KK: the Week In Politics 1
Somebody send Dr. D the T-shirt. Yes, really


Ahem.  There is nobody trying to inflame anything here.  I find this the best place to learn things.  Real things.  Learned quickly.  That's all.

:- ) Bill James, author of Popular Crime and a lifelong student of legal matters, said today:



Do you think it might be time to start considering a constitutional amendment limiting Supreme Court justices to a single 10-year term?
Asked by: bobfiore
Answered: 2/19/2016
Ten years is a little too long, but yes, that would help a great deal. First, the founders made poor decision in granting life tenure, and second, Congress about 1810 decided to mis-read the constitution to say that Supreme Court justices could only be removed for High Crimes and Misdemeanors, which the constitution clearly never intended.


From either side of the aisle, I personally regret the importance that Supreme Court nominees have today.  I'd like to see a more fluid Court, one more adaptable to the will of society.

Q1.  Do you favor term limits for Justices?  Not, "what do you think the Constitution says."  Rather, what would YOU prefer.

Q2.  Do you think Supreme Court Justices should use the Framers' intentions as first principles?  Or do you tend toward the "living, breathing document" paradigm that implies, Thomas Jefferson wasn't a prophet come down from Sinai.  If he was wrong about something, let's change it.



I/O:  Bernie Sanders emerged this week, in my mind, as having a real chance to be the next President.  The evidence is coming in more and more against Bill O'Reilly on this one, who called Sanders' candidacy pure "political theater."  

Karl Rove, not given to hyperbole, remarked placidly that Sanders is "a left-wing lunatic."  That's a little bit like John Kerry calling George W. Bush a sociopath.  It stops you short.  Once you get past the knee-jerk mudslinging, there are interesting ideas here.

Real Clear Politics has Bernie Sanders easily defeating every single Republican candidate in a head-to-head matchup.  It's time for America to start asking just how well it understands the man, because it's about to elect him President if it's not careful.  ;- )  The joke's over, it that's ever what it was.  Time to read the fine print on this social contract we're about to sign, wouldn't you say?


Sweden's brand of Democratic Socialism is one thing; the communism of Fidel and Che, much less of Karl Marx, that's another thing.  Usually, not always, fascists like Fidel Castro use socialism (government control of production and distribution) as a way to incrementally bring in collectivism (government ownership of all property).  

Dr. D would honestly like to know -- no games, no insinuations, just curious -- whether he can be assured that Bernie Sanders OBJECTS TO collectivism and communism.  Very simple question:  could we count on President Sanders to fight against the installation of communism? 

Q3.  If you support Sanders, or if you think he is a feasible American President despite being a socialist, what would be your objection in principle to Marx-style communism?  Honest question, asked dispassionately.

Are you talking about installing a Swedish economical system, with tight protections against evolution into a fascist-style system?  Or would that be open to debate later?



If you just joined us, Apple won't help the FBI get into the San Bernardino terrorist's cell phone, even though it PROBABLY has critical information about the identities of other terrorists.

Pro-FBI argument:  a court order can obviously get into a serial murderer's personal journal.  The iPhone is becoming the device of choice for horrible criminals of every type.  Apple is laughing into its sleeve about this.

Pro-Apple argument:  what if it destroys a company to make extreme efforts to assist the FBI's investigation (supposedly spending billions to crack its own code?!, and/or losing its super-secure "brand" ID).  And, don't you and I want some place safe (our cell phones) from the government?

Q4.  If you were President, would you start sending Apple execs to jail for not complying with court orders?







Q1: I don't favor pursuit of politically improbable change unless I feel the change is fundamentally essential to redefining who we are as a nation (such as eliminating slavery, allowing women to vote, etc.).  Justice service time doesn't cross that threshold for me and can you imagine trying to get the amendment to the constitution passed in today's congress?  

Among the politically powerful in our country, I think the distance the justices have from the political process gives them a unique vantage point.  While a mixed bag, I think it adds crunch to out tossed salad of governance.

Q2: I am in the camp of living breathing document with balanced view of precedent and new realities.  From its conception, the constitution was a compromise with the built in vagueness to enable the continued fight about the 'right size' for federal authority.  We fought a civil war over the interpretation of the constitution, so let's not get too precision about the founding fathers.


