Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 16, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

JUDGING THE JUDICIARY....I happen to think that it was never remotely practical for the activist base of the Democratic Party to think that Samuel Alito's Supreme Court nomination could be scuttled in the Senate. After all, only one nominee in the past 35 years, Robert Bork, has been rejected for ideological reasons. Rehnquist and Scalia were both confirmed easily, as was Clarence Thomas, despite the explosive testimony of Anita Hill. Both liberal and conservative nominees know perfectly well how to play the testimony game these days, and by the time the process gets to the hearings stage the outcome is all but certain. It's naive to think that a few days of questioning could change this dynamic if only Senate Dems "grew a spine."

That said, Reed Hundt has some interesting comments about how that could change over the longer term. Here are two of his points:

First, as to judicial nominees, the blogosphere is so far rather ineffective. It doesn't seem that easy to translate the record of a Judge Alito into comprehensible bits and bytes that in turn can shape the mainstream media's reporting. Law professors need to help more.

....Fifth, if the left doesn't like the way the judiciary is behaving it will have to mount a sustained critique on a broad front, with many details. Legal and popular blogs could do that, but have not yet done so. The right is ahead of the left on this topic, by about 30 years.

Obviously these two points are related, and I think they're correct. The right has a comprehensive and understandable critique of "activist liberal judges" while the left has nothing comparable (as discussed here and here.) If we lefties want to sway public opinion, we need to explain in a systematic way what's wrong with the current conservative hegemony over our judicial system. Most liberals can't do that in any kind of compelling way, which makes it hardly surprising that the public is not up in arms over it.

It's going to have to be law professors and judges who mostly take the lead on this. Who wants to start?

Kevin Drum 12:37 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (89)

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Comments

Strict constructionist needs to be made into a dirty word: Judges who want to read the constitution so narrowly that they read our liberties right out of it. Conservative, strict constructionist judges favor government power over individual rights, because they read the Bill of Rights so narrowly. Conservatives at least claim they want small government, so that argument should hold some weight with moderate-to-conservative voters.

Posted by: BRussell on January 16, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

"Fifth, if the left doesn't like the way the judiciary is behaving it will have to mount a sustained critique on a broad front, with many details."

Wrong. This is the approach we used with Alito, and it put both the public and the media to sleep within seconds.

If we have learned anything from the Republicans, it's that substance is pointless and labels are everything. Instead of mounting a detailed case that NOBODY will pay the least bit of attention to, we should be on the airwaves yelling "Radical right-winger!!!!!" at the tops of our lungs.

There's no need to support such charges, except in the broadest and vaguest sense. Rather, the idea is to get the charges out there and rely on the dull intelligence and short attention spans of the public to build the movement. This is precisely how the Republicans work, and I think we can see its effectiveness.

Posted by: Derelict on January 16, 2006 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Comprehensive and understandable critique?

You mean like the crap they pulled out about judges "killing" Terri Schaivo? Or them trying to ban religion? Or any other of the countless crapnuggets they throw out to prove how evil those 'liberal activist judges' are?

Christ, Kevin, I love your blog, but what the fuck? YOu mean there wasn't enough worrisome crap notable about Alito to warrant a thumbs down on him?

But, yes, I forget. Nowadays, no matter what the cause, argument, hearing, whatnot, the burden of proof will ALWAYS be on the Democratic/liberal side, because that's how the Republicans have gamed it. They can get off spouting platitudes and empty puff pieces while we throw out all the proof we can, and the refs (i.e. the media) will always rule on their side.

Posted by: Kryptik on January 16, 2006 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Bush v. Gore

Posted by: lib on January 16, 2006 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Why, Kevin? Why, after they withdrew H.M., couldn't the Dems have stuck together and fillibustered?

Posted by: Gore/Obama '08 on January 16, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Because judging by almost all the questioning... Dems don't even want to FUCKING TRY!

Notable exceptions include Kennedy.

Posted by: MNPundit on January 16, 2006 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Look, folks, you have to face reality. Like it or not, the public wasn't convinced that Alito was bad enough to worry about. A few days of questioning was never going to be enough to turn that around.

If you want to throw up your hands and bitch about how stupid the public is, fine. Just don't expect to win any elections that way. And don't underestimate what conservatives have done over the past few decades, either. Sure, they're tough and they throw a lot of crap around, but there's more to it than that. We need answers, not just frustration.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on January 16, 2006 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, boy. These recent posts are highly indicative. Kevin has some large-scale media gig blossoming, and he must curry favor with them to seal the deal. What is it Kevin? Are you about to become Newsweek's "liberal" blogger?

Posted by: SavageView on January 16, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Look, folks, you have to face reality. Like it or not, the public wasn't convinced that Alito was bad enough to worry about. A few days of questioning was never going to be enough to turn that around.

AAaaaaaaand the media essentially already throwing their chips in and saying 'Alito WILL be confirmed' halfway in didn't help influence that JUST a bit?

Face it, none of this has anything to do with any actual legal analysis or anything. This is all power play and obfustication. Not to mention the ass-backwards way this confirmation is held (what other kind of job interview puts the burden on the EMPLOYERS to prove the candidate ISN'T qualified?).

Posted by: Kryptik on January 16, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Derelict - I like your reference to the "dull intelligence" of the public. How about some comments about the "sheeple"? Or maybe how Americans are the stupidest people on the planet?

Gosh, if every liberal were as condescending as you, I'd never vote for any of them!

Dario

Posted by: Dario on January 16, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

What a confusing contradictory post. My interpretation: The dems have no hope of preventing Alito so it doesn't matter if they "grow a spine", but they need to "grow a spine" to point out "what's wrong with the current conservative hegemony". Egads! What democrats need to do is grow a spine and start doing everything they can to oppose the republicans. Why not filibuster? Hopefully it will trigger the nuclear option and people might start to pay attention. They have nothing to lose, somehow I don't think people vote for dems because they are the nice and polite party. Give me a break, Kevin is starting to sound more and more like Marshall Whitman, useless.

Posted by: Bill Hicks on January 16, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

The ordinary man in the street is never going to pay much attention to arguments about legal philosophy and constitutional jurisprudence. The right wing Supreme Court that Bush is assembling is affected very little by what is said either in the mainstream press, on the talking head cable shoutfests or in the blogoshpere.

