Dada is the sun, Dada is the egg. Dada is the Police of the Police.

11/05/2005

How many times does this have to be said?

Oliver Willis:
The right is, as usual, gnashing its teeth over Hugo Chavez and the protests against Bush in Argentina. But let’s step back for a moment: how far have we fallen when a leftist Latin American strongman is more persuasive in the international arena than the freaking President of the United States?
This has been said about a billion times now, but apparently some people still haven't gotten the picture, even those who are supposed to be up on these things.

Whatever you think of him, Hugo Chavez is not a 'strongman' or a dictator. He is the democratically elected leader of the Venezuelan government. Can everybody please get this through their friggin' heads?

I mean, I realize he has a Spanish surname and is from one of those dirty, backwards little countries that most people probably couldn't point out on a map, but believe it or not, not every Central and South American nation is a banana republic. Hard to believe, I know, but true nonetheless.

Now retract.

Macho man



(Image via Fact-esque.)

Alito polling worse than Miers

This is good news - only 38% of Americans want the Senate to confirm Alito, compared to 41% who wanted confirmation of Harriet Miers.

Now we just have to convince the Democratic Party. They seem to have gotten the strange idea that doing what the majority of the public wants them to do somehow equals political suicide.

And, we have to keep in mind that these numbers aren't written in stone - they can and probably will change, and the GOP certainly isn't going to sit on their hands and leave things up to fate. They will spend a lot of time and money trying to convince people that Alito is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and unless we fight back just as hard, they will succeed.

The terrorists hate us for our freedom ... and our boobs

This is seriously deranged...
Patrick Carroll forwarded this story from the Sacramento Bee:
Mendocino County women who have been baring their breasts at various venues to protest the war in Iraq are in Sacramento federal court seeking an order prohibiting the California Highway Patrol from arresting them during a planned noon demonstration Monday at the Capitol.

The women's group, Breasts Not Bombs, is suing CHP Commissioner Mike Brown and two of his officers over a warning that if the women demonstrate while topless, they will be arrested and charged with indecent exposure and disorderly conduct.
...the women need a buy a clue. If they wonder why a misogynist culture wants to blow up Americans, maybe someday they'll understand that protests like these are part of the reason.
(Via Moderate Voice.)

Strategery

More than almost anyone else among the "major" liberal blogs, the guys at AMERICAblog seem to understand what it is going to take to defeat the Alito nomination.

11/04/2005

Two white guys pontificate on what to call black people

Andy Rooney and Don Imus (yecch):
Rooney: "I object every time I hear the words "African-American," you know? I don’t know why we have gotten caught with that."

Imus: "Yeah, I don’t either."

Rooney: "I mean, am I an "Irish-American?"

Imus: "What should I say, just "black" right?”

Rooney: "Well, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with "black." Growing up, it's funny how words get to be opprobrious. The word "negro," perfectly good word. It's a strong word and a good word. I don't see anything wrong with that. Mostly it's not necessary to identify anyone by skin color. But I don’t care for "African-American."

Imus: "I won’t use it anymore."
Why either of these buffoons think they should have any say in this matter is beyond me.

I mean, I actually don't think Rooney's wrong about the word "Negro" - there's nothing intrinsically wrong with that word, that I know of (it's just Spanish for "black"). But for whatever reason, it has become a term associated with racism, which is a shame - it is indeed a good, strong word. The same dynamic is at work with the term "colored people," which is also seen as objectionable, while "people of color" is not.

But I don't think I'm saying something very controversial when I say that the decision as to which word is appropriate is something that black folks can hash out just fine by themselves, without the help of two old white guys who decide they "don't care for" certain terms.

Friday popular culture rubber-necking blogging

Kevin Federline - has there ever been a greater discrepancy between how cool a person thinks they are and how cool they actually are? (Image via ANABlog.)


If I understand correctly, Blogland rules state that whenever you post something out of the range of what you usually post about, you have to do it on a Friday and call it "Friday ______ blogging." There's Friday Cat Blogging, of course, but there's also Friday Beer Blogging, Friday Rock Blogging, Friday Middle Eastern Pop Star Blogging, Friday Prayer Blogging, Friday Guinea Pig Blogging, Friday Sex Toy Blogging, etc. etc. Seems to be the custom, so I'm trying to abide.

Anywho, I was reading the very cool ANABlog, "the official blog of the Analog Arts Ensemble," and I came across this - a portion of a leaked track off the upcoming debut album by none other than Kevin Federline, a.k.a. Mr. Britney Spears. It must be heard to be believed. He raps.

