The Long View 2005-09-16: Supreme Job Search; GOZland

What political opportunity looks like

What political opportunity looks like

John often argued that the Republican party needed to learn how to raise taxes. He may have intuited that there was an open opportunity for a party that was socially conservative and willing to spend money on welfare.

Supreme Job Search; GOZland

How does one become a US Supreme Court Justice? By far the easiest way is by answering this Monster ad (the search firm is Accola). If the position is not already taken, there you will see this: description:

All applications for this position are accepted via our online interview system, managed by Accolo. You can begin the interview process or REFER someone you know by going to this Link.

Remember: when reviewing your cover letter before submitting your application, a simple spell-check just will not do.

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If you must do it the hard way, then you will have to listen to several days of rhetoric like this, which was part (a small part) of the opening statement of Senator Herb Kohl, Democrat of Wisconsin, at the recent confirmation hearings for John Roberts:

You will lead the court in its most solemn duty to interpret the Constitution and the rights it grants to all Americans.

The court has the last say in what will be the scope of our rights and the breadth of our freedoms. The court even has power over which constitutional questions it will hear and which cases the court will decide.

That is why the Supreme Court is so vital to our lives. And who decides these issues, Judge Roberts, is therefore of unsurpassed importance.

Senator Kohl was not the only participant to emphasize that the power with which John Roberts might be invested is unanswerable and with no real limitation of scope; that is why the Senate could entrust the post of Chief Justice to no one less than a saint and sage. The ascription of omnipotence to the Supreme Court is an exaggeration, but not by much. We have to remind ourselves that this was not always the case. In fact, it is only in the past few decades that the Senate routinely held confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominees. The senators traditionally did not regard the Court as unimportant, but they understood its power to be limited and predictable; they could be satisfied with a conformation process that did not require the nominee to pull a sword out of a stone.

The irony is that the senators who most emphasized the unbounded powers of the Court were also the ones who were keenest to make sure that no one was appointed to the Court who might limit those powers. The privacy right in the Griswald-Roe-Casey decisions can be maintained only by essentially abolishing the principle of constitutional government. Under this system, divorced from text and history, the law becomes nothing more than the will of the members of the Court. The Democratic senators, for the most part, insist on maintaining this system, even though it makes consequences of each nomination incalculable. This situation is unstable and ephemeral. If, as seems, likely, John Roberts is confirmed, it will implode on his watch, pretty much no matter what he does.

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The Land of GOZ: I looked for this phrase on Google after reading press accounts this morning of the address that President Bush gave on Thursday night from Jackson Square. He spoke in the silent, eldritch, and mephitic city of New Orleans; surely that was the spookiest speech a president has ever delivered. I noted that the term "Gulf Opportunity Zone" occurred in the reports, but not in the published text of the address. In any case, it seemed to me that phrases like "Wizard of GOZ" and "Land of GOZ" might reasonably be expected to appear in commentary about the area of the Gulf of Mexico on which the president now proposes to spend all the money in the world, plus $50. But no: can it be that no one knows how to coin a phrase any longer?

Note that there would be legal problems if any organization tries to use the acronym GOZ; there is not only GOZ, but GOZ® (there should be an "R" with a circle around it after the "Z"). That stands for "Goal Oriented Zoning®," which is explained on the site of Planning Partners in this fashion:

The GOZ® Model is a GIS-based program that calculates zoning yield (build-out) and associated development impacts for existing zoning and alternative zoning scenarios.

So not only is the acronym already taken, but it is taken by an enterprise that may be interested in the rebuilding of the Gulf. Real confusion would be a possibility. These people should be sharpening their lawyers.

As for the speech itself, I thought it did everything it had to do. The plan the president outlined is unobjectionable. This really is a situation where throwing money at the problem will make it better. For once, the term "Marshall Plan" is apposite, though I do not believe the White House used it.

Nowadays, a proposal to quickly develop an underdeveloped country from scratch is often called a Marshall Plan, but that is quite different from repairing a region where people already know how to maintain an advanced society. The Marshall Plan was largely a rebuilding plan, the most important part of which was making credit available, either directly or through loan guarantees.

The problem is that it has become impossible even for the Republicans in Congress to ignore the fiscal consequences of the program the president has in mind, or indeed of the money the federal government has already spent on immediate disaster relief. Again, I can only repeat: yes, it is possible to lose an election by refusing to raise taxes.

Copyright © 2005 by John J. Reilly

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