Thursday, May 20, 2010

Where Kagan's Sympathies Lie

President Obama's pick for the Supreme Court has left for those who wish to assess her views little to go on. She did, however, write a senior thesis while at Princeton which Doug Ross has excerpted for us. In the paper she laments the demise of socialism and speaks yearningly of how it may be resuscitated.

Here are some of the highlights, or lowlights, that Ross ferreted out of her thesis:

I would like to thank my brother Marc, whose involvement in radical causes led me to explore the history of American radicalism in the hope of clarifying my own political ideas...

...Most historians have viewed World War I as an unqualified disaster for the American socialist movement...

[During the war] both local and national socialist leaders had taken their stand: they would condemn the war in the strongest terms... having formulated their policies, the socialists turned with rekindled enthusiasm to active propaganda work...

In our own times, a coherent socialist movement is nowhere to be found in the United States. Americans are more likely to speak of a golden past than of a golden future, of capitalism's glories than of socialism's greatness... Why, in a society by no means perfect, has a radical party never attained the status of a major political force?

...[America's] societal traits... a relatively fluid class structure, an economy which allowed at least some workers to enjoy [prosperity]... prevented the early twentieth century socialists from attracting an immediate mass following. Such conditions did not, however, completely checkmate American socialism...

...Through its own internal feuding, then, the Socialist Party exhausted itself forever and further reduced labor radicalism... to the position of marginality and insignificance from which it has never recovered. The story is a sad but also a chastening one for those who, more than half a century after socialism's decline, still wish to change America.

...if the history of Local New York shows anything, it is that American radicals cannot afford to become their own worst enemies. In unity lies their only hope.

Though she certainly seems to sympathetic in this paper to an economic system which has nowhere ever worked, we might charitably attribute her enthusiasm for socialism to youthful idealism and the ideological hothouse of ivy-league academia. That is, we might do this if there were evidence that Ms Kagan has since matured beyond her early infatuation with a system that is today threatening to collapse the entire world economy. Unfortunately, there's nothing in her record to permit us to conclude that she has ever gotten over her first love.

Until such evidence emerges I think we're justified in concluding that Ms. Kagan, like so many others of the President's appointees, really is a woman of the far left, a woman who sees it as the task of people like herself to promote the revolt against capitalism and to impose a system which guarantees that everyone, except the elites, will be uniformly penurious.

Unless she can show that she has indeed outgrown her youthful fling with socialism, or that the sentiments she put on paper as a college senior were not intended to sound as sympathetic as they do to the socialist movement, the prospect of her appointment to the Supreme Court should make us all nervous.


Uh Oh

The Los Angeles City Council has determined that the best way to express their outrage at the Arizona immigration law is to enact a boycott of Arizona. The august city fathers have, however, made themselves look ridiculous in the process. For one thing, the Arizona law differs scarcely at all from the immigration law of the state of California, as Washington Times reporter Kerry Pickett helpfully points out. Perhaps Los Angeles will next launch a boycott of Sacramento.

Their action also threatens, like a stick of dynamite in the hands of Wile E. Coyote, to blow up in their faces. It turns out that Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce has offered to help Los Angeles cancel all their contracts with Arizona. The Corporation Commission oversees, inter alia, electrical production in the state of Arizona, and, as it happens, Los Angeles receives 25% of its electricity from Arizona. Mr. Pierce writes the following letter to L.A. mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Its a hoot:

Dear Mayor Villaraigosa,

I was dismayed to learn that the Los Angeles City Council voted to boycott Arizona and Arizona-based companies - a vote you strongly supported - to show opposition to SB 1070 (Support our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act).

ayor Villaraigosa,

You explained your support of the boycott as follows: "While we recognize that as neighbors, we share resources and ties with the State of Arizona that may be difficult to sever, our goal is not to hurt the local economy of Los Angeles, but to impact the economy of Arizona. Our intent is to use our dollars - or the withholding of our dollars - to send a message." (emphasis added)

I received your message; please receive mine. As a state-wide elected member of the Arizona Corporation Commission overseeing Arizona's electric and water utilities, I too am keenly aware of the "resources and ties" we share with the City of Los Angeles. In fact, approximately twenty-five percent of the electricity consumed in Los Angeles is generated by power plants in Arizona.

If an economic boycott is truly what you desire, I will be happy to encourage Arizona utilities to renegotiate your power agreements so Los Angeles no longer receives any power from Arizona-based generation. I am confident that Arizona's utilities would be happy to take those electrons off your hands. If, however, you find that the City Council lacks the strength of its convictions to turn off the lights in Los Angeles and boycott Arizona power, please reconsider the wisdom of attempting to harm Arizona's economy.

People of goodwill can disagree over the merits of SB 1070. A state-wide economic boycott of Arizona is not a message sent in goodwill.


Commissioner Gary Pierce

One wonders what else California gets from Arizona. Water, perhaps?