Affirmative Action By Class? Duh.

Even TAP is going for this now? Shit, when I wrote that affirmative action should be based on class lines 10 years ago for a law school newspaper, I caught shit from campus liberals and conservatives.

Here’s why it makes sense. At least today, the primary legacy of slavery and discrimination against other racial groups is economic. Indeed, some (myself included) would argue that race consciousness was only ever invented in the first place as a tool of class division. When the colonists were forced to replace the Indians they planned to enslave but ended up wiping out with disease, they did so with African slaves. To justify this relationship, and to pacify the white underclasses, they made up theories about African inferiority. In reality, there is no such thing in genetics as race. And if any continent taken as a whole had a leg up, it was ultra-diverse Africa.

The African slaves and their descendants have slowly been able to work their way out of that darkness. There is equality under the law. Cultural mixing is at its highest point. White kids have black heroes, like Lebron James. Blacks have moved beyond the minstrel class too.

But anyone living in the age of Obama can see clearly that racism is alive and well and ugly. And there is a social project there to be had. But, as with most things, I believe that “it’s the economy, stupid.” And so to the extent that Indians, Blacks, and other racial minorities have been discriminated against and as a result suffered economically, any class-based affirmative action would have the same effect for them now.

Nowadays there is—for example—little concern about Jewish economic equality, even though there is still antisemitism. While this situation isn’t one to be slept on, it’s different than being a minority and being impoverished as a legacy of racism. If you can achieve the former status, you’re ahead.

Of course, this all assumes that moving poor kids a few steps up the U.S. News rankings is going to cure all this. If you really want to do something, you could, I don’t know, have free pre-school, cancel student debt, and then have an economy with good jobs at the end.

Our Stupid, Inbred Elites.

Bravo Chris Hayes. I disagree with a lot of Hayes’s campus leftism, but he’s right on his fundamental stuff: that we need more democracy. That doesn’t mean we are protected from bad decisions, but it means that bad decisions should be something that is the will of the voter. The process matters. Correct decisions from an inbred elites will happen but they get more unlikely the longer it goes.

Democrats are much better at producing outcomes like “gay marriage is legal” and on those kinds of fundamental Constitutional issues. But on kitchen table issues, they really only seem to occasionally throw a sop to the middle class along the same path towards aristocracy. This is the party that started in with “deficit reduction” about 2 years after the worst criss in decades and while unemployment was still high. Yes, the Republicans have turned into economic suicide bombers with their delusional no tax goldbuggery, but the old Republican position of deflation is now at home in the governing side of the Democratic party.

Still, the left spends more time worrying whether someone is murdered by a drone rather than a cruise missile than it does on economic outrages at home (never mind abroad). Maybe if there was a bit more economic populism there would be enough clout for some of these ideas people want to get traction? Just sayin’

Important Elections

There’s no denying the obvious fact that Presidential elections are the most important ones in America. You need a quality candidate that can get 270 electoral votes every time. If you can’t do that, you are a failure as a party. After Bob Dole, the Republicans switched to a bare-270 formula and have done OK with it.

But what’s the second most important election? Apparently, in a bare knuckled exercise of power era, it’s the pre-census statehouse election years. Dems better gear up for 2020 in a big way this time. Fortunately (I hope) it will also be a presidential election year, but it is one where if everything isn’t going perfectly, the country will be likely looking to make a change (to avoid 16 years of Democrats). Money nationalization, money, and discipline needs to be put into these elections.

Next, of course, is the midterm Congressional elections. If OFA can’t convert itself into something that works in these elections, it’s trouble. 2014 is an opportunity to say, “we learned from 2010.”

Most of the obstacles to an enduring Democratic majority for the next decade are procedural. The party already is where it needs to be politically to win these elections. It just needs to win them.


Got job with intent to leak. Leaves China for Cuba via Russia. Your libertarian hero, ladies and gentleman.

The Noxiousness of Affirmative Action Cases

I’ll use this opportunity with today’s non-decision by the Supreme Court on affirmative action to say just how awful these cases are. And no, I don’t mean the sides’ relative positions. The right-wing takes its whole “colorblind” bullshit to extreme heights in these cases. I think it’s fairly clear that merely being “colorblind” won’t fix the problem. The thing is, I’m fairly certain that neither will race-preferenced college admissions.

Sure, it’s a nice thing that we have this program and I’m not suggesting we take it away. I’m just saying that at the end of the day, it’s much more important what the conditions of your child’s kindergarten are than whether he or she gets into the University of Michigan law school or Michigan State’s law school. In the days when the economy were good, that might mean a few thousand dollars a year in salary, on average, or it might mean nothing.

