power, though no surprise when you think about it:



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