The Lonely Centrist

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Truth About Politicization at DOJ

This post at the Volokh Conspiracy comments on the Washington Post's story re the decision of the Justice Department to remove political officials from any role in hiring for the Department's Honors Program. The Volokh Conspiracy notes that allegations about politicized hiring at the Department's Civil Rights Division may say more about the politicized nature of the career lawyers in the Division than it says about the allegedly political hiring of the Bush administration.

The Post article is almost comical in the examples it gives of allegedly biased hiring. For example:
According to a former deputy chief in the civil rights division, one honors hire was a University of Mississippi law school graduate who had been a clerk for U.S. District Judge Charles W. Pickering Sr. about the time the judge's nomination by President Bush to a federal appeals court provoked opposition by congressional Democrats, who contended that Pickering was hostile to civil rights.

Or this:
Another honors hire, a graduate of the University of Kentucky College of Law who had been president of the campus chapter of the Federalist Society, displayed a bust of President James Madison in his Justice office, according to a former honors program lawyer who was hired during the Clinton administration. A profile of Madison's face is the logo of the society, which is based on conservative precepts.

Or this:
"When I started," the former honors program lawyer said, "it was rare you met people whose civil rights credentials were that they were part of the Federalist Society, but it became a commonplace thing."

Or this:
Bill Condon, an honors hire in the civil rights division who graduated in 2004 from Regent University, a small Christian school in Virginia Beach, recounted his job interview recently in the school's alumni magazine. Condon wrote that, when an interviewer asked him which Supreme Court decision he disagreed with most, Condon cited a 2003 ruling that struck down a Texas law outlawing homosexual acts, a decision that has been a lightning rod for social conservatives.

Yes, it sounds like the Department is being overrun with people with mainstream views (they oppose the Supreme Court's decision striking down anti-sodomy laws, a decision which, for better or worse, is opposed by a very large segment, quite likely a majority, of the public)!; who were campus leaders (the President of the Federalist Society!!), who admire those who played a major role in drafting our Constitution (a bust of Madison!!!), and who clerked for federal judges (!!!!)

Fifteen months ago, in posts here, here, here, here here and here, we noted some of the signs of historic bias in the Department's Civil Rights Division. Private emails we received after that series, from those who would seem to us to be in a position to know, stressed that indeed the old process of leaving hiring to career employees was heavily biased against anyone who did not lean to the political left. All of this is unfortunate, but it also leaves us less than sanguine that the new hiring policy will depoliticize the Department.

Meanwhile, we're going to try out our new slogan:The Lonely Centrist: 15 months ahead of the Volokh Conspiracy. What do you think?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Do the signs work?

The other day a friend confided that he was thinking about going into a school and shooting a bunch of students, but was deterred by the "Gun Free Zone" sign at the edge of the school grounds.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Naive E.J. Dionne

Here's a naive column by E.J. Dionne.

Dionne misses the John McCain of 2000. He argues that in 2000 the McCain presidential run was, "an unruly and joyous romp." This year's campaign, "feels quite different: Carefully planned, meticulously calculated" Dionne argues that in McCain has made numerous compromises in an effort to win the Republican nomination, and of course they are compromises that Dionne does not like. Dionne says that these were bad choices, made, "on calculation." The question is, on what basis did he think Senator McCain made his choices in 2000?

John McCain is a very shrewd politician, and his 2000 campaign was shrewd and calculated. McCain did what he needed to do to separate from the pack of GOP challengers to front runner George W. Bush. He started the campaign running to the right of Bush, who was the centrist candidate. Bush was the son of a President not beloved by the GOP right, talking about a "new tone" and "compassionate conservatism" and rejecting the notion that the government should be made smaller. McCain was touting his voting records with Right to Life and the NRA. But the right was crowded territory, with Dan Quayle, Lamar Alexander, Steve Forbes, Gary Bauer, and others all competing for conservative support. When Liddy Dole's campaign fizzled early, and when McCain discovered how smitten the press - that is, people like Dionne - could be with his campaign finance position and his willingness to tell the press what the press wanted to hear about conservatives (whose votes McCain wasn't getting anyway), he quickly moved left. Bush, in trouble after independent voters helped McCain score big in New Hampshire and then Michigan primaries, moved right, fast. But make no mistake - John McCain's campaign was as calculated as they come, from the "Straight Talk express" to his bashing of Pat Robertson.

Perhaps Dionne should be another contender for the most naive man title.

Myopic E.J. Dionne

Here's an E.J. Dionne column that is so myopic as to be almost laughable. This line in particular is a hoot:
The Fox debate saga is amusing, but it's more than that. It marks a transformation on the left side of politics, driven by the rise of Internet voices and the frustration of liberals at the success of conservatives in using a combination of talk radio, Fox on television, and the Web to propagate anti-liberal, anti-Democratic messages.

Liberals need to toughen up.

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