Tuesday, 2/16/16

  1. We report, you yawn
  2. Fact not quite stranger than fiction
  3. Abstinence: Threat or Menace?
  4. Trump’s Justices
  5. Scalia Fatigue

1

Take [Trump’s] full-throated endorsement of the conspiracy theory that the George W. Bush Administration deliberately lied to get the U.S. into the Iraq war. “You call it whatever you want. I wanna tell you. They lied,” Mr. Trump replied to a question by CBS moderatorJohn Dickerson. “They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction.”

Despite years of investigation and countless memoirs, there is no evidence for this claim. None.

(Wall Street Journal)

Trump also said that the Bush administration lied about the presence of WMDs in Iraq. As far as most opponents of the Iraq war are concerned, this is obvious. It is what most of us have been saying for more than a decade in one form or another, and it’s true. There is no question that the administration distorted and misrepresented what they knew about Iraq’s weapons programs, and they treated as certain claims that were anything but that. The Bush administration misled the public and made claims about the supposed “threat” from Iraq that they had to know to be false. One of the most obvious lies told during the Iraq debate was when Cheney confidently asserted that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program. There was no evidence to support that claim. The administration was looking for an excuse to topple Hussein anyway, and exploited the public’s fear following 9/11 to that end. That wasn’t all they lied about. Administration officials made baseless claims of cooperation between Hussein and Al Qaeda, and encouraged the public in the false belief that Hussein had some hand in the 9/11 attacks. Framing the invasion of Iraq as having something to do with anti-terrorism also encouraged that false belief. Of course, the biggest lie at the core of the pro-war argument was that a weak regime with unconventional weapons couldn’t be deterred. Even if the administration’s claims about weapons programs had been true, that wouldn’t have justified the invasion or made it any less illegal.

(Daniel Larison)

We report, you yawn and go home with your preconceptions intact.

2

Fiction is still slightly stranger than fact:

I was born in the wrong body. I’m actually, spiritually, a wolf. It’s called being otherkin. It’s very important for me to be open about it—coming out transformed my life, and my family. Our dog used to be terrified of storms and postal workers, but I was able to communicate with her, and now she’s much more secure and self-grounded. I think of communication as my calling.

(Sharptooth, a character in Amends, a novel by Eve Tushnet)

As if on cue:

Carly Conley is even-tempered and sports a sweet, inviting smile. She doesn’t get in people’s faces, she doesn’t raise her voice.

But when Conley places a bright orange, fuzzy fox head over her own, a sassier side of the Purdue University student emerges. The fox head, named Luna, is part of Conley’s “fursona.”

“It makes you feel more comfortable sometimes,” the forestry and natural resources junior said. “It’s not necessarily escapism. I’m not losing who I am … She (Luna) is an extension of me.”

Conley is part of a growing, but long-existing, subculture that likes to dress up, or “suit up” as she refers to it, as cartoon-like animals.

Lafayette Journal & Courier February 15, 2016, page A-1.

Maybe Mount Saint Mary’s Bain-trained President said better than he knew when he said “we need to drown the bunnies.”

3

Sophie Fontanel was a single journalist who wasn’t even “dating” (scare quotes because I think “dating” is a euphemism today — but what do I know?):

If there was a party, everyone in turn would come sit next to me to regale me with how he or she thought I should live and what I deserved to have. What it boiled down to was that I should live like them. Elvire, one half of a tightly knit couple, would forget that her husband was clinically depressed. Guillaume, married to a harpy, maintained that if one laid low and said amen to everything, things worked out. Maria, fed up to the teeth with her children, wanted me to have my own. Assia loved women but it was killing her mother. Patrizio had bruises on his shoulders from his chronically jealous wife. Not one of them could stand my singleness, because it could have been theirs. And the marginal couple, Sabine and William, doleful swingers, who absolutely had to stay together to have someone to swap–even they found me peculiar. I was discovering conventional behavior in the most liberated milieus: broad-minded people, against any form of censorship or constraint, who boasted about how they pushed boundaries. Well, I blasted them back in the other direction, and they flung their hands up. They had ingested the most useless hodgepodge of drugs, blitzing themselves so completely that they’d forgotten I’d seen them do it, whereas I was mainlining the purest of ideals, of the very highest quality–and this shocked them.

A reminder seems timely: sex is optional.

4

After asking Republicans whether they want Donald Trump nominating Scalia’s successor (and probably one or two more justices), and then giving reasons why the answer should be “no,” David Bernstein concludes:

Disclosure: Sen. Cruz wrote the foreword to my book, “Lawless: The Obama Administration’s Unprecedented Assault on the Constitution and the Rule of Law.” It is, by the way, impossible to imagine Trump writing a similarly erudite essay on President Obama’s abuse of executive authority, though it’s quite easy to imagine Trump engaging in similar and, indeed, much worse abuses.

5

I confess that I’m feeling some Scalia fatigue already, and that conspiracy theories have already arisen from his death (supported by absolutely nothing beyond the lack of any good basis for the slap-dash official Texas opinion of “natural death”) contributes to the fatigue. But my respect for Robert P. George persuaded me to focus on yet another remembrance, which yielded this gem:

For much of the 20th century, however, judicial supremacy—Taney’s old idea that what the judges say goes, no matter what; that the Supreme Court when it hands down a ruling is supreme not only over the inferior federal courts, but over the coordinate branches of government—was a kind of orthodoxy among law professors, lawyers, and judges. To question it—to embrace Lincoln’s position—came to seem scandalous. But Antonin Scalia not only questioned but rejected it. And he rejected it for the best possible reasons—Lincoln’s reasons—because it is incompatible with the republican principles of the Constitution itself. For Scalia, as for Lincoln, the rule of law was not the rule of judges; and a decision of the Supreme Court was the law of the case (binding on the parties) but not necessarily the law of the land (binding on the other branches of government).

And all sensible people, “God’s people” or not, said “Amen!”

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.