Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Mortal Lock

Two amazing local items start this week's offerings. First, our neighbors claim to have chased a bear from their garage. I didn't see it, but we do live in an area that's woodsy despite being within walking distance of plenty of "city" sites. They claim this ursine was upwards of 300 pounds and has a taste for their garbage. When chased out, they say, the bear strolled casually down into a nearby gully, unafraid of humanity. We're keeping the garage door shut.

A few weeks ago I described a local college softball team in glowing terms. This last weekend they hosted a six-team NCAA double elimination tournament in one of eight regional events around the country. Things didn't look good when the locals (top seed) lost to the bottom seed in the first game, which consigned them to the exhausting losers' bracket. From there, a small miracle occurred as the Lady Jacks rolled off six straight wins in four days to come out winners. They're still dancing in the streets of Arcata.

Have you ever heard the word "unitary"? Have you ever heard of the Federalist Society? Both these connect to what may be the most long-lasting legacy of the feckless Bush Administration. A "unitary" (and this is not a term which goes way back) executive is what the president is, according to a certain way of looking at the Constitution. His powers, especially in war (which need not be declared) are not only nearly unlimited, they are unchallengeable. Secrets can be kept in perpetuity, laws broken, treaties flaunted, rights violated. Even the Constitution itself can be ignored, and neither Congress nor the federal court system has any recourse. This theory says, in effect, that when the chips are down, this is a government of men and not laws. Does it seem like the kind of theory the Bush/Cheney folks could buy into? Oh, yeah.
The Federalist Society, named for the nation's first semi-organized political party, is made up of judges from around the country who subscribe to the unitary executive philosophy. I don't know how many card-carrying members there are. Not being a member, I have a natural dislike of such a group. I think it was Groucho Marx who said "I wouldn't join any club that would have me as a member." I'd be surprised if there wasn't plenty of networking and other schmoozing in the society, though I'd guess they'd be less likely to celebrate their snooty status with strippers in cakes or other cheesey delights.
Alright, I hear you again - "Pleeeeze sir, what does this have to do with MEEEEE?" Here's the news. It's too late to lock the door on these folks. They already make up a gang of four in the Supreme Court (Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito) needing just one ally to make their philosophy the law of the land until overruled at some far future point. Sad to say, in the meantime you can expect a long string of decisions that favor executive power in government, corporate power in business and consigning individuals to the "spare parts" bin of society. These guys know who nominated them, and are not above returning a favor or two to the GOP. They don't have to recuse themselves when there's a conflict of interest, their job description makes them immune to changes in public opinion, and they can serve until the day they shuffle off this mortal coil. They answer only to history, and they are ready to show us just what an "activist judge" is when certain cases come before them. Get used to it. They'll be on the regressive side of every question until the Bushes are presidents your grandkids never heard of. In betting parlance, these guys are a "mortal lock" to dominate legal jurisprudence for decades. Good luck to the Republic.


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