Friday, November 17, 2006

Comeback Kids

So Roy Blunt (R-MO) is elected House Minority Whip over reformer John Shadegg (R-AZ). Ditto with establishment candidate John Boehner (R-OH) over grassroots darling Mike Pence (R-IN). And Adam Putnam (R-FL) is the conference chair. What message to we get?

Well, Blunt is one of the 13 most corrupt members of congress.

Putnam was furious that "rednecks" didn't come out to vote for the GOP.

We've still got Trent "segregation forever" Lott returning from exile.

Pence got annhilated in his race, 168-27, showing perhaps the relative weakness of the GOP base (compared to the K Street Crew).

Redstate is sad. "So, the GOP gets blown out of the water and everyone gets promoted!" Apparently. There's also something highly indicative of the fact that the Democrats rejected Murtha's promotion, while the GOP is keeping Roy Blunt in the leadership. Anyone want to guess what it is?

Dead and Buried

Texas law guru Sanford Levinson raises a controversial but compelling point: Where does George W. Bush get off even pretending to honor Martin Luther King, Jr., given that Dr. King undoubtedly would feel nothing but massive contempt for the current state of the GOP generally and for many of Bush's policies (Iraq, economic justice, torture) specifically? We as a society collectively get off on this paeon to racial justice and Dr. King's legacy while utterly ignoring the actual policy prescriptions and social values that Dr. King fought his entire life to uphold.

For my part, I'm just curious if Dr. King would be the beloved figure he is had he not been shot. Everyone loves a martyr, but it has turned Dr. King into a symbol rather than a person. That's not in itself a bad thing, except that as a society we don't seem interested in linking the pursuit of Dr. King's actual beliefs to honoring the symbolic Dr. King. If we had a real live Dr. King still urging us to fight racism and resist torture and oppose the Iraq war, I have to think a significant portion of the country would view him the same way they view Jesse Jackson: a race-baiting liberal rabble rouser.

Being dead, though, Dr. King cannot demand accountability from the American people who profess to believe in his dream. Which makes it far easier for us to pay homage to him while utterly ignoring the fact that we are far, far away from his promised land--and don't seem particularly interested in getting there anymore.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Finals Round-Up

It's final exam season here at Carleton, so instead of a substantive post, you get a round-up.

"Politically incorrect" has become a mantra of pride in today's culture. But even still, being "politically incorrect" should not be a defense when one suggests the first Muslim Congressman of being a traitor because he opposes your preferred Iraq policy (because he's a Muslim, no less).

How IP law encourages annoying, fleeting, and wasteful fashion trends.

Neal Katyal's Harvard Law Review article explains how theory assisted practice in the Hamdan case. As a budding legal theorist who would like to pretend like my life's ambition has practical value, it was a nice validation.

Hoyer beat Murtha soundly in the leadership race...thank God.

The New Republic admits it made a mistake in supporting the Iraq war. Maybe we can finally let die the ugly vendetta being waged against it by certain elements on the left end of the Democratic Party. We're all in this together, after all. On the other hand, maybe not. To be clear, I don't think these particular people are necessarily part of that "ugly vendetta." But I do think that--even if you think TNR still hasn't "got it" on Foreign Policy--they are in line with the liberal consensus on such a large array of issues that its friendly fire to try and push them into the grave. And as a broader response, even if TNR has to do more soul-searching than it has thus far, I don't think it has to come in the form of "most of our deep-seated ideological commitments about America's obligations to the world are utterly wrong. We repent." I feel like that's the message many critics want out of the magazine, and I don't think the Iraq war mandates that particula response.

Anonymous Liberal says that Deval Patrick's crushing victory in the Massachusetts' gubernatorial election offers a template for a Barack Obama Presidential run. Do I owe Jules Crittenden an apology? (No, because how a campaign will play out is different from how an administration will, and because I still believe that Massachusetts politics and American politics are sufficiently different to make direct comparisons inapt).

Scott Johnson of the arch-conservative Powerline blog is sad because 90,000 poor children in Minnesota will receive health insurance. *Tear*

Nancy Pelosi laments that "White rednecks" don't vote Democrat, sparking off a furious round of criticism for demonstrating liberal elitist disrespect of middle America. Haha, just kidding. It was Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL), leading candidate for Republican Conference Chairman. I was kidding about the "furious round of criticism" too.

Al Gore's '08 advantages.

Gail Hines subjects the new Borat movie to a feminist critique. I haven't seen the movie, so I won't comment, except to say that a) the fact that violence against Jews isn't a major "public health" problem doesn't mean that it isn't a problem, or that it isn't a threat, or that anti-Semitism does not remain rampant, or that violence against Jews isn't legitimized in many quarters; and b) I'm curious whether there is any room for satire when the satirized are perfectly willing to accept even the parody as legitimate behavior on their part?

Victor Davis Hanson says history will vindicate W, in part because he "won" two wars after 9/11. "Won"? Won. Patrick Porter gently disagrees.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Oy gevolt. So in addition to the outburst of pro-Jeff Sessions sentiment, Senator Trent Lott (R-MS), once banished for proclaiming that "we wouldn't have all these problems" had we maintained a segregationist agenda, is now the Number 2 Republican in the Senate (As Robert George says: There is something painfully ironic with Trent Lott gaining the title of "minority whip"). This from the party trying to engage in "outreach" towards African-Americans? It'd be laughable if it wasn't so sad.

