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Obamaney Cluelessness: Supreme Court Division

[ 194 ] November 1, 2012 |

Will the difference between Obama and Romney matter for the Supreme Court? Professional obfuscator of significant partisan differences David Sirota says no. And if a pundit who doesn’t actually know anything about the Supreme Court has made a bad argument, we’re likely to see it here!

Before we get to that, let’s first ask whether, on the surface, the Supreme Court Argument is even valid? Looked at through the prism of history, the answer is murky at best. Recall that Republican presidents in the past have appointed some of the court’s most liberal voices, from Eisenhower nominee Earl Warren to Ford nominee John Paul Stevens to Bush I nominee David Souter.

First of all, this would be relevant if Obama were running against Zombie Dwight Eishenhower or Zombie Gerald Ford. How anyone can see a continuity between the national Republican Party of 1952 and 2012 is beyond me, although that certainly explains a lot about Obamaney hackery. (Sirota seems to have bought Romney’s painfully obvious con, and he’s not even the intended mark!) At any rate, the Souter selection — which was a fluke of obscure administration politics that didn’t reflect any desire on the part of George H.W. Bush to put a liberal on the Court — ensures that we’ll never get another Souter from a Republican.

Relatedly, I should note that the idea that Supreme Court justices are “unpredictable” is highly misleading. Judges chosen for ideological reasons are, in fact, highly predictable. Eisenhower picked Warren and Brennan for political reasons, and it’s not is if their relative liberalism wasn’t known at the time they were nominated. Current institutional norms insure that Supreme Court choices will be largely ideological.

Now, let’s ask the more disturbing question about Democrats and their Supreme Court Argument: namely, what are they really saying when they specifically insist Romney must be defeated to prevent his presumably ultraconservative nominees from getting onto the court? They are actually making the self-incriminating admission that they know their own party will not use their powers in the Senate to vote those nominees down. In constitutional “advice and consent” terms, they are too willing to consent to any jurist – no matter how extreme – a Republican politician nominates. In fact, while Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush did withdraw nominations on their own, Democrats haven’t actually mustered the courage to vote down a Republican Supreme Court nomination in more than a quarter-century.

And conservatives haven’t prevented a Democratic nominee from being confirmed to the Supreme Court in more than forty years!

Anyway, this argument is really silly, for reasons I’ve already discussed at length. Obviously, Senate Democrats can place some constraints on a president’s nominees. But there’s no reason to believe that Senate Democrats can stop Romney from appointing anyone, and although Sirota is the last person in the world who doesn’t understand this generic Republican circuit court judges who don’t write controversial articles are far more likely to be Alitos than Kennedys. And even in the extraordinarily unlikely event that the Democrats could stop any nominee to the right of Bork’s replacement, remember that Kennedy just voted to hold the New Deal unconstitutional, cast the swing vote to hold arbitrary strip searches unconstitutional, etc. etc. etc. The difference between a court where Anthony Kennedy is the median vote and Elena Kagan is the median vote would be huge — and that’s the best-case scenario.

“Obama’s track record is not actually that good (on court nominees),” noted Matt Stoller here at Salon. “As a senator, Obama publicly chided liberals for demanding that Sen. Patrick Leahy block Sam Alito from the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Obama-appointed Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor has in her career already ruled to limit access to abortion, and Elena Kagan’s stance is not yet clear.”

Stoller’s analysis makes sense — if you think that Samuel Alito is a liberal. If you actually understand anything about how federal courts work, not so much.

That said, just remember that every time the Supreme Court Argument is aired as a means of shutting down a discussion about inconvenient truths, the arguments proponents are openly admitting that nobody should believe today’s Democratic Party is for what it says it is for.

Or it could mean that the fact that presidents have the appointment power means something, there’s no precedent for serially rejecting nominees, and serially rejecting nominees would lead to an institutional equilibrium that would be much more congenial to reactionary interests. Who can say?

Comments (194)

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  1. somethingblue says:

    But there’s no reason to believe that Senate Democrats can will stop Romney from appointing anyone

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      So let’s say Senate Democrats were to do this. Which would also mean that a Democratic president couldn’t appoint anyone. This helps progressives how exactly?

      • Murc says:

        It… wouldn’t, but that’s not relevant to the use of language?

        Assuming more than 40 Senate Democrats, they absolutely CAN stop Romney from appointing anyone. That is a thing that CAN happen.

        Whether it would be a good idea is irrelevant.

        Moreover, your own use of language makes the issue less clear than it should be. The Senate not be able to do something is much, much different than the Senate not WANTING to do something, and that division should be recognized.

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          Based on the prevailing norms, they can’t. I stand by my point.

        • JoshA says:

          Disagree if the GOP takes the Senate (admittedly this looks increasingly unlikely). But if they were to do so, they’d bring back the “nuclear option” and eliminate the filibuster.

          • Barry says:

            “Disagree if the GOP takes the Senate (admittedly this looks increasingly unlikely). But if they were to do so, they’d bring back the “nuclear option” and eliminate the filibuster.”

            No, they’d threaten it, and back the Dems down from filibustering a bunch of important stuff.

            The GOP will never eliminate the filibuster, because they can override it with sufficient threats on important enough matters, while the Dems will never do the same to a minority GOP.

  2. Here’s what I don’t get. It seems as though Sirota and Stoller are both people who are disappointed that Obama hasn’t been more liberal. There are, in many areas, reasons to be disappointed. But how do you get from there to “Romney might appoint the next Earl Warren”? I don’t agree with the whole heighten the contradictions strategy one bit, but at least it’s coherent enough to be explained. Still, I don’t see the throughline from “Obama is a mediocre liberal” to “Romney might be the real liberal.” At some point I just have to assume they’re either completely dishonest or they’ve been driven mad by trying to prove an untrue assertion, which is the same question I’ve tried to answer about FOX News.

    • tonycpsu says:

      Occam’s Razor: It’s #slatepitch style clickbait.

    • njorl says:

      Someone disagreed with them on the internet. They’ll show them! They’ll show them all!

    • JoshA says:

      I think it follows the same analysis of cons who can’t stand the idea of Obama getting reelected: X is true, Y is a possibility that is too horrifying to contemplate, therefore Z is true.

      So for cons:
      1. Obama’s the worst president ever.
      2. Given that Obama is the worst president ever, it cannot be the case that he will be reelected because that is too horrifying to contemplate.
      3. Therefore, Mitt will be elected.

      For the Stollers of the world:
      1. Obama is not a true progressive and has been bad for progressive policy
      2. It cannot be the case that the alternative to Obama would be even worse for progressive policy because that is too horrifying to contemplate.
      3. Therefore, Mitt will produce more positive outcomes for progressives than Obama.

