Judith Klinghoffer Stupidity Update

Two posts today by Andy Sullivan’s vile guest-blogger are worthy of note. The first stands out because of the sheer lack of logic in it:

[The Dutch] are considering a one year jail sentence on those who praise terror.
I know free speech advocates will be horrified. I concur. Words can kill.

Those are probably the most nonsensical four sentences I’ve ever read. It’s like someone saying that they support abortion rights because “abortion is murder”. The second is significant for two reasons. First, most of the post is her condemning (rightfully) an anti-Muslim bigot. Then, out of nowhere, she says this:

By the way, I also oppose applying the Geneva convention to terrorists. That convention, like the adoption of uniforms, was specifically designed draw bright lines between governments, soldiers and civilians. Applying the convention to terrorists undermines the very purpose of the convention and would be a major victory for the religiously based mass murderers we are battling.

“By the way” usually implies that what follows has something, anything to do with the section that came before it. Apparently not with Klinghoffer. The other interesting thing about this is that Andrew Sullivan vehemently disagrees. Torture is one of Sully’s pet issues. It’s very strange that he’d let someone who disagrees on such a fundamental issue guest-blog.

Gore ’08 Fever: Catch It!

Ezra Klein, Matt Yglesias, Duncan Black, and Marshall Wittmann are now all on record as supporting an Al Gore candidacy in 2008. Let me just say that this is a really, really, really bad idea. First, I think that Gore has gotten worse, ideologically-wise, with age. If I could have voted in 1988, he would have had my support. He was smart, young, and exceedingly centrist. Plus, compared to the other candidates, such as Mike Dukakis and Jesse Jackson, he was quite electable. He was the perfect candidate. Little changed when 1992 came along, except that he had polished his credentials by writing Earth in the Balance, thus showing that he actually cared what happened to the environment. But then 2000 happened. He started out strong. Wooden, but strong. His rhetoric about shoring up Social Security, paying off the debt, and saving tax breaks for later was very responsible. As I was a bit of a radical back then, I couldn’t stand his opposition to universal health care and support for free trade (I’ve come around on both issues, as you might observe) and thus backed Nader, but if I could go back in time I’d definitely change. Anyway, at the end of his campaign he fell apart. He started to listen to Bob Shrum, and do a populist shtick that almost cost him the popular vote; it took Bush’s DUI revelation to push him ahead (though not in the right states). And he’s gotten worse since then. He’s allied himself repeatedly with MoveOn.org, a group that vociferously opposes the Democratic Leadership Council, which has been trying to prevent the party from going off the deep end on economic issues. His opposition to the war was good, of course, but he’s been associating himself with a fairly out-there group, and that’s frightening. So, that’s my personal reason for opposing him. But I also think that, politically, it’s bad to run a candidate that the public knows too much about. Everyone knows what they think, and it’s hard to change that. With an unknown, it’s at least possible to mold the public’s opinion of the candidate; here, we’re basically stuck with what we got. And, unless the Republicans are stupid enough to nominate Newt Gingrich, they’re going to either run a relatively anonymous figure (like George Allen) or a nationally beloved one (like John McCain). I think that if the public has to chose between an unknown/fantastic Republican and a Democrat who they already have mixed feelings about, they’re going to chose the Republican. I think that the best we can do is nominate someone with a solid, consistent record, who’s unknown on the national stage, who’s opposed to Iraq, who has charisma, and who is impossible to not like. Sounds like a pipe dream, right? Wrong.

Gun Shielding

Yes, we should be prioritizing defense spending above a bill shielding the gun industry from lawsuits. Yes, Bill Frist’s almost fanatic desire to get the bill passed is frightening. And yes, Frist’s statement that the bill is critical to our national security was absurd and unintentionally hilarious. But the bill should be passed. Don’t get me wrong; I hate guns. They’re of no use for self-defense, and, as a vegetarian, I obviously oppose them for hunting as well. There’s really no reason to keep guns legal for civilians; even the Second Amendment doesn’t require it. But if guns are to remain legal, it makes no sense to allow dealers and manufacturers to be sued because of gun crimes. It’s as absurd as allowing the survivors of the Oklahoma City bombings to sue Ryder, just because Timothy McVeigh rented a truck from them. If manufacturers make faulty guns, or if dealers make illegal sales, then sure, of course they can be sued. But if they are simply doing their job, it’s ridiculous to “hold them accountable” for that.

Democrats and Trade

We can do better than this. We can do better than dubbing a political journalist an expert on trade policy. We can do better than repeating lies that have been told by organized labor and other protectionists. If we’re going to be a reality-based party, we should start paying attention to reality. 90% of American jobs cannot be exported. Much less than 0.2% of Americans will be affected by outsourcing every year. The savings from outsourcing is most often used to create new jobs at home. Most jobs lost by outsourcing are replaced by ones that are higher paying. Many other countries are engaging in outsourcing to the U.S. And, as with all free trade, goods are becoming cheaper. The world has no panaceas, but globalization, and thus outsourcing, is pretty damn close to one. Let’s come to our sense and actually start caring about the facts.

