OLC: Even More GOP Obfuscation On Dawn Johnsen?

All signs point to yes.

Paul Mirengoff at Powerline has been the point man for the Federalist Society talking points on Johnsen’s nomination. And he recently went with the inaccurate hyperventilation technique here:

…Dawn Johnsen, President Obama’s aggressively radical nominee…

Note that for Paul, John Yoo and David Addington are jim dandy, and a government which willfully lies to you about violating the laws and your civil rights is a-okay.  But Dawn Johnsen? She’s "aggressively radical."

So much for adherence to the rule of law when it undermines one’s politics, I suppose.

Why the new spate of snarl at Johnsen? Because instead of sitting around twiddling her thumbs while waiting for the rule of law to become a priority for Harry Reid and the Obama White House, she’s teaching a course this fall at Indiana University Law school. Presumably because she’d like to earn a bit of salary for her family, which she moved to Washington while awaiting a confirmation vote that still has not yet been scheduled in the Senate. She may not have a confirmation vote in hand just yet, but she does need to feed her kids and pay her rent.

Guess that whole work ethic thing is less popular with GOP spinmeisters these days.

Why the knickers in a twist? Could it be the course? As initially reported at Blue Indiana, theLegal Times Blog has the background:

The seminar, which Johnsen has taught before, is aimed at 2Ls and 3Ls. It’s titled “Sexuality, Reproduction and the Law.” According to the course description, students will “explore governmental regulation of sexuality and reproduction in the United States. We will focus on regulation aimed at sexual activity, reproduction and sexual orientation, with particular attention to the constitutional protections afforded in those areas.”

Never mind that students came to Johnsen’s defense once before after right-wing smear attempts, saying about her teaching style: "Johnsen’s incredibly fair, intelligent and scholarly outlook, combined with her constant interest in hearing all viewpoints, made class both fascinating and a true learning environment."

Damn her, she made her students actually think! Evil! 

But why bother with facts when you can smear you way forward?  Never fear, dear readers. The Democratic leadership has this well in hand.

Via Roll Call:

“We’re working to get agreements on all the nominees that are pending,” Reid spokeswoman Regan Lachapelle said.

Feel the surging raw power of "We’re still working on it. No. Really."

Oh yeah. I’m so holding my breath on that leadership talk. Not.

Especially since this is the second go around for the "we’re negotiating a vote schedule" story, which ended with bupkis last April, too.

So why bother to keep pushing on something that Democratic leadership hasn’t bothered to prioritize? Because the nation desperately needs principled leadership on the rule of law. And I’m going to keep saying that until we get it.

Plus, the right needs to be called on their fundraising and "lies, smears and innuendo aimed at decent people who got in their way" tactics. Might as well be by me, I suppose.

66 Responses to "OLC: Even More GOP Obfuscation On Dawn Johnsen?"
Christy Hardin Smith | Friday August 21, 2009 05:25 am 1

Morning all — it’s a glorious, not hot in my house morning today. And we’re getting some much needed rain. So I’m happily sipping my coffee today. Gotta savor the little things once in a while.

How are things with you?

Pade | Friday August 21, 2009 05:35 am 2

Morning Christy, So glad you are back in the cool mode at your house. Hope your new AC came with a tax credit. Time for coffee here too.

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday August 21, 2009 05:40 am 3
In response to Pade @ 2

We more than doubled our energy efficiency, so I’m thrilled. We had already planned to replace the A/C next year anyway — and had started saving for that — so this wasn’t as much of a hit as it could have been.

Kathryn in MA | Friday August 21, 2009 05:45 am 4

No AC here. Have been sweating like a pig.(tho pigs don’t sweat) Temps in the high 80s are killer.

Kathryn in MA | Friday August 21, 2009 05:45 am 5

At least nights are still in the 60s.

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday August 21, 2009 05:47 am 6
In response to Kathryn in MA @ 5

Yeah, it was 72 last night and we had 98% humidity. It’s the first night in a week that hasn’t been sweltering in our house and I’m so grateful. So sorry you are miserably hot — it really, really sucks.