    • Barry says:

      “Here’s what I don’t get. It seems as though Sirota and Stoller are both people who are disappointed that Obama hasn’t been more liberal. There are, in many areas, reasons to be disappointed. But how do you get from there to “Romney might appoint the next Earl Warren”? ”

      Simple. Start with the desired conclusion ‘I hate Obama’. Then twist the logic to fit that conclusion. Then sell it to the sort of g-d motherf-ing backstabbing ‘liberal’ publication who likes to urge defeat, out of some masochistic ‘purity’ fetish. Or to some right-wing publication eager to publish a piece about how a liberal ‘saw the light’.

  3. Janastas359 says:

    I was wondering when LGM would get to Sirota. Around the time of Stoller’s Salon article, Sirota wrote an article that argued that being an undecided voter makes the most sense, because there are almost no differences between Obama and Romney.

  4. thusbloggedanderson says:

    I suppose one disadvantage of Campos writing for Salon is that we have to pretend the site deserves to be taken seriously.

  5. Because the Democrats can’t be trusted to block extremist Republican Supreme Court nominees, it doesn’t really matter whether a Republican gets elected President.

    What the hell kind of reasoning is that? If the Senate Democrats won’t block extremist Republican nominees, then that makes it even more important that we not have a Republican President nominating people to the court.

    • Cody says:

      This.

      I’m completely, 100% confused by his reasoning. I keep thinking I missed something. I keep coming with the same paradox. How does the Democratic Senators not being willing to block judicial nominees make it less important that we don’t have a Republican President?

      He then proceeds to use this as proof that the Democratic party doesn’t stand for what it says it does. I fail to see any relationship between standing for something and judicial appointment fights.

      I guess in his mind the only way to stand up for something is to completely shut down the US government. I’m guessing he’s a Republican?

      • It’s a morality play. Democrats haven’t earned your vote, don’t vote for them. The End. This also covers the “they’ll get rich from speaking fees whether they win or lose this election” line. They haven’t suffered enough, or don’t fear the exquisite pain of anguish should they lose. Or something.

        • Hob says:

          By the way, doesn’t the “they’ll get rich whether they win or lose” argument directly contradict the “you should punish them by not giving them your vote” argument? How can you punish someone who doesn’t mind losing?

          • Cody says:

            Well, being rich is nice. But what evil fascist communist Democrats really desire is power, I assume. They want to rule every part of your life, dontchaaknow?

      • Janastas359 says:

        He then proceeds to use this as proof that the Democratic party doesn’t stand for what it says it does. I fail to see any relationship between standing for something and judicial appointment fights.

        Does this mean that Republicans aren’t actually opposed to abortion, since they allowed a couple of Obama nominees onto the court? What terrible logic.

        • bexley says:

          Obviously Republican supporters should be voting for Obama to heighten the contradictions.

        • I think you got that backwards. He’s saying there is no relationship (which puts it a bit too strongly, but whatever) between what you stand for, and what you’d block a Supreme Court nominee over.

          The example of Republicans not blocking pro-choice nominees, despite standing for anti-abortion politics, is an example of Cody’s point.

      • djw says:

        He then proceeds to use this as proof that the Democratic party doesn’t stand for what it says it does. I fail to see any relationship between standing for something and judicial appointment fights.

        I’m inclined to agree, but even we didn’t, it wouldn’t help their argument at all. I’ve seen this argument a number of times from Stoller types: 1. The Democrats are worthless as an opposition party. 2. Let’s put them in opposition.

        • bradP says:

          I think the argument is that they are worthless as the ruling party, so why support them?

          • spencer says:

            But that doesn’t seem to be the actual argument the linked piece is making, at least if you base your judgment on the actual words used by the author of it.

          • djw says:

            But the answer to that question is right there, highlighted and underlined in their own analysis: they do less harm in power than they do in opposition.

      • Murc says:

        I fail to see any relationship between standing for something and judicial appointment fights.

        Wait, what, really?

        The Sirota article is bunk, but there are a few accurate things in there, and that’s one of them.

        If you say you are in favor of, say, a right to privacy, but vote to appoint a Judge who will gut it, you do not stand for what you say you do. If you say you are in favor of the New Deal, but vote to appoint a judge who wants to gut it, you are not in favor of what you say you are.

        That doesn’t seem very complicated.

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          Except, of course, that pretty much any generic Republican falls into that category, and serially rejecting Supreme Court nominees would strongly favor reactionary interests in the long run. So no.

          BTW, I assume you think that Senate Republicans are strongly committed to Roe v. Wade because they didn’t filibuster Kagan and Sotomayor?

          • Murc says:

            Well, I should state that there are two possibilities; the first is that you’re not actually in favor of what you say you are, the second is that you’re dumb and/or feckless.

            I’m not sure how serially rejecting Supreme Court nominees is relevant here. If a Senator believes someone would be a completely shitty justice, they should vote against them, regardless of if he’s the first or the hundred and first nominee presented for their consideration.

            I assume you think that Senate Republicans are strongly committed to Roe v. Wade because they didn’t filibuster Kagan and Sotomayor?

            I assume that at least SOME Senate Republicans (given that they barely had the numbers for a filibuster at the time) are dumb or uncommitted, actually. Kagan and Sotomayor both represent values that Senate Republicans profess to find loathsome. Not filibustering them (which is basically the same as being in favor of them being appointed) means that either they don’t find those values as loathsome as they say or that they’re not really committed to doing everything in their power to stop their promulgation.

            • djw says:

              Not filibustering them (which is basically the same as being in favor of them being appointed) means that either they don’t find those values as loathsome as they say or that they’re not really committed to doing everything in their power to stop their promulgation.

              Or it means they are adhering to a current norm, which is to give a president a fair amount of latitude to appoint SC justices on “their side”.

              You keep describing each vote on each judge a simple matter of judgement, with no broader political implications. That’s obviously nonsense. No matter how you describe it, you are effectively (as long as the Republican party is anything approaching what it is now) suggesting a course of action that would destroy that norm. The consequence would be that seats on the Supreme Court would remain vacant, only filled in brief moments of unified government. If you’ve got a case to make for how that would advance progressive ends more effectively than the status quo, please make it. Until then, you’re simply not taking your own position seriously.

              • Murc says:

                Or it means they are adhering to a current norm, which is to give a president a fair amount of latitude to appoint SC justices on “their side”.

                That falls under the realm of ‘feckless’ to me. “Well gosh gee willikers, we COULD have stopped this person we find to be vile and loathsome from being appointed a lifetime tenure to the highest court in the land, and we could have done it without breaking any laws or, indeed, violating the mutually agreed upon rules of the Senate.

                “But we didn’t, because we’d have violated a NORM. Sorry, everyone. Maybe in another forty years when the young, crazy people we let get onto the court die, you can have your Republican back.”

                The consequence would be that seats on the Supreme Court would remain vacant, only filled in brief moments of unified government.

                If the people elect a Senate and a President who are incapable of finding mutually agreed upon people to staff the government, my only real response is ‘fair enough. They’ll get what they voted for.’

                • Murc says:

                  That should, of course, have read “have your Republic back.”

