Right Thinking From The Left Coast
I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them - Isaac Asimov

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Medical Device Tightens

Healthcare reform continues to get better and better.  A trifecta of stories tell us how the Massachusetts reform and Medicaid are working out.  And it does not bode well.

First, Massachusetts.  A while ago, the governor refused to allow insurance companies to raise rates.  The companies were concerned about Massachusetts healthcare bills rising faster than anywhere in the nation while people gamed the system by only buying insurance when they were sick. The governor said they were lying.  And?

Well, now the [insurance companies] have upped the ante, claiming that they lost a bunch of money in the first three months of 2010, mostly thanks to the extra money they had to reserve against the losses they anticipate under the new rates.  It will be interesting to see whether we get another War on Accounting, where Deval Patrick accuses the state’s biggest insurers of the dastardly use of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles in order to embarrass his awesome government program.

Remember that Obamacare will allow reviews of insurance rates and empower the government to refuse to allow insurance rate hikes.  So we can expect similar things to happen, only on a national scale.  Insurance rates no longer need be bound by fiscal reality, only by political need. Given that the Democrats think government can conjure money out of the ether, this is simply the extension of that belief.  But insurance companies, unlike government, can not print their own money.

Oh, but it gets better.  To shore up the bankrupt system, the state of Massachusetts wants fiscally solvent hospitals to pay up:

The Massachusetts Senate has approved a bill aimed at curbing soaring health care costs for small businesses.

The bill requires wealthier hospitals to make a one-time $100 million contribution to help slow the rising cost of insurance premiums for small employers. It also presses insurers to spend more on actual care and less on administrative costs.

For critics of Romneycare, there is a sort of grim satisfaction in watching the politicians rant and rave and foam at the mouth as they encounter the unpleasant fact that the law of mathematics preclude (a) expanding the number of insured; (b) expanding the care they can get; while (c) saving money.  Like most tinpot market dictators, they refuse to acknowledge their own culpability in creating this nightmare.  It’s so much easier to make scapegoats of insurers and providers.

Oh, well at least we have Medicaid to fall back on.  Except that, oops, a recent study showed that Medicaid is providing substandard care to its patients, something I can confirm from my personal experience in the field.

Pay special attention to that last story, because I think that’s where this is all headed.  The insurance companies will go bust, we will all get poured into Medicaid and the liberals will, at long last, get the overburdened, underfunded crappy (but equal! and universal!) healthcare they’ve always wanted.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 05/20/10 at 01:31 AM in Health Care  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rulemaking Natters

The EPA was holding a “Rulemaking matters!” video in which people were offered a $2500 prize to make a propaganda video about how wonderful our government bureaucracies are (their wording was slightly different).  Of course, Reason took this as a challenge.  My favorite video is below but check all three here:

It’s amazing how these people think we should be grateful for their control over our lives.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 05/19/10 at 04:35 PM in Fun and Humor  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Specter off the Run

Don’t let the door hit you in the ass:

U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter has been defeated in a Pennsylvania primary in his bid for a sixth term after taking the risky step of switching to the Democratic Party.

Voters Tuesday picked U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak as the party’s nominee and rejected the 80-year-old Specter in his first Democratic campaign.

The vote also was a defeat for President Barack Obama, who supported Specter when he abandoned the Republican Party last year.

The moderate Specter cast his switch as a decision of principle after inflaming the GOP by voting for Obama’s economic stimulus bill. But many Democratic voters questioned his motives.

Many Republican voters did too.

People are trying to paint Specter as having gone down on principle.  Sorry.  You could say that about Bob Bennett, who was defeated in Utah. But Specter made a naked political calculation that he had a better chance of clinging to his seat as a Democrat.  And it failed with a thud I was able to hear all the way across the Atlantic.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 05/19/10 at 06:22 AM in Elections   Election 2010  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Souder Falls

Dear Culturally Conservative Wing of the GOP:

I’m going to save us all a lot of time.  Given the recent revelations about abstinence-touting Mark Souder and gay-fixing George Rekers and others, I’m just going to assume that if you’re pounding the table about gays, sex and out-of-wedlock births, you’re also pounding a staffer, a prostitute or a sheep, possibly all three.

