Archive

  • Demagogues

    About an hour ago, Sen. John Cornyn gave a speech that said: "I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. Certainly nothing new, but we seem to have run through a spate of courthouse violence recently that's been on the news and I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in - engage in violence." [Senate Floor, 4/4/05] Considering the circumstances of the shootings, no, probably not. But if the situation were different, we know who to blame for it, right? I'll give you a hint: It's not the judges, who do their jobs as arbiters unaccountable to the voters and beholden solely to the constitution. It's the politicians, who have forgotten their roles as deliberators and assumed...
  • Kill the Courts

    Jesse's got some great comments on Duncan's confusion as to why the GOP wants to destroy the judiciary. Read them. Love them. His basic point is that if you destroy the judiciary, the country will ride with the whim of the people. Ignorant legislators profiting from backlash politics can work their obscene magic on the government free from robed authorities stepping forward to outlaw the unconstitutional, or the just plain insane. Considering the portion of the Christian Right's agenda that checks the "unconstitutional" and "insane" boxes, that's a Good Thing. But there's a break in conservative thought on the judiciary, though it's a public, not private, one. A fair number of conservatives are personally uncomfortable with the Christian Right but aware of their electoral and political importance. So they comfort themselves with the knowledge that the nuttier pieces of theocracy thrown out by evangelicals (and the true believers they sometimes elect) will be blocked by the judicial...
  • Mad as Hell, etc.

    Duncan's got a plan : If I were running CNN, once I fired most of the people that worked there and replaced them with decent TV journalists, I'd get rid of their little daily blog show and replace it with the "Fox News Fuckup of the day." They could just steal it from Media Matters. Then I'd add a "crazy shit people are hearing on talk radio which aren't true" segment. I don't know how his blog ads are doing, but I figure it'll be awhile before he can steal "America's Most Trusted Name in News". His idea, however, should be stolen from him. Again. Because Fox took it once already. That, after all, is what "fair and balanced" was. It's not aimed at simply providing ready fodder for Fox-haters looking for easy jokes. It's aimed at the rest of the media. "Fair and balanced", as a tagline, is a jab at what the others aren't. The others are liberal. America-hating. Soft. Unbalanced, unfair. Not patriotic enough. So Fox carved out a new definition of fair -- a conservative, nationalistic...
  • Penny With Our Thoughts

    Instinctively, I agree with Suzanne Nossel -- America should be pushing hard on Mugabe to make Zimbabwe's next elections actually fee and fair, rather than the brutal mockeries they currently are. For that matter, we should be leaning on Thabo Mbeki -- and I mean leaning hard -- until he withdraws his support and legitimation from anything less than a true step forward. But how popular are we in Zimbabwe? How about South Africa? Will American pressure be a publicly justifiable reason for Mugabe to consolidate his power? Will it allow Mbeki to fall into mindless pan-Africanism? Seems, if not certain, pretty possible. In Africa, like many other places, American history has essentially shredded the moral authority we think ourselves to have. It's the Iran-effect -- what we did half-a-century ago, though forgotten by us, still scars those we did it too. So mounting our soapbox and calling for reform only occasionally has the intended impact, oftentimes it simply allows the target to turn...
  • Bush vs. Workers

    The Bush administration is renewing, or at least redoubling, its assault on labor. Now organized unions will face more audits, tougher scrutiny, and a host of other small obstacles and shackles meant to distract them from representing their workers. This, of course, comes on the heels of the NLRB's decision to focus on card checks -- the universally accepted way to form a union -- and the Bush administration's intervention against a California law barring employers from using taxpayer funds to run antiunion campaign. Sirota's got the story .
  • No Ideas (That We'll Tell You About)

    Brownstein's got a nice piece today walking readers through the traps and pitfalls of a Republican dominated government. He does not -- thank God -- fall on the old and idiotic claim that Democrats lack ideas, instead claiming, correctly, that our ideas are remaining bottled: The Democrats' biggest problem is that they don't have a viable means to spotlight or forge a party consensus behind these ideas. Unless they can recruit Republican defectors, Democrats can't force the serious legislative debate on their initiatives that would attract news coverage and public attention. Democrats simply have failed to woo enough Republicans to create such opportunities. That's meant congressional Democrats have been able to express their beliefs almost solely by blocking Bush proposals. As a party, they have had few opportunities to explain what they are for, only what they are against. Which is all entirely true, as is his next point, that our inability to grab press for our ideas has left the...
  • Thanks

    Thanks, as always, to our rocking contributors, Michael and Heather at Here's What's Left . Go say hi if you get a moment.
  • See ya

    Thanks for reading everyone. It's been fun. If you've enjoyed our rantings or ravings this weekend, please feel free to come visit us over at HWL . -- Michael and Heather
  • Can we have a real discussion about liberal academics?

    Over at our place , we've been pretty preoccupied with the "liberal academy" topic for about a week now...I'm not satisfied with the single-phrase explanations for liberal faculties ("We're more open-minded" or "Conservatives like money more"), though perhaps many of these ideas contain bits of truth. But we need to start working on a more comprehensive explanation. This stuff is important because when you add up all the pieces of this debate—the nature of the political makeup of faculty, the question of hiring biases, the question of whether liberals are “smarter” or whether they think they’re smarter, the “academic freedom” movement, the growth of organizations that help oppressed students stand up to their tyrannical profs when they receive a shitty grade on a shitty essay—what this is all about is the general discrediting of higher learning. And that, boys and girls, is not good. Today I bring you a little gem courtesy of my favorite academic crusader and yours, David Horowitz,...
  • More thoughts on the nuclear option

    You might have seen that various conservatives are trying to rename the "nuclear option" the "constitutional option." It's dumb frame, and it should be ceaselessly ridiculed. Indeed, the term "constitutional option" is so vague as to be meaningless. Apparently, the cons who are propogating the term relying on Article 1, Section 5, Clause 2 of the US Constitution : Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings[...] (For an interesting take on how exactly this applies and when, see these two excellent posts by Kagro X at The Next Hurrah ). Sure, the constitution says that the Senate can change its rules, but it can also keep the ones that it has. So keeping the current rules is just as "constitutional" an option as changing them is. In fact, anything the Senate does, as long as it falls under the purview of their constitutional duties, is, a priori , a "constitutional option." It's a transparently dumb frame. They might as well have called it the "American option" or the "...

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