January 13, 2006
You and friendly authoritarianism
Joe Biden got it only half right when he suggested that Senate Judiciary Committee hearings for Supreme Court nominees be abolished, since they elicit nothing of insightful value from the mind of the nominee.
Sure, confirmation hearings should be cancelled till further notice. For one thing, they interfere with celebrity trials and cute-animal stories on cable-news networks.
But why not go all the way and just abolish the Supreme Court? It’s so old school, what with its quaint notions of constitutional proprieties and balance of government powers. And where it counts, few are paying attention to the Court anyway, least of all the executive branch, which treats its edicts – say, along the lines of detainee policy – as a mere nuisance.
The Court has no enforcement powers, the Bush regime is quite aware of that, and the powers-that-be on Capitol Hill are no more interested in reining in this out-of-control administration than the Reichstag was in telling Hitler to cool it. Hence by abolishing the Supreme Court we would properly and cleanly kill the pretense that we, as a nation, are still committed to “no-man-above-the-law” platitudes.
The hypocrisy of espousing them when our actions are brazenly contrary is every bit as sickening as the actions themselves.
We often think we are living by the principles of the so-called Founding Fathers, forgetting that one of their principles was armed insurrection. The Democratic Party ought to have similar principles, and doesn't. For example, it did not organize and still has not organized protests to deploy at the scenes of Bushist election atrocities, even though in 2000 the Bushists had resorted successfully to that method, blocking the vote counting. The Bushists were telling us that the days of negotiations and parliamentary gamesmanship were ending.
The Democratic Party, to be pro-active against a Bushist Party that is now literally a foe, an enemy, something to be despised (including the so-called 'moderates'), ought to be organizing protests and strikes, instead of trying to appear Bushist, like Senator Hillary. But the Democrats aren't anywhere near able to become that kind of party. Just you picture Joe Biden organizing a general strike to occur upon application of the 'Nuclear Option', even if he could get up the nerve to demand his colleagues join him in triggering the Nuclear Option. That's a good laugh. What Joe Biden actually wants to do is kibbitz at the slaughter of innocent Iraqis and give TV interviews about his kibbitzing.
In a NYT analysis of the Alito hearings, Adam Liptak noted that “Judge Alito drew the line in what he would discuss almost exactly where Chief Justice Roberts had in his confirmation hearings in September. The similarity of the two men’s positions should not be surprising,” according to Bush-booster Professor John Yoo, “as they were both government lawyers when Edwin Meese III served in the White House and the Justice Department in the Reagan administration.”
“It shows the fruition,” said Professor Yoo approvingly, “of the Reagan-Meese approach of grooming young lawyers in the 1980’s who could do well at hearings 20 years later.”
And what they are doing “well at” is hiding the ultimate reality of the unitary executive theory of government – whose logical extension is that absolutely no power is forbidden to the president.
If, under the guise of protecting the nation, the commander in chief chooses to wiretap your phone without court approval, he may legally do so. If he chooses to throw you in a military detention center and deny you access to a lawyer and the courts, he may legally do so. If he chooses to imprison journalists whom he deems are aiding terrorists by impeding his unlimited freedom to act against those terrorists, he may legally do so.
For that matter, if he chooses to “extend” his stay in office so as to protect the nation, then one supposes this is not only not a violation of the constitution, but a necessary act to protect it.
It’s the black-is-white, freedom-is-slavery, destroy-the-village-to-save-it theory of democratic government. It is nothing less than the fruition, to use Professor Yoo’s word, of the right’s obsession with authoritarianism.
I remember this John Yoo well from the stealing of the 2000 election. He and that other cacodemon Douglas Kmiec were quite busy on NewsHour, I think it was, giving calm, rational-sounding, completely wicked explanations of why it was the right thing to steal the election and how wonderfully it was being stolen.
To make matters worse, actual law schools have these guys as actual professors. Amazing.