Hugs and kisses,

-Hal 10000

In seriousness, this is simply Hal’s Iron Rule of Political Need: people turn to government to solve the problems they themselves can not.  Red states outstrip blue states in divorce rates, out-of-wedlock pregnancies, substances abuse and porn consumption.  Cultural conservatives assume everyone is as “depraved” as them so they look to government to make them moral.  Economic liberals donate far less to charity (even correcting for income) than economic conservatives and fields dominated by liberals tends to be more exploitive.  Liberal Hollywood, especially, is infamous for its exploitation and back-stabbing. ACORN and Ralph Nader’s groups are cesspools abusive labor practices and union-busting, They assume everyone is as exploitive as they are so they look to government to make everyone play nice.

Update: I’ve stayed away from the Rekers thing to see what he would say in response.  More stories are coming out about his gay-fixing thing.  What an asshole.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 05/18/10 at 09:45 AM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Souder you ignorant slut
by JimK

[Jay Leno voice] So didja see this story about Mark Souder? Can ya believe this? Kevin, this is just...I mean wow.[/Jay Leno voice]

And this, ladies & gentlemen, is why most of regulars at this blog, its founder and (I believe) the current crop of posters all believe and have been right about a simple fact; social conservatism has no place in the current political arena...if it ever did. Social conservatism should be just that...social. A circumstance that is created by the practices and attitudes of citizens as a byproduct of their social interactions. Voluntary and ever-changing, it can and should only exist as a concept because we the people make it so, not because a career politician or a True Believer deems it so.  It is not and should not be made part of the political - and thereby the law making - process of this country.

Balko nails it with the comic-yet-tragic revelation that Souder’s mistress was used to promote his “family values” bullshit rhetoric.

ATTENTION ALL SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES: MANKIND IS A FLAWED CREATURE. No man or woman is above - if I may borrow a word that succinctly sums up the concept - from sin. So stop fucking parading your “family values” around like they matter at all you friggin’ hypocrites. Just deal with running the country, and maybe not into the fucking ground? PULL UP. PULL UP. PULL UP.

And while you’re at it, all you family values guys? Learn from John “Silky Pony” Edwards. Pull up, but also? Pull out.

Posted by JimK on 05/18/10 at 09:05 AM in Decline of Western Civilization   Politics   Right Wing Assholes  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Legend Passes.

Ronnie James Dio, one of the greatest metal musicians of all time has died.

What a God Dam Shame.

Posted by HARLEY on 05/17/10 at 03:59 AM in • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The War On Porn

Lately, a new meme has been circulating among those who want to banish pornography from our society.  Embraced by Right and Left, the argument is that porn is giving men unrealistic expectations about sex, becoming a substitute for real relationships and destroying marriages, endangering kids and destroying the ozone layer.  I’ve responded to this bullshit before, but the recent articles have got me looking at the issue in a different way.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 05/16/10 at 07:38 AM in Decline of Western Civilization  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Saturday, May 15, 2010

What the…Site issue?
by JimK

Umm...is anyone else seeing 99% of everything in bold? If so when the hell did THAT start?

Posted by JimK on 05/15/10 at 07:44 AM in • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Pat Go Away

Pat Buchanan needs to just shut up.  His latest column is basically a slow fat pitch over the plate of every anti-racism organization that ever existed. It goes into the racial/religious construction of the Supreme Court and contains such ADL-baiting lines as this:

If Kagan is confirmed, Jews, who represent less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, will have 33 percent of the Supreme Court seats.

At long last, our plans for world domination are nearly complete.

But while leaders in the black community may be upset, the folks who look more like the real targets of liberal bias are white Protestants and Catholics, who still constitute well over half of the U.S. population.

Not in living memory has a Democratic president nominated an Irish, Italian or Polish Catholic, though these ethnic communities once gave the party its greatest victories in the cities and states of the North.


