vendredi, octobre 24, 2008

Peggy hasn't drunk the Kool-aid

I know, I'm altogether too head in the clouds this week...but hey, it's better than having me complain about being a vanilla girl in Swingland -- isn't it? Anyhow, read this fine, rueful, well-done column by Peggy Noonan from the Wall Street Journal on America as a "center-right" nation. It's linked above...

I'm not sure I agree -- I tend to think we are a country of pragmatists, but I think her advice for Obama is spot on. Check it out, and let me know what YOU think.

jeudi, octobre 23, 2008


Bill O' Reilley, hon, I got news for ya.

A guy who makes ten million a year on a station that leads in the category of cable news isn't an opposition rebel, persecuted by the mainstream media.

Your nightmare has come true: you ARE the mainstream media! But they pay you exceptionally well to act like a rebel.

That is what happens to rebels, particularly rich ones. All of a sudden they become the codgers, standing at the gates and hurling dead pigs at the barbarian hordes.

That means you, CNN's resident populist, Lou Dobbs. Time to stop taking yourself quite so seriously.

Revolutionaries get turned into bureaucrats. Look at what happened to the radicals of the sixties... now they teach at Chicago grad schools - and haunt Presidential candidates.

Now that you have proven yourselves as thorns in the flesh, isn't there something useful you can do with your lives?

mercredi, octobre 22, 2008

From the "Why don't they all shut up?" pail

I have NO idea what Murtha intended to say about his own constituents. Undoubtedly it was truthful -- there are racists in Western Pa., just like there are racists in Bucks County. So what?
Sometimes it's better not to pick a fight for no reason (duh).

As for McCain -- the simpler the verbal construction, the better. I find that double negatives usually don't help my cause. But thanks for helping us snicker near the end of a nasty campaign, when we really needed it. Aside from FOX News, which is making a huge deal out of this dumb Murtha comment and its viewers (including me at the gym), most of us are paying heed to more crucial matters, like how we will afford to pay the rent and buy Christmas presents.

For a really useful analysis of Western Pennsylvania politics, check out the Slate article linked above by a guy who grew up there.

"Mr. DuHaime rejected comments made last week by a Pennsylvania Democrat, Representative John P. Murtha, who told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, speaking of his home base, that “there is no question that Western Pennsylvania is a racist area.”
Mr. McCain referenced Mr. Murtha’s comments in his third stop of the day, at Robert Morris University here, when he said, “I think you may have noticed that Senator Obama’s supporters have been saying some pretty nasty things about Western Pennsylvania lately.” As the crowd booed, Mr. McCain became tangled up in the rest of his remarks. “And you know, I couldn’t agree with them more,” he said, to silence, and then wandered around in a verbal thicket before finally managing to say, 'I could not disagree with those critics more; this is a great part of America.' "

New York Times, October 22, 2008

mardi, octobre 21, 2008

What may be down the road

I'm linking to an opinion piece by Anne Applebaum of the WaPo. Applebaum makes a case that where there is financial instability, as in Iceland, political instability may follow.

That may not be awful in Iceland -- although one hopes there is not too much suffering. It is unlikely that the citizens of that country will turn on each other, or on their neighbors.

But what about destabilization in Russia? Or in Hungary?

What about the Ukraine and Poland, which border Russia?

Some of the best editorials are glorified common sense -- but they lead you down a path you might not have taken.

I'm not crazy about this one -- it's rather scary. But I am grateful to Ms. Applebaum for remind us that in this time of uncertainty we need to keep an eye on what's going on globally -- and have leaders who are ready to act should it become neccesary. Like it or not, this is, more than even an age of internationalism.

lundi, octobre 20, 2008

Loyal opposition

I LOVE this article so much that I'm linking to it and copying it. The point of the piece is that judges are criticizing the Heller v. District of Columbia ruling as bad law.

Why? Because it attempts to impose a government answer on states. It also finds a debatable "right" in the Constituion which might or might not exist.

