Monday, October 31, 2005

The Pursuit of Happiness

Will Wilkinson has for some years written one of the most consistently interesting and sophisticated blogs I've ever seen. He's got a new one now, devoted to research and thought on the effects of political and economic change on personal happiness. I could be burning the midnight oil tonight.

Right = 'Far Right'

Like Julian Sanchez and others, I have really no sense that those who've taken up the task of inveighing against Judge Alito are basing their criticisms on any decisions or certain beliefs of his.

Reading this Slate article, I'm immediately distracted by the first sentence - since when did opposition to abortion become skewed to the "far right"? I'd hazard a guess that many moderate Republicans were pleased as punch with Alito's dissent in Casey. A minor point. But I really have no idea what to make of the implication that Alito's contrast to O'Connor in philosophy and politics is an inherent problem:

"And Alito's split with O'Connor involves not only abortion but also marriage. She worried about wives who might be victims of domestic violence. He put first the rights of husbands to know what their wives are doing."

I can already hear Senator Schumer parroting this sort of charge. The contrast would be worrisome if it had anything to do with the legal logic that generated the decision in question. It seems to me that Alito's intellectual emphasis was toward a deference to precedent (the operative precedent being Roe), and not on attending to the resolution of hypothetical conflicts that might arise from restricting abortion access. Isn't this essentially what pro-choice courtwatchers have asked for? His controlling precedent in his dissent was the text of Roe itself, and in arguing for spousal consent, he appears more than attentive to the issue of how it submits to this precedent. So how exactly does this presage a dismantling of abortion rights? Is a "husband-centered" legal perspective on Roe really likely to be the tactical key to the "far right" blitzkrieg on the venerable institution of abortion?

Those of us who think Randy Barnett should be an inevitable shoo-in for the Supreme Court most likely will find good reason to heap criticism on Alito. (For some counterpoint, check this out from the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Soothes the mind a little.) The first thought that came to my mind was what the interval between Harriet Miers' nomination and Alito's says about President Bush's legal philosophy. No reiteration is needed there.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Senators Say the Darndest Things

"I want the president to look across the country and find the best man, woman, or minority that he can find."
- Sen. Trent Lott, on the Miers mulligan.

Hat tip Andrew Sullivan.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Take A Day Off, Boss

So it's a crowded bandwagon, but one worth riding. Here's how former Senator Dan Coats - Harriett Miers' Beltway sherpa during her nomination process - responded to critics of Miers' non-credentials:

"If a great intellectual powerhouse is a requirement to be a member of the court and represent the American people and the wishes of the American people and to interpret the Constitution, then I think we have a court so skewed on the intellectual side that we may not be getting representation of America as a whole."

As Eric Cartman would say, "Weeeaaak." Someone should have reminded Coats that "representation of America as a whole" sounds an awful lot like all the "legislating from the bench" business that President Bush so opposes. Or, uh, used to oppose hypothetically, before actually opposing it became politically ungratifying. It's not easy being President.

God bless David Frum. You can sign his petition to request Miers' withdrawal here.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

So this has already been pointed out on the Daily Show, and by Tom Palmer, but I'll jump on the bandwagon, if you haven't seen it. I give you the FEMA Continuum of Disaster (an actual flowchart purporting to convey FEMA's approach to disaster relief.)


Good Lord.

Better Late Than Never

"There is a gaping disproportion between the stakes associated with this vacancy and the stature of the person nominated to fill it."
- Bill Kristol, on the Miers nomination

That sounds right - shame on Bush for expanding the Bremer Model. Otherwise known as the Gonzales Model. Or, if you like, the Brown Model.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Lunatic Watch

"I’ve watched the law for a long time and I don’t know of a more heroic resistance of an individual, under every form of adversity, who has stood up tall and resisted [like Milosevic has]....And, more than those that hurt him can understand, he is one who has demonstrated that the real criminal acts were by those who were breaking up the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and not those who were trying to preserve the union....Those who heroically resist - as President Milosevic did - the aggression and domination of their countries, pay the price."

- Ramsey Clark, former Attorney General under Jimmy Carter