I had just turned four, didn’t speak any English at the time, and my parents didn’t own a TV (although my father went out and rented one from the corner drug store that afternoon). So I don’t have any memory of the event, although I’m told I was on a swing-set on the outskirts of Washington DC when my father came running up and said in Spanish to my grandmother “they’ve killed Kennedy.”
And I suppose “they” did, if one takes a appropriately sociological perspective on the event.
(1) For today’s college freshmen, 9/11 is pretty much what the JFK assassination was to me: a historical event that occurred after we were born, but could have just as well happened 50 years before. This is one reason why the concept of the baby boom “generation” is not very useful: for people born toward the end of it, “the Sixties” — which as many people have said began that day — mostly happened for us later, when we saw the decade replayed on TV and in movies and (endlessly) on the radio.
(2) It’s also an endlessly repeated truism that the public’s eventual rejection of the official story told by the Warren Commission reflected a fundamental shift in the America people’s willingness to trust the federal government in particular and authorities in general. I wonder how much actual evidence there is for this claim?
(3) I’ve never waded into the controversy over the assassination itself, so I have no opinion regarding it, but having just watched a couple of documentaries on the subject, I’m reminded of a story about Sir Walter Raleigh. Sir Walter, it’s said, proposed during his imprisonment in the Tower of London to write a history of the world. One day after he began this project, a fight broke out between two workmen in the courtyard below, which resulted in the death of one of them. Sir Walter tried to find out what the fight was about, and found he was unable to do so. Thereupon he abandoned his history.
(4) I will say that the Jim Garrison story ought to shake the faith of those who believe that it’s not possible for literal lunatics to ascend to important public positions inside the iron cage of bureaucracy.
(5) Oswald bought his rifle via mail order for $12.65 ($96.55 in current dollars).
On further reflection, I still see this as a massive win. I’m amused by the Republican counter-threats to nominate…exactly the same kind of judges they’ve been nominating and getting confirmed since the Reagan administration when they’re in charge. I’ll take that risk!
The interesting question, to me, is how the Republicans got rolled so badly. I have three theories:
Focusing on potential primarily challengers and unable to think strategically past their immediate goals, Senate Republicans didn’t stop to consider that eliminating the filibuster (potentially for everything) would hurt their long-term interests. If this was true, they got routed both in the short- and long-term, and the behavior of the Republican conference was essentially irrational.
Misunderestimating Harry Reid
Senate Republicans—like many liberals—may have assumed that Reid’s threats were empty. But Reid is sometimes mistaken for a weak leader precisely because like all competent political leaders he doesn’t make broad threats he doesn’t have the votes to back up. When he does make threats the underrated, very savvy Reid is likely to have the support to back it up. If they didn’t grasp this, Republicans found out the hard way.
Some Senate Republicans may have convinced themselves that liberals will be more ruthless in their use the filibuster than conservatives. That is quite clearly false. The filibuster has almost always favored opponents of social reform, and since progressives generally want to do things and conservatives generally want to stop things this will almost certainly be true going forward. But never underestimate someone’s ability to stop believing their own guff.
I’m guessing #2 is the most common reason, but who knows?
…and one more thing: many thanks to the Republican primary voters of Delaware, Missouri, Indiana, and Nevada. May more and more states learn from your fine example of Tea Party principle!
…steadfast foe of the filibuster Hendrik Hertzberg has more.
The filibuster for circuit and district court nominees and executive branch appointments is gone. Never thought I’d see the day, and this will almost certainly be the most important vote of Obama’s second term. Luckily, 1)the GOP seems to have the same evaluation of Reid as the typical liberal blog commenter, and 2)they’re both wrong.
More later today. Meanwhile, surely someone has the chops to do a good photoshop of Dick Smothers in Casino…
As you hear the reactions, remember the the GOP’s opposition to majority rule in the Senate is a matter of Deep Principle.
Earlier in the month we discussed the phenomenon of Republican judges citing each other’s dicta as if they constituted some kind of meaningful precedent. Well, this winger chain mail now has another signatory — Justice Antonin Scalia:
What makes Owen’s opinion remarkable, however, is her justification for the conclusion that temporarily preventing the law from going into effect would constitute “irreparable harm” to the state of Texas. Circuit Court judges are bound by Supreme Court precedent; they cannot create new legal standards on their own. But as one lawblogger notes, the basis for Owen’s conclusion would be embarrassingly feeble if there was any evidence that she was capable of embarrassment. The following is a comprehensive list of the precedents cited by Owen to justify her conclusion:
- A bare assertion from a 1977 solo opinion—not speaking for the court—by then-Associate Justice Rehnquist that “[i]t also seems to me that any time a State is enjoined by a court from effectuating statutes enacted by representatives of its people, it suffers a form of irreparable injury.” (“It seems”—well, I’m convinced!)
