In honor of Senator Metcalfe and his ideological friends in elected office, I present my first cartoon in 20 years!
(click to enlarge)
I was on reddit a moment ago and came across this amazing video:
This kind of thing is incredibly hard to accomplish. The video capture itself is like pure magic, let alone a rocket taking off, hovering for a few seconds and then landing in one piece.
Here’s hoping the Republican party got more than it asked for with the Roberts’ ruling on the Voting Rights Act. This article covers some of the challenges they are going to face.
For example, Haley Barbour (ex Mississippi governor) says:
Blatantly racist laws like poll taxes and literacy tests once made preclearance necessary, Barbour said. “But when you have to go hat-in-hand to Washington every time you want to move a polling place,” then it’s evolved into “federal harassment that’s gone on way too long,” he added.
As I wrote before, I think it’s possible VRA used an old, outdate and effectively arbitrary formula to determine covered jurisdictions. Hence, it was unfair. However, calling it “federal harassment” isn’t a winning strategy I think.
In the last couple of weeks, conservative activists and right wing radio entertainers treated us to quite a spectacle of absurd reasoning, courtesy of the Supreme Court’s rulings on the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). One of their primary arguments is so … silly .. it feels kind of .. silly … to point it out. Nevertheless, as responsible adults living in the arena and so forth, we need to look for truth, even from our ideological opponents. In fact, we need to look even harder from them because we’re predisposed to dismiss them in the first place. Second, we need to look hard because mass market conservative “leaders” don’t make their own best arguments, even when they’re right.
The Supreme Court substantially reduced the scope of DOMA. In opposition to that ruling, conservatives argued that the Supreme Court had overturned the will of the American people as expressed by a majority of Congress and the Big Dog himself, Bill Clinton! And that’s entirely true. In 1996, “HR 3396 was a fast-track bill in the House….” It passed 342-56 in the House, 85-14 in the Senate. That’s strong support. However, things have obviously changed since 1996. For one thing, 55% of Americans support gay marriage. For another, Clinton withdrew his support, as well as many of the Congresscritters who voted in favor of it – admittedly, all democrats.
Contrast this with the Voting Rights Act. VRA received 77 Senate votes and 333 House votes in 1965* and its track record since then (with required “renewal” votes) has only gotten better. For instance, in 2006 Congress renewed it, 98 to zero in the Senate, 390 to 33 in the House. That’s better than how DOMA fared. Yet, when this was gutted by the Supreme Court’s ruling, the conservative world has been largely mum on this inconvenient fact. Instead, popular conservatives have mainly focused on ad hominem attacks against Justice Kennedy and hungrily eating up of all of that delicious red meat Justice Scalia’s dissent threw out to them.
I personally think it’s a sad day — Bush’s Supreme Court standing athwart history and successfully, if temporarily, turning back the clock. They have damaged the Republic and will continue to do so for a generation, I fear. That said, I think that conservatives would do better to argue what I believe is Chief Justice Roberts’ core opinion – that the law is arbitrary because the formula determining covered jurisdictions hasn’t changed to reflect the Age We Live In. (I think it’s pretty ironic that it’s arbitrary today but wasn’t a few years ago – this re-interpretation doesn’t seem very strict.) Sarcasm aside, if it is actually arbitrary – and I’m open to that possibility – then it shouldn’t be the law of the land. That’s a debate that I think Democrats should be very happy to have have, indeed. I love the idea of pretty much anyone standing up in Congress and arguing to the American people, with a straight face, that the racism from which VRA was designed to protect us has been cured. Good luck with that one! To be fair, they would make this case better than I would. I’d like to see it.
So in the end, my point is that there may be some “there” there in terms of a conservative argument. They just aren’t making it.
* Consider that in 1965, the Supreme Court still hadn’t decided on Loving vs. Virginia, striking down all laws banning interracial marriages. VRA was passed two years before that. Yet, nearly 2/3rds of the Senate voted to pass it in a world that criminalized
same-sex interracial marriage.
