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Royal Series

[ 35 ] October 21, 2014 |

lorde-kansas-city-royals-george-brett-signed-jersey

Really good fan’s perspective from Rany Jazayerli, especially the risk you know going in that this could be like the ’07 Rockies. I’ll be rooting for KC, but above all it would be nice to have a series that isn’t over quickly.

On the other side, Jonah’s piece on Bruce Bochy is excellent. As he says, the Jaffe/Birnbaum data established him as a first-rate manager even in San Diego, and he’s done a terrific job with the Giants.

…James Shields’s parents should have given him a name that kind of rhymes with “perfectly decent #2 starter.”

Area Hack Pundit Attempts to Defend GOP Vote Suppression, Makes Most Ridiculous Argument Ever

[ 117 ] October 21, 2014 |

Shorter verbatim John Fund: “There’s no doubt that many people in our increasingly mobile and hectic society want voting to be as easy and convenient as buying fast food. But too much of anything can be bad — just ask someone who has gorged on drive-thru burgers and fries.”

Admittedly, Fund drew the short straw on this; attempts to stop or roll back early voting lack even the pretense of a non-partisan justification that other Republican vote suppression efforts have. Still, you’d think someone in Fund’s pay grade could up with something just a tad less transparently self-refuting than “voting on a Sunday is like eating 8 Double Quarter Pounders in one sitting!” The bullshitting about a single election day being “in the Constitution” is a little better, but really.

Your Point Being?

[ 30 ] October 21, 2014 |

A Heritage Foundation hack has taken time off from crafting Democratic health care policy to point out the horrors of Obama’s nominee to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division discussing the War on (Some Classes of People Who Use Some) Drugs:

To begin, she believes that the misnamed war on drugs “is an atrocity and that it must be stopped.” She has written that the war on drugs has been a “war on communities of color” and that the “racial disparities are staggering.” As the reliably-liberal Huffington Post proclaimed, she would be one of the most liberal nominees in the Obama administration.

Pointing out the racial disparities of the drug war — facts you do not actually dispute — makes Gupta the real racist or something. As Serwer shorters it:

Not Even Casey Is As Bad As the 5th Circuit Thinks

[ 14 ] October 21, 2014 |

As Anderson noted in comments recently, Judge Dennis’s dissent from the 5th Circuit’s denial of an en banc hearing of its opinion allowing Texas to force most of the state’s abortion clinics to close without any legitimate independent justification is very good:

In upholding Texas’s unconstitutional admitting-privileges requirement for abortion providers and medication-abortion restrictions, the panel opinion flouts the Supreme Court’s decision in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania. v. Casey by refusing to apply the undue burden standard expressly required by Casey. Instead, the panel applied what effectively amounts to a rational basis test — a standard rejected by Casey — under the guise of applying the undue burden standard. The panel’s assertion that it applies Casey is false because it does not assess the strength of the state’s justifications for the restrictive abortion laws or weigh them against the obstacles the laws place in the path of women seeking abortions, as required by Casey. A correct application of the Casey undue burden standard would require that the admitting – privileges provision and medication – abortion restrictions be stricken as undue burdens because the significant obstacles those legal restrictions place in the way of women’s rights to previability abortions clearly outweigh the strength of their purported justifications.

If not overruled, the panel’s sham undue burden test will continue to exert its precedential force in courts’ review of challenges to similar types of recently minted abortion restrictions in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.”

Certainly, the history of Casey has shown the vast inferiority of the “undue burden” test compared to Roe’s strict scrutiny test. Nevertheless, despite its vagueness it has to mean a higher standard of scrutiny than rational basis, and the Texas statute could not survive any scrutiny more heightened than the rational basis the 5CA panel applied in practice. The panel acted as if the rational basis test Rehnquist tried to replace Roe with in his throw-Roe-from-the-caboose draft in Webster, and not Casey, was the controlling precedent. I fear that Kennedy might be headed in this direction, but at he very least 5CA can’t do it before he does.

The Principles of John Roberts

[ 5 ] October 21, 2014 |

You might think that the fact that the Supreme Court is willing to allow Texas to conduct an election with a racially discriminatory poll tax reflects a complete disinterest unwillingness* to intervene in the electoral process. Of course, this is not exactly true:

There is no right more basic in our democracy than the right to participate in electing our political leaders,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote in April.

Roberts spoke then for the court’s conservative majority in striking down part of a federal election law so as to allow a wealthy Republican businessman from Alabama to give more money to candidates across the country.

The contribution limit restricted the donor’s free speech, Roberts concluded, and the Constitution requires the court to err on the side of safeguarding that cherished 1st Amendment protection.

But the right to vote, which is the way most Americans participate in a democracy, has gotten far less protection from the Supreme Court under Roberts.

There is no starker example than the high court’s order early Saturday allowing Texas to enforce a new photo identification law that a federal judge had blocked earlier this month after deciding the law would prevent as many as 5% of the state’s registered voters, or 600,000 people in all, from casting a ballot.

Fortunately, the law in its majestic equality permits rich and poor alike to donate great sums of money to political campaigns