"For Pete's sake, if you can't trust your Supreme Court justice more than that, get a life!" he said Wednesday, replying to an audience member at the University of Connecticut who asked about Scalia's refusal last year to sit out a case involving his hunting partner, Vice President Cheney.
Scalia had similar advice to a student in Switzerland who asked last month about the Supreme Court's ruling for George W. Bush during the 2000 election. "Oh, God. Get over it," he said.
And, on March 27, he answered a Boston Herald reporter's question about criticism of his conservative religious beliefs by putting his fingertips under his chin and flipping them dismissively outward. "That's Sicilian," the high court's first Italian American explained, triggering a controversy that would spill over to cable TV and prompt a testy letter to the editor of the Herald from Scalia himself.
One of the most conservative -- and cerebral -- of the nine justices, Scalia, 70, has never shied from verbal warfare.
But as he completes his second decade on the court, Scalia, often known by his nickname, Nino, seems less inhibited than ever, speaking frequently off-the-cuff, in a crowd-pleasing voice quite unlike that of the legal academy to which he once belonged.
It is the voice of a conservative populist: combative, humorous, and sharply critical of the media and of the legal establishment atop which he sits. That includes the Supreme Court, from whose rulings in favor of gay rights and against the juvenile death penalty he dissented vigorously but in vain.
But what's really interesting about this story, and totally unremarked by the WaPo reporter, is that the supposedly brilliant legal mind of Scalia has, once again, completely missed the essence of the American system of government, which was specifically set up so that the the people would not have to rely on trusting their government officials to do the right thing.
A trifucated division of the Federal government and a system of checks and balances between them was designed to insure that something besides an official's personal ethics would keep them under control. When that breaks down, because, for instance, party loyalty is held to be more important that oversight, or due to unchrecked corruption, or because ideological precepts or committment to special interests overwhelm common sense, necessity and practicality, then we all suffer.
For Scalia to blow off an obvious conflict of interest by saying "trust me" insults the intelligence of the American people, and thumbs his nose at the purpose of the Founding Fathers in setting things up the way they did. It's no surprise that to Scalia results are more important that principle, what's a surprise is that so relatively few people have noticed, and that he still retains a reputation as a deep legal thinker. Whatever he once was, now, he's just another right-wing politician.
We are not judging the credibility of Kerry or the [Swift Boat] Veterans; we just print the facts.
Leonard Downie, Executive Editor, Washington Post quoted by Joe Strupp in Editor & Publisher (8/24/04)
Why should anyone be surprised that the editors of the Post have no real understanding of the value of real reporting or the role of the press as a counter-influence to the government, and see nothing wrong in acting as shills for the Bush administration without regard for the facts.
Fred Hiatt joins my list.
Update (4/21):Media Matters organizes to put some pressure on the Post, a once fine newspaper (although always an establishment one) now firmly in the pocket of the Republican party.
Forgive me for not posting -- despite the many signs that things are actually looking up for us politically, I'm finding reading about politics and the international situation terribly depressing, especially the talk about a potential use of nuclear weapons against Iran.
I'd like to think that not even Bush and Cheney are so far gone that they're actually considering the first strike use of nuclear weapons, that all the talk is just playing into Bush's cowboy image and using the invasion of Iraq to create enough doubt in the minds of the Iranians about whether he would actually do it or not (the same strategy Nixon and Kissinger used during Vietnam -- "he's crazy, I don't know if I can control him"), so that the Iranians will be more likely to enter into talks about their nuclear capability. I'd like to think that the fact that our military is so badly, and publicly, overextended by operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and continuing to guard against North Korea, that the only viable threat which is available to Bush is the nuclear one.
That's what I'd like to think, but given the track record of this administration, the things they've done, the accepted protocols and agreements they've ignored or broken, the clear and obvious facts they've managed to convince themselves don't exist, their evangelistic belief in American righteousness and rectitude and exceptionalism, I just can't afford to take the chance that that is what's going on, that it's all a negotiating ploy -- and so I'm depressed and fearful of what might happen.
