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Hackiest. Concern. Trolling. Ever.

[ 69 ] June 26, 2012 |

Glenn Reynolds is very, very, special. It takes a truly grade A hack to start a piece of concern trolling this way:

For the past couple of months, Democrats and their pundit allies — apparently expecting to lose on ObamaCare in the Supreme Court — have been engaged in a campaign to delegitimize the high court in the eyes of the public. In a related development, Taliban spokesmen threaten to end polio vaccinations in areas they control unless the United States stops drone strikes.

Yes, the fact that Democrats are engaged in some criticism the Supreme Court, of the kind that has been an industry among conservatives for 50 years, makes the Democrats just like the Taliban. When they deny polio vaccinations to children. Similarly, when Glenn Reynolds criticizes Kelo or Boumediene, I’d say it’s like Pol Pot indiscriminately slaughtering intellectuals — futile and self-destructive.

Reynolds’s column has the two obvious problems the left-wing version of this argument does — 1)the idea that federal courts are bastions of liberalism is ludicrous, and 2)the idea that conservatives will stop seeking legal victories if liberals are restrained in criticizing a decision striking down the PPACA is even more fantastical. But this being Reynolds, there’s also some innovative nonsense:

Blowback from his failed court-packing scheme aside, that worked pretty well for FDR. In fact, from his time to the present, the Supreme Court has been a bulwark of the Democrats’ policy platform. Unpopular decisions — ranging from Wickard v. Filburn, to Miranda v. Arizona, to Roe v. Wade — have all been supported by reference to the court’s prestige and legitimacy.

First, Roe v. Wade is, of course, highly popular. Second, I’d love to see evidence that Wickard was unpopular when it was decided. And third, in the midst of an argument that liberals would be crazy to alienate the great friends they have in the federal judiciary the most recent case he cites is from 1973.

Most recently, the Bush administration meekly complied with Supreme Court rulings limiting its powers in the War on Terror despite its belief that the rulings were wrong and an unconstitutional invasion of executive power.

First of all, note the passive-aggressive criticism of the Supreme Court in a column arguing that it’s awful to criticize the Supreme Court. And second, yes, Bush acquiesced in some decisions he disagreed with. And nobody suggests that Obama will refuse to abide a decision striking down the PPACA. So what the hell does this have to do with anything?

And if, as seems increasingly possible, the next president is a Republican with a Republican Congress, the new administration will be in a stronger position to make sweeping changes without worrying so much about the courts. Might we revisit efforts to ban partial-birth abortion? Limit the rights of criminal defendants? Pass a new, tougher Patriot Act?

Yes, I’m absolutely terrified that if Obama criticized the Supreme Court Congress will try to pass bans on an abortion procedure that it already banned in 2003 with the Supreme Court’s approval in 2007. (I mean, I don’t have high expectations of Reynolds, but Jesus Christ this is pathetic stuff.) That particularly farcical bungling of basic facts aside, the answer is the chances of Republicans trying to do this stuff and the Supreme Court upholding it would be exactly the same whether Obama criticizes the Court or not. Which brings us to another question — if we assume Romney is going to win and will have a Republican Senate, why the hell would Democrats want to maximize the power of a Supreme Court where the median vote has to turn to his (or, much less likely, her) left to see Antonin Scalia?

It’s only June, but I think the contest for the worst op-ed published this year is over.

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  • I don’t know what weight you have on “op-ed”, but there’s this very special piece from Stoller:

    But Obama reads Paul Krugman – he studied the left intensely and spent years as a community organizer. He understands his opposition, those crying out for justice against the powerful, and finds them laughable, finds in them weakness at best, a punchline at worst. He reads his left-wing opponents so he can absorb the talking points, and rebut them. Some think that Obama can be appealed to around the better angels of nature, that he’s naturally with “the left” but must be gently praised. But again, this is more of the false hope and change narrative. Obama understands Saul Alinsky. He gets left-wing ideas. But he hates the left, with the passion of any bully towards his victims. To him, they are chumps, weak, pathetic, losers. They are such pathetic losers, in fact, that they will believe anything he tells them. And Obama has no better nature, he is what he’s done in office, someone who murders children with drone strikes and then jokes about it to his rich friends.

    It goes on and on and on…

    • Scott Lemieux

      That’s really awful. And yet, is it worse than his recent claim that Obama is a horrible liar for not making the political advantages of his immigration orders explicit?

