The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Hmm, I think posting a roundup would be a useful distraction from having to watch John "Box Turtle" Cornyn point to his deeply misleading charts as he lobs softballs to Strip Search Sammy.

Reaction to the hearings, and other Alito-related tidbits...

--Chris Bowers at MyDD thinks Alito's story about not remembering just what it was that Concerned for Princeton was doing, even though he pimped his membership when applying for work with the Reagan administration, is not truthful. Yeah. I'd forget that I was a member of UCSB Campus Democrats if I didn't have that link on the right side of this blog.

--Via TalkLeft, USA Today's Jonathan Turley, in the process of making the case against Alito's confirmation, laments the air-sucking effects of the abortion debate on confirmation hearings:
The obsession with abortion in American politics has had an anaerobic effect on past confirmation hearings, sucking the air out of other issues. For Alito, this may have the welcomed effect of obscuring a more troubling question from his past writings and cases: Alito's extreme views of government authority over citizens' rights.
I agree... halfway. In the hearing room, this is simply not true; it really wasn't until Senator Feinstein's 30 minutes earlier this afternoon that any Democratic or pro-choice Senator really went after Alito on the issue (though Specter tiptoed through Griswold for a moment this morning, and Schumer went after him a little bit). The media, as well as the rest of the peripheral debate on the nominee, including the efforts of issue advocacy groups, are the factors that make the abortion debate seem like the center of every Supreme Court confirmation process.

Personally, I think the executive power issue is the most pivotal one when it comes to this nominee, but the difference between it and the choice debate is that the latter is always pre-packaged and ready to go, with the combatants on both sides clearly identified, while the former is much more ad hoc and issue-specific. Remember, in the late 1990's we had a mutated version of an executive power debate centering around blowjobs. Now we have one dealing with illegal domestic spying, indefinite in prisonment without access to any legal framework, torture, extraordinary rendition, black sites, manipulation and cherrypicking of intelligence, and so on, and so on. Obviously the "sides" in this debate are very different from what they were seven or eight years ago.

Abortion on the other hand, in the eyes of the media, is always ready to go. I say "in the eyes of the media" because they tend to paper over the centrist, Clintonite stance of "safe, legal and rare", rather promoting an either/or debate that allows the anti-choice side to argue that pro-choicers are just pleased as punch when a woman gets 17 abortions in a year or something. It's also an emotionally charged debate, for reasons of which I'm sure we're all aware. Abortion is a very important issue, no doubt about it, but it's prominence as an issue in the media over the other pivotal aspects of the Alito nomination is as much a prodcut of media laziness than it is of anything else.

--Related to the Alito hearings is, of course, the FISA-free "King Bush" domestic spying. On that note, fucking CNN/Gallup:
A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll of 1,003 adults found that 50 percent of those polled believe it's OK to forego warrants when ordering electronic surveillance of people suspected of having ties to terrorists abroad.

Another 46 percent said the policy is wrong, and 4 percent said they had no opinion.
"Forego warrants". Argh, what will it take for a poll question to mention directly that warrantless surveillance is illegal? When you phrase it as "forego warrants", your average poll respondent, who's probably seen one too many episodes of 24, will think that time is of the essence! We need info on potential terrorists! We can't wait for some bureaucratic process when lives are at stake! ...Of course, there's no mention in the poll that FISA warrants can be obtained legally after the fact, up to 72 hours later, if the need for surveillance is that vital. The media failed to properly inform the public on the non-existent Iraqi "threat", and they continue to fail us now.


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