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Archive for the ‘Republicans as cancer’ Category

You might want to sign this petition

Posted by Charles II on October 16, 2014

I hate liars. From Luke Brinker of Salon:

Debate moderater Kyle Clark to GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner] “So let’s instead talk about what this entire episode may say about your judgment more broadly,” Clark said. “It would seem that a charitable interpretation would be that you have a difficult time admitting when you’re wrong and a less charitable interpretation is that you’re not telling us the truth. Which is it?”

Petition to Denver Post to retract endorsement of crackpot Cory Gardner against sane person Mark Udall.

Posted in abortion, abuse of power, hypocrites, liars, Republicans as cancer, rightwing moral cripples | Leave a Comment »

Richard Mellon Scaife, patron of the Dark Side of American politics, has a fatal cancer.

Posted by Charles II on May 18, 2014

Richard Mellon Scaife, has an untreatable cancer:

Nothing gives perspective to life so much as death.

Recently, doctors told me I have an untreatable form of cancer.

Some who dislike me may rejoice at this news. Naturally, I can’t share their enthusiasm.

The diagnosis has prompted me to consider my life, the city and region I call home, the country I love, and the many people I have known — especially those who are friends, or whose lives and achievements I respect.

In coming weeks and months, I hope to write about some of these things.

Richard Scaife was responsible for some of the worst of American politics. As Katie Heimer wrote,

The Arkansas Project was created and funded with the sole objective of digging up, and if necessary fabricating, any information that could be used to defame the Clintons and those around them. Over the course of several years, Scaife allocated approximately 2.4 million dollars to the [American] Spectator for sole use in its “investigative” efforts to defame and humiliate Clinton(Lewis), efforts which resulted in the “revelation” (“fabrication” is perhaps more accurate in most cases) of tabloidesque stories such as the “Troopergate” and Whitewater scandals, Paula Jones’ allegations of sexual harassment, and the legitimization and continuation of conspiracy theories about the death of Deputy White House Counsel and close Clinton friend Vince Foster, among others (Phillips).

The “investigative” efforts of those involved in the Arkansas Project eventually led, albeit indirectly, to Clinton’s impeachment in the Monica Lewinsky scandal….

Over the next thirty years, Scaife alone would contribute $200 million to conservative causes (“The Right’s Big Moneyman”). This growth and expansion of
conservative journalism and conservative think tanks, which together formed a cohesive social and political movement, continued throughout the 1970s and ‘80s, bolstered by the Presidency of Ronald Reagan.

Smear politics, using fabricated accusations, were a staple of Mr. Scaife’s dedication to journalistic principles. Vince Foster committed suicide not just from depression, but because of the unjust accusations that Scaife leveled. Susan McDougal spent years in jail because of Scaife. Julie Hiatt Steele was bankrupted. But the most heart-rending stories are of the ordinary people who didn’t have any status or money to lose. They were ground into the dust for the sole purpose of illegally seizing power away from Bill Clinton, a man who was democratically elected. And, of course, the hypocrisy of Dick Scaife tormenting Bill Clinton for infidelity, exceeds all measure.

There are those who will welcome Mr. Scaife’s illness and impending death. I am not one of them. His pain, if any, relieves none of the pain of his victims. His death, when it occurs, will restore nothing. It will simply remove the context for why this country is so polarized and angry. His illness will will solve nothing. And from Scaife’s tone, it sounds as if he has learned nothing, regrets nothing, and will use him immense fortune simply to destroy more.

Sadly, there are dozens more like him, men (and a few women) with whom God has been extraordinarily generous and patient, to the point that the rest of us are neglected. They continue to pour money into corrupting and perverting the functions of democracy and, like John Moniz, turning Americans from a proud and free people into desperate courtiers.

But I suppose that Scaife’s illness can serve as a teachable moment, when we remember the evil that he did, and that will live on long after his bones are interred and his name forgotten.