To Britney's credit, her response when "K-Fed" played his new music for her was to laugh in his face and tell him that he might sell a hundred copies, if he was lucky.

19% = Cheney's approval rating. 19%!!!!!

Seriously, how can your approval rating only be 19%? Especially just a year after you were re-elected. That's insane.

People jokingly (or not-so-jokingly) compare Cheney to Darth Vader, but fuck - Darth Vader could probably at least break 20%.

I've never heard of someone having a 19% approval rating.

Jesus.


UPDATE: Sirkowski has decided to put my Vader hypothesis to the test!


...so far, Cheney's pulling a meager 8%, while the "Dark Lord of the Sith" has a robust 81% approval rating!

11/03/2005

The doctor said I wouldn't have so many nose bleeds if I kept my finger outta there

Senator Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska)

From the AP:
Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson Praises Alito

A centrist Democratic senator complimented Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito Wednesday as a jurist who won't "hammer away and chisel away" existing law.

While Sen. Ben Nelson did not endorse President Bush's latest nominee for the high court, he did say he was impressed by what he heard from Alito during his introductory visit.

The Nebraska Democrat, who was Alito's first senatorial host Wednesday, told reporters that he got assurances that Alito would not be "judicial activist" or "take an agenda to the bench" if confirmed to succeed Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who is retiring.

"He assured me that he wants to go to the bench without a political agenda," said Nelson, one of the founding members of the centrist "Gang of 14" senators who earlier this year worked out a compact aimed at avoiding judicial filibusters except in the direst of circumstances.

Nelson, one of the 14 centrist senators that Democrats would need to sustain a filibuster, said that Alito "wants to decide each case as it comes before him."
Gee, Senator Nelson, you don't suppose that Alito might just say what he knows he needs to say to get confirmed, do you? You know, like Clarence Thomas did?

The best guide to what kind of justice Alito will be is not what he says now that he's been nominated, but the decisions he has authored and signed onto in the past - and as it happens, these do not provide much reason for optimism.

I don't mean to condemn Ben Nelson too harshly; he hasn't yet said whether he will vote to confirm Alito or not. But if he thinks that Alito's word should be all the assurance we need that he won't help to turn the nation into a police state where men control their wives' reproductive organs and anybody standing in the wrong place at the wrong time is eligible for a strip-search, he needs to be set straight. As the Mad Biologist says, the Alito nomination should be "the ultimate litmus test for every Democrat" - no excuses.

Thank God for small favors

Alito's confirmation hearings won't start until January.

We need time if we're going to stop this one, and this buys us some.

By the way, Gilliard's not a racist, and neither are the Oreo-chuckers (if they actually exist)

Some folks on the Right weren't very happy with me when I declined to condemn Steve Gilliard for using what they thought was racist imagery. If you're not familiar with the whole thing, Gilliard Photoshopped a picture of black Republican Michael Steele to make it look as though Steele was wearing blackface, and nicknamed Steele "Simple Sambo." It should also be mentioned that the intention of the image wasn't to trick anyone into thinking that Steele actually had donned the blackface, and to my knowledge no one took it that way (it was a pretty crude Photoshop job).

The original post by Gilliard can be found here, but the image itself has been removed - not because, as Michelle Malkin claims, "conservative bloggers blew the whistle", but rather because the original image was actually copyrighted by the Washington Post and they asked him to remove it. Here's what it looked like:


Ha ha, whatever.

But wingnuts, delicate souls that they are, were highly offended, and declared that Gilliard was a "vicious racist" and a "piece of trash".

Well, if you haven't noticed, right-wingers are always whining about something, and while we like to be able to set them straight whenever possible, there's only so many hours in the day. Luckily, a couple of bloggers, Roy Edroso and Brad Plumer (HT: Blogometer), have taken on the thankless task of explaining what one would think wouldn't have to be explained to ostensive adults. First, Plumer:
Usually this stuff just deserves mockery, but oh, what the hell. It looks like every conservative on the planet has his/her knickers in a knock because black Maryland Democrats have been making "racially-tinged attacks" on Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, a black Republican running for Senate. Well, what of it? When it comes down to it, I don't think throwing Oreos at a politician—as Morgan State students did to Steele in 2002—is ever that productive. That's just me. But conservatives are calling it "racist". The trouble is that everyone seems to mean something different by the word. So...

