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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Maureen Dowd, "Men in Black": The Pot Calls the Kettle Black

A short preface: I am pro-choice. I also believe in universal health care. At times, I vehemently disagree with, while respecting, the opinions of various Supreme Court justices. However, I acknowledge that Obamacare could be unconstitutional, and in that respect, my opinion is akin to that of a majority of Americans. In fact, according to a February 2012 Gallup poll, "Americans overwhelmingly believe the 'individual mandate,' as it is often called, is unconstitutional, by a margin of 72% to 20% (see: http://www.gallup.com/poll/152969/Americans-Divided-Repeal-2010-Healthcare-Law.aspx).

Having said all that, I would observe that Maureen Dowd has made me nauseous this morning.

In her New York Times op-ed entitled "Men in Black" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/04/opinion/dowd-men-in-black.html), Dowd declares:

"This court, cosseted behind white marble pillars, out of reach of TV, accountable to no one once they give the last word, is well on its way to becoming one of the most divisive in modern American history.

It has squandered even the semi-illusion that it is the unbiased, honest guardian of the Constitution. It is run by hacks dressed up in black robes."

Charming. Maureen Dowd, who has a B.A. in English literature from Catholic University, i.e. she is not an attorney, and who "inadvertently lifted" a paragraph from another writer's column (see: http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1899530,00.html), is calling the conservative justices of the Supreme Court "hacks."

This is the same Maureen Dowd who traveled to Saudi Arabia in 2010 and declared that the Desert Kingdom, which executes persons for "witchcraft" and imprisons and whips women who have been gang raped, is "chipping away at gender apartheid and cultural repression" (see: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/03/opinion/03dowd.html).

But let's return to today's op-ed in which Dowd goes on to say:

"The Supreme Court mirrors the setup on Fox News: There are liberals who make arguments, but they are weak foils, relegated to the background and trying to get in a few words before the commercials."

Peculiar how Maureen ignores the extreme cant of the op-ed staff of The New York Times. Sure, there are Brooks and Douthat; however, there is no mistaking the leanings of the overwhelming majority of the other writers.

More to the point, concerning the questions raised by the conservative justices, Dowd asks of Antonin Scalia:

"If he’s so brilliant, why is he drawing a risible parallel between buying health care and buying broccoli?"

Allow me to explain, Maureen. When people go to the supermarket and buy Cheetos, Twinkies, Bacon and Bud instead of broccoli, they are indeed worsening the risk pool and making insurance more expensive. Does this mean that the federal government should be allowed to demand the purchase of, or subsidize, broccoli, while banning or penalizing sales of Cheetos? Personally, if the government were to seek to deprive me of my ice cream habit, I would probably take up arms.

You see it's not all black and white.

But it is the strident tone of Dowd's opinion piece that makes me cringe. No matter how ardently I might oppose the opinion of any Supreme Court justice, I would never dream of labeling him or her a "hack." This lack of civility and basic respect for the opinions of others, threatens to tear apart the fabric of American society. If the conservative Supreme Court justices are "hacks," does this mean that each of us is free to take the law into his or her own hands? I shudder at where this leads.

[See also, "Ronald Dworkin, 'Why the Health Care Challenge Is Wrong': Really? Let's Talk Turkey (and Broccoli)!" (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2012/04/ronald-dworkin-why-health-care.html)]

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