Posted in Republicans as cancer, Richard Mellon Scaife | 9 Comments »

Plus ça change

Posted by Charles II on April 25, 2014

Sean Hannity learns nothing:

The Bundy standoff in Nevada with the Bureau of Land Management has many Americans questioning the overreach of government and the constitutionality of the government taking/owning land that isn’t for a specific federal purpose. Could the BLM be aiming for Texas be next?

The Bundy case may not be the last we’ve seen from the Bureau of Land Management. As Ben Shapiro writes today in his column, “Like Bundy or not, his situation will not be the last of its kind, so long as the federal government insists on its ever-growing authority, and so long as states and localities refuse to stand up for their citizens.”

Now, the federal government is eyeing 90,000 acres along the Red River lands in Texas. The Attorney General of Texas Greg Abbott wrote a letter to the head of the Bureau of Land Management expressing his concern and asking the department for answers. Keep in mind that the head of this department is a man by the name of Neil Kornze, who used to work for none other than Harry Reid.

Abbott states in his letter: “Respect for property rights and the rule of law are fundamental principles in the State of Texas and the United States. When governments simply ignore those principles, it threatens the foundation of our free and prosperous society.” He says that “the BLM’s newly asserted claims to land along the Red River threaten to upset long-settled private property rights and undermine fundamental principles—including the rule of law—that form the foundation of our democracy.”

Harry Reid himself referenced “the rule of law” in his opposition to Cliven Bundy’s actions, but clearly he fails to see how the rule of law also applies in this way when it comes to private property rights. In essence, we are arguing two sides to the same coin.

Abbott told Breitbart that he’s ready to “go to the Red River and raise a ‘Come and Take It’ flag to tell the feds to stay out of Texas.” Texas Governor Rick Perry has also weighed in, standing along side Abbott in Texas’ defense of private property rights.

I’m with Texas on this one. You don’t mess with Texas.

According to his 4/24 show, in which he interviews Texas AG and GOP Goober nominee Greg Abbott, he is writing a letter to BLM to find out what’s going on. Shoot first, ask later, Sean.

This is what Jim Malewitz of the Texas Tribune says:

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is the latest state official asking that question in relation to a looming U.S. Bureau of Land Management decision about what to do with a swath of federal and American Indian land in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas — including the acreage in Texas along a 116-mile stretch of the Red River.

On Tuesday, Abbott sent a letter to Neil Kornze, BLM director, seeking information about the agency’s plans for the land, some of which North Texans have long considered theirs, using it for cattle grazing and growing crops.

Paul McGuire, an agency spokesman, said the disputed land has not been fully surveyed, and that it hopes a new survey will clear up the confusion about its ownership.

“It’s been mischaracterized in different forms, as if BLM is coming to seize land or take land in some form,” he said. “That is definitely not the case.”

Sean says he wants to move to Texas. He’ll fit right in.

Posted in Fox Noise, paranoia, Republicans as cancer | 1 Comment »

Remembering Paul Weyrich

Posted by Charles II on May 23, 2013

My post on how the right is seeking to attack the IRS for its questioning of anti-abortion groups which may have broken the law unearthed a Max Blumenthal article on Paul Weyrich:

In 2001, Weyrich circulated a commentary accusing Jews of murdering Jesus. When a conservative writer named Evan Gahr attacked Weyrich as a “demented anti-Semite,” he learned how powerful the conservative founding father truly was. In short order, neoconservative activist David Horowitz barred Gahr from writing for his FrontPageMag and forced him to apologize to Weyrich.

Obsessed with ideological purity, Weyrich homed his most vitriolic attacks on the Republican congressional leadership. David Grann’s classic profile of Weyrich as a “Robespierre of the Right,” published in 1997 in the New Republic, is probably the best window into Weyrich’s often destructive efforts to force the GOP to the hard right. “The problem with Gingrich,” Weyrich said of the House majority leader at the time, “is that he does not have any immutable principles that he would die for.” (Weyrich sued The New Republic for libel after it published Grann’s article, a suit that was dismissed.)