Just hash out the background assumptions. Many liberals, give or take, believe some variation of the following: 1) power and inequality in this country matters a great deal, especially economic power; 2) black Americans, as a group, have very little power—economically and socially; 3) "racially-tinged" remarks are vile mainly insofar as they reinforce unjust power relations. So long as you believe these three things, then no, a black progressive calling a black politician "Sambo" won't be considered racist. It doesn't follow. Especially when he did it after Steele tacitly endorsed Gov. Ehrlich's appearance at an all-white country club.
And then Edroso, who humorously titles his post: "How come they can call each other 'nigger' and we can't?"
A bunch of wingers are mad because some black people made fun of some black people. Why, one black person even portrayed another black person as Sambo! This indignity causes the wingers to say stuff like this:
Therefore, it follows that a move away from the Democratic party is tantamount to a move away from black authenticity, a willful act that opens to attack those “race traitors” who have surrendered the protections that proceed from adherence to the dictates of the group’s identity. Which is to say, racial jabs are okay when they are aimed at those who’ve surrendered the protections offered by the group, because those who’ve left the group no longer meet the requirements for protected blackness.
This same guy likes to complain about "a culture of political correctness constantly on guard against giving offense," but when black people throw Oreos, it's time to regulate!

And... oh, I give up. This is like trying to develop an argument against people who think peppermints are made out of peppers and mints. If you don't see the difference between Caucasians doing these things to African-Americans, and AfAms doing them to other AfAms, then I can only suggest a remedial class in Life Itself.
Well, I guess Edroso kind of comes to the same conclusion I do - if you're not sharp enough to understand some things on your own, you're not going to understand when I explain them to you. But I do appreciate the fact that he seems to understand that as much as the Right bitches about "political correctness," they are actually its most vigilant enforcers nowadays.

(Incidentally, Oliver Willis wonders whether the Oreo-chucking incident ever really happened.)

They still don't get it

The National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez:
And why does the Left get to claim Rosa Parks? Brave American. Inspiring American. Does she need to become a liberal icon?
As Oliver Willis points out, she was a liberal, you stupid fucking twit. Rosa Parks worked for the NAACP, which Republicans are constantly dismissing as a left-wing organization, and for the very liberal congressman John Conyers.

But more importantly, almost everyone associated with the civil rights movement was on the left. As for those on the right ... well, let's see what conservative icon William F. Buckley (Joe Lieberman's pal, and the founder of the magazine that now publishes Lopez's nonsense) had to say at the time:
“The central question that emerges … is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not prevail numerically? The sobering answer is Yes – the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is a fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists.”

“National Review believes that the South’s premises are correct. … It is more important for the community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority.”

“The South confronts one grave moral challenge. It must not exploit the fact of Negro backwardness to preserve the Negro as a servile class. … Let the South never permit itself to do this. So long as it is merely asserting the right to impose superior mores for whatever period it takes to effect a genuine cultural equality between the races, and so long as it does so by humane and charitable means, the South is in step with civilization, as is the Congress that permits it to function.”
As for Brown v. Board of Education, Buckley's magazine, The National Review, published an editorial noting its ten-year anniversary:
“But whatever the exact net result in the restricted field of school desegregation, what a price we are paying for Brown! It would be ridiculous to hold the Supreme Court solely to blame for the ludicrously named ‘civil rights movement’ – that is, the Negro revolt … . But the Court carries its share of the blame.
What about Martin Luther King? Again, from the National Review:
“For years now, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and his associates have been deliberately undermining the foundations of internal order in this country. With their rabble-rousing demagoguery, they have been cracking the ‘cake of custom’ that holds us together. With their doctrine of ‘civil disobedience’ they have been teaching hundreds of thousands of Negroes … that it is perfectly all right to break the law and defy constituted authority if you are a Negro-with-a-grievance.
These are just a few samples of the sentiments of leading conservatives at the time of the "Negro revolt", but you get the idea. Given this history, it takes an extraordinary degree of chutzpah for right-wingers to angrily object to the characterization of Rosa Parks as a liberal icon, when they should just be keeping quiet and hoping that no one remembers or points out their shameful history.

(By the way, spare me your comments about Democrats filibustering the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Those Democrats were conservatives, and you know it. Besides, I never claimed that the Democratic Party's hands were clean. However, if you want to know which party is the party of contemporary racists, you'll note that 90% of blacks vote against the GOP every chance they get.)


UPDATE: The Madman says it better than I can.

11/02/2005

To filibuster, or not to filibuster?

Working from the premise that Alito is unacceptable and must be blocked, the real question is: how?

I've outlined one strategy below. I still think the goal should ultimately be to defeat Alito in the "up or down vote" the GOPers like to demand, but it will take time to drum up enough public opposition to him - time we might not have (Bush wants him confirmed before the New Year). Unless...

