Incurious Clarence Thomas

Why do some conservatives consider it a badge of honor to be as uninformed as your average tree stump? Preznit Poster Boy once bragged that he never reads newspapers - Crazy Clarence Thomasprobably because there was no second grader to help him read The Pet Goat as a warm up. The Big Dick consistently thinks it’s important to get only one side of any story - the one he’s already decided he’s on. You name the branch of the administration and chances are you’ll find someone who wouldn’t recognize a book if you slammed their fingers in one. Now, SCOTUS justice Clarence “Who Has Put Pubic Hair on My Coke” Thomas has come out foursquare in favor of vacuousness.

Stumping for his new autobiography, My Grandfather’s Son, Clancy brags that he hasn’t asked a question in two years and 142 cases. The last one came on Feb. 26, 2006 in a unanimous death penalty case.

“One thing I’ve demonstrated often in 16 years is you can do this job without asking a single question,” he told the Federalist Society. Instead of an intelligent interrogatory, he prefers to lean back in his comfy leather chair, stare at the ceiling, and occasionally share a laugh or two with Justice Stephen Breyer or Anthony Kennedy, his neighbors on the bench. Paraphrasing an old “know it all” Rumsfeld adage, Clancy seems to know all the knowns, unknowns, and potential knowns or unknowns without asking a single question. He’s a regular frickin’ Nostradumbass, he is.

Incurious Clarence says it’s not that he’s against questions, he just doesn’t ask them. “If I think a question will help me decide a case, then I’ll ask that question. Otherwise, it’s not worth asking because it detracts from my job,” he told CSPAN last year. Clarence, here’s a tip dude. If you went two years and 142 cases and didn’t think of a single question, you’re either dead, full of the milk of Bushonian hubris, or clueless.

I don’t expect much from Clarence, I really don’t. At the risk of being accused of conducting another high-tech lynching, I thought Clarence was dumb as a box of rocks when he wiggled onto the court and he’s only confirmed my suspicions since then. The fact that he happens to be African American has zero to do with it. I’d think a white person with as little intellectual curiosity as him would be just as useful a doorstop. Look at the whitest guys around, Daddy and Baby Doc Bush, for stunningly detailed proof.

Along with all the other actions that have eroded our democracy, attitudes like Clarence’s and Shrub’s are a big part of what put us there. To me, it’s one thing to be smart but ideologically opposed - like John Roberts. It’s another to be smart and dangerously evil - like the Big Dick. It’s quite another if you’re simply too stupid to know just how stupid you are - a category topped by Shrub and Clancy. This is one of those times I just want to scream in rage.

“HEY, YOU! STARING AT THE CEILING! Wake up, participate, and STOP CRIBBING FROM ANTONIN SCALIA’S NOTES!”

 


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8 Responses to “Incurious Clarence Thomas”

  1. Craig R. Harmon Says:

    It is possible that Clarence sees his job, at oral arguments, as something of a judge at a debate between two debaters. In a classical debate (not what we often get in presidential debates), we get a question or statement like, “It is the consensus of the house that the constitution permits public secondary school administrators to search student’s lockers without their consent.” Then one debater takes the pro position and the other takes the con position and the two debate one another while the judge remains a non-participant except, of course, at the end to judge the arguments presented by the respective debaters. In such situations, the judge doesn’t break into the debate to interrogate the speakers, to challenge their arguments or inquire into their perception of the outcome of their position. It is not his or her job. He merely evaluates the arguments, the logic or fallacies of the respective arguments, the success or failure of each side to parry the objections of the other. Such a judge is not necessarily either stupid or incurious because he or she asks no questions. It’s just the nature of the job. Well, I think this is the way Justice Thomas sees his job as a Justice.

    The fact that the others do not seem to share that perception is not terribly relevant. There is nothing in the Constitution requiring Justices to rudely interrupt those given strictly limited amounts of time to present a case or to occupy that scarce time bantering back and forth with one another rather than listening to the arguments.

    As for his looking at the ceiling, so what? During the sermon at church, I am typically looking at the floor or have my eyes closed. I assure you that I am neither asleep nor inattentive to what the good pastor is saying; I simply find it easier to pay close attention and to avoid distraction that way.

    In short, I think you draw unwarranted conclusions from evidence that permits of other, less negative explanations — and hence are committing a non sequitur fallacy — leading me to conclude that your reasoning is circular here, that you begin by assuming he’s stupid and find evidence in his silence during argument — and hence, I suspect, committing a petitio principii fallacy.

    This is not even to mention the non substantive argumentum ad hominem attacks, which debate judges tend to view unfavorably. I’m afraid, were I a judge at a debate, I would give your presentation here rather low marks.