I know this: the blowback from dropping the bomb would be immediate and all encompassing -- both internationally and on the domestic front. Were it to happen, I believe millions of people would take to the streets, and I would advise all Democrats and any Republicans of conscience to withdraw totally from having anything to do with the government -- just shut it down, flat. Foreign countries should withdraw their ambassadors from the U.S. If he drops a bomb in a preemptive measure, without provocation, and not in a shooting war, Bush and Cheney and their entire government (which is not my government, does not represent me even now, and would be even less so in that event) should be treated as international pariahs.
Update (4/10): Seymour Hersh's article in The New Yorker is here:
The Bush Administration, while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack. Current and former American military and intelligence officials said that Air Force planning groups are drawing up lists of targets, and teams of American combat troops have been ordered into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting data and to establish contact with anti-government ethnic-minority groups.
There is a growing conviction among members of the United States military, and in the international community, that President Bush’s ultimate goal in the nuclear confrontation with Iran is regime change. Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has challenged the reality of the Holocaust and said that Israel must be “wiped off the map.” Bush and others in the White House view him as a potential Adolf Hitler, a former senior intelligence official said. “That’s the name they’re using. They say, ‘Will Iran get a strategic weapon and threaten another world war?’ ”
One of the military’s initial option plans, as presented to the White House by the Pentagon this winter, calls for the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, against underground nuclear sites. One target is Iran’s main centrifuge plant, at Natanz, nearly two hundred miles south of Tehran.
The attention given to the nuclear option has created serious misgivings inside the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he added, and some officers have talked about resigning. Late this winter, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sought to remove the nuclear option from the evolving war plans for Iran—without success, the former intelligence official said. “The White House said, ‘Why are you challenging this? The option came from you.’ ”
The Pentagon adviser on the war on terror confirmed that some in the Administration were looking seriously at this option, which he linked to a resurgence of interest in tactical nuclear weapons among Pentagon civilians and in policy circles. He called it “a juggernaut that has to be stopped.” He also confirmed that some senior officers and officials were considering resigning over the issue. “There are very strong sentiments within the military against brandishing nuclear weapons against other countries,” the adviser told me. “This goes to high levels.” The matter may soon reach a decisive point, he said, because the Joint Chiefs had agreed to give President Bush a formal recommendation stating that they are strongly opposed to considering the nuclear option for Iran. “The internal debate on this has hardened in recent weeks,” the adviser said. “And, if senior Pentagon officers express their opposition to the use of offensive nuclear weapons, then it will never happen.”
It's comforting that the honor and integrity of some of our high miilitary officials remains intact, but doesn't it turn the world on its head when the military holds civilian officials in check, and not the other way around?
[Reader] AB suggests that what's going on here is not actually preparations for war, but saber-rattling to keep the Iranians off balance and give them an added incentive to reach a diplomatic compromise.
With any other administration, I'd agree with that. Hinting at a potential military option would actually make sense as a backdrop to serious diplomatic discussions. It would make sense for an administration that wanted a diplomatic solution.
But this isn't any administration. This is an administration that demonstrated in a fairly analogous situation a preference for war over diplomatic solutions. So the 'threats as a way to spur diplomatic flexibility' argument makes perfect sense in the abstract. But there's no reason to assume it applies to this situation.
For myself, I still find it really, really hard to believe that the adminstration is seriously considering military action against Iran. At one level, I don't believe it. But I've thought the same thing with these guys too many times and been wrong. It's a situation where I set logical analysis aside and rely on experience and the administration's track record.
It is also not too early to point out that the evidence is there for the confluence of two destructive and disastrous forces -- hawks in the administration's Cheney faction whose instinctive bellicosity is only matched by their actual incompetence (a fatal mixture if there ever was one), and the president's chief political aides who see the build up to an Iran confrontation as the most promising way to contest the mid-term elections. Both those groups are strongly motivated for war. And who is naive enough to imagine a contrary force within the administration strong enough to put on the brakes?
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.