The filibuster option is starting to look a little more attractive (and plausible) to me. I haven't come to any solid conclusions, but what's nice about the filibuster is that, as Neil pointed out, you only need 41. Could we get 41? I don't know, but at this point it's almost certainly going to be easier to get 41 for a filibuster than 51 "no" votes on Alito (which is probably not even possible yet).

Everyone seems to assume, though, that a filibuster would trigger the so-called "nuclear option" (i.e., a rules change that would prohibit judicial filibusters altogether), thus clearing the way for Alito's confirmation.

I'm not so sure.

It's important to appreciate just how drastic a step this would be (it ain't called the "nuclear" option for nothing), and how questionable the legitimacy of such a move would be.

It isn't just a simple rules change. Normally, changing the rules requires a 2/3 majority, or 67 senators. Obviously, there's no way the GOP could get that many senators to "go nuclear". To get around this, the Republicans have to claim that judicial filibusters are not only a bad idea and should be eliminated - they have to claim that these filibusters are inherently unconstitutional. This, if I understand things correctly, would only require the support of a simple majority (51).

Of course, we're all wondering how judicial filibusters could be construed as being unconstitutional. Needless to say, there's nothing explicit in the Constitution prohibiting them. But hey, that's okay - we're not "strict constructionists," after all! I'm willing to listen if someone wants to argue that the Constitution prohibits judicial filibusters by implication.

The problem is, no one has made an acceptable case for this claim. There are two main lines of argument: (1) that allowing judicial filibusters creates a de facto 3/5 (60 vote) threshold for confirmation of judges, while the Constitution only requires a simple majority; (2) that "the Constitution calls for the Senate to advise and consent on the President's judicial nominees. And with Democrats blocking floor votes on these nominees, the Senate cannot do its duty" (link).

Let's take the second one first, because it's more easily dismissed. You might as well argue that the Senate is required to confirm any judge that is nominated, because otherwise they're not consenting like the Constitution told them to! And anyway, the Constitution doesn't order the Senate to advise and consent; it says that the president is to nominate judges "by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate." That's "advice and consent," not "advise and consent" - nouns, not verbs. Nitpicking? Maybe. But what's good for the goose and all. The Constitution places a condition on the president's ability to nominate judges - namely, that he must have the consent of the Senate.

Little brother Limbaugh and other wingnuts claim that
The Senate does not have coequal authority with the president on judicial appointments as the advice-and-consent function was not intended to confer veto power on the Senate.
Actually, veto power over judicial appointments is precisely what the advice and consent clause confers to the Senate. If A can't do X without B's consent, then B has veto power over A's doing X. To use an uncomfortable analogy, the law says that a man cannot have sex with a woman without her consent. How can this be construed as saying anything but that a woman has veto power over whether or not a man has sex with her?

So much for (2).

(1) isn't as stupid as (2), but it is still problematic. Essential to the GOP's "nuclear option" is that the rule change would be limited to judicial filibusters only. They insist that legislative filibusters wouldn't be affected, and in fact most nuclear proponents go out of their way to voice their support for legislative filibusters. But the exact same reasoning that they use to argue that judicial filibusters are unconstitutional would apply equally to legislative filibusters.

The Constitution doesn't explicitly state how many votes are required to confirm a judicial nominee, but Republicans argue that since the Constitution does explicitly state that a 2/3 majority is required for other matters, the fact that it doesn't say this with regard to judicial appointments is not an accidental omission, but rather a clear indication that they only intended for a simple majority to be necessary. And this actually does make sense. Here's the relevant clause:
He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States
So yeah, this clause says 2/3 are necessary to make a treaty, and then talks about judicial nominees in the same damn paragraph without specifying that anything more than a simple majority is needed. So arguably, the Framers meant that the consent of the Senate would be considered granted as long as there are more Yeas than Nays (not that their intention should matter - we're not believers in the "original intent" dogma, of course! - but let's just play by the other side's rules for the time being).

The same basic argument can easily establish, however, that the Framers also intended that passing legislation would require only a simple majority. Check out Article I, Section 7, Clause 2:
Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law.
So this specifies that a 2/3 majority is necessary to override a veto ... but it doesn't say that anything other than a simple majority is necessary to pass the legislation in the first place! Thus by the same chain of reason that led us to conclude that only a simple majority is required for judicial appointments, we can conclude that only a simple majority is required for general legislation.

But if the possibility of a judicial filibuster creates a de facto 3/5 threshold for judges, then by the same token the possibility of a legislative filibuster creates a de facto 2/3 threshold for legislation! And since the Constitution dictates that only a simple majority is needed for both judges and for legislation, if the de facto 3/5 threshold for judges is unconstitutional, so is the de facto 2/3 threshold for legislation!

