Geen nieuws, maar toch leuk om te benadrukken. Van het immer interessante NRC-weblog Recht en Bestuur, van 4 mei j.l.:
CDA’er Gerd Leers blijft zichafzettentegen het standpunt dat zijn partij inneemt op het terrein van cannabis. Hij pleit al jarenlang voor legalisering en regulering van softdrugs, terwijl het CDA het liefst alle coffeeshops wil sluiten.
Tijdens het Cannabis Tribunaal gisteren in het Haagse café Dudok haalde Leers fel uit naar politiek Den Haag. ‘We blijven te veel hangen in de discussie of cannabis goed of slecht is en of je voor of tegen bent. Daar schieten we geen meter mee op, we moeten ons richten op oplossingen.’
Leers, die van 1990 tot 2002 Tweede Kamerlid was en daarna tot begin dit jaar burgemeester van Maastricht, verwijtbeleidsmakers dat zij softdrugs te veel moraliseren in plaats van er pragmatisch mee om te gaan. Hij pleit voor regulering: het verbod afschaffen maar vervolgens wel duidelijke randvoorwaarden stellen. ‘Bij alcohol doen we dat toch ook’, zegt hij. Hij noemt het Nederlandse gedoogbeleid ‘hypocriet’: drugs mogen in coffeeshops verkocht en gebruikt worden, maar om aan drugs te kunnen komen dwingt de overheid eigenaren van coffeeshops in zee te gaan met criminelen.
Ik hoop eigenlijk op twee dingen voor het Christen Democratisch Appèl (CDA): dat ze na Balkenende ofwel iemand als Ab Klink/Maxime Verhagen/Jack de Vries aanstellen, en zichzelf daarmee voor een decennium terug de woestijn in verbannen; ofwel dat ze Gerd Leers aanstellen, en een ok’e partij worden. Moeilijk kiezen…
Yes, the election results of the Liberal Democrats were a disappointment, even when taking into account that in a system of proportional representation they would have double the seats that they have now.
As UK Polling Report’s Anthony Wells notes, the Lib Dems are now in second place in 242 seats, up from 188 at the last election. And the party is now within 10 per cent of the winning party in 45 seats, up from 31 in 2005. By contrast, Labour is now in third place in 232 constituencies, up from 151 at the last election. There are large parts of the country, most notably Scotland and inner city London, where the Tories were pushed into third place in 1997 and have struggled to win ever since. Some in Labour must now fear that they face the same fate.
This strikes me as a surprise. Andrew Sullivan, who is normally Obama’s First Cheerleader, and, some exceptions aside, is always highly uncritical of the president except when it comes to gay rights, actually is on board with Glenn Greenwald and a host of other “progressives” in criticizing his pick of Kagan for Supreme Court Justice.
Will criticism of Obama’s use of executive power and curbing of civil liberties finally become mainstream?
She’s a cerebral academic who fits Washington’s definition of a centrist: She’s likely defer to government on both civil liberties and regulatory and commerce issues. And though libertarians allegedly share ground with Republicans on fiscal and regulatory issues and with Democrats on civil liberties issues, neither party cares enough about those particular issues to put up a fight for them. Which is whyKagan sailed through her first confirmation hearings, and is widely predicted to sail through the hearings for her nomination to the Supreme Court.
A person who will back executive power comes after two of the most radical pro-executive Justices (Alito and Roberts) in recent history. The onward march of the dictatorial presidency- in a time of constant threats from abroad -continues.
Facebook used to be a place to share photos and thoughts with friends and family and maybe play a few stupid games that let you pretend you were a mafia don or a homesteader. It became a very useful way to connect with your friends, long-lost friends and family members. Even if you didn’t really want to keep up with them.
Soon everybody — including your uncle Louie and that guy you hated from your last job — had a profile.
And Facebook realized it owned the network.
Then Facebook decided to turn “your” profile page into your identity online — figuring, rightly, that there’s money and power in being the place where people define themselves. But to do that, the folks at Facebook had to make sure that the information you give it was public.
So in December, with the help of newly hired Beltway privacy experts, it reneged on its privacy promises and made much of your profile information public by default. That includes the city that you live in, your name, your photo, the names of your friends and the causes you’ve signed onto.
This spring Facebook took that even further. Allthe items you list as things you like must become public and linked to public profile pages. If you don’t want them linked and made public, then you don’t get them — though Facebook nicely hangs onto them in its database in order to let advertisers target you.
This includes your music preferences, employment information, reading preferences, schools, etc. All the things that make up your profile. They all must be public — and linked to public pages for each of those bits of info — or you don’t get them at all. That’s hardly a choice, and the whole system is maddeningly complex.
Simultaneously, the company began shipping your profile information off pre-emptively to Yelp, Pandora and Microsoft — so that if you show up there while already logged into Facebook, the sites can “personalize” your experience when you show up. You can try to opt out after the fact, but you’ll need a master’s in Facebook bureaucracy to stop it permanently.
Care to write a status update to your friends? Facebook sets the default for those messages to be published to the entire internet through direct funnels to the net’s top search engines.
Then there’s the new Facebook “Like” button littering the internet. It’s a great idea, in theory — but it’s completely tied to your Facebook account, and you have no control over how it is used. (No, you can’t like something and not have it be totally public.)
Then there’s Facebook’s campaign against outside services. There was the Web 2.0 suicide machine that let you delete your profile by giving it your password. Facebook shut it down.
Facebook thinks that your notions of privacy — meaning your ability to control information about yourself — are just plain old-fashioned.
- Update: Also see this nice interactive chart of the evolution (or better put: devolution) of Facebook privacy between 2005 and 2010.