      • I….don’t want to read that.

        So, is Stoller worse than Reynolds?

      • Malaclypse

        I’m so old that I remember when Naked Capitalism was a must-read.

        • But was Stoller himself ever a read, much less a must read. I vaguely recall some site where I don’t recall him being terrible…maybe some election following thing?

          • John

            If you ever think you remember Stoller not being terrible, I think what that means is that you weren’t really reading him closely.

            His election coverage in 2008 wasn’t as obviously insane as what he’s writing now, but he was always pretty terrible – a winning combination of extreme self-righteousness and extreme stupidity.

            • Yeah, I know I never paid much attention to him :)

          • Malaclypse

            Dear Cthulhu, no. Yves herself was worthwhile then, back when she rarely had guest posters.

  • dl

    For the past couple of months, Democrats and their pundit allies — apparently expecting to lose on ObamaCare in the Supreme Court — have been engaged in a campaign to delegitimize the high court in the eyes of the public. In a related development, Taliban spokesmen threaten to end polio vaccinations in areas they control unless the United States stops drone strikes.

    I honestly do not understand what the second sentence has to do with the first.

    • It has nothing to do with the first, but if you got all of your information from Michelle Malkin, Victor Davis Hanson, etc. it would make perfect sense.

    • Malaclypse

      For the past couple of months, Republicans and their pundit allies — apparently expecting to lose on Duncan v. Louisiana in the Supreme Court — have been engaged in a campaign to delegitimize the high court in the eyes of the public. In a related development, Soviet tanks rolled into Prague, and the United States did nothing to stop them.

      I’ll point out that this makes no less sense than what Beauchamp Brogan Distinguished Professor of Law Glenn Reynolds wrote.

      • DrDick

        That is the really frightening part of this. The man who penned this vomitus teaches constitional law to students at a public institution.

    • mark f

      I see two possibilities:

      Most likely, he’s saying overturning Obamacare is a trifling concern because the Taliban is objectively worse than the status quo ante Blue Cross-Blue Shield. It’s a variation of “How can you talk about equal pay when clitoral mutilation happens in Africa?,” also known as “Hey, look over there!”

      The second option is that Reynolds is clumsily suggesting that the president will do something awful if he doesn’t get his way, because he’s just as bad as the Taliban.

      And now that I’ve written that, I actually think the second one is probably more likely. Reynolds’s default position seems to be “maximally ridiculous,” so it would be consistent with his character.

      • What’s awesome is that, when the “maximally ridiculous” doesn’t come to pass, he can tell himself that it would have had he not warned against it, thereby making it more difficult for the evil Democrats to do it. So, if he were not doing what he’s doing, perhaps the Obama administration would be the Taliban.

    • Barry

      “I honestly do not understand what the second sentence has to do with the first.”

      It analogizes the Democrats to the Taliban.

      • (the other) Davis

        Not so much “analogizes” as “puts them near each other in the text.”

  • Deggjr

    Democrats trying to delegitimize the Supreme Court? I had no idea ‘Impeach Earl Warren’ was a left wing movement.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      It was….just like Nazism! Remember that it was led by segregationists in the late ’50s, i.e. Democrats, i.e. Teh Left!!!!

      Robert Byrd was in the Klan dontchaknow!

      And Earl Warren was a Republican!

      We have always been at war with Eastasia!

  • I am one of those who want to delegitimate the Supreme Court, which has a mostly inglorious history. At the very least, let us set term limits of something like 8 years. The court has had some moments – but mostly, the record of the supreme court is bleak. The dred scott decision is much more typical of the court’s leanings than the Roe vs. Wade decision. From trying to block the progressive movement to approving of Jim Crow and sterilization to the past thirty years of royalist economics and a drug policy that has literally swallowed up every constitutional protection we once enjoyed, with the enthusiastic backing of the Court, it has to be one of the most inglorious branch of the government. From the polls I’ve read, the Supreme Court has an approval rating, right now, of only about 46 percent. http://abovethelaw.com/2011/10/scotus-approval-ratings-tank-but-who-is-to-blame/

    I think James Fallows is right: the supreme court has simply become a GOP coup machine. I have the respect for it that I have for, say, the Egyptian Supreme Court. Sure, I could imagine it liberalizing – say, a really liberal president (sort of unimaginable, but it could happen) actually nominating and pushing really liberal justices. But that scenario is of a personalist politics which I think is just too chancy. I can’t think of a constitutional amendment that would, a., do more good, and b., have a chance of passing than one limiting the terms of the Supreme Court justices. It is a perfect time for such a thing.