- A solo opinion—again, not speaking for the Court—by Chief Justice Roberts citing the Rehnqiuist opinion without any further defense.
- That’s it.
This precedential basis would need a lot more heft to merit being called “threadbare.” And it’s even worse than it appears at first glance. First of all, Rehnquist’s opinion applied to a case where the at least the statute had already gone into effect, making the argument of “irreparable harm” to the state even weaker as applied to the Texas abortion case, where it had not. And second, there’s a reason that this dictum has never appeared in an actual Supreme Court majority opinion—it doesn’t make any sense. If this “principle” were taken seriously, states would have an unlimited right to enforce unconstitutional laws for as long as the legal challenges take to wend their way through the courts, irrespective of the harm caused to those who rights were violated. This simply cannot be right.
How does Scalia’s counter to Breyer—typically long on belligerence and short on logic—reply to these obvious objections? Why, by merely citing the Rehnquist and Roberts opinions again. So now, the next time a hack Republican judge wants to make a politically expedient decision to deny or vacate an injunction preventing the enforcement of potentially unconstitutional legislation, he or she can now cite four precedents endorsing the same erroneous tautology without any attempt to defend it. It’s a nice con if you can pull it off.
So now we have four judges (or six, if you count Thomas and Alito, who joined Scalia’s opinion) who have endorsed the same silly theory, without anybody bothering to actually defend it. Perhaps there’s an Infinite Jest problem, in that they can’t find a clerk who can write the second sentence without dying of laughter. Between this and Shelby County, I think we need a fancy Latin term for this form of legal argument — stare circulus jerkus?
Of course, for Scalia this kind of thing is old hat. As his opinion this week inadvertently reminds us, it was his stay opinion in Bush v. Gore that made the partisan subtext of the final opinion just text.
Could this really be happening?
Senate Democrats are on the verge of moving to eliminate the use of the filibuster against most presidential nominees, aides and senior party leaders said Wednesday, a move that would deprive Republicans of their ability to block President Obama’s picks for cabinet posts and the federal judiciary and further erode what little bipartisanship still exists in the Senate.
Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, is poised to move forward on Thursday with a vote on what is known on Capitol Hill as the “nuclear option,” several Democrats said. Mr. Reid and the senators who have been the most vocal on stopping the Republican blockade of White House nominees are now confident they have the votes to make the change.
I would think that the Republicans would try to peel off some marginal Dems by letting at least one nominee to the D.C. Circuit through, but there’s also the possibility that Republicans have just completely lost any capacity for strategic thought, or may have convinced themselves that the filibuster doesn’t massively favor reactionary interests.
A couple of Thursday links…
- Thers does a great job of pointing out the authoritarianism lurking beneath David French’s act of charity. But I think there’s a lot more going on here. Or, rather, much less going on here. In other words, this seems to be merely a new way of saying the same old thing wingnuts like to say. That is that since poverty is a problem that won’t be solved with a quick, easy fix (in many cases) that we shouldn’t do anything at all to try and fix it. I mean, really, if David French can’t adopt you and give you gruel when you’re being good, is it really wise to help you at all? David French thinks “no.” So, really, I think this goes beyond authoritarianism and well into sociopathy.
- GoldieBlox is a company that is encouraging building and engineering play in girls. Neat! But it’s not all good news. A lot commenters have decided that because some of the pieces-parts are pink and there’s ribbon involved that it’s time to scrap the whole thing and also why do we have to worry about this stuff anyway omg can’t we just let girls be girls? Seriously, don’t read the comments if your sanity–or what’s left of it– is something you value.
I lose my temper…
These comments are so astute. Yes. If someone who has good intentions tries to do something new and doesn’t get it exactly right the first time, she should scrap it and forget it. *eyeroll* “But, but the skirts are pink! The toys are purple!” Jesus Christ…talk about missing the big picture.
The commercial’s cool. If you don’t think so, you’re probably an idiot.
Also, it’s possible to like both “girly” things and things are not demonstrably girly. The idea that girls must give up tutus and pink in order to play with toys that encourage engineering play is irretrievably stupid.
The idea is good and well-intentioned. So is the ad. End of story. Debate over.
