Saturday, May 15, 2010

Why a Safe Pick is Not a Good Pick


This is definitely arriving late on the scene, but I think it’s time (after quite an extended break) that we discuss Elena Kagan on Lefty’s. The current solicitor general of the United States is President Obama’s nominee for the soon-to-be-vacant Supreme Court position held by Justice John Paul Stevens, and I’ve heard objections from all over the place. At least I'm not the only one feeling a bit nervous about her.

This former Dean of the Law School at Harvard has strong legal knowledge and a decent amount of political experience in Washington. Kagan studied and received degrees from Princeton, Oxford and Harvard. She went on to teach at both the University of Chicago Law School and Harvard Law School, eventually assuming the position of dean. She worked under Bill Clinton as Associate White House Counsel and Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy. I don’t doubt she’s a smart lady, but I take issue with a few other things.

I’m not going to argue the inexperience card; I balk at anyone who suggests that inexperience should disqualify anyone from any position. I take issue with her positions, or lack there of. Kagan’s positions on many of the most important contemporary judicial proceedings are unknown. She has stayed notably silent on issues regarding the expansion of executive power and national security. What is even more unsettling than not knowing how she may rule concerning many issues is what one can infer from looking at the few articles and memos she has written over the years.

As a liberal, I cling dearly to certain ideals, particularly freedom of speech. I’m often not a fan of most speech (Tea Parties, anyone?), but like Voltaire, I will defend the right to say it. In 1996, Kagan wrote an article while at the University of Chicago arguing that the government has the right to restrict our right to free speech, even in light of the First Amendment, if the government believes the speech to be detrimental and the government acts with good intentions. She has even been found to have been in support of a law that would have made the depiction of animal cruelty illegal, which was later found to be unconstitutional.

Another issue that I think most liberals are pretty adamant about: human rights. Kagan has championed the defense of Bush-era war on terror tactics such as detention without trial of Guantanamo prisoners and Bush’s “state secrets” claim in order to avoid lawsuits regarding warrantless wiretapping programs. Kagan was also criticized at her solicitor general confirmation hearing for arguing that battlefield law, such as indefinite detention without trial, could be expanded to be applied outside the traditional battlefield.

I don’t have much else to argue off of because the woman has almost no history of academic articles and has only argued six cases before the Court in her time as solicitor general. Now, I know there are worse options, I know. But when commentators on Fox News are lauding her selection because they believe it will move the court back towards the right, I think we have a problem. Picking her to avoid another tough fight after health care is short sighted and ill advised. I fear this lack of knowledge will come back and bite us all in the ass when we realize that maybe she’s just a bit more conservative than we expected. I know she’s not the end of the world, but she just seems like a mediocre pick, which is sad when we could have had so much better. Here’s hoping for the best.

AZ, What Are You Doing!?

I have to be honest, it's going to be really hard for me to not cringe when I hear the word "Arizona" for the next few years. Why, you may ask? Well, the state's at it again.

On May 11, Governor Jan Brewer signed another controversial bill that bans ethnic studies in public schools. HR 2281 officially bans courses that are geared towards a particular ethnic group. The reasoning behind this bill is simply that officials believe that these classes incite resentment of the United States government and have led to recent ethnically-charged social movements. Tom Horne, the state schools chief, claimed that these courses promoted "ethnic chauvinism" and sparked resentment towards white people. Yes, you've read correctly. A bill was recently passed in Arizona because officials felt that classes in their public education system were inciting racism against white people.

Before I go any further, I would just like to get one comment out of the way. White people are not being discriminated against to the point where we need to pass legislation to right these wrongs. Even more so, white people in Arizona are not being discriminated against. With that being said, I'd like to turn my attention to somewhat intelligent claims about this bill.

First of all, as a good friend of mine simply put it, banning anything relating to education is simply a step backward in society. As citizens of this country, we have a right to acquire knowledge. One of the courses under fire is named "United States History from a Mexican-American Perspective." How can anyone justify someone being denied the right to learn from that interesting and very valid perspective?

Secondly, a huge proponent of supporting claims of the bill is that the courses in question almost always are populated by students of the particular ethnicity that they're studying. This separates the students from other ethnic groups and incites resentment towards "white people". I'm sorry but I think it's pretty reasonable that Mexican-Americans would like to learn about the United States from a Mexican-American perspective. Dually noted, students of other ethnic descent are allowed to take these courses. Just because the demographic of classes is reasonably and predominantly of the particular ethnic group does not mean that the government should consider it to be cause for elimination.

Thirdly, since when is it right in this country to ban classes on the basis that they incite political activism and/or social movement? By that logic, should we place a ban on courses regarding the U.S. Constitution? After all, I've heard of a few rallies that had to do with basic rights. What about the reproductive rights class that will be taught in the fall at IU-Bloomington? What about any class that teaches you anything about social history or political theory? It's faulty logic to think that these are valid arguments and it's a disgrace to our nation's history to ban anything on the basis of its involvement in inciting activism.

Frankly, I've always been concerned over the way that Mexican-Americans are treated in the United States. As the years have gone by, tensions have increasingly risen. But that it's come to this? I'm disgusted with all that I hear on the news these days in regards to this mess. Mexican-Americans are being treated appallingly. There's no other way to say it. Our country is a melting pot. The United States would not be what it is today without all of the different cultures that exist here. We should be celebrating these differing cultures, not trying to wipe them out. What are we doing to our country's principles? What are we trying to become? What is Arizona trying to turn this country into?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Just Dance...

Look at our men on the front lines of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Seriously, look at them, do these guys in Afghanistan really look like they would be fine serving alongside homosexuals?




I mean really? When I look at all of these patriots in Iraq, I just cannot imagine how they could deal with the tumult that would be caused by letting gays serve openly.




Please, send these videos to all of your commie pinko liberal congressmen and senators to alert them of the plague that homosexuality would obviously bring upon our overstressed military. And don't forget to hit up those conservative patriots in Congress standing up for our men in uniform and preventing this scourge upon them.

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Lol, seriously how ridiculous is Don't Ask, Don't Tell when dozens of members of the military in a war zone care so little about the idea of serving with openly gay soldiers that they create these two videos, especially the second.