Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Yappie Dogs

I hate tiny dogs that bark furiously and nip at your ankles. It's not just the noise that drives me insane. I've always had an issue with people (and dogs) who don't know when they're spoiling for a fight that they can't win.

Enter Ken Starr

According to this article from the Washington Times, Starr is talking tough about filibustering Obama Supreme Court nominees. That makes about as much sense as a salacious, government-funded book about semen-stained dresses and cigars.

Starr is a goon. He's not a Senator. He's in a party that has just suffered crushing defeats in both elected branches of government, and he's trying to pick a fight with a wildly popular president over something that hasn't even come up yet. Add to this the fact that the Democrats will have a near-supermajority (with an outside chance for a supermajority) in the Senate at the time such a vote might come up. This is kabuki theater of the absurd. It's loud and bizarre.

Starr's sole reason for pushing a filibuster: Obama voted against Bush's nominees and is the first president to have participated in a filibuster of a judicial nominee.

This illustrates the basic problem with the Republican party: no cognizable governing principle. This is problematic for Democrats as well, but it doesn't manifest in the same way. For Republicans the lack of a cognizable governing principle manifests as a tendency to treat politics like gang violence. Instead of remaining satisfied that Bush put two of the most conservative Justices in recent history onto the Court, Republicans like Starr are treating Obama's "no" vote like a personal vendetta.

The Republicans will be restricted to this sort of spectacle until they decide what their over-arching governing principle is going to be. For Democrats, at least the majority of Democrats, that principle is the expansion of personal freedoms. (That's "freedom" characterizied in the affirmative, as in "freedom to act" rather than "freedom from restrictions on action," a la Amartya Sen.) Once upon a time the Republicans were precisely the converse, as in "freedom from restricitons on action," a la Hayek, Goldwater, and von Mises. Now, however, the Republicans are pushing a tremendous number of incongruent polices. Fiscal deregulation does not fit well with extreme regulation of non-economic private action. Oh well, confusion in the enemy camp won Agincourt as much as the longbow.

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