The two proposals differ a bit in the details, but they use roughly the same mechanism to reach the same goal, so we’ll go with Demos’s proposal (described in full here) for ease of explanation. Basically, the argument is this: Walmart throws off enough cash in profits each year that it could easily raise the wages of its workers by about 50%, so that they all made about $25K per year, which is what activists are seeking. Currently, the company just uses that cash for other purposes. Like what? Well, Demos points out that Walmart spent $7.6 billion last year buying back its own stock shares, a maneuver designed to buoy the stock price and dividend payments. From the report:
Walmart’s share buybacks further consolidated ownership of the company in the hands of the heirs to company founder Sam Walton, increasing the Walton family stake in the corporation to above 50 percent. In addition, the buybacks increased the value of ownership among the Waltons and the other remaining shareholders. Yet buybacks did nothing to boost Walmart’s productivity or bottom line and had no direct benefit for Walmart’s customers or frontline employees. Despite the lack of productive benefit, massive share buybacks at Walmart have become a regular occurrence: according to data compiled by Bloomberg, Walmart has bought back about $36 billion in stock in its four previous years, while in June 2013 announced a new $15 billion share repurchasing program at its annual shareholder meeting.
Oh, well, no then! Priorities must remain intact–making the Walton family EVEN WEALTHIER!
I do think if anyone still believes that super rich people reach a point where they think they are rich enough, they shouldn’t believe that.
Yet another set of pointless thoughts about film on my side blog. I wouldn’t read it either. Recently viewed films, with one phrase reviews here, are:
Paris is Burning, Livingston, 1990 (excellent documentary on gay and transsexual men in New York just as AIDS is hitting)
The Devil and Daniel Johnston, Feuerzeig, 2005 (we are fascinated with artists suffering from mental illness)
La Ronde, Ophuls, 1950 (I guess I’m supposed to love it because it’s on Criterion)
Silver Linings Playbook, Russell, 2012 (meh)
The Cry of Jazz, Bland, 1959 (and the most angry people have ever gotten at me writing on film)
Riding the California Trail, Nigh, 1947 (mmm…racism….)
The Big Chase, Hilton, 1954 (a big chase indeed. Like 40% of the film)
The Wages of Fear, Clouzot, 1953 (one of the great films about work, among other things)
Spite Marriage, Keaton, 1929 (awesome)
The Cameraman, Keaton, 1928 (Keaton loves the racial stereotypes)
The House on Trubnaya, Barnet, 1928 (what, yet another Soviet comedy?)
Silas Marner, Warde, 1916 (silents based on books don’t work well)
Our valued commenter Murc took a job at Macy’s. When he was hired, the company gave him a lovely anti-union pamphlet. He then sent it to me. I have photographed and it and am providing it for you to see. You’ll notice a couple of things. First, while such a pamphlet is legal, it’s brimming with half-truths about unions that are intended to do a combination of scaring workers and making them think a union is a waste of their time and money. The highlight for me is when Macy’s says a union can’t guarantee workers benefits; technically true but what it really shows is just that Macy’s is going to refuse to negotiate for higher wages with a union. After all, “neither party is required to make a concession.” Ah. My second favorite line is about how workers once needed unions but “Today, workers no longer need a group to fight for these rights. They are guaranteed by law.” If I was drinking water when reading then, I would have done a spit take. Anyway, the more we publicize the anti-union activities that goes on behind the scenes, the better. I just am showing the text side of the pamphlet, which has most of the good stuff.
Now, I don’t think there is any kind of campaign to organize department store workers, at least nothing I know of. But remember, you don’t have to pay a union money to work here. Of course, without a union you won’t actually make any money.
For the reasons discussed by Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux, unlike a a lot of anti-choice strategies the attempt to enact a municipal ban on abortions after 20 weeks couldn’t be exported to a lot of other places. Nevertheless, the defeat of the proposed ban by 10 points is evidently excellent news, not only because of the immense importance of the clinic that was being targeted but because it suggests that more pro-choice voters are starting to see through “moderate” regulations of abortion as the inequitable trojan horses that they are.
Amanda has more.
If Harper was in fact aware of the bribe his staffer paid to Mike Duffy, this would be the rare scandal that would actually merit the “-gate” suffix.
Who wants this internship?
Bestselling author and columnist, Jonah Goldberg, writes on U.S. politics and culture as a fellow at AEI. One of the most prominent conservative political commentators today, Goldberg frequently appears on television and radio shows, and his syndicated columns are circulated widely across the United States. Interns will conduct research on a large range of policy-related topics to assist Mr. Goldberg with his columns, lectures, and media appearances. The ideal candidate will possess strong research and writing skills, as well as a demonstrated interest in U.S. politics, culture, and the media.
Washington, District of Columbia, United States
0.00 – 0.00 USD
Unpaid naturally. Paying interns is both liberal and fascist.
Via Roy, who writes a short play to go along with it.