Friday, 3 January 2003

It was either a gold watch or a meaningless title...

Trent Lott's new “leadership position”: chairmanship of the Senate Rules Committee. (Officially, it is the Committee on Rules and Administration.) As PejmanPundit puts it, “The post is utterly meaningless, for all practical purposes.”

Not only is the post meaningless — one could argue that the job is pointless. While the Senate does have rules, they are nowhere near as elaborately developed as those of the House (for much more on this, see Barbara Sinclair's excellent and accessible Unorthodox Lawmaking). The Senate largely chugs along on unanimous consent agreements (UCAs), which are negotiated between the majority and minority leaders; UCAs function much like House rules, but they break down when someone wants to place a “hold” or carry out a filibuster (the House abolished the filibuster in the 19th century, and over time developed in such a way that for anything of consequence to be considered on the floor it requires a rule).

Coupled with the fact Senate committees are weaker than House committees anyway (again because of the absence of per-bill rules in the Senate — anyone can offer any amendment on the Senate floor), chairing the Senate Rules Committee is a massive white elephant position, devoted to minutae such as deciding committee jurisdictions, determining the elegibility of senators, and overseeing the Architect of the Capitol. In sum, running for governor has probably gotten a lot more tempting in the past day or two.

Annoy liberals, get a kiss

The pseudonymous Bitter has a challenge for the blogosphere: help her rile up fellow students at her womens' college in New England. The deadline is Monday, so put your mind to work and give the girl a hand.

Bowl Season; 2003 SEC Thoughts

Bowl season will be over tonight with the Miami-Ohio State contest in Tempe (my prediction: OSU 27, Miami 24).

A few miscellaneous notes:

  • The SEC goes 3–4. Ole Miss, Auburn and Georgia held up their ends of the bargain, at least, while Arkansas showed how thoroughly one-dimensional their offense is (how, again, did they win the SEC West?), Florida and LSU put in respectable showings, and Tennessee, well, played like Tennessee has all season long.

  • Alabama fans are wondering if they can return Mike Price after the 34–14 drubbing that Washington State got at the hands of Oklahoma. (They're probably also wondering how many more years they're going to be on probation.) Price's system would be a move away from the option attack that served Alabama well in 2002, tending more toward the play action style favored by most of the conference (except Arkansas).

  • The SEC's team to watch in 2003 is Kentucky; fresh off sanctions and with a new coach, they're likely to make things interesting in the SEC East. (However, Georgia will repeat as SEC East champion — you read it here first.)

  • The SEC West will be the same clusterf*ck that it was in 2002, although Alabama will not go 4–1 in the division. Mississippi State will remain the “Vandy of the West.”

  • If Eli Manning returns to Ole Miss, the Rebels probably have the inside track to win the SEC West, with a largely favorable schedule (with just Vandy, Florida, Auburn and MSU on the road, along with an early trip to Memphis — where Ole Miss fans will outnumber Memphis fans at the Liberty Bowl). Without Manning, Ole Miss will have to rely on an untested QB: either Micheal Spurlock or Seth Smith.

Finally, my early pick for 2003 National Champion: none other than Georgia.

By the way, what's the over/under on how many times Keith Jackson retires during the game? He and Dan Fouts almost give CBS's SEC crew a run for their money in the “worst booth in college football” sweepstakes.

The Dixiecrats and the Constitution

Eugene Volokh debunks the far-right myth of the Dixiecrats as being either libertarian or constitutionalist:

But then [Paul Craig Roberts] proceeds to defend the Dixiecrats on the merits:

It was left to the libertarian, Llewellyn Rockwell, to point out that, fundamentally, states' rights is about the Tenth Amendment, not segregation. Thurmond's political movement sought a return to the enumerated powers guaranteed by the Constitution to the states. . . .

Lott's tribute to Thurmond is easily defended on principled constitutional grounds. However, to speak against the neoconservative Republican and liberal Democrat ideal of a powerful central government is as impermissible as to utter words deemed to offend the legally privileged.

Interesting, that: Did Thurmond's political movement also seek a return to, say, the Fourteenth Amendment, also part of the same Constitution, which required states to give blacks the "equal protection" of the laws, something that the 1948 South notably neglected to do? What about the Fifteenth Amendment — were the Dixiecrats also enthusiastic about protecting blacks' constitutionally secured rights to vote? In fact, what seems more like a system of entrenched class privilege in which some aristocrats (granted, often a majority, unlike in real feudalism) lord it over the downtrodden commoners — 1948 Dixie (or 1948 America more broadly), or 2002 America, with all its warts?

As I have argued in the past (as anyone who has suffered through my POL 101 will testify), Jim Crow was the very embodiment of the problem of “majority faction” that James Madison warned about in Federalist 10, and one of the few situations that justifies federal interference in state affairs.

Incidentally, those who would defend the GOP as the “Party of Lincoln” should bear in mind that just 21 years after Lincoln's assassination, Republicans abandoned their principles in the “corrupt bargain” of Hayes-Tilden, where the GOP abandonded its responsibility to enforce the 14th and 15th amendments in exchange for the presidency.

Random Thoughts

A few miscellaneous thoughts for today, since I don't have anything in particular to say:

  • I'm going to take a real course (ECON 610: Public Choice) this semester, at 8:00 a.m. no less; we'll see how long that lasts.

  • Only 11 days until SimCity 4!

  • Go check out Kos' Political State Report, particularly if you like “inside baseball” coverage of politics.

  • David Adesnik @ OxBlog has some more interesting North Korea stuff.