But don't think the Democrats aren't holding their own on the idiocy front. Pelosi has managed to royally piss me off on both the Hoyer/Murtha race for Majority Leader, and the Harman/Hastings decision for chair of the Intelligence Committee. If the Democrats have a mandate to do anything, it's to fight corruption in the halls of Washington. Murtha has consistently been on the watchlist of corruption observers, and just recently called the Democrats' reform bill "total crap". He's effectively beholden to defense contractors, and loves earmarks to death. Oh, and aside from Iraq, he's as conservative as you can get in the Democratic caucus and largely incoherent as a speaker. Hoyer is not my favorite Democrat in the world, but he was instrumental in getting Democrats elected this cycle, his positions--though not exactly liberal--are more in line with the general views of the caucus, and he knows how to play ball in Washington. Plus, given the fact that I'm starting to really dislike Pelosi, I'm not sure I want to set her up as a DeLay-style tyrant of the House. As for Harman/Hastings, it's no question: you don't take off one of our party's top experts on Intelligence and replace him with a former judge impeached for taking bribes! This should be a no-brainer. And the kicker is that in both these cases, Pelosi's decisions seem less about what's good for the country or the party, and more about waging personal vendettas against two people she detests (her feuds with Hoyer and Harman are long-runnng). This is not an auspicious start.

So, like John Cole, I have to agree with Dean Barnett: Republicans and Democrats are [apparently] determined to engage in a two year dumb-off. Ugh.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Therapy Sessions

Apparently, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is being floated as the char of the Republican Policy Committee. RedState lauds his "intellectual fire power." K-Lo supports him because Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) is too "mod". A-Bama blog jumps even further ahead, pitching him for a Supreme Court seat (recall that Sessions already was rejected for one nomination to the federal judiciary--a U.S. District Court seat).

So, who is Jeff Sessions? Well, as noted above, he fell upwards to his U.S. Senate seat after being rejected for a federal District Court nomination. He was one of nine Senators to boldly vote for torture. He has distinguished himself in Washington by being a complete and utter intellectual lightweight, so much so that even little ol' elitist me, with my disdain for Washington politicians generally, have him particularly associated in my mind as a dunce. Indeed, as Ezra Klein noted, "Every time I've noticed Sessions, it's been for a dazzling display of dimness." By and large, he's been a loyal party hack with no propensity for innovation or public capacity for independent thought.

But most importantly, he has a long and unambigious record of hostility towards Black people. I'm not talking little things; I'm talking stuff that would make Trent Lott (banished to the lowly position of committee chair!) blush. Sessions launched clearly politically motivated investigations of Black civil rights workers because majority Black counties actually started voting for Black candidates. He red-baited the NAACP. And he said the Klan wasn't all that bad...until he realized they were "pot-smokers." (But remember: Robert Byrd was in the Klan in the Roosevelt administration. So both parties are equally to blame.)

Sessions is an idiot and a racist who loves torture. If that's the image the GOP wants to present, all power to them. But it is rather startling to watch the outpouring of support he's receiving, given that I thought it was rather universally acknowledged on both sides of the aisle that Sessions isn't the brightest bulb in the ceiling.

UPDATE: Hey Immigrant Voice visitors! Glad to have you. Please peruse the rest of my lovely site (just click the masthead to get to the main page). And while you're here, wouldn't you vote for this site for a blogging award?

The 2006 Weblog Awards

Thanks, and hope you'll continue to visit The Debate Link.

A Query

So the prevailing meme on the right is that the Democratic party doesn't have a mandate to do anything. People didn't vote for the Dems, but against the GOP--and moreover, that vote was not a repudiation of conservative governing philosophy, but an expression of revulsion at (take your pick) corruption/Iraq/deficit spending. Democrats, they say, have no plan or proposals on any issue, so we can't interpret the public as supporting a liberal policy agenda. I think that it's kind of ridiculous, but whatever. What I want to know is this: Republicans spent most of the election cycle telling voters that Democrats would "cut and run" from Iraq. If there was one thing the GOP was quite clear that the Democrats were proposing, it was that. And apparently two-thirds of Democratic voters and 55% of all voters in this cycle support some form of troop withdrawal in the near future.

So my question is--does the Democratic party have a mandate to begin withdrawing from Iraq? It was an a) publicly taken position that b) Republicans themselves said was key to the Democratic party agenda that c) most voters support on d) one of the most important issues in this cycle.

I take no personal position on whether it is wise to withdraw, but it seems that the GOP has to concede that there is a mandate to begin the policy.

Monday, November 13, 2006

From Beirut to West Europe

I previously noted the spike in British anti-Semitism in the wake of the Israel/Lebanon war. Now, new data suggests that the same trend occured throughout Western Europe. The report also says that Greece and Turkey experienced an uptick, while most of Eastern Europe (as well as Denmark) were relatively unaffected. Turkey is specficially noteworthy, not because it is Muslim, but because the Jewish population there has been notably free from anti-Semitism for a significant period of time.

Very unfortunate.