Thursday, September 05, 2002

Change for the Worse. According to Stanley Hoffman, many things have changed in the year since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon (is anyone else concerned that our conversational shorthand for those attacks, i.e., "9/11", is in grave danger 9/11/02 approaches?). Unfortunately, many of these changes are clearly for the worse, and some of them fly in the face of our stated goal of fighting terrorism around the world. But then, this is what liberals have been arguing since last September: the concept of a war on terrorism is utterly meaningless, at least in so far as it has been applied by this White House. Indeed, it remains unclear, nearly a year later, than the concept ever could have been put to any remotely meaningful use. It's empty rhetoric of the worst kind: jingoistic, blatantly political, and it seriously obfuscates our true purpose and mission (which, or should be, to isolate and eliminate al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden). From the early days of the phrases ugly existence, persceptive commentators have noted that a true war on terrorism, and by direct and explicit extention the nations which harbor them, would have to include action against Russia, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, and Pakistan, to name a few. Clearly, this is seen as undesirable, which is why you haven't heard much about any of those terrorist-harboring nations (with the exception of Saudi Arabia, thanks to the radical conservatives who dominate talk radio). Instead, all we get is Iraq, which this Administration wanted to go after even before 9/11. There is word for this: rationalization. It is intellectually dishonest, not to mention lazy.

Anyway, back to Hoffman's article, which goes into far greater depth than I will here on a topic that I've been thinking about a lot lately. The past year has been pretty much awful for this country. Our one great success, effecting regime change in a very timely and efficient manner in Afghanistan, has been entirely undermined by the violent chaos that has been allowed to fester there since the Karzai government was installed. Moreover, the Bush Administration has pulled off the almost unbelievable task of running down international goodwill toward America to a point lower than it was on 9/10. When the attacks came, this country enjoyed, and appreciated, a tremendous outpouring of support from all over the world. That support has been replaced by anger, frustration, resentment, and a shocked disbelief that a nation so great could behave so badly, so consistently, for so long.

This state of affairs is likely to continue so long as a Republican remains in the White House. But this trend is a recent one, and the damage it has done to our standing in the world is reversible as long as the trend can be reversed fairly quickly, and fairly dramatically. The first step is a Congressional Democratic victory in November, along with a significant pick up of governorships. This will be the first major battle of the presidential election, and if Democratics can win it decisively (I doubt it, but I think they can win it), it will greatly improve their chances to win back the White House in 2004, and start cleaning up this horrendous mess.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

See What I Mean? Via Tapped, this article sheds some light on why judicial appointments are so crucially important. If the White House press corps is bad (and it is), that's nothing compared to the coverage the courts get. Unless it's a big story case (which is usually, but not always, trivial), these decisions get very little news coverage. And yet, as this article points out, we are in the middle of a judicial revolution, lead by the conservatives on the Supreme Court, to rewrite the law. You see, the Republicans aren't popular enough to get enough Republicans into Congress to pass their legislative agenda. Even if they were to achieve this through Congress, the results would be so horrifying that the Democrats would get back in again before long and start putting things back. Notice how much steam the Republicans have lost in the House of Representatives after the Historic Conservative Over-Reach of 1994, and the Democrats haven't even got control back (yet!).

So, instead, they focus on the courts, and saturate them with conservatives at every level. Even the reputedly "ultra liberal" 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals, as this article points out, is about 50% conservative, 25% moderate, and 25% liberal. This allows judges to rewrite laws that would never pass through Congress. It's diabolical, it's ingenious, it's working, and it's got to be stopped. Priscilla Owen, reactionary conservative judicial nominee of the month, is only the latest chapter. Certainly not the last.
Who Do You Trust? Ari Fleischer says there is no disagreement on Iraq within the Administration, but Colin Powell says differently. Who do you believe?

Unfortunately, he also does a lot of unseemly mealy-mouthing, but that's not entirely his fault. Somehow, he's got to find a way to convey his opinions while not completely undermining the White House message control operation, which unfortunately forces him to say stupid things and talk out of both sides of his mouth. His association with Bush is really undermining his own reputation savagely, which is a shame. Liberals and conservatives both hate him. But at least the not-paying-attention-public still loves him.

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

This Spinning is Making Me Dizzy. Ari Fleischer assures the White House Press Corps that there is no difference of opinion on Iraq between the Dick Cheney and Colin Powell. If you believe that, I'm sorry, I've got to ask you to leave this site. There is simply nothing for you here.

For those of you who haven't been paying attention, for Cheney, the question of weapons inspectors returning to Iraq is not so much an afterthought as an irrelevant distraction. Josh Marshall, back from his recent vacation, discusses it here. Colin Powell, on the other hand, thinks that the United States needs to pursue the possibility of resuming inspections before committing itself to a war with Iraq. Indeed, from Powells statements, which echo recent treasonous bleatings from noted liberal peaceniks Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft, and Larry Eagleberger, it would seem that a resumption of inspections would, at least temporarily, take "regime change" off the table. Well, the man's finally speaking up. He waited long enough. It's only innocent human life on the line, after all.

For the full Washington Post article on Fleischer's feeble revionsism, click here.
A Personal Note From Terminus. I'm back from my long weekend. I had intended to post much more today than I've ended up doing, but law school has gotten the better of me once again. It's a tough gig. But I'm keeping my head above water. In fact, now that I've got my feet on the ground, and I more or less have a handle on it, I've decided to start looking into some extra-curricular activities. Which brings me to my latest subject: the American Constitution Society. If you've never heard of this group, you're hardly alone, but I suggest you check this site now.

There is an ACS chapter at Rutgers Law School, Camden, and I will be attending their first meeting of the semester tomorrow at 1pm. I'm very excited. This group is, basically, the liberal answer to the Federalist Society. After reading books such as Blinded by the Right and The Hunting of the President, I've come to understand how powerfully dangerous the Federalist Society is. It is because of them that the Supreme Court is made up entirely of conservatives and moderates, with no one at all who could accurately be called liberal. It is because of them that the Federal Judiciary has moved sharply to the right in the last thirty years. Their crusade against "judicial activists" who dared to expand the power of the federal government by standing up to the states on issues like segregation, minority rights, and abortion, has resulted in a new era of "judicial activism", whereby the federal government steps in to prevent states from adopting progressive policies supported by their own populations. And it was the Federalist Society, through various means, which lurked behind the unprecedented attempt to undo a national election by impeachment of a popular president for offenses which did not even rise to the level of petty crime.

The Federalist Society understood decades ago how to turn one of the greatest strengths of our constitutional system against itself. The system of checks and balances, whereby each branch of the federal government has limited power which can be used to curtail the actions of the other branches, has been appropriated by right-wing ideologues to win in court political battles they know they cannot win in the voting booths. The power of the judiciary was affirmed, and enhanced, in December 2000. What difference does it make what the majority of Americans want, or even what the majority of Floridians want? All that matters, now, is what the majority of Supreme Court Justices want.

The ACS is a very young organization, and it is dwarfed by the awesome influence of the Federalist Society. But the Federalist Society is not such an old organization itself. It began, I believe, during or soon after the Nixon Administration. In the time since, it has risen to become a powerful force in American politics. The left must have a force of its own, to push back against the draconian, retrograde agenda of the right, and that force has to start somewhere. I will be proud to be a member of the ACS, and to perform whatever small task I may in furtherance of a liberal revolution in America.