Introducing the newly politicized Roberts Court

Roberts Dissent Reveals Strain Beneath Court’s Placid Surface – New York Times:

This case was the oldest undecided case on the court’s docket, and it is likely that Justice Breyer’s vote was in play until the final stages. One indication was Chief Justice Roberts’s reference in his opinion to Justice Breyer’s having joined “what becomes the majority opinion,” an odd present-tense locution suggesting that the outcome had once been otherwise.

What’s interesting about this, the first dissent by Chief Justice John Roberts in Georgia v. Randolph, is that the Chief takes a tone that indicates he feels it is appropriate to attack an opponent on the Court rather than just reason with him or her. Furthermore, he exposed the give-and-take that happens on the Court as casually and acidly as President Bush attacks as “politics” anything that crosses swords with his decisions. Give-and-take is the basis for all political decision-making, but these conservatives don’t seem to accept that.

It suggests the Supreme Court is headed down the path of confrontation politics that has already destroyed much of what was valuable in American discourse.

On another angle, this also suggests there is a majority on the Court that would find unwarranted wiretaps illegal. If the opinions in that case, when it comes to the Supreme Court, display the same personal animus, it will demonstrate beyond doubt that the conservatives on the Supreme Court intend to make every ruling deeply political, not judicial.

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Ignorance: Persisting in your arguments long after they are proven wrong

On Anniversary, Bush and Cheney See Iraq Success – New York Times:

On the third anniversary of a war that they once expected to be over by now, President Bush and senior officials argued Sunday that their strategy was working despite escalating violence in Iraq, even as a former Iraqi prime minister once favored by the White House declared that a civil war had already started.

Three years, many more Iraqis dead than would have died under Saddam in the same period while we would not have lost any troops by simply tightening the cordon around Iraq. A people would rise up against a dictator given ample reason, such as shortages of goods and services while rules live opulently. Real democracy could have been planted without all this death and destruction just by offering to help a self-liberating people.

And the United States government would not have become a government of lies to bolster runaway defense spending.

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Imperium Bushium

Bush to Restate Terror Strategy:

President Bush issued a new national security strategy today reaffirming his doctrine of preemptive war against terrorists and hostile states with chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, despite the troubled U.S. experience in Iraq.

The long-overdue document, an articulation of U.S. strategic priorities that is required by law, lays out a robust view of America’s power and an assertive view of its responsibility to bring change around the world. On topics including genocide, human trafficking and AIDS, the strategy describes itself as “idealistic about goals and realistic about means.”

The Bush Administration has shown repeatedly that it will rush headlong into events that it fails abjectly to prepare for, seeing only their imagined success rather than the reality of a situation. It’s statement about being realistic about means is PR, not policy.

With Iran singled out in the document (click here to get the PDF) as a threat and no significant forces available to widen the war in the Middle East, this is essentially a statement that the U.S. will consider using nuclear weapons against the country preemptively if Bush feels he has no other choice—and we know how often he can get so single-minded. We’re headed toward becoming the first country to use nukes offensively and, with Bush spreading nuclear technology in exchange for support in his mindless wars, this opens the door to many countries turning to nuclear weapons as a diplomatic and offensive weapon.

Very, very bad times. Getting worse.

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The story is class divides, which are different in red and blue states

What Kind of Hater Are You?: E.J. Dionne writes….

The paper has a fetching title: “Rich state, poor state, red state, blue state: What’s the matter with Connecticut?” Dr. Seuss, who wrote “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish,” meets Tom Frank, the author of the influential book “What’s the Matter With Kansas?”

The authors — Andrew Gelman of Columbia University, Boris Shor of the University of Chicago, Joseph Bafumi of Dartmouth and David Park of Washington University in St. Louis — show, through careful statistical analysis, how several things can be true at the same time.

Yes, Bush carried a lot of poor states — but with heavy support from the rich people who lived in them. The class war is being waged more fiercely in the Republican states than in the Democratic states. The income divide is especially sharp in the South, where it is reinforced by a strong racial divide.

“In poor states,” Gelman and his colleagues write, “rich people are much more likely than poor people to vote for the Republican presidential candidate, but in rich states (such as Connecticut), income has almost no correlation with vote preference. . . . In poor states, rich people are very different from poor people in their political preferences. But in rich states, they are not.”

Here’s the link to a presentation about the paper by the authors Dionne refers to. Brilliant. At least part of the story of red/blue division is that “income is more important in red states.” In other words, in red states there is still a sense that privilege comes with wealth, an antiquated old Europe idea if there ever was one.

The finding that “Journalists noticed a pattern (richer counties supporting the Democrats) that is concentrated in the states where the journalists live” shows how poorly the media represents the world, not just red states. It’s not that journos are bad or liberal, only that they tend to see the view from their porch better than from the perspectives of readers in poor and distant lands.

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WTF? Bush domestic advisor a swindler?