Long story short: if the judicial filibuster is unconstitutional, so is the legislative filibuster. The former cannot be jettisoned while the latter is retained.

This alone doesn't force us to conclude that the nuclear option isn't proper, but it does demonstrate that it is much, much more radical than Republicans are pretending it is, as its underlying rationale challenges the constitutionality of the filibuster itself - it is not limited to judicial filibusters. It simply makes no sense for Republicans to simultaneously argue that judicial filibusters are unconstitutional but legislative filibusters are not.

*****

So what's the point of all this? The "nuclear option" is being treated much too casually, as a mere rules change, rather than the radical proposal that it is. The more widely understood this point becomes, the less likely it is that the GOP will be able to convince 51 senators to sign on to this craziness (though obviously it is still possible). Most of their senators won't give a damn, but the GOP still contains a handful of halfway-sane members who would probably be reluctant to do this, especially considering it could come back one day to bite them in the ass, if they ever return to the status of minority party. Will they really be willing to "go nuclear" just to save a nominee they probably don't much care for in the first place? Maybe, but maybe not. (And even if they do, it might be possible for Democrats to challenge the legitimacy of the move in court - but here my 'expertise', such as it is, runs out; I have no idea if this could actually be done.)

One final point (if anyone is still reading): the very idea that the Democrats shouldn't use the filibuster because the GOPers will nuke it is kind of, well, stupid, if you think about it. By this rationale, they should never use it, because whenever they do, it risks getting nuked. But if they never use it, it might as well not exist! The effect would be as if it had been nuked. Yeah, we'll still technically have the filibuster, but what's the point in having a weapon if you're never going to use it? That's as good as not having the weapon at all.


(Cross-posted at Liberal Street Fighter.)

Scrotum ≠ womb

Grace Nearing gives a wingnut a much-needed biology lesson.

Alito more conservative than Scalia?

That's what Slate's Dahlia Lithwick says, anyway.

I'm not sure which of Alito's opinions bothers me the most ... the one where he ruled that it was OK to strip-search a 10-year-old girl (HT: Scott Lemieux) because the police had a warrant to search her father?  Or the one where he expressed regret that the law makes a distinction between a fetus and a person?  Or the one where he declared that the state is permitted to require women to notify their husbands before obtaining an abortion?  Or the one .... well, you get the picture.  (All links via Bitch.)
 
We're about at the level of a crisis here.  This nomination must be stopped.
 
How, you ask?
 
Bork him.
 
Before all is said and done, Democrats should make sure that every voter in the nation understands that Supreme Court Justice Alito means an additional vote against Roe v. Wade - which, a majority of the public believes, should disqualify him from being on the Court.  They should also be aware that their senators are the ones who have the power to stop this, and should be held accountable if they vote to confirm him.
 
Rob at AMERICAblog has the right idea.  He's a bit more optimistic than I am, but he certainly perceives what the necessary means are to block this nomination:
 

Initial reaction to Scalito? The public is already on our side ... If it becomes clear Alito would vote to reverse Roe v. Wade, Americans would not want the Senate to confirm him, by 53% to 37%.

If most Senate Democrats oppose the nomination and decide to filibuster against Alito, 50% of Americans believe they would be justified, while 40% say they would not ...

Good news all around. And we're just starting. With the appropriate sized TV campaign, we're going to win this one hands down. But it will take a large, sustained, TV campaign. Moveon.org 's one off campaigns are great, but this one needs to be up on the air for the duration - 2 to 3 months, every day. It's going to cost millions of dollars, and it will be worth every penny. Consider it a down payment on 2006.

...the public is behind the Democrats right now, looking to them for leadership.

However, the Left often screws up just about now. They look at this kind of poll, say that the public is on our side, and then just watch when the Republicans start to a) lie regularly, and b) put up millions of dollars in lying ad campaigns. After $20 million TV campaigns, people change their minds. At the end of the day, the Left is always looking around trying to figure out what happened. Please let's not do this here.

But it's a good day, we are already winning this one

Credit where credit's due

Some say that if you spend a lot of time criticizing people when they do something wrong, you should also be sure to praise them when they do something right. This may be true.

With that in mind, I'd like to call for a round of applause for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who (temporarily, at least) grew a spine yesterday.

Now keep it up!

11/01/2005

Alito is unacceptable

Democrats have absolutely no excuse for not doing everything they possibly can to see to it that this man never reaches the Supreme Court. There is no reason not to pull out all the stops on this one. Any senator who refuses to do so should be punished severely.

