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The Problem With Bipartisanship

Frank Rich had a fantastic column in the NY Times over the weekend about President Obama’s inaction on gay rights (hat tip to Emily Posts). It reminded me of Bill Maher’s recent exhortation to Obama to be more like Bush in terms of plowing ahead with his agenda and not caring what anyone thinks of him. I agree with Maher up to a point: one of my (many, many) problems with Bush was that he often seemed contemptuous of liberals, and I think it’s an important for a president to recognize that he represents 300 million people and at least be respectful of the opposition. That said, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that Bush’s real problem wasn’t that he was too partisan, but that he was wrong about damn near everything. And that’s the problem with fetishizing bipartisanship: it tends to blur distinctions between right and wrong. When you put too much importance of valuing both sides of any debate, those who would oppose tax cuts for the wealthy are seen as analogous to those who oppose extending rights to homosexuals.


The Great State of Minnesota

Delivering great statesmen like Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy, Paul Wellstone, and these guys:

And, yes, smartasses, I am aware that my governor is the star of Last Action Hero.


A Bridge to the 19th Century

With Mark Sanford crying in Argentina and Sarah Palin further revealing herself to be rather mad, the Republican party needs a new savior to lead them against the horror of Obama. After the thrashing Republicans received in November, led by record turnout by, and wide Democratic margins among, women and minorities, there was a lot of talk about the Republican Party being in danger of becoming a permanent minority party unless it broadened its appeal beyond white Southern dudes.

All that is a rather convoluted way of saying: I’m not too scared of this guy.

Doesn’t exactly look like the face that’s going to enlarge the tent of the GOP. Nothing says kinder and gentler like a tobacco lobbyist from Mississippi.


New Haven’s Firefighter Test (Imagined)

Was I the only one disappointed to discover the Ricci opinion doesn’t include any of the actual promotion test questions that managed to weed out almost all minority candidates from possible promotion to fire lieutenant and captain positions in New Haven?

It came out in oral argument that one question asked firefighters whether fire equipment should be parked “uptown, downtown or underground when arriving at a fire” even though New Haven doesn’t have an uptown or downtown. (Apparently some of the questions were based on questions relevant to New York City firefighters.) Not that that matters, since everyone knows you park your equipment underground when arriving at a fire.

In lieu of evidence to the contrary, I like to imagine the New Haven test was a hybrid of Stuff White People Like and a discriminatory SAT question, and looked something like this:

1. You arrive at a yacht that is engulfed in flames in the marina. The yacht owner tells you his wife is trapped aft. The yacht owner means his wife is trapped:

A) In the front of the yacht.
B) In the back of the yacht.
C) On the left side of the yacht.
D) On the right side of the yacht.
E) Under the yacht.

2. A panicked homeowner asks you to save “the greatest Bruce Springsteen album in existence” from the upstairs bedroom of his burning home. When you get upstairs you see five Springsteen albums. Which do you grab?

A) Darkness on the Edge of Town
B) The Rising
C) Born to Run
D) The River
E) Nebraska


In Less Glamorous Supreme Court News

While the headline today is Ricci, where the Court made great strides in quelling the tide of discrimination against white men (it’s a hard knock life for white guys in Connecticut!), I thought I would take a moment to call your attention to a case that barely made the news. On Friday the Court decided Melendez-Diaz, which will have a major impact on trial practice. Take it from the esteemed Paul Bergman of the UCLA School of Law:

The Scalia-led majority held that the 6th Amend. Confrontation Clause was violated by the prosecution’s offering into evidence a lab technician’s “certificate” attesting to the fact that a substance was cocaine in lieu of calling the tech as a witness.

DA offices are calling the decision a train wreck. Since government testing labs are way behind on their testing already, the delays will inevitably get a lot worse if the lab techs who do the tests have to spend a lot of time in courthouses waiting to testify. Especially in less-populated states where one or two labs may do testing for the entire state, and especially when substances are sent to FBI labs in Wash. DC for analysis, the financial ramifications may put prosecutions as far out of reach for the government as Bentley cars are for law professors.


All Roads Lead to Butler

Despite “The Way You Make Me Feel” and “I Want You Back” being among my favorite songs of all time, I’m starting to think I may be the least interested person in the country in the death of Michael Jackson. But I do feel compelled to mention it to the extent it can be tied to two things I am very interested in: my hometown and the Supreme Court.