1st and Ten: The Weekly Tendown: April 18-24 2010.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dear Internet:

Can I get away with beginning Tendown with the phrase "let's get it poppin'"?  I used to watch Arsenio when I was an undergrad, with his giant Crayola suits and aerodynamic hair and think, "I will never be this cool - there's no circumstance where I'll ever be able to say Give it up - for Bell Biv DeVoe! and then lead the dog pound with a rapid series of fist pumps."

I was right.

This is Tendown 24. Here's Arsenio interviewing the Ultimate Warrior. Let's get it poppin'!

First: No Warrants Shall Issue But Upon Probable Cause

 A Tendown meme is the distance between conservative rhetoric about (1) fidelity to the Constitution and (2) the need for government to be small and not intrusive and the reality of the positions they support.  Just Last Week, in Tendown 23, I wrote about Virginia adopting an essay requirement (with church attendance as an apparent relevant factor) in determining when former felons are permitted a restoration of their voting rights.  Specifically, I wrote about it in terms of a lack of right wing response about tyranny.  Seems inarguable that, in a political year so focused around a Tea Party movement which is so predicated upon the conviction that government is acting without popular mandate, that there's nothing more central to distinguishing democracy from tyranny than the right to vote.  But here American citizens are, deprived of their right to vote, and yet no coverage on Fox News.  No rally from Michele Bachmann.  No incendiary speeches about "taking our country back." 

Makes you think conservatives don't really care about democracy at all.  A staggering notion.

This week, Arizona passed a law empowering police to stop -anyone- upon "reasonable suspicion" that that person might be an illegal immigrant and require that person to provide papers proving legal status.  We're about to have confirmation hearings for a new Supreme Court justice, and the conservatives will claim (no matter who the nominee is) that the nominee is unqualified given his/her "judicial activism" and a lack of fidelity to the constitutional text.  We want - they will say - in an argument that will echo across Fox News and drip down into the mouths of the Tea Baggers, someone who is a "strict constructionist" - who applies the plain and clear language of the Constitution instead of "legislating from the bench." 

If you like, feel free to pull out your copy of the Constitution and look for the phrase "reasonable suspicion."

I'll wait.

Here's Arsenio talking to Dice.  You know, just to have on in the background while you look.

There's a reason half of the Bill of Rights are limits on the government in the exercise of its criminal justice function; what the founding fathers who today's conservatives deify recognized is that the place where "big government" can most directly intrude upon the lives of Americans is in its ability to take away our liberty.  The 4th Amendment standard, requiring "probable cause" in order for police to conduct a search was specifically intended to require the government to have clear, articulable evidence that a suspect has committed a crime.  Conservatives have been lowering that bar for decades, increasing the power of the government in instances like traffic stops and public school searches by creating a lower standard of reasonable suspicion in specialized circumstances.  Reasonable suspicion is essentially just the judgment of a government official, "I suspect you of a crime, and most government officials in that situation would similarly suspect you."  It is a standard consciously, intentionally less than the probable cause standard written in the Constitution.  It is a standard which consciously, intentionally increases the ability of the government to intrude upon our lives in the most personal way possible.

So- this week - when Arizona said that anyone, at anytime, for virtually any reason can be required to prove legal status - it so completely hit the juxtaposition of those two key conservative principles - that there's just no way one can seriously accept (1) constitutional fidelity and (2) limited government as hallmarks of the American right wing given the utter lack of outrage by the right at this decision.  To the contrary, they support it.

The right does not care about small government.  The right does not care about the Constitution.

The right does believe in authoritarianism.  As long as they're the authorities.  That's what it worships.

And it finds any other government configuration illegitimate and will come as closely as it can for calling for armed resistance to it.  Remember that the next time the Tea Party is on television rallying against Obama's "tyranny" and literally crying about how he's "taking their Constitutional rights away."  Remember that this summer when every right winger on television is using the phrase "judicial activist" and "strict constructionism" to discuss the Supreme Court confirmation hearings.  If you can take that away from this week - it's the best element of the past 7 days.

After the jump, the rest of the Tendown.

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