My general impulse when seeing stuff like this is to wonder why Pajamas TV hasn’t yet “Gone Galt.” But, in fairness, their retreat to wanker Shangri-La would deprive the world of a significant quantity of unintentional humor. (Not to mention the unintentional exposure of the meaningless of Republican cliches about judicial appointments.)
Random connections between things: Today, I’m at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy giving a guest lecture on global advocacy networks, in a class on Statecraft taught by my colleague Dan Drezner, who has an article coming out in the next issue Brown Journal of World Affairs on whether or not the Internet and social media empowers civil society or instead simply offers states new tools of repression and governance.
Then, with all that freshly bobbing around in my mind, my doctoral student sent me this video, which speaks to the same question of whether social media primarily empowers citizens or states. I don’t have time to formulate an informed opinion on the issue because I’m off to lunch, but the video is very good, and I wonder what readers think about this question.
This NYT article on various “states’ rights (sic)” movements is rather…credulous. For example:
“Everything we’ve tried to keep the federal government confined to rational limits has been a failure, an utter, unrelenting failure — so why not try something else?” said Thomas E. Woods Jr., a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, a nonprofit group in Auburn, Ala., that researches what it calls “the scholarship of liberty.”
Mr. Woods, who has a Ph.D. in history, and has written widely on states’ rights and nullification — the argument that says states can sometimes trump or disregard federal law — said he was not sure where the dots between states’ rights and politics connected. But he and others say that whatever it is, something politically powerful is brewing under the statehouse domes.
It might be helpful for readers, in evaluating Woods’s seemingly dispassionate claim about the mysterious political valence of nullification, to know that he’s in fact a hack propagandist who expresses considerable sympathy for the primary causes nullification was used to justify: treason in defense of slavery and lawlessness in defense of apartheid.
This is also an odd assertion to accept at face value:
And at the Tenth Amendment Center, the group’s founder, Michael Boldin, said he thought states that had bucked federal authority over the last decade by legalizing medical marijuana, even as federal law held all marijuana use and possession to be illegal, had set the template in some ways for the effort now. And those states, Mr. Boldin said, were essentially validated in their efforts last fall when the Justice Department said it would no longer make medical marijuana a priority in the states were it was legal. Nullification, he said, was shown to work.
But, really, this shows no such thing. The Obama administration, after all, didn’t deny that it had the power to enforce federal law notwithstanding state nullification; rather, they elected to enforce the law consistent with their substantive priorities. This kind of nullification will stop working when the next Republican administration is elected.
Remember how, exactly three weeks ago today, Andrew Breitbart claimed that he would “take down the institutional left within three weeks”? I wonder how that’s going. Before I left for the office this morning, I could still suffer through three hours of Morning Joe, and when I checked the website a few seconds ago, I could still reach Rachel Maddow’s blog. (Nor are any of his blogs trumpeting his victory.) How long do we have to wait before we can hire a tweeting-retracting mountain camel to start demanding a correction from him?
Shorter Bobo: Having the Senate run like every pretty much every other democratic legislature in the world would be like genocide. Now, when pro-apartheid southern Senators ran everything and everyone went out for drinks in a nice bipartisan fashion, those were the days!
…And Klein. Given the extent to which Republicans in and out of the media have pretended that using reconciliation for Bush’s upper-class tax cuts was different because the legislation was “bipartisan,” this point is especially important:
Nor has reconciliation been limited to bills with “significant bipartisan support.” To use Brooks’s example of the tax cuts, the 2003 tax cuts passed the Senate 50-50, with Dick Cheney casting the tie-breaking vote. Two Democrats joined with the Republicans in that effort. Georgia’s Zell Miller, who would endorse George W. Bush in 2004 and effectively leave the Democratic Party, and Nebraska’s Ben Nelson. So I’d say that’s one Democrat. One Democrat alongside 49 Republicans. That’s not significant bipartisan support.
Kathy Olmsted has a fine list of standout moments in the clinical history of Richard Nixon’s presidency. Though we could toss a dart at the White House transcripts or select random audio excerpts and strike paydirt, it occurred to me that a few of Nixon’s recorded conversations take place with people who are considerably more insane than he is and who, against all possible odds, make Nixon appear grounded by comparison.
For example, there’s this exchange with Ronald Reagan from October 26, 1971, the day after the United Nations General Assembly had voted to admit and seat the People’s Republic of China as the legitimate representative of the Chinese nation. Before the vote, Nixon had badgered George H.W. Bush — the US ambassador to the UN — to make sure the US position prevailed, but he’d fallen a handful of votes shy of denying the PRC’s admission. At the time, of course, Nixon was laying the groundwork for an eventual visit to China, and so while he complained to Kissinger that “the United States is getting kicked around by a bunch of goddamned Africans and cannibals and such,” he was also wary of the pressure he was receiving from the conservative right to make aggressive use of the issue against both China and the UN itself. A few hours after the vote, Nixon’s wariness was rewarded as he received a call from Gov. Reagan that caused him some audible discomfort.
REAGAN: I know it is not easy to give a suggestion or advice to the president of the United States, but I just feel that — I feel so strongly that we can’t — and in view of ’72 we can’t just sit and take this and continue as if nothing had happened, and I had a suggestion for an action that I’d like to be so presumptuous as to suggest. My every instinct says get the hell out of that kangaroo court, and let it, uh…
NIXON: [Laughs] Yeah.
