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This is a passage

This is a passage from a piece Ed Kilgore did today at TPMCafe ...

This appointment represents the giant balloon payment at the end of the mortgage the GOP signed with the Cultural Right at least 25 years ago. Social conservatives have agreed over and over again to missed payments, refinancings, and in their view, generous terms, but the balance is finally due, and if Bush doesn't pay up, they'll foreclose their entire alliance with the Republican Party.

Sure, they care about other issues, from gay marriage to taxes to Iraq, but abortion is the issue that makes most Cultural Right activists get up in the morning and stuff envelopes and staff phone banks for the GOP. And for decades now, Republicans have told them they can't do anything much about it until they can change the Supreme Court. With a pro-choice Justice stepping down, the subject can no longer be avoided. And thanks to the Souter precedent (and indeed, the O'Connor and Kennedy precedents), there's no way Bush can finesse an appointment that's anything less than a guaranteed vote to overturn Roe.


This is no great day for Dems. <$NoAd$>And I'm not sure Bush really cares. But this is a tricky day for the institutional Republican party too. Not the wingruts -- happy days are here again for them, or whatever the culturally-appropriate metaphor might be. But for the folks who run for election in big expanses of the country, not a good day.

Like Ed says, the bill's come due.

TPM Reader mail ...Atrios

TPM Reader mail ...

Atrios is correct that Casey was a 5-4 decision. But what he apparently isn't aware of is that one of the dissenters (Byron White), was subsequently replaced by a pro-Roe/Casey justice. Even without O'Connor, there are still five justices on the court who are on the record as favoring at least some kind of constitutional right to termination a pregnancy. Those five are Ginsberg, Breyer, Stevens, Souter and Kennedy. Sure, Kennedy's vote can't be counted on in the more extreme cases, like partial birth abortion. But unless he flip flops (which seems increasingly unlikely after his decision on sodomy), he's still going to strike down anything that resembles a ban on abortion.


Passed on without comment.

(ed.note: Just to be clear, I post this as a correction to my earlier post below.)

Feds bust MZM headquarters

Feds bust MZM headquarters and Duke Stir.

Duke better make his pleadings now while O'Connor's still on the Court and there's a few criminal rights left ...

From Roll Call: "A federal task force that includes officials from the U.S. Attorney’s offices in both Washington, D.C, and San Diego, the FBI, Internal Revenue Service and Defense Criminal Investigative Service conducted the searches, according to Debbie Weierman, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Washington office."

(ed.note: Roll Call's got the original story. If you don't have a subscription, see the link above.)

Late Update: Yet more from the North County Times.

Matt Yglesias and Atrios

Matt Yglesias and Atrios are right on this one. The end of Roe v. Wade is likely to be the most immediate and conspicuous result of today's resignation. But don't forget the effect in the workplace and the economy at large. The decision on who to appoint is in the hands of those who would turn the US economy back to what it was in the latter part of the 19th century, a world in which state and federal legislative action to insure the common good was hamstrung by court decisions that left everything in the hands of the marketplace.

Pre-New Deal, pre-Progressive Era.

It's the Court in the hands of activist radicals.

That, of course, leaves aside how deep in the hock these folks are to James Dobson and other radical right clerics.

Spongebob, head for the border now, buddy.

So there we are.

So there we are. A semi-surprise: O'Connor retires rather than Rehnquist, though considering the fragile state of the Chief Justice's health, it now appears overwhelmingly likely that President Bush will get at least two Supreme Court nominations, possibly more.

So game on.

We're looking into setting up a limited duration Court battle group blog over at TPMCafe. More soon.

In a mass email

In a mass email sent out today, RNC chieftan Ken Mehlman calls out to the faithful: phone Congress and demand phase-out this year!

"Since his State of the Union speech in February," says the Mehlman, "President Bush has shown remarkable leadership by traveling the country, talking to Americans about the challenges facing Social Security and the need for personal accounts to be a part of that solution. Simply put, personal accounts will help secure Social Security for future generations and allow younger Americans to grow a nest egg they own and can pass on to whomever they want."

As I said below, we're updating our lists and we need your assistance.

Where does your representative

Where does your representative stand on the new flimflam private accounts bill Republicans are trying to push through the House? You know, the one that saves the Trust Fund that doesn't exist by blowing it on private accounts.

We're making a (new) list and we're checking it (at least) twice.

So if you've seen coverage in the local press about where your member of Congress stands on the issue, or whether he or she is trying to weasel out of taking a position at all, please let us know.

Send us an email at the comments email up there at the upper left of the site. We need your help.

For those of us

For those of us who are true connoisseurs of the higher Rep. Cunningham (R-Wade) chicanery, this may fall a bit short of the normal standard we like to set for the Duke. Still, it seems he again broke the rules: this time hawking novelty Navy fighter pilot hero Duke Cunningham buck knives decorated with the seal of the United States Congress. It seems profiting personally from the regalia of office is a no-no.

More on the Rhode

More on the Rhode Island senate race ...

I should say, by way of explanation and disclosure, that I lived in Rhode Island from 1992 to 1998. So I feel a certain attachment to the place and its politics.

With respect to the post below, one friend wrote in to tell me that I'd misread the new poll showing Linc Chafee just ahead of his nearest Democratic challenger 41% to 36%. "Any incumbent under 50 is in some trouble," he told me.

Yes and no. Certainly, under normal circumstances, any incumbent who's running that far under 50% is in a lot of trouble, by definition. And Chafee still is in a lot of trouble, especially since Rhode Island is such a blue state. But if you've lived in Rhode Island you know that Chafees are sort of like cats with nine lives. They're uncannily hard to beat.

More to the point, if the incumbent Republican is way down in the low 40s, far better that your guy is ahead of him, rather than behind.

I've heard good things about Whitehouse, Chafee's likely opponent. And I think he's got a decent shot at winning. But the stone cold truth is that with Jim Langevin in the race Chafee would be heading back to Rhode Island for good. And now that's not clear.

Of course, the GOP money caucus could still run a primary challenger against Chafee. And that could knock Chafee out for good too.

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