Friday, November 05, 2004

COURTING DISASTER. For a while yesterday I kidded myself into thinking that George W. Bush wouldn't be able to nominate just any right-wing lunatic he pleases to the Supreme Court. After all, the Republicans' 55-44 edge in the Senate is short of the 60 votes it takes to end a Democratic filibuster. Besides, moderate Republican senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (who may become a Democrat), and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania are presumably not going to stand by while Bush tries to use the courts to undo Roe v. Wade.

Well, that was yesterday. Charlie Savage reports in today's Boston Globe that Specter has backed off his earlier threat to block any anti-choice nominee after his fellow Republicans threatened to deny him the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Specter is quoted as saying, "Contrary to press accounts, I did not warn the president about anything and was very respectful of his constitutional authority on the appointment of federal judges." Apparently he was offered a deal he couldn't refuse.

And Josh Marshall notes that the Bushies are already talking about getting rid of that little old 60-vote impediment. Marshall is way too easy on these thugs, writing that the 60-vote rule is "subject to a lot of very valid criticism." Come on, Josh. The rule is there for a reason: the idea is that neither side gets to do anything and everything it wants unless it has an overwhelming majority, which the Republicans clearly do not have. If the Republicans want to get rid of the filibuster, let them elect five or six more members in 2006. (I shouldn't have said that. Maybe they will!)

We live in a constitutional system. The rights of the minority are supposed to be balanced with the will of the majority. If Bush is going to use his very real but very slim victory to take away our civil and personal liberties, it's up to the Democrats - and to the few remaining Republicans of conscience - to fight him and his allies like crazed weasels.

One of the stories going around this week is that, if Chief Justice William Rehnquist has to leave, then Bush will replace him by elevating Justice Sandra Day O'Connor - a move that would be popular with moderates - and then replace O'Connor with a wingnut. Presumably the Democrats would roll over like puppy dogs because the president had given them half a can of Alpo.

The hell with that. Making O'Connor chief justice would be nothing but symbolism. Good symbolism, but symbolism nevertheless. Well-qualified moderate conservatives - the best we can hope for - should get a respectful hearing. Right-wingers should be filibustered into oblivion. It's as simple as that.

NEWS? WHAT NEWS? The Boston Herald today has a front-page blowout headline, DYING FOR A DEAL, with the subhead "Is an ailing Whitey trying to turn himself in?" Inside is a column (sub. req.) by Howie Carr reporting that Whitey Bulger may or may not be terminally ill, may or may not be having sex with teenage male prostitutes in Thailand, and may or may not be seeking to surrender in return for not having to face the death penalty - which, in any case, Carr notes, is an impossibility because Oklahoma authorities are determined to see him executed.

Carr does manage to get in a shot at John Kerry, though. Piling insult upon speculation, Carr writes:

According to sources, Whitey's agents were hopeful current U.S. Attorney Mike Sullivan would be replaced next year by some liberal puke Democrat. But Bush won, and the rumor in D.C. yesterday was that Rudy Giuliani, a guy who used to get death threats from the mob on an almost weekly basis, may succeed John Ashcroft as attorney general.

If there's any news here, it's news to me.

Media Log caveat: regardless of what you think of Carr, he's a pretty good reporter. I wouldn't be surprised if this becomes a real story in the days and weeks ahead. But this is utterly worthless.

THE MEDIA AND THE ELECTION. My old Phoenix colleague Al Giordano has a four-letter word for what we ought to do to the media, and it doesn't begin with "F."

ELLIS ON KERRY. Bush cousin John Ellis has some thoughts on why Kerry lost. I disagree with the premise - Kerry didn't lose, Bush won. I also disagree strongly with Ellis's first three points ("Culture," "Lifestyle," and "Rationale.") But Ellis makes some good arguments on "Strategy" (Kerry let Karl Rove sucker him into running in just 17 states) and "War" (leaving aside the merits of General Anthony Zinni as a potential Kerry running mate, I never liked the Edwards choice).

But I continue to doubt very much whether any Democrat could have done much better than Kerry. Just because he lost doesn't mean he did anything drastically wrong.

REPORT FROM OHIO. Homophobia really did put Bush over the top.

SUITABLE FOR FRAMING. This week's Boston Phoenix cover of the Great Leader is now available at as a high-quality PDF. Just choose your size. (Look under "Web Exclusives.")


Anonymous said...

Was it worth losing the election over gay marriage? Will it be worth losing in 2012 and/or 2016 over reparations? Will the madness ever stop?

Anonymous said...

Hey, they won...we lost. Why should they kiss our behinds?

Anonymous said...

Interesting that the ones who don't wish to kill unborn kids are the ones without a conscience.

You should stop and think for a moment about how twisted your logic has become.

Phil Gallagher said...

I am Proud to live in Massachusetts
The race is over and the result is one I agree with. It is an all or nothing result for the candidate but how the election impacts the myriad of issues facing the nation remains to be seen. One of those issues is gay marriage. For the moment the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision has been met nationally with anger, resentment and voter backlash. It cannot be said with certainty that it was the turning point in the election. It is apparent that it had to be one of the items which has been referred to as the "moral values" component of the Bush victory.

As a citizen of the state I have many misgivings about the the way in which this decision was arrived at and then the subsequent lack of spine exhibited by the state legislature in addressing it in a way that they had to stand up and be counted. They neither acted forthrightly before or after the decision. A 4 to 3 vote of the supreme court gave them cover and they are pleased to hide under it.

The question placed before the court was "whether, consistent with the Massachusetts Constitution, the commonwealth may deny the protections, benefits, and obligations conferred by civil marriage to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry," according to the majority opinion. "We conclude that it may not." The court went on to say "Barred access to the protections, benefits and obligations of civil marriage, a person who enters into an intimate, exclusive union with another of the same sex is arbitrarily deprived of membership in one of our community's most rewarding and cherished institutions,"

The central issue for me is not one of religion or procreation. It is about the simplest of things in the human condition. Love, friendship, companionship and all the wonderful things in marriage that enrich a persons life, as a result of the court decision, are now affirmed in the gay community under law. In addition there are many aspects of estate, insurance, privacy, and access law which are now non discriminatory. Look around for a minute. In the family, in the circle of friends and in the workplace, if you can't see that gay people occupy places in our lives then we are not looking very hard. It is simply not right that they should be denied the rights accorded everyone else.

I have no background to argue the finer points of the law as a protagonist or antagonist on the issue. However, I do recognize inequality when I see it and it was time for this issue to be addressed in Massachusetts and the hard task of arriving at an acceptable result in the nation as a whole has begun. It has begun because Massachusetts has placed the issue front and center in the national consciousness.

Resistance will continue and acceptance in some quarters may never be realized however we still have some in the nation that believe women and blacks shouldn't have the vote. In the end the country will be better for having confronted the issue.

As a state we have had a full year. The achievement of our sports team, and having a favorite son in the race for president have riveted our attention. We have had our citizens on display all over the nation working diligently to affect the course of our people. This is the third time in my lifetime that we have sent forth a citizen to try and become the leader of the greatest nation on earth. Each time a large cadre of our citizens have mobilized to challenge our country. We love the Red Sox but politics is really our favorite sport. John Kerry may have lost the race but he ran a good hard race and when the end came he accepted defeat in a way that brought dignity and graciousness back to an election process which was so desperately in need of both after the 2000 result.

Massachusetts is a very small place but it is big in heart and determination. We are a community of thinkers and doers. Come here and go to college or receive world class medical treatment or work on the cutting edges of science. I am never surprised that we are pushing the envelope in any area. I am proud to live here.