Stentorian Senators vs. The Silent Solicitor.

Stentorian Senators vs. The Silent Solicitor.

Stentorian Senators vs. The Silent Solicitor.

What's happening in our readers' forum.
Feb. 14 2003 1:07 PM

Noises Off

Fray newbies on judicial silence.

Gump? He's up for the 9th Circuit: The article may be about the filibuster, but the Gist Fray is becoming the Movies Fray. First, Joe_JP notes that it's Time To Rent "Mr Smith Goes To Washington", then GarySimpson looks forward to the filibuster with this:

To quote Vin Diesel from XXX ... I live for this shit! There hasn't been a good old knock down drag out back to the wall political brawl since the 60's. What a way to start the new session of Congress.

Here Thrasymachus has the same relish for "a serious, old school, stand-up-and-talk kind of filibuster" but from the other side of the aisle. His movie reference is old school, too.

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But enough frivolity. Zathras chimes in  to note that

The complaint that the filibuster is an anti-democratic procedure only makes sense if one does not understand that the Senate was established as an anti-democratic institution. In other words, the house of the national legislature was intended from the beginning to provide a check on the will of the majority.

And while Latinman and Kija may have the best thread going on the recent history of senatorial obstruction here, BeverlyMann has the Valentine's Day metaphor working here:

The Democrats have allowed more than 100 of Bush's judicial nominees to be confirmed for appointment to the bench, a number of them to the appellate bench. It is rote nonsense to state that this filibuster is anything but a mechanism by which to try to remove the federal appellate bench from its current role as a box of Godiva chocolates for the president's ideological base and to restore that bench to its traditional judicial role ... 12:45 p.m.

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Stare, stare night: The Readme Fray discussion of Michael Kinsley's attack on the silence of the judicial lambs in the senatorial abattoir has been swamped with msn.com traffic. Some of these posts from apparent Fray newcomers deserve more response than they have received:

  1. Telephoneman describes some of the negative consequences for the judiciary if judges were compelled to tell all here;
  2. Alsingle argues that the judicial code of conduct limits what a nominee can say here;
  3. junky—yard-dog deftly distinguishes Republican end-of-term obstructionism from Democratic obstructionism here;
  4. your_Fray_nickname sketches out a scenario here in which senators get a nominee to speak about certain cases under oath in order to force her to toe a particular political line; to yFn, this looks like an end-run around the separation of powers.

(Let's give them a big old Fray welcome and look for future posts …)

Assuming you want to get the nominees to talk, how do you go about it? TC3 suggests the following:

They should instead zero in on the nominees' views on stare decisis--the principle that courts should follow prior precedents in all but certain limited circumstances. The nominees should all be relentlessly grilled over their position on stare decisis. For example, what would convince them that a prior precedent of the Supreme Court should be disregarded? Not so coincidentally, Roe v. Wade is one such precedent.

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Dameffy points out that no less a figure than Antonin Scalia has made much the same argument as Kinsley here, and here we are told that

[L]ast term, in Republican Party v. White (2002) 526 U.S. 765, the U.S. Supreme Court faced the question of whether ethical rules prohibiting candidates for elective judicial offices from announcing their views on disputed legal and political issues violated the First Amendment …

[E]xcept for Souter, those judges who most refused to express their positions when being appointed to lifetime positions now think it's perfectly fine for elected judges to campaign on disputed legal issues ... 10:10 a.m.

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Thursday, Feb. 13, 2002

A totally organic esperience: Rob Walker decries the standardization of American jock rock, and while most Fraysters agree, many offer little exceptions from their local franchises. BML, for example, notes  that

The Pittsburgh Pirates started their games last year with "O Fortuna" from "Carmina Burana." From a musical standpoint, the song works: it's fast and bombastic, a more refined version of mindless rock and rap songs that escort most athletes to their position.

The lyrics, though, are a moody meditation on man's inability to change his station. So while images of macho men lifting their team and their town filled the PNC Park screen, victory the sight before every eye, the chorus wailed:

Fate is against me

in health

and virtue,

driven on

and weighted down,

always enslaved …

It's actually an appropriate song for the Bucs of recent memory. But that wasn't management's intent.