Former top Bush aide accused of thefts: Wash Post – Yahoo! News:

Claude Allen, President George W. Bush’s former top domestic policy adviser, was arrested this week in Maryland for allegedly swindling two stores out of more than $5,000, the Washington Post reported on Saturday, quoting Montgomery County police.

Maybe he’ll claim he needs secret documents to prove his innocence….

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A succinct description of the Democrat’s essential problem

FT.com / Comment & analysis / Columnists – Jacob Weisberg: Democrats’ three sorry stooges:

Since assuming their positions after the last election, the three have appeared somewhere between useless and disastrous as party leaders. Individually, they lack substance and policy smarts (Ms Pelosi); coherence and force (Mr Reid); and steadiness and mainstream appeal (Mr Dean). Collectively, they convey an image of liberal elitism, disarray and crabbiness.

Jacob Weisberg hits the proverbial nail squarely on the symbolic head. As improbable as it seems, the status quo in national politics will likely continue through the mid-term elections because the Democrats have no intellectual or soulful presence in the national debate.

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Sadly, Kirby Puckett has left the stadium

Kirby Puckett, a Hall of Fame Outfielder, Is Dead at 45 – New York Times:

Kirby Puckett, the Hall of Fame outfielder of the Minnesota Twins, acclaimed for his sunny personality and his passion for baseball, died Monday at a hospital in Phoenix. He was 45.

There are very few players who enjoyed baseball as much as Kirby Puckett obviously did. He played with exuberance and skill, turning the Twins around him into winners in addition to his own Herculean efforts that carried the team to two world championships. It was tragic when he was forced out of the game by blindness due to glaucoma, more so that he has passed away so young.

Wherever there’s a game, Kirby Puckett will be on the field.

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Read it and weep

Feeling No Pain – New York Times: Paul Krugman…

The fact is that we’re living in a time when most Americans are seeing little if any benefit from overall income growth, because their share of the economic pie is falling. Between 1979 and 2003, according to a recent research paper published by the I.R.S., the share of overall income received by the bottom 80 percent of taxpayers fell from 50 percent to barely over 40 percent. The main winners from this upward redistribution of income were a tiny, wealthy elite: more than half the income share lost by the bottom 80 percent was gained by just one-fourth of 1 percent of the population, people with incomes of at least $750,000 in 2003.

Yes, good times.

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Resign, don’t whine

levee_break5

Okay, so follow along here. First, President Bush applauded Mike Brown, then used him as a scapegoat and now seems to have had his own excuses pulled out from under him by one of the least competent people to occupy high federal office in recent memory. According to the White House, it’s the Democrats’ fault we’re talking about this, not Bush’s fault that he actually ignored warnings about Katrina, because the Democrats stumbled on a video of Bush receiving warnings about the levee breaks before the storm was over.

From the Washington Post‘s coverage, Katrina Video Refuels Debate Over Response:

“This makes it perfectly clear once again that this disaster was not out of the blue or unforeseeable,” said Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who has been critical of the handling of Katrina. “It was not only predictable, it was actually predicted. That’s what makes the failures in response — at the local, state and federal level — all the more outrageous.”

Reflecting the sensitivity of the controversy, the White House issued a three-page statement yesterday to “set the record straight,” defend the president’s actions before, during and after the storm, and accuse Democrats of using the new video “to falsely attack the White House’s Hurricane Katrina’s response.” The statement said the video showed that Bush was fully engaged and promising aid to state and local officials, and it cited other actions and testimony indicating that the president was worried about the levees and ordering help. At the same time, it added that “he was not satisfied with the federal response.”

Note, that’s a Republican criticizing the handling of Katrina, but it’s still the Democrats who are making politics of this video. If politics isn’t what we do when we debate how our government serves us, then what should we call it, Mr. President.

It gets more bizarre, when you read the new excuses for the President’s disengagement from the lives of his constituents (remember, he’s the only elected official with everyone in the country as a constituent, so the buck really does stop with him:

“We’re going back over very, very old ground,” said White House spokesman Trent Duffy. “The real danger here is it threatens to unravel the good relations we’ve built with state and local officials.”Echoing Bush’s own later explanation, Duffy said yesterday that the president in his now-famous Sept. 1 comment did not mean that no one had ever anticipated breaches of the levees that guard New Orleans from flooding. Instead, Duffy said, Bush meant only that after the storm’s landfall, many people believed New Orleans had escaped its most powerful winds.

It’s not old ground. It’s proof positive the President lied when he said no one anticipated the levee breaches. In fact, the incompetent head of FEMA anticipated it, or was told to, and warned Bush personally—and there is video to prove it. You can try, I suppose, to spin your way out of that factual conundrum, but even if you’re going on faith in the president, it’s hard not to recognize that he, once again, exaggerated facts for his own political ass-covering operation.

Maybe at the next White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Bush will show a video in which he looks under the couch in the Oval Office for people who anticipated the levee breaches.

It’s astonishingly painful to watch this farce of an Administration’s daily lying and twisting of any criticism into anti-American “politicking” as though questioning the president is like helping the terrorists. If this president can’t take the political heat for his actions, he should resign, not whine.

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