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Archive for October, 2012

Conservertarianism Again Obliterated By Reality

[ 138 ] October 30, 2012 |

I see that Nick Gillespie has argued that, as a principled libertarian, he wishes that Democrats would stop bringing up the fact that Republicans want to coerce women to carry pregnancies to term. In fairness, this does put him one step ahead of LGM’s resident coservertarian, since Gillespie at least understands that national Republicans wish to avoid discussing their party’s highly unpopular abortion platform whenever possible. Nieporent, on the other hand:

Quite the opposite. You know it’s unpopular, which is why Democrats always use silly euphemisms like “reproductive rights” instead of the policy they actually favor of “abortion on demand.”

Whereas Republican candidates routinely say that they want to ban abortion and then are called “extremist.”

It is nutty, and political science malpractice, to pretend that a question about “Roe” is a more valid statement about what people think about abortion than a question about abortion is.

Well, given his disdain for “abortion on demand,” I really should stop applying the “tarian” to Nieporent.    Moving right along, as you can see if you look at actual public opinion data, not only Roe v. Wade but legal first trimester abortions are popular, as they consistently have been for decades. You can muddy the waters by citing polling data about what people think about abortion as a moral (as opposed to public policy) issue, or by asking them if they’d describe themselves using the “pro-life” euphemism, or by pretending that it’s possible to write statutes that only ban abortions obtained for the “wrong reasons” (which means by the wrong people), but abortion bans themselves aren’t popular. Moreover, if you look at how abortion bans were actually enforced, public opinion polls still overstate the real support for abortion bans — getting jury convictions for doctors was enormously difficult, allowing a gray market to flourish, and the Republican platform bows to this reality by (illogically) excluding women from punishment altogether.

Which, of course, is why Republicans in national elections think it’s dirty pool when Democrats bring up abortion rights. Consider George W. Bush babbling about Dred Scott so he could send a message to anti-choice fanatics while leaving the general public in the dark. Ask yourself why Romney argues that abortion has “been settled by the courts.” And why the Romney campaign sends Norm Coleman out to dissemble:

In the frenetic push to win all-important Ohio, Mitt Romney’s campaign is saying a lot of things to a lot of people. And on Monday, a top Romney surrogate told a group of Jewish voters in the Buckeye State that the landmark Supreme Court decision granting women the right to an abortion is in no danger of being overturned should Romney become president.

“President Bush was president eight years, Roe v. Wade wasn’t reversed. He had two Supreme Court picks, Roe v. Wade wasn’t reversed,” former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) told a Republican Jewish Coalition meeting in Beechwood, Ohio. “It’s not going to be reversed.”

Yes, George W. Bush’s justices were not given two votes each, so they couldn’t overrule Roe v. Wade. Fortunately, I’m sure if Romney replaces the Court’s fifth vote for upholding Roe the effects would be the same! At any rate, this is not the discourse of a ticket looking to tout their positions on abortion, for the obvious reason that the Republican platform on abortion is both extremist and unpopular.


“It’s Like, How Much More Wankish Could This Be? Well, He Could Have Also Interviewed Stoller.”

[ 63 ] October 30, 2012 |

You may remember Glenn Harlan Reynolds from such episodes of inept concern trolling as “liberals should hope that the Court rules the New Deal unconstitutional, because otherwise Congress might pass legislation it already passed in 2003 out of spite.” Improbable as it may seen, I believe he has topped himself. He starts off in the conventional manner, with some Friedersdorf-like attacks on Obama from the left on foreign policy. Which should tell you how seriously to take Friedersdorf’s conclusions, although at least Friedersdorf isn’t advancing the particular arguments in such transparent bad faith as Mr. “More Rubble Less Trouble.” But this is Reynolds — his concern trolling goes to 11:

I talked about this with Camille Paglia, a big Obama supporter in 2008. Now, she says, she’s voting for Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

Wow! I’m sure she will have further fascinating insights for us. She is, after all, a Registered Democrat (TM!) And the kind of hardcore progressive and supporter of Obama who loves her some Sarah Palin. I can’t wait for her fresh arguments, which must offer a coherent reason for voting for Jill Stein:

Though she supports some kind of health-care reform, Paglia calls the ObamaCare bill “a Stalinist intrusion into American culture.”

“I support some sort of health-care reform, like tort reform. Or tort reform. But allow people to obtain health insurance? Why not just send them to Kazakhstan to starve.”

And it gets worse: “I was very excited about him. I thought he was a moderate. I thought that his election would promote racial healing in the country; it would be a tremendous transformation of attitudes. And instead . . . now I consider him one of the most racially divisive and polarizing figures ever. I think it will take years to undo the damage he has done.”