In 1996, Weyrich was diagnosed with a debilitating spinal injury. Five years later, the injury consigned him to a wheelchair. He spent the last years of his life in constant pain, and took heavy doses of painkillers. In 2004, after a bad fall, Weyrich’s legs were amputated. But he soldiered on, addressing conservative conferences and pumping out a steady flow of commentaries urging the Republicans to stay tethered to their right-wing base.

In September 2006, foreshadowing Rep. Michelle Bachmann’s notorious remarks about her congressional colleagues two years later, Weyrich called for an FBI investigation of reporters who harbor subversive attitudes and urged the resurrection of the House Un-American Affairs Committee.

Paul Weyrich was truly one of God’s weirder pieces of work.

Posted in history, Republicans as cancer | 3 Comments »

Small government tyrants

Posted by Charles II on April 30, 2013

The state of Arizona has just told cities that they may not destroy guns purchased in gun buybacks (see here). They must sell them.

This is what “limited government” looks like when it’s run by the right. If they control the federal government, then they pre-empt the power of the states and of unions to rein in corporate power. If they control the states, then they pre-empt the power of the cities to govern themselves (and illegalize unions) and/or threaten to secede.

In other words, “limited government” really means tyranny administered by corporations and cranks.

Posted in Republicans as cancer | 10 Comments »

By any means necessary

Posted by Charles II on January 21, 2013

Someone might start thinking that the GOP doesn’t believe in democracy:

The state Senate is split 20-20 between Republicans and Democrats. On Monday, while state Sen. Henry Marsh (D) — a 79-year-old civil rights veteran — was reportedly in Washington to attend President Obama’s second inaugural, GOP senators forced through a mid-term redistricting plan that Democrats say will make it easier for Republicans to gain a majority.

With Marsh’s absence, Senate Republicans in Richmond had one more vote than Senate Democrats and could push the measure through. The new redistricting map revises the districts created under the 2011 map and would take effect before the next state Senate elections in Virginia and would redraw district lines to maximize the number of safe GOP seats.

They then, on Martin Luther King Day, adjourned to honor the memory of Stonewall Jackson.

Michael Lind was right in calling conservatives the ideological heirs of Lenin.

Posted in conservativism, Republicans as cancer, totalitarianism | 3 Comments »

Anti-democratic and proud of it: the GOP boasts about holding House despite getting fewer votes

Posted by Charles II on January 15, 2013

Via MaddowBlog, the Republican State Leadership Committee brags about how unpopular the GOP is:

Farther down-ballot, aggregated numbers show voters pulled the lever for Republicans only 49 percent of the time in congressional races, suggesting that 2012 could have been a repeat of 2008, when voters gave control of the White House and both chambers of Congress to Democrats.

But, as we see today, that was not the case. Instead, Republicans enjoy a 33-seat margin in the U.S. House seated yesterday in the 113th Congress, having endured Democratic successes atop the ticket and over one million more votes cast for Democratic House candidates than Republicans.

all components of a successful congressional race, including recruitment, message development and resource allocation, rest on the congressional district lines, and this was an area where Republicans had an unquestioned advantage.

Through clever gerrymandering, they also held state houses in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

And, according to Rachel, they are going to use their control of the state houses to make all presidentially-blue states split their electoral college votes. If they had been able to do this in 2012, Mitt Romney would have had an electoral college landslide.

Sounds like a winning strategy, ruling people against their will. Right up until the revolution, of course.

Posted in 2016, Republicans acting badly, Republicans as cancer | 6 Comments »

We accept your surrender

Posted by Charles II on December 29, 2012

The following is one of the more recent right-wing salvos circulating the Net (my emphases in color; crossposted to DK):

Post-Mortem
Laura Hollis, Nov 08, 2012

Laura Hollis is:
Current: Associate Professional Specialist and Concurrent Associate
Professor of Law at University of Notre Dame. [Note: ND Law lists Hollis as an Assistant professor.]
Past: Director at Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Associate
Director and Clinical Professor at University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign.
Education: University of Notre Dame Law School, University of Notre Dame.
Summary: She has 20+ years’ experience in curriculum and other program
development and delivery.