Well, I will take a stab at the Sanders-as-Marxist/communist idea. First, I support Sanders because of one issue, the TBTF (too big to fail) banks, which I will get to in a moment. I think Marx got one thing right: pure capitalism will tend toward cycles of concentration and collapse. Otherwise, in my view, the rest of Marx’s Hegelian march of history inevitability stuff is in intellectual bankruptcy and useful primarily to crooks masquerading as demagogues.

I do not see Sanders as a crook or a demagogue. He is a classic FDR democrat who believes in a very large interventionist Federal government. I would much rather have a small and constrained federal government, with more power to smaller government units (local, county and state), the bottom-up kind of government that Reagan championed (but never delivered). Alas, I fear that train left the station in 1932 and there is no going back.

The financial industry is the modern poster child for what Marx got right. There is now even more concentration, interconnectedness, and debt than in 2008, making the situation much more fragile. This is where I strongly disagree with the currently in power neo-cons and neo-liberals. Free markets should not be allowed to operate like a knife fight. (Butch Cassidy: “First me and Harvey have to get the rules straight.” Harvey: “Rules? In a knife fight?!? No rules!” Butch Cassidy proceeds to sucker kick him in the groin.) Markets need rules and referees so they can be free to be functional and fair. What would a game between the Patriots and the Seahawks look like with no rules and no referees?

On Feb 16, the newly appointed President of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, Neel Kashkari, gave a very important and wholly surprising speech at the Brookings Institute on the need to break up the TBTF banks, which is available online and well worth reading. Mr. Kashkari’s establishment credentials are impeccable: ex-Treasury, ex-Pimco, ex-Goldman Sachs, ex- head of TARP. This speech is akin to one of the Koch brothers channeling Eugene V. Debs.

Kashkari is mobilizing the Minneapolis Fed, which has a long history of expertise in this area, to sponsor symposiums and policy briefs to fashion a proposal to end TBTF to deliver to Congress by the end of the year.

Sanders so far is the only candidate I know of who would unquestionably support such a proposal. I think this is by far the most important issue in this campaign, because the next financial collapse will quite possibly be catastrophic, and that is why I support Sanders.

But I would ask, do you think a proposal to force private (in the sense of non-governmental) financial companies to dissolve into smaller entities and/or regulate them like utilities is socialism or communism, or the slippery slope thereto?


My only question is whether that is REALLY what Sanders is talking about.  As opposed to incremental fascism, or even a form of income redistribution that encourages parasitical behavior.  Sounds from you guys like yes, Sanders is a reasonable guy who thinks it's time for checks and balances on the megabanks.

In a free, capitalistic society there of course comes a point when the federal government steps in and twiddles the knobs on the marketplace.  And it doesn't have to be a slippery slope.  What would be nice would be to hear Bernie Sanders His Ownself SAY that it is not a slippery slope.  Why not yell in all caps "I fervently oppose communism" but I want these banks' hammer-locks busted?

In the big picture, it seems remarkable to me that such a giant economy has not needed more intervention than it's gotten.

Gotta run - muchas gracias ...

GLS's picture

I'm struck by your choice of words: "As opposed to incremental fascism, or even a form of income redistribution that encourages parasitical behavior." Why would you use those words? 

As an aside, my belief is that over the next couple of decades, we'll probably need to bring in a bit more income redistribution. Automation is taking over and production is getting cheaper and cheaper and jobs are continuing to disappear, and I don't think free college for everyone is the answer.


We're distinguishing between a type of income redistribution that is productive, vs. a type of income redistribution that is a disaster for the poor, as James put it a few months ago.  I wasn't implying, and don't in fact believe, that all kinds of income redistribution encourage sloth.

On incremental fascism, we're distinguishing between a Swedish-type of intent, vs a Castro- or Bolshevik-type intent.

I'm sure you realize that SOME dictators have sold their citizens a "Democratic social" package into the consolidation of their power.  This thread is about making the distinction.