  2. me Says:

    It is possible that Clarence sees his job, at oral arguments, as something of a judge at a debate between two debaters. In a classical debate (not what we often get in presidential debates), we get a question or statement like, “It is the consensus of the house that the constitution permits public secondary school administrators to search student’s lockers without their consent.” Then one debater takes the pro position and the other takes the con position and the two debate one another while the judge remains a non-participant except, of course, at the end to judge the arguments presented by the respective debaters. In such situations, the judge doesn’t break into the debate to interrogate the speakers, to challenge their arguments or inquire into their perception of the outcome of their position. It is not his or her job. He merely evaluates the arguments, the logic or fallacies of the respective arguments, the success or failure of each side to parry the objections of the other. Such a judge is not necessarily either stupid or incurious because he or she asks no questions. It’s just the nature of the job. Well, I think this is the way Justice Thomas sees his job as a Justice.

    The fact that the others do not seem to share that perception is not terribly relevant. There is nothing in the Constitution requiring Justices to rudely interrupt those given strictly limited amounts of time to present a case or to occupy that scarce time bantering back and forth with one another rather than listening to the arguments.

    As for his looking at the ceiling, so what? During the sermon at church, I am typically looking at the floor or have my eyes closed. I assure you that I am neither asleep nor inattentive to what the good pastor is saying; I simply find it easier to pay close attention and to avoid distraction that way.

    In short, I think you draw unwarranted conclusions from evidence that permits of other, less negative explanations — and hence are committing a non sequitur fallacy — leading me to conclude that your reasoning is circular here, that you begin by assuming he’s stupid and find evidence in his silence during argument — and hence, I suspect, committing a petitio principii fallacy.

    This is not even to mention the non substantive argumentum ad hominem attacks, which debate judges tend to view unfavorably. I’m afraid, were I a judge at a debate, I would give your presentation here rather low marks.

    Craig R. Harmon

  3. me Says:

    It is possible that Clarence sees his job, at oral arguments, as something of a judge at a debate between two debaters. In a classical debate (not what we often get in presidential debates), we get a question or statement like, “It is the consensus of the house that the constitution permits public secondary school administrators to search student’s lockers without their consent.” Then one debater takes the pro position and the other takes the con position and the two debate one another while the judge remains a non-participant except, of course, at the end to judge the arguments presented by the respective debaters. In such situations, the judge doesn’t break into the debate to interrogate the speakers, to challenge their arguments or inquire into their perception of the outcome of their position. It is not his or her job. He merely evaluates the arguments, the logic or fallacies of the respective arguments, the success or failure of each side to parry the objections of the other. Such a judge is not necessarily either stupid or incurious because he or she asks no questions. It’s just the nature of the job. Well, I think this is the way Justice Thomas sees his job as a Justice.

    The fact that the others do not seem to share that perception is not terribly relevant. There is nothing in the Constitution requiring Justices to rudely interrupt those given strictly limited amounts of time to present a case or to occupy that scarce time bantering back and forth with one another rather than listening to the arguments.

    As for his looking at the ceiling, so what? During the sermon at church, I am typically looking at the floor or have my eyes closed. I assure you that I am neither asleep nor inattentive to what the good pastor is saying; I simply find it easier to pay close attention and to avoid distraction that way.

    In short, I think you draw unwarranted conclusions from evidence that permits of other, less negative explanations — and hence are committing a non sequitur fallacy — leading me to conclude that your reasoning is circular here, that you begin by assuming he’s stupid and find evidence in his silence during argument — and hence, I suspect, committing a petitio principii fallacy, otherwise known as begging the question.

    This is not even to mention the non substantive argumentum ad hominem attacks, which debate judges tend to view unfavorably. I’m afraid, were I a judge at a debate, I would give your presentation here rather low marks.

    Craig R. Harmon

  4. me Says:

    Damn! Sorry for repeating myself.

  5. manapp99 Says:

    OP, it is curious that you are blasting others for their lack of curiosity and yet your own reading comprehension skills are so obviously lacking. Look at this quote:

    “Why do some conservative s consider it a badge of honor to be as uninformed as your average tree stump? Preznit Poster Boy once bragged that he never reads newspapers -”

    Yet the story you link says this:

    He walks into the Oval Office in the morning, Bush said, and asks Card: “What’s in the newspapers worth worrying about? I glance at the headlines just to kind of (get) a flavor of what’s moving,” Bush said. “I rarely read the stories,” he said.

    So he does not “brag that he never reads newspapers” he says he “rarely reads the stories”. You clearly did not comprehend the story as you read it through your “hate Bush” bias. He goes on to say this:

    “I have great respect for the media,” he said. “I mean, our society is a good, solid democracy because of a good, solid media. But I also understand that a lot of times there’s opinions mixed in with news.”

    To which Hume told Bush: “I won’t disagree with that, sir.”