I am already reading so many pundits and other talking heads analyzing the disaster that was this year’s elections. I am adding my own ten cents. Here goes:

1. We are outnumbered. We accurately foresaw the enthusiasm, the passion, the commitment, the determination, and the turnout. Married women, men, independents, Catholics, evangelicals – they all went for Romney in percentages as high or higher than the groups which voted for McCain in 2008. It wasn’t enough. What we saw in the election on Tuesday was a tipping point: we are now at a place where there are legitimately fewer Americans who desire a free republic with a free people than there are those who think the government should give them stuff. There are fewer of us who believe in the value of free exchange and free enterprise. There are fewer of us who do not wish to demonize successful people in order to justify taking from them. We are outnumbered. For the moment. It’s just that simple.

2. It wasn’t the candidate(s). Some are already saying, “Romney was the wrong guy”; “He should have picked Marco Rubio to get Florida/Rob Portman to get Ohio/Chris Christie to get [someplace else].” With all due respect, these assessments are incorrect. Romney ran a strategic and well-organized campaign. Yes, he could have hit harder on Benghazi. But for those who would have loved that, there are those who would have found it distasteful. No matter what tactic you could point to that Romney could have done better, it would have been spun in a way that was detrimental to his chances. Romney would have been an excellent president, and Ryan was an inspired choice. No matter who we ran this year, they would have lost. See #1, above.

3. It’s the culture, stupid. We have been trying to fight this battle every four years at the voting booth. It is long past time we admit that is not where the battle really is. We abdicated control of the culture – starting back in the 1960s. And now our largest primary social institutions – education, the media, Hollywood (entertainment) have become really nothing more than an assembly line for cranking out reliable little Leftists. Furthermore, we have allowed the government to undermine the institutions that instill good character – marriage, the family, communities, schools, our churches. So, here we are, at least two full generations later – we are reaping what we have sown. It took nearly fifty years to get here; it will take another fifty years to get back. But it starts with the determination to reclaim education, the media, and the entertainment business. If we fail to do that, we can kiss every election goodbye from here on out. And much more.

4. America has become a nation of adolescents The real loser in this election was adulthood: Maturity. Responsibility. The understanding that liberty must be accompanied by self-restraint. Obama is a spoiled child, and the behavior and language of his followers and their advertisements throughout the campaign makes it clear how many of them are, as well. Romney is a grown-up. Romney should have won. Those of us who expected him to win assumed that voters would act like grownups. Because if we were a nation of grownups, he would have won.

But what did win? Sex. Drugs. Bad language. Bad manners. Vulgarity. Lies. Cheating. Name-calling. Finger-pointing. Blaming. And irresponsible spending. This does not bode well. People grow up one of two ways: either they choose to, or circumstances force them to. The warnings are all there, whether it is the looming economic disaster, or the inability of the government to respond to crises like Hurricane Sandy, or the growing strength and brazenness of our enemies. American voters stick their fingers in their ears and say, “Lalalalalala, I can’t hear you.” It is unpleasant to think about the circumstances it will take to force Americans to grow up. It is even more unpleasant to think about Obama at the helm when those circumstances arrive.

5. Yes, there is apparently a Vagina Vote. It’s the subject matter of another column in its entirety to point out, one by one, all of the inconsistencies and hypocrisies of the Democrats this year. Suffice it to say that the only “war on women” was the one waged by the Obama campaign, which sexualized and objectified women, featuring them dressed up like vulvas at the Democrat National Convention, appealing to their “lady parts,” comparing voting to losing your virginity with Obama, trumpeting the thrills of destroying our children in the womb (and using our daughters in commercials to do so), and making Catholics pay for their birth control. For a significant number of women, this was appealing. It might call into question the wisdom of the Nineteenth Amendment, but for the fact that large numbers of women (largely married) used their “lady smarts” instead. Either way, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are rolling over in their graves.