And not in nearly half a century has a Democratic president nominated a white Protestant or white Catholic man or woman.

I’m not sure what his point is here.  He praises Bush for putting a black man on the bench, while castigating Democrats for the same.  He praises Republicans for nominating two women for the Court while castigating Democrats for ... nominating two women.  I think his point is that Republicans have nominated some white guys too (although no white protestants) and Democrats haven’t.  But that’s a little misleading.  The Democrats have nominated a grand total of four justices since 1967; the Republicans have nominated 17, including the five failures.

It’s not like this is new territory for Pat the Prat, of course.  As Weigel points out, Buchanan wrote some memos for Nixon along these lines, arguing that an Italian-American should be given the “Jewish seat” or the “black seat” on the Court.  So he’s long had a liberal-esque obsession with creating a demographic balance on the Court.

But really, I wonder if the real problem here is that Buchanan is just crazier.  Reading the article, I actually have no idea what the fuck he’s on about.  I do know that this will be trotted out anytime Democrats want to say conservatives are a bunch of racist anti-semites.  They will ignore that it’s being published on WorldNetDaily, which is to conservatism what Weekly World News was to science.

Buchanan actually does blunder across something semi-legitimate, before diving into Sotomayor’s english skills and Kagan’s undergrad thesis.

While Sotomayor went to Yale Law School, the other three liberals went to Harvard, though Ruth Bader Ginsburg graduated from Columbia. Seems a fairly narrow range for a party that once claimed to be America’s party.

In fact, if Kagan is confirmed, all of the SCOTUS members will have attended law school at Harvard or Yale. There will be a growing uniformity of “life experience”, which Obama claimed was so important.  Kagan, especially, has spent most of her career in academia, avoiding controversy and mostly advancing her own career.

Having watched a little bit of the coverage of the last few days, I must say that Kagan seems like a nice lady.  Bainbridge has pointed out that a lot of the flack she’s drawn from liberals is good flack:

They’re complaining, for example, that she didn’t hire enough minorities and women when she was dean at Harvard. They’re complaining in other words that, you know, she didn’t use affirmative action aggressively enough. They’re complaining about some of the conservatives that she hired at Harvard. They’re complaining about the fact that, you know, she went out of her way to make Harvard a place that was more ideologically diverse and more welcoming to people who were conservative.

If I were a law professor, I think I’d be very happy with her as Dean.  And the comparisons to Harriet Miers are a bit strained.  It became obvious, at a very early stage, that Meirs knowledge of Constitutional Law was thin to non-existent.  Kagan is much more knowledgeable.

But points of concern remain—her lack of any clear judicial philosophy, her tendency to defer to government power.  And dammit, I do think there is something wrong with having every justice be a product of the Harvard/Yale legal bullshit factory.  I do think we need to be broadening the intellectual range of the Court, not narrowing it.

Elections have consequences, of course.  As I argued with Sotomayor, I strongly believe that the President should be given a great deal of latitude in appointing judges.  I was furious when the Democrats blocked qualified judicial nominees for ideological reasons and I won’t stand for Republicans doing it.  If we want conservatives on the bench, we need to elect some damned Republicans (Non-Nutbag Division).  If Kagan is qualified, she should be approved.

But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.  And it does show, once again, that Obama’s rhetoric—this time on “life experience” and intellectual diversity—is often at variance with his actions.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 05/15/10 at 05:14 AM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Friday, May 14, 2010

Help me help 23.6 million people
by JimK

I really should have posted this sooner, but school kicked my butt this semester, and this week I have been on crutches & crying thanks to a perfect storm of gout-inducing circumstances. OWW. So I actually sort of forgot about getting the word out...and that makes me a terrible human being to be sure, but…

...I’m here now, blegging for your assistance. On June 13th I’m riding the Tour de Cure, a charity bike ride to raise funds for the American Diabetes Association. I know, these charities have huge overhead, but diabetes doesn’t have a lot of directly-donatable charities, and more people are getting this - especially children. Did you know they no longer call Type 2 “adult-onset diabetes?” Because the largest growing segment that gets it? Kids. Kids are getting a disease that used to afflict mainly the elderly, then fat middle-aged people, and now, thanks to a combination of flat-out evil behavior from food companies and utter laziness coupled with a lack of effort on the parts of parents everywhere...kids are getting “adult onset” diabetes as early as 8 or 9 years old. Just imagine what that means, what you have to feed a child in order to create a disease state that shouldn’t happen to them for another 40 years.

