Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Drilling in the Wall Kept Up But No One Seemed to Pay It Any Mind

Juan Cole suggests five obviously reasonable Congressional Hearings that might be undertaken as, among other things, a bracing contrast to the pointless and wasteful kangaroo court which has just given Mrs. Clinton a powerful boost towards her goal of achieving the Presidency. (Prior to watching some of the Clinton hearing on Thursday night I was having conversations with friends about how while I'd vote for Mrs. Clinton, I wished there were some other better choice. After her testimony was done it was clear to me that she had a solid grasp of what the United States government is, and will do a fine job in the office of the President of the United States. Thank you Mr. Gowdy, et al.)

But Mr. Cole is certainly right that all five of his suggested Congressional Investigations would be far more enlightening to the voting public than anything the Benghazi hearing was even theoretically capable of generating. What the Benghazi hearing revealed was, primarily, the incompetence of the Republicans in the House of Representatives. Of course we certainly knew that already. And it must be said that if one imagines the current House undertaking any of Mr. Cole's suggested quests for truth, they will mess those goals up just as much as the Benghazi hearings. Because in every case, as Mr. Cole well knows, the Republicans in Congress are already compromised by the subjects he suggests they investigate. Congress investigate Exxon, or ALEC? It's a thought experiment because it's easy to imagine the result of this group of "representatives" asking questions of those folks.

Here in North Carolina, the ALEC bunch has now "captured" the entire system of state universities, all sixteen branches of the University of North Carolina. The former Education Secretary of the George W. Bush administration is now the new President of the UNC System. She gets an annual salary of about three-quarters of a million dollars, a nice mansion in Chapel Hill, and a seven year contract. This lady has nothing beyond a bachelors degree. It's said she's a protege of Carl Rove, as NC is generally now a protege of Texas politics, a tragedy not to be wished even on Texas.

The UNC Board of Governors pulled this coup off with the style of safe crackers and jewel thieves. They got it done only a day or so before a new law would have at least forced them to offer some alternative choices. It was a lock, this appointment, the day they fired the capable current President--an act the Board had no explanation for. But as for the result, well the far right in North Carolina have made a move at least comparable to Governor Walker's destruction of the government worker labor unions in Wisconsin. This appointment, in its theoretical implications, is almost the assassination of liberal thinking in North Carolina. Jesse Helms, who is the godfather of North Carolina radical conservatism, and who hated UNC with a burning passion during all but his very last years on earth, must be dancing in his coffin. And among those who's dream it is to restructure Law in the United States, this amounts, in theory, to the capture of a grand old law school. If the cards fall as they may, one day a Supreme Court appointee could have a UNC law degree next to his name--a far cry from the dubious conservative law schools that already give formal credentials to the long-game of destroying every progressive advance in our legal framework which has occurred over nearly a century of at least modestly liberal governance.

There are certainly vigorous objections to this coup, from UNC faculty and students among others. I would expect any number of events to unfold as the months pass. Ms Spellings will not necessarily have a happy time in her mansion. And the Board that appointed her, now skulking off into the night, pretty much anonymous outlines in the mist, leaves her potentially twisting in the wind, to use a fine Nixonian phrase. This fine office used to be peopled with remarkable North Carolinians, William Friday being the first and foremost. Dr. Friday had degrees from both NC State and UNC. Before that he'd been in the Navy Reserve during World War II. It's a long way to a Carl Rove toady from Texas.

At the moment, the NC public thinks Ms Spellings is a political gambit by an 81/19 margin. How that might translate into actual votes next year is anyone's guess. A lot of those dubious voters are going to get to the poll and discover they don't have the proper credentials to cast a ballot. This is what a President of the University of North Carolina System used to look like:

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