Our system allows a President who has a Congress of his own party in place, to basically do what he wants. Bush owns this Congress and it has demonstrated that it will do nothing to stop him or rein in his ideological madness. Until that changes, we will suffer the consequences of Republican tyranny, including the collateral damage of an ideologically extreme Supreme Court.

Posted by: Bob C on January 16, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum: Bringing a knife to a gun fight.

Posted by: Pat on January 16, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

If we wish the filibuster, we risk the label of "obstructionist" How can we avoid that?

The answer here is finding a PRINCIPLE to filibuster for.

In 10 words or less, please articulate the BASIS for the filibuster. And, this is important, the reason cannot be results-based, because judging is about process, not results. Has he abused the process so much to make him unfit?

I believe that he has. He has supported the police in his support of process to the detrement of individuals.

Can we call him "Strip-search Sam" and make that the basis of a filibuster?

Posted by: POed Liberal on January 16, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Law Professors? You mean like Instapundit and The Volokh Conspiracy?

Posted by: contentious on January 16, 2006 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

I am not a lawyer, but I have paid one in court and seen one on TV. Don't need one for this issue, though.

Lefties have a much bigger problem with courts than they do with the legislature. Courts are inherently conservative as many things rely on prior precedent. Indeed, consider that lefties are really relying on the courts to be conservative when arguing that Roe v. Wade be maintained.

Lefties tend to have a tough time as well inasmuch as progressive laws have a strong tendency to take property and property/contract rights away (I am not arguing right or wrong on that, but consider taxation, universal health care, zoning) from individuals and hand them over to the government. This tends to create conflicts with established law.


Posted by: Simon Barsinister on January 16, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

The only way to stop a Supreme Court nominee who doesn't make a total jerk of himself during the hearings is to find something out about his personal life. (For example, Reagan nominee Douglas Ginsburg withdrew after it came out that he had smoked grass.) If you can't find an illegal nanny or a marital indiscretion, I think you're sunk -- even if the judge has ruled in favor of cross burning in the courtroom.

Posted by: KDMcConn on January 16, 2006 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

it's odd how many people come here to shout and scream at Kevin for not writing the stories they want to read in the manner they want to read them. it's almost as if they don't want anyone to have their own opinions on things.

Posted by: cleek on January 16, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin --

I think we had every right to realistically hope that the Dem Senators would do enough to scuttle this nomination. Instead of Joe Biden rambling to himself for 30 minutes, we could have expected intense, piercing questions on Alito's Membership in CAP. We could have expected a bigger fight on the failure of Specter to work to obtain the CAP records from the Library of Congress. Maybe the Dem Senators all sticking to 1 or 2 selected themes: it is wrong to replace the first female justice with a man who opposed the presence of women at Princeton, and one Ethics(Vanguard)/Roe reversal (no reason to believe 1985 statement is inaccurate reflection of current views), etc

Honestly Kevin, your past couple of posts have been pretty garbage.

That Bush hasn't already been impeached means the Republic has died. We live in a dictatorship. When the Executive can ignore or set aside the law (as he clearly did here, with the FISA law), then it's a farce to pretend we still have a representative democracy, if the laws our elected leaders enact are simply subject to whims of the president.

Posted by: J on January 16, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

And, by the way, the right's critique of "activist liberal judges" is "understandable" only to the extent that you mean that their critique is "these are not the outcomes we want." (See, e.g., the SC's negation of the Violence Against Women Act.) Their critique is "comprehensive" only to the extent that you mean "all laws that do not favor us and our needs are unconstitutional."

I look forward to the post from Kevin's "Liberal" Blog at Newsweek on the day the SC strikes down the National Health Care Act of 2009 on the grounds that it violates something pulled out of the air. The opinion will be written, of course, by Roberts, with Alito, Thomas, Scalia and Janice Rogers Brown concurring.

Posted by: SavageView on January 16, 2006 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

Kryptik: "They can get off spouting platitudes and empty puff pieces while we throw out all the proof we can, and the refs (i.e. the media) will always rule on their side"

I have been studying conservative versus liberal patterns of reasoning, and I think you are on to something here. Most Americans, especially conservatives, are not critical thinkers. They think in and respond to platitudes and find it difficult to generate alternate hypotheses or weigh evidence. 35% are political know-nothings who don't know the name of the Vice President or know which party controls congress. Most don't know what Bush policies are. But they vote for Republicans because they respond to banal platitudes--Democracy is on the March! the Ownership society! A culture of life!

As educated liberals we tend to evaluate data and context and are stunned when others don't follow. We talk about abstract principles--liberty, justice, equality, compassion--whereas a majority of Americans follow the traditions and received values of their social group. We see the discrepancy between claim and behavior whereas a majority of Americans focus on the current claim.

So I think Kevin is on to something here. Liberals have not had a critique or philosophy of the Constitution. We tend to view it in terms of specific gains and rulings. Since Brown v the Board of Education and Roe v Wade, conservatives have been making the Activist Judges charge. The charge has resonance with average white Americans because they have experienced desegregation and equal rights for women (which is their primary objection to reproductive choice) for themselves. It is easy to get snarky and worked-up when you are forced to share your privilege, resources and power. It is easy to be fearful and resentful when liberals challenge a right to bear weapons, prayer in school or Christmas displays in front of your courthouse.

So perhaps Democrats/liberals can start talking about citizenship and government of, by and for the people. We need slogans and platitudes and patriotic ones are a bonus. We should be criticizing any judicial ruling that diminishes citizenship and government of, by and for the people (especially those that favor corporate interests or executive power over individuals and legislative oversight). These rulings damage our democracy.


Posted by: PTate in MN on January 16, 2006 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Many of us don't realize it, but strict constructionists may ultimately be the best friends of progressives.

Roe v. Wade risks being overturned because a policy decision was made by a court, rather than by elected governments. It would have taken a few more years, but a legislative solution to the abortion issue would have been preferable. We are refighting Roe every time there is a new SC justice, which is proof that the legal ground is wobbly.