Sending you icy lemonade thoughts…

Pade | Friday August 21, 2009 06:23 am 7
In response to Christy Hardin Smith @ 3

Good deal. I took advantage of a discount by my dealer and the tax advantage this year and put in one of those wall units. I have a log house with no good way to otherwise put in central air. My one unit does the whole place. It also came with a heat pump so I will get an extra advantage on slightly cold fall and spring days. Enjoy your improved climate. This is a good year to make energy efficient upgrades to lots of things.

Pade | Friday August 21, 2009 06:25 am 8

I’m off to rehab. My new hip gets better every day. All in all a very positive experience. It’s just 4 days more than a month and I am walking without much help – just a cane for balance and to get started. I still get stiff but that gets better too. Better than in years. Good day to all.

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday August 21, 2009 06:27 am 9
In response to Pade @ 7

Our house is over 100 years old, so making improvements has been a piece by piece thing. We try to keep the historical aesthetic in mind as we do things, but sometimes it can be tough to find an environmentally sound option that meets that goal.

It’s also way expensive to change things around, so it’s a gradual process for us. But it’s awfully nice to find something that makes the house cooler and is so much more efficient at the same time.

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday August 21, 2009 06:28 am 10
In response to Pade @ 8

Good for you! Sounds like things are moving along nicely for you — excellent news.

Leen | Friday August 21, 2009 06:36 am 11


The Mad as Hell Doctors hit the road.

They might be coming to your town or close. Hope they do not have to pack some guns to get the MSM’s coverage

RevBev | Friday August 21, 2009 06:37 am 12

Thanks….I love that she is teaching a course that may drive those Repubs. crazy…..Maybe destroy the myth that all those lesbians do is have sex, etc.

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday August 21, 2009 06:38 am 13
In response to RevBev @ 12

I love the fact that she has more balls than the whole of the Democratic leadership. And that she’s teaching a lesson in First Amendment and spine all at the same time.

foothillsmike | Friday August 21, 2009 06:45 am 14
In response to Leen @ 11

Do you think that the good doctors could head to DC and do some spine transplant operations.

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday August 21, 2009 06:52 am 15
In response to foothillsmike @ 14

That would takes months of constant work, though, wouldn’t it? *g*

demi | Friday August 21, 2009 07:17 am 16
In response to Kathryn in MA @ 4

The phrase goes like this Sweating like a pig on a roasting pit.” (or something akin to that). Makes more sense now, doesn’t it?
Oh, and Good Morning to Christy and all cool and hot doggies.
This post has me thinking of that disclaimer on the stupid cial*s commercials…Ask your doctor if you are healthy enough for sexual activity. I initially thought, well, it’s all about health care/insurance reform, and that line popped into my head.
Christy, you are nothing if not tenacious. And, cool, of course.

demi | Friday August 21, 2009 07:19 am 17
In response to RevBev @ 12

Bev, are you trying to rob all most men of their precious fantasies? Ha Ha.

RevBev | Friday August 21, 2009 07:38 am 18
In response to demi @ 17

“But only if it lasts more than 4 hours….” That image I really try to avoid….like seeing w clearing brush…. I have some vision limits and I hate to think of wasting any vision capacity on that one!!

demi | Friday August 21, 2009 07:42 am 19
In response to RevBev @ 18

That commercial is the worst part of watching KO, imo.
Hiya, dear. Hope all is well.

oldgold | Friday August 21, 2009 07:45 am 20
In response to RevBev @ 18

The two tub imagery is what perplexes me.

RevBev | Friday August 21, 2009 07:56 am 21
In response to demi @ 19

And you too…..actually sipping our ginger treat….and my sinuses really know it. What we learng at the lake….Cheeers.

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday August 21, 2009 08:53 am 22
In response to oldgold @ 20

It’s what my hubby calls the Desi and Lucy bedroom tub scene. Can you tell we find it perplexing here, too?

wigwam | Friday August 21, 2009 08:53 am 23

Does Johnsen’s nomination require 60 votes?

