Activism for Me, But Not For Thee

It seems that appointing a Supreme Court justice who might begin to reverse the court’s headlong lurch to the right is yet another example of that anachronistic partisanship that the Obama Administration is proudly leaving behind.  A combination of conventional wisdom and bitter experience would indicate that whomever Obama chooses will be at best, a slightly more reasonable voice on a court that has basically become a right-wing government in exile, working its will regardless of the wishes of the electorate.  Of course, Democratic politicians and the media steadfastly refuse to acknowledge such a simple fact when it was clear to anyone capable of fogging a mirror that when the conservative majority installed Bush as President in 2000, it did so to perpetuate itself and its unpopular ideology; the law, precedent, and the will of the voters be damned.  Once this judicial coup was accomplished,  the right leapt in with guns blazing (just figuratively in those “quaint” days…) to put in place the infrastructure for Karl Rove’s Permanent Republican Majority, dragging the judicial system into their plans, culminating with the shockingly activist Citizens (!) United decision.

Not by accident, none of the court’s right-wingers is anywhere near retirement; it seems that the right begins grooming its future judicial activists when they’re in nursery school, so they can be given lifetime appointments before they hit midlife crisis. (Or during, in the case of Clarence Thomas….)  Further, and perhaps even more cleverly, the right and its many media minions have established a pretty nifty new “custom;”  Republican presidents, even dubiously legitimate ones like Bush, are expected to reach to their rightmost extremes to pick justices while Democratic ones must be, basically, moderate Republicans.  The very fact that retiring justice Stevens was appointed by President Ford belies the fact that this development is anything but recent.  In those days, the right bore the burden of moderation, after Nixon attempted to appoint two mediocre and racism-tainted southerners and was roundly slapped down by the Senate.

But no more.  Today the anti-democratic court has formed a mutually satisfying domestic partnership with the equally anti-democratic Republican Party, which now wins even when it loses, as President Obama’s brief tenure has made starkly clear.  The policies of President Bush which most loudly called for judicial intervention: torture, denial of habeas corpus, domestic spying, and on and on, have mostly been extended and enshrined by the Obama Administration, so much so that were Obama to seriously attempt to rebalance the judiciary he would eventually find himself running afoul of its decisions.   The strange case of Dawn Johnsen shows that Obama has internalized this message, albeit a bit belatedly.

The trouble is, of course, that none of this destructive triangulation even serves its purported purpose, which is to avoid messy partisan brawls, even as it damages the country both at home and abroad.  Obama could appoint, say, John Yoo, and someone on FOX would manage to find fault.  None of the names thus far mentioned are much to the left of Joe Lieberman; even the supposed “liberals,” all assumed to be long shots, are generally deferential to Bush’s once-exotic claims of executive supremacy. No true civil libertarians have been mentioned, and certainly no traditional liberals.  Basically, court appointments have become just another bit of political theater in which the permanent government makes an unconvincing attempt to show its subjects that their votes count for something; what, I couldn’t possibly say.

Mere voting was unable to stop two endless and pointless wars; electing a Democratic president and supermajority in congress hasn’t even dented the vaulting inequality that makes a mockery of “freedom.”  And a president who was elected mostly due to revulsion at the lawless, stupid, and corrupt behavior of his predecessor has wasted a priceless opportunity to reverse any of it, choosing instead to look “forward, not back.”  Well, either way you look, the view is the same.


  1. mikeinportc says:

    Anybody want in on the Bork pool? ( As to how many times the honorables will make whiny references to R. Bork. Nameless references count too. [He was an authoritarian extrordinaire, and unprincipled enough to fire Archibald Cox. He deserved "Borkng". Get over it.]) I’ll go with 39, wih a side bet that Huckleberry Session will narrowly beat Kyl for the title. ;)

    OT, but of interest to some in the audience (another benefit of those evil substances) :

    • cocktailhag says:

      Oh, I’m going to guess only 25. Worse, I also bet Republicans will whine about Thomas, too, regardless of the fact that the accusations turned out to be true and hey got confirmed, anyway.