Didn’t know this, but a number of Members of the House of Lords is maintaining a collaborative blog aptly named Lords of the Blog. It’s pretty accessible and sometimes fun to read as well. According to the “About” section:
Lords of the Blog is a collaborative blog written by Members of the House of Lords for the purposes of public engagement.
The aim of the blog is to help educate, raise awareness and engage with the public on a range of issues relating to the role and business of the House of Lords.
Contributors are, among others, Lord Norton of of Louth, Baroness D’Souza, Lord Lipsey, Baroness Young of Hornsey and Lord Hylton.
So Obama has decided to nominate Sollicitor General Elena Kagan for Supreme Court Justice. We have blogged about the prospect of a Kagan nomination here and here.
In judging this nomination, it is important to remember who is being replaced. Justice John Paul Stevens, although nominated by President Ford, was a member of the “liberal wing” of the Supreme Court. That meant that in the years of the Bush administrations he did not support the relentless growth of executive power, and was a staunch supporter of civil liberties. On this he was a crucial vote, and if any new cases on these matters come up (and they will, in the coming years), Elena Kagan will be this crucial vote.
I always thought that Barack Obama was elected as a rejection of the Bush-Cheney approach to the “War” on Terror, America’s stance in the world, and the growth of a state in which the rule of law is subjected to the demands of executive power. By now it is clear that this is not what he is; rather, he’s a moderate-to-conservative president who is afraid to show leadership on crucial issues of rights and liberties, and is eager to appease the most radical conservative of Republicans in order to retain his “postpartisan” and “pragmatic” crafted image.
I’d say that the nomination of Kagan fits into this evolution of the Obama administration, although I’ve backtracked a little. Basically, she’s not as good as Diane Wood on the issue of executive power versus civil liberties, but she’s more of a blank slate. Nobody – Democrats nor Republicans – knows what her views on a host of matters are. So that’s worrisome in itself, and as Greenwald mentions, it shows the personality cult that among a lot of progressives and liberals still surrounds Barack Obama (we just have to trust that he’s right about this). Therefore we get NYT articles that say that he was not looking for a “liberal firebrand”, that he is taking “the middle of the road”, and so forth.
So, to compare what could have been with what we now get, see this comparative profile by Charlie Savage of Diane Wood and Elena Kagan:
Of the three, Judge Wood, of the appeals court in Chicago, has the clearest record in favor of protecting civil liberties and taking a skeptical stance toward executive power. In a 2003 essay, she spoke out against approaches to counterterrorism that she said posed “a significant threat to the continued observance ofthe rule oflaw” — like giving noncitizens fewer due process rights than citizens and sacrificing individual privacy to foster intelligence-gathering.
“In a democracy, those responsible for national security (principally, of course, the executive branch) must do more than say, ‘trust us, we know best’ when they are proposing significant intrusions on liberties protected by the Constitution,” Judge Wood wrote.
And in a 2008 essay, Judge Wood wrote that “the principle is well established that extraordinary tribunals, such as military commissions, are not authorized to operate if the normal courts are open for business.”
That stance could put Judge Wood at odds with the Obama administration, which is using military commissions instead of civilian trials for some terrorism suspects. However, her remark came in the context of prosecuting civilian citizens arrested on domestic soil after a natural disaster, and might not extend to noncitizens arrested abroad and accused of being enemy fighters.
Ms. Kagan (…) has a mixed record on executive powers, but one that suggests she might generally be more sympathetic toward the White House than Justice Stevens.
And that is based on a 2001 law review article of hers about centralized control over regulatory agencies, but really, we just don’t know.
And then, let’s hear it from civil liberties and human rights NGO’s (you know, those exclusively “liberal” and “progressive” causes):
Advocates for human rights and other liberal causes who are upset at the Obama administration for continuing Bush-era policies may take their frustration out on Kagan.
“From the perspective of those who have been advocating change from Bush policies, she has been a disappointment,” said Tina Foster of the International Justice Network, who argued against Kagan’s deputy Neal Katyal over detention policies in an appeal in January.
“She would spell very bad news” if she became a Supreme Court justice, said Vince Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has long challenged Bush and now Obama detention policies. “We don’t see any basis to assume she does not embrace the Bush view of executive power.”
At the Electronic Frontier Foundation, senior staff attorney Kevin Bankston called the Obama administration’s stance on state secrets and national security wiretapping “a grave disappointment, particularly for those who took Obama’s promises seriously.” Bankston cautioned he is not certain how involved Kagan herself has been in the positions the department has taken on these issues.
And finally, check out this call to arms from blogger digby about the reluctance of contemporary Washington DC power brokers (including Obama) to nominate anyone important whom Republicans could view as too “liberal”, and the hypocrisy when it comes to applying the same standards the other way around:
So I’m told by various people that Kagan is the only confirmable possibility. I would love to know why that should be true. The Republicans have had little trouble since Bork confirming far right federalist society clones, whether they had a Democratic or Republican Senate. It doesn’t seem logical to me that there isn’t room for an unabashed liberal on the court with a 59 vote majority in the Senate.
Kagan is an unknown quantity, unlike Roberts and Alito who were clearly both conservative a highly political. Yet Bush managed to get them confirmed. I guess I just don’t understand the double standard when it comes to Democrats and I refuse to capitulate to the common wisdom that says no Democratic president can ever confirm a known liberal.
Moreover, I think Supreme Court confirmation battles are ideologically instructive for the nation and are one of the few times when it’s possible for people to speak at length about their philosophical worldview. Liberals have to stop running from this. Allowing the other side to define us is killing us.