Thursday, January 12, 2006

Losing the Alito's?

Brooksie chimes in on the idea that the Dems are wandering the political wilderness because they lost the "Sam Alito" types, you know, the white ethnics.

Well, I don't know. The Sam Alito's of Trenton (my hometown) might have been voting Dem when they were younger, back in America's "Golden Age", before desegregation, but the Dems, if memory serves me correctly, were also getting smoked election after election in NJ during that time, too. Jersey was a nice, red, Republican state for decades.

Not no more.

Republican Dewey won the state in 1948, Ike both times he ran in 1952 and 1956. Kennedy and then Johnson carried the state for the Dems in 1960 and 1964, but from 1968 to 1988, the Republican standard bearer won the state, with votes closely paralleling that of the nation as a whole. Dems have won it ever since, by 7 points in 2004, when that "liberal" Kerry ran.

And oh, the governor is a Dem as are the state's two U.S. senators, and as is the state legislature.

Maybe the Dems have lost their "Alito's" to the Republicans in NJ, but they're winning anyway.

Nuking Up

I know I'm supposed to be a dutiful American and Upholder of the Supremecy of Western Values, being a white, Christian-bred, Jersey-born guy and all, but I can't help but think that the U.S. and its "allies" are being just a tad bit hypocritical in their reactions when nations like Iran and North Korea pursue nuclear technology, when, after all, we have the stuff, too. And we've used it.

Does it occur to anyone that the only legitimate anti-proliferation policy is to completely disarm ourselves first? If we didn't have them, it seems to me we would be in a much more credible position to take whatever action was necessary against a country seeking to establish the means to build nuclear weaponry.

Until then, I don't see why it isn't in a country's best interests to arm themselves with whatever technology and means is available.

Of course, maybe I'm just naive, and that given the technology and science that is accessible, total nuclear disarmament is impossible--if a country wants nuclear weapons there will always be the science and the means to acquire them. On the other hand, unlike other uncoventional weapons--like biological and chemical weapons--nuclear technology is pretty limited in the effort it takes to construct a nuclear weapon. It can't just be done under the cover of night in a garage. There's a considerable amount of work and construction that goes on to make them deliverable.

But in any event, I don't see the justification for the West's position here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

What I Wish I Had Said

Lance Mannion:

Hollywood's Republicanism as expressed in its movies and certainly its Right Wing Authoritarianism are NOT conservative.

But then even when Republicanism was a lot more sympathetic to traditional Conservativism than it is now, it was never truly conservative because of its faith and championing of unfettered Free Market Capitalism, which is a progressive force not a conservative one.

Progressive is not synonymous with Liberal or with goodness and niceness.

Exhibit Number One: Shopping malls.

What most contemporary Republicans call conservative in themselves is really just authoritarianism. There is nothing conservative about that because of how easily them exempt themselves from the rules they lay down for others to follow.

Divorce is wrong, except mine which was necessary and proves my last marriage didn't count.

Mothers should stay home and take care of the kids, except my wife who is bringing in 6 figures and so we can hire a really good nanny who is not a person in her own right, merely the incarnation of our love for our kids, and so we get credit for being involved parents through her.

Homosexuality is wrong and gay marriage a threat to society, except for my brother and his partner, who aren't really gay.

Duty comes before self, which is why your kids should be proud to die in Iraq but my kids have the opportunity to go to law school so leave them alone.


All the supposed "traditional" values the Right preaches are rules for keeping the plebes in line.

Real conservatives do not exempt themselves from the rules. In fact, they believe in holding themselves to a stricter standard---real conservatives believe that it is the job of the elite and the privileged to set an example not just to make rules.

See this fine post by Shakespeare's Sister.

Movies are Republican in the way they celebrate the joys of Free Market capitalism.

They are Right Wing in the way the champion the arrival of an authoritarian strong man to save us.

But the wingers are right. Hollywood movies are not conservative.

No more than the wingers are themselves.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Strict Constructivism Revisited

I've been thinking about the Weekly Standard column by Harvey Mansfield I referenced yesterday. In it, Mansfield, in defending the Administration's extralegal authority on wiretapping (and presumably whatever else the administration might feel inclined to execute), basically says that "the law is not enough" when carrying out the executive's powers.

Specifically, I was wondering how this fits with, or contradicts, that old conservative standby, the "principle" of "strict constructivism". You know that one, don't you? Strict constructivism is a sort of "letter of the law" construct conservatives rely on in attempting to deny basic Constitutional protections, like the right to privacy, which conservatives claim, can't be found explicitly in the Constitutional text, and which, as a result, should not be used as a basis for making judicial decisions or interpreting congressional legislation or state actions.