Posted by: Lawguy on January 16, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Rationally, whether left or right, unless a potential judge is verifiably carrying huge problems then odds are he'll be approved. One has to hope that these individuals, although they may lean politically one way or the other, that they factually interpret the laws and the constitution faithfully. The right and left take great risks by trying to stack the court with the hopes of changing some perceived wrong or previous decision that they dislike. They risk disgust when it doesn't happen. It's a shame the right believes that by shifting the court to the right they might get what they want. Hope springs eternal, they say. But it could easily backfire.

Posted by: MRB on January 16, 2006 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

The other facts you ignore are: (1) Alito was in the "mainstream", he just was slightly to the right of exact middle instead of slighlty to the left; (2) Alito demonstrated that he had a great mastery of the law. The strongest argument against Alito is that he will allow police slightly more leeway than his opponents think proper when they interpret the language of a search warrant. You should all harvest your anguished language and review it 20 years hence; you are lots more likely in the mean time to be mugged by a recidivist criminal than to be humiliated by the police. Either way, nearly all imperfections of society are likely to remain approximately as they are. Whatever the Supreme Court rules, availability of abortions is not going to change very much; police will continue to suffer more deaths in the line of duty than they kill innocent sustpects.

For what it's worth, the medical marijuana case (where Thomas was one of 3 disseneters) was based on a law written by the liberal FDR administration. The so-called "fascist" Ashcroft was following liberal precedent. If valid, the precedent could be used to restrict home-grown tomatoes. Restrictions on "commercial" speech, "hate" speech, and "political" speech are also liberal ideas.

Posted by: contentious on January 16, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

The right uses arguments on abstract issues only as a means to an end, the end being the capture of absolute power, and whenever the application of its pet theories like state rights leads to conclusions that it does not like, it abandons them.

The left just gets mired down in such debates especially at the promting of the conservatives.

Posted by: lib on January 16, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

If 40 of 44 Democratic senators "grew a spine", there still could not be a filibuster (it takes a minimum of 41 senators), so realistically Jeffords and a couple of Republican 'moderates' would be needed. According to Wikipedia, the nomination of an associate justice to SCOTUS has never been filibustered, ever.

Much as I would like it to happen, it ain't gonna.

Let's put it another way: the Republicans were severely obstructionist about Clinton's judges, and they were unable to block either of his SCOTUS nominees. The Democrats have sunk one of Bush's (we'll give it to them even though Harriet M. was not supported by the Repbulican far right).

Probably the best we can hope for (and write/call our senators for, hint, hint, hint) is forty-odd 'no' votes and hard-hitting speeches giving the reasons why (good luck, these are senators we're talking about).

Posted by: FreakyBeaky on January 16, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

PTate in MN on January 16, 2006 at 1:20 PM, illustrates the ineffectuality of life in th liberal cocoon.

As educated liberals we tend to evaluate data and context and are stunned when others don't follow. Really, you need to get out and work for a company that does something other than write and talk. If it were up to liberals, nothing would ever be built.

Posted by: contentious on January 16, 2006 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you didn't answer my question -- why couldn't the Dems have filibustered? Because there wasn't public outrage? What, pray-tell, is leadership??

Posted by: Gore/Obama '08 on January 16, 2006 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

I continue to wonder by what standard Kevin Drum can be considerd a "leftie." Can someone clue me in on what that standard is?

Posted by: Farinata X on January 16, 2006 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatives designed and built the classrooms in which liberals hold their seminars: built the steel mills that built the beams, built the cement mills that made the concrete, built the brick factories that made the brick facing; built the steel, concrete and the bricks; got financing to build the factories from the conservative capital markets, paid the interest on the bonds, and paid most of the tax money that financed the classrooms.

Liberals just sit around talking about how the conservatives do everything wrong. Liberals even live in homes built by conservaties, pay mortagages lent by conservatives, with salaries paid mostly by conservatives -- and describe the conservatives as the parasites.

Posted by: contentious on January 16, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

We need a judge who will protect our privacy rights in the war on terror.

If the public isn't educated enough to care, (although maybe the minor reaction to the Alito hearings is due to after-holiday quietism and op-ed propaganda, not real apathy,) then every effort should be made to educate them. A real political circus, a grand and entertaining filibuster in an election year, would now be ideal. (This begs the question of whether there are any real human beings among the Senators, to pull off such a feat of derring-do.) You have to wonder what the Dems have got to lose? Alito will still be confirmed of course, but a filibuster will energize the base with another issue, as a springboard to the fall campaigns. Republican wins over the last twenty-five years have been on narrow margins, and it is time to grow some spine.

Posted by: #߬| on January 16, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK
Really, you need to get out and work for a company that does something other than write and talk. If it were up to liberals, nothing would ever be built.

The Death of Irony

by

Someone Without the Courage To Post a Real Email Address

Posted by: SavageView on January 16, 2006 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatives designed and built the classrooms in which liberals hold their seminars: built the steel mills that built the beams, built the cement mills that made the concrete, built the brick factories that made the brick facing; built the steel, concrete and the bricks; got financing to build the factories from the conservative capital markets, paid the interest on the bonds, and paid most of the tax money that financed the classrooms.

no, unionized labor did all that.

Posted by: cleek on January 16, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, why do you draw the line at 35 years? Extend it to 37, and you include Abe Fortas, who was filibustered for ideological reasons and thereby rejected. The filibuster held up the nomination for three months, after which point Fortas asked for his name to be withdrawn.

What happened to Fortas could happen to Alito, if the Democrats would hold together.

Posted by: Joe Buck on January 16, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

PTate:

Wow. Here are a couple of counterpoints:

1. Liberal thoughts frequently sound nice but crap out in practice. Examples: Desegregation. The Great Society. Welfare.

2. It's as if liberals blind themselves to the consequences of their actions: "Say, let's give money to poor people. They will all go to work as soon as they can." Or "Teachers don't get enough respect. We need to protect them from disgruntled parents and taxpayers. We'll call it tenure, and once they are in they are practically unremovable. We can trust school people to do a good job picking them, and we probably don't have to worry about removing stale burnt out teachers."