Part of the effort to combat this trend is education (both parents and children), and that costs money, and that is where the American Diabetes Association can be useful. SO...go here: http://main.diabetes.org/goto/stark23x. Donate. Sponsor my (still fat but shrinking every day) ass to chug along the roads of North Haven, CT in support of helping not the fat middle-aged dude who eats nothing but King-Size Reese’s and KFC twice a day and can’t figure out why he’s 350 lbs. and his blood sugar is all over the road, but for the child of that parent who doesn’t know that what the kid is being given to eat is going to put them in the ground at an early age.

http://main.diabetes.org/goto/stark23x. Right now my class’s team is signed up for the 25K. I should tell you now, that is NOT a challenge for me.  However, if I raise $250, I will ride it twice, even if no one else from my team joins me. 50K is a bit of a challenge, but here’s the kicker. $500 and I’ll ride it three times. 75K will literally chap my ass, and I do mean literally. So if you despise me, here’s your chance to make me suffer. The more you give, the more pain I will be in on June 13th. :)


Posted by JimK on 05/14/10 at 10:41 AM in Blegging  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Thursday, May 13, 2010

You Cut, We Don’t Decide

The GOP has a little site up that allows people to vote on spending cuts. The cuts proposed (so far).

Presidential Election Fund ($260 million)
Taxpayers Subsidized Union Activities ($600 million)
HUD Programs for Doctoral Dissertations ($1 million)
Welfare ($2.5 billion)
CDBG Grants ($2.6 billion)

All of these are worthy cuts, in my opinion.  But I’m forced to agree with Allahpundit:

Problem is, not only are the potential cuts touted on the site pitifully small — tokens, really, which has always been the knock on Obama’s own pitifully small budget cuts — but what America needs desperately is leadership on spending, not attempts to pawn tough decisions off onto voters or, in The One’s case, onto unelected deficit commissions. Again, I don’t want to make too much of what is, essentially, a cute nod at direct democracy, but cute nods aren’t going to solve our coming entitlement armageddon. This is deadly serious stuff and deserves to be treated that way.

Bingo.  The spending orgy the Democrats are engaged is not really the problem, per se.  The problem is that this spending orgy has eaten away what little leeway we had for the massive structural deficits that are bearing down on us like freight train full of senior citizens.  We have a long-run fiscal imbalance of 6% of our GDP, built primarily on interest, defense, Social Security and various healthcare programs, especially Medicare.  We should cut the waste, but that gets us a tiny fraction of the way there.  We need to be making the tough choices, the way Chris Christie is making them in New Jersey.  And we need the same motto: cut spending and fuck the next election.

Allahpundit is generous and says this could the GOP trying to ease us into fiscal austerity.  I disagree.  This is pandering.  This is trying to convinced the public that balancing the budget will be easy and painless.

What I would do is create a little java applet that allows people to cut any program they want, including Medicare and national defense.  Let them play with the numbers until they can balance the budget.  Let them see just how difficult this is going to be.  There’s nothing like trying to balance the budget yourself to drive home the point that it isn’t easy.  And it never will be.

Update: I mentioned governor Christie, so that gives me an excuse to post this.

Gov Christie calls S-L columnist thin-skinned for inquiring about his 'confrontational tone'

He’s getting vouchers on the agenda, too.  Duuude.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 05/13/10 at 07:41 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Kerry-Lieberman Fail

Although most of the readers of this blog disagree with me on global warming, I think we can all agree that the new climate bill—propose by the losers of the the 2004 and 2000 elections—is a piece of garbage.

