Monday, April 11, 2005

Is it just me?

About six months ago I switched to a mode where most the political journalism I read is filtered through blogs. My primary sources have remained roughly the same: NYT, WaPo, Salon, NPR. But now I typically read articles because they were linked to by echidne, J&B, etc.

I have also come to believe in the last six months that the political situation right now is worse than it has ever been in my lifetime, to the extent that I seriously fear for the future of the country and the safety of my family.

Example: Both Echidne and J&B link to this story in the Washington Post about a meeting of the most important conservative activists in the country, where they began to plan the impeachment of Justice Kennedy for his incorrect rulings on executing juveniles and sodomy laws. Phyllis Schlafly, who first rose to fame by touring the country explaining how women should stay at home, introduced the idea of impeachment. Another speaker suggested that Kennedy "upholds Marxist, Leninist, satanic principles drawn from foreign law." Another speaker suggested massive purges of the judiciary "If about 40 of them get impeached, suddenly a lot of these guys would be retiring."

Most of the blogs who link to the story, though, focus on the guy who quoted Stalin approvingly. This is from the Milbank article in WaPo:

Ominously, Vieira continued by saying his "bottom line" for dealing with the Supreme Court comes from Joseph Stalin. "He had a slogan, and it worked very well for him, whenever he ran into difficulty: 'no man, no problem,' " Vieira said.

The full Stalin quote, for those who don't recognize it, is "Death solves all problems: no man, no problem." Presumably, Vieira had in mind something less extreme than Stalin did and was not actually advocating violence. But then, these are scary times for the judiciary. An anti-judge furor may help confirm President Bush's judicial nominees, but it also has the potential to turn ugly.

The one that really squeed me out, though, is this guy Farris, who said that "he would block judicial power by abolishing the concept of binding judicial precedents, by allowing Congress to vacate court decisions"

Abolish precedent and allow congress to overturn court decisions at will? How is that not simply abolishing the rule of law and replacing it with the rule of men? There would be nothing forcing the government to be consistent or fair. Just because the law had always said before that a patient, via a proxy can refuse medical treatment, doesn't mean that congress can't sweep down in any individual case and mandate a feeding tube.

ok, ok, you say, these are just fringe characters. No one is really going to abolish the rule of law in the US. But there were two US representatives there. Tom The Hammer DeLay would have been there, but he had to go to the Pope's funeral. These people scare me.

Of course, I wouldn't have read about them if I relied just on the Washington Post to filter my news. WaPo didn't put the story on the front page. Its only because I get my news filtered by a mother of two living in Singapore and a woman who claims to be a Greek Snake Goddess that I even heard about this.

So here's my question, before I go back to actually doing my job. What combination of the following is true:

1. Things have really gotten a lot worse recently.
2. Things have always been this bad, you just didn't know it because you had bad news filters.
3. Things aren't that bad--not breakdown of civilized society bad, just the ordinary oppression of the weak bad.

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