Thursday, July 14, 2005

And we're only six months into the second term

The hour has finally arrived for the balance on the Supreme Court to be tilted to the right. I know a number of people who are greatly concerned about the upcoming fight for the confirmation of John Roberts, and I don't doubt that it will a long and important political battle. But I can't help but feel that this skirmish was lost 8 months ago when 60,000 too many people in Ohio voted to re-elect George W. Bush. The man had made it perfectly clear that he admired justices like Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, the so-called Strict Constructionists who believe that 2oth-century jurisprudence has distorted the original meaning and intent of the U.S. constitution. Roberts is a radical, but he is unlikely to be blocked by a Democratic minority of 44 Senators who will be under immense political pressure to approve unless Roberts is shown to have cuddled children in Neverland with Michael Jackson, or if, God forbid, the religious right discovers something it doesn't like about him, like maybe he only goes to church six times a week, the heathen. But that is unlikely, since he is a rabid foe of Roe v. Wade and that's half of what the fundamentalists care about anyway.

The movement Roberts will help move forward has been called the Constitution-in-Exile, and they intend to vastly alter the landscape of politics and law in this country. Say goodbye to privacy, labor law, and the oversight of interstate commerce. Wave farewell to Miranda, and forget about gay marriage and gay rights. The Democrats can do all the framing and public-relations massaging they can muster, but in the end the Republicans have the votes and they intend to use them. And don't forget that Rehnquist is gone soon and that John Paul Stevens is in his 80s. We will not get the Supreme Court back for a very long time. If a Democrat is ever elected to national office, or if the party regains control of Congress, expect them to have to deal with a judicial branch as hostilee to Democratic interests as the it was to Republican interests when Richard Nixon took office.

Remember also that the Supreme Court decision granting some due process to the Guantanomo detainees was close too, though it wasn't 5-4. Justice Roberts would surely have voted with the fundamentalist minority to detain everyone in Guantanamo until there are no terrorist acts anywhere in the known universe.

Some conservatives outside the judicial branch have advanced the absurd claim that we shouldn't have to treat detainees or suspects with due process and humanity because they certerainly wouldn't do the same for us. This transparently infantile claim is what passes for advanced argumentation from Neocon Central Command. Here's a question: why did we treat German and Japanese POW's decently during the second world war? It certainly isn't because we thought they were going to feed American prisoners hot dogs, apple pie, and fresh milk every night after a long day of vigorous exercise. The Bataan Death March happened very early on in the war, and there was a reasonable expectation that treatment would not exactly be luxurious. Still, we didn't break out the dogs or flush sic Lyndie England on them, because it was the right thing to do. The idea that decency is all about reciprocity betrays the conservatives' very thin attachment to their so-called "values."

And let's be honest, those values are pretty thin to begin with. Waltz over to the National Review and witness the countless articles they published just in their online version defending the scumball turncoat Karl Rove, a man who outed an undercover CIA agent to shut up one of the administration's critics. They use a hairsplitting defense to argue that well, shucks, he may not be indicted for his offense, and like, she wasn't undercover at the time, so like, well, Saint Karl did nothing wrong, and there's no reason for him to get fired or even reprimanded, after all it's that liar Joe Wilson, blah blah blah, I fell asleep at the keyboard because you can pretty much predict the party line over there three days in advance of any story. The WMDs, the Bush Guard story, the Downing Street Memo, Rove, whatever, it's always the same, "That's not a story, don't you remember that Lewinksy lady and the blow job and the cigars, now that was a story!"

Thin values, thin skin. Republicans are the biggest bitching, thin-skinned whiners on the face of the Earth, worse than Gary Sheffield at the trade deadline. Last Sunday Hillary Clinton made the entirely appropriate comparison of our dumbshit president to Alfred E. Neuman, and the Republicans went Kenny Rogers on her, as if she had accused the President of inflicting his own war wounds or something, like the Swiftboat Liars (brought to you by Karl Rove) did to John Kerry. This from the reprehensible party of cowards that sanctioned wearing purple band-aids at the Republican National Convention to mock Kerry's heroism. Clinton's Senate rival complained that she was "insulting the president" when she should be busy doing other things, like preparing to kick his ass in next year's senate race. Insulting the president? Dear me, the proles are really getting out of line, aren't they? How dare they make a joke about Dear Leader? Haven't they ever heard of Extraordinary Rendition?

Nothing embodies that thin-skinned persecution complex than the so-called Academic Bill of Rights Movement, also known as the You Can't Make Me Learn Nuthin' Perfesser Bill For the Elimination of Liberal Academics. David Horowitz's martyrdom operation has come to Pennsylvania, where the state House passed a version of the academic rights bill. You can bet this has nothing to do with the "rights" of students and everything to do with using the moment of GOP ascendance to obliterate the last institutional bastion of leftism in the United States. Horowitz and his pet outfit, Students For Academic Freedom are full of half-baked and unverified claims of students being ideologically abused by their allegedly left-wing professors, and while I'm sure some of it is true, much of it isn't. And someone needs to tell the lawmakers currently carrying water for these right-wing zealots that the plural of "anecdote" is not "data."

So enjoy the Restoration, people. The next useful thing you can do is kick Rick Santorum out of the Senate. Go contribute to Bob Casey. Yes, I know he's anti-choice, but he's going to win the primary, and then he's going to beat Santorum. And frankly, you can kiss national abortion rights goodbye anyway, so you'd better start familiarizing yourself with state politics if you don't want James Dobson controlling your uterus.

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New format
While I presume that most people have stopped reading this thing due to the paucity of posts, I'm going to unveil a new post here that I hope to stick to. Future posts are going to take the form of a weekly essay on national and world affairs, which is a better fit for me, since I was long accustomed to writing at that pace in college, and anyway, I don't have that much to say about the minutia of daily politics -- Karl Rove's frogmarch out of the White House, or riders on appropriations bills, that sort of thing. So anyway, I hope you'll stick with me, and I'll have the first essay up in a day or two.

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