6. It’s not about giving up on “social issues” No Republican candidate should participate in a debate or go out on the stump without thorough debate prep and a complete set of talking points that they stick to. This should start with a good grounding in biology and a reluctance to purport to know the will of God. (Thank you, Todd and Richard.)

That said, we do not hold the values we do because they garner votes. We hold the values we do because we believe that they are time-tested principles without which a civilized, free and prosperous society is not possible.

We defend the unborn because we understand that a society which views some lives as expendable is capable of viewing all lives as expendable.

We defend family – mothers, fathers, marriage, children – because history makes it quite clear that societies without intact families quickly descend into anarchy and barbarism, and we have plenty of proof of that in our inner cities where marriage is infrequent and unwed motherhood approaches 80 percent. When Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, many thought that the abortion cause was lost. Forty years later, ultrasound technology has demonstrated the inevitable connection between science and morality. More Americans than ever define themselves as “pro-life.” What is tragic is that tens of millions of children have lost their lives while Americans figure out what should have been obvious before. There is no “giving up” on social issues. There is only the realization that we have to fight the battle on other fronts. The truth will win out in the end.

7. Obama does not have a mandate. And he does not need one. I have to laugh – bitterly – when I read conservative pundits trying to assure us that Obama “has to know” that he does not have a mandate, and so he will have to govern from the middle. I don’t know what they’re smoking. Obama does not care that he does not have a mandate. He does not view himself as being elected (much less re-elected) to represent individuals. He views himself as having been re-elected to complete the “fundamental transformation” of America, the basic structure of which he despises. Expect much more of the same – largely the complete disregard of the will of half the American public, his willingness to rule by executive order, and the utter inability of another divided Congress to rein him in. Stanley Kurtz has it all laid out here.

8. The Corrupt Media – is the enemy too strong? I don’t think so. I have been watching the media try to throw elections since at least the early 1990s. In 2008 and again this year, we saw the media cravenly cover up for the incompetence and deceit of this President, while demonizing a good, honorable and decent man with lies and smears. This is on top of the daily barrage of insults that conservatives (and by that I mean the electorate, not the politicians) must endure at the hands of this arrogant bunch of elitist snobs. Bias is one thing. What we observed with Benghazi was professional malpractice and fraud. They need to go. Republicans, Libertarians and other conservatives need to be prepared to play hardball with the Pravda press from here on out. And while we are at it, to defend those journalists of whatever political stripe (Jake Tapper, Sharyl Atkisson, Eli Lake) who actually do their jobs. As well as Fox News and talk radio. Because you can fully expect a re-elected Obama to try to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine in term 2.

9. Small business and entrepreneurs will be hurt the worst For all the blather about “Wall Street versus Main Street,” Obama’s statist agenda will unquestionably benefit the biggest corporations which – as with the public sector unions – are in the best position to make campaign donations, hire lobbyists, and get special exemptions carved out from Obama’s health care laws, his environmental regulations, his labor laws. It will be the small business, the entrepreneur, and the first-time innovators who will be crushed by their inability to compete on a level playing field.

10. America is more polarized than ever; and this time it’s personal. I’ve been following politics for a long time, and it feels different this time. Not just for me. I’ve received messages from other conservatives who are saying the same thing: there is little to no tolerance left out there for those who are bringing this country to its knees – even when they have been our friends. It isn’t just about “my guy” versus “your guy.” It is my view of America versus your view of America – a crippled, hemorrhaging, debt-laden, weakened and dependent America that I want no part of and resent being foisted on me. I no longer have any patience for stupidity, blindness, or vulgarity, so with each dumb “tweet” or FB post by one of my happily lefty comrades, another one bites the dust, for me. Delete. What does this portend for a divided Congress? I expect that Republicans will be demoralized and chastened for a short time. But I see them in a bad position. Americans in general want Congress to work together. But many do not want Obama’s policies, and so Republicans who support them will be toast. Good luck, guys.