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You can find more lyrics in his original post. The kind of irony that BML digs out here used to be standard issue at American stadiums, back in the day of the organist. Dilan_Esper waxes rhapsodic here.

Not only is organ music soothing and inoffensive—indeed more inoffensive than stadium rock, which is loud and intrusive and makes it difficult to converse during time outs—but organ music was actually much more individualized …Organists also could contextualize their selections-- Gladys Gooding, at old Ebbetts Field, famously serenaded the three umpires with "Three Blind Mice" as they came onto the field the day after a particularly poorly officiated game. I remember that the day Sammy Davis, Jr. died, Hefley played nothing but songs associated with Davis all game long … 10:30 p.m.

Crepes of wrath: Chatterbox takes the occasion of a mistranslation of French President Jacques Chirac's remarks to work through the difference between proof that's disputable and proof that isn't. DeeDeeDee, a professional translator, offers an explanation for the mistranslation of President Chirac:

[W]hat's going on with newspaper-induced errors (which then get repeated ad nauseum, and even make it into the history books, unless someone wakes up and checks the reference) is often what we translators call "the elevator-boy syndrome" … [W]hen there's the need to translate something, rather than seek out a professional translator, there's a tendency to say, "oh, the elevator boy [or the secretary, or my girlfriend, or whatever] speaks that language, let him do it!" As you can imagine, this irritates us pros to no end. We not only lose business, but the reputation of our entire profession suffers …

[M]y children (ages 6-10) are all trilingual, and although they get a kick out of translating their comic books when reading aloud to monolingual friends, I would not

trust them with speech by M. Chirac.

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But how bad was the original translation? anastasie and others (notably zinya) dispute the mistranslation beginning here  ... 2:10 p.m.

Jedediah's children all: Most in the Assessment Fray are Simpsons declinists  like Chris Suellentrop. But several add another reason to his list: loss of a sense of community. Julie_Wis one example here:

For almost 10 years, the show was about Springfield... about Apu, Ned, Lionel Hutz, Reverend Lovejoy, Principal Skinner, Mayor Quimby, Jimbo, Dolph and Kerny, Moe, Ralph Wiggum, Waylon Smithers, Mr. Burns, the Simpson family, and the rest.

Recently -- whether it's due to laziness or lack of focus or just being unaware [I don't know] -- the show has become entirely about Homer. What stupid thing can Homer do this week? And, can he do it in front of a guest star? 8:25 a.m.

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Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2002

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Is it a good sign when just one day after Chatterbox announces that Colin Powell presentation to the U.N. forces him to join the war camp Will Saletan calls the Secretary out as hypocrite? Let's let the Fray sort it all out. …

Who hates ya, baby? Many in the Fray don't see Powell as a hypocrite. For them, he consistently points to Bin Laden's false populism. J_Mann goes over the quotes hereand concludes:

Both times, Powell said that Bin Laden pretends to have sympathy with the people of Iraq. However, I think it's fair to read into both that whatever relationship Bin Laden may have with Saddam, he doesn't show a lot of sympathy with the Iraqi people.

Engram does much the same here.

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But how to balance Bin Laden's remark  that "And it doesn't harm in these conditions the interest of Muslims to agree with those of the socialists in fighting against the crusaders, even though we believe the socialists are infidels."  Shelia and MarcEJohnson discuss it, beginning here, and her translation is more idiomatic.

Cross the Rubicon, make a left at the Tigris, third right at Palace #35: Second, Chatterbox's conversion. For Noah, the quality of Powell's evidence (or sincerity) is only ancillary. The point is that by making such compelling evidence public, Powell has put the U.S. (and U.N.) credibility on the line in a new way. CaptainRonVoyage is no fan of the credibility argument here:

Thanks, Tim, but do we have to support the war if we thought Bush's Rubicon approach to the U.N. was stupid to begin with?