  • Fraser

    I’m deeply moved by his description of how Bush actually humiliated himself by obeying the Supreme Court’s authority even though he disagreed with it.
    What nobility W. had.

    • Who can forget the image of W. standing barefoot in the snow outside the gates of Canossa, waiting for Rehnquist to receive him? Best photo op ever.

      • firefall

        Investitures Struggles reference for the win

      • Malaclypse

        The Presidency is well worth a Mass.

  • Walt

    Is the bit about the Taliban real? Because that’s the dumbest threat I’ve ever heard. They should up the ante and threaten to kill everyone in the areas they control. That’ll show the Americans.

    • Malaclypse

      I assumed Reynolds was misremembering the scene from Apocalypse Now where the Viet Cong cut off the arms of vaccinated kids. But I’m not getting off the boat to check.

      • IIRC, it’s true. It’s based on the fact that Bin Laden was located using a CIA operation masquerading as a polio vaccination campaign. So now all polio vaccination campaigns are suspect. It’s not, however, in any way relevant to PPACA or the Supreme Court.

        • DocAmazing

          I probably get as much pushback against polio vaccination in California as the Taliban gets in Afghanistan.

          • firefall

            but with less logic to it

            • Holden Pattern

              No, it’s logical. We’re a secret fifth column on the coasts, and we’re worried that the government will discover our leaders in our campaign to impose Sharia law, gay marriage, and the contamination of the precious bodily fluids of the rest of the country.

  • Rarely Posts

    The best reason for liberals/leftists/smart people not to spend time criticizing the Supreme Court is that it wastes time that could be spent criticizing the Senate. But, with all of this modern technology, we should be capable of some multitasking.

    I seriously think that we may need to have another constitutional convention sometime in the next decade or two.

    • Davis X. Machina

      Wait till Ron Paul’s dead, please…

    • Malaclypse

      You think that our current elites will do better?

  • SP

    This is a relative of the age-old “stupid or evil?” question, but is Reynolds really this dumb or is this an act he’s putting on to satisfy the rubes he calls his audience? I mean, he did somehow end up as a tenured professor. I guess maybe it’s the same question that applies to Scalia.

    • c u n d gulag

      It’s not necessarily an either-or question.

      Stupid and evil often get along even better than peanut butter and chocolate.

      So, the safe answer to the question of ‘stupid or evil?’, is – “both!”

      • Colin Day

        Would that be the Reese’s Theory of Incompetence?

    • Rarely Posts

      “[I]n the scheme of things, we are as we do.”
      – Caprica Six.

    • Bruce Baugh

      Fred Clark of Slacktivist argues that consistently choosing evil ends up making you stupid too. I agree.

  • Bart

    “And nobody suggests that Obama will refuse to abide a decision striking down the PPACA.”

    Maybe not, but worth considering.

  • ploeg

    It’s only June, but I think the contest for the worst op-ed published this year is over.

    I object to closing the competition so early in a presidential election year. I’m actually looking for a bumper crop this year.

    • bradp

      This. A quote from the Simpsons comes to mind:

      Marge: This is the worst thing you’ve ever done!
      Homer: You know, you say that so much it’s lost all meaning.

    • firefall

      I agree – I have faith in the Ole Perfesser to exceed his own previous standards, if nothing else. Imagine the spittle-flecked bile that will be emitted if the President is reelected, for one.

  • This is not bungling the facts, it is deliberately misstating the facts. Sometimes we call that ‘lying’. It is purposeful, intended to deceive and persuade. It works, too. I think my favorite part is citing Wickard as a historically unpopular decision. Right now, with the ACA decision pending, you could walk into any law school in the country and ask, ‘What was the holding in Wickard v. Filburn?’ I’ll bet you a doughnut that not three in ten of the people you meet, faculty included, would be able to tell you.

    • Scott Lemieux

      See, I think it’s really possible that Reynolds is so stupid and ignorant he’s unaware of Carhart II. What’s the propaganda angle in lying about it?

      • John

        Here’s Reynolds talking about Carhart II right after it happened. So obviously he knows about it.

