TWO DIFFERENT WORLDS: Senator Cruz is not well liked!

FRIDAY, APRIL 1, 2022

Journalist Kane is nuts: Based on many published reports, Senator Cruz (R-Texas) isn't especially well liked.

That's even true among the people who know the senator best. There are a variety of jokes floating round which run on this general theme:

If Ted Cruz was assaulted in the dark on the Senate floor, there would be at least 99 suspects.

Or as Senator Franken wrote in a book: “I like Ted Cruz more than most of my colleagues like Ted Cruz. And I hate Ted Cruz.”

That said, Cruz would probably score quite well on an IQ test. He attended Harvard Law School with Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson—and during Jackson's confirmation hearings, one of his questions led Judge Jackson to make the statement which assured her of getting our vote.

Overall, we were disappointed by Jackson's performance during the Senate hearings. We'll speak a bit more to that question in the next, and final, installment of this award-winning report.

We were surprised and disappointed by parts of Jackson's performance. But the analysts stood and cheered as one when she offered this response to a question from Cruz about critical race theory and our American schools:

JACKSON (3/22/22): Senator, I do not believe that any child should be made to feel as though they are racist, or as though they are not valued, or as though they are "less than"—that they are victims, that they are oppressors. I don't believe in any of that.

"I don't believe in any of that!" The analysts stood and cheered as one. With respect to the treatment of children in schools, she doesn't believe in any of that—in typecasting any child! 

Overall, we were disappointed in, surprised by, Jackson's performance—but in that extemporaneous statement, it seemed to us that her basic decency rather plainly shone through. Inevitably, though, when CNN's resident geniuses got a chance to review Jackson's exchanges with Cruz, one of them quickly said this:

TOOBIN (3/22/22): We had a trip to the surreal during Ted Cruz's questioning when there was extensive discussion of the summer reading list at the Georgetown Day school, the relevance of which was really hard to see. 

But I think, just in general, you see that the judge is knowledgeable, very calm, very thoughtful, and someone who knows a hell of a lot more about the law than any of these Senators do.

Before he became a senator, Cruz argued nine cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Does Jackson "know a hell of a lot more about the law" than her law school classmate does? 

We have no real idea, and we don't know if Toobin does. 

That said, we'll guess that Senator Cruz may know a hell of a lot more about contemporary politics than this particular CNN genius does. 

In fairness, we probably shouldn't single Toobin out. Within the scriptings of the near-hysterical tribunes of our failing liberal tribe, his disdain for Cruz's line of questioning has acquired the status of gospel. For example:

In our view, the Washington Post's Ruth Marcus is much sharper than the average mainstream press corps bear. She went to Harvard Law School too. For that matter, so did Toobin!

They all "went to the finest schools"—not that there's anything wrong with it! But even someone as sharp as Marcus offered this in the Post:

MARCUS (3/26/22): Cruz, holding up a copy of Ibram X. Kendi’s “Antiracist Baby”: “Now this is a book that is taught at Georgetown Day School to students in pre-K through second grade, so 4 through 7 years old. Do you agree with this book that is being taught with kids that babies are racist?”

What does this possibly have to do with Jackson’s suitability to serve on the high court? To ask that question is to miss the larger point: That is no longer what this exercise is about.

What could that possibly have to do with Jackson’s suitability? Harvard Law School graduates, please!

Accurately or otherwise, Cruz discussed a long list of books which appear on the curriculum at the progressive Georgetown Day School. Judge Jackson sits on the board of the school.

She sends at least one of her daughters there. There's no reason why she shouldn't.

As Cruz introduced his topic, he reviewed some of those facts. He also evoked a type of inquiry which had been scored as "shocking" by a different CNN genius that day. The line of questioning had been scored as "shocking" when it came from Senator Graham:

CRUZ (3/22/22): As you may recall, during the confirmation hearings of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, there was a great deal of attention paid to the fact that Justice Barrett served as a board member on the board of trustees of a religious private school. And the press focused very intently on the views of that school.

In your questionnaire to this committee, you disclosed that you are similarly on a board, specifically the board of trustees for the Georgetown Day School. And that you've been board member since 2019 and you're currently still a board member. 