But yeah.  If by "bias" you mean "preference towards an orientation in thinking," of course I have preferred ways of looking at the world, as you do.  It doesn't mean we can't be open-minded.

GLS's picture

What are your thoughts on America as a land of opportunity today vs. 20, 30, 40, etc. years ago?


I'm going to try my hand at brevity, although it's not my strength :) So don't take it as aloofness, just that I want to contribute but don't have a ton of time.

Q1 - I don't know a ton about the precedent. But although I'd selfishly like to have 9 liberal judges holding the court in perpetuity, I have to say I'm more than OK with a 10 year term limit. The lifetime appointment thing always created an air of old-world legacy to the court. It's kind of mystical sounding. But there's almost something unamerican about it. We've already got the Senate, which is perpetually deadlocked, to put the brakes on rapid social change. Do we need another branch of gov't to provide the same? I love the idea of fresh faces, an lowering the stakes on each appointment. Although along with term limits, I would like to ammend the rules of appointment somehow, to keep the skids greased.

Q2 - I fall in the middle on this one. I think we should absolutely treat the constitution as a living document. The constitution isn't infallible, but it's principles are very important to look back to. But it was written 250 years ago, it has its faults. It's downright brilliant that the bill of rights is simply the first 10 ammendments. Not commandments, amendments. So these too can change. That is genius.

Q3 - I'm not a Sanders backer necessarily. I agree with a lot of his principles. But I find his math shady, his "political revolution" as a solution to anything problematic. I think he's already had an impact on the race for sure, pushing Hillary to the left. To answer your question though, I don't support Marx-style communism. Mainly because I don't trust any massive entity to run things in that heavy handed way. I think the U.S. style of leaving a lot of power with the states is a good solution, especially for a country as large and diverse as we are. However I do think the federal government has a large role to play in providing a safety net (economically, militarily), and making sure everyone (banks, the rich, employers) plays by the same rules. Not everyone has been playing by the same rules, and its resulted in massive inequality. That is something the federal government needs to own and fix.

Q4 - Heck no. No no no. Apple seems to be the only one standing up for our rights here. Do we have a right to security or do we not? What the DoJ and FBI are pushing for is a back door. They have this fantasy that it's technically possible to create a door that only the good guys can use. This is impossible. There are plenty of ways to get much of this information through other ways, that Apple has complied with many times over when compelled by law. What the government is asking for goes way beyond that. Another thing to keep in mind here - do you think China hasn't been asking for this same thing from Apple? How does China allow Apple to sell hundreds of millions of devices that are out of the reach of the Chinese government? It's because Apple provides that to no government. If Apple is forced to create this backdoor for the U.S., China will have the same thing in writing before you take another breath. 


Doc, I would like to peek inside your brain to see how it works.  Amazing.  You can fit enough compelling issues into one post that a columnist would spread across three months.  

To the issues at hand (all opinions):

1) I actually support the lifetime appointments.  They're not perfect, but they avoid entrapping those seats into the world of politicking and outside funding.  (Yes, they aren't elected--but the person who nominates them is).

2) Originallism.  I've always objected to this, because it contains the pretense that one man (particularly Scalia) personally knew what they were thinking 200+ years ago.  I'm not a lawyer, but I'm guessing you could create a literally endless argument on this, because it's ineherently subjective (IMO).

3) Yes, instant opposition to communistic style government. Simply because it can't work--and never has.  During the long period of rule in the Soviet Union, there were no dachas left vacant on the Black Sea.  Those with power will always enjoy the spoils, beause that's human nature.  My preference is for a capitalist system with fairness applied by whatever means possible.  Time to stop letting the top tenth of one percent write the tax code in ways that help only them.

4) The Apple issue perplexes me.  I have no simple solution.  But to answer directly, I would only consider sending an Apple exec to jail if he were one-hundredth in line behind Wall Street denizens. 


Agreed with every word.  Except I had to look up what a "dacha" was :- )

"Time to stop letting the top tenth of one percent write the tax code in ways that help only them."  I think that resonates with almost every American.


I firmly support okdan's answer #3 above.

