I just happened to revisit Steven Den Beste’s original blog, the USS Clueless. On a screen with just about no formatting at all, not even a header graphic, just a sketchy sidebar and some link emphasis, here are the first four entries:
Stardate 20010524.9999 (On Screen): Another test entry.
Stardate 20010524.9999 (On Screen): A test entry. Did I get another stupid font tag?
Stardate 20010524.0735 (On Screen): We should preach abstinence! The way to keep them out of trouble is for them to not do the things which are dangerous! But they’re going to do it anyway, and if they do they’ll get hurt. So the thing to do is teach them not to get hurt and give them protection.
This argument applies equally to the question of giving condoms to teenagers, and giving survival kits to Mexicans trying to illegally cross the US border. I support the former. I guess I have to support the latter, though it makes me uncomfortable.
Stardate 20010524.0720 (On Screen): I think I’m glad this has happened. When I was in high school, I remember having a conversation on a bus with two girls from the UK who were complaining about the fact that our government was divided and deadlocked, since one party controlled the Congress and the other the Whitehouse. They contrasted this to the Parliamentary system, where one party always controls the legislature and the executive branch (because the legislature chooses the executive). I defended our system, mostly out of knee-jerk patriotism. I didn’t know much then.
As I grew older, I came to realize the wisdom of their words. Indeed, there have been times when our government has been deadlocked in party politics and unable to react to things.
But when I was faced with a unified government whose policies I did not like, I realized the danger it represented — and I’ve returned to my earlier view. A split government is more desirable. The reason is that when there are things which are truly important and necessary, the parties will come together and get them done. It’s the ideologically-motivated government actions which get stalled. Which suits me fine.
In any case, this particular event means that the Republicans don’t get to pack the federal court system with conservative judges. Now that the Democrats control the Senate (just!) then the judges that Bush nominates will have to be more mainstream. He certainly isn’t going to be nominating raving pinko liberals, but he’ll have to stay to the center. Of all the things the government can do, the one which scares me the most is the politicizing of the judiciary. That’s always happened to some extent, but I think the temptation has been there to be more radical about it starting with Reagan. For the next four years, at least, we’re free of this scourge. Of necessity federal judicial appointments will be bipartisan, because they’ll be nominated by a Republican president but approved by a Democratic senate.
The politics of the US is about to get a lot more contentious.
Holy. Bloody. Damn.
That was written in May of 2001. 9/11 hadn’t happened yet. Oh, Steven, you just retired the all-time understated political oracle award.
I wonder if he’s still happy about the Republicans not getting to pack the federal court system with conservative judges.