Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Theater of the Absurd

When I was a kid, liberals were tarred as the wild-eyed, unrealistic types, and conservatives were held up as the grown-ups. There was even a time when I postulated that liberals react with their hearts, while conservatives do so with their heads.

If you had a sliver of doubt that that is no longer the case (if ever it was), this should sway you.

You have probably seen how the exemplar of proper post-9/11 action held up for adulation at the Republican debates was Agent Jack Bauer of Fox's TV show 24. Well, kids, it ain't just the approval-sucking politicians. May I present Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia:

"Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles. ... He saved hundreds of thousands of lives," Judge Scalia said. Then, recalling Season 2, where the agent's rough interrogation tactics saved California from a terrorist nuke, the Supreme Court judge etched a line in the sand.
"Are you going to convict Jack Bauer?" Judge Scalia challenged his fellow judges. "Say that criminal law is against him? 'You have the right to a jury trial?' Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don't think so.

"So the question is really whether we believe in these absolutes. And ought we believe in these absolutes."
"I don't care about holding people. I really don't," Judge Scalia said.

Even if a real terrorist who suffered mistreatment is released because of complaints of abuse, Judge Scalia said, the interruption to the terrorist's plot would have ensured "in Los Angeles everyone is safe." During a break from the panel, Judge Scalia specifically mentioned the segment in Season 2 when Jack Bauer finally figures out how to break the die-hard terrorist intent on nuking L.A. The real genius, the judge said, is that this is primarily done with mental leverage. "There's a great scene where he told a guy that he was going to have his family killed," Judge Scalia said. "They had it on closed circuit television - and it was all staged. ... They really didn't kill the family."

Got that? A United States Supreme Court Justice -- and not just any Justice, but the one so often held out as their intellectual leader and principled upholder of a strict construction of a sacred Constitution -- saying "I don't care about holding people. I really don't." A man with life tenure who (unlike George Bush) is officially tasked with telling us what the law of our nation is, is telling us that the precedent he relies upon is a fictional character in a wildly unrealistic television show. A man whose job is to uphold the Bill of Rights happily tells us that "I don't care about holding people. I really don't."

I love absurdist humor. But there is nothing funny here. These conservatives are happily revealing that the evils and errors they inflict upon us are the product of a shockingly pre-juvenile mindset. A judge who favors TV scripts over the Constitution is no different from a child who believes in the tooth fairy.

Put this outrage together with the ridiculous Richard Cohen column Greenwald eviscerated yesterday, and you have perhaps the archetypes of our time.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marshmallows! Marshmallows!
Get yer marshamallows here!
Sticks 5 cents extra.

What, you don't smell something burning? Well, it is true that things are actually only starting to warm up.

But, don't worry about running out of fuel. Exxon says they can use old humans (er, bodies) to fire the furnaces and produce "organic" oil.

Pardon my cynicism but we are about to get to the part that separates humans genetically, on the basis of true intelligence. The ones still sitting there wondering if they really need to do something just volunteered for the furnaces.

It's too late to do much but you still have time to "get yer marshamllows here!"


12:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right to focus on Scalia's "I don't care about holding people. I really don't." As bad as the rest of it is, "holding people" is kind of central to a Supreme Court justice's portfolio, unless TV has scrambled his brain.

"Holding people" is a civilized nation's extreme measure. A civilized nation doesn't detain or imprison people casually. Even fascist states like to dress up the process with a law or two.

Scalia is willing to contemplate torture and refuses to waste any contemplation on holding people. He might imagine that he's thinking outside the box, like his hero "Jack Bauer" would do, but he's appointed to think inside the box: the Constitution.

It's another instance where the "conservatives" who have seized control of the country can't hide their contempt for their victims. They also can't hide their contempt for their responsibilities and for the positions of trust that they occupy. If Scalia doesn't care about holding people, why doesn't he leave the Court so that his seat can be occupied by someone who does? If caring about holding people is not central to a Supreme Court justice's job description, the institution isn't worth saving.

And maybe Scalia intends to destroy the Court before honest people retake control and threaten his friends. And, by the way, thanks for the Bush-Cheney administration, Antonin.

Impeach him.

7:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Such a juvenile mindset. Tell him it is fiction and the good guys are always right in that sort of superhero fiction. Just because Bauer doesn't wear a costume, doesn't mean he isn't also a superhero, invulnerable to bullets, flies and never loses. Come to think of it, the Hulk doesn't wear a costume either. This guy is supposed to be one of the leading minds on the Supreme Court. Maybe he was ... once.

1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Comments by anonymous 2 & 3 are right on IF, and only IF, you have got so used to the stench of corruption that you can't smell the burning of society as a whole. It's too late to wake up the country, they're too busy waiting for Paris' next idiotic move. But, one could still enjoy a weeny roast on the way out. Is everyone drugged beyond redemption, even when they are still able to write fairly cogent observations of the political scene? Where's a bookie when you need one. I really want to place a bet.


1:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tyson, Syntroleum to make synthetic fuel from fat
Reuters - 1 hour ago
June 25 (Reuters) - Meat producer Tyson Foods Inc. (TSN.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and synthetic fuel maker Syntroleum Corp. (SYNM).

Next, after the break... Body brokers. Human bodies, that is. They say this is the investment opportunity of a lifetime.


10:53 AM  

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