Bitch Ph.D. has a great post explaining the threat that Alito represents.


...Mike the Mad Biologist agrees that Democrats have no business helping Alito onto the Court:
Alito is the ultimate litmus for every Democrat: I don't want to hear excuses for someone like Ben Nelson of Nebraska. No one breaks on this one. If a Democrat doesn't stand against this wackjob, then we need to pull a 'Scooter' and throw said Democrat under the bus.

Digby's catastrophe strategy

Great post by Digby, responding to the idea that it would ultimately be for the best if Roe v. Wade were overturned:
I'm reading a lot of comments in the blogosphere saying things like this today:

"...we'd be far better off politically if Roe were overturned and Griswold were curbed. And if a couple states -- say Kansas and Alabama -- enacted medieval restrictions that made the rest of the country puke."

This is a great idea and I don't know why we don't use it for everything. For instance, why don't we stop talking about torture ... Once people become aware of this medieval behavior, they will "puke" and step in to do something about it, right? Isn't that how it works? When the right pulls some outrageous stunt, the country stands up en masse and rejects it.

There is a lot of action on the right these days about due process. If we just keep very quiet about the threat to habeas corpus and the right to confront your accuser, trial by jury of your peers --- all of these fundamental constitutional rights, people will see how bad it is when our system of justice becomes "medieval" and then they will rebel.

Following this strategy, we should allow the Republicans to have their way on tort reform and consumer rights. Once people get ripped off badly enough they will look at the Republicans and see that they don't have their best interests at heart and they will vote for us instead. Indeed, I think that we should carefully consider whether or not it's smart to keep harping on tax policy too, for that matter. If we let the Republicans completely bankrupt the country so that we have a catastrophic economic meltdown, destroy social security and medicare, all those old, poor and unemployed people on the streets will surely wake people up. It will probably make them puke.

More on the preferability of Miers

I want to respond to a couple of comments that were made about my remarks suggesting that Miers would have been a preferable Supreme Court Justice to Alito (even though this is basically a moot point, it does hold lessons for the approach we ought to take to Bush's judicial nominations). First, here is what Socialist Swine had to say:
Having supported Miers would have been would have been unwise to say the least.

1) No one knew anything about her views, do you really want to support someone just because they might not be an uber righty?

2) While she might be less far right than Alito, she still leans pretty far to the right if her choice in friends says anything about her political beliefs. Supporting her would be an act of capitulation.

3) Supporting Miers would have made the Democrats look like they're willing to support a nepotistic appointee with questionable qualifications for partisan reasons.

I think that the Democrats should have actually fought against the nomination of Miers and I think they should fight the appointment of Alito. I think they should fight tooth and nail against every nomination unless the nominee is someone that is a real moderate (rather than a moderate right winger).
With regard to 1), I wouldn't want to support someone per se just because they might not be an ultra-conservative. However, if we are faced with the choice between Justice A, who might be an ultra-conservative - or might not be - and Justice B, who we know is an ultra-conservative, I think it would be patently irrational not to prefer Justice A, all things being equal. At least that way, there's a chance we might not end up with a Scalia clone on the court; with the other option, there's (basically) no chance at all. How could we possibly prefer the latter?

On 2), I suppose there is some sense in which supporting Miers would have been capitulating. But here's the thing: the Democrats are going to capitulate anyway. They will, I guarantee it. Alito is as good as on the court already, assuming nothing earth-shattering is learned about him. If there's going to be a capitulation, I'd prefer capitulating with someone like Miers, who again might have turned out not to be another Scalia, as opposed to capitulating on Alito, who definitely is another Scalia.

With 3), I don't know whether this is true or not, but even if it is, it doesn't matter much. I care much more about the make-up of the Court, and the decisions it will make that will have an effect on people's lives - including women's fundamental right to self-determination - than I do about how the Democrats look to the public, though I do care about that too (and I might care more if I thought that the Democratic Party could sink much lower in the estimation of the electorate).

I too would prefer that the Dems "fight tooth and nail against every nomination unless the nominee is someone that is a real moderate," but that simply is not going to happen. Again, they are going to capitulate, the question is just who we end up with as a Justice when they do capitulate. It could have been Miers; now it will be Alito.

Jacob Deems also disagreed with me about the preferability of Miers over Alito:
people on the right side of the sphere are claiming that Democrats should have supported Miers to stave off the kind of nomination that Alito represents, and some on the left agree. That is a whimsical assertion based on farcical political grounds. Miers had no experience, and no qualifications other than her close alliance with the President.

