Obstructionist Conservatives truly are “damaging the fabric of governance”

I really was not in the greatest of moods (given Golden Alfie’s current situation), but when I read this article this morning about another hold on an Obama nominee I just couldn’t NOT comment.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) has blocked Harvard law professor Cass Sunstein from heading the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs because of his position on animal rights. In a 2004 book, Sunstein wrote: “I will suggest that animals should be permitted to bring suit, with human beings as their representatives, to prevent violations of current law.”

More specifically, Professor Sunstein wrote: “Laws designed to protect animals against cruelty and abuse should be amended or interpreted to give a private cause of action against those who violate them, so as to allow private people to supplement the efforts of public prosecutors.” Chambliss is supposedly troubled by  Sunstein’s potential impact on this as well as many other agriculture related issues.

I am cheered by the fact that Cass Sunstein believes that there should be much greater regulation of the use of animals in entertainment, in scientific experiments, and in agriculture — the spotlight needing to rest squarely on the issue of suffering and well-being.

Actually, 21 Obama nominees for important posts remain unconfirmed.

Most of the stranded nominees have long since had hearings and majority approval by Senate committees and meetings with lawmakers. None of the nominees have been tainted by scandal or had their core competence questioned. And yet, they remain unconfirmed — one for more than three months and several others for more than a month — mainly because of holds, often anonymous and unexplained, by Republican senators.

Holds are effectively a filibuster, requiring 60 votes to overcome. Used legitimately, they can buy time to clear up unanswered questions about a nominee’s qualifications. But the current widespread holds of uncertain duration are obstructionism. Writing in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, Norman Ornstein, a Congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said the mass delays are “damaging the fabric of governance.”

The 2004 animal rights books attributed to Cass Sunstein is an important one. Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions is a seminal 2004 book edited by Cass R. Sunstein and Martha C. Nussbaum.

Millions of people live with cats, dogs, and other pets, which they treat as members of their families. But through their daily behavior, people who love those pets, and greatly care about their welfare, help ensure short and painful lives for millions, even billions of animals that cannot easily be distinguished from dogs and cats. Today, the overwhelming percentage of animals with whom Westerners interact are raised for food. Countless animals endure lives of relentless misery and die often torturous deaths.

The use of animals by human beings, often for important human purposes, has forced uncomfortable questions to center stage: Should people change their behavior? Should the law promote animal welfare? Should animals have legal rights? Should animals continue to be counted as “property”? What reforms make sense?

Cass Sunstein and Martha Nussbaum bring together an all-star cast of contributors to explore the legal and political issues that underlie the campaign for animal rights and the opposition to it. Addressing ethical questions about ownership, protection against unjustified suffering, and the ability of animals to make their own choices free from human control, the authors offer numerous different perspectives on animal rights and animal welfare. They show that whatever one’s ultimate conclusions, the relationship between human beings and nonhuman animals is being fundamentally rethought. This book offers a state-of-the-art treatment of that rethinking.

Just look at some of the reviews:

“Our society is in the midst of a major debate over animal rights, our duties, and the legal status of animals. This new compilation of essays has profoundly contributed to this debate…. Animal Rights is an incredible resource introducing readers to the basic issues in animal rights and highlighting directions animal advocates may go.” — Animal Law

“An important and thought-provoking work. Sunstein and Nussbaum illuminate issues that have the power to unite or divide those of us who care deeply about animals. By fostering better understanding, their book can help light the pathway to common ground.” — Kathryn S. Fuller, President, World Wildlife Fund – US

“Several chapters…discuss political and legal changes that could drastically improve the lives of animals without giving them rights or personhood. …This is a book political decision makers should read.” — The Law and Politics Book Review

You must must must check out the book’s table of contents and read the incredible introduction (which begins with the title: DOGS, CATS, AND HYPOCRISY). Just click here.


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