I think Hillary has been taken by surprise because Sanders has sounded exactly the right note on the overriding issue of this election. While the media remain fixated on the X axis thinking of Republican vs. Democrat, the Y axis is where the battle is being waged--exceedingly rich against everyone else.  

Her response so far has been first to vote for herself...then to embrace the policies of Obama...and then (as Dan suggests above) move left enough to try to somewhat neutralize Bernie's signature advantage.

But I suspect next she will move as this expert (worked for GWB and Bill) suggests:



As briefly as I can, since I've been hammering at a dev project all day:

  • On Bernie, I get the appeal and I give him a lot of credit for consistency. He's got the same stance on the same issues today that he had in the 1970's. And I do agree with Lampoon above that capitalism is, essentialy, greed. I say that as a MBA and business exec. The degree of greed cannot be left entirely to individual self-restraint. There are just too many phychopaths in the C-Level seats that would literally poison your children (or crash the entire economy) in order to enrich themselves. And no, I'm not being hyperbolic. So yes, government has a serious role in regulating the actions of business. Our current government does it stupidly, inefficiently and imposes too much expense in order to get it way but it's a valid purpose. All that said, Bernie's push to turn this country into a western-European social-Democracy is pure folly. They can make it work over there because they spend almost nothing on their military. They can do that because WE are their military. Norway and Sweden spend about 1/4 as much as the US does (as a % of GDP) than we do. Unless Bernie advocates serious, steep, savage cuts to military spending - which he's not - it's not going to work. Like it or not, we are a warrior culture and the citizens of this country will simply not allow steep cuts to military spending. Obama has taken our military spending from 4.5% of GDP to 3.5% and a healthy sector of the population is outraged by that. 
  • Supreme Court - I like the lifetime appointments. At some level, it puts them above the political fray that is destroying the congress and the presidency. That's a good thing. The framers were very deliberate on the "why" here. 
  • On the Constitution, I'm firmly in the "living document" camp. The framers were not prophets. They couldn't envision the kind of world that we live in today and they could not anticipate the kinds of issues we deal with. We have judges to adjudicate those things that test the boundaries or those edge cases that come up over time. Let them judge. 
  • On Apple, I wish politicians and 'journalists' that have no tech knowledge whatsoever would just shut the heck up. They don't know what they are talking about. The iPhone security and encryption protocols are there for our protection. Any 'backdoor' that Apple provides to the government will absolutely be used by criminals to hack us. Our government isn't exactly on the cutting edge of technical prowess. Put in a back door and the black-hat hacker collectives in China and Russia will be in there before we know what's happening. There is a reason that Apple products don't have the same viruses and security holes that other platforms have. If the FBI gets their way, Apple products will become as frail and open to mischief as Microsoft's. 
  • By the way - if ONE MORON employed by San Bernadino county hadn't reset the Apple ID in an attempt to get into the phone, they would have had access to it very quickly. Seriously - why isn't anyone reporting on this? Once he did that, it took away the FOUR different methods that Apple could have used to open the phone up. 
  • This whole San Bernadino scenario is just a giant smoke-screen anyway. The FBI has been pushing for back-door access and lower encryption standards for years. This is just the trojan horse that they are going to use to get their way. All of the "we will only use it with a court order" dookie is BS in an era of bulk-data collection. Give the government access to the data and they will scrape it all. Curious that it's the same folks that don't trust the goverment that are backing the government on this one. Very curious. 

And don't necessarily disagree with those that follow.  Yes the greed has become breathtaking and I've met the kind of person you're talking about.  

On TV the last 20 years we've seen the bizarrely wealthy lifestyles glorified and it seems to have ossified the idea that Elton John-level decadence is the proper goal of life.  It's sickening, and IMHO it's got to be part of the wind in Sanders' sails.  James once said "few things add more to the impulse to level society than a couple of examples of pure, naked, unsmiling greed."

The iPhone remarks - very informative.

Nicely stated Grizzly.

GLS's picture

The Supreme Court - I agree with you on the lifetime appointments. It's critically important to keep justices isolated as much as possible from elective politics. This is what gives justices like John Roberts the ability to rule in favor of Obamacare.


On iPhone, if you reframe the idea that the iPhone is an extension of your intelligence/mind (technologists would probably agree most), getting into your iPhone can be equated to mind reading or policing thoughts.

