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The best government money can buy

[ 2 ] August 5, 2010 |

My favorite nugget in this particular chart is the inspiring tale of the veritable K Street Horatio Alger, Thomas Scully.


At UW, They Check on this Sort of Thing…

[ 35 ] August 5, 2010 |

Rand Paul lacks both accreditation and a bachelor’s degree?

Rand Paul, the Republican U.S. Senate nominee in Kentucky, holds a medical degree from Duke University but never received a bachelor’s degree from Baylor University, contrary to several media reports in recent months. Baylor officials confirmed this week that Paul was a student there from the fall of 1981 to the summer of 1984 but never obtained a degree. Instead, he left early when Duke accepted him in its School of Medicine. Doug Stafford, a consultant for Paul’s Senate campaign, said Wednesday that Paul has never said he holds a degree from Baylor, only that he attended Baylor in Waco, Texas. Multiple media outlets, including the Lexington Herald-Leader, made an incorrect assumption, he said. “I guess many people and some in the media have assumed Dr. Paul had a bachelor’s degree but he has never said that,” Stafford said.

You can get into Duke med school without a bachelor’s degree? Way back when, I was late sending my undergraduate transcripts to the UW graduate school. In what was surely a instance of anti-Oregon bias, I received a series of increasingly angry and threatening letters from the authorities until I submitted the relevant paperwork, indicating that I had indeed graduated from UO. Apparently they don’t do this at Duke?

…apparently matriculating students without a BA or BS was unusual, but not unknown when Paul entered Duke.

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Hawks Everywhere…

[ 5 ] August 5, 2010 |

Like I say, every country has its neocons:

In his first interview since his capture after the fall of Baghdad, Saddam Hussein’s former top deputy Tariq Aziz tells the Guardian that it would be wrong for the U.S. to pull out of Iraq now. Speaking only days after Obama confirmed that the US would be ending its combat mission in Iraq this month with the withdrawal of thousands of troops, Aziz said the country was in a worse state than before the war…

Aziz goes on to mount a defense of his old boss, though he says he tried unsuccessfully to talk Saddam out of invading Kuwait in 1991. He also remains an Iran hawk:

“Now Iran is building a weapons programme. Everybody knows it and nobody is doing anything. Why?”

In fairness to Aziz, I suspect that the Weekly Standard would have come out in strong support of the invasion of Kuwait…

Did They Hire George Costanza to Manage the USAF Tanker Contract?

[ 6 ] August 5, 2010 |

This is almost surreal. The company that’s trying to put forward a Ukranian Antonov aircraft as the new USAF tanker is protesting a decision to reject its bid on account of tardiness. Here’s the story:

At issue is when USAF took control of the proposal documents submitted by U.S. Aerospace. All of the following detail was provide from an industry executive who wished to be anonymous due to the sensitivity of the issue.

The company claims its messenger, which was delivering the proposal was at the Wright-Patterson Area B gate before 1:30 p.m. July 9. The deadline was 2 p.m. that day.

According to the company, Air Force personnel at the gate “initially denied the messenger entry to the base, then gave incorrect direction to the 1755 Eleventh Street Building 570,” where the proposal was headed. The messenger apparently became lost, and Air Force personnel told him to wait while they came to him.

By the time the papers reached their destination, the Air Force stamped the proposal as being received at 2:05 p.m.

U.S. Aerospace was notified July 22 via a letter from the Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patt that the company’s bid was late and would not be considered as part of the source selection.

So, one of the questions that is likely to be addressed as GAO reviews the protest is at what point the USAF had “control” over the proposal.

Was it when the messenger stepped onto the base? I’d suspect that when it comes to matters of security, the Air Force would say its personnel have control over all people on their bases. When it comes to a contracting matter, it may be different.

Apparently, Air Force officials subsequently told a company representative that delays at installation gates are common (and they are — I’ve been subject to more than a few), and that the company should have anticipated this potential snag and planned appropriately.

Two things. First, you’d wonder why the USAF would risk the potential of a protest and lawsuit based on a five minute delay. However, since the US Aerospace/Antonov bid is thought by some to be intended specifically to generate a protest, they may have thought that having a clear-cut reason for rejection would make things easier.

Good, And Bad, Reasons For Mixed Feelings About Perry

[ 21 ] August 5, 2010 |


Which is simply to say that legal details aside (I’m not a lawyer, but you can play one on TV by reading the decision) this seems like a clear victory for moral justice and nobody has any reason to have mixed feelings about it.

To elaborate a bit on my previous post, I agree 100% of this in terms of fears of a backlash. As long-time readers of this blog know, both here and in my academic work I’ve argued that the idea that social change produced through the courts leads to greater conflict is not supported by any good evidence, and also that the idea that conflict is a reason to avoid social change makes no sense. I definitely recommend this Ryan McNeely post, which provides further support for these claims.

So there’s no reason to have mixed feelings about the decision because finding a constitutional right to same-sex marriage would generate a backlash. The reason to have mixed feelings is that circuit court decisions are only remain authoritative if higher courts are willing to uphold them, and the conditions in the Supreme Court right now just aren’t very favorable. Strictly speaking, this is more a criticism of the decision to litigate now rather than the decision per se, but it’s worth emphasizing that although skeptics of the power of the courts to generate social reform are wrong about the backlash issue, it doesn’t follow from this that litigation is always a sound strategic option.