11. It’s possible that America just has to hit rock bottom. I truly believe that most Americans who voted for Obama have no idea what they are in for. Most simply believe him when he says that all he really wants is for the rich to pay “a little bit more.” So reasonable! Who could argue with that except a greedy racist? America is on a horrific bender. Has been for some time now. The warning signs of our fiscal profligacy and culture of lack of personal responsibility are everywhere – too many to mention. We need only look at other countries which have gone the route we are walking now to see what is in store.

For the past four years – but certainly within the past campaign season – we have tried to warn Americans. Too many refuse to listen, even when all of the events that have transpired during Obama’s presidency – unemployment, economic stagnation, skyrocketing prices, the depression of the dollar, the collapse of foreign policy, Benghazi, hopelessly inept responses to natural disasters – can be tied directly to Obama’s statist philosophies, and his decisions.

What that means, I fear, is that they will not see what is coming until the whole thing collapses. That is what makes me so sad today. I see the country I love headed toward its own “rock bottom,” and I cannot seem to reach those who are taking it there.

Laura Hollis

[From the right-winger who forwarded Hollis' message] If we cannot regain control of those critical institutions (“that instill good character – marriage, the family, communities, schools, our churches”), that Ms. Hollis enumerated, and rekindle the rational, sane and conservative values they once represented,…..WE ARE DOOMED TO CONTINUE THIS SLIDE INTO A LEFTIST, PROGRESSIVE, LIBERAL LED DECAY and ULTIMATE COLLAPSE.

Please share this with as many as you can!!

Many of the right-wingers of Hoover’s day at least had the grace or the wit to understand that they had done something wrong by blowing up the capitalist system. Today’s conservatives are so puffed up with hubris that the only place they see faults is in the people they demonize as being irresponsible children engaged in sex, drugss, and filthy language (even while accusing those same people of demonizing conservatives). 

Hollis doesn’t even seem to recognize that there was another hurricane before Sandy which the government had trouble responding to.

So, please, Ms. Hollis. Since you’re so personally dishonest and so completely bereft of ideas, please do walk away from politics and let America hit rock bottom. If you leave this country alone long enough, it might just recover from the stupidity and greed of your party.  Small thanks to the Democrats, I’m sure, but at least they aren’t actively trying to spend more than the taxes the government collects.

Posted in evil, Republicans as cancer | 5 Comments »

Privatized presidency

Posted by Charles II on December 21, 2012

It could have been so much fun. And now most of the media won’t even touch it.

Carl Bernstein, The Guardian:

So now we have it: what appears to be hard, irrefutable evidence of Rupert Murdoch’s ultimate and most audacious attempt – thwarted, thankfully, by circumstance – to hijack America’s democratic institutions on a scale equal to his success in kidnapping and corrupting the essential democratic institutions of Great Britain through money, influence and wholesale abuse of the privileges of a free press.

In the American instance, Murdoch’s goal seems to have been nothing less than using his media empire – notably Fox News – to stealthily recruit, bankroll and support the presidential candidacy of General David Petraeus in the 2012 election.

Fox News’ inventor and president, Roger Ailes, dispatched an emissary to Afghanistan to urge Petraeus to turn down President Obama’s expected offer to become CIA director and, instead, run for the Republican nomination for president, with promises of being bankrolled by Murdoch

Just imagine if the bio-bimbo story had emerged mid-campaign.

You can hear Kathleen MacFarland of FOX deliver the offer here:

“The big boss is bankrolling it. Roger’s going to run it. And the rest of us are going to be your in-house”

By the way, I predicted that the Republicans would run Petraeus. This shows how close I was.

Posted in corruption, Republicans as cancer, Rupert Murdoch | 1 Comment »

Remembering Robert Bork/updated and corrected

Posted by Charles II on December 19, 2012

This was crossposted at DK.

