“If you want to know why teachers are being laid off in California (even if teaching has remained one of the most secure jobs nationwide) you might want to check out this new $578 million high school in LA Unified School District. As we’ve written before on JPGB, buildings don’t teach kids, people do. Given the way school districts squander their resources, maybe they’ll soon need another $26 billion in Edujobs from Congress (read: taxpayers).” — Jay P. Greene, Professor of education reform at the University of Arkansas
Monthly Archive for August, 2010
“Meanwhile, hiding behind rhetoric about the sanctity of religious expression when the Left has been trying for years to scrub the public square of religious expression is ludicrously hypocritical. Hiding behind the sanctity of private property rights when the Left normally offers, at best, one grudging cheer for private property is even worse. When local communities fend off Wal-Marts, the Left cheers. When campus goons throw pies or shout down speakers, liberals yawn. But when nearly 70 percent of Americans oppose building a mosque at Ground Zero, it’s nothing more than nativism and bigotry run amok? How does that work? The Left is constantly lecturing America about sensitivity to this, that, and the other thing. Well, how about sensitivity to many Americans who think this idea is offensive? Why must opponents be cast as either bigots or ignoramuses?” —Jonah Goldberg
“Despite criticisms from Republican politicians about the White House’s overly lenient immigration policies, this administration is actually deporting more immigrants than the Bush administration.” — Catherine Rampell, writing in the New York Times economix section
Reihan Salam’s effort to explain how you can know congressional Republicans believe something they don’t mention publicly or support legislatively gets at the heart of one of D.C.’s most pernicious illusions: The idea that we should worry about what congresspeople believe in their heart of hearts, as opposed to what they’re willing to vote for at this time….
…if you created a model based on “what position would a person take if they wanted to help their party win the next election,” you’d find your model almost perfectly accurate. And when you take that model in which policy barely matters and partisan incentives govern behavior and add the filibuster into it, you understand why the Senate is so dangerously broken.
The Republican Party does not currently exist as an institution interested in working with Democrats to shape policy, just as the Democratic Party in 2005 did not exist as an institution interested in working with Republicans to shape policy. Pundits and commentators like to ignore this fact as we like to write pieces about how if Congress followed our policy preferences somewhat more closely, it would surely be more successful. That’s what Salam was doing in his original post, in which he said there was a conservative consensus that included a large number of lawmakers behind a conditional version of state and local aid. But there isn’t. There’s a Republican consensus in favor of winning the next election and a Republican consensus that winning the next election means obstructing Democratic accomplishments and that, and not policy disagreement, is the central operating reality in the United States Congress.
Any model you have about politicians must include the fact that the primary concern of all politicians, regardless of party, is power – keeping the power they have and working towards increasing it.
The judge — who is gay and should have recused himself — justified his ruling in part by noting that no “demonstrated harm as a result” of same-sex marriage could be shown, which could have made blocking it justified. This is undoubtedly true but also astonishingly irrelevant. The law could conceivably require that everyone wear a wizard’s hat every Saturday at 6 PM; the point is not that it is “good” or can be demonstrated to be “harmful,” but whether it violates any existing protections.
The more serious argument, then, is that Proposition 8 violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment — which has been abused to justify everything from affirmative action to tax increases. The judge wrote that “gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage” and that it is not a component of it that can be taken into account when defining it under the law. I happen to agree with him, but that’s something to tell to a legislature or the citizenry, not to a judge, who is there only to decide whether everything is being enacted according to an enumerated process. Californians are entitled to decide for themselves what’s essential to marriage.
And that’s what’s at the bottom of this: justice, properly understood, is a process, not a result. The law is not there to bend and bash until you get what you want from it. In a free and ordered society, we simply have to resign ourselves to the fact that the legislature is sometimes wrong and that the culture is sometimes a bit off. If your interpretation of the Constitution just so happens to align with all of your political views, you’re probably interpreting it wrongly. I want to see same-sex marriage enacted in the United States. But I want it to be done lawfully and orderly, not by judges who think it’s their job to save the world rather than to follow the law.