We are not even dealing with a program that admits kids who wouldn’t otherwise go to college. We’re dealing with people who want to be higher in the U.S. News rankings.

How any liberal concerned with issues of social justice and economic opportunity can honestly get so excited over these cases when there is no equality in preschool, kindergarten, primary school, and high school—and when the job market that we have after that is leaving minorities behind even if they have degrees, when real wages are flat, I just can’t say.

I understand the symbolic weight of all of this and I understand the importance of having a diverse and representative workforce and schools. I would argue similarly that any white kid damaged by having to go to UCLA instead of Berkeley needs to quit whining as well.

No one mixed up in these cases is doomed to poverty or, usually, even to going without a college degree.

This isn't your father's environmental crisis

I’m interested to see Pandora’s Promise. I feel like “pro-nuke environmentalist” is a bit of an overly simplified handle for my personal views. I have no particular love for nuclear power. It just happens to be one of the few things we’ve got that you can put almost anywhere. There isn’t wind everywhere and not everywhere has sun in the winter. Transmission lines lose power. Hydropower is probably the best solution where it can be done. But the net effect of being anti-nuke in 2013 is being pro-fossil fuel.

Indeed, the best immediate solution in some places may be to replace wood and dirtier coal with less dirty coal, replace coal with oil, and oil with gas. But in 2013, more than 20 years after Kyoto, more than 30 years after scientists warned us about the greenhouse effect, it is clear that the current track is failing. Whatever solutions may be available, anything that limits growth isn’t only morally repugnant first world elitism, it’s simply not going to happen in a world where we have democracy. Granted that “democracy” may have also killed nuclear power in Japan and Germany, it would be much easier to impose nuclear power on a country than reversion to limited or no electricity, which is more or less what the current global warming realities would impose on the third world.

But whatever the answer must be, it must come sooner rather than later. It is entirely irrelevant what people didn’t like in the 1970s or the 1960s. Global warming was either unheard of or not out of control in those times.

While it might be unfair hippie punching to suggest that many environmentalists have some kind of Edenic delusion in mind and are anti-power and development, at least some do. It’s time for many of these organizations to decide if being green is really what they are about, or if it’s about anti-modernism. It’s not that I want to ban the latter, it’s that some transparency on this issue is owed to the world.

If you’re against development, say so. Fine. But don’t pretend to care about the developing world or the environment only so long as it’s done your way. This is like those who are against abortion but don’t give a stinking shit about the child once it’s born.

I’m willing to listen. Nuclear power may not be the only way out of this. Some breakthrough may come. But until it does, it seems to be a choice between a dying hot world, a starving cold one, or one with extensive nuclear power.

The Real Scandal

Back during the Iraq war, we were introduced to the mercenary private contractors who got paid several times what the same job description in the US military paid. These contracts, often offered without bids, were supposedly how free market people do government. Privatize what you can, cut everything else was how conservatism saw government. I think of this as strip mining the public fisc.

Apparently, this is what Mr. Snowden was part of. Today I read a report that 500,000 of these “contractors” have access to the wiretaps.

Now this is a bit of a problem for me.

I take our security seriously and I take our democratic institutions seriously. But the idea that there is a group of security 1%ers (if true) that can wiretap folks bothers me not because they’re part of the government (there has never been similar outrage about, say, Google and what it could do) but because they are just too many.

Out of a group that large, a significant number will use this not just for chasing terrorists, but for helping out our enemies and for personal reasons. To settle personal scores or win custody battles with their exes.

I don’t share the paranoid reaction to the government being able to get a warrant and look for certain information. That seems very much in line with our Constitution and laws, even if it ends up looking different than some people expect. But I don’t expect that the government can then distribute that information to whomever it pleases, and I don’t think that is reasonable either.



Of yesterday: who would you rather have deciding what’s kept secret? Some 29 year old Randroid hipster and his versions of freedom or our elected government? Maybe in some cases, we need whistleblowers, but you’d better be right. In this case, no illegal activity has been revealed. So, he broke the law on the authority of his own ideals. If an Islamist does the same thing, what would we think?

As for the whole “now the terrorists just won’t use e-mails” thing, I hope no one who says that ever locks their car doors, because some car thieves can break in anyway.

The Totalitarianism of the Civil Libertarians

In some democracies, the elected representatives have supremacy. In the UK or Israel, there is no law that the parliament can’t enact. There’s no court that can strike down an act of parliament and no president that can veto it.

In our system, there are certain limits set forth in the Constitution that are determined by nine judges who are appointed by the elected president and confirmed by elected senators. Which system is better? I can’t really say.