REAGAN: …sink. But I know that’s very, that would be extremely difficult, and not the thing to do. But it has occurred to me that the United States — I just, the people, I just know are — first of all, they don’t like the UN to begin with. It seems to me, if you brought Mr. Bush back to Washington, to let them sweat for about 24 hours, as to what you were thinking of, and then if you went on television to the people of the United States and said that Mr. Bush was going back to the UN, to participate in debate and express our views and so forth, but he would not participate in any votes — that the United States would not vote and would not be bound by the votes of the UN, because it is a debating society. You don’t have to say that, but it is a debating society, and — and so we’d be there, our presence would be there. But we would just not participate in their votes. I think it would put those bums in the perspective they belong.
NIXON: [pauses, laughs] It sure would! Uh….
REAGAN: I think it would make a hell of a campaign issue. Because I am positive that the people of the United States are thoroughly disgusted, and I think that this would put any candidate from the other side — the constant question to him would come, in the midst of the campaign, “What would you do now?” And if he was stupid enough to open his mouth and say, “Oh, hell, you know — we’d go back to operating just as usual,” I think he’d be hung out to dry.
The audio of that conversation is interesting and certainly worth a listen if you happen to be a connoisseur of such things. Nixon is clearly not impressed by the advice, and spends a good bit of time trying to change the subject, as if he’s perhaps speaking with an unhinged missionary or a jabbering incontinent on a Greyhound bus; at the same time, though he recognizes Reagan’s ascendant wingnuttery and encourages him to complain publicly about the UN’s “moral bankruptcy” and its diminishing support among Americans. He also tries to reassure Reagan that he hates the United Nations as much as anyone and that he wouldn’t be attending any of the dinners being given in recognition of UN Week. Reagan, for his part, vows to find out if UN Week is still going on and — if so — withdraw the proclamation he’d signed to create it.
Three weeks later, Nixon described Reagan as “shallow” in a long and hilarious conversation with Kissinger.
Y’know, the idea that there are meaningful similarities between the rhetoric used to describe the Chinese nuclear program in the 1960s and the Iranian nuclear program of the last decade is kind of interesting… or at least it was six months ago, when I wrote about it at Foreign Policy. Just sayin’.
To join Rob in betraying this site’s long-standing trend of disagreement with Will Saletan, allow me to endorse pretty much all of this, in particular the idea that at some point there’s not much point to be a legislator if you’re not going to pass important legislation.
Meanwhile, I don’t have time to give this hand-waving on behalf of Dennis Kucinich the detailed critique it doesn’t really merit anyway, but to raise the most obvious points: 1)if there’s an argument to be made on behalf of the proposition that the inclusion of a public option that you concede to be so watered-down as to be trivial should be a deal-breaker, at some point you should probably make it, 2)voting against legislation that improves on the status quo doesn’t count as standing on principle unless there’s some reason to believe that voting the legislation down would do something to accomplish something better, which pretty clearly isn’t the case here, and 3)I’d love to see a list of those states that are allegedly on the verge of passing single payer.
You may be wondering where the “Obama is coming for your salt!” idea comes from. (Other than pure derangement, I mean.) Apparently, it’s a product of one of the oldest gambits in the hack’s playbook: “forgetting” that in the American system of government any individual legislator can introduce legislation, and then citing isolated proposals with no support as representative of something.
Falling for some rube-running by a local Fox affiliate, Col. Mustard lets us in on the great salt-banning conspiracy. Let us examine an exhaustive list of the powerful figures behind this inexorable legislative freight train:
…a Democratic New York Assemblyman
But don’t kid yourself: the fact that one assemblyman proposed an idiotic law that has as much chance of passing as Rush Limbaugh has of being the Green Party’s candidate for president in 2012 means that the federal government is about to ban salt. It’s a very slippery slope! Why, we don’t even have Obamacare yet, and I hear rumors that there’s an large, well-funded movement dedicated to having government bureaucrats force women to carry pregnancies to term…
Happy Pi Day!
As many of you may know, the University of Kentucky’s colors are blue and white. As you can see, the women’s basketball team at UK wears blue and white:
The women’s uniform in the UK cheerleading squad is also blue and white:
And yet, when I look for UK onesies:
Obviously, I can buy blue onesies for Elisha and Miriam; I have no compunctions against dressing them in blue. I’ll admit, though, that I’m a touch bothered that pink onesies are even an option. One thing that I never understood before having children was the obsession with gender identification. Because babies pretty much all look alike, gender can only be identified by their clothing. It is extremely common for people to assume that either Elisha or Miriam or both are boys because of the way we dress them; indeed, some family members have expressed hostility at our gender neutral clothing choices. People don’t seem to have schemata for dealing with situations of gender ambiguity, even in relations with babies.
Even in the context, however, I find the availability of UK onesies irritating. Sure enough, people are going to assume that your girl is a boy if you put her in a blue onesie (although I suppose you could tie a ribbon in her hair or something). And the solution to that is… buy products that don’t actually reflect UK women’s team colors, and that seem to assume a supporting rather than a participatory role? Nobody on campus wears pink with the UK logo; everyone wears blue. But your girl baby needs pink, because otherwise somebody might mistake her for a baby boy, and then who knows? She might grow up to be a lesbian or something…