First, it’s a protectionist piece of garbage. As Lincicome points out, it is putting trade tariffs in place with a thin veneer of climate protection painted over it.  It’s no accident that one of the first groups to praise the bill was the United Steelworkers Union.  And, as Ronald Bailey points out, industry heavyweights are holding their fire because they are hoping that this 987-page behemoth throws enough money and protectionism their way to make it worthwhile.

Second, it’s not going to do a thing to save the environment (assuming it needs saving).  Pat Michaels used the leading climate models to project what difference the “American Power Act” would make.  The results?

As you can plainly see, APA does nothing, even if all the Kyoto-signatories meet its impossible mandates.  The amount of warming “saved” by 2100 is 7% of the total for Business-as-Usual, or two-tenths of a degree Celsius. That amount will be barely detectable above the year-to-year normal fluctuations.  Put another way, if we believe in MAGICC, APA — if adopted by us, Europe, Canada, and the rest of the Kyotos — will reduce the prospective temperature in 2100 to what it would be in 2093.

That’s a big if.  Of course, we could go it alone. In that case, the temperature reduction would in fact be too small to measure reliably.

To be fair, China and India are the big X-factors here.  And it takes about five decades for CO2 reductions (or increases) to show up in the climate. However, to be really fair, the bill mostly calls for changes to be made many years down the road when both of the bills sponsors will, in all likelihood, having reduced their carbon footprint to zero by dying.  It’s pretty clear, after only a cursory examination, that the ratio of “helping monied interests” to “helping the climate” in this bill is very very high.

I’ve gone over this before, but it’s worth mentioning again what a serious AGW policy might look like.  The policy I would favor, for example, would:

1) Put in a carbon tax to make carbon energy less attractive.  Offset the revenue by cutting corporate taxes to spur innovation and development.  The basic idea is that a cost of carbon energy—damage to the climate—is not being included in the price and should be.  In addition, high gas prices are far more effective in cutting gasoline use than all the taxpayer-subsidized electric cars ever built.

2) Pour money into alternative energy grants, said grants to be awarded by panels of scientists and engineers, NOT politicians.  Money for that can come out of ongoing energy boondoggles like ethanol.  This is the long-term solution.  If we develop a viable alternative to fossil fuels, we won’t need treaties and laws to make us use it.  We will stampede toward it and the problems of global warming (and energy dependence and declining fossil fuels) will be solved overnight.

3) Wait twenty years to see what the science tells us before doing anything else.

Now, I will grant you that this does not accomplish some objective.  It does not give unions the protectionist trade tariffs they want.  It does not shower money on politically powerful lobbies.  It does not pour billions into worse-than-useless technology because its supporters have the ear of our scientifically ignorant politicians.  It doesn’t create a massive corrupt cap and trade bureaucracy that can suck up money, peddle influence and create new hordes of well-remunerated public employees.  So it’s a work in progress.

But Kerry-Lieberman—and Waxman-Markey—and McCain-Lieberman—a perfect example of how unserious the Left is about Global warming.  Whatever the science may be, to the Democrats this is an opportunity for power, wealth and influence.  I will not waver from that belief until they put forward a serious proposal.  Kerry-Lieberman, for all the swooning on the left, is just this year’s iteration of the Annual Climate Joke.

I’ve heard that one before.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 05/13/10 at 08:28 AM in Science and Technology  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Alabama Fun

Good grief.  The race to be the GOP nominee for governor of Alabama is on.

I don’t know what’s worse.  The ad or the response that Byrne does so support creationism.  Notice that the ad is not in favor of teaching the controversy or anything.  It makes fun of Byrne for accepting evolution at all and not accepting the Bible as indelible truth.

This is the state where Roy Moore—the Ten Commandments monumenting, Keith Ellison impugning, court defying martyr of WorldNetDaily—remains popular and is one of the candidates for governor.  This is also the state where another candidate ran an ad on only giving the drivers test in English (to save money; I think).  The ad has a certain surreal quality to it, with James wafting in and out of the frame like a bad dream.  It also ignores that this sort of thing has been tried before and, in the absence of an official language, gotten stomped by the Courts.