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday August 21, 2009 08:54 am 24
In response to demi @ 19

For my money, the Viva Viagra commercials are worse. Mainly because the song is irritating beyond belief.

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday August 21, 2009 08:55 am 25
In response to wigwam @ 23

It shouldn’t, but cloture does unless there is agreement by GOP leadership to bring it to the floor without need for cloture. At least, the way things have been working of late, anyway…

ghostof911 | Friday August 21, 2009 08:56 am 26

Harry Reid has outlived his usefullness as a leader in the Senate. His colleagues need to start whispering in his ear that it’s time to stop down. Seriously.

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday August 21, 2009 08:58 am 27
In response to ghostof911 @ 26

That has been a source of much discussion for several months among any number of people on and off the Hill — and yet? Still no action one way or the other, and no agreement on what is or is not the right thing to do. Welcome to dithering central in place of actual leadership.


wigwam | Friday August 21, 2009 08:58 am 28

Maybe it’s time for the nuclear option.

bluewombat | Friday August 21, 2009 09:02 am 29

I just called Reid’s office and said he needed schedule a vote on Johnsen. I’m sure that will take care of the problem. :)

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday August 21, 2009 09:02 am 30
In response to wigwam @ 28

I don’t think they need it — by my head count, they have the 60 votes. Lugar has already said he’d vote FOR her. And both Specter and Ben Nelson, who had been dithering on the final vote have both indicated — through sources — that the cloture vote will not be the issue for either of them.

There are a couple of others in the GOP who also aren’t staunchly opposed to her by my count, and so all they’d need to do is make certain the full Dem caucus held and that they got either Byrd or Kennedy in for the cloture vote.

But that also takes up floor time which neither the WH nor the Dem Leadership in the Senate have been willing to expend. And therein lies the real problem — it’s a full on failure of leadership on the rule of law, because it isn’t just Johnsen’s nomination lingering — there are also 4 federal judge nominations hanging out there in limbo, too.

Since the Baucus Caucus can’t seem to get its ass in gear on health care, why not use the spare time to push these all through in one big “GOP obstruction pajama party” weekend? Make your point on the rule of law publicly and with some actual feeling to it. Have argued this until I’m blue in the face to no avail…

ghostof911 | Friday August 21, 2009 09:03 am 31

What’s happened to good old selfish ambition? What’s stopping someone like Chuck Schumer or Dick Durbin from forming alliance with colleagues and confronting Reid for his impotence?

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday August 21, 2009 09:04 am 32
In response to ghostof911 @ 31

Personally? My theory is that they are all more than happy to have Reid take the fall for any fail and then pick up the pieces when he’s finished himself off. But it’s just a working theory.

oldgold | Friday August 21, 2009 09:05 am 33

Has anyone ever seen Harry Reid and Frankie Valli in the same place? Hmm?


bobschacht | Friday August 21, 2009 09:06 am 34

Thanks for this update on Johnsen!

I’m checking in today from Arizona, where I will begin teaching a course at Northern Arizona University next week! I lived here for 17 years before moving to Hawaii in 2004. I drove here from California yesterday. So I will be signing off now as

Bob in AZ

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday August 21, 2009 09:06 am 35
In response to bobschacht @ 34

Oh wow, Bob — good luck to you with your course!

Twain | Friday August 21, 2009 09:08 am 36
In response to ghostof911 @ 31

No guts.

ghostof911 | Friday August 21, 2009 09:08 am 37

If what you say is true, they are more depraved than I had imagined. Penalizing the country for petty political advantage. It’s utterly revolting.

Loo Hoo. | Friday August 21, 2009 09:08 am 38

So who should take Reid’s place? Feingold or Leahy would be fine with me.

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday August 21, 2009 09:10 am 39
In response to ghostof911 @ 37

Don’t know it for certain. But you don’t take on a leadership fight without being certain you will win it — otherwise, the punishment after losing can be brutal. It’s a gut feeling, but I think without that certainty in hand of a win, it’s more likely to be an easier path if you simply allow someone else to muddle through the hard slog, and pick up the pieces once they have floundered.