Does that remind you of another ruling? Like Roe v. Wade?

I don't agree with all of their logic.

But I find it fascinating that some more liberal eagles read an individual right into the Amendment. I love it that the conservative federal appeals court judges had the guts to make the argument and criticize the sometimes impossible Antonin Scalia -- Drama Queen of the Supremes.

October 21, 2008
Justices’ Ruling on Guns Faces Attacks, From the Right
WASHINGTON — Four months after the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess guns, its decision is under assault — from the right.
Two prominent federal appeals court judges say that Justice Antonin Scalia’s majority opinion in the case, District of Columbia v. Heller, is illegitimate, activist, poorly reasoned and fueled by politics rather than principle. The 5-to-4 decision in Heller struck down parts of a District of Columbia gun control law.
The judges used what in conservative legal circles are the ultimate fighting words: They said the gun ruling was a right-wing version of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that identified a constitutional right to abortion. Justice Scalia has said that Roe had no basis in the Constitution and amounted to a judicial imposition of a value judgment that should have been left to state legislatures.
Comparisons of the two decisions, then, seemed calculated to sting.
“The Roe and Heller courts are guilty of the same sins,” one of the two appeals court judges, J. Harvie Wilkinson III, wrote in an article to be published in the spring in The Virginia Law Review.
Similarly, Judge Richard A. Posner, in an article in The New Republic in August, wrote that Heller’s failure to allow the political process to work out varying approaches to gun control that were suited to local conditions “was the mistake that the Supreme Court made when it nationalized abortion rights in Roe v. Wade.”
Sharp criticism of a recent Supreme Court decision by federal appeals court judges is quite unusual, though these two judges — both Reagan appointees — are more outspoken than most.
Judge Wilkinson, who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., was recently considered for a spot on the Supreme Court. Judge Posner, of the Seventh Circuit, in Chicago, is perhaps the most influential judge not on the Supreme Court.
Not all conservatives agree with the critics, of course. Robert A. Levy, a libertarian lawyer who was a principal architect of the victorious strategy in the Heller case, rejected the comparison to Roe.
The two sides in the Heller case claimed to rely on the original meaning of the Second Amendment, based on analysis of its text in light of historical materials. The amendment says, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
The more liberal justices said the amendment protected only a collective right tied to state militias, thus allowing most gun control laws. The more conservative justices found an individual right and struck down parts of a District of Columbia gun control law.
In Judge Wilkinson’s view, the upshot of the court’s extensive historical analysis was that “both sides fought into overtime to a draw.”
Others said the quality of the combat was low. “Neither of the two main opinions in Heller would pass muster as serious historical writing,” Jack Rakove, a historian at Stanford, wrote on the blog Balkinization soon after the decision was issued.
The strong reaction from the right after Heller was preceded, with a sort of symmetry, by liberal support for an individual-rights reading of the Second Amendment. For much of the 20th century, the conventional view of the amendment had been that it only protects a collective right. (Warren E. Burger, after retiring as chief justice in 1986, called the individual rights view “one of the greatest pieces of fraud — I repeat the word ‘fraud’ — on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen.”)
But some prominent liberal law professors, including Laurence H. Tribe of Harvard, Akhil Reed Amar of Yale and Sanford Levinson of the University of Texas, have concluded, sometimes reluctantly, that the amendment in fact protects an individual right. Professor Levinson’s seminal 1989 article in The Yale Law Journal captured the tone of the enterprise. It was called “The Embarrassing Second Amendment.”
In an interview, Professor Levinson said, “The result in Heller is eminently respectable.” But he added that he understood why some conservatives were upset. “People say the Roe court was too interventionist,” he said. “So is the Heller court from that perspective.”