3. I think it's the baby-killing that upsets average white person regarding abortion.

4. You reference "educated" as if it means "smart" or "wise". Don't confuse those things. The public doesn't.

5. What makes you think the population responds to slogans and platitudes? It's that kind of attitude that loses elections.

Jeez.

Posted by: NewYorkBob on January 16, 2006 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

1. Liberal thoughts frequently sound nice but crap out in practice. Examples: Desegregation. The Great Society. Welfare

Posted by: lib on January 16, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

contentious: If it were up to liberals, nothing would ever be built.


jfk....race to the moon....democratic congress support...

by the way.....that cost roughly 250-billion dollars....

less than the current iraq war...

and just look at the results...

say....speaking of results....

its been a month.....what are the results of the iraq elections?


Posted by: thisspaceavailable on January 16, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

If we lefties want to sway public opinion, we need to explain in a systematic way what's wrong with the current conservative hegemony over our judicial system.

The problem is not the inherent intelligibility of our ideas, but the incessant repetition of the other side's talking points in every major media news outlet. The strategy of conceptual appeasement is a non-starter in the absence of material changes in the way "information" is disseminated.

Posted by: Greg R. on January 16, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Kevin. The Right is 30 years ahead of us in setting the debate.

The exact same process in working with the right-wing religious fundmentalists. They have a comprehensive criticism of real Christiantiy based on a simplistic form of literal reading of the highly edited Bible to which the more liberal Christians don't even bother to respond in public venues.

Real Christians need to stand up and stop this idiocy.

Posted by: Rick B on January 16, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

"the dull intelligence and short attention spans of the public"

Getting a little full of ourselves aren't we? It is statements such as these that convince me that you have no idea what is going on.
Duh!!!Here's a good way to get the public on OUR side. We simply tell them that they have "dull intelligence and short attention spans".

Perhaps THAT is what's wrong with your message. No, not your message but your actual view of the public. Maybe if the left could find a way to change how they feel about the public the public would change how they feel about you.

Not a sermon, Just a thought.

Posted by: Lurker42 on January 16, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK
What makes you think the population responds to slogans and platitudes? It's that kind of attitude that loses elections.

So says "New York" Bob after spouting a bunch of platitudes.

Posted by: Dobby on January 16, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

jfk....race to the moon....democratic congress support...

Compared to contemporary Democrats, JFK was conservative. Almost everyting in the race to the moon was built by conservatives. As now, almost all of the tax money was paid by conservatives. Compared to contemporary Democrats, the Congress under Kennedy was conservative. The contemporary Democratic party would never support such a project unless ALL employees were guaranteed union-backed job security.

You comments illustrate the buffoonery and low reading comprehension of most liberals who post here.

Posted by: contentious on January 16, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK
Compared to contemporary Democrats, JFK was conservative. Almost everyting in the race to the moon was built by conservatives. As now, almost all of the tax money was paid by conservatives. Compared to contemporary Democrats, the Congress under Kennedy was conservative.

Bullshit. Provide one single citation to back up any of those statements.

You comments illustrate the buffoonery and low reading comprehension of most liberals who post here.

Ooooh! An Internet "tough guy"! I'm quaking in my boots.

Posted by: Dobby on January 16, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, well democrats are and have been for sometime more conservative than republicans. I'm not sure what your point is. What is conservative about massive deficit spending? What is conservative about spending massive amounts of money on a war to attack a nearly defenseless third rate little country just in hopes of winning an election? What conservative puts out a social security plan that both costs more and provides lower benefits? Hell, almost anyone is more conservative than republicans. They've seemingly lost the meaning of the word.

Posted by: MRB on January 16, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Here is a novel idea for you Dems:

Win the Presidency and elect a majority of Senators.

Posted by: GOPGregory on January 16, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

And, by the way, the right's critique of "activist liberal judges" is "understandable" only to the extent that you mean that their critique is "these are not the outcomes we want."


Exactly, and currently the American public is unhappy with the outcomes. I'm not sure if the Brown vs BOE ruling is the outcome they have a problem with, however. But things like busing and affirmative action may well be. Roe vs Wade, for a significant section, for sure. Prayer in school, probable as well.

What are the outcomes that liberals are complaining about? Bush vs. Gore. It seems to me the Republicans have more substantial stuff to bitch about.

Posted by: JPB on January 16, 2006 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Were waiting for you to set your own hook first. And your doing a great job. We want to wait until you totally derail the train first, then real conservatives can come in and straighten things out. Everyday when repugs fuck somebody new that day it creates a greater backlash for repugs later. This is what we live and dream of everyday. We know it will come, it always does. We can see the fear of it in your postings. And the funny part is that you don't even know it yet.

Posted by: MRB on January 16, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

The system is broken and the republicans are in charge. It's a political decision requiring a simple majority in the senate. Law professors and logic are not going to change a thing. The public wasn't "convinced" by the right that Harriet Meiers wasn't conservative enough but she got shot down for that reason anyway because . . . the Republlicans control the senate.

For the public -- a better understanding of the commerce clause would probably change a few minds on Alito, but by the time this thing reaches hearings it's basically a bizarre personality test for "judicial temperment". When any political issue is brought up the candidate can basically say "Woah Senator!, is this a litmus test? Am I not applying for a position on the politically independant judiciary". Nevermind the fact that he was chosen by the White House because he is a penis-carrying non-hispanic pro-life catholic who held private meetings with the President frankly discussing his sufficiently conservative views on abortion, executive power, the commerce clause, John Kerry's wrinkly face, and red state college football.

You're basically saying that we need to have smarter, more articulate, and more engaging pundits. The way I figure, we have them but for some reason the media outlets don't usually hire them and if they do they put silly topics on the teleprompter. We'll never have the robotic collective of on-message pundits that the right does . . . and I don't think we really want a bunch of lying, fact spinning, immoral, petty, photogenic spokespeople anyway.

The system needs to be changed to encourage consensus candidates. Right now the hearings are only good for weeding out crazy people, idiots, and folks that aren't sufficiently trusted to hold the views of the senate majority. Unfortunately, shrillness, wild hair, sexual harrassment allegations, or bad teeth are not guaranteed to correlate with out of the mainstream views. So long as that is measure, we're screwed.