It wouldn’t be my preferred method — but then, I tend to be more of a fix the problem rather than let it sit there kinda gal.

JoeBuck | Friday August 21, 2009 09:12 am 40

I’m starting to wonder whether the White House no longer wants Johnsen, and is just leaving her hanging. After all, her approach seems completely opposed to Holder and Obama’s “don’t look back” policies.

Eventually, if this keeps up, she will withdraw her name (she can’t leave her life on hold forever), the Democrats came blame Republican obstructionism, and Obama will never have to deal with an OLC head who inconveniently argues that what he (Obama) is doing is illegal.

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday August 21, 2009 09:14 am 41
In response to Loo Hoo. @ 38

I don’t think Leahy would want it — he enjoys being able to influence the legal end of things from Judiciary. And Feingold’s temper has made him too many enemies among his peers, so I don’t think he’d be able to muster a majority to support him within the caucus.

Schumer’s ego is his worst enemy, but he’s certainly got the ambition for it. I dunno — I’ve been thinking about any number of people and not coming up with someone with the requisite internal caucus likeability coupled with seniority or respect and actual leadership and communications skills. I think Whitehouse would be good at it, but I’m not certain about his tactical abilities because he hasn’t been there long enough to know for certain. I’m stumped, honestly, as to who would be best.

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday August 21, 2009 09:16 am 42
In response to JoeBuck @ 40

The thought has certainly crossed my mind, too, but I’m told by several sources within the justice community that there is a lot of support for her within DOJ — and that they have been pushing for her along with Leahy, Whitehouse and assorted others in the Senate all along. And that she would not have moved her family to DC without some assurances on not just OLC but other options. But I haven’t gotten enough detail or anyone on the record to confirm what those might be as yet — still digging.

oldtree | Friday August 21, 2009 09:17 am 43

It’s one of the strangest things I can remember. Tip O’Neal used to get press all the time for what he did as the speaker of the house. Pelosi does too. Bob Dole used to get press, Bill Frist got a lot.
But Harry Reid? He is ignored. There is something sickeningly sweet about the absence of coverage or smell of a senate majority leader that simply doesn’t do a thing. We are in the middle of 2 of the most important issues for humanity, and he is no where to be found. He helps a fellow mormon and gop torturer get a job to teach the new generation about GOP values, but he won’t help anyone working toward the democratic principles he is supposed to adhere to, and enhance.
If Obama can’t do anything, it may be because the senate is now led by someone that is as corrupt as most of the body. One that takes money from those interests the people wish him to punish has a serious moral question that affects the lives of everyone in their state. So, instead of the ability to recuse themselves from their involvement with contribution, and where the clear alternative would be to simply follow the wishes of the people of the country….. And there it falls apart. Most of the senate say nothing about what the people want. Their paternal character is enough for their own legend and should be good enough even for us lonely peons that expect things of these “leaders”. Some are openly in favor of the death of their constituents, and the prevention of death toward those that are not yet imagined. These “senators” are telling their people that they are stupid, they deserve to die, and I am not going to help you.
It is time to remove them for being involved in criminal conspiracy. Our countries laws must override those that congress has created to protect themselves from investigation and prosecution for crimes ranging from petty theft to crimes against humanity. Those crimes they have conspired to assist that have killed the people of this country are already legendary. Tobacco, the willful ignoring of scientific evidence of water issues, crop issues, air issues, warming issues. How long the list would go.
They are the problem. Harry Reid is the prime example right now. He hasn’t stood up to anyone about anything. I suggest that because he is a mormon, he is a bigoted xenophobic that will do anything to kill the black man’s agenda. It is his religion’s law. We are forced to watch as this insane milquetoast we imagine, is really the heavy in a historical drama that we will likely have to record only for some future population, or visitor to this planet. His bigotry is on permanent display as he hinders the agenda of the people, and a president that is trying to help us out of the slavery that our senate has indentured us to.
Senator Kennedy, your world is nearly gone. We thank you for what you did to try to save it. And you Mr. Sanders, and Feingold, Merkley. But few others have ever shown the most basic concern for the people they serve. Their constituents have been fooled so badly that I suspect they must deserve what they get.
But, since half of us or more are morons, what do we expect? I know I am.

