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Member since: Fri Apr 4, 2014, 03:21 PM
Number of posts: 16,104

Journal Archives

Merry Christmas, Mr. President!


Just one more!

The Senate goes home, the end of the Democratic Senate until 2016. On their way out the door, what a legacy!

By ALAN FRAM, Associated Press

The Senate has approved 76 federal court of appeals and district court judges so far this year. Confirmation of 12 more would bring this year's total to 88 ó the most since a Democratic-led Senate approved 99 of President Bill Clinton's appeals and district court nominees in 1994, according to Russell Wheeler, who studies the judiciary at the Brookings Institution.

Whatever this year's figure, it will easily surpass the 43 approved last year and the 49 confirmed in 2012. Majority Democrats enabled that in November 2013, when they muscled through a weakening of the Senate's rules on filibusters, the procedural delays that minority parties have long used to sink nominations and bills they dislike.

The 88 judges would mean the Senate would have confirmed 303 federal appeals and district court judges through Obama's six years in office, according to Wheeler. That would be more than the 298 confirmed during Clinton's first six years and the 253 confirmed during that same period under President George W. Bush.

Such numbers will let Obama put his imprint on the federal judiciary, though judges don't always follow the political ideology of the president who picked them.

Currently, there are 50 federal appeals and district court vacancies out of 856 judgeships, according to data from the U.S. court system. That's the lowest number of vacancies since December 2008, the month before Obama took office. Vacancies during his presidency peaked at 108 in December 2010.

Another measure of Obama's impact is on federal appeals courts, which have enormous influence on their regions of the country and can be conduits for cases to reach the Supreme Court. When he took office, 10 of the 13 appeals courts had more judges appointed by Republican than Democratic presidents. Now the balance has switched, with Democratic-appointed majorities on nine of the courts.

Most significantly, that includes the federal appeals court for the District of Columbia circuit, considered the nation's second-most powerful court because its jurisdiction includes actions by the White House and federal agencies.

Barack Obama is back!


There are three reasons. The first is that politically, Obamaís immigration gamble is working. Fearful of alienating Hispanics or shutting down the government, Republican leaders have largely abandoned hope of overturning Obamaís move. Whatís more, Obamaís approval ratings are up 15 points among Hispanics but have not dropped among Anglo whites. Add immigration to health-care reform and the fiscal stimulus and more commentators will start noticing that, whether you like Obamaís agenda or not, itís been the most consequential of any Democratic presidentís since Lyndon Johnson.

Second, and more importantly, the economy is improving. The third quarter saw the fastest job growth in three years, and the unemployment rate is now 5.8 percent, down from 10 percent in 2009. Gas prices are also plunging. And thereís evidence Americans are beginning to notice. As Time recently noted, consumer confidence has just hit its highest mark in eight years. Even if the improving economy doesnít boost Obamaís approval rating, itís likely to improve the way heís seen by the Beltway press. And given the role a strong economy played in buoying Bill Clintonís approval ratings in the late 1990s, despite the Monica Lewinsky scandal, itís quite possible that Obamaís will rise too, which will further fuel the journalistic perception that Obama is back.

Finally, the context in which journalists judge Obama is about to change. This yearís dominant storyline was about Obama and the midterm elections. Most key Senate races took place in red and purple states where Democratic candidates distanced themselves from Obama, thus magnifying the mediaís perception that he was a political pariah.
Next year, however, the story wonít be 2014 but 2016. And the Democratic story, in all likelihood, will be Hillary Clintonís march toward her partyís nomination. While Obama was certainly unpopular this fall in states like Kentucky, he remains quite popular among the liberal activists who play an outsized role in Democratic primaries. In fact, Obama retains a connection to many them that Hillary Clinton has never enjoyed.

The best of "The Newsroom" - RIP

Alabama's Nick Saban vs. THE Ohio State's Urban Myth

The historic first NCAA Football Playoffs are on the way! No. 1 Alabama will play No. 4* Ohio State in the Semi-finals.

One of the key matchups in this game will be head coach to head coach. Seems these two have met before!

The last two times they met, Nick Saban made Urban Meyer quit.


So with Saban and Alabama headed toward a Jan. 1 semifinal playoff game against Meyer and Ohio State in New Orleans, the Ohio State AD might want to update his list of potential coaching candidates.

Just in case.


*or is it No. 5, 6, or 7?
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