Posted by: B on January 16, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

con-ten-tious: Compared to contemporary Democrats, JFK was conservative.


so my example is not correct because you "claim" its not...

lol

thanks for defining buffoonery....


Posted by: thisspaceavailable on January 16, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

"It's going to have to be law professors and judges who mostly take the lead on this. Who wants to start?"

Ummm. Reality calling Mr. Drum! Could you please explain how "law professors and judges"were the prime movers in the right's conquest of the bench as opposed to "political hacks and liars"? No one is interested in the opinions of law professors and judges. No one. Clint Eastwood mocking liberal judges? Now that gets air time, baby!

Judges and law professors have been screaming their lungs out about the abuses of the Bush administration. NO. ONE. CARES. There have been no media interviews of the FISA judges. Nor of the judges of any other scandal. Law professors have written hundreds of essays among themselves of the breech of constitutional separations. Have you seen a single one on the air?

We need firebrands. Truthful, idealistic firebrands. People who will call the media on lies, but will still get on TV every day. The people KNOW the truth, they just need to hear it.

Again, Kevin, you internalize the GOP talking points, and build your world view around them. Put the keyboard away, step away from the computer, and go find something to do that will let you be a liberal without exposing you the right wing fallacies you are incapable of defending yourself against.

Posted by: Mysticdog on January 16, 2006 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

"Again, Kevin, you internalize the GOP talking points, and build your world view around them. Put the keyboard away, step away from the computer, and go find something to do that will let you be a liberal without exposing you the right wing fallacies you are incapable of defending yourself against."

It is ALWAYS best to know both sides of an argument before making a judgement. It is right that you do so Kevin. Don't listen to those who would tell you otherwise.

Posted by: Lurker42 on January 16, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

thisspaceavailable:"...so my example is not correct because you "claim" its not..."

As well as defining buffoonery, Contentious provides a nice example of a conservative "logic":

Liberals don't build stuff. Conservatives do build stuff.
JFK built stuff.
Therefore, JFK must be conservative.

Because they aren't critical thinkers, conservative ideology cannot be disproved by reality. The reality is twisted to confirm their ideology.

And, yes, the Iraqi elections!!! We STILL don't know who won??!!? How interesting is that?

Posted by: PTate in MN on January 16, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

and I don't think we really want a bunch of lying, fact spinning, immoral, petty, photogenic spokespeople anyway.

I don't think that's a fair description of the rightwing spokespeople. I haven't seen any that are photogenic.

Posted by: haha on January 16, 2006 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

I'll stand by the "dull intelligence" remark because there is ample proof of it. Indeed, this culture functions largely because of that dull intelligence--we are awash in it.

Listen to Republican talking points. Notice anything? They are absolutely bereft of detail and fact. They are nothing but name-calling, cheap shots, and slogans masquerading as argument.

Those talking points have swayed American opinion quite effectively for a decade or two. Smart, rational people want to hear substantive argument; dull people want to hear slogans.

Can anyone here provide even one example in the last 25 years of a factual, detailed substantive argument prevailing over sloganeering and name-calling? I don't think so.

Posted by: Derelict on January 16, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Backwards-Thinking Conservative Judges who are driven to drag the United States back into the Dark Ages, hiding our heads in the sand, as the rest of the world passes us by.

Posted by: catherineD on January 16, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps I am too charitable to Kevin, but I take his comment to be something quite sensible. Yes, it would be great if the media were better, if Democrats were fierce and brilliant speakers, and the public generally paid more attention to what is going on. But as a practical point for increasing liberal political power on legal issues, wouldn't it be good if, IN ADDITION to firebrands, there were a large group of liberal law professor (and legal practitioner) bloggers?

I think yes. Of course, most members of the public don't care what most law professors say. But the same can be said of what people in think tanks say. Yet the well funded conservative think tanks of the past 30 years have had a great deal to do with their political success, by creating a "cocoon" for developing conservatives and conservative ideology, which can then be spread througout society. Liberals need to respond in kind ON ALL LEVELS including think tanks and blogs.

It is really quite odd that the overwhelming number of explicitly political law professor blogs -- Instapundit and The Volokh Conspiracy are just two of many -- are conservative. Most law professors are not Republicans. Yes, there are many on-line discussion groups where law professors criticize Bush administration policies, but there aren't many non-conservative legal blogs that reach out to a broader audience.

Posted by: RiMac on January 16, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK


PTate in MN: Because they (bush defenders) aren't critical thinkers, conservative ideology cannot be disproved by reality. The reality is twisted to confirm their ideology.

and what's worse...

irony doesn't work either...


.


Posted by: thisspaceavailable on January 16, 2006 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

"If we lefties want to sway public opinion, we need to explain in a systematic way what's wrong with the current conservative hegemony over our judicial system.


The problem is not the inherent intelligibility of our ideas, but the incessant repetition of the other side's talking points in every major media news outlet."

Really? I've been studying law for many years now, and I have yet to see a strong theory of jurisprudence which would both please progressives and leave a logical reason for bothering with an amendment process and a legislature. Furthermore, almost every problem that people complain about when they critique textualist theories exists to a far greater extent in the progressive theories.

For all the criticisms of the textualist approach, at least it is a definable approach that you can understand and critique. The same can't be said of the free-form, ever-expanding, not-tied-to-the-text, approach favored by progressives.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw on January 16, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

thisspaceavailable: "and what's worse...irony doesn't work either..."

And they just get cranky when we point out that they are dim.

*sigh*

Posted by: PTate in MN on January 16, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

"Again, Kevin, you internalize the GOP talking points, and build your world view around them. Put the keyboard away, step away from the computer, and go find something to do that will let you be a liberal without exposing you the right wing fallacies you are incapable of defending yourself against."

It is ALWAYS best to know both sides of an argument before making a judgement. It is right that you do so Kevin. Don't listen to those who would tell you otherwise.

I would also not want Kevin insulated from the other side's arguments. However, he sadly does seem to be far too prone to internalizing their talking points and becoming dismissive of his own side's.

Posted by: Kryptik on January 16, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK
I've been studying law for many years now

Apparently you haven't finished your studies if you peddle this tripe:

... the textualist approach, at least it is a definable approach ...