[S]ome opponents of the war … argued that at some point … the guy acting like a madman will have to stop seeming like a madman and start acting like one. These people also argued that it was fine and to act like a madman when all that was staring back at you was Granada or the Panamanian army but things were far different when the opponent in question has nerve gas. These concerns were never seriously addressed. It now appears that Noah, having seen the fruits of Bush's stupidity, thinks we should let W off the hook for it. Too bad.

Or, as Sarvis puts it in terms of the Law of the Playground here:

Oh, it was a Double Dog Dare! Why didn't you say so sooner?

Well duh, our credibility is obviously at stake here. If we don't stick our tongue to that flagpole now, NO ONE will take us seriously anymore. …

Next thing you know, we'll be sitting alone in the lunch room while our former best friends fund terrorists an' stuff.

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(But isn't American credibility going down the toilet with the trouble in NATO? Fred Kaplan may think so; TonyAdragna niftily disagrees.)

Making the most of treason: Noah follows up his switch by taking the New York Sun to task for turning dissent into treason. J_Mann plays fascist's advocate here. Sure, the first graf was "over the top":

The rest of the op-ed, though, is more or less a restatement of Orwell's early statements about pacifism. If the Sun's ed board is right that Saddam represents a serious danger to the US, and if the protestors actually had a chance in heck of dissuading the Bush administration, then the ed board is right to point out that the protestors are putting US lives and the very government that guarantees their civil rights at risk.

The only crazy part is how seriously the Sun takes the protestors.

Doodahman won't let the conversion go, and introduces Noah to his fellow hawks here:

The question remains, though, as to what kind of people you find over on the war side … [T]he rank and file seem to be just a lot of "good Germans"-- like the one that wrote that Sun editorial, and the millions who read it without wanting to puke.

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(The Sun circulation figure aside, the post is better whole than in this little snippet.)

Dept. of Cold Comfort: I may be wrong, but as the Saddameter pegs out the quality of the anti-war rhetoric—the gallows humor especially—seems to be rising. The point of this may be that there is a cleanly inverse relationship between the exercise of power and the exercise of the tongue, or it may be that the era of " right-wing envy" has passed.1:05 a.m.

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Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2002

Mercenary position: The contest is on in the Television Fray: What does Fox have planned for its final Joe Millionaire twist? Some early entries are already appended to the article. A frontrunner from tdore here:

You heard it here first: Evan is going to be offered a million dollars to walk away from his choice. It's a grand turning of the tables: all along he's been wondering if the women are into the "real" Evan or the money--now he will have to make the choice. My source is reliable but obviously wishes to remain anonymous.

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Contest: The first person with the right answer will be entitled to compose an "I told you so" post, to be appended to the bottom of the article for all eternity. Oh, and she or he gets to floss the teeth of Evan's bulldozer. ...

Roses are red. Florists are dead: AuntieDeeDee is none too thrilled at the prospect of Web-induced floral disintermediation. She sells flowers with a personal touch, and she posts here:

When we, the florists who do your wedding and your family funerals and deliver to the hospital when your sister in Peoria has a baby, all go out of business, I hope that those people in that warehouse in New Jersey that you're calling are prepared to do the casket sprays and the heartshaped easels and the special basket with the Mr. Goodbars in it (because it's a family tradition) or the pink and yellow pillow corsage for Sis. (Hint, they wouldn't know how to do a regular corsage, much less a pillow corsage.)

Big Character Posters: Responding to Rob Walker's review of the Yao ad onslaught, AnyaFanya asks:

[A]m I the only one who sees a more subtle message in the Apple ad?

Here we have an Asian man who, despite his enormous height, holds in his lap a tiny little computer, while even the smallest of Caucasian men boasts a much larger laptop.

Even the way the scene is shot underlines it: both men, sitting next to each other, "erect" laptops showing the comparison.