                • djw says:

                  You still refuse to actually explain how destroying this norm and expanding the use of the filibuster even further is likely to advance progressive ends. Until you at least make at least a token effort here, it’s not really possible to take you seriously.

            • Not filibustering them (which is basically the same as being in favor of them being appointed)

              That is a corrupt, destructive, radical, irresponsible doctrine, and the one we’ve been denouncing when practices by the Republicans for the past four years.

              • Murc says:

                … the other adjectives are open to debate, but ‘corrupt?’ Explain that one.

                Also, who do you mean ‘we?’ Republican use of the filibuster has risen to unprecedented heights, but my only problem with it is that they’re using it to stop good legislation and prevent qualified (and I use that term to mean both technically AND idealogicially qualified) people from staffing the government and the judiciary. The filibuster qua the filibuster is just a Senate rule.

                I don’t agree with the existence OF the rule, but as long as it does exist, they’d be idiots to not be using it. Invoking it is neutral on its face; the ends to which you invoke it are not.

                • Hob says:

                  But you seem to be saying that the filibuster is and/or should be the only way to oppose something– since you think that if they didn’t filibuster it, they must support it.

                  There used to be these things called “votes”, and also this thing called “debate” where legislators attempted to convince other legislators to vote their way.

                • Hob says:

                  Your disregard my comment above, since your response to Joe below makes it clear that I’m wasting my time.

                • Hob says:

                  (don’t know what that “Your” was doing there)

            • Scott Lemieux says:

              I’m not sure how serially rejecting Supreme Court nominees is relevant here. If a Senator believes someone would be a completely shitty justice, they should vote against them, regardless of if he’s the first or the hundred and first nominee presented for their consideration.

              Except that since by “completely shitty” you seem to mean “someone whose ideology is closer to a Republican president than my own,” the result of this would be a completely broken institutional process, which would serve the interests of reactionaries in the long run. The prevailing norms in the Senate are far more sensible than the ones you prefer, because precisely equal Senate responsibility is completely unworkable. As djw says, you have repeatedly failed to address this point.

        • Cody says:

          If the Democrats appointed a judge against their stated position, I would see his correlation.

          However, that isn’t his hypothetical. He is saying they don’t vote down Republican judges that don’t line up with their politics. This seems pretty normal. Otherwise there would never be any judges appointed, as the other party would always filibuster. Otherwise, why would there even be two different parties?

        • There is a big difference between “vote to appoint” and “not block” when we’re talking about the United States Senate.

          I don’t know how old you are, Murc, but in the old days, senators used to not use the filibuster every time they opposed something, but would still vote against it when it came to a vote.

          “Came to a vote?” Uh, that’s something we used to say, like “give me five bees for a quarter.”

          • Murc says:

            I don’t know how old you are, Murc, but in the old days, senators used to not use the filibuster every time they opposed something, but would still vote against it when it came to a vote.

            I’m aware of the old norm, and basically my opinion on that is ‘idiots.’ If the tool existed, NOT using it is just dumb. If you think something is dangerous and/or wrong, you are morally obligated to do something about within the framework of the commonly agreed upon rules of your society. Inventing new ones that further restrict your action and then adhering to them out of some misplaced sense of decorum just seems idiotic, and its gotten the Democrats into all manner of trouble the past ten years.

            • zolltan says:

              You’re not giving enough credit to norms. They’re what’s keeping society together, man!

              There’s so many things for which it’s impractical or impracticable to have rules and laws and yet we want to avoid certain consequences and norms do this.

              On the one hand I guess it’s a very conservative thing to say, but on another I think any hope in “peace order and good government” like rests on the hope that norms will restrain open non-illegal sabotage of government activities. So people who want an effective government should be fans of norms. In any case, it’s not just for fainting Victorian ladies.

              In this specific instance, though, I kinda think the whole SCOTUS setup in the US is a very stupid way of going about things, amounting at this stage to a very bizarre House of Lords basically, so if completely fucking with the norms of justice nominations could maybe destroy the institution, I wouldn’t be so against it.

              • Scott Lemieux says:

                It’s especially bizarre to completely dismiss the importance of norms when dealing with the United States Senate, which can cause the American governing process to grind to a halt against majority will in any number of ways that are perfectly legal.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      What the hell kind of reasoning is that? If the Senate Democrats won’t block extremist Republican nominees, then that makes it even more important that we not have a Republican President nominating people to the court.

      Except, of course, that Romney would probably nominate Pam Karlan to attract women to the ticket, since the Republican Party hasn’t changed one whit since 1956!

    • spencer says:

      That’s what I thought he was saying too, but I knew I must be misreading something somewhere – because who the hell would seriously make an argument as stupid as that *and* put their name on it?

  6. Jason says:

    And of course, even if Sirota were right in his moronic view that Senate Democrats could serially turn down conservative Supreme Court nominees without cost, and so that their failure to do so shows the “Democratic Party is not what it says it is for”, the fact is, as Sirota acknowledges, that Senate Democrats won’t serially turn down conservative Supreme Court nominees. So those nominees will become Justices, and do disastrous damage to the progressive agenda. If you actually cared about that agenda, you would see this as a decisive reason not to want Romney to be in a position to nominate people to the Supreme Court–however you want to spread the blame around for those nominees then being appointed.

    Of course, if what you care about most is your moral superiority to the Democratic Party (like Sirota), or about your status as a contrarian gadfly (like, I am sorry to say, Daniel Davies), your mileage will vary.

    • bradP says:

      Democrats won’t serially turn down conservative Supreme Court nominees.

      Well don’t vote for them either!

      • Jason says:

        Right, because although the people who get elected instead will also fail to turn down the nominees, at least they’ll be worse on every other issue as well!

        Needless to say, you’re also missing Scott’s point that if you’re a progressive, you shouldn’t hope that the Senate’s norms evolve toward even greater obstructionism and institutional paralysis.

      • JazzBumpa says:

        Yes. That’s certain to end well.

      • Malaclypse says:

        Well don’t vote for them either!

        Welcome to Poe’s Law, anarcho-shire-libertarian edition.

  7. Jim says:

    The “Democrats are making a self-incriminating admission” line is just hilarious. Any GOP SCOTUS nominee would be worse than Obama’s least-progressive nominee. That’s essentially fact and it renders the argument extremely stupid.

  8. brewmn says:

    I especially enjoyed Sirota’s referring to a column of his as evidence that undecided voters are undecided because there isn’t enough of a difference between the two parties (“And I’m paraphrasing myself here…”). And then citing noted concern troll Stoller as further proof for his thesis. And ignoring the fact that the hated fake-liberal Obama voted against both Alito’s and Roberts’ appointment to the Court.

    Apparently, epistemic closure isn’t confined to the wingnuttosphere.

  9. c u n d gulag says:

    If Romney DID want to nominate someone like Warren, the Conservative powers-that-be would plant his dead body where Vince Foster was found, and try to figure out how they could blame Hillary again.

    Sirota – WTF happened to you?

