Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Right Republican Tactic Towards Kagan

Miguel Estrada -- the talented conservative Latino judge who Democrats famously blocked from being appointed to the DC Circuit (and thus, the Supreme Court) -- has come out and endorsed Elena Kagan's nomination. This "may have the bizarre result of fueling suspicion from some on the left who worry that Kagan is a right-winger in Dem's clothing." I don't think this is bizarre at all, and part of me thinks it might be calculated. There are plenty of liberals grumpy over the Kagan nomination (I'm relatively neutral on the matter). But Republicans can't block her -- they already know she'll be confirmed. So they have two choices.

First, they can wage a furious but futile battle against the Solicitor General, hopefully riling up their base in the process. And that would be the standard tactic. But it seems relatively superfluous -- the GOP base is plenty riled, and there are plenty of things to be done between now and November to keep them riled. Meanwhile, the standard Republican temper tantrum is the best way to pave over the fissures that are developing over the nominations. Liberals may not like Kagan, but they'll be reminded of how insane Republicans are, and for the past few cycles "Republicans are batshit crazy" has been the best mobilizing tool the Democrats have ever had.

Alternatively, they can recognize the writing on the wall, and give her a nice reception, and a healthy confirmation margin. What will happen? Well, the Republican base might pitch a fit. But, as I said, they'll get over it between now and November. And in the meantime, they'll have scored two essential victories. First, they'll be able to claim the high ground on the judicial confirmation fight. Right now, it is buried in a mishmash of "he started it". If Republicans can say, quite plausibly, "Obama nominated one of his top choices -- not a compromise -- a solid, unabashed liberal whom we could have attacked over (among other things) the Solomon Amendment, and we confirmed her with virtually no fuss", they will be in a dominant position the next time they're occupying the Oval Office (not to mention if Obama ever gets the chance to nominate a true liberal's liberal).

But second, and more importantly, Republican behavior like this would crack the left wide open. Liberals are already suspicious that Kagan is our own version of Souter. If Republicans treat her like they think she's the best gift that ever happened to them with this President and this Senate, there will be no containing the internal strife. The liberal base will be demoralized, perhaps irrevocably, and the already pro-GOP fundamentals will lead them to a rout. And the sacrifice? Justice Kagan, who, to reiterate, will be on the court anyway. Oh, and maybe a slightly less reared-up Republican base -- but if they take back the House, who cares if the base is happy or sad about it?

Keep 'em Out

Mark Krikorian tips his hand -- legal or not, immigrants or just visitors, he just doesn't want Mexicans in our country.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Bedroom Antics

Thanks in part to pressure from New York AG Andrew Cuomo, American Eagle will stop discriminating against trans employees by dropping a requirement that employees wear "gender-specific clothing". Great news, you say? Well, you're not the FRC (thank God):
"ENDA, what might be more appropriately called 'The Cross-Dresser Protection Act,' takes the bedroom into the workplace and unfairly burdens employers to know about their employee's sexual lives. This major expansion of federal power over the workplace places an unnecessary burden on small businesses and local communities.

First, as Vanessa notes, this reveals absolutely nothing about any employee's "sexual lives". Knowing that an employee is trans (or a "cross-dresser") doesn't say anything about one's sexual practices (including whether one is gay, straight, or bi). It's the FRC that is sexualizing this, not anybody else.

But even taking the FRC's misguided analysis at face value, what it boils down to is that employers will be "burdened" by the knowledge that someone that they talk to might be ... having sex? Having teh gay sex? Whatever it is, I'm not sure how this abstract knowledge rises to the level of cognizable harm.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Real Posts Mean a Real Roundup

Hey, I wrote three actual posts today, so back off! 
* * * 
Jon Chait blows the lid off Matt Yglesias' absurdly vague smear re: the meaning of Goldstone's past collaboration with South Africa's apartheid regime.

Feel good story about Gaza surfers.

Proponents of an anti-Israel boycott sure are attracted to conspiracy (see also). 

Margaret Atwood and Amitov Ghosh had a lovely acceptance speech for their joint receipt of the Dan David Prize.

Arizona just passed a bill targeting ethnic studies courses, on the grounds that they may promote "ethnic solidarity" (which is "just like the old South", according to the state schools chief, who perhaps is a few years short of schooling himself).

You know what happens when you allow gay marriage? Gays get married.

Once again, for many conservatives qualities associated with American Jews make one automatically an inauthentic American.

In related news, John Cole is collecting the latest additions to the constitutional qualifications for a SCOTUS justice.

Real Pain for My Sham Friends

Elena Kagan's Friends: She's Not Gay.

Elena Kagan's real friends: It doesn't matter if she's gay or not, and whether she is is her business, not yours.*

* Not an attack on the friends in the Politico piece, but a general comment on how this whole issue is beginning to infuriate me.