Jackson sits on the board at Georgetown Day; there's no reason why she shouldn't. But there had been interest, way back when, in Barrett's connection to a private school. That interest wasn't ridiculous then and, in theory at least, it wasn't ridiculous now.

Had Barrett possibly held religious views which were so extreme, or which might be so tightly held, that they would make it difficult for her to judge fairly and impartially on the Court? Some progressives had wondered about that. There was no reason why they shouldn't have.

In 1960, Candidate Kennedy had told the nation that he wouldn't let his religion direct his behavior as president. Now, sincerely or otherwise, Cruz was exploring a perfectly reasonable point of concern:

Did Jackson hold so tightly to certain progressive beliefs that she would be unable to rule fairly as a Supreme Court Justice?

Few people ever believe that Cruz is ever behaving sincerely. That doesn't mean that the line of questioning made no earthly sense. The fact that our frightened, flailing tribe can no longer grasp such facts helps explain why we stand in so much peril as future elections approach. 

As a tribe, we're lost inside our own dogmatics. We no longer see the real world.

Was Cruz behaving sincerely this day? According to widespread belief, he rarely if ever does.

That said, persona; loathing for Cruz shouldn't automatically extend to the politically potent topic he was exploring. On our own sprawling campus, Jackson brought the analysts to their feet with the extemporaneous statement that she doesn't believe in any of that:

Praise Jackson! She doesn't believe that history's straightjackets should be dumped on the heads of any of our American children. If only our party's loser candidates, along with our tribe's genius pundits, knew how to talk turkey like that!

In Cruz's framing, what had been sauce for Justice Barrett would now be sauce for Judge Jackson. In our view, each line of questioning made decent theoretical sense—and we thought Jackson git it out of the park when she said she wanted our schools to care for, nurture and respect all the nation's children.

With this, we return to the line of questioning with which Senator Graham had kick-started the questioning this day. For the first ten minutes of his colloquy with Jackson, he had complained about the way Republican nominees were (allegedly) treated in the past.

As we noted on Tuesday, Graham stressed the fact that he wasn't criticizing Jackson as he offered his interpretation of these past interrogations. As we noted on Tuesday, he and Jackson agreed again and again as he rattled his list of real or imagined complaints.

We were watching on Tuesday morning as Graham conducted this discussion. Despite the lunacy of one CNN genius, there was nothing "shocking" about what he did in that first ten minutes. Also, the point of his questions and statements was quite quickly quite clear.

The point of his questions and statements was almost instantly clear—unless you're a certified member of our frightened, incompetent press corps. One such frightened incompetent showed up in the Washington Post on March 26, four days later.

His name is Paul Kane. Kane is a good, decent person, but in a lengthy analysis piece, he somehow came up with this:

KANE (3/26/22): Over the first two days of Jackson’s hearings, [Graham] spent most of his time re-litigating past grievances about how Democrats had treated George W. Bush’s circuit court nominees when he was a first-term senator, citing poor treatment of conservative jurists who were minorities.

Most viewers were perplexed by his initial line of questions—“On a scale of 1 to 10, how faithful would you say you are?”—and whether Jackson could judge Catholics fairly. He admitted later those questions were out of bounds but said he was trying to make a point about how Democrats questioned Barrett’s Catholicism in her 2017 confirmation hearing to a circuit court seat.

“I’m trying to make a point. That I don’t believe there’s an ounce of religious bigotry in her. But if you’re offended by that, you should have really been offended by [what happened to] Amy Coney Barrett,” he said in an interview during a break Tuesday.

Where in the world does our failing press corps come up with people like this? Let's consider some of the things Kane said in that passage, while being fair enough to acknowledge the fact that Kane was hardly alone in making this strange presentation.

Had Graham "cit[ed] poor treatment of conservative jurists who were minorities" during Tuesday's exchange with Jackson? Yes, he had, but he had cited alleged poor treatment of white nominees as well.

Were most viewers "perplexed by his initial line of questions—'On a scale of 1 to 10, how faithful would you say you are?' " 

In our view, Graham's questions weren't perplexing at all. But there's no way Kane could possibly know any such thing about the way "most viewers" had reacted.

That published claim was pure Storyline. It was Storyline all the way down.