So, I am to assume that as progressives we'd rather have an inexperienced, unqualified, presidentially loyal hack on the bench than a highly qualified conservative. I wholeheartedly disagree.

Although I think Alito is a conservative ideologue who will put such important issues as women's rights, and civil liberties at risk, he is beyond a shadow of a doubt experientially qualified and intellectually weighty enough to sit on the Supreme Court.

His nomination will breeze through, and if we are basing our judgments purely on qualifications, it no doubt should.
This strikes me as an extraordinary claim, and an approach to the judiciary that we should avoid at all costs. It's not that "we'd rather have an inexperienced, unqualified, presidentially loyal hack on the bench than a highly qualified conservative"; it's that we'd rather have an inexperienced, unqualified, presidentially loyal hack on the bench who might not sign over the rights to women's bodies to the whims of mostly male legislatures than a "highly qualified" (whatever that means) conservative who almost certainly will do so.

I take it what Jacob is saying is that judicial experience trumps ideology when it comes to the Supreme Court. I cannot imagine why anyone would think that we should accept such a principle. Again, women's right to control their own bodies is on the line here, and if ensuring that right means accepting a nominee with less judicial experience, then so be it. I'm not convinced that judicial experience is all that important anyway.

Think about: suppose you were able to choose the next Supreme Court Justice, but it had to be one of two people: Priscilla Owen, or Elizabeth Edwards (John Edwards' wife). Is there any progressive in their right mind who wouldn't choose the latter? Yet Owen is without a doubt more "experientially qualified" for such a job than is Edwards. But why should this matter?

George W. Bush was (arguably) more "experientially qualified" for the presidency than was John Kerry, in the sense than Bush had already been president for four years, while Kerry never had. Would any self-respecting progressive actually have preferred Bush on these grounds?

I'm not saying experience is irrelevant; if we were faced with a choice between two progressive justices, one of whom had extensive experience and one of whom didn't, then perhaps the former would be preferable. But given the choice between an "experientially qualified" conservative and a progressive with no experience, I'd take the progressive every single time.

Now, Miers was no progressive, of course. But as stated above, she would probably be less conservative than Alito; if given the chance to overturn Roe, she might have declined to do so, while Alito almost certainly will. And yes, given the choice between an "experientially qualified" nominee who is definitely an uber-conservative and a nominee with no experience who is something of a question mark, but almost certainly not as conservative, I'll take the latter every single time.

Frankly, progressives have a responsibility to do everything possible to keep conservatives off the Court. They are a menace to the basic freedoms of all citizens. Barring that, we have to at least try to ensure that we end up with the least conservative justices possible. I don't give a damn about experience; an experienced right-wing wacko who won't guarantee women's reproductive freedom is not qualified for the Supreme Court, as far as I'm concerned; I don't care if he's got a hundred times the experience of anyone else.


UPDATE: Brian Leiter has some relevant thoughts:
Let us recall the words of Judge Posner, an honest man:
I don't object to the fact that Senators are concerned about the ideology of judicial candidates; the President is concerned, so why shouldn't the Senators be? Anyone who is realistic about the American judicial process knows that ideology affects decisions, especially the 'hot button' decisions that engage the attention of politicians; and Senators are politicians.
While some number of cases that reach the highest stages of appellate review--namely, the U.S. Supreme Court--will demand only technical legal skills for their resolution, a significant number will, as Judge Posner correctly notes, demand moral and political judgment, and thus will engage the "ideology" of the judge. Every grown-up knows this, of course, which is why there is such a fierce political battle over the appointment of someone who will, on a range of issues, act as a super-legislator. I assume no Democrat would vote for Bush or Alito for President; there is no reason, then, why they should vote for him as a super-legislator.

I get letters

Some joker apparently took the liberty of signing me up for Michelle Malkin's e-mailing list. Either that, or the Malkins just put anybody who ever emails them on the list (even though they don't bother to respond to my emails!). Or, I put myself on the list for some reason, but I don't remember doing that. At any rate, I received this missive from Ms. Malkin, and I thought I would share it with you:
Dear Dada,

Today's the official launch date for my new book, Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild:



I had fun with this one (wait 'til you see the back cover) and think you'll enjoy it--or, if you're on the other side of the aisle, you'll enjoy hating it.

I'll probably have to say this a million times, and those predisposed to attack the book (without reading it, natch) will ignore it, but I do not argue that we on the Right have never gone overboard in political word or deed. The book is about turning MSM conventional wisdom on its head and showing that the standard caricature of conservatives as angry/racist/bigoted/violence-prone crackpots is a much better description of today's unhinged liberals than of us.