Mayweather versus Kenny

This is Sportscenter:

The Universal Tantrum

Jon Chait thinks that the political calculus that went into the Kagan nomination may have been miscalculated:
Substantively, I'm pretty happy with the Elena Kagan nomination. Politically, though, I suspect the White House has made a mistake. The calculation seems to be that Kagan is their most confirmable pick. Why? Well, Senators like Orrin Hatch have said nice things about her in the past. Conservatives at Harvard like Charles Fried like her.

On the other hand, there are entry points to rile up the conservative base against her. There's Kagan's opposition to ROTC based on the military's discrimination against gays. She wrote a college paper that seemed vaguely sympathetic to historical socialism. Tea Party Nation has emailed its supporters calling her a "radical leftist."

Now, maybe these concerns will remain marginal in the face of a selection that enjoys the support of Republican elites. But the last 15 months have shown that, in the face of conservative outrage or organized Republican opposition, the support of a smattering of Republican elites tends to melt away very quickly. What Republicans are going to want to invite a Tea Party-backed primary challenge by voting to confirm Kagan? In the end, I think no more than a couple GOP Senators will be left standing. If the White House predicts a 70+ vote cakewalk, I suspect it's mistaken.

I think it's obviously true that Republicans would throw a temper tantrum regardless of whether the nominee was Kagan, Wood, or even Garland. Throwing a fit is kind of all Republicans do, nowadays. However, I think there might be a difference in terms of how the tantrum is portrayed. Diane Wood, fairly or not, was presented as the liberal end of the nomination spectrum. Hence, media coverage of the inevitable Republican freak out would have cast it as justified, or at least politically expected even under normal circumstances. The goal with Kagan, I take it, is for Republicans to flip out and for it to look unreasonable -- proof of the degree to which the party is hostage to its most extreme elements.

Of course, the problem with this strategy is that the media doesn't have a spine, and thus takes the very fact of a Republican hissy fit as per se proof that the fit is reasonable. But the analysis does, I think, go one level deeper than Chait takes it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

It's a Pirates Life for Me, Maybe? Roundup

Yes, yes -- these roundups are the epitome of lazy blogging. Sorry. I'll snap out of it eventually.

* * *

Big Labor pushes through majoritarian democracy.

I was waiting for the first person to argue that two straight female SCOTUS nominations (making for three of nine female justices total) equals a de facto exclusion of men. Thanks, K-Lo!

A mild surprise in West Virginia, as centrist Dem Alan Mollahan (D) goes down in the primary to an even more conservative candidate.

Seattle police officer taped beating a Latino robbery suspect (who turned out to be entirely innocent, not that it matters).

Ta-Nehisi Coates on why Obama's anti-X-box-ism is genuine.

Andrew Sullivan's haywire gaydar re: Elena Kagan is really starting to piss me off.

Recently defeated (at the GOP nominated convention) Utah Senator Bob Bennett (R) is in no rush to decide his next move.

If you're a Republican in Alabama, believing in science is a smear.

Quote of the Day

Richard Goldstone at Yale University's MacMillan Center: "Israel isn't the only nation that's being treated disproportionately, and in my view, unfairly. It's a question of politics, not morality."

I actually have no idea what that means. What are the other nations being treated "disproportionately [and] unfairly"? What does it mean for the question to be one of "politics, not morality"? I'm genuinely curious.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Futile Symposium Roundup

Tomorrow is going to be a hilarious meeting.

* * *

The tea-baggers have taken Maine.

Ta-Nehisi Coates on what other people can supposedly say.

The emergent attack on Elena Kagan is that she's too tough on slavery.

...Well, that, and that she's fat.

Something different: A radio debate where the liberal opposes Kagan and the conservative supports her.

Medical marijuana stores firebombed in Montana.

Friendly fire costs a Democratic seat in Hawaii: The DCCC is pulling out since the two Democratic candidates are going to split the vote and let a GOPer slip through the middle.

The Jew-Counter of Virginia

The Republican Party continues to demonstrate why it will never get the Jewish vote:
When former President Richard Nixon became paranoid that the Bureau of Labor Statistics had come under the control of Democrats and a “Jewish cabal,” he ordered adviser Fred Malek to create a list of “important Jewish officials” within the bureau, several of whom were later demoted or transferred. “It was the last recorded act of official anti-Semitism by the United States government,” Slate’s Timothy Noah noted. Malek has since apologized for serving as Nixon’s “Jew counter,” and has gone on to be a perennial Republican operative, serving as national finance co-chair for Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) presidential campaign, and as deputy chairman of the Republican National Committee under President George H. W. Bush. Now, right-wing Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has hired Malek to chair a 31-member commission charged with making recommendations on how to reform government.

Look, it's great that Malek apologized, but there is something unseemly about a person whose claim to fame is creating lists of bad Jews still being a member-in-good-standing of the political class. Yet, here we are, with Malek apparently well-entrenched in the national GOP. And now he's charged with reforming Virginia's government.

I can't wait.

Still Perfect

It's Kagan, which means I'm two for two. Bow to my superior prognostication skills.