Roberts and Romer
By Matthew Rothschild

August 5, 2005

When George Bush nominated John Roberts to the High Court, Pat Robertson and other leaders of the counterrevolution said God had heard their prayers.

But there is a remote possibility that God is hard of hearing and that if confirmed, Roberts will not turn out to be God’s gift to the right.

One glimmer of hope is the role Roberts played, while at Hogan & Hartson, in the 1996 Romer v. Evans case. Roberts joined other members of the firm in giving pro bono legal advice to the plaintiffs, who ultimately succeeded in overturning a homophobic provision of the Colorado constitution that had denied civil rights protections to gays. Roberts was brought in specifically to prep the plaintiffs’ team in how to respond to the moderate and conservative justices.

This has gotten the right all apoplectic.

It’s “not welcome news to those of us who advocate for traditional values,” said James Dobson of Focus on the Family, who had initially praised the Roberts pick.

Actually, just about every voice on the right except the fire-breather Ann Coulter had hailed Roberts as a gift from on high.

But now Bush finds himself having to placate the right for Roberts’s lawyerly duties in this one case.

On our side of the fence, Roberts’s role in Romer is bolstering those who have been secretly sighing, “He could be worse.”

That’s kind of like saying you prefer Orrin Hatch to Jesse Helms, but the fingers-crossed crowd says this case shows Roberts can at least perceive the legal merits of gay rights.

I suppose that’s a plus.

Of course, some on our side held out hopes for Clarence Thomas, too, and look where that got us.

All in all, it’s hard for me to believe that Bush would pick someone who would not reliably advance his rightwing agenda.

Dick Cheney and Karl Rove and Scooter Libby, the three musketeers of ideological purity in the White House, personally vetted Roberts as far back as May 3, long before O’Connor’s resignation.

I imagine they made him walk on the hot coals, and they liked the way he danced.

This is a guy who was bounced on the knees of Ken Starr and Ted Olson.

He is hardly an unknown quantity.


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Trump's politics are not the problem.

The fiery Milwaukee Sheriff is on the shortlist to head the Department of Homeland Security.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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