Since it's near impossible to map intent before someone takes an action, I would err on the side of privacy and definitely argue against any backdoors.

The FBI should just try to hack iPhones on their own. Nothing is stopping them from that. And like McAfee, the crazy hacker, said... You could probably come up with a good selections of passwords to try through intelligent social engineering. It's just like cracking a safe, is it not?

On Communism, I have to critisize any wholesale rejection of the Communist Manifesto. A close examination of the original book will reveal that Leninist/Stalinist/Maoist/Revolutionary Second World Socialist-Communism is mostly bastardized or reinterpreted for political facism. In fact, some American Capitalistic values are espoused abstractly in the Manifesto.

On a side note, two of the top 3 economies are a variance on command or planned economies. There are many ways to skin a cat... 


I don't understand the claim that democratic/socialist countries only work because the they dont have to spend much on military because the US does it for them, I've heard it claimed a few times around here but dont follow the thinking? Is there some agreement that the US will step in to defend other countries if they are attacked so they don't have to worry about it, and can spend their money on other things...

My country only spends something like 3 billion (1.2 gdp) on military. Maybe the best defense is just to not upset other countries...


We'll have to move out of Europe for this one, but as an example, the economic impact of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan is unquestionably large.

I haven't brushed up in a bit, but basically the treaty allowed for a number of things such as...
- Offloading of military responsibilities to the United States and limited most Japanese domestic spending to paying for the construction and maintenance of US bases in Japan.
- Free access to the US market via trade.
- Pegged exchange rates that were extremely advantageous to the Yen.

It's pretty much case-by-case, as South Korea and Singapore both have standing armies and equally impressive economic growth. But it's not hard to argue that offsetting military costs can have a beneficial economic impact given the right settings...!


I had quick skim of the treaty but that didn't help much. So there are agreements between the US and various 'socialist' countries around the world commiting the US to come to their aid if needed? Why would the US do that, what are they getting out of it?

My understanding of these things is pretty limited, I'm really just following my own logic to think this through. I still don't get the apparent US need to be king of the world. If the US didn't spend military money 'for' 'socialist' countries, I doubt most of those countries would feel it nessacery to spend that same money themselves. Is it not the US pushing itself into the rest of the worlds affairs?


As long as we are squinting at the fine print on the social contract, another Bernie proposal to consider is free tuition. Bernie introduced the “College for All” act last year. The feds (2/3) and the states (1/3) would pay for the $70 billion in tuition charges at all 4 year public universities and colleges, which near as I can determine from the National Center for Education Statistics covers about 75% of all 4 yr students, the others being in private schools. It would be paid for by a flat tax on all stock trades, bond trades and derivatives trades at 0.5%, 0.1% and 0.005% respectively. Bernie claims it would raise close to $300 billion, no problem. Other commentators have pointed out that the federal government currently spends about $69 billion annually in Pell Grants and a hodgepodge of other programs. In fact, about $30 billion in Pell Grants are already paid directly to the schools, so the net cost is only (yeah, I know) $40 billion. The bill also forbids any of this money from being used for construction of any non-academic facilities, including stadiums.

How do you think this will impact the NCAA and big-time college athletics? Are sports scholarships devalued to the point where it removes another excuse for not paying student athletes? Does the free public school tuition destroy the recruiting chances for private schools.

But maybe the biggest impact would be if this cuts off funding for the big-boy athletic departments. The Washington Post published an article last November on “Why students foot the bill for college sports and why some are fighting back.” Mandatory student fees for college athletic departments are common. Students at the “Power Five” wealthiest conferences in college sports paid $125.5 million in athletic fees in 2014. The example of the University of Virginia is illuminating. Over the last 10 trs, athletics spending rose from $50 million to $87 million, including significant increases in coaches pay (from $8.6 million to $18.1 million), and debt and maintenance costs on facilities (from $2.5 million to $15.2 million). Earnings did not keep up. In 2014, Virginia athletics made $70.5 million, $17 million less than it spent. In a decade, Virginia has increased its student fee from $388 to $657.