It’s going to be an interesting race to watch, at the very least.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 05/12/10 at 09:24 PM in Elections   Election 2010  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Amateur Hour

Jesus Pleezus:

Lawmakers are considering legislation that would ban investment banks from betting against their customers in many circumstances, in a further ripple effect for Wall Street from Goldman Sachs’s troubles.

In a statement to The Wall Street Journal, Sen. Carl Levin (D., Mich.) said he is drafting legislation to prevent conflicts of interest by “prohibiting companies from taking the opposite side of the deal for their own account,” at least when they are marketing investments they have created themselves.

Mr. Levin and his co-sponsor, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D., Ore.), are aiming to propose an amendment as soon as Monday to the financial-overhaul bill being debated in the Senate

Ignore, for the moment, the big flaming sign that reads “Unintended Consequences”.  Because we have a pretty good idea of what the consequences will be—bigger asset bubbles and even bigger crashes.  When everyone within a brokerage is forced to bet the same way, there is no check or balance on asset prices.  Goldman survived the mortgage bust, in part, because they bet against their customers.  Had they bet with them, they would have collapsed as badly as everyone else did.

It bears repeating again—Goldman was not violating the law in their bets.  Nor were those bets necessarily going to pay off.  Goldman could have been wrong.  Had they been, their customers would have made out like bandits and they would have been the ones on street corners.

Few of our Congressmen—and certainly not Carl Levin - - understand how financial markets work.  They have spent a lot of time lately demonizing short-sellers and thinking of rules to stop short selling.  But short selling is absolutely necessary if financial markets are not going to implode.  The logic of Congress seems to be that asset bubbles are wonderful; the only bad thing about them is the pop.  If only we could keep bubbles inflating forever or re-inflate them to past values, everything would be fine.

That’s dangerous bullshit, guys.  Very dangerous bullshit.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 05/11/10 at 10:26 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Kagan Pick

It’s not quite official but it’s petty damned close.  Elena Kagan will be Obama’s next nominee for the Supreme Court.  This has been the suspicion for some time.  And, as a result, there’s a lot of commentary.  Probably the most biting is from Glenn Greenwald (here and here).  Money quote:

The prospect that Stevens will be replaced by Elena Kagan has led to the growing perception that Barack Obama will actually take a Supreme Court dominated by Justices Scalia (Reagan), Thomas (Bush 41), Roberts (Bush 43), Alito (Bush 43) and Kennedy (Reagan) and move it further to the Right.  Joe Lieberman went on Fox News this weekend to celebrate the prospect that “President Obama may nominate someone in fact who makes the Court slightly less liberal,” while The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus predicted:  “The court that convenes on the first Monday in October is apt to be more conservative than the one we have now.” Last Friday, I made the same argument:  that replacing Stevens with Kagan risks moving the Court to the Right, perhaps substantially to the Right (by “the Right,” I mean:  closer to the Bush/Cheney vision of Government and the Thomas/Scalia approach to executive power and law).

Read that last sentence again.  Greenwald doesn’t mean “to the Right” as in “more constrained by the Constitution”.  He means “to the Right” the way this phrase has been unfortunately defined lately—toward more government authority and less Constitutional restraint.  Bush’s two SCOTUS nominees and Obama’s last one were in response to the few occasions when the Court stood up the government, in cases like Hamdi.  Kagan appears to be cut from the same mold.

Radley Balko agrees:

Obama’s rhetoric on civil liberties shifted nearly the day he took office. When it comes to fulfilling campaign promises, Obama has been bold and fearless in pursuing policies and initiatives that expand the size and power of government (and, consequently, his own power), and somewhere between compromising and submissive on promises that would limit the power of government and protect our rights and freedoms. So Kagan may well be the perfect nominee for him. She’s a cerebral academic who fits Washington’s definition of a centrist: She’s likely defer to government on both civil liberties and regulatory and commerce issues. And though libertarians allegedly share ground with Republicans on fiscal and regulatory issues and with Democrats on civil liberties issues, neither party cares enough about those particular issues to put up a fight for them. Which is why Kagan sailed through her first confirmation hearings, and is widely predicted to sail through the hearings for her nomination to the Supreme Court.