Most remarkable was this bizarre statement by Kane:

"[Graham] admitted later those questions were out of bounds but said he was trying to make a point about how Democrats questioned Barrett’s Catholicism in her 2017 confirmation hearing to a circuit court seat."

Did Graham ever "admit" that his questions for Jackson had been "out of bounds?" We find that very hard to believe. 

In fact, he had explained the purpose of his questions in real time, as he asked them. The notion that he only explained his point "later," during an interview with Kane, tells us that something had driven the journalist Kane eight straight out of his initially competent mind.

Graham said he didn’t believe that there’s an ounce of religious bigotry in Jackson? Graham explained that "later?"

As we noted on Tuesday, Graham made that point again and again in the course of his exchange with Judge Jackson. Anyone can confirm that fact by reading the start of the relevant transcript, or by watching the first few minutes of the C-Span videotape.

That leaves us wondering how we can explain the work on Journalist Kane, and of the many other journalists who quoited that "scale of 1-to-10" question by Graham completely out of its perfectly obvious context, decrying it as inappropriate and vile.

As we noted on Tuesday, Graham said, again and again, that he had total confidence in Jackson's ability to be fair. That wasn't the point of his questions at all. He had made that fact perfectly obvious.

Kane somehow crazily managed to miss this as the exchange proceeded. Crazily, he had to interview Graham later to elicit the statement that Graham "doesn’t believe there’s an ounce of religious bigotry in [Judge Jackson]." 

Crazily, Kane was willing to write that ludicrous passage four days after the exchange in question. Things are so bad at the Washington Post that his nonsense got waved into print.

But just as we shouldn't single out Toobin, we shouldn't single out Kane. By the end of the week, it was a standard bit of script as liberal journalists quoted that one question—"On a scale of 1 to 10...""—without making the slightest attempt to explain the basis on which the non-question had been asked.

(We will continue to single our Coates, who made the haughty, ridiculous claim that Graham's questions that day were "shocking," and especially so since he's white.)

Our tribe has been caught in a moral panic over the past dozen years, and our tribe is now tilting insane. We're going to lose, and we'll lose very badly, if we continue this downward spiral in our mental and moral functioning—in our ability to make accurate presentations in public.

As a matter of principle, there was nothing wrong with Cruz's questions about Jackson's views on "critical race theory." It's believed that Cruz is never sincere, but his questions concern a topic our screeching, shrieking, failing tribe needs to get much more clear about.

We thought Jackson gave a perfect answer to Cruz's principal question on that topic. (On balance, we'll say we aren't hugely impressed with her membership on that board.)

In our next and final installment, we're going to tell you why we were disappointed in Judge Jackson's overall effort. At CNN, the various children, tightly scripted and dumb as rocks, swore that no one in the nation's history had ever been so great.

That was childish Storyline—Storyline all the way down. The stars may have gone to the finest schools, but they're behaving like hapless, frightened kids, and we're going to pay a large price.

Next: She wouldn't answer his question!


20 comments:

  1. Heh, funny. Thanks for the laughs, dear Bob, and, of course, for documenting this tiny portion of the new liberal atrocities.

    By the way, Toobin? That good and decent fella? Still around? Oh dear...

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  2. Usually I can see Bob's point. He looks at CNN being sloppy telling a story and pokes holes.

    I didn't see a single hole poked here. What he calls progressive "beliefs" appear to be statements about how racism works, I imagine things like "racism is everywhere, which makes us all prone to supporting it and accepting it," which is factual and empirical. Or the scientific fact that sex and gender works a certain way. None of this is a belief. It's in peer reviewed research.

    Republicans don't get to just project the historical sins of organized religion onto their opponents simply because their opponents may say things they dislike. Catholicism has a historical origin. Luther was a real person. Wake me up when so called progressives are enslaving people and giving the ideological foundations for genocide.

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    1. Look, an attempt at play acting. I was fooled for one and a half sentences.

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    2. @2:52 Bragging about being a fool doesn't parse as the insult you seem to think it is

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  3. Senator Cruz is not well.
    Liked!

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    1. Heh. Okay, decent joke. Achieved via punctuation.

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  4. Somerby claims that he still cannot understand how a person who has been a public defender, a working attorney, a district judge and an appeals court judge, spending an entire career in the courtroom, might know more law than someone who graduated from the same law school but did not work in law, becoming a politician or an author/media personality.