“I’m afraid that by being black, Barack Obama has exacerbated racial tensions in this country. If only we had a had a man like Strom Thurmond again, we would never have had any of these problems.”

I could go on, proceeding to Paglia’s argument about how the lesson of Bringing It All Back Home is that the EPA and the civil rights division of the DOJ should be disbanded, but…really, after that it’s all anticlimax.

Meanwhile, despite the flameout of Miguel Cabrera’s Tigers in the World Series, we do at least have a hack triple crown winner in late October, because fellow Yoostabee Ann Althouse finds Paglia’s ideas fascinating and would like to subscribe to her newsletter.


[ 120 ] October 30, 2012 |

Why has television surpassed film as the most important form of motion picture media? Maybe because shows like Mad Men tell interesting stories while the 14th sequel to a superhero movie might sell tickets in China but is culturally irrelevant over the long-term. And while I don’t doubt that TV being free after subscription and pirating are issues, the real problem for Hollywood is that they don’t tell interesting stories anymore, preferring to rely on CGI and tricks to get 15 year old boys to spend money, while adults can watch Mad Men or Girls or The Wire or whatever.

But hey, I’m sure having Seth MacFarlane host the Oscars will make a huge difference and put film back on top. Clearly Hollywood studio executives have identified the problem correctly…..

True visionaries in the the field of New Lows

[ 30 ] October 29, 2012 |

No video yet:

FOX NEWS WEATHER PERSON: These power outages could last up to a week, right through election day, which could be really great news for Romney.

FOX NEWS BLONDE WOMAN #3: Because even if the power’s back on, people will have a lot more on their mind than voting.

FOX NEWS WEATHER PERSON: It’s not like the South, where people know how to handle this sort of weather.

I shouldn’t be surprised, but FOX News is a real pioneer.

Sandy’s Wake

[ 7 ] October 29, 2012 |

Here at the north end of the Hudson Valley we have missed the worst consequences of the storm (so far), but our thoughts are with our friends and neighbors who weren’t so lucky. Take care of each other, everyone.

LGM 2012 Electoral Vote Challenge

[ 147 ] October 29, 2012 |

In keeping LGM’s long history of pointless competition community building, let me announce the 2012 LGM Electoral Vote Challenge.  To enter, create a map here, copy the unique URL (through the “share” button), then paste into a comment. Victor will be determined on the assumption that there will be no “faithless” electors.

  • First tiebreaker: Correct President (If Romney wins 274, a 284 is preferred to 264).
  • Second tiebreaker: Closest to Obama national vote percentage (New York Times) as of November 9, 12pm EST.
  • Third tiebreaker: Closest to Obama margin-of-victory in percent in Massachusetts (New York Times) as of November 9, 12pm EST.

One vote per person, which we will enforce to the best of our ability.

My map is here. This differs from the prediction I made in January only by the shift of Ohio from Romney to Obama. Obama national vote: 49.8%.  Obama MOV in MA: 18.2%

Winner gets a prize selected from the LGM Store.


[ 229 ] October 29, 2012 |

The threat Nate Silver’s mathematical models offer to traditional punditry, with its emphasis on the horse race and the personalities and the media ratings, is quite real. How do we know? So many pundits hate Silver with the heat of a thousand suns.

And these are political pundits we are talking about here, people. Political pundits have absolutely no accountability to anyone. The idea that Silver could be discredited if he is wrong next week is hilarious coming from, say, David Brooks.

..[SL] If you don’t want to reward Politico’s trolling with your hard-earned links, Elle Reeve has a good roundup of more people who think Silver is a fraud because everyone knows that if a coin comes up heads twice in a row this proves that math is invalid.

Pretending That Bush v. Gore Was Constitutional Law: Ohio Edition

[ 39 ] October 29, 2012 |

Richard Hasen has an interesting story about how citations of Bush v. Gore‘s equal protection holding in the key decisions stopping vote suppression in Ohio:

But the fight over Ohio’s election laws tells a different story. The Buckeye State has seen a rather remarkable string of wins for voting rights supporters. Federal courts have ordered the expansion of early voting and saved the votes of potentially thousands of voters who would have been disenfranchised because of poll worker errors, such as sending a voter to the wrong table to vote because the worker cannot tell an odd from an even number. Even more remarkably, the decisions from Democratic and Republican judges alike have relied on a very broad reading of Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court case that ended the 2000 Florida recount in favor of George W. Bush.