What happens if this bill cuts off the athletic departments from access to all or a substantial portion of tuition fees?

GLS's picture

I'm skeptical of the free college for all notion, mainly because (and despite my liberal leanings), I don't think college is the right path for everyone. I don't think a 4-year college degree should be the equivalent of a high school diploma 50 years ago, which is something Bernie has been talking about. If high school isn't sufficient, then that's what should be fixed. Maybe we need a grade 13 where students that aren't on the college path can start to specialize in something that's a better fit for them. 

Also, what Bernie and Hillary and pretty much all politicians (both republican and democrat) refuse to talk about it the naked self-interest of the higher education industry. The reason student debt has ballooned in the last decade has everything to do with the ready access to student loans, which seem to be nearly unlimited, and these financial aid machines at the colleges where "advisors" sign kids up for massive amounts of debt that, in many cases, they simply won't be able to pay back in any sort of reasonable time frame. And thanks to George W. Bush, that debt cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, so the banks are isolated from all risk in their lending decisions.

I had no idea schools were charging these athletics fees. I don't think that was the case when I was at the UW in the 90's. It's truly scandolous. 


I agree that a 4 yr college education is not for everyone, and especially with your comment that what needs fixing is the devaluation of the high school diploma. Bernie’s plan only applies to 4 yr public colleges and although the fact that it is tuition free may change the mix of students it does not expand its availability. You will still have to qualify to be admitted. About 16 million students are enrolled in 4 yr public colleges, but that is less than half of the 18-24 demographic.

Unemployment for recent high school graduates is now three times greater than for recent 4 yr college grads, and the gap in income earning power between the two is the greatest it has ever been. This despite college grads having their own issues from the 2008 Recession and crushing student loans.

Well-paying jobs requiring only a high school diploma have been disappearing, possibly exported by companies looking to cut every possible cost and corner, often in the aftermath of leveraged buy-outs that left them with crushing debt loads. Automation has also taken its toll. I don’t know who is really addressing their situation, or what to do about it.


Q2: a "living constitution" as some describe it is no constitution at all. You must do your level best to understand the intent of those who write, ratify, and sign the document. Sometimes there is specificity as to what the rules are, sometimes there is a vagueness. But you have to as best you can first discern the original intent of the author and signatories. Then, if you are going to rule beyond it, the people you serve deserve at least an acknowledgment that you are doing so and why. To ignore the original intent and say that your ruling is the constitution is a rule not of laws but of men.

There was a day in which conferring individual rights that were not addressed in the Constitution was properly done by the people in the amendment process: 

Slavery was abolished through amendment

Protecting the legal rights and protection of these new citizens - by amendment

Votes for women: amendment

Vote enfranchisement to 18 year olds - by amendment

The Constitution is a "living document" in that we add and subtract to it through a well defined process.

I think that after the failure of the ERA, the proper avenue for expanding rights through the people and the amendment was in essence transferred to Supreme Court Justices, who find creative ways to interpret according to their personal beliefs and desires for society. We the People has lost sovereignty to a group of unelected lifetime appointees.

Times change, and the authors of the constitution did not foresee many of the challenges we now face. New tricky issues come up and it isn't always an easy job to apply the Constitution to new challenges. But this has not changed: Congress and the states have the power to make law. The Supreme Court does not have the power to make law. It's power derives not from the current wishes and fashions of the people through votes and legislative representation. It comes from seeing to it that what the people have already settled and determined through the ratification of the Constitution and its amendments are followed. 

tjm's picture

. . . is absolutely doing the right thing here. Griz nails it with the smoke-screen description. This is absolutely about the future, not about the San Bernadino killers. The feds already know enough about the shooters to know what his contacts were and more importantly weren't. A key point that is often not recognized in discussing the threat of radical Islam is how small that threat is and how unuseful much of what is done to counter it is.