    You don't learn everything there is to know about the law in law school. You are taught how to look things up and how to think like a lawyer, but you would spend the rest of your career learning more about law after graduating, just as occurs in any career involving a body of knowledge.

    But Somerby cannot imagine how Jackson might know more about law than Cruz or Toobin. And this is where Somerby reveals himself to be either a huge idiot or a disingenuous bigot. Those who do know the law, sitting judges and working attorneys have described her a more knowledgeable than previous nominees, not just highly qualified but the best qualified candidate.

    Somerby will not accept that judgment and that is why he is a racist asshole.

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  5. Cruz questioned Jackson about a strawman. No one is proposing telling elementary school children that they are racist, nor any of the other things that the right presents and labels CRT. The accusations from the right bear no resemblance to the critical race theory taught at the graduate level and in law school. Jackson is not some school librarian who happened to pick a book that Cruz doesn't like. She no doubt knows the difference between CRT and the lies told about how liberals want to teach about race in schools. She sidestepped the entire straw man and cut to the chase, saying that she supports being nice to kids. She chose not to engage with Cruz in defining what CRT actually is, nor to talk about what books belong in which schools. That was politically smart and it had nothing to do with the law or her work as a supremem court justice. It was Republican grandstanding and a waste of everyone's time. But it apparentyly caught Somerby's attention. And even given her wise answer, Somerby will not admit that she is highly qualified as a nominee. He continues to suggest that she is being lauded for political reasons related to being black and female and the high court equivalent of an affirmative action hire. Because Somerby is a huge bigot and apparently cannot imagine how a female nominee could ever demonstrate ability beyond any male nominated. He says himself that he cannot imagine how the quality of a nominee could be objectively proven -- he says this while ignoring all proof.

    And his own subjective evaluation that she is not doing well in the questioning is placed above the evaluations of those who are qualified and know something about law and could make an actual informed evaluation, people who Somerby keeps dismissing as overpraising Jackson.

    Somerby's evaluation of Jackson is biased, subjective, sexist and racist. When he says he is unimpressed with the way she has handled her questions, he has no basis for claiming that, because he has no qualifications whatsoever to evaluate her performance -- only his opinion, and that is clearly affected by his personal bigotry, which has been revealed in his comments here. And this is what racism looks like and why people who have worked hard to be good at their jobs but are dismissed as incompetent get frustrated and wonder what they would have to do to be clearly qualified in the eyes of racists such as Somerby.

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    1. “…Somerby will not admit that she is highly qualified as a nominee.”

      He wouldn’t deny she was a highly qualified nominee, either. His only comment on her general qualifications was that she had had a very substantial legal and judicial career. He also suggested the impossibility of Jackson, or any nominee, being properly described as the most qualified in Supreme Court history.

      “He continues to suggest that she is being lauded for political reasons related to being black and female and the high court equivalent of an affirmative action hire.”

      Not true. Somerby is saying (not suggesting) that her performance on a particular morning of the hearings was lauded for political reasons. His post focused on that particular morning and the evaluations thereof. This is a distinction many commenters on this site have missed.

      “And his own subjective evaluation that she is not doing well in the questioning…” Somerby said he wasn’t “blown away” by her performance, and that she wasn’t doing as well as the CNN analysts said she was. Not that she wasn’t doing well.

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    2. He did deny it. He said she was being praised according to a script, that they were using exaggerated language. He said there was no objective way to measure her qualifications, to know whether the praise was valid.

      When he said there was no way to describe her as the most qualified, I cited the ABA's ratings of prospective nominees. She was the only justice to be unanimously rated as "well qualified," the highest possible rating. Adding the word "in Supreme Court History" is gratuitous. She is the most highly rated by the ABA among justices confirmed going back to the 1960s.

      As I said, Somerby has no basis for evaluating how well she was doing at answering questions. He never stated his criteria nor did he say what she was doing wrong or lackluster. In fact, he praised her answer to Cruz. He argue by assertion, not evidence.

      No other candidate in Supreme Court History has been rated unanimously as "well qualified," all others had mixed ratings. Some have included "not qualified" ratings.

