Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Nuanced Assessment of Gingrich's Views on Separation of Powers

That Newt Gingrich is at all taken seriously as a human being, much less an intellectual, by anybody, is appalling. The runaway winner of last week's 'You can't make this shit up' award was a column which tried to salvage Gingrich's years in disgrace by comparing them to Churchill's in the political wilderness, suggesting that pre-1938 Churchill had a low reputation indeed, despised and rejected, that he blossomed into a titan only thereafter, and that Gingrich at his nadir, or at present, could be seen similarly. Only the most recent, of course, of Republicans' ever more ridiculous and incredible attempts to make chicken salad out of chicken shit. I feel like shaking them, saying, for the love of anything you care about, listen to yourselves...

With respect to his respect for separation of powers and checks and balances and the rule of law, Montesquieu, Madison, Jefferson, like that, well, it's been a staple of Republican rhetoric for some time that the Supreme Court engages in unwonted judicial activism, results-oriented jurisprudence, rejection of stare decisis, and resort to ideology over sober legal reasoning. For a while now, I've been agreeing with that position. If you haven't read Justice Stevens' magisterial dissent in the Citizens United case, it's well worth a look: you need dental records and DNA to identify what's left of the majority's opinion, and for legal writing is unusually clear and direct


Which makes the timing of his pronouncement on the subject odd, don't it? So, there are a few reasons why he might have made it:
1. The primary-election base has been drinking this as mother's milk for a long time, and he's positioning himself as the non-Romney. He doesn't need fact of logic to do that; he's laying down a social marker rather than actually contributing to the debate. His rather comical signature on the life-purity pledge is exactly similar.
2. He's anticipating the reelection of Obama and a couple of more appointments, and making rhetoric delegitimizing and rejecting the authority of an 'Obama Court' before the fact, with prescience which he hopes will earn him credibility as a thinker and fighter. After all, it's what the right has been doing with respect to the Obama presidency. And, as with the presidency, this isn't 'mere' disagreement, even violent disagreement, while accepting that they hold the offices to which they were duly elected and/or appointed. This is a rejection of their right to hold office, of any authority they exert consequent to that office. Not, one would think, the sort of thing an intelligent, well educated PhD historian would be glib about.
3. He really is that fucking stupid, vain, hypocritical, demagogic, and evil; a low-born whoreson canker'd nematode, a poopyhead of the first water; a fucknozzle and a shitwhistle; a man whose ethics and intelligence, were they elastic, wouldn't suffice to make suspenders for a cockroach, and whose sociopathic, narcissistic egotism is as inconspicuous and easily glossed over as a tarantula walking on a piece of angel food cake. Not that he arouses strong feelings in me.

Wouldn't rule any of these out. And they're hardly mutually exclusive...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tanned, Rested and Ready

I've been away for awhile, and apologise for that, but the wealth of material out there requires that i do something other than whine about it all by myself. So, I'll give my readers, all seven of them, the unparalleled opportunity of listening to me whine, and whine back should they be so inclined. The post below on Tom Friedman is new. I'll add more when, as I read the papers, the mood strikes me. That'll be often, i'm afraid...

Dear Mr. Friedman: Suck On This

In response to Tom Friedman's column today:

Dear Mr. Friedman:

No, sir, you did not support the Iraq war because we might transform, or collaborate in transforming, Iraq into a democracy. You said, in your column right here, that after 9/11 we needed to do something to show the Arab world and Al-Qaeda that we were still capable of strong military response, and that Iraq was as good a place as any. It came down to, in one of your columns, nothing more nor less than 'because we could', and, as 'winning progressive' points out above, in one of your TV interviews, a schoolyard bully's 'Suck on this!' You do not get off as easily as you would like.

Your 'And, of course, Iraqis paid dearly as well' is appallingly glib. Hundreds of thousands dead, millions of refugees, destroyed infrastructure, looted antiquities, the movement into the power vacuum of people with no interest whatever in democracy. You don't mention Abu Ghraib, white phosphorus bombs, or the $9 billion in cash that vanished. The improbable empowerment of the Iranian theocrats in a country with which they fought a savage, pointless war.

And you didn't mention in your column the name of a single dissenter, offering that opinion before the war. There were a few. Some inspect nuclear weapons sites for a living. Some write in the very newspaper for which you write. One, even, serves to this day as president of the United States.

Not well played, Mr. Friedman. Not well played at all. It won't wash.