Subscribe via RSS Feed

Author Page for Scott Lemieux

rss feed

The Solution Is Obvious

[ 66 ] March 18, 2016 |


In the wake of Erick Erickson’s fizzled anti-Trump cabal, Ed Kilgore observes that one obvious problem with #NeverTrump is that it requires coordination among factions whose lack of coordination has allowed Trump to become the frontrunner in the first place:

This and many accounts of schemes to rig the convention against Trump — or otherwise keep him out of the White House through means other than beating him in the primaries — generally suffer from an extreme overvaluation of the ability of Republicans to reach and execute a complex coordinated strategy. If they had that capacity, would 17 people have run for president in this cycle? Would it have taken the Establishment so long to settle on a candidate that it basically did not matter? Does anyone in particular really strike you as having the power to “broker” a brokered convention, and if so, what have they been waiting for?

Some seem to put faith in the Republican National Committee and Reince Priebus to orchestrate things to a successful conclusion. And it’s true the RNC may not have a “putative” nominee telling him and the quadrennial army of convention volunteers exactly what to do every moment of the day leading up to and through the convention. But that doesn’t mean the party hacks will be free to do what they want. No, any surviving candidates, including presumably Trump and Cruz, will demand input on every single decision, no matter how minor. There will be no “private,” much less “secret” meetings at which deals go down; there will instead exist the special transparency imposed on people who don’t trust each other at all.

Right now, the only people who look likely to head to Cleveland knowing exactly what they want and being able to communicate with each other without fearing an imminent knife in the back are the candidates and their loyal retainers, for whom the elevation of their lord and god to the nomination is not just the first but the only consideration. Everyone else may well look as feckless as the conservative revolutionaries who sounded like a threat to Trump until it became apparent they couldn’t find their butts with both hands.

Alas, floated ideas about a third party run also seem very unlikely to happen. I yearn for the day when conservatives see the tactical brilliance of third party politics. Or, at least, when many more of them come to the belief that NOBODY OWNS YOUR VOTE and not voting is a life-affirming consumer choice and if voting mattered they’d make it illegal (and, well, they are, but not for people like you!)


Undue Burden

[ 66 ] March 17, 2016 |


Here’s what Texas’s anti-abortion statute forces women to do:

While three-hour road trips are often the stuff of impromptu weekend getaways, in Texas they’ve now become a requirement for a large swath of women seeking to access basic healthcare. A new study shows that the passage of a prohibitive state law has dramatically increased travel distances and the need for overnight stays to obtain an abortion.

We already knew that half of the state’s abortion clinics shuttered following the introduction in 2013 of House Bill 2 (HB2), which instituted strict and prohibitive requirements for abortion facilities. Now, a new research paper published in the American Journal of Public Health literally maps out the impact of those closures. Among women whose nearest clinic shutdown after HB2, the average distance to the nearest provider increased fourfold.

Researchers from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) analyzed surveys from nearly 400 women seeking abortions in Texas. They found that among the 38 percent of women whose nearest clinic closed following HB2, the average one-way distance to the closest abortion clinic was now 70 miles. Compare that to their average one-way distance to the nearest provider before the law passed: 17 miles. That’s just the average increased burden. It’s much worse for many who had their closest clinic close: 25 percent live more than 139 miles away from a provider and 10 percent are more than 256 miles away. That’s easily in excess of anywhere from four to nine hours in the car roundtrip.

The health benefits of these onerous restrictions are “none.” The law must be struck down.

More Garland

[ 132 ] March 17, 2016 |


I have thoughts at both The Guardian and The New Republic. I don’t precisely disagree with Brothers Campos and Pierce about the tactical rationale for picking Garland. (Although I am a little concerned about Paul’s GFII analogy, since Roth’s maneuvering ended up with him, Frankie Pentangeli, and Fredo all dead. Hopefully this doesn’t mean we’re in for 8 years of a Trump/Nugent administration…) And it’s hard to evaluate the choice because it’s hard to know who would be willing to serve as a “pinata” with no chance of actually being confirmed to the Supreme Court. But if he was willing, I would have preferred Watford. As usual, I don’t buy the Overton Window arguments against Garland, but I do put at least a little stock in the base mobilization arguments:

One potential problem is that appointing a moderate justice might make it harder for a future Democratic president to nominate a strong liberal by moving the political center of gravity to the center. However, although Garland is more moderate than Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, there isn’t much evidence that nominating a moderate begets more moderates. (Ronald Reagan followed Sandra Day O’Connor with Antonin Scalia; George H. W. Bush followed David Souter with Clarence Thomas.) If anything, Republican opposition to a moderate will give Hillary Clinton even less incentive to pick someone like Garland.