    Bush continued: “I appreciate people’s opinions, but I’m more interested in news. And the best way to get the news is from objective sources. And the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what’s happening in the world.”

    Anyone who does not understand that reading the newspapers only gets you a politically biased opinion has not been paying attention lately. Just look at the recent front page NYTs story about McCain for instance. Once there was a time when the front page was just the hard news and opinion was in the editorial section but those days have long past.
    I would prefer my President to do exactly what Bush does and get the real news from objective sources.

    As far as his reading a book? A simple google search reveals that the President is quite a bookworm:

    http://www.usnews.com/usnews/news/articles/060817/17bushbooks.htm

    “Bush’s reading list: heavy on bios and baseball
    By Kenneth T. Walsh
    Posted 8/17/06
    George W. Bush a bookworm? White House aides say it’s so. The born-again president’s literary interests start with the predictable, such as his daily readings from the Bible. But he also enjoys books about Abraham Lincoln, his political hero, and, of course, yarns about baseball-in a past life, he was, after all, the managing partner of the Texas Rangers. Staffers say the president is actually engaged in an informal contest with White House senior adviser Karl Rove to see who can read more books this year. The latest score card has Bush ahead 60-50.A sampling of the president’s reading list so far this year, according to White House aides:”

    Clarence Thomas has come from a very humble background and worked his way up the ladder to the Supreme Court. His education includes Yale Law.

    From your post:

    “If I think a question will help me decide a case, then I’ll ask that question. Otherwise, it’s not worth asking because it detracts from my job”

    So you would rather have justices who ask pointless and inane questions?

    It is clear that your hatred of all things conservative have clouded you judgement of your fellow human beings. It never ceases to amaze how liberals preach respect of others regardless of race, sex, age etc, yet seem comfortable with hate filled lies about someone who has a different political philosophy then they do.

  6. Omnipotent Poobah Says:

    Craig and Manapp,
    I’m a bit tight on time here so I can’t go point by point, but I’d still like to do you the courtesy of responding since you were kind enough to comment.

    You bring up good points about how often to ask questions and when. You’ll note the article I cited says the other justices often ask too many.

    I think the number and timing of questions should be balanced. There is no rule or precedent that supremes must sit in stony silence and if they did the process would break down. Leaving the lawyers to present the entire affair without questions doesn’t provide some details that might be important. To me, 2 years and 142 cases, doesn’t speak well of curiosity that might be important in deciding crucial cases.

    As for George’s intellectual curiosity…If memory serves me correctly, his reading list came out partially in response to the flak he got from saying he didn’t read newspapers. Whether he or Karl Rove reads more books means nothing in terms of understanding the issues he must meet.

    News summaries are useful tools, but shouldn’t replace personal reading. First, the summaries, by their nature, are filtered. As we know from many administrations, the summaries quite often carry an agenda from the person who compiled them.

    IMHO, a person who needs to be informed should draw information from multiple sources. That means you should read the WaPo as well as the Washington Times and watch CNN as much as Fox. If you only watch Fox you well only get a conservative bias, the same as if a liberal only read the WaPo.

    CRAP! I’m late for my meeting. Thanks for the comments. Gotta go.

  7. me Says:

    Orin Kerr, who has actually argued cases before the Supreme Court, has a different take on the issue. As he sees it, questions by the Justices at oral arguments are mostly not about curiosity at all but about persuasion…persuasion of those Justices whom they think may be persuadable to the side of the questioner.

    You see, lawyers for each side present briefs to the Justices (along, often, with various amicus briefs by interested third parties) which are much more detailed than the presenting lawyers can be in the typical 30 minutes of oral argument (particularly with Justices interrupting the lawyers at every turn) so the Justices are already thoroughly acquainted with the arguments that they will be presented at orals and mostly they see the orals as an opportunity to (a) highlight what they see as the strengths of the side that they may already have decided to support and (b) try to make the lawyer and the position of the side they may have already decided against look bad, particularly if they can do so in ways that they think might sway a certain swing Justice on the court to their favored side.

    If questioning isn’t about learning something they don’t know about the argument but about rhetorically persuading Justice Kennedy, then Justice Thomas’ usual silence has nothing to do with either his intellect or his curiosity; it has to do with refusing to play the game that the others are playing.

  8. manapp99 Says:

    “IMHO, a person who needs to be informed should draw information from multiple sources.”

    I agree completely. This is why you want to limit the amount of information you get from the newspapers.
    Today’s newspaper reporters are at best incompetent with their inability to just report the news and keep their opinions out of it or at worst corrupt and want their opinion to be the story. Either way you get more opinion than news from the printed press.

    My problem with your post is your attempts to skew the facts to fit your preconceived notion of the lack of intellect of those you differ with politically.

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