Pehaps I am a traitor to my race and sex, but I've long thought that the quickest route to improving the United States would be to disenfranchise white men. (Hell, as a DC resident I'm barely franchised as it is -- something the teabaggers don't seem to mind at all.) The decline of white men as a percentage of the electorate is possibly the most heartening demographic trend out there. This week gave a few classic examples of why this is so:
First, Byron York stepped on his dick (no mean feat that) by noting that although Obama is popular, a lot of his popularity is due to the support of black people as opposed to normal decent Americans like Byron York. What was breathtaking, though, was when called on this ludicrously racist statement, York reacted with a completely bewildered "what'd I say?" It did not occur to York that gee, black Americans are, well, Americans, and their votes and opinions count just as much as those of respectable white men like York. (I know Byron, it's hard to imagine -- William F. Buckley would be baffled too and he was a really smart dude, always speaking Latin and shit -- a whole lot of shit.)
Then Mark Halperin got into the act with this gem regarding Souter's retirement and likely replacement candidates: "White Men Need Not Apply." Yes, we are an oppressed lot -- of the 110 Supreme Court justices who have served on the Court, only 106 have been white men. That's only 96.4% -- surely we deserve better. Look our presidential percentage has slipped from 100% to a mere 97.7% -- we're feeling vulnerable. You people -- and I do mean you people -- need to understand this.
I try to avoid racial or sexual essentialism -- being black or a woman does not, per se, mean that you will embrace policies that are favorable to your group, see e.g., Clarence Thomas, Michael Steele, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman, et al. But I do think, as a general proposition, that the federal bench has been vastly improved by the addition of many more women, blacks, and hispanics in recent years. (Based on my personal experience I can say that Bill Clinton appointed a slew of exceptionally gifted woment to serve as U.S. District Court Judges during his tenure in office.) I think it would be great to see another woman or black on the Court, or a break through hispanic appointment -- but most of all, I would like to see an unabashed liberal put on the Court.
What I love in these discussions is when you hear clamoring for the appointment of the best person for the job, as if that were some mathematical certainty. Being a judge is a very complex undertaking -- being a Supreme Court justice, even more so. There are a host of qualities that legitimately should be considered in selecting someone for the Court -- brains obviously, writing skills, analytical ability, but also compassion, persuasiveness, a feel for the world beyond the court room, and , dare I say it, judgment. There are a number of talented people who fit this bill -- I am pretty sure they are not all white men.
Finally, speaking of the awesome wisdom of white men, check out this piece by "Wanker of the Day" Mike Galanos of CNN, denouncing the decision to make emergency contraception ("Plan B") available without a prescription or parental consent for 17-year olds. Essentially his point is that this is bad because girls will be able to have sex "without consequences." We can't have that you know. Galanos, armed with his degree in broadcast communication arts and extensive background in sports "journalism," demonstrates the truth in the adage "opinions are like assholes -- everyone's got one." And sometimes the assholes have opinions too. Our friends at Feministing take him apart.
Plan B was subject to unprecedented scientific review by the FDA. The scientists and public health experts who examined the issue had no qualms about making the drug available over the counter to girls of this age. The only reason it was not approved in a straightforward manner was due to the political intervention of the Bush White House. An incredibly well written and reasoned judicial opinion makes that clear. Why am I guessing that Galanos read none of this material?
Oh, and to continue the oppression theme, a gelding won the Kentucky Derby.