Thursday, September 15, 2005

Judges are not politicians


On the Pentagon website we learn that “Terror Occurs During Times of Iraqi Progress, General Says.” Must be a definition of progress with which I’m not familiar. General Rick Lynch (what is it with these guys’ names?) says that the recent epidemic of car-bombs is “predictable around the times that highlight progress towards democracy.” So that’s ok then. If they were so predictable, what is it you did to prevent them? Lynch says that counterinsurgency operations usually take a decade to succeed. That would be 2013. He said the terrorists have “zero effect” against Iraqi, US and coalition forces and so target civilians instead. That’ll be news to the 23+ Iraqi police and Interior Ministry commandos killed today alone. Perhaps they can have “zero effect” engraved on their tombstones.

Now, this is why I read the British newspapers. The Times provides the information that the bathroom Bush went to after handing the famous note to Condi “is famous in UN circles because a high-ranking protocol official once allegedly tried to fondle a messenger boy there.” In a further burst of journalistic exuberance, The Times interviews a urologist who says that when you gotta go, you gotta go. And they have a separate article on the importance of peeing and farting in diplomatic history.

The British government, having learned exactly nothing from the many miscarriages of justice perpetrated during the war against the IRA in the 1980s, or worse, not caring, is planning to use “supergrasses” against Islamic terrorists. For those who don’t remember, supergrasses were IRA members who testified against their former compatriots in exchange for immunity and money on such generous terms that perjury was inevitable.

And it gets better: Tony Blair is, as we know, planning to outlaw the glorification of terrorist acts. So they’re going to draw up a list of terrorist acts which can’t be legally glorified until 20 years later, except for 9/11, which there is an indefinite ban on glorifying, but you can go ahead and glorify the Easter Rising (Dublin, 1916) if you like.

What makes the sight of John Roberts refusing over and over to answer any substantive question is that it reeks of a sense of entitlement. In his mind the default position in this process is that he be confirmed, that is, that unless they can find something seriously wrong with him, they must confirm him, rather than that he must convince them that he is worthy of this job. I think the default position should be rejection, and if he isn’t willing to provide enough information that senators can see how he’d perform in the job, rejection is what it should be. He has tried to portray their attempt to ask him legitimate questions as a corrupt act:
It is not a process under which senators get to say, I want you to rule this way, this way and this way. And if you tell me you’ll rule this way, this way and this way, I’ll vote for you. That’s not a bargaining process. Judges are not politicians. They cannot promise to do certain things in exchange for votes.
Judges aren’t politicians? Funny, because demeaning the motives of your senatorial inquisitors like that, Swift-Boating them, looks a lot like politics to me.

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