hard heads soft hearts

a scratch pad for half-formed thoughts by a liberal political junkie who's nobody special. ''Hard Heads, Soft Hearts'' is the title of a book by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, and tends to be a favorite motto of neoliberals, especially liberal economists.

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Friday, June 14, 2002
have you read the latest "tilting at windmills"? It
contains this eye-opener from Charlie Peters:

the federal judiciary, dominated as it is by Reagan
and Bush I appointees, along with a few Nixon and Ford
holdovers. The latest example comes from the Fifth
Circuit Court of Appeals. It has upheld a federal
district judge who had decided that the Department of
Agriculture had exceeded its authority by shutting
down the Supreme Beef Processors plant in Dallas. Had
the Agriculture inspectors acted arbitrarily or
hastily? Hardly. They did not act until the plant had
failed its salmonella contamination test three times.
Why, then, did the court rule against the inspectors?
For one thing, the court said, the meat already could
have been contaminated before it reached the plant.
For another, they said that since salmonella can be
destroyed by cooking, it should not be regulated under
the Federal Meat Inspection Act.

As to the first argument, don't we want to make sure
that the meat-processing companies buy uncontaminated
meat or, if they don't, that they decontaminate it or
throw it away?

As for the argument that cooking can destroy
salmonella, it ignores the fact that before the meat
is cooked it can contaminate kitchen utensils, cutting
boards, and other foods. And unfortunately, not every
consumer is going to cook the meat long enough to
destroy the bacteria. It may be fair to join the
conservatives in saying that the cook should suffer
the consequences of his or her carelessness. But what
about innocent family members? And what about innocent
customers of restaurants with careless cooks? Don't
they deserve protection? >"

Instead of digging through whether judges were racists
40 years ago, isn't this the sort of ammo judiciary
Democrats should be using? Whether or not shutting
down the Beef processing plant was appropriate, this
is not a legitimate issue for a court to decide, much
less a court of appeals. It is shameless, blatant
judicial activism at its worst.

key point: the conservatives want to use the next 4/8
years to shift the judiciary so far to the right that
it doesn't matter who's President after that. Hell,
they might even use a grandiose interpretation of the
"takings" clause of the constitution in order to
outlaw progressive taxation.