Yes. Because Bush v. Gore followed all of the Constitutional strictures regarding the state/federal balance of power, right?

...the free-form, ever-expanding, not-tied-to-the-text, approach favored by progressives.

Oh, you must mean that crazy system called the "Common Law" what with its wishy-washy concepts of precedent and stare decisis.

Surely, then, a legal scholar like yourself can point to the session during the Constitutional convention wherein the drafters decided to adopt a civil law system under which the written text of the Constitution addressed every conceivable legal issue.

Posted by: Dobby on January 16, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Liberals don't build stuff. Conservatives do build stuff.
JFK built stuff.
Therefore, JFK must be conservative.

You'll appreciate, if you reread my post, that's different from what I wrote. Compared to current democrats, John Kennedy was conservative (more conservative than Ted Kennedy, Kedwards, H. Dean, Gore, ). That he built stuff does not contradict any assertion that I wrote.

As a conservative university prof, I encounter such idiocy from liberal university profs all the time.

Posted by: contentious on January 16, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

"I'll stand by the "dull intelligence" remark because there is ample proof of it."

Of course you do, Derelict. This is the stock in trade for smug leftists like you. "Americans are, like, stoopid, and stuff..." Sometimes I'm amazed your party wins as much as it does. But I have little doubt that your minority will continue to shrink as long as you spew this anti-US nonsense. Good luck in November and in '08 with that.

Posted by: peanut on January 16, 2006 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

The whole conservative idea of "strict construction" and that "activism" is disallowed (like striking down State laws) is bunk because of the Ninth Ammendment. Remember - unenumerated rights? That means Judges *must* ask if there are rights like "privacy" that are not directly noted. As I said before, the USC doesn't even directly give us the right to wear clothes, so a State could, under strict construction, ban the wearing of clothes.

Posted by: Neil' on January 16, 2006 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

contentious: "John Kennedy was conservative (more conservative than Ted Kennedy, Kedwards, H. Dean, Gore"

First you argue that conservatives build stuff and liberals don't, and--in an ad hominem attack--that I should get out in the real world more. Conservatives pay for everything. Conservatives build everything. Let me cite your exact bullshit because it is so delusional: "Conservatives designed and built the classrooms in which liberals hold their seminars: built the steel mills that built the beams, built the cement mills that made the concrete, built the brick factories that made the brick facing; built the steel, concrete and the bricks; got financing to build the factories from the conservative capital markets, paid the interest on the bonds, and paid most of the tax money that financed the classrooms.

Liberals just sit around talking about how the conservatives do everything wrong. Liberals even live in homes built by conservaties, pay mortagages lent by conservatives, with salaries paid mostly by conservatives -- and describe the conservatives as the parasites"

Then thisspaceavailable points out that Democratic president, John Kennedy, built stuff. In other words, tsa provides an example that disproves your nutty hypothesis. Then you respond that Kennedy was really a conservative, compared to today's liberals, so he doesn't disprove your position that conservatives build stuff and liberals don't. The moon program--just another conservative thing.

And now your feathers are ruffled because we are mocking you???

You poor dear. I hope tomorrow is a better day for you.

Posted by: PTate in MN on January 16, 2006 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

PTateinMN : and--in an ad hominem attack--that I should get out in the real world more.

Indeed so, an ad hominem attack. but not just against you.

Then thisspaceavailable points out that Democratic president, John Kennedy, built stuff. In other words, tsa provides an example that disproves your nutty hypothesis. Then you respond that Kennedy was really a conservative, compared to today's liberals, so he doesn't disprove your position that conservatives build stuff and liberals don't. The moon program--just another conservative thing.

Indeed so, Kennedy was conservative compared to today's Democrats. I didn't say "really" (which you inferred), nor did I deny that Kennedy was a Democrat. Kennedy provided strong support for Ngo Dinh Diem and cut income tax rates; he increased spending dramatically for ballistic missiles and launched the Apollo program. I doubt that today's Democrats "really" would provide majority support for any of those.

And besides, most of the tax money does come from conservatives, and most construction companies are run by conservatives. Surely you do not deny that? Most of the opposition to building nuclear power plants, new housing subdivisions, new computer facotries, malls, biotech research and development plants, and automobile factories does come from liberals. If liberals dominated, nothing would ever get built.

Posted by: contentious on January 16, 2006 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

Peanut--thanks for addressing the argument. I might conclude that you, like so many citizens, are unable to muster counter examples or substantive rebuttal--thus your reply which is devoid of either.

I maybe be smug, but you are definitely "stooopid."

Posted by: Derelict on January 16, 2006 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

Look, folks, you have to face reality. Like it or not, the public wasn't convinced that Alito was bad enough to worry about. A few days of questioning was never going to be enough to turn that around.

How exactly did they determine this? What was the primary item in the news? Yeah, his wife crying. As Dahlia Lithwick noted over in Slate, Dems seem still to think personal attacks or "tough" questioning would break down nominees.

What is at stake is the power of ideas and the bankruptcy of who nominated him and will supply the core votes to confirm. How about underlining how "pro-choice" Arlen Specter blithely supports someone who looks to be just the opposite.

Or, oh so reasonable Arlen et. al. supports someone who LIED about CAP. But, Dems let Graham et. al. spin things and back down with their tails between their legs. They can't even handle personal attacks properly.

Maybe an extended filibuster, with reminder O'Connor is a swing vote etc., would help, hmm?

If you want to throw up your hands and bitch about how stupid the public is, fine.

Cheap shot and petty whining. The complaint is that the Dems are not properly defending the quite defendable counter-ideology, see, e.g., Active Liberty by Justice Breyer. Or to attack statements like this from a former colleague of Alito in the Reagan White House:

"But if there are specific needs that justify exceptional practices under either law to secure the nation's safety, the president is right to see them as part of his constitutional duty, and the signing statement reservation ought better be understood as an effort to alert, not scuttle, Congress. The president and Congress have a common enemy, after all, and it is not themselves." [Douglas W. Kmiec]


And don't underestimate what conservatives have done over the past few decades, either. Sure, they're tough and they throw a lot of crap around, but there's more to it than that. We need answers, not just frustration.