Robert Bork died today at the age of 85. We wish him the best in the afterlife. In this life, I regret to say, he was consistently on the side of doing wrong when it came into contention with doing what was right.

Bork first came to prominence for his participation in the coverup of Watergate. When Nixon ordered the Justice Department, then under Elliott Richardson, to fire the special prosecutor who was investigating Nixon’s misdeeds, Richardson refused, as did his deputy William Ruckelshaus. Both resigned rather than be part of Nixon’s attempt to save himself. Bork had no such scruples (he claims he did so in consultation with Richardson and Ruckelshaus and for the good of the nation, but this is doubtful [Correction: Eliot Richardson confirmed that he approved what Bork did.).

To conservatives, Bork is a hero. After Bork’s nomination to the Supreme Court by Ronald Reagan was defeated, Ted Kennedy in a moment of hubris, boasted that he had “Borked” the nominee. So conservatives, choosing to avoid the totality of the record, have seen Bork as a martyr to liberalism. What conservatives forget is that Bork was rejected 58-42, a bipartisan majority, and the largest majority recorded against any nominee to the Court.

Bork seems primarily to have been an opportunist. In an interview with the DC Bar, he says that as a young man, when socialism was ascendent, he was a socialist. During World War II, he was a college student. He partied until the last days of the war, when he enlisted. He was going to be a labor lawyer until the political climate changed, and then he joined Kirkland & Ellis, a macher corporate law firm.

He got on the faculty of Yale law, where he says he was treated well by the liberal faculty (not that Yale Law has ever been particularly liberal). And then, he says, the “uprising” (the protests of the 1960s) brought an end to all that good feeling. Bork, of course, went with the side that supported repression, and so ended up as Solicitor General for the Nixon Administration. After all, what are the ideals of conservatism if not massive concentration of power under the Executive, illegally making war, spying on the citizens, and criminal acts up to and including murder? Bork left that Administration fundamentally unrepentant:

BR: When you look back on the Nixon presidency, what do you feel?

RHB: I feel sad. Nixon had the intellectual equipment to be a great president. But he destroyed himself. And for what? I never would have believed that the president had something like the “Plumber’s Unit” in the White House, breaking into Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office and all of that nonsense. It was not only wrong, it was so foolish. So unnecessary.

Unnecessary? How about alarming? or dangerous? or criminal? There is no hint of indignation in Bork’s comments on Nixon.

But beyond the opportunism, there was something darker, and this was what was behind his rejection by a bipartisan majority of the Senate. The Washington Post:

At Yale, Judge Bork quickly became the conservative movement’s Ivy League voice. He wrote a critique of the constitutionality of the 1964 Civil Rights Act for Sen. Barry Goldwater, and he became a member of Scholars for Goldwater when the Arizona Republican became his party’s presidential nominee in 1964.

Judge Bork wrote an influential law journal article in 1971 outlining a school of legal thought later known as “intentionalism.” He argued that judges should confine themselves to the “original intent” of the framers of the Constitution in determining what kinds of actions should be protected by the law. He also maintained that only “political speech” could be protected by the First Amendment.

Throughout his career as a legal scholar, Judge Bork repeatedly criticized a 1965 Supreme Court decision, Griswold v. Connecticut, in which a state law prohibiting married couples from using contraceptives was struck down. The court ruled that the state law was unconstitutional because it violated a constitutional right to privacy.

Judge Bork maintained that the constitution held no such provision.

The idea of “intentionalism” is a bit scary. It holds that what the Founders thought overrules any subsequent developments. Under what theory could one oppose the 1964 Civil Rights Act

To enforce the constitutional right to vote, to confer jurisdiction upon the district courts of the United States to provide injunctive relief against discrimination in public accommodations, to authorize the Attorney General to institute suits to protect constitutional rights in public facilities and public education, to extend the Commission on Civil Rights, to prevent discrimination in federally assisted programs, to establish a Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity, and for other purposes.