There are no prophets in our system. No oracles. No divine decrees.

If a law is passed by the government and declared constitutional by the courts, however, there is still a further check: the ballot box. In fact, I would submit that most elections are determined by issues that don’t relate to unconstitutional acts by the government.

This is our system of laws.

But what to think about the latest surveillance scandals? So many people are claiming that their “rights” are being violated that it’s too hard to count them. Liberal columnists, after admitting that these programs are legal and unlikely to be interfered with by the courts, also lament that the public is not more outraged.

What do you call a form of government where a small elite gets to determine what is legal and what is not despite the will of the people or its elected officials? I don’t know, but, according to civil libertarians, it’s some kind of freedom.

It has apparently not occurred to these folks that the public’s lack of concern may be well founded. It’s not that the public is always right, but it’s wrong a lot less often than the pinheads at Slate think, and in many of the cases that it is wrong it’s wrong or rightness is irrelevant. You may hate people who watch The Real Housewives, but your whole mantra of rights is a disturbing hypocrisy if you don’t allow those people their own rights, including the right to have a “wrong” opinion.

Many people think Obamacare is unconstitutional. Some people think drug criminalization is too. But unless we want everyone to have their own private law (ie anarchy), someone has to make a determination. Lacking an interactive public God to answer our queries, we have people. And many if not most times these people do so according to their agendas and sometimes these agendas are overtly political and ideological themselves. They aren’t perfect.

My response to the imperfection in the system of judges is to make sure better people become judges. Better people become judges when better people are elected to appoint and confirm them.

Democracy is messy. It needs procedural safeguards to avoid mob rule. But that system is better than a bunch of thinktank elitists telling us what’s good for us.

Glenn Greenwald was a sleeper agent for the right

Greenwald, who was a pro-Iraq war, Heritage Foundation hack before he decided he could become a kooler kid by attacking Bush, has always had a hard on for Obama.Every time Obama didn’t live up what the Internet expected of him, Greenwald was there to kick him.

Part of the reason I’m don’t think much of this “scandal” is because I’m not really all that surprised it’s going on. Another part of the reason is that, well, it’s legal. What Bush was doing was without warrants. It was illegal.

Having a judge look over a warrant is much more due process than is required of Presidents to launch a nuclear strike in this country, yet we act like 1984 is upon us. Meh. Most people think there are absolute limits to what our government can do and that everything else is unconstitutional. That’s simply incorrect both as a matter of law and practicality. But it is what people think. People think “freedom of speech” means Sarah Palin can slander people on TV and can’t be fired for it, and can’t even have her platform taken away. It doesn’t.


The Bush Differential

Tiresome AP hack Ron Fournier, who has carried so much Republican water the fact alone that he now uses the Bush era to attack Obama says it all, claims we are in the “Bush-Obama” era with an “unprecedented” decline of civil liberties.

Unprecedented? Either this fool has a short memory or is ignorant of history. Most of these civil liberties only came to be in the 1960s in the first place, the era of the Supreme Court that Republicans have worked for decades to undermine. Remember, in the 1940s, we deported Japanese-Americans to concentration camps on the basis of their race.

Again, I’m not apologizing for what’s going on, but I find it hard to stomach this feeding frenzy at Obama’s expense when there’s so much more to it.

Saying anything is part of the Bush era implies that liberals are hypocrites to tolerate it now, or, that at least, we have to back track on our “worst president ever” refrain.

What made Bush the worst president ever wasn’t the Patriot Act. I can see that happening in almost any presidency after 9/11. What made him the worst was an illegal election, followed by failing to chase terrorists before 9/11, followed by leading the country into a fraudulent war, followed by being asleep while the financial system burned the whole country down.

I mean, if we have to play this game where every last thing that happened then has to be reversed then I guess we should get rid of the No Call List. Maybe the Germans can dig up their autobahns, too, right?

GOP Actually Waives A Chance To Attack Obama

On the NSA/privacy issue. It’s just not in their DNA to be civil libertarians, which is why anyone who thinks Ron and Rand Paul will ever win a Republican primary is daft. (Also not in their DNA is letting Mexicans be treated as people, hence the immigration bill’s problems.)

But there’s a big difference between disagreeing with a policy and using it as a chance to attack the President, especially when the President is not uniquely responsible for it. Remember, in the past when things like this were tried, the Supreme Court would step in. We had checks and balances. And we got addicted to those checks, because it would let political branches overreach without consequences. How many states pass crazy laws knowing that the courts will strike them down?

Well, the Republican party spent decades pushing jurisprudence based on letting the police state have wide latitude in reaction to rulings like Miranda v. Arizona and other dirty hippie liberal excesses in the 60s which caused us to lose in Vietnam and let darky drink from the same water fountain.