But Scalito/Cheney's "unitary executive theory" basically seems to suggest that the law is pretty open to interpretation, at least by the administration, and should mean whatever the executive thinks it should mean. This seems to fly directly in the face of "strict constructivism" as conservatives have advocated it.

Now, that conservatives would hold contradictory, mutually exclusive "principles", pulling out one, while discarding the other, as the situation warrants, probably wouldn't surprise anyone here.

All the same, what do you think of the Mansfield "law is not enough" line and the previously inerrant and infallable conservative "principle" of "strict constructivism?" Consistent? If so, how?

Monday, January 09, 2006

First the Law, then Elections

It may be one thing for conservatives to argue that law and policy should be more conservative. It's quite another to basically contend that law itself is irrelevant, which is what many of Bush's backers in the intelligencia think.

Steve Gillard picked this up from Glenn Greenwald, who picked this pro-Bush screed up from Harvey Mansfield writing in the Weekly Standard:

Enemies, however, not merely violate but oppose the law. They oppose our law and want to replace it with theirs. To counter enemies, a republic must have and use force adequate to a greater threat than comes from criminals, who may be quite patriotic if not public-spirited, and have nothing against the law when applied to others besides themselves. But enemies, being extra-legal, need to be faced with extra-legal force. . . .

To confirm the extra-legal character of the presidency, the Constitution has him take an oath not to execute the laws but to execute the office of president, which is larger. . .

Yet the rule of law is not enough to run a government. Any set of standing rules is liable to encounter an emergency requiring an exception from the rule or an improvised response when no rule exists. In Machiavelli's terms, ordinary power needs to be supplemented or corrected by the extraordinary power of a prince, using wise discretion..

In rejecting monarchy because it was unsafe, republicans had forgotten that it might also be effective. With one person in charge we can have both secrecy and responsibility. Here we have the reason that American society, in imitation of American government, makes so much use of one-man rule. Much present-day thinking puts civil liberties and the rule of law to the fore and forgets to consider emergencies when liberties are dangerous and law does not apply.

Greenwald writes:

Just to recap: The President is "larger" than the law. The "rule of law is not enough to run a Government." We must remember that monarchy is "effective" and therefore, in times of "war" (like now), we must embrace "one-man rule." In sum, in emergencies like the one we have now and will have for the indefinite future, the "law does not apply."

I do not believe that very many Americans, once they are made aware that this is really what is being done, will accept it. I posted a little bit about the article here, but the article on its own makes the case better than anything anyone can add.

It's difficult to overstate just how bizarre things are getting. If the "law" can be set aside or overridden, "elections" probably can, too. That's the next thing, isn't it? Diebold machines may not be enough to comfort the angst of right-wing politicians intent on creating a new order from the ruins of the World Trade Center buildings.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Sunday Night Quarterback: Special Wild Card Weekend Edition

Redskins 17
Tampa Bay 10

Yeah, 120 yards of offense, yeah, yeah, yeah, well, shut up. They won. That's what you need to do in this league, at this time of the year. Find a way to win. I'm concerned about Portis' shoulder...hope he'll be at something resembling full strength in Seattle. What? You don't think they have a prayer against the Seahawks? I didn't think they had much of a chance against the Bucs. The task against Sean Alexander and Matt Hasselback will be enormous. They'll need to force a lot of mistakes on defense, get some turnovers, and keep Sean Taylor in the game without spitting on anybody.

The Rogue Progressive and the Trackball of Truth guy will have to suffer through another week of Redskins mania.

Pic: 'Hawks

Jags 3
Patriots 28

Jags played 'em close for a half. But it went downhill fast after that. Turned this game off in the third quarter.

Pats go to Denver next week. Pic: Denver

Panthers 23
Giants 0

I was listening to Mike Francesca this morning. One of the things he pointed out was that in Saturday's games, the rookie QB (or QB starting his first playoff game) lost. He said to watch out for that on Sunday, too. Know what? The Man was right.

Next week, Panthers at Chicago. Pic: Panthers

Steelers 31
Bengals 17

Carson Palmer went down with a knee injury on the second Bengal play from scrimmage. Pitt pulled off a neat trick play where Antwaan Randal El took the snap, threw a lateral to Rothelisberger, who through a TD to someone named Cedric Wilson.

Next week, Pittsburgh at Colts. Pic: Colts

Oh, yeah, Vince Young has declared for the NFL draft.