Jkat | Friday August 21, 2009 09:27 am 44
In response to ghostof911 @ 26

lol .. when exactly was harry ever “useful” ..

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday August 21, 2009 09:27 am 45
In response to oldtree @ 43

Having more than a few Mormons in my family, I can tell you that not every Mormon is a bigot and it’s not part of the religion to be one in terms of race that I know of (not since they opened the religion to people of color, anyway…*g*). And I find that sweeping generalizations about anything — but especially trying to call someone a racist without specific evidence of acts or statements which back that up — end up making one sound like Glenn Beck. Which is never, ever a good thing in my book.

Loo Hoo. | Friday August 21, 2009 09:28 am 46

I don’t suppose Reid will be primaried, will he?

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday August 21, 2009 09:28 am 47
In response to Jkat @ 44

Hold on, I’m thinking…

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday August 21, 2009 09:30 am 48
In response to Loo Hoo. @ 46

Not that I know of at this point. But I never say never…

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday August 21, 2009 09:32 am 49

btw, I meant to mention this. For those who need a bit of a Friday giggle, I’ve got a coupla funny videos up top. Just for shits and giggles…because I needed a laugh, too. It’s been that kind of week.

Twain | Friday August 21, 2009 09:41 am 50

This week has been like “follow the bouncing ball.” At least 25 rumors a day, public option is doing fine, no, it’s not, yes, it is. I’m getting whiplash, a grumpy disposition, and approaching hives. I keep yelling at my computer “finish the damn thing.” Computer hasn’t answered yet.

earlofhuntingdon | Friday August 21, 2009 09:43 am 51

Whatever Dawn Johnsen was promised, Team Obama clearly won’t deliver it. She has been put out like a pinata for Republicans and faux centrist Democrats to use their sticks on. The candy will drop when her nomination fails. Predictably, it will be because, like healthcare reform, Harry Reid “lacked the votes” – not because he lacked courage or because he was just following White House orders.

Prof. Johnsen should read the writing on the wall and return from the Beltway to Bloomington. She should make abundantly and publicly clear why she’s doing that.

Rahm Emanuel is Karl Rove on a diet; he’s doing what his boss wants and so is Harry Reid. Ms. Johnsen and her priorities won’t prevail in that fight. She would do more good for her cause by making the timing her own and by letting the public know what Mr. Obama’s priorities really are than by waiting endlessly for a vote that will never come.

lukasiak | Friday August 21, 2009 09:45 am 52

why doesn’t Obama simply give Johnson (and heaven knows how many others) a recess appointment?

msmolly | Friday August 21, 2009 09:49 am 53

There are a couple of others in the GOP who also aren’t staunchly opposed to her by my count, and so all they’d need to do is make certain the full Dem caucus held and that they got either Byrd or Kennedy in for the cloture vote

I suspect we can forget about getting Kennedy in for a vote. If he was unable to attend his sister’s funeral, I think that speaks volumes about his health and prognosis.

I don’t understand why, in this day and age, they have to be physically present to vote.

TarheelDem | Friday August 21, 2009 09:50 am 54

Dawn Johnsen, President Obama’s aggressively radical nominee.

Translation: She actually works. Why hasn’t she gotten smart and gotten on wingnut welfare like us? We even got a few of us wingnut welfare on the Supreme Court.

GregB | Friday August 21, 2009 09:51 am 55

President Obama had better awaken soon. His base is roiling mad and we’re the calm and reasonable folks in contemporary politics.

The GOP is licking its chops at the Carterization of this man.

The media is dying to have the glory days of Newt Gingriches “revolution” of the 90’s.

The sand is pouring out and President Obama is going on vacation.