  • Rob Patterson

    I believe that Reynolds is motivated by pure hatred of liberals more than any other mainstream conservative. It explains everything he writes.

    • Davis X. Machina

      Parsimonious? Check.
      Saves the phenomenon? Check.

      You’re probably right.

  • Joshua

    Insult added to injury: Larding up on student loans to attend UT Law and ending up in Glenn Reynolds’ class.

    • mark f

      A guy I used to work with is paying $40,000 per year to learn it from Hugh Hewitt. I assume LA is more fun than Knoxville, at least.

      • John

        Wait, Hugh Hewitt is a law professor? Seriously??

        • mark f

          Amazing but true. Not that I’m a snob, or have any right to be, but it is at a third-tier school I’d never heard of until said co-worker mentioned he was going there. But still.

  • Yes, the fact that Democrats are engaged in some criticism the Supreme Court, of the kind that has been an industry among conservatives for 50 years, makes the Democrats just like the Taliban.

    Say, I seem to recall a fellow name of Coulter who threatened the life of a SCOTUS Justice…conservative named John Paul Stevens, as I recall…

  • mpowell

    It’s a minor point, but it really says a lot about you when your take on Miranda v Arizona is that it’s a crazy left wing idea. It may not be as popular as it ought to be, but you really discredit yourself as an intellectual if you’re just going to come out and say it was wrongly decided. The alternative is police torturing confessions out of whoever they think is guilty.

    • Bexley

      you really discredit yourself as an intellectual

      Surely Reynolds is long past the point where anyone mistakes him for an intellectual.

    • Scott Lemieux

      But he’s just a quirky libertarian!

      • Njorl

        When the government informs an arrested individual of their rights, the opportunity for a private business to inform them of their rights is destroyed.

        Think of how many jobs it could create. Entrepreneurs could hang out at jails hawking miranda rights for $5 a pop. Innovators could design vending machines to dispense cards with “You have the right to remain silent…”. But no, liberals hate capitalism.

    • John

      Is that really the alternative? That seems ridiculously over the top. Miranda was very controversial at the time. And there were alternative ways of dealing with the issue. The dissents contain some fairly decent arguments about how defendants’ rights can be protected without going so far as the Miranda decision does. And as Justice Harlan put it in his dissent

      The new rules are not designed to guard against police brutality or other unmistakably banned forms of coercion. Those who use third-degree tactics and deny them in court are equally able and destined to lie as skillfully about warnings and waivers.

      Which is not to say that I disagree with Miranda. I think that time has shown that a lot of the concerns of Harlan and the other dissenters were fairly baseless. But it seems disingenuous to argue that disagreeing with Miranda means that you support torturing confessions out of people.

      • jefft452

        “But it seems disingenuous to argue that disagreeing with Miranda means that you support torturing confessions out of people.”

        In the 70’s-80’s Fred Friendly did a series on various social-political topics, with panels of Senators, newspaper editors, Generals, former heads of the ACLU, etc, etc
        They even had an ex-President from time to time

        It was the first time I heard, and was impressed, Barney Frank

        It was also the first time I heard Scalia
        One of his gems was (paraphrase, 30yr old memory) “Even if the police beat a confession out of a suspect, they are trying to beat an honest confession out of him”

        So, no, I don’t think its disingenuous at all

        • John

          You’re employing the fallacy of the excluded middle here. What about the position Harlan lays out in his dissent, or that Clark lays out in his partial concurrence/partial dissent? Neither of them condones physical abuse of suspects. Just because Scalia is an asshole who likes torture doesn’t mean that the only alternative to Miranda is cops tortuing confessions out of people

          • Jamie

            Of course there are other options. We could just hang people accused of something. We could ask psychics to guess.

            What the court did, instead, was to attempt to preserve rights those accused of crimes. I find it difficult to understand why people who support the American Experiment seem to take issue with doing so.

  • efgoldman

    I didn’t click. Can’t make me. Neener.

  • Socraticsilence

    This is actually something I’ve been wondering if the worse comes to pass will conservative triumphalism about the ACA ruling mean they’ll start to accept past USSC rulings as true as well or does the Supreme Court only exist as the ultimate arbitrator of constitutional authority when its packed with hacks, harassers and dicks?

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  • hylen

    Well, I thought the Stoller article was excellent. FTR

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