    Saying there’s no difference between Obama and Romney is like saying there’s no difference between a garden snake and a cobra.

    Go ahead, David – you go pet that nice Romney snake, and I’ll take the garden snake.

    • djw says:

      Sirota – WTF happened to you?

      I was recently wondering that. Then I looked up Michael Brown on Wikipedia(after seeing this hilarious “not actually The Onion” story) and learned the following:

      Brown currently teams up with Denver liberal KKZN host David Sirota For KHOW’s Sirota-Brown show for KHOW’s afternoon drive slot

    • mds says:

      Sirota – WTF happened to you?

      Yeah, he used to be gung-ho about getting a conservative/populist Montana Democrat elected to the US Senate, yet even as that Montana Democrat fights for re-election by (among other things) distancing himself from Really Liberal Barack Obama, Sirota collapses the difference between the President and Romney to nothing. So what’s the difference between Tester and Rehberg, David? Because if Mitt is merely a weak-spined moderate, rather than a reactionary liar in moderate clothing, it’ll be the dominant Rehberg wing of the party that will have its hand up President Romney’s ass.

    • Uncle Ebeneezer says:

      David – you go pet that nice Romney snake

      Seems like he already is…if you know what I mean

    • Warren Terra says:

      Seriously. Does no-one remember Harriet Miers, whose nomination was withdrawn not because she was a Bush family hack with a thin resume (the Democratic critique) but because her conservative bona fides weren’t strong enough to assure the Right she’d be their creature forever?

      • zolltan says:

        On one hand, I remember the thing you cite as Democratic critique mostly coming from conservatives/Reps.

        On the other, these traits of hers were certainly shared with many other Bush appointees whom Reps wholeheartedly championed.

  10. actor212 says:

    In fairness, Scott, who saved Obamacare?

    Not suggesting your argument is wrong, in fact I agree with it, but I can see Sirota’s angle from this perspective.

    • rea says:

      My, goodness–Democrats on the Court: 4-0 to uphold the ACA. Republicans on the Court: 1-4 to uphold the ACA. Theory being advanced to strike down the ACA: one that almost every leal scholar in the country thought was lunacy. Yeah, that 1 Republican vote is a good reason to prefer a Romney presidency.

      • snarkout says:

        I suspect Sirota sees that Democratic bloc on the Supreme Court as a further sign of the party’s treachery against progressive.

      • JKTHs says:

        More like 4-0 Democrats to uphold ACA, 4-0 Republicans to strike it all down using ridiculously tenuous logic, 1-0 Republicans to uphold it on a thread-the-needle technicality probably done for court image reasons.

    • Julian says:

      I can’t even make fun of this because I have no idea what you’re saying.

      • actor212 says:

        Look, no one thought Souter would end up being a progressive. Even the Republicans who pushed his nomination, even the Dems who voted against him, had been pretty surprised.

        Again, I’m not suggesting that Sirota is right. I’m saying that sometimes, people surprise even the people who shouldn’t be surprised by them. Given that aspect, it’s not impossible that Sirota is entirely wrong.

        I just wouldn’t want to chance it, is all.

        • Julian says:

          I’m saying that sometimes, people surprise even the people who shouldn’t be surprised by them. Given that aspect, it’s not impossible that Sirota is entirely wrong.

          Your attempt at clarification has made things worse. I think you have at least one typo in there.

        • rea says:

          Back when Souter was nominted, the Republicans had not yet built up a reliable bloc of rightwingnuts with the credentials necessary to be a plausible S Ct nominee. See also, Blackmun. Not so true now.

        • Cody says:

          I once won a scratch off. I should obviously quit my work and just play scratch offs all the time.

          After all, I got lucky once! Why wouldn’t it always happen?

        • Holden Pattern says:

          There will be no more Souters. In fact, the ENTIRE Republican judicial vetting process is set up to prevent anyone like Souter from sneaking through. Every single Republican judicial nominee is a made man (and sometimes woman).

  11. actor212 says:

    As a senator, Obama publicly chided liberals for demanding that Sen. Patrick Leahy block Sam Alito from the Supreme Court.

    And as Senator, Obama voted FOR the filibuster…

  12. Rick Santorum's Leaky Faucet says:

    What people making the Souter argument seem to repeatedly miss (or ignore) is that the same president gave us Thomas.

    • Julian says:

      They also forget that Souter was an accident that the Republican Party has sworn up and down it will never let happen again.

  13. kerry says:

    Ugh. Even my otherwise liberal, logical, Ph.D.-educated, Obama-voting father was trying a similar argument with me the other day, that there’s no reason to believe it would be guaranteed that Romney will only nominate Scalia/Alito/Thomas clones, and hey, look at Souter! I wanted to tear my hair out trying to explain to him why he was, uh, misguided, to say the least.

    I read the other day that Bork is Romney’s judicial advisor, which pretty much tells you all you need to know.

  14. bob mcmanus says:

    Wow, I don’t read Salon, so thanks for the link. Another of my old friends from Open Left, it is so good to see Sirota is still on the side of the angels.

    Made my day. Really.

  15. LeeEsq says:

    Remember if Hubert Humphrey was elected President rather than Nixon, we would have had four moderately to very liberal Supreme Court justices instead of the more conservative ones that Nixon appointed. Re-electing Obama increases the possibility of tilting the Court in a more liberal direction if one of the older conservative judges departs the Bench for some reason.

  16. Colin Day says:

    What about this piece of indifferentism (?)

    Hedges

    • Joe says:

      It is a battle between the corporate state and us.

      I’ll tell that to Ms. Winsor when the “corporate state” denies her marriage benefits.

      Change in the right direction requires a better sense of reality than some of these people show. That only makes them more depressing.

    • bob mcmanus says:

      Thank you for the link also. This blog is great for finding sincere progressives on the Internet.
      Keep on linking to lefties, LGM.

      • Malaclypse says:

        Not even pretending not to be trolling, I see.

        Honesty is refreshing.

        • Robert Farley says:

          Yeah… while the data available to me indicates pretty strongly (contra Joe’s not-unreasonable suggestion) that Bob ain’t a pseudonym for our favorite troll, it’s increasingly becoming apparent that Bob is nevertheless a garden variety troll; lots of comments that don’t purport to add anything, but instead are intended simply to irritate. His commentary on television and film tends to be an exception to this, however.

          Also, I think Bob may still be bitter about being made the object of derision and ridicule during his Japanese-imperialism-apologetics phase.

          • Rhino says:

            I think he is a paid sower-of-doubt troll, with some why-bother-it’s-all-fucked troll mixed in. I want to pour hungry fire ants down his trousers.

            • djw says:

              paid sower-of-doubt troll

              No way. Bob’s had a stably unstable internet presence for a decade, with a distinct and recognizable personality.

            • I don’t think he’s paid. I think he’s a True Believer, doing this on his own time for the good of Team Red.

              Remember the Red State Strike Force? Remember when war blogs were a front in the War on Terror?