Now they’ve got it. They also have a Congress that passes sweeping laws like the “Patriot Act” just days after an attack instead of waiting to see if it’s really needed. (So much for the cooling saucer of the senate!)

In short, the problem is systemic and pinning this just on Obama (who voted for the FISA revisions in 2007 for fuck sake) for not being the new Earl Warren just shows how badly liberals want to appear reasonable and willing to attack their own—which, they think, gives them credibility. But this is why they lose. Reagan said the 11th commandment is don’t attack another Republican, but for liberals it appears to be pick your spot and you shall criticize Democrats, even if it’s not helpful to whatever your supposedly liberal ideals are.

If I thought for one minute that wearing out the Democratic brand would lead to more liberalism, I would go there. All it’s going to do is allow President Christie or Rubio to appoint judges who will end Roe v. Wade and do much worse on privacy.

Did you see the Power Point about what Romney was going to do in his first 100 days for christ’s sake? That’s what you guys want just to sacrifice to your idol of “reasonableness.” Then fuck you.

Liberals: It's Obama's Fault Congress and the Courts Did FISA

This is just typical. In yet another attempt to Whitewater president Obama, this time from the civil libertarian left, we have this:

The fact that the Obama administration’s actions were authorized by Congress does not let it off the hook. The White House isn’t required to use the powers it was granted.

Huh? So, Lemieux admits that “The program revealed by the Verizon order, conversely, went forward after obtaining the warrant required by the modified FISA of 2007” and that “Admittedly, if by “legal” we mean nothing more than a prediction about “how the current Supreme Court will rule,” it is vanishingly unlikely to be found illegal.”

And he admits that

“The potential legal and policy problems of this policy are not the same as those of the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping, which went ahead without the approval of the special court established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. These actions were illegal on their face and held to be illegal by a federal judge in 2010… It was also less intrusive, collecting data about calls but not listening on on them.”

In other words, the administration complied with the law. Period. Full stop. But, this rhetorical flourish: “”Better than the administration that employed John Yoo to offer legal guidance on counterterrorism policy,” however, is not the standard by which the Obama administration should properly be judged.”

In other words, they are properly judged by whatever Lemieux thinks the Fourth Amendment says. I may tend to agree with him, but what I don’t agree with doing is engaging in a Whitewatering of the President because he is obeying the law and allowing himself to get potentially impeached for failing to chase terrorists using the power at his disposal.

There is also a serious process issue with standards of what should be done being determined outside of the existing law. It lets the Supreme Court hacks who smashed the Fourth Amendment off the hook, it lets Congress who let fear trump freedom off the hook and puts the one branch of government actually responsible for doing something about it on the hook.

In other words: Obama wasn’t the civil liberties messiah that he never said he would be but that I was really hoping he would be in 2008, so I’m mad.

Fuck you. I wish you could live in a virtual reality where Michelle Bachman is president and Ted Cruz is on the Supreme Court alone and leave the rest of us the fuck alone.



Muy estúpido

The Republican party is about to lose Texas for a generation, and all they have to do to stop this is completely stop being who they are: the white Christian nationalist party.

There are signs this week that the immigration reform bill is falling apart. It’s a shame because this is an important issue that only the federal government can address. But it’s not a surprise. People who see this as a vital issue to the Republican party aren’t necessarily being smarter than the Republicans, they are just looking at this through the eyes of general election voters and not donors, primary voters, and ideologues.

By now, Republicans have constructed enough counternarratives about why Romney lost to be in total denial about the electoral power of Latinos. They have decided again and again that they have a messaging problem, not a substantive policy problem.

Personally, I think they have a bigger problem than what people think about Republican positions on gays and Latinos. The fundamental Republican value of lower taxes and deregulation—something many of their voters are going for, while they only tolerate the ridiculous social nuttery. If people aren’t buying the low tax issue anymore, and most people still think taxes on the wealthy should go up, then selling their anti-gay, anti-woman positions are not happening anyway.

Couple that reality with the fact that since the early 2000s, the party has done nothing to stop its decline into a regional white Christian nationalist party—it hasn’t stopped a move to the extreme right on a single issue, let alone reversed one since then—there’s little reason to believe that a non-dominant narrative about why they lost an election with a candidate most of the party never loved will convince them to hold their noses on an issue so deeply held like Messicans.

These are the people who deny global warming, after all. They aren’t going to believe that allowing amnesty is going to give them the White House if they don’t want to. It will take a drubbing in 2014 and 2016 before they reverse themselves on much of anything.