  2. mikeinportc says:

    ^ *with a side bet that Huckleberry Sessions*

    Constant problem, here in this box , CH. About one in 10 keystrokes don’t register. I don’t always catch them.(I’m not as illiterate as I seem ;) ) Anybody else have this trouble?

    • cocktailhag says:

      Hmmm. I get that sometimes, but usually the cursor is just slow catching up. I have generally blamed my old Powerbook, but it’s certainly possible that there’s a wordpress glitch involved, too.

      • Never had a problem with that, either on my last computer, or my spiffy new one. What does bug me though, is that the clever see-it-as-you-type-it preview plug-in supports HTML tags which are foreign to the CHNN iteration of WordPress itself. Thus, wysiNwyg, but you have no way of knowing that until after you publish your comment.

        But enough technobabble. On the in-for-a-penny, in-for-a-pound front, how about Anita Hill, or even better, Lani Guineer for the Supremes? (Diana Ross wouldn’t be so bad either.) If they’re gonna have one of Digby’s trade-marked hissy fits no matter what, let’s give ‘em what — the purple mountains’ majesty, the amber waves of grain — the whole nine yards in short.

        • cocktailhag says:

          Ah, sadly, this administration seems allergic to asserting its political prerogatives…
          Amber Waves…. That was the name of a Republican stripper character on Al Franken’s old radio show. Let’s nominate her, I say.

  3. rmp says:

    There’s three shows. First, during the grilling process by the M$M and Congress. Second, grilling of the lawyers who appear before the SCOTUS. Third, the behind the curtain show between the justices as they decide a case. As you are indicating, none of these shows really seem to be about the people and justice. On Countdown tonight, a guest was suggesting that Obama nominate Al Gore who is not a lawyer.

    I don’t think Gore is a good choice, but a non-lawyer who has experienced the real struggles of life would make a good chief justice. He or she could represent the people and fight for them instead of technicalities in the law or an ideology.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Al Gore would be good; even if only because he drives the righties nuts. I’m guessing that some flaccid moderate (who will nonetheless be declared a commie) will be the choice. Time will tell, but I’m less than optimistic.

  4. timothy3 says:

    Obama could appoint, say, John Yoo, and someone on FOX would manage to find fault.

    This is what I find so bizarre. You might say, “Well, Republicans will trash the pick because they want to trash Obama” as this is, pathetically, the nature of the political beast.

    But what blows my mind is how the rank and file can’t wait to adopt that same attitude, which redounds in no way whatsoever to their benefit. These people embrace the cause of the generals and lose life and limb in the battle that, were they successful, wouldn’t add a coat of paint to their doublewides, tax credit or not.
    It’s Seinfeld‘s bizarro world.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Well, so much of the righty agenda appeals, as it was designed to do, to people’s prejudices and resentments, that even if they get screwed, they take comfort in the knowledge that someone they dislike will get screwed worse. Neat trick, huh?
      (I bet they only have single-wides, maybe with a bump-out….)

  5. sysprog says:

    Re: triangulation.

    TBogg, last week, observed that they (the GOP) are correct in their accusation that Obama, indeed, has been trying to appease America’s enemies (the GOP).

  6. retzilian says:

    I suggest that this appeasement is not about the GOP, but about Obama’s handlers, and that the Obama agenda is aimed at pleasing the cabal that let him attain power and that pull the strings.

    It was not in the cabal’s interest that we get a single-payer health insurance plan; therefore we did not. It had nothing to do with the GOP or with violating campaign promises. The cabal does not want us out of Afghanistan; therefore we are still there. The cabal appears to WANT us out of Iraq; therefore, we are getting out. The war on terror is toxic, so they are renaming it.

    What I find so ridiculous is that the GOP and the Teabaggers portray Obama as a socialist/marxist/liberal and he is anything but. He’s just another flavor of neocon without the middle east obsession. His next supreme court pick will be anything but a liberal poster child. If only.

    Hell, I’d like to see Hillary up there! Seriously, I think she’d be great even if she was pro-business. I mean, who is going to get that seat who isn’t pro-business? It’s a freaking joke.