This is a little less surprising than you might think — while the Supreme Court has famously failed to cite the case a single time, it has been fairly extensively cited by lower courts, who have (properly) ignored the Court’s explicit admission that they were committing fraud assertion that “[o]ur consideration is limited to the present circumstances.” And this is a good thing. There’s a reason, after all, that the Republicans who decided Bush v. Gore didn’t want to create precedent — if you (unlike them) take the nominal holding in Bush v. Gore seriously, it would render many of the horrible inequities of the American voting system unconstitutional.

I’ve always been a fan of Mark Tushnet’s argument that, since the lawless legitimation of George W. Bush’s presidency can’t be undone, we might as well make law out of it:

A final technique of renormalization is in some ways the most interesting. It involves the generalized invocation of rule-of-law norms, typically in the form of assertions that the Supreme Court’s decision, while perhaps incorrect, nonetheless deserves respect because the Court is our nation’s voice of the law. The qualification in the preceding sentence is important. A decision can be justified by the rule of law standing alone only if there are no other reasons justifying the decision. That is, rule-of-law ideas have force only when someone who disagrees with a decision is asked to accept it nonetheless. Not surprisingly, this creates something of a psychological difficulty, related to, but not quite the same as, the phenomenon of cognitive dissonance. People find it hard to think that decisions with which they disagree are nevertheless justified. People also find it hard to give up on the ideal of the rule of law. The outcome is predictable. As time passes, people come to think that the decisions with which they initially disagreed were actually not wrong. I think we can expect to see, and I think reasonably soon, progressives asserting that, as a matter of fact, Bush v. Gore was correctly decided.

As indeed it was. After all, the equal protection doctrine the case articulated can certainly be turned to progressive uses. We can, and should, take the case as another in a long line of decisions by political actors–a category that includes judges–expanding and protecting the expansion of the franchise. Some of us may retain a lurking, or even overt, sense that the Justices who joined the majority opinion in Bush v. Gore did not see the case in those terms and that those Justices were motivated by narrow partisan concerns. Still, the case is there to be used by progressives in the future. And that, to conclude, would be another vindication of a different critical legal studies claim, this one about the indeterminacy of legal doctrine.

It’s possible that Ohio will prove to be a case of this actually working.

UPDATE: Since the cited passage may be misleading, I should note here that when Tushnet is talking about Bush v. Gore being correctly decided, he’s talking about the equal protection holding itself, not the Court’s remedy (which was inconsistent with the holding.) Going forward (for questions other than the historical reputation of the majority justices), however, what matters is how the holding is applied, because the effects of the remedy can’t be undone.

Or We Could Just Make Sure Unqualified Republican Fundraisers Run FEMA

[ 62 ] October 29, 2012 |

As Sandy bears down on the East Coast, the fact that Romney thinks we can’t afford disaster relief because they might threaten upper-class tax cuts or military spending so wasteful even the Pentagon doesn’t want it seems relevant:

Mitt Romney said America shouldn’t be in the business of providing federal disaster relief and that it would be better for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s functions to be handled by individual states or even the private sector.

Queried directly on the topic by CNN’s John King during the June 13, 2011 Republican presidential primary debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, Romney said the federal government “cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids.”

Related: the fact that Romney thought that American auto companies should be forced to rely on private capital that at the time didn’t exist (and hence go out of business) is, in fact, sufficient reason that Romney should lose Ohio and hence the election.

…much more from Alec Macgillis.

Halloween Eve, Asbury Park

[ 38 ] October 29, 2012 |

A song from Springsteen’s best album seems especially appropriate today:

How can this record be 40 years old? (Any other boomers feel like a decade got lost in there somewhere — that the early 80s were actually 20 years ago, etc?).

Talking About Bad and Unpopular Republican Policies Is So Uncivil!

[ 36 ] October 28, 2012 |

Shorter Kathleen Parker: “How dare Democrats focus on an increasing number of creepy Republican comments about rape, policies enacted and/or opposed by federal and state Republican legislatures, and the Republican platform to show that Republicans are in many ways opposed to the interests of women?  Mitt Romney has been very clear that he would not unilaterally overturn Griswold v. Connecticut!”


Hey Ladies — Ross Douthat Knows What’s Good For You

[ 104 ] October 28, 2012 |

Shorter Ross Douthat:  “Barack Obama’s pitch to women is so weirdly paternalistic.  Anti-paternalism, of course, is using state coercion to force women to carry pregnancies to term (while assuming that women do not have the moral agency sufficient to be held legally accountable) while allowing employers to discriminate against women.    Also, I will make assertions about declines in the gender gap for which there’s no actual evidence.”


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