kurt's nightmare

Generally, I post once a week. Topics are randomly selected and depend mostly upon whether it's baseball season or not. Other topics will include sex, politics, old girlfriends, music, and whatever else pops into my little brain. If you'd like to read, or ignore, my blog about China: http://meidabizi.blogspot.com/

Location: Dayton, OH, Heard & McDonald Islands

I'm an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Dayton. I represent no one but myself, and barely do that. I'm here mostly by accident.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Slam Dunks and Predictibility

A good political blogger, BarbinMD, who is linked at the DailyKos, had the following title to her entry on the Sotomayor nomination

Predictable Attacks Against Sotomayor Begin

After which she (?) listed a number of standard comments, disturbingly predictable, about Sotomayor. You can find it yourself if you want to read this dreariness.

I had been thinking exactly the same thing. A couple of weeks ago, on the NPR syndicated radio show (one of those that actually allows guests, and callers, with different perspectives on the show, and doesn't involve "dittoes" [or "megadittoes"], caller abortions, the term "Feminzazis," or the expressed desire for the current President to fail), there was a discussion about the upcoming nomination.

For the conservatives, Richard Viguerie spoke. A standard-bearer of the conservatives, and "King of Direct Mail" (hey, if it works, fine, but it's kind of an embarrassing way for a grown man to make a living), said various things, none of which were surprising: this will be an ideological battle—which conservatives always win [apparently distinct, then, from electoral battles]—a teaching opportunity for conservatives, wants a judge who will be a strict constructionist, etc., etc..

This was, of course, before anyone (including Obama) knew who the nominee would be.

Today, Vigurie was back on the same show, to discuss the same topic.

He offered, virtually word-for-word, the same critique:
this will be an ideological battle—which conservatives always win, a teaching opportunity for conservatives, wants a judge who will be a strict constructionist, etc., etc.. He did take the time to note that Sotomayor was a "leftist extremist."

It made me think it really wouldn't have mattered who Obama had nominated; Vigurie could (literally) have phoned in his remarks. Unless, perhaps, Obama had nominated Frank Easterbrook (aka Easterbunny, and unlikely). As one caller noted, elections have consequences. I think you should take it like a man, Dick.

Some day I may write here about what I think is all-too-often taken as uncontroversial: namely, some kind of coherent distinction between "strict constructionism" and "judicial activism/interpretation." I doubt if that distinction can be made in any kind of consistent way that wouldn't make a judge who sticks to some version of "strict constructionism" sound like a madman.

I will note that years ago I read a piece by H. Jefferson Powell (I think that's the name; I'm doing this from memory) in the Stanford Law Review (again, I think that's right), on what the Founding Fathers thought of "strict constructionism."

Turned out, if we are to abide by their views and use the narrowest of interpretations, we better be prepared to be confused. For a strict interpretation of their view of strict interpretation seems to be that such strict interpretation was nonsense. Go figure.

The last administration had its slam dunk: George Tenet declaring that was the way to characterize the many WMD in Iraq.

This administration has its first (maybe the last, maybe not) slam dunk: Sotomayor being confirmed as the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

Nice contrast, don't you think?


Blogger Bazarov said...

The talking heads on the right are just to the right of Genghis Kahn. They don't get elected (well, sometimes), but they move the effective center. Where are their counterparts on the left? Oh yeah, they're called the intelligentsia. The problem is never has this group been minded for prolonged periods of time throughout history (Mr. Paine comes to mind). Whenever their messages fit the ruling's ideas, then they're given lip service, but otherwise they're ignored. When Russell says something in support of a government action, for example, it's touted, but when he speaks against wars he's arrested. Nice. Plus, reading and thinking takes time. Humans have domesticated themselves as we domesticated animals, and have outsourced our thinking and reading duties to clergymen and/or conmen (depending on how you look at those professions). Thinking's a drag, afterall.

This is a country with two right wing parties. It's next to impossible to get most people here to see that. But then again, I'm one of those [enter stereotyped mindless mantra from overpaid, intellectually devoid douchebags] lefties.

What's really disturbing me is the doublethink and doublespeak going on. A lot of people I work with listen to Hannity and Limbaugh. If you actually pay attention to what Hannity says and have any grasp on reality, you'll suffer real mental anguish (I'm sure the Germans have a word for it). That man has such a deluded view of the world it's frightening. How, for example, can you claim to be a Christian and be pro-war, pro-torture--sorry, enhanced interrogation methods (Orwell is spinning in his grave faster than a SlapChop), and multimillion dollar capitalist? Wasn't Christ all about giving to the poor (it is after all easier to pass a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven), loving your enemies, and helping the less fortunate? If Christ came back, Hannity, Limbaugh, and the rest would be the new Grand Inquisitors.

I don't know much about the pick, but she seems light years ahead of the first pick W chose. Who was it, his former babysitter? The only hope is that the overall trend in history has been one of progression and leftist tendencies gaining strength. Let us hope fear mongering only gets them talk show appearances and no real policy power, though we've already got a war from it.

10:56 PM  
Blogger bmackintosh said...

I am not hearing any real substantial objections to Madam Sotomayor, except from the fringe concerning her "racist" statement. From here she seems like a pretty good candidate, thoughtful, experienced, not on the Fringe Left like Lani Gunier, whom I would consider a person with a biased agenda. Not so with Sotomayor, despite that one comment.

8:50 AM  
Blogger kmosser said...

Guinier may have an agenda, for sure, but she also wasn't well served by how the media presented her views. I wonder if our conception of her positions is based on reading her and hearing her, or reading about her and hearing about her.

10:33 PM  
Blogger bmackintosh said...

My conception is based on reading about her, and a few selected speeches and quotes from her. I feel that her views on cumulitive voting are mostly to usher in more minorities and under-represented peoples in our legislative bodies. Not necessarily a bad outcome, but I feel a democratic system should be a reflection of the views of a population as a whole.
An entire process should not be "hardwired" simply to give a larger voice to a particular minority group. She has a point with her "tyranny of the majority," but that is why the Bill of Rights is in place, to curb the tyranny.

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