There’s lot of right wing outrage on the internets and radio dial these days. Of course, that’s not exactly new and sometimes, they take a small step out of their bubble and realize that their outrage might be a little … over the top. But no such realization has affected NSA-inspired outrage. This domestic spying stuff has given rise to some of the hottest, burniest outrage in recent months. It’s been interesting to see how the Right treats privacy (NSA surveillance) versus gun rights when it comes to the outrage-o-meter.
First, the NSA thing. This has outraged conservatives over apparent indiscriminate gathering and mining of phone call data. I (and many of my liberal friends) share in these concerns. Some of us are even outraged :). I’m even a little sympathetic to the idea that Obama is losing his moral authority (to borrow a great phrase and rescue it from a ridiculous, misused context). Today’s Obama flip flop feels like betrayal and hypocrisy of the highest order. Senator Obama, presumably, would have felt the same way. That said, conservatives could argue, and I believe they absolutely would have argued during a Romney administration, that this kind of surveillance is truly, actually required to assure the safety of American citizens. The Obama administration is making this argument today. Even GWB is on the same page, though it seems like it took a while for him to come out and say it.
So … outrage on the right over NSA spying.
And I get it. Privacy is important. To me, a common sense reading of the 4th amendment clearly protects me and everyone from this kind of NSA thing. I felt the same way when the Patriot Act was first signed into law. Back then, however, most right wingers were telling me variations of “TERRORISTS!!!!” and/or “of course, regular Americans have nothing to fear” and all that sort of thing. It was pretty much the same as the current administration’s line of defense, although in ALL CAPS and with lots and lots of bangs (!!!).
So back in the early days of GWB and the Patriot Act, we had conservatives telling us it was OK for the GWB’s NSA and other homeland security type groups to do this kind of spying. Even if it did raise serious privacy concerns, they had the TERRORISM!!! answer ready to pull out of their back pocket. (As we all know, TERRORISM!!! was a potent card to play in a wide array of circumstances. Sigh.) But ultimately, they didn’t care about privacy and usually denied any 4th amendment issues. I’m fairly certain that Mark Levin and Hannity both said that literally in the spirit of “I’m not talking to international terrorists so I don’t care if the government listens in on my conversations.”
In other words, a little less privacy is to be expected in this age of TERRORISM!!!
On the other hand we have … gun rights.
After the horrific massacre in Newtown, CT (20 children, 6 adults murdered at Sandy Hook elementary school), there was a refreshing attempt on the part of Congress to do something about it. There should continue to be such an effort because of things like this and this and this and this and this. But it failed. The right wing exploded in new heretofore unheard of levels of outrage. Setting aside the maniacs and Fox News, however, some conservatives did make coherent arguments in opposition to gun control measures. My favorite argument goes like this: “the 2nd amendment is precious – precious. The Founders knew back then, as we do now, that guns are dangerous and bad things will happen. But it’s the cost of freedom.” And it is a coherent argument. I think it’s the kind of argument pundits whose children haven’t been killed in elementary schools make, but it’s coherent.
By way of summary, here’s the conservative outrage mapping for these two topics:
|GWB / Patriot Act||“Meh. I don’t talk to terrorists anyway.”|
|Obama / NSA (son of Patriot Act)||RAGE!!!!|
|Sandy Hook Massacre||“Those poor kids! It’s such a terrible imperfect world we live in, that uncontrollable madmen like that live among us. ”|
|Gun control measures in response to Sandy Hook||RAGE!!!|
I could go on and on and on, especially about pro-2nd amendment arguments that weave religion into the picture. But I’ve gone too long as it is.
The conservative movement should try to make it through the day with a little less outrage. Entire days may be too much to ask, so maybe just make it through breakfast. That way, when genuinely outrageous things happen, we can all be outraged together. (Come on! It was a terrible movie!)