…if not the belief that the Founders’ endorsement of slavery trumped the Civil War, the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, and the bitter struggle of the 1950s and 1960s to end Jim Crow? According to Nancy MacLean, this is what he wrote:

Robert Bork argued that it was sophistry to distinguish property rights and
human rights; property rights were human rights of the highest order and “individual liberty”
depended on their sanctity. The issue, he said, “is not whether racial prejudice is a good thing but
whether individual men ought to be free to deal and associate with whom they please for whatever
reasons appeal to them.” For anyone to tell these white citizens “that even as individuals they may
not act on their racial preferences” was “unsurpassed ugliness.”

Similarly, opposition to Griswold was, even by the time of Bork’s nomination, bizarre. Contraception had been legally available for twenty years, having been declared constitutional by the very Court Bork was nominated to be on! Bork’s defenders have excused his writings as academic legerdemain, unrepresentative of what he would actually have done. But the reason the Senate rejected him was because they could not get him to state honestly what he believed. He sounded as if he was concealing a belief that his own views, masked as “intentionalism” could surmount every boundary imposed by the law. Robert Bork was not voted onto the Court because he sounded like a madman.

If one followed his subsequent career, that conclusion is confirmed. His book, Slouching Toward Gomorrah (a title of the greatest irony) is not a deeply intellectual work, but a bizarre pastiche of ignorance and demonization. Example:

On science: Bork claims that “the fossil record is proving a major embarrassment to evolution”,

My favorite passage is his claim that there was no real domestic opposition to Vietnam, that it was all the result of a communist conspiracy. Quoting an unnamed visiting professor, he says:

“the first eruptions could be traced to a radical ‘who had come down the Ho Chi Minh Trail from Berkeley.'”

It is no surprise to read later in the book that the killings of students at Kent State by Guardsmen who, facing no imminent danger, fired on unarmed protestors was “an inevitable tragedy.”

After all, if opposition to the Vietman War was simply a communist conspiracy, the deaths of protestors are simply enemy casualties. And Slouching Toward Gomorrah was not written in the heat of the Vietnam War, but decades after it had been recognized as a terrible mistake.

It should also be noted that he accepted the idea of criminalizing homosexuality:

In a letter to the faculty, he wrote that “homosexuality is obviously not an unchangeable condition like race or gender” and that such “behavior, it is relevant to observe, is criminal in many states.” Judge Bork’s arguments did not persuade the majority of the faculty.

At the time (1977), that was not a remarkable position in much of the country, but it does mark him as a man whose idea of liberty extended only to straight white males– like the Founders.

In many ways, the life of Robert Bork illustrates what is wrong with modern conservatism. Driven by opportunism and inflated with ignorance and hubris, it has ceased to represent a reasoned defense of traditional values and, like the Confederacy, has come to represent a desperate attempt to prevent necessary reform even at the cost of destroying the nation.

Thank God Robert Bork never made it onto the Court. The “intentionalists” there now, men like Scalia, are frightening enough.
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Added: A line from his Washington Post obituary struck me:

Late in life, after he had married his second wife, a former Catholic nun, Judge Bork converted to Catholicism.

“There is an advantage in waiting until you’re 76 to be baptized, because you’re forgiven all of your prior sins,” he said in a 2003 interview with the National Catholic Register. “Plus, at that age you’re not likely to commit any really interesting or serious sins.”

It sounds to me as if he had no intention to repent of the angry divisions which he sowed in life. In his mind, I suppose, he had done the minimum of what Christian “law” requires with the expectation of getting the full reward. I suppose this makes him an opportunist even in death. That is truly, truly tragic.
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Additional links.

Jeffrey Toobin

David Weigel

Rachel Maddow, in her show of 12/19, pointed out that Judge Robert Bork ruled that it was legal for an employer to order a woman to be sterilized and that if she did not do so, she could be fired.

Posted in civil rights, history, Republicans as cancer | 4 Comments »

 
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