Judge Wilkinson’s basic critique is that the majority, like that in Roe, used an ambiguous text to impose its policy preference on the nation, at great cost to the democratic process and to local values. He assumed, as most experts do, that the decision would apply to the states.
“In both Roe and Heller,” Judge Wilkinson wrote, “the court claimed to find in the Constitution the authority to overrule the wishes of the people’s representatives. In both cases, the constitutional text did not clearly mandate the result, and the court had discretion to decide the case either way.”
Judge Posner built on themes in his recent book “How Judges Think,” which argued that constitutional adjudication by the Supreme Court is largely and necessarily political. The Heller decision, he wrote in The New Republic, “is evidence that the Supreme Court, in deciding constitutional cases, exercises a freewheeling discretion strongly flavored with ideology.”
Indeed, Judge Wilkinson wrote, “Some observers may be tempted to view Heller as a revenge of sorts for Roe” or “a sort of judicial tit-for-tat.” As Judge Posner put it, “The idea behind the decision” in Heller “may simply be that turnabout is fair play.”
Mr. Levy, who helped win Heller, said some conservatives wanted almost all decisions to be made by the political branches rather than the courts.
“But these are constitutional rights,” Mr. Levy, now chairman of the Cato Institute, a libertarian research group, said of the rights protected by the Second Amendment. “They are not rights consigned to the legislature.”
The analogy to Roe, he went on, is misguided. There is no reference to abortion in the Constitution.
The Second Amendment, by contrast, indisputably protects a right to keep and bear arms, though there is sharp disagreement about the scope of the right. Mr. Levy said the natural reading of the amendment, one supported by historical materials, was that it protected an individual right.
In his article, Judge Wilkinson wrote that he “readily agreed” that Roe “involved the more brazen assertion of judicial authority.” But he added that the Roe and Heller cases shared a number of common flaws, including “a failure to respect legislative judgments,” “a rejection of the principles of federalism” and “a willingness to embark on a complex endeavor that will require fine-tuning over many years of litigation.”
Judge Wilkinson saved particular scorn for a brief passage in Justice Scalia’s opinion that seemed to endorse a variety of restrictions on gun ownership. “Nothing in our opinion,” Justice Scalia wrote, “should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”
Whatever else may be said about the Second Amendment, Judge Wilkinson wrote, those presumptions have no basis in the Constitution. “The Constitution’s text,” he wrote, “has as little to say about restrictions on firearm ownership by felons as it does about the trimesters of pregnancy.”
Mr. Levy, too, said he was not a fan of the passage. “I would have preferred that that not have been there,” he said. “It created more confusion than light.”
It is too soon to say much about the legacy of Heller. But Judge Wilkinson said that Heller, at a minimum, represented “the worst of missed opportunities — the chance to ground conservative jurisprudence in enduring and consistent principles of restraint.” At worst, he warned, “There is now a real risk that the Second Amendment will damage conservative judicial philosophy” as much as Roe “damaged its liberal counterpart.”

dimanche, octobre 19, 2008

A contrarian perspective from Nick Kristof

On why the recession might not be bad for many of us...

Which doesn't mean ignoring those who are suffering. There are a lot more than there used to be.

Slaves and slave holders

What would your life be like if you found out that you were not wholly the race you had always thought you were?

That's what happened to a minister I ran into at a public event here in Philadelphia a few weeks ago. In the course of looking into his genealogy, he found that he had slave-holder ancestors.

In digging further, and after DNA analysis, he found that some of his blood is African and Native American.

Blacks have been dealing with the impact of having had while ancestors for quite a while. But unless you had some reason to delve into your past, you may not know whether or not you are come from a mixed race background.

Of course, I guess if you go back millenia, all of us do -- or have a common forefather and mother.

I wonder what it would be like if we all took DNA tests. Would that alleviate some of the biases we carry around with us -- against Jews, or blacks, or Catholics, or Muslims? I bet it would make some of them seem really idiotic.

Given where I came from, I kind of doubt I have mixed race blood. But I'm sort of excited about seeing how much it would cost to find out.