Stephen Bainbridge seems to think this opposition is a good thing:

When I look at some of the lefties who are opposing her and their reasons for doing so, however, I’m tempted to conclude that she’s the most acceptable--from my perspective--candidate Obama is likely to put forward for the SCOTUS. You can tell a lot about a person from who their enemies are.

This is unusually sloppy thinking from Bainbridge and, unfortunately, the thinking likely to pervade the GOP.  Greenwald and others don’t oppose her because she won’t give handouts to poor people or find new rights for puppies or something.  They oppose her on matters of core principle—that her record on civil liberties, where it exists, is a stark submission to government authority.  They oppose her because she has shown no interest in supporting civil liberties.  She is, by all appearances, another prosecutor who sees the Constitution as an obstacle to getting bad guys instead of the last defense of the people’s liberty.

If you want to make enemy-of-enemy arguments, start with her support from Joe Lieberman, who wants to strip terror suspects of their citizenship and give the President the power to indefinitely detain anyone he wants to.

Kagan’s selection and likely confirmation is the apotheosis of the Republican’s “activist judge” nonsense.  They are likely to follow that playbook again—decrying Kagan as a liberal activist judge.  But they are dead wrong—again.  Kagan’s problem isn’t that she’ll be an activist judge.  Kagan’s problem is that she won’t be.  Kagan is likely to defer to the government on a host of civil liberties and federalist issues.  She will have no problem either with Obamacare or with the War on Terror.  She is likely to turn her back to any arguments against the repulsive asset forfeiture laws.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: we need activist judges in Washington.  We need judges who will say, “No, you can’t force someone to sell their house to Walmart”.  We need judges who will say, “No, you can’t indefinitely imprison someone because he might be a terrorist”.  We need judges who will say, “No, you can’t force someone to buy one company’s product”.  We need judges who will say, “No, you can’t take someone’s money, car or house without trial because they might be involved with drugs”.  To site a specific case Kagan was on the wrong side of, we need judges who will hold prosecutors responsible when they fabricate evidence in a criminal trial.  Read the entirety of the links I’ve put up for Greenwald and Balko.  They show very clearly that Kagan is the exact opposite of this.  Whenever civil liberties and government power come into conflict, she geeks.

Maybe I’m expecting too much.  But why must the point at which we compromise always be entirely in the government’s corner?

The most common defense of Kagan is that she has just been doing her job as Solicitor General and so her actions do not necessarily reflect her views.  I find this argument flimsy.  Kagan hasn’t just argued the government’s case, she has extended it.  And it’s not like there is a shortage of, you know, judges out there who have clear records on civil liberties.  Hoping against hope that Obama knows something we don’t about Kagan’s constitutional philosophy is too much to ask.  Obama has been extremely wobbly on civil liberties issues, especially when it comes to the War on Terror and the War on Drugs.  He has not earned that benefit of a doubt.

The entire point of having Democrats around is that they will, hopefully, balance the Courts by putting up nominees who defend civil liberties.  Kagan, like Sotomayor, appears to have no interest in this.  If we continue at this rate—if we get to the politicians’ ideal of having a Court that never opposes them—what’s the pointing in having a Court?

Update: On cue, Obama caves once again on civil liberties.  Would he do so if he didn’t know how Elena Kagan would vote?  Prosecutors have long had Miranda in the gunsights.

Update: Weigel has the GOP strategery.  It seems to be to scream “elitist” as loud as they can and claim she hates the military because she vocally opposed DADT.  Nothing on her Constitutional philosophy.  Understandable, since the GOP doesn’t have a coherent philosophy either.

Update: I should clarify the above.  Kagan was part of the effort to keep the military off college campi in protest of DADT, an effort which eventually lead to the SCOTUS deciding that the military could withhold funds from schools that refused to allow recruitment.  I thought the idea of banning recruiters from campus was wrong-headed at the time and still think it was wrong-headed.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 05/10/10 at 06:00 AM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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