The R Files

John Roberts’ files from the early 1980s, when he worked for Attorney General William Smith, have been released. Here’s the stuff that sticks out:

He defended, for instance, the constitutionality of proposed legislation to restrict the ability of federal courts to order busing to desegregate schools.
On other civil rights issues, he encouraged a cautious approach by courts and federal agencies in enforcing laws against discrimination.
Judge Roberts, now on the federal court of appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, also argued that Congress had the constitutional power “to divest the lower federal courts of jurisdiction over school prayer cases.”
In another memorandum, he maintained that the Supreme Court, to which he is now nominated, overreached when it denied states the authority to impose residency requirements for welfare recipients.
This was an example, he wrote, of the court’s tendency to find fundamental rights, like the right to travel between states, for which there was no explicit basis in the Constitution. “It’s that very attitude which we are trying to resist,” he wrote

In December 1981, the United States Commission on Civil Rights issued a report broadly defending affirmative action as a way to combat pervasive discrimination. Judge Roberts wrote a blistering critique, saying the “obvious reason” affirmative action programs had failed was that they “required the recruiting of inadequately prepared candidates.”
In a memorandum to the attorney general in August 1982, he expressed support for a federal district court decision limiting the reach of a law against sex discrimination in educational institutions receiving federal aid. Judge Roberts said the law, called Title IX, applied only to specific programs that received federal aid, not to the entire university that maintained the programs.
“Under Title IX federal investigators cannot rummage willy-nilly through institutions but can only go as far as the federal funds go,” he wrote.
Judge Roberts also worried about the ability of courts to cope with an ever-rising number of cases unworthy of judicial attention. In one memorandum, he strongly criticized what he called the overuse of the writ of habeas corpus, a legal procedure often employed to challenge criminal convictions.
He argued that the writs overwhelmed the courts, were “frequently frivolous” and made “a mockery of the entire criminal justice system.” In later years, Congress did set limits on the use of habeas corpus.
In several memorandums, Judge Roberts displayed a shrewd understanding of how Washington works. Responding to a letter from the American Jewish Committee in 1981, he asked a supervisor, “Is this draft response O.K. – i.e., does it succeed in saying nothing at all?”

A lot of this confirms what I already suspected: that Roberts, when faced with a choice between greater individual rights and more government power, will always choose the latter. What also strikes me is his very limited approach to civil rights. From busing, to affirmative action, to Title IX, he sides against minorities. One new thing that I notice is his willingness to let Congress castrate the judiciary, as shown by his support for banning courts from ordering busing and taking away courts’ jurisdiction on prayer issues. And the last paragraph confirms what his involvement with Bush’s legal team in Florida already suggested: this guy is a political hack. All in all, not good for Roberts.

Boy Scouts

This is disappointing:

The Senate voted Tuesday to allow U.S. military bases to continue to host Boy Scouts events, responding to lawsuits and a federal court ruling aimed at severing relationships between the government and the youth group.

In a 98-0 vote, the Senate approved the provision continuing the hosting of Boy Scout events as part of massive bill setting Defense Department policy for next year.

My feelings about the Boy Scouts is similar to my feelings about all-white country clubs. Country clubs can discriminate on the basis of race all they want; indeed Bill Frist, the author of this amendment, was a member of a club that bans blacks (he quit when it became politically wise to). However, the government cannot, constitutionally, support these racist institutions. It violates the Equal Protection Clause. The situation is similar here, except that federal support for the Boy Scouts is even more egregious constitutionally. The Boy Scouts not only bans gays, but atheists as well. Two Equal Protection violations, with an Establishment violation to boot. Moreover, forgetting the Constitution, the government shouldn’t be in the business of promoting homophobia. The Boy Scouts, by banning gay members, gives children the idea that it is okay to hate people on the basis of sexual orientation. There’s nothing honorable in that.
P.S. For a more humorous take on this, see Jon Stewart’s monologue for SNL.


It seemed for a while that the Democratic Party had finally come to its senses in terms of trade. Bill Clinton, the biggest free trader of them all, was President and leader of the party. John Kerry, who was a consistent supporter of free trade as a Senator, was our nominee for 2004. The candidate most strident about his opposition to globalization, Dennis Kucinich, was ignored and considered to be a fringe figure. Even Dick Gephardt, the very definition of protectionist, proposed to work within the WTO. Then the general election started. Kerry started calling for NAFTA to be renegotiated, despite having voted for it. Outsourcing became the topic of the year, with Tom Daschle, Hillary, Nancy Pelosi, and Kerry screaming about its evils. And today, Democrats are united in opposing CAFTA, the latest trade deal, which the House is set to vote on tonight. As trade deals go, CAFTA is pretty harmless. The only industry it affects adversely is sugar production. It includes a quota (that I actually believe is bad idea) that requires 90% of Central American textile imports to be American, and it actually is supported by most farmers. This should be a protectionist’s dream deal. But no. We have to oppose it even more than we did NAFTA. You know, the trade deal that resulted in 22 million new jobs during Clinton’s tenure. Gah…