Monday, January 16, 2006
Their Public Exposure
Democratic Underground contemplates Feinstein's perfidy in announcing that she won't be voting for Alito but won't support a filibuster. The quote that really blows their collective mind is "This might be a man I disagree with, but it doesn't mean he shouldn't be on the court." Here is one of the arguments used to explain why Alito is so dangerous:
On ABC's World News Tonight, George Stephanopoulos cropped a clip from Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel A. Alito's nomination hearing to suggest Alito had "backed away from past statements suggesting a supremely powerful president."So believing that the powers of Congress are also limited by the Constitution is the reason why Alito is such an advocate of a "Supreme Presidency"? What if Congress were held by the Republicans and the Presidency was held by a Democrat? Would they want the Republican Congress to be able to pass laws taking away the President's powers? This is incredible.
Stephanopoulos' segment featured a clip of Sen Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) asking Alito: "If we have explicit authority under the Constitution to pass a law, and we pass that law, is the president bound by that law?" Alito was then shown as replying: "The president is bound by statutes that are enacted by Congress." However, in his full response, Alito also indicated that the president is not bound by congressional statutes when such statutes are unconstitutional. The second half of Alito's quote, which Stephanopoulos omitted, is the exception that swallows the rule: the president is bound by statute (the first half), except when he is not (the second half) -- specifically, when that statute is unconstitutional. The full quote indicates that Alito did not in any way "back down" from previously expressed views on executive power.
I can't mourn the death of the Pelosi-Givhan-Dean wing of the Democratic party. It is elitist to its core, abysmally unthinking, determinedly uneducated, ferociously bound by its own sense of compulsive insecurity and hagridden by women who are the living and breathing antithesis to the original precepts of the women's movement. This idiocy deserves to die.
But I do mourn the death of serious Democratic Party capable of formulating and suggesting coherent national policy initiatives. Without two viable camps our country really doesn't work that well. Politics is about debate and compromise; this foolish and half-senile gang of twitterers is failing to participate and the debate is not occurring.
Pedro The Quietist continues his run of brilliant blogging. In this post he contemplates the growth of therapy politics:
...How did we end up with the farce of these hearings last week? How could the Democrats allow themselves to be backed into a corner where they were made to look so damn foolish?In other words, the Democratic party has seized upon the idea that spin trumps substance. And in his next post, Pedro contemplates his position:
I believe it goes back to the 2004 election. Just after losing, the Democrats had a choice: either listen to the principled and courageous among us calling for soul-searching and a revivification (and clarification) of what the Democratic Party stands for, or remind ourselves that if we are losing elections, it's not our fault, but the voters' fault. That is, if the voters aren't voting for us, it's not because our ideas aren't relevant to them and their lives anymore, it's because they're too stupid to recognize the profound and subtle brilliance of our platform.
Rather than clearly identify the most urgent problems facing America today and outline proposals to solve them, the Democrats instead rejected the realists (and the path back to majority status) and embraced the short-term self-justifying therapy exemplified by Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi. It is no coincidence that these are the George Lakoff Democrats.
Who is Lakoff? He's the theorist who argues that the American public is full of obese NASCAR-lovers that aren't capable of fully thinking through their political convictions, and will therefore vote for whichever party resonates with them on the most non-intellectual, emotional level.
Basically, we have two parties right now in America: one that looks out for the interests of rich people, and one that looks out for the interests of the rich people who like to think of themselves as looking out for the interests of poor people.Yes. And all of this has occurred when we are facing an era, beginning in the next decade, in which our social contract will have to be substantially restructured. The failure to engage in real debate is the betrayal of the vulnerable in our society. It's a tragic irony that the Republicans seem to have adopted a more populist politics at the same time that the Democrats seem to have decided that they should adopt a strategy of staging public passion plays while refusing to do anything whatsoever that would address such problems in real life.
Identity politics and political correctness is poison for healthy politicking. It does nothing to help people with actual problems and does everything to increase the self-esteem of the highly-educated children of the wealthy who get involved with self-important PACs like MoveOn. That's all great and everything, but you'll notice that the actual poor people get a short straw nowadays in politics, because there's nobody looking out for them. Certainly not Michael "Fahrenheit $911 million" Moore or Howard "Park Avenue" Dean.
The reality of American life are that real wages for the bottom third of the working people have been stagnant for two decades. Restructuring our economy has kept us from European-style stagnation, but life is less secure for the average person than it was when I grew up. The increase in Social Security and Medicare taxes that went into effect in 1983 has made it far harder for the lower echelons to accumulate capital. WalMartism can only go so far to redress the drop in income. When the fiscal collapse hits in the middle of the next decade, it will hit on the local, state and federal level. We cannot continue our current course, but we don't seem able to muster the will to hold a realistic debate about how to correct it.
Let's take just one example of how public welfare has been neglected. The credit card companies are now imposing penalty rates of interest (at or near 30% ) on individuals who have never been late on a payment or who may have missed a payment deadline by as little as one day. On top of that they are imposing high fees. Didn't get your bill? Need to pay over the phone or by internet? Fine, but some of these companies are charging $7 to $12 for each payment. This is usury. It hurts individuals and the overall economy, and Congress should have reined this in long ago.
Sam Alito is not the reason that Congress is not doing its job. George Bush is not the reason that Congress is not doing its job. Congress needs to take a good look in the mirror and start doing its job, and that goes for both parties.
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