              Bob’s kinda like that.

              • Hob says:

                As djw said, you wouldn’t think this if you were familiar with Bob’s very long, very recognizable history of Internet commentary. Right-wing fakes don’t bother with that kind of deep cover. I’m sure he has sincere beliefs about things, but he’s not trying to advance them in any way here– he just likes pissing people off, as he frequently admits.

      • bob mcmanus says:

        lots of comments that don’t purport to add anything, but instead are intended simply to irritate.

        Tell you what, try going thru the entire thread, and count the comments that are on the SCOTUS topic, and the ones that are “Sirota Sucks” and then get back to me on “adding anything.” Or just the substantive value of this subthread.

        We trolls notice these things, how many comments are not good arguments or substantive or ontopic, but are jokes or snark. So we see that the complaints about substance or relevance are entirely bullshit, and entirely tribal. OTOH, a comment can be substantive, ontopic, and well-argued, and considered trolling.

        It is entirely about the community, and the hostility to the comment community. Not welcome in our little boy’s clubroom.

        “garden variety troll” ???
        “Japanese-imperialism-apologetics” ???

        Bonsai Bonsai Bonsai!

        • So we see that the complaints about substance or relevance are entirely bullshit, and entirely tribal.

          The troll tribe is above predictable and content-free writing.

        • Robert Farley says:

          Bob,

          On behalf of the LGM comment section, I’d like to apologize for how we made you lose your shit in the Japanese-imperialism thread. It was really kind of sad, albeit in a hilarious “grown-man-completely-going-to-pieces-in-front-of-you-so-you-can’t-stop-watching” way. I can appreciate why, after being pushed into a meltdown like that, you’d feel the need to relentlessly troll your tormentors.

          Yours truly,

          Rob

          • Willard "Mitt" Romney says:

            Friends, this is yet another example of weak leadership constantly apologizing for LGM. Has Farley ever even documented his citizenship to anybody’s complete satisfaction? I promise that, should I be entrusted with the leadership of this fine community, not only will my tax cuts mean the posts will write themselves, but trust me, I will be bombing people like mcmanus. Well, actually, I’ll be bombing poor brown people, but I’ll tell the American public I’m doing it to stop bob.

    • david mizner says:

      I like Hedges. I wish LGM bloggers would contend with him (and other worthy leftists) instead of lesser lights, but this isn’t persuasive:

      The flimsy excuses used by liberals and progressives to support Obama, including the argument that we can’t let Romney appoint the next Supreme Court justices, ignore the imperative of building a movement as fast and as radical as possible as a counterweight to corporate power.

      If voting for Stein would accomplish this, I’d vote for Stein. (Actually, I’ll probably vote for Stein anyway, in New York, but…)

    • wengler says:

      You wouldn’t expect Hedges to support someone he sued.

    • djw says:

      I like Hedges, too, when he’s actually writing about something. The linked article, when it’s not serving as a Jill Stein press release, amounts to about half empty posturing and half really crappy historical analysis, egregiously conflating social movements and loosely affiliated third parties, and making a number of dubious, undefended bare assertions about the centrality of third party advocacy to progressive social change in the past. In fairness, he quotes Stein identifying some very real ongoing problems on which Obama and the Democratic party have deficient and damnable records. Missing, of course, is an explanation of how throwing the election to Romney would improve government responses on those issue.

      • david mizner says:

        I see no evidence the presidential politics is the place to build the movement that the country desperately needs.

        Although I disagree with his conclusions, I think he’s correct to focus on climate change. In 50 years, when NYC is fully and permanently under water, people will be amazed to discover that in 2012 the Democratic president failed to mention climate change even once in three debates.

        • djw says:

          I see no evidence the presidential politics is the place to build the movement that the country desperately needs.

          It’s not. It’s the place to reduce the amount of damage any future movement you refer to will have to fix.

        • djw says:

          I’m inclined to agree, by the way, that it’s not at all unlikely that when the future looks back at the first decades of the 21st century, the abject failure to address climate change, or even attempt to, will be the center of a critique of this era, and a stain on all politicians who contributed to it. But obviously the senate remains the greatest villain here, and presidents mentioning it in debates or not is a pretty secondary, trivial part of that condemnation. And it certainly doesn’t suggest that that taking steps to throw the election to Romney would improve the situation.

        • IM says:

          But presidential politics is the place to influence the composition of the Supreme Court.

  17. IM says:

    Obama-appointed Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor has in her career already ruled to limit access to abortion,

    For god’s sake, if Sotomayor is good enough for Greenwald, she should be good enough for you.

    • Joe says:

      Yeah. Stevens also — and not even as a circuit judge following precedent — ruled to limit access to abortion (e.g. Maher v. Roe). Context, my kingdom for context.

    • Colin Day says:

      IANAL, but didn’t precedent pretty much force Sotomayor to rule as she did in the Mexico City case?

      • rea says:

        Why, oh why, did she not overrule the Supreme Court?

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        IANAL, but didn’t precedent pretty much force Sotomayor to rule as she did in the Mexico City case?

        Of course. As I say at the link, there was clear precedent directly on point.

      • mds says:

        Yes. But her lower court vote apparently also binds her irrevocably to strike down Roe as a Supreme Court justice. Presumably because she was appointed by Obamatraitor.

      • IANAL, but didn’t precedent pretty much force Sotomayor to rule as she did in the Mexico City case?

        That’s another thing – Sirota is completely throwing out any pretense of believing the courts should operate according to any principles besides getting the policy out come he wants, by hook or by crook.

        This radical, nihilist judicial activist viewpoint also explains why he can’t understand any reason, except Manchurian candidate sell-out-ed-ness, why the Democratic Senate caucus wouldn’t just block everyone a Republican President appointed.

  18. bradP says:

    Lots of discussion about why one shouldn’t vote for Obama and the silliness of that opinion, not much discussion about why one should vote for a third party.

    So a question: Would third party votes invite more third party candidates and spending in future elections?

    • Cody says:

      If a third party candidate won, yes I would imagine so. We would need a fourth party candidate because that third party candidate would betray their voters by not getting anything meaningful done in the deadlocked Congress.

      I would assume it would be despicable to vote for the Green Party after they engaged in imperialism when in power.

    • Malaclypse says:

      So a question: Would third party votes invite more third party candidates and spending in future elections?

      The near collapse of the Green Party between 2000 and 2004 would seem to answer this question.

    • Paula says:

      Dude, you DO have actual history look back on — recent history, even. This question does not actually have to be theoretical.

    • njorl says:

      In a non-parliamentary system? No. “Successful” third party campaigns demonstrate their own futility. For president, they’re hopeless, or even counterproductive. For congress, the rare winner caucuses with one of the major parties, and is usually weaker within the power structure than a party member.

      We’ll probably always have just enough 3rd party activity to serve as a cautionary example.

      The exception would be one of the existing parties having a civil war. The recent success and long-term non-viability of the Tea Party make that a tiny but real possibility.