You know how the NYTimes assigns a reporter (David Kirkpatrick) to cover conservatives like aliens from another planet? Well, this book turns the tables. I'm your conservative Margaret Mead covering the unhinged creatures of the Left like Australian aborigines. Kinda the same way Maureen Dowd writes about men...without all the bitterness.

If you're interested, I'm scheduled to appear on Sean Hannity's radio show this afternoon and The O'Reilly Factor tonight. I'll be on Fox & Friends, Fox News' Dayside, Catherine Crier Live, and Scarborough Country tomorrow. I'll let you know if Air America calls.

Best,
Michelle Malkin

10/31/2005

Ditto

I'm forced to agree with Slublog (a conservative):
The Democrats are pretty upset about the nomination of Samuel Alito. They only have themselves to blame. Harriet Miers was about the most moderate candidate the left was likely to get from the Bush administration, and instead of supporting her, the Democrats watched conservatives fight over her nomination and quietly rejoiced in what they believed was a conservative crack-up.

...If the Democrats had wanted an O'Connor, they should have spoken up in support of Miers and forced her nomination into committee, and onto the floor for a vote ... The Democrats have made a habit of opposing everything this president does or says. With Miers, it cost them.
Sad but true, I'm afraid - assuming Alito gets through (which he will).

It is possible to derail this nomination, but the Senate Democrats won't take the necessary steps to do so. They could, but they won't.

Sloppy seconds

I think this is actually pretty funny.
CBS White House correspondent John Roberts has apologized for saying this during today's gaggle time:

Roberts: "Scott, you said that- or the President said, repeatedly. that Harriet Miers was the best person for the job. So does that mean Alito is sloppy seconds, or what?

Roberts: "I apologize to anyone who took offense to my poor choice of words. I can assure you I meant none."
Almost as funny as Howard Dean's remark about playing 'hide the salami'.

Who's up for a bad joke about this being the scariest Halloween ever?

Bush nominates "Scalito" to the Supreme Court.

I'll have to look over his record before coming to any firm conclusions, but my initial reaction was that Democrats should have done more to try to get Harriet Miers through.

10/30/2005

Looking forward

In news that will make Neil the Werewolf happy, there are signs that John Edwards is laying the groundwork, as they say, for a 2008 run for president.
Edwards works on possible bid in 2008

(...)

-He is traveling the country, trying to rally college students to the cause of fighting poverty in the U.S.

-He is presiding over a new poverty center at the University of North Carolina.

-He is laying the groundwork for a possible return to the political spotlight as a presidential candidate in 2008.

A little bit of all three was on his mind when he made a stop at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

"I'm in a very forward-looking, positive state of mind," said Edwards, while hundreds of students began to assemble in a nearby common. "I mean, being able to take on a big cause in a really serious way is an extraordinary thing."

...

Edwards is focused on poverty, a theme that emerged from his childhood as a son of a mill worker. It was the basis for his stump speech about the "two Americas" he saw emerging as the wealthy pulled away from the less fortunate.

"When I saw up close what was happening to them, honestly I remember thinking to myself, man, given my personal background, without a little luck, I could be in the same place a lot of these people are," Edwards said.

Hurricane Katrina, he believes, opened the rest of the country's eyes to the plight of the hidden poor in places such as Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

"The hard question is will that window of opportunity stay open or will it close?" Edwards said. "I think whether it stays open depends on whether we have people like these college students who take it on as a cause."

Altruism aside, the poverty work also provides Edwards a platform to maintain his political viability.

He spoke this year at the annual steak fry organized by Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin in first caucus state Iowa.

Also, Edwards has avoided making the pledge that Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., made after he and presidential nominee Al Gore lost the 2000 race to Republicans George W. Bush and Dick Cheney: Edwards refuses to declare that he will forgo his own White House bid in 2008 if Kerry decides to run again.
There is much I like about Edwards; I especially appreciate his unabashedly populist approach to politics.

His response to the Iraq war remains an issue, though. Edwards voted with the majority (and with fellow presidential possibilities John Kerry and Hillary Clinton) to give Bush the authority to invade. This is bad enough, but wouldn't be as much of a problem if he would come out against the war now, and in no uncertain terms, or admit that he regretted his vote, as Kerry did recently. But to my knowledge, he hasn't done these things.

Of course, Iraq could cease to be an issue by 2008, though that wouldn't be my prediction. If the war is still going on, though, I imagine any candidate who's not unambiguously opposed to it will have a tough time in the primaries (which is not to say they couldn't still prevail).

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