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I wanna Fray you up: After a surreal beginning, the Art Fray is off an running, taking up Jim Lewis's review of William Eggleston: Was the resistance to color photography a matter of cost and control (as baltimore-aureole contends here) or a matter of taste (MCI cites WalkerEvans' famous "Color photography is vulgar" dictum here)? On the serious side, twifferTheGnu, DeaH, Keith_M_Ellis, and BernardYomtov debate the "but is it art" question nicely, beginning here. On the other side, DeaH suggests that someone bring a camera phone to the inaugural cocktail party for the Art Fray. ... 1:30 p.m.

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Monday, Feb. 10, 2002

Always the critic: Zathras  thinks  there's a problem with Gregg Easterbrook's point  that "People like me have spent years proposing alternatives that sustain the manned space program by replacing the shuttle with something better":

brilliant outside analysis of what NASA is doing wrong and heated rhetoric about how purblind and foolish are NASA officials is of very limited value. Government agencies are not like personal friends; they require not advice but direction. Right now, there is only one place NASA can get it.

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In response, Thrasymachus argues (infelicitously) that "inertia is no longer on the side of the shuttle" here:

the most courageous position that a NASA bureaucrat can possibly take is, "There's nothing wrong wth the shuttle as a system. We've had some bad luck, but we need to keep it running."

As if on cue, KurtMendel does a pretty good job of defending the shuttle—its state-of-the-art-that-was computers and its scientific value—from "poorly-informed Congressional conspiracy theory policy wonks and MS execs" here  ... 11:40 a.m.

Bush at war: Robert Wright always brings out the best (or the most) in the Fray. His most recent piece reads like an answer to Christopher Hitchens' most recent Fighting Words. Will the war help Islamic extremists recruit new terrorists? And will that recruiting drive ultimately swamp any temporary loss of adherents? Regardless, PresterJohn doesn't think a decision on the timing of an Iraq invasion should depend on a calculation of the potential future blowback. His point is that there are larger forces at work:

I just don't buy that we should avoid war with Iraq because it may stir up more anti-American hatred in a new generation of Muslim terrorists. In fact, I don't think that much of what the US does has a great deal of impact at all on terrorism … As long as the Arab world is characterized by despotic rule, medieval justice, and institutional misogyny it will be mired in economic and spiritual poverty. That is what will keep the Madrassah's in business.

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The_Slasher-8 judges it this way "Nobody really knows how the war will play out in terms of 'Muslim recruitment,'" but after an invasion the U.S. becomes liable for any negative consequences. In that case, the question becomes one of American preference. What do Americans want, the uncertain outcome of "the Franks Regency" in Iraq or months of Iraqi weaseling:

Bush says he's sick and tired of lies and evasions. Hey, look, what would you rather have -- your preppy President tormented by lies and evasions or your brother and sister soldiers DIE in an unnecessary war that will cost the average American taxpayer between $750 and $1,500? 10:45 a.m.

Ballot Box roundup: One of the more intriguing elements in the upcoming war (intriguing to Fraywatch, and to the Fray) has been speculation on postwar change Saudi Arabia. (Does this seem to be getting too far ahead? Well, planning for the postwar for World War II began in earnest in 1942.) Doubter and Don (and others) are discussing it here.

Elsewhere in Ballot Box, Doubter uses Clinton's appearance on CNN against the anti-war crowd:

I just wish those Clinton supporters among the naysayers about the coming war in Iraq could have listened to both his accounting of his efforts against Saddam, the support he gave to Powells presentation to the UN and the support and understanding he gave to the color coding system …I think Bush is not doing very much that Clinton wouldn't have done.

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Meanwhile, Cicero responds to marylb'squestion about the humanitarian justification for the war here

Yes, war for oil. Yes, war for geo-political control of a region. Hell, even yes, war for marketplace domination. But NO to conducting war for the betterment of an oppressed people. Why? Because there is no end in sight once we start down that path.

And ELMERFUDD asks the staunch U.N. defenders:

Would you place your trust and possibly your future and the country's future in the hands of a body that in June/July will have Iraq and Iran as Chair and Co-Chair respectively of their conference on disarmament - AND - that just elected Libya to Chair their Human Rights Commission??

I think I've heard this from Rumsfeld, just not as pithily ... 9:05 a.m.