Civilian Control

[ 3 ] August 5, 2010 |

I have an article up at Right Web on conservatives and civilian control of the military:

The reaction of right-wing elites to the cashiering of McChrystal represents a genuine improvement over the historical attitude of conservatives toward civ-mil relations. Most importantly, conservatives have affirmed civilian supremacy over the military, even in the context of a Democratic president lacking military credentials.

However, this affirmation carries some warning signs. In the future, conservatives may well use the McChrystal firing as part of a “stab in the back” narrative, explaining how a Democratic president lost an otherwise winnable war by declining to take military advice. While every indication suggests that Obama acceded to all of McChrystal’s requests on doctrine and troop strength in Afghanistan, future attacks may nevertheless use the McChrystal firing as a touchstone in the conservative narrative of the “war on terror.”

Of Course, The Priveleged Could Not Possibly Have Any Interest In Maintaining the Status Quo

[ 7 ] August 5, 2010 |

Shorter Gerard Bradley:  “It’s outrageous that Thugood Marshall didn’t recuse himself from school desegregation cases, and that Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor didn’t recuse themselves from gender equality cases.  In fact, the federal judiciary should be limited entirely to reactionary white men; nobody else is capable of being impartial enough to see that the Constitution enacts the 2008 Texas Republican Party platform.”

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a better parody of the de facto Republican position that the Constitution should be interpreted as protecting the interests of those already overrepresented by other parts of the political system, only that Bradley isn’t joking.

Let the Hyperbole Commence!

[ 36 ] August 5, 2010 |


So, how are the crazy-cons going to react to the court decision striking down Proposition 8 in California? I ask because we’ve been hearing that the new right-wing crazies don’t care about “values” issues the way the old right-wing crazies did; we’ve been hearing that the new crowd is even kinda-sorta gay-friendly. [Ha-ha, what a bunch of cards at CNN. –ed]

And answered. Oh dear, I think South Park Republicanism may have died again.

Trotskyite of the Day

[ 6 ] August 5, 2010 |

Meet the radical far-left judicial activist who issued the Prop 8 ruling:

In other words, this “liberal San Francisco judge” was recommended by Ed Meese, appointed by Ronald Reagan, and opposed by Alan Cranston, Nancy Pelosi, Edward Kennedy, and the leading gay activist groups. It’s a good thing for for advocates of marriage equality that those forces were only able to block Walker twice.

Look, when unapologetic Marxists like Ed Meese are permitted in the federal government, this is the kind of thing that will happen. Clearly, the radical hold on the federal judiciary is complete. [via]

Former Time Blog of the Year Apparently Unaware That Federal State Entails Multiple Constitutions

[ 11 ] August 4, 2010 |

Shorter Verbatim Assrocket: “Conservatives have long said that the day would come when liberal judges declare the Constitution unconstitutional.”

Or, to put it in a way with some relation to reality, a judge did an utterly banal thing and declared a provision of a state constitution inconsistent with the federal Constitution. (Note appropriate venue for capitalization.)

The new winger Constitution seems to be missing some other provisions in addition to Section 1 of the 14th Amendment. So allow me to introduce the contemporary Republican Party to Article VI:

This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

You’re welcome!


The Greatness, and Potential Tragedy, of Perry v. Schwarzenegger

[ 29 ] August 4, 2010 |

I have very, very mixed feelings about Judge Walker’s historic decision holding California’s Proposition 8 unconstitutional. On the one hand, it represents judicial review at its best, remedying the exclusion of an unpopular minority from a fundamental right for irrational reasons. Strictly on the merits. the decision is cause for celebration.

I have very mixed feelings about the outcome, though, simply because the district court is merely the first stage in the appellate process, and the lawsuit was strategically foolish. I should emphasize that this is not because I’ve suddenly come to accept contrarian nonsense about how justice should be deferred until an unspecified time in the future in which social change can be magically achieved without conflict. If I thought there was a good chance that this ruling would be upheld by higher courts, I would be ecstatic. But there’s the rub: I have a very hard time believing that the Supreme Court would let a circuit court opinion upholding the invalidation of Prop 8 stand without review, and and even harder time believing that the Supreme Court wouldn’t reverse Judge Walker.   And a Bowers-type negative precedent would not only foreclose future federal lawsuits for longer than necessary, but could well make it more difficult to prevail in state courts as well.

This isn’t to criticize Judge Walker — it wasn’t his choice to bring this suit, and he did the right thing. And maybe I’m wrong and the case will stir Anthony Kennedy’s sporadic conscience. But I have the sinking feeling that this will not end well.

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Judge rules that the Gays are people again (at least in California)

[ 15 ] August 4, 2010 |

I would like to thank Judge Vaughn Walker for readmitting the California Gays into the human race. It’s nice to see that someone appointed by a noted Gay Agenda-monger like Ronald Reagan actually believes in all that stuff the Tea Party crowd only pays lip service to.