Bad timing.

foothillsmike | Friday August 21, 2009 09:59 am 56

Dawn would probably be confirmed already if she was just teaching a course such as
“The bibles directives for the practice of law”

dick c | Friday August 21, 2009 10:07 am 57

Pity Reid and company — this is an incredible dilemma for them. How to serve the rule of law and corporate interests at the same time. These decisions always appear easier for republicans who seem to have no doubt about where their allegiances lie.

Votus | Friday August 21, 2009 10:08 am 58

OT: for those on the pacific coast, Jane just came on The Thom Hartmann radio show.

Ann in AZ | Friday August 21, 2009 10:16 am 59

Jane has a new post up and is waiting for our perusal: “Fear Grows Like A Weed In the Middle of Rahm Emanuel’s Message Void”

greenwarrior | Friday August 21, 2009 10:20 am 60
In response to bluewombat @ 29

your optimism is refreshing. as for myself, i’ve been getting increasingly frustrated at the lack of nomination hearings for dawn johnsen.

thanks for bringing it up, christy.

Mymy | Friday August 21, 2009 10:30 am 61

Time for Reid to man up! Wasn’t he a pugilist in a former life?

darclay | Friday August 21, 2009 11:31 am 62
In response to Mymy @ 61

Can someone, Christy? tell me WHY is Harry Reid still Majority Leader? Are the Dem’s so f*&K up that they can’t see Reid is one of the major problems with Congress. Maybe its a seniority position ? what just tell me .

AngelsAwake | Friday August 21, 2009 12:02 pm 63

We need more of this. We’ve got a little momentum now on the health care thing, we’re all fired up, we’re angry and we’re right (in the truthful sense, not the political)- now’s the perfect time to hammer the Republicans on all sides and on all issues. Attack attack attack!

Adams | Friday August 21, 2009 12:34 pm 64

I agree strongly with AngelsAwake @ 63. Momentum is building for progressives as BHO’s poll numbers sink like a rock among Democrats. See Krugman, Greenwald, Rich, et. al. on why the public option is more than the public option. It is a watershed issue that has come to symbolize the Obama administration’s whole commitment to “openness and accountability” (for the healthcare industry) and “change you can believe in” (for the public) and “changing the game” for the villagers.

I have long felt that Dawn Johnsen’s nomination, while much lower in profile, is a similar symbol of the Obama administration’s ( now highly questionable) commitment to right the wrongs done by the Bushies to the rule of law, separation of powers, sanctity of the voting process, and our international reputation for same. Not to mention torture and murder (most foul).

HCR has all the juice now, but we’ll never forget about torture and murder done in our names.

However, as I’ve mentioned previously, we still lack a clear and focused strategy to force her appointment to a vote. It doesn’t have to be as comprehensive as what Jane is doing on HCR. Just something to collect and direct the energy of the already committed. Yeah, I’ve emailed and phoned my Senators, but how many times should I do that on an issue that doesn’t come up on their screens until it gets scheduled for a vote?

Christy, Marcy, anyone…? Help.

Mary | Friday August 21, 2009 12:34 pm 65

I don’t buy for a minute that the real roadblock on Johnsen has been Republicans. With the policy choices Obama has been making, from bombing missions in Pakistan, to continued use of Blackwater in covert ops in foreign countries, to subverting the GITMO habeas determinations with shipments to Bagram, to continued lies about the Uighurs, to states secrets invocations to cover up crime, etc. etc. etc. the singlemost resistant entity to having Johnsen in place pretty much has to be the White House.

It’s a game Obama is playing. She’s the carrot danging from the stick in front of the donkey. Once he’s gotten where he’s going using that carrot to keep the donkey working for him, he’ll may give the carrot – or not. But definitely not until he’s where he wants to be and with all the pending cases, he’s not there yet.

BMcGarth | Friday August 21, 2009 02:31 pm 66

Anyone who really thinks the Obama WH has any intention of allowing Dawn Johnsen to assume the position she was nominated for,well stop dreaming.Johnsen’s time in the position means Holder incompetence will be “neon lighted”.Obama is comfortable with Bush’s policies folks,he ain’t want Johnsen to be in that position.

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