  7. retzilian says:

    Oh, and the good news, if you can call it that, is that the ‘cabal’ (I use that term just for expedience) does not want the whacky GOP back in power, so the likelihood that there will be major upsets this fall is slim to none. As far as 2012? Reelection is in the bag already. They have just who they want in power and they are not going to substitute some hillbilly hack or a Mormon stiff. No way. So, sit back, make another drink, and relax.

    • cocktailhag says:

      I’m continually amazed at your uncanny ability to find writers even more bonkers and pretentious than yourself, and utterly divorced from reality, to boot. That article would only fool a kindergartner with Nazi sympathies, i.e., you. It would behoove you to, just once, deal with actual history, not some masturbatory fantasy of righty nincompoops.

      • nailheadtom says:

        Never bother to refute the ideas advanced by someone that actually knows of what he speaks, since, of course, you cannot. Just slather your non-rebuttal with silly adverbs and adjectives and pretend that you’ve made some kind of an argument. Your daily descent into madness is accelerating.

  8. retzilian says:

    Here’s a good example of why Tom’s article is so wrong.

    The solution to these tax problems is the responsibilty of private enterprise to provide jobs with a living wage to its workers. I don’t think we should have so much dependence (or “dependance”, if you’re a teabagger) on government programs, either. If more people were employed, with better incomes, there would be none of this “the rich support the poor” nonsense. There would be a thriving middle class like we had in the 60s and 70s.

    Ok, my example: in Elyria, a suburb 30 miles west of Cleveland, there is a big manufacturing company that makes mobility devices (durable medical equipment). I have a friend who works there. She told me that the president of the company has announced that, because HRC passed, and within the bill is a graduated 2.5% tax on the sale of medical equipment beginning in 2011 (I looked it up on the bill), that he was going to move the manufacturing OUT OF THE COUNTRY.

    For a 2.5% increase in tax! He’s going to close a factory that employs hundreds of people over 2.5%!

    Meanwhile, the cost of a pack of cigarettes has quadrupled in 10 years.

    This is what is wrong with the country, Tom. Quit blaming the system for trying to prop up millions upon millions of people who are losing their jobs right and left over this kind of greed and short-sightedness. What would you prefer, that we all live in cardboard boxes? Where are the jobs going to come from? Are you that ignorant of the job situation in this country? Do you think people actually want to live on $400 a week in unemployment compensation or live on $1200 a month in welfare? While the corporate poobahs move their manufacturing over a 2.5% tax increase?

    • cocktailhag says:

      Y’know, when I want to think about what hardworking Americans feel, I too turn to obese, retarded, talent-free Mama’s boys who’ve never gotten a job on their own. They’re so untainted by the distractions the rest of us have, and all. That column was, if such a thing were possible, even dumber and more craven than the Pantload’s usual screeds. No wonder you liked it.

      • nailheadtom says:

        Yeah, judicial impartiality is dumb and craven. Tell it to the ghost of John Marshall.

        • cocktailhag says:

          Look, Tom. The whole point of OUR government was to serve as a bulwark against unearned, undeserved power, like that of the British East India Tea Company and King George. The kind you like was what we got rid of. The Court was supposed to, last time I checked, protect the unpopular few against the eliminationist many (or in your case, also few); it was not to rubber stamp the whims of the ruling class for their implementation against the people at large. In what world would Jonah Goldberg not be working al Wal-Mart? The free market (not to mention evolutionary viability) has already spoken about guys (and I use that term loosely) like him.

          • nailheadtom says:

            Gee, I’m a victim of the public school educational catastrophe. The civics classes taught that the Supreme Court was supposed to decide the cases they accepted on the basis of adherence to the Constitution and precedence. The newer texts probably are more in line with your thinking.

          • cocktailhag says:

            Ah, yes, the good old days when only white men could vote, before all that judicial activism came along. As Archie and Edith sang, “Those Were the Days.” Fortunately, the current, originalist court realized that the constitution provided for corporations purchasing elections, so maybe some of that can be fixed now.

          • nailheadtom says:

            You’re drooling on your Che’ Guevara T-shirt again. The Constitution was implemented to PREVENT OUR GOVERNMENT from trampling on our own individual rights. We’d already won our war against the British Empire, the Constitutional Convention had other fish to fry. So you’re not only ignorant of history, you’re chronologically dyslexic.

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