Radical Islam is not an existential threat to this country. Extremists are largely incompetent goof-balls, not brilliant world-destroyer masterminds. And there just aren't that many of them. Al Qaeda tried for three years to get guys into the US for the 9/11 attacks. In three years they managed 19 guys and it wasn't as if they had a deep bench to backstop them. Seriously, Zacarias Moussaoui was the second wave. He was perhaps the most incompetent criminal in American history. Which is saying something when you consider the guys who bombed the WTC the first time crashed their van en route to the towers the first time they tried. The second time, one of them overslept and barely got there in time. Then they got stuck behind a truck and nearly blew themselves up in the basement.

The US response to 9/11 enlarged the threat and devised answers based on that initial mistake. Almost everything we did in response made the threat grow, not diminish. We keep refusing to learn this lesson.

On Bernie: I can't even imagine why anyone would suppose he favors anything other than Euro-style social democracy. He's an ardent admirer of the Scandinavian model, which is hardly a dictatorship waiting to happen. Angela Merkel, perhaps the most conservative European leader since DeGaulle, happily presides over a social democratic welfare state that provides health care, education and a bunch of other stuff we seem to be afraid of.

I think a single 8- or 12-year term to fall in the middle of presidential election cycles would give enough length to judicial terms and would as, Okdan pointed out, reduce the stakes for each apopointment, which might be the best benefit of all. 

On the constitution: not even Scalia was a real originalist. Seriously, do you think Madison thought corporations ought to be regarded as persons with full speech rights? We've all acknowledged the mistakes made by he founders. Why do we keep having this debate? 

lr's picture

"On Bernie: I can't even imagine why anyone would suppose he favors anything other than Euro-style social democracy." Isn't it fairly obvious? When one of the major news sources in this country makes it their mission, day after day, to casually and irresponsibly lump Bernie's socialism in with all others, by trotting out the usual suspects, ie Stalinism, Marxism, Cuba, the Soviet Union, etc etc, there is little surprise to be had when someone asks "How do we know Bernie doesn't want to install iron clad Communism?".

Oh right I forgot, they're just acting to provide balance in news coverage.

GLS's picture

The right wing media (Fox News, etc.) is doing everything they can to demonize Bernie and make him into a crackpot. What I wish they would do instead is talk about issues like single payer healthcare in a reasonable way. It's okay to disagree, but explain why you disagree with the policy.  

lr's picture

People starting the conversation with "tell me why this guy's not a communist", or thereabouts, with a banner of Che Guevera waving in the subject line. When you begin your argument/question with buzzwords, as O'Reilly loves to do, you're starting off right away on the offensive. Phrasing questions like that signals to many people where you come from and that you have already placed a stake in the ground past the 50 yard line, as opposed to starting from a neutral point.

If I were to start a discussion on Bush with, so explain to me why he and Cheney aren't war criminals...perhaps the point has been made.

tjm's picture

. . . I was being a wee bit sarcastic, but you're right - Fox routinely goes beyond the pale.

My very elderly in-laws live with us and they spend almost the entire day watching Fox News because, they say, it is entertaining. But it's also insidious. A few months ago they announced they were going to move to rural China, where they are from.

Why? I asked.

Because they were afraid of being killed by ISIS.


That's funny, TJM. Heavy doses of Fox News can cause anxiety. But local news can really cause a heavy dose of anxiety in your own hometown: Murders, break-ins, drivebys, wildfires, killer snowstorms, shootings, crumbling infrastructure, lead in the water supply, killer cougars on the loose.  Then there's network entertainment TV - last night on Madame Secretary a Jihadist group from Libya detonated a dirty bomb in the DC area.  

lr's picture

By the way my, "you don't get the link between news coverage and peoples opinions?!?!" was made tongue in cheek, I knew you weren't oblivious. It's hard to communicate in text sometimes the difference between making a point with a straight face vs making one with a grin.


If Justices stick to what they think that the Constitution means, then there is some abstract limit on the type of decision that they can come up with or the type of case they can hear.  The Supreme Court has to act differently than Congress to justify its own existence.  We already have a Congress to assert the popular will of the people.  Congressmen are easy to fire if they get out of line.  If the Supreme Court goes rogue, what is anyone going to do about it?

In most democratic countries, there is no presidency or supreme court.  The Parlaiment controls both.  Parlaimentary democracy seems to work fine, except the changes in law are a little bit extreme from year to year. 

Add comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.


  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.