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Sunday, November 27, 2005

Short Takes

I am writing from on the road. So, I'm just going to post some links with a few comments.

First of all, this piece, from The New York Times, on Judge Samuel Alito. If ever there was a nomination that Senate Democrats should filibuster - yes even if it does draw down the "nuclear option", this is the one. As most of my readers may remember, I urged caution on Justice Roberts' nomination. Although he was a Conservative, he was well-qualified, moderate in temperment and there just wasn't anything so beyond the mainstream that justified all out warfare. And he was replacing another judge who was just as conservative as he was.

That's not true with Sam Alito. He would be replacing a centrist who was often the swing vote on a divided court. Also, Alito's whole record - and unlike Roberts, he has a long paper trail - is one that has favored a corporate status quo over the interests of women and minorities. His decisions make it harder to prove discrimination and make it easier for schools, businesses and even the government to discriminate. He has voted for decisions that lessen the rights of ordinary employees and strengthened business privilege at their expense. And he has sided with police even when some of their activities have violated suspects' rights. And what's more, many of Alito's decisions have been overturned by higher courts, including the Supreme Court.

And now, it turns out that he was involved with an ultra-conservative alumni group at Princeton University, the Concerned Alumni, that openly opposed Princeton's affirmative action program while, at the same time, defending favored treatment of legacy students. Concerned Alumni also defended snobbish eating clubs and other Princeton institutions that encouraged snobbery and segregation.

Samuel Alito is not a man who should serve on the Supreme Court. Period. If the Democrats don't oppose him, it's going to be hard for them to convince anybody that they stand for anything. However, opposition cannot, just cannot simply be based on his position on Roe v. Wade. That's what the media wants to make it about. That's what Republicans hope the debate turns on. But it has to be based on an across the board opposition to all of this man's stands. And it must be a carefully laid out debate on why those views hurt ordinary people from all walks of life.

And while we're on the topic of policies that hurt people from all walks of life, let's get to why academic economists are so reluctant to serve the Bush Administration This article, also from the NY Times, describes how many of Academia's most respected and highly credentialed economists just don't want to be part of this administration. Although the article doesn't come out and say it directly, it could be for the same reason that many scientists are so reluctant to leave professorships at prestigious institutions to come work in Washington, DC. This administration practices junk science, junk intelligence and junk economics. It's never about the facts or about respecting what these disciplines can actually teach us. It's all about defending the ideology of the base. And that is impacting important policy decisions from addressing the problem of global warming to fixing Social Security for future generations (and no, the President's privatization plan wasn't a fix, it was gift to Wall Street)

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