Remember how the Republicans in the House, the minority party, did not back down in the early 1990s, even when the Dems controlled both the Congress and the Presidency? Remember how they demonized the Dems and used pithy sound bites, appealling to the fears of the people?

They showed guts. More than you want the Dems to show. As to other comments, yes, the Dems need to win back power. But, remember how the Republicans won it back. Backing down from a fight was not in the job description. Sure, get support of the grass roots too. But, deep down the people are sympathetic to what the Dems are selling.

So, why not up a concerted effort now? A full page ad was in the NYT trying to get Lifetime back on the air on Dish Network. How about something similar here? Or, are the ethically challenged low poll number Republicans too tough a nut to crack? Now is the time to attack.

But, no, that is too much to ask. Kevin rather attack us. Thanks!

Posted by: Joe on January 16, 2006 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

contentious: Most of the "real work" is done by working people who do (or mostly used to, before they were tricked by religion and other diversions) vote for Democrats and thus "are" Democrats - funny that you should equate owning the business to actually wielding a hammer. The Republicans sometimes invest in constructive ways, but much of their lucre is from useless trading and financial manipulation; their usefulness is at least questionable.

Posted by: Neil' on January 16, 2006 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

KD: you have to face reality. Like it or not, the public wasn't convinced that Alito was bad enough to worry about. A few days of questioning was never going to be enough to turn that around.

If the questioners had divided up responsibilities, hammered on Alito's radical view of sweeping executive powers, and asked short, incisive questions with follow-ups instead of bloviating, a few days of questioning could have done a lot to turn that around.

The NYTimes editorial did a better job than all but two or three members of the Judiciary Committee.

Those of you reading this who are not as defeatist as Kevin: Please read and use the points in the editorial; they are as relevant to Republican senators as to Democrats (at least for all but the nine who voted for torture).

Posted by: Nell on January 16, 2006 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

contentious, is indulging in the No True Scotsman fallacy an acceptable form of argument for conservative university professors?

Posted by: Robert Merkel on January 16, 2006 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

another deplorable ad hominem comment: Most Americans, especially conservatives, are not critical thinkers. They think in and respond to platitudes and find it difficult to generate alternate hypotheses or weigh evidence.

Neil', do you think that most auto mechanics are conservative or liberal? Most electricians? Carpenters? In my experience they have been mostly conservatives. Those I knew to be Democrats left the Democratic party gradually during the 70s and 80s. Of course, the liberal FDR was a strong believer in construction projects. But I doubt that you could get the contemporary Democratic party to rally behind projects like Boulder Dam and Grand Coullee Dam; not to mention the first nuclear pile and nuclear weaponry. Contemporary Democrats would call a halt to lend-lease after the Reuben James "debacle" in the North Atlantic "quagmire". Murtha would say "I served proudly on destroyers in my day, but we can not win the war of the North Atlantic. The crew of even one ship is too great a price to pay."

Posted by: contentious on January 16, 2006 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK
I happen to think that it was never remotely practical for the activist base of the Democratic Party to think that Samuel Alito's Supreme Court nomination could be scuttled in the Senate. After all, only one nominee in the past 35 years, Robert Bork, has been rejected for ideological reasons.

Er, why isn't Harriet Miers sitting on the court? Seems to me that, while most of the overt objections by members were concerns about qualification, its pretty clear that that nomination was scuttled for ideological reasons.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 16, 2006 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK
The right has a comprehensive and understandable critique of "activist liberal judges" while the left has nothing comparable

The problem that honest leftists have trying to create an analog is that the republican "critique" (using that word unjustifiably dignifies it) is entirely unconnected from reality, and this is obvious to anyone with an even passing familiarity with the judiciary.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 16, 2006 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

Look, why is this even hard? Alito seems like a pleasant enough man, but that's not the point. The point is that his record shows unambiguously that he supports a view of Executive Branch power that would turn this country from the republic that the Founders established and fought for into a monarchy, and that he'd toss aside the views of individual rights that are at the core of what's distinctively American without looking back.

He's a dangerous revolutionary, and that's not an exaggeration: that's a sober assessment by a not-very-lefty Chicago Law grad.

That's not complicated, is it? It's pretty much a no-brainer, in fact, and the public's on our side when it's explained to them. So why is it too much to expect Senate Democrats to get up and make the case?

Posted by: Fiorinda on January 16, 2006 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

Er, why isn't Harriet Miers sitting on the court? Seems to me that, while most of the overt objections by members were concerns about qualification, its pretty clear that that nomination was scuttled for ideological reasons.

You couldn't be more precisely wrong. Lots and lots and lots of conservatives and libertarians were genuinely shocked at Miers' lack of relevant experience, lack of ability to think or write clearly (as shown by her horrendous written speeches), etc. The only right-wingers who supported her were precisely the far-right ideologues like James Dobson and Jerry Falwell, who had been assured that Miers was solid on ideological grounds.

Posted by: Niels Jackson on January 17, 2006 at 12:55 AM | PERMALINK

More than Anita Hill's testimony, there was (and is) Thomas' manifest unfitness for the job.

Posted by: Brian Boru on January 17, 2006 at 1:13 AM | PERMALINK

robert Merkel: contentious, is indulging in the No True Scotsman fallacy an acceptable form of argument for conservative university professors?

No.

I haven't used the word "true" with respect to Democrats, I have been comparing contemporary Democrats to past Democrats and claiming that past Democrats were less liberal than contemporaries. consider the subsequent example of dam building by FDR. Would contemporary Democrats support such dam building projects? I don't think more than a minority would. Would modern liberals support the building of the University of California system? In principle maybe, but they would oppose the construction of each actual new building, as they opposed expansion of UCSF biotech research and as they opposed the siting and building of UC Merced. Liberals support scientific research, but they oppose the construction of the buildings to do it in.

Posted by: contentious on January 17, 2006 at 1:54 AM | PERMALINK

I haven't used the word "true" with respect to Democrats

And you never referred to Scotsmen either, so I guess it's impossible for you to have resorted to that fallacy, right Perfesser?

And two examples (for which you never bothered to provide links) from the UC system automatically translate to dam building projects? Quite the hasty generalization.