      • Warren Terra says:

        Even in a parliamentary system, “third” parties only have staying power and are effective if the parties have strong regional differences (as in Canada, where it’s basically a two-party system but not the same two parties in every location) or if there is some sort of proportional representation. Run-off elections of whatever flavor (and there are lots) can also make “third” parties meaningful.

        Failing any of those, a first-past-the-post system ensures a two-party result.

        • zolltan says:

          I dunno that that description of Canadian politics is all that accurate. It’s certainly not accurate province-by province (which, outside of Quebec, aren’t more different than US states), and I even used to live in a riding that was relatively three-way (woo, Vancouver Kingsway!)

          Does the US have anything like the law there used to be in Canada where a party would get public financing in proportion to its vote share? That made it make sense to vote Green on occasion, for example.

          • Warren Terra says:

            It’s less true since the Conservative parties all merged, certainly.

            There is a tiny little bit of public funding for parties that pass a vote threshold, but it isn’t significant. For example, in 2000 had the Greens and Nader gotten 5% of the vote – about 5 million votes – they would have been rewarded in $5 million in public funds in the 2004 general election. I don’t think there are any public funds at all at lower levels.

            There are a couple of rewards for decent vote performance, though: in many states, a solid performance in a recent election automatically gives your party a line on the ballot, which lets you avoid an expensive and cumbersome process to get one by petition and meeting various other tests. Also, a very few locales have some sort of public funding or public matching of donations, and a past track record of electoral plausibility can make your party eligible.

      • bradP says:

        In a non-parliamentary system? No. “Successful” third party campaigns demonstrate their own futility.

        Why is this?

        Are people fickle and forgetful?

        Does the support for the third party get assimilated into one of the major parties?

        • Malaclypse says:

          Are people fickle and forgetful?

          In 2010, a mere two years after driving the economy off a cliff, Republicans retook the House. So, yes, people are fickle and forgetful.

          Does the support for the third party get assimilated into one of the major parties?

          You mean the one percent or so that vote 3rd party in big years? Speaking personally, yes, 2000 taught me a lesson about voting my purity that I won’t soon forget.

          • bradP says:

            You mean the one percent or so that vote 3rd party in big years? Speaking personally, yes, 2000 taught me a lesson about voting my purity that I won’t soon forget.

            I’ll be voting Gary Johnson next week. If it doesn’t mean anything, oh well.

            Voting is just not a very rewarding process.

            • Hogan says:

              Maybe you’re not doing it right.

              • bradP says:

                I live in a small town an hour outside of Atlanta. Is there a right way to do it?

                • Malaclypse says:

                  Yes – vote for the leftmost party that is likely to ever crack 5% of the vote. Repeat as necessary.

                • bradP says:

                  Yes – vote for the leftmost party that is likely to ever crack 5% of the vote. Repeat as necessary.

                  Hate to tell you this, but down here, that might be Gary Johnson.

                  But aren’t you just encouraging me to toil in “Continued irrelevancy”

                • Malaclypse says:

                  Hate to tell you this, but down here, that might be Gary Johnson.

                  I’m perfectly willing to bet that Johnson will not outperform Obama.

                • bradP says:

                  Yes – vote for the leftmost party that is likely to ever crack 5% of the vote. Repeat as necessary.

                  Hate to tell you this, but down here, that might be Gary Johnson.

                  But aren’t you just encouraging me to toil in “Continued irrelevancy”.

                • bradP says:

                  I don’t know. Silver gives Obama a .3% chance of winning.

                  By Silver’s numbers, Florida is the only state that doesn’t have a 2/3rds probability for one candidate or another.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  Silver gives Obama a .3% chance of winning.

                  Do they make percentages small enough to describe Johnson’s chances?

                • bradP says:

                  Do they make percentages small enough to describe Johnson’s chances?

                  The value of my vote isn’t contingent on Johnson winning.

                  At least I can say I voiced my opinion and tried to send a messag.

                • DrDick says:

                  Hate to tell you this, but down here, that might be Gary Johnson.

                  You are kidding, right? You cannot seriously think a libertarian is the “leftmost candidate”, do you? That is like calling an anarchist a conservative. Come to think of it, libertarians are conservative anarchists.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  At least I can say I voiced my opinion and tried to send a messag.

                  “I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions dozens of voices suddenly cried out in terror wankery, and were suddenly silenced chanting “Ron Paul Revolution” over and over. I fear something terrible insignificant has happened.”

                • njorl says:

                  So bradP, have you spent more time trying to convince people on this board of the wisdom of voting for 3rd party vanity candidates for president, or more time trying to elect a longshot county commissioner/city councilman who shares your views? The former is, at best, a complete waste of time, while the latter could actually accomplish something.

            • Malaclypse says:

              And I wish you well in voting your purity.

              • bradP says:

                And I wish you well in your support of all those terrible, terrible things Obama will do with his second term.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  Voting for Obama is not supporting the admittedly terrible things he will do. It is being aware of all the fucking terrible worse things that the only alternative to Obama will do.

                  I care a lot about war. Obama will kill fewer civilians than Romnney would. I care about the poor. Obama will fuck them over less than Romney would. I care about women’s rights, and gay rights, and the environment, and the right to be free of meddlesome priests, and the education of children, and the rebuilding of public infrastructure, and on every last one of these issues, Obama will be, by a wide fucking margin, less bad than Romney.

                  Fuck purity. I vote harm minimization. Because no matter what bullshit purity troll theory tells us, fewer people die stupid pointless deaths when Democrats are in power. All else is obfuscation.

                • bradP says:

                  Fuck purity. I vote harm minimization.

                  Voting “harm minimization” seems to remove the progress from progressivism and replace it with slow decay.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  Voting “harm minimization” seems to remove the progress from progressivism and replace it with slow decay.

                  1) Slow decay is always better than rapid collapse.

                  2) Why don’t you ask someone from New Jersey if they wish Michael Brown was still in charge of FEMA?

                  3) Why don’t you ask someone gay about the slow decay of their rights over the last 30 years?

                  I do understand the purity argument. I made that argument, often, up to and including 2000. And because people like me made and acted upon arguments like that, thousands of people died unnecessarily during Katrina. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died. We pulled out of Kyoto. We turned fucking torture into a policy disagreement. Millions of people have, and will continue to have, worse lives as a result of the Bush presidency, and this damage will be ongoing, no matter what happens.

                  I will never again let the perfect be the enemy of the not completely fucking awful ever again.

                • bradP says:

                  I do understand the purity argument. I made that argument, often, up to and including 2000. And because people like me made and acted upon arguments like that, thousands of people died unnecessarily during Katrina. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died. We pulled out of Kyoto. We turned fucking torture into a policy disagreement. Millions of people have, and will continue to have, worse lives as a result of the Bush presidency, and this damage will be ongoing, no matter what happens.

                  Bush didn’t make the US government an accountless, inept turd sandwich and Obama didn’t make it anything different.