A second, more serious objection is that it’s very difficult to sell the public on abstract procedural arguments. That the Senate is obstructing Obama’s nominees likely won’t galvanize any specific constituency. Had Obama chosen a similarly well-qualified minority candidate, such as Judge Paul Watford of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, it would be much easier to mobilize the Democratic base against McConnell’s obstructionist tactics. The politics of refusing to confirm an African-American or Hispanic judge with impeccable credentials would have been worse for Republicans, particularly given the race-baiting of Donald Trump, the current frontrunner for the Republican nomination.

The strongest argument in favor of nominating Watford is the fact that swing voters comprise an increasingly small percentage of the electorate. With every cycle, base mobilization becomes more important, and the ability of the Garland pick to mobilize Democratic supporters is probably limited. Nominating a more progressive (but still mainstream) minority candidate might have generated a little more base enthusiasm.

All this said, the Supreme Court has historically been a very marginal issue in presidential and Senate elections. It’s likely to be more salient this year, with a pivotal vacancy looming and a major abortion case scheduled to come down in the heat of the presidential campaign. But even if one believes that Watford would have been a better political choice, it’s a minor difference.

“My Conscience Will Only Allow Me to Support Bernie. Or Rand Paul. Or Jim Webb. Or Zell Miller.” A Story of American Principle And Integrity

[ 190 ] March 16, 2016 |


HA-HA Anti-Clinton Goodman is a national treasure:

I’m never voting for a political dynasty that incarcerated more Americans than any presidency in history, because unlike Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders doesn’t take prison lobbyist donations and addressed prison reform long before 2016.

The first problem with this argument is that the idea that the 1994 crime bill — while problematic — is the reason for mass incarceration is incorrect. A related problem is that the vast majority of people in the United States are imprisoned not by the federal government but by our benevolent state and local overlords. A third problem with using it as a dealbreaking reason for being willing to vote for Sanders but not Clinton is that Sanders voted for it.

I’m never voting for a person I consider a liar. If you consider me a liar for my support of Warren, Webb and O’Malley before Sanders, or even an article on a Republican I wrote simply to protest perpetual wars, then don’t vote for me when I run for president.

For the record, I don’t consider you a liar for supporting O’Malley, Webb and Rand Paul instead of Clinton. I’m sure you would very sincerely prefer pretty much any white guy of any ideology to Hillary Clinton.

I’m not voting for someone linked to an FBI investigation. One Nixon is enough for me, and I don’t need to rally behind a person who adores Nixon’s closest associate, Henry Kissinger.

See, the Kissinger thing really is a valid line of criticism against Clinton, only you can’t help but ruining it by comparing the Clinton email scandalette to Watergate.

It’s important to have principles in life,

The “principles” that compelled you to support several varieties of neoconfederate crank before adopting your current leftier-than-thou routine?

I’m an American first, before any party loyalty, and I’m voting my conscience.

Pictured below is HA’s conscience:


And now, the punchline:

That being said, Bernie Sanders is still the front-runner.

Adieu, Pas Au Revoir

[ 31 ] March 16, 2016 |


This is the kind of local mobilization we need more of:

The political fallout from the Laquan McDonald case continued Tuesday when voters overwhelmingly denied Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez a third term.

Kim Foxx, a former chief of staff to the Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, won by a landside over Alvarez, 58 to 29 percent, with 82 percent of precincts reporting.


Alvarez faced a steep challenge following criticism for her decision to wait 400 days before announcing murder charges against a Chicago police officer who fired 16 bullets into McDonald, a Chicago teenager, in October 2014, killing him in the middle of a Chicago street. The case drew national attention, created a political crisis for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, forced the resignation of officials, including Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, and galvanized an activist community of primarily young people who took to the streets demanding reform for a system they perceived as protecting bad cops.

One important lesson progressives really need to take from the Tea Party: it takes a lot fewer votes to win a consequential state or local race than it does to win a presidential nomination. And the former two are very important!

…and, yes, also adieu Mr. McGinty. These defeats are crucial because the voters really need to counter the strong incentives that prosecutors have to cover up police misconduct.

Where We Are

[ 221 ] March 16, 2016 |


  • Bernie Sanders has run a valiant, historically consequential campaign. But barring force majeure, Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. The already nearly prohibitive delegate math just got considerably worse for Sanders, with New York, California and Maryland still on the table, and this time Clinton pretty much held her polling leads in every state with the possible exception of Illinois. Her lead in national polls is double digits and trending upward, in a context in Sanders would need win by substantial margins going forward. It’s over.
  • This is a useful explanation for why Clinton did so much better in Ohio than Michigan.
  • The Republican race is obviously more complicated. Trump is the only candidate who can win a majority of delegates, which means that the Republican candidate will either be Trump or someone who had to depose trump at a contested convention. Either way, this is Excellent. News. For. The. Democratic. Party, albeit with a downside risk horrible enough that one can’t be unambiguously happy.
  • Obviously, nobody is going to top Chris Mathews for the evening’s most molten take, but these are certainly solid entries.
  • Vote suppression in North Carolina.
  • More on the National Review‘s new war on the white working class.
  • An entertaining requiem for the hapless Rubio.