Posted by: Dobby on January 17, 2006 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

To Contentious: there just aren't that many conservatives to do everything, dumb ass. Contrary to your ridiculously stupid post, there are legions of liberal Democrats running businesses because there is no rule that liberals don't believe in capitalism. Get a life asshole.

Posted by: Bob C on January 17, 2006 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

Contentious: "And besides, most of the tax money does come from conservatives, and most construction companies are run by conservatives. Surely you do not deny that"

The truth of your claim that "most of the tax money comes from conservatives" is empirical. It depends on how you do the math, what you include as tax revenues (income, sales, property...and how do you figure corporate taxes?), how you define "most" and how you define "conservative." I'm confident that economists have looked at it and argue about their findings. But the simple assertion that most tax money comes from conservatives is just a partisan Rush Limbaugh-esque claim. Provide your evidence.

As for you claim that liberals don't build anything, that's just bizarre. I will agree that liberals do waste a lot of energy trying to stop projects that conservatives, especially developers, propose to increase their personal wealth at the expense of the common good and the health of the earth. But liberals totally support initiatives to develop sustainable energy sources, organic food, clean water & air, wetlands, forests, restore and preserve heritage sites, build affordable housing, schools, research labs, hospitals, public buildings and grounds. Liberals love local development projects and small businesses that contribute to local communities (as opposed to big-box-in-a-parking-lot Walmart.) Conservatives and Liberals have very different ideas about how society should be structured, what should be built, who should profit and who bears the cost. The fact that liberals try to stop bad idea projects proposed by the greedy is hardly support for a claim that liberals don't build anything.

In any case, continuing to make these simple claims that conservatives build stuff and pay most of the taxes is a lovely example of my initial assertion that conservatives reason by simple platitudes.

Okay, this is way off topic and the day is full. I'm done.

Posted by: PTate in MN on January 17, 2006 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin:
You are having one of those confused and lost mornings.

You correctly point out that on the judicial/legal side the radical-right is ahead by 30 years.
Recognizing this, some law professors and judges have started some efforts in the other direction. The primary example of this is the American Constitutional Society.

But legal theorizing and long term legal strategizing is not a process that is very accessable or inspiring to those not trained in our legal system or who are not coneseurs of its processes.

Mysticdog is right. The broad public just doesn't give a rats behind what judges and law professors say. And the Right understands this.

The Right has used a careful two pronged approach, with , first, simplistic powerful (fascistic? incendiary?) messages (including straight up falsehoods) that are many times stronger than anything a judge or law professor can safely utter, and, second, the creation of legal strategies and theories on the part of judges and law professors to remold the value structure underlying the law, ONCE THEY HAVE BEEN PUT IN POWER through the efforts of prong one. In the end the 2000 Supreme Court decision to install George Bush as president is a culmination of this, where the necessity of sound legal theory becomes weakened as the right takes hold of the top of the judicial chain.

First there needs to be an anti-right political movement with a long term strategy and a simple message of what it is trying to do. The long term efforts on the judicial/legal side are needed not to move forward the political movement, but rather to solidify the gains. Right-wing judges understand their role now more than ever. They see themselves as part of a movement.

Posted by: ChetBob on January 17, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

PS:
Of course, there is some requirement that Democratic politicians actually see themelves as being engaged in POLITICAL processes rather than being elected to some kind of managerial post where rocking the boat could get you a bad mark during review time by the higher managers or the CEO.

Posted by: ChetBob on January 17, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

PTate in MN: The truth of your claim that "most of the tax money comes from conservatives" is empirical. Do you mean to say that my assertion is empirically true? that's what you wrote, though the rest of the paragraph seems to cast doubt.

Dobby, of course one can only list a few examples. Consider the assertion that JFK was a counterexample to the claim that if it were up to liberals nothing would ever be built. Well, was JFK a liberal? He certainly did things that no liberals nowadays would support. Was FDR a liberal? No liberal nowadays would support the TVA, Grand Coullee Dam or Boulder Dam. FDR started the subsidies for nuclear power, and Truman continued them; would liberals nowadays support subsidies for nuclear power? I don't think so, but they had the opportunity to support other construction projects for enhancing energy supplies in the 2005 energy bill; did liberals in fact support new construction projects?

Posted by: contentious on January 17, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK
No liberal nowadays would support the TVA, Grand Coullee Dam or Boulder Dam.

Your pull this from your own overactive imagination. But since you seem to trade only in imaginings (Creative writing professer, perhaps?) then why not also address the assumed corollary: You honestly think today's Republicans would support public work projects? Please.

FDR started the subsidies for nuclear power, and Truman continued them; would liberals nowadays support subsidies for nuclear power

Do you honestly think that what we knew about nuclear power generation in the 1940s is the same knowledge we have today?

How about posting some actual links to provide bases for your fantasies rather than embarassing yourself any more?

Posted by: Dobby on January 17, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

contentious: "The truth of your claim that "most of the tax money comes from conservatives" is empirical. Do you mean to say that my assertion is empirically true? that's what you wrote, though the rest of the paragraph seems to cast doubt."

Sorry to be opaque. What I should have said is, "Where is the empirical evidence for your claim that "most of the tax money comes from conservatives?" All you've done is assert a partisan position as an act of faith.

As for liberals not supporting dams, nuclear power plants and oil drilling, again, I will repeat what I said earlier, "Conservatives and Liberals have very different ideas about how society should be structured, what should be built, who should profit and who bears the cost." Liberals, in general, oppose development that results in net degradation to the environment or individual or corporate profit at the expense of the community. Conservatives, in general, oppose development projects intended to benefit the community unless they can make a killing for themselves in the process. Conservatives don't see environmental degradation as a problem, as long as the individual investor gets a decent return.

Posted by: PTate in MN on January 17, 2006 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK
I haven't used the word "true" with respect to Democrats, I have been comparing contemporary Democrats to past Democrats and claiming that past Democrats were less liberal than contemporaries. consider the subsequent example of dam building by FDR. Would contemporary Democrats support such dam building projects? I don't think more than a minority would.

Arguments based on views you assume, without evidence, would be held by groups you are arguing about (and especially against) are perhaps the most vacuous kinds of arguments.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 17, 2006 at 10:10 PM | PERMALINK
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