                  I feel sorry for you that you feel regret at not voting for Gore/Leiberman.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  Bush didn’t make the US government an accountless, inept turd sandwich and Obama didn’t make it anything different.

                  Tell that to the people of New Orleans and New Jersey.

                • bradP says:

                  Tell that to the people of New Orleans and New Jersey.

                  Can I ask them if they think Gore/Leiberman administration would have made FEMA noticeably more competent?

                • Malaclypse says:

                  I encourage you to drive to New Orleans and ask them if they approve of the person who appointed Michael Brown, yes.

                • Scott Lemieux says:

                  Can I ask them if they think Gore/Leiberman administration would have made FEMA noticeably more competent?

                  You know that FEMA has been far, far more competent under Clinton and Obama, right? Not least because Democratic presidents to hire people to run government agencies when their previous gig involved leaving the Arabian Horse Association in a hail of lawsuits?

                • Malaclypse says:

                  You know that FEMA has been far, far more competent under Clinton and Obama, right?

                  Libertarian theory says FEMA must always be incompetent. Why are you dragging evidence into this?

    • djw says:

      Would third party votes invite more third party candidates and spending in future elections?

      The 2004 and 2008 elections contain your answer. In some alternative universe where third party candidates had an actual constituency, the answer could be yes. But we live in a world where Ralph Nader killed the third party strategy in 2000, and we saw third party voting drop to historical norms in the following two elections. It’ll probably eventually come back in some form or another eventually, but for now, it’s obviously pretty irrelevant. Unless there’s another Florida 2000, which is profoundly unlikely, no one will notice the 3rd party vote, and whether the Stein/Johnson/Goode/etc sum total amounts to 1.1% or 1.2%, and it won’t matter in the slightest.

      • bradP says:

        But we live in a world where Ralph Nader killed the third party strategy in 2000

        What happened to third parties post 2000 that is likely to be repeated by future third parties?

    • IM says:

      That the Nader success in 2000 didn’t had much effect later has already been mentioned. But the biggest third success in a long time – Perot in 1992 and 1996 had zero effect on third parties later on.

  19. Jim says:

    Doesn’t he also ignore the actual specific effects of a filibuster? The most likely retirees (or vacancies due to death) from the court are – as far as I’m aware – Scalia, Ginsburg, Breyer and maybe Kennedy.

    If Ginsburg or Breyer vacated their seats, AND Senate Democrats filibustered any unacceptable Romney nominee, that would mean that there are only ever 8 votes in any case. As a result, the conservative bloc would enjoy an even more significant majority over the liberal bloc. You’d have Kagan, Sotomayor, and either Breyer or Ginsburg (whoever didn’t retire) on the liberal side; Alito, Roberts, Thomas and Scalia on the conservative side; and the increasingly-conservative swing vote Anthony Kennedy. Even if the liberal bloc could lure Kennedy to vote in their favor, the best case scenario would be a 4-4 decision, which just defaults to the circuit court decision.

    Conversely, even if Scalia or Kennedy retired, there would still be 3 conservative justices, 4 liberal justices, and Kennedy as the swing. This isn’t even a hypothetical situation – we know from past experience that Anthony Kennedy is significantly less likely to vote with the liberal bloc.

  20. Bloix says:

    “some of the court’s most liberal voices, from Eisenhower nominee Earl Warren to Ford nominee John Paul Stevens”

    Stevens was not a liberal. Stevens was a brilliant jurist who was dedicated to a traditional, uncynical, and agenda-free approach to judging. For a lawyer, his opinions are a joy to read, because he states his first principles clearly and he follows them scrupulously.

    Politically, Stevens was a good-government Eisenhower Republican. Judicially, he was cautious and reluctant to view the law as a force for social change. He was far more conservative than William O. Douglas, the justice he replaced, so his confirmation moved the court distinctly to the right.

    But Stevens served during an era of increasingly ideological right-wing justices. The only two ideologically liberal justices when he was appointed, Brennan and Marshall, have never been replaced, while hard-right ideologues now make up four out of the nine. These justices barely even try to write persuasive opinions. It sometimes seems that their contempt for traditional legal reasoning is not a bug, but a feature of their rulings.

    As the court moved right, a fair, non-ideological centrist has come to be seen as a liberal. But Clinton – who was the first Democrat since LBJ to have the a Supreme Court nomination – did not even try to even try to nominate a true liberal in the Douglas tradition, and neither has Obama. There are no liberals on the Supreme Court now and there aren’t likely to be any for as long as we live.

    • Murc says:

      Stevens was a brilliant jurist who was dedicated to a traditional, uncynical, and agenda-free approach to judging. For a lawyer, his opinions are a joy to read, because he states his first principles clearly and he follows them scrupulously.

      … you think Stevens didn’t have an agenda? Of course he had an agenda! It’s right there in his first principles for all the world to see.

      Every jurist has an agenda. Frankly, I wouldn’t trust one who genuinely didn’t, because more than likely he’d be an inhuman monster who would constantly hand down massively unjust rulings. It would be like being judged by a computer.

      • bloix says:

        Stevens’ agenda, if you can call it that, was to protect the elements of the system that are essential to the democratic process, while otherwise leaving the substantive decisions to democratic institutions. He wasn’t much interested in mining the constitution in a search for new rights, which is what liberalism had meant on the court since the Warren years. But now, with this court’s first and second amendment jurisprudence, we see that the right can discover new rights in the constitution as easily as the left. Stevens was against judicial constraints on democratic decision-making from the left or the right. It makes no sense to call him a liberal.

    • John says:

      Ginsburg replacing White is the only Supreme Court appointment of the last 45 years that moved the court distinctly to the left. The vast majority of the rest moved the court distinctly to the right.

  21. Everythings Jake says:

    People like Scott Lemieux who either don’t know to read, or worse, wilfully miscontrue, thoughtful essays shouldn’t…

    Oh well, sigh. Being a bloviating fool has never prevented someone from gaining tenure, but it should, it really, really should.

    • Everythings Jake says:

      By the way, greatly recommended to go read Sirota’s actual piece which posits a fairly reasonable premise as (in that all important summary sentence) that a realistic evaluation as a jumping off point for discussion is in order. I’m no mad Sirota fan, but this piece is better than fair to middling and Scott completely distorts its message to, surprise, wait for it…wait for it…turn to the left and open fire on {{Nader}} {{Hedges}}. It’s like some kind of pathetic obamademocratabot madlib really. I sometimes wonder if Scott uses that funny program that spits out Thomas Friedman columns to write his blog posts.

      • IM says:

        If Sirota is so good, why don’t you defend him on the merits?

        Would be more interesting, you know.