      Somerby's desire to damn her with faint praise while arguing that the much stronger praise she has been receiving is unwarranted is an attack on a history-making nomination of a person who deserves the highest praise. Somerby has presented no evidence that she should be treated as dismissively as he has done. It is a continuation of the Republican affront to this woman who has passed previous nominating processes without this kind of harrassment. As noted elsewhere, no previous justice has been treated this way by Republicans. And Democrats have been far more civil to conservative nominees even though they have opposed their nominations.

      I will say it again, this is what bigotry looks like. It consists of dismissive obstruction without any rational justification. That fits Somerby's remarks and the Republican treatment of this nominee.

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    3. 8:29 clinging to being excessively literal is a flaw, and it does not serve you well as your arguments come across as made in bad faith.

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  6. Calling a baby an "antiracist" is not the same as calling it a racist. The term implies that the baby will be accepting of all people without regard to skin color. Isn't that exactly what anyone would want a baby to be? If the book were called racist baby, that would be a different matter, but it isn't.

    I don't see what Cruz's beef with that book was.

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  7. Here is an assessment of the Jackson hearing by Linda Greenhouse of the NY Times, who has covered numerous previous hearings.

    She says that compared to the hearings for Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, the hearing for Jackson was much worse:

    "While the opposition was tedious and vapid, it wasn’t mean. No one accused her of coddling pedophiles or terrorists. The senators were following their leader. It was just business.

    The difference between then and now is stark. The alternating question periods between Democratic and Republican senators induced a kind of whiplash. While the Democrats celebrated Judge Jackson’s accomplishments and the symbolism of her nomination, the Republicans oozed venom. Their collective fixation on her irrefutably mainstream sentencing practices in cases involving child sexual abuse imagery — a topic seemingly plucked from thin air because there was nothing of substance for them to complain about — verged on the unhinged.

    “Every judge who does what you are doing is making it easier for the children to be exploited,” Senator Graham exclaimed, evidently overcome with remorse for having voted less than a year ago to confirm her to the federal appeals court on which she now sits."

    Somerby himself no doubt watched several of the previous hearings. I did too. Somerby seems to be blaming Jackson for not handling questions well. I disagree. I see a concerted Republican effort to portray Jackson as a menace to our nation's children and our national security. That strikes me as ludicrous in evaluating a public servant. It is, however, consistent with an out-of-control right wing that shows no hesitation in calling anyone, even the president, horrible things, such as a reptilian owner of biolabs or a seducer of children. There is no longer any restraint on the right. No shame. Their claims do not need to make any sense, nor do they need to be grounded in reality. This is destructive of our government processes, as should be obvious from this hearing.

    Instead of decrying that, Somerby blames the press for praising Jackson (who clearly deserves such praise). He talks about the dislike for Cruz, as if that had no connection with Cruz's actions, and then says that it is important to talk about schools and books such as antiracist baby, even though the idea that Jackson might ever rule on that topic seems remote. This turns the hearing into a podium for right-wing grievances having little to do with the supreme court.

    Jackson's job was to avoid Republican entrapment. She did a good job of that. It is unclear what Somerby expected of her -- he hasn't said, but she behaved like a justice (not a hysterical creep like Cruz) and patiently answered whatever legally relevant question was asked of her. She didn't allow herself to be baited by what was obviously race-baiting (antiracist baby?) and questioning of her patriotism by Graham. It was more than Kavanaugh was able to do, with his emotional whining about having to account for his past actions.

    Somerby's values are revealed by what he attends to, what he notices, how he reacts to this nominee. They aren't particularly liberal, they are definitely not unbiased. He almost sounds like he would prefer to have Cruz as the nominee, not some black woman who doesn't answer the questions the way he thinks someone should.

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    1. More sleazy accusations of racism. You're a disgusting scumbag. You're as low as it gets.

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    2. Yes, it is the accusation of racism that is sleazy and disgusting, not the actual sliming of a highly qualified candidate on no basis by senators ranting about pedophilia and being a traitor who is soft on terrorism.

      You are wrong -- there is nothing lower than Cruz, Graham, Cotton, Hawley, Blackburn...Somerby.

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    3. You're just as low or lower. Stuck in a moral gutter of intolerance.

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  8. Don't be fooled.
    Bob is pissed that Biden didn't choose another sexual predator to put on the Supreme Court.

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