Let Me Type This Brilliant Idea On My Invisible Typewriter

[ 50 ] March 15, 2016 |

This man is paid millions of dollars a year to opine about politics:

Yes, clearly what the Democratic ticket needs is someone who favors massive upper-class tax cuts who is a fanatical opponent of reproductive freedom. After all, he sort of sounds like a nice guy compared to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz! Really hard to see any flaws in this plan.

The fact that the theater critic school of political journalism survived 2000 says a lot about the norms of American political journalism, none of which is good.

The Floridian Fred Thompson

[ 91 ] March 15, 2016 |


Evidently, for Rubio to win his home state tonight would have been a Bernie-in-Michigan level upset given the polling. But for him to lose Florida so badly it gets called at 8 sharp — that’s some impressive work.

Meanwhile, this very much helps to explain why the Party conspicuously failed to Decide in his favor. Between his burning former allies because he didn’t want to actually do his job and his baffling lack of a ground game in early states and…you have an impressively disastrous campaign.

Big Swing State Primary Open Thread

[ 325 ] March 15, 2016 |

Sam Wang explains why even if Trump loses Ohio — which seems likely — he still wins.

For obvious reasons, I’ve been re-reading Dan Carter’s superb The Politics of Rage.  This story of one of the legislators who ducked out of a vote seeking to amend the constitution to allow Wallace to run for a second consecutive term as governor (the amendment failed, which Wallace got around by having his wife Lurleen run instead, probably killing her in the process) seems applicable to other circumstances, including Donald Trump becoming the nominee of a major political party:

Another wavering senator also disappeared on the eve of the showdown; that man was last seen, said a colleague, “loading a case of scotch in the trunk of his car and heading south. He had not stopped driving or drinking until he reached a New Orleans “sanitarium,” where doctors reported he was in no condition to be moved.

…and, yes, as a commenter notes the Guardian is where to get your online results.

No Escape Might Help to Smooth the Unattractive Truth

[ 208 ] March 15, 2016 |

Photo via Christian Post.

Anybody remember Rand Paul? He is said to have been a candidate for the Republican nomination for president, although I can’t say I recall it. I was leafing through an old issue of Rolling Stone while waiting for my wife this weekend, and was amused to see one of Paul’s heroes, Rush lyricist/drummer Neil Peart, fail to reciprocate the affection in the grand tradition of Bruce Springsteen and Chris Christie:

Peart outgrew his Ayn Rand phase years ago, and now describes himself as a “bleeding-heart libertarian,” citing his trips to Africa as transformative. He claims to stand by the message of “The Trees,” but other than that, his bleeding-heart side seems dominant. Peart just became a U.S. citizen, and he is unlikely to vote for Rand Paul, or any Republican. Peart says that it’s “very obvious” that Paul “hates women and brown people” — and Rush sent a cease-and-desist order to get Paul to stop quoting “The Trees” in his speeches.

“For a person of my sensibility, you’re only left with the Democratic party,” says Peart, who also calls George W. Bush “an instrument of evil.” “If you’re a compassionate person at all. The whole health-care thing — denying mercy to suffering people? What? This is Christian?”

Part of this, I assume, is about growing beyond the dumb shit you believed when you were in your 20s. But this also about what a ridiculous comparative outlier the Republican Party is. Other liberal democracies have brokerage parties of the right whose elites are by and large, to ironically paraphrase Antonin Scalia, conservatives but not nuts.  Tories and Christian Democrats and Gaullists don’t sneer at the idea that the government should guarantee access to basic health care or provide for the poor or the idea that carbon emissions cause climate change. The idea that the faction that currently controls both houses of the American national legislature views the Affordable Care Act — still a less statist approach to health care than any other comparable nation — as such a grave threat to American freedom that they don’t merely oppose it but spent years developing increasingly ridiculous theories trying to destroy it in the courts and got these theories taken seriously by hacks in the federal judiciary is really quite astounding when you step back.  And it’s obviously closely related to the politics of the American south being an outlier.

Donald Trump Is Unfit to be President

[ 181 ] March 15, 2016 |

54Above: Same flavor, and at least you can wear them

I have been trying to alert the public about this terrifying aspect of the Donald’s background for a while, but needless to say Trump’s preference for well-done steaks is disqualifying. Indeed, it was a major oversight by the framers that they did not codify this in the qualifications clause. Plainly, someone who would casually destroy a good piece of meat lacks the judgment and concern for the public fisc necessary to be president. The man would probably create a major international incident by serving well-done steak and bread with margarine at dinners with heads of state. The man cannot be president.



Trump’s Pravda

[ 66 ] March 15, 2016 |


I, for one, am shocked that a media enterprise founded by Andrew Breitbart lacks integrity.

Page 10 of 837« First...89101112...203040...Last »