        • Everythings Jake says:

          Well no where in the history of the English language has “better than fair to middling” equaled “so good,” but my basic point is that Soctt’s representation of Sirota’s piece bears little relation to Sirota’s central premise. I’ve “defended” that contention both directly in my posts and by suggesting that people just actually read Sirota’s piece and judge for themselves. I’m fairly certain no reasonable reader of the English language could fail to apprehend that Scott’s representation is fairly skewed.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      thoughtful essays

      What essay would you prefer we discuss to the Sirota one, which for obvious reasons doesn’t have a single specific point you’d care to defend, because it’s pretty much the opposite of thoughtful?

      • Everythings Jake says:

        Reflecting on how the dictatorship of wealth that pre-selects our candidates for us thought that from a re-branding perspective, the best way to perpetuate rich white America’s old and tired fixation with killing anyone with a little melanin in their skin was to hire someone with a little melanin in their skin to do the job, I’ve been re-reading this recently (equating a sermon with an essay):

        http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkatimetobreaksilence.htm

        A favorite passage…

        “A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

        Words like that today would and does get ya lambasted on LGM, and not coincidentally, the LGMs of the day launched a chorus of lambasting.

        For fun, Christopher Ketcham’s not quite yet at Thurber’s table, but for the sheer pleasure of a writer on their way to becoming a really, really good writer, I enjoyed this a couple of days ago:

        http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/10/29/free-of-the-deadly-internet/

        And lastly, I didn’t see the obvious reasons, and of course you took no pains to any kind of proof of your thesis other than the lazy use of propagandistic phrases like “for the obvious reasons.”

        My hope is that your educational institution does not look heavily to you to teach good writing, or frankly thought, and that other professors make up for the significant deficiency. For the obvious reasons, of course.

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          So, to be clear, there’s nothing Sirota actually said that you’d like to defend. Can’t argue with that!

          • Everythings Jake says:

            Since you did not care to attack anything actually stated by Sirota, but rather offered a complete misread of his piece (or an outright distortion), mostly, it seemed, to provide an excuse to turn left and shoot at Stoller, Lemieux-enemie du jour, I thought suggesting that people just go read what he wrote was sufficient defense. Efficiency in all things.

            • Eric says:

              Maybe you read a different piece by Sirota.

            • Scott Lemieux says:

              Since you did not care to attack anything actually stated by Sirota

              Well, except for the extensive quotes from the article to which I responded directly. And I mentioned Stoller only because Sirota quoted his argument. But, anyway, the fact that you won’t defend anything Sirota says or explain what I missed speaks for itself.

              • Everythings Jake says:

                I think your quotations are selective and distort Sirota’s fundamental point, which I read (I think it’s a fair reading) to be that it’s worthwhile to question the trope that it’s important to give significant if not exclusive weight to the prospective Supreme Court nominees as an argument in favor of voting for the Democratic candidate.

                Some, but certainly not a comprehensive list of examples are offered as a reason for raising the question, but it’s a real reach to read that Sirota cites them as conclusive evidence, especially in as much the all important summary contained in the last sentence makes clear that the piece is offered as a jumping off point for discussion.

                It seems to be your fundamental contention that Sirota has settled on an answer and that he is wildly off base, rather than to address his actual point which is that an examination is in order. Your posting (one in a consistent pattern) seems designed to shut down anyone who would question assumptions when they don’t comport with reality. I find that to be and unusual and disturbing characteristic in a college professor. Edward Albee’s take aside, most of the ones I had the privilege to take classes from considered such investigations a near sacred duty given the protection of tenure.

                Further, looking at any given appearance of Sirota on MSNBC, basically the equivalent of the Democratic Party’s Fox News, Sirota could hardly be characterized as anti-Obama.

                If there’s a response, I’d lay odds on your response being that I’ve offered no defense, or that my
                “defense” is somehow self-evidently not on point. But I am otherwise curious, is that your point, we must never question? Or must not now? I understand the strategy of it in the warfare that is electoral campaigning, I just don’t no longer believe that the war is a useful exercise that will lead to a positive or even less evil but still worthwhile result.

                You asked me to cite another piece for discussion but did not respond – what is your take on the continuing relevance of MLK’s 1967 speech at the Riverside church?

        • spencer says:

          My hope is that your educational institution does not look heavily to you to teach good writing, or frankly thought, and that other professors make up for the significant deficiency. For the obvious reasons, of course.

          This kind of shit is always incredibly easy and obnoxious when it is directed at someone who uses his real name for blogging, and is coming from someone using a nym.

        • njorl says:

          When criticizing another’s writing, it is best not to demonstrate ineptitude at the art yourself.

  22. bloix says:

    If we can be substantive for a moment, the Republican ideal for a supreme court justice is someone who would have been right at home in Mussolini’s Italy or Franco’s Spain. If Romney is elected, he will appoint yet another fascist and we will be one step further along – perhaps one irrevocable step – toward a corporatist state that will last for generations.

    The American appellate judge Guido Calebresi, a son of Italian refugees from Mussolini, had this to say after the decision in Bush v. Gore:

    “In a way that occurred before but is rare in the United States…somebody came to power as a result of the illegitimate acts of a legitimate institution that had the right to put somebody in power. That is what the Supreme Court did in Bush versus Gore. It put somebody in power,” said Guido Calabresi, a judge on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, which sits in Manhattan.

    “The reason I emphasize that is because that is exactly what happened when Mussolini was put in by the king of Italy,” Judge Calabresi continued, as the allusion drew audible gasps from some in the luncheon crowd Saturday at the annual convention of the American Constitution Society.

    “The king of Italy had the right to put Mussolini in, though he had not won an election, and make him prime minister. That is what happened when Hindenburg put Hitler in…”

    These are not casual comparisons. We got very lucky that Bush was too incompetent to cement the power he was given. It was not for want of trying, and the Republicans have not given up yet. If they get one or two more seats on the Supreme Court, it won’t matter who you vote for in future elections – once there are 6 fascists on the court instead of 4 plus a fellow-traveler, we will live in a one-party state for a generation to come.

    And anyone who does not understand that is an ignoramus or a pollyanna.

  23. [...] the Supreme Court, points out that Earl Warren was a Republican appointee, a fact that’s about as relevant to politics in 2012 as Pat Boone is to today’s teenagers. Dismissing the Affordable Care Act, [...]

  24. [...] for Salon to farcically assert that Romney might be more liberal than Obama or that Romney’s judicial appointments might be similar to Dwight Eisenhower’s. There is a certain segment of the nominal hard left that is far more charitable to conservative [...]

  25. [...] When you consider that, according to the data in Epstein et al.’s book, Alito and Roberts are also among the most reactionary justices on civil liberties of the post–WWII period, those nominations are a real prize. The clear lesson here, I think, is that we need more Republicans in office because these days a Republican president is likely to nominate zombie William Brennan. [...]

  26. [...] Excellent! Admittedly, Eisenhower appointed Brennan so I’m sure that in today’s similar partisan context Romney might have done the same thing. [...]

  27. [...] work since Parents Involved. (Today’s quiz: guess the alignment of today’s decision. If you’re a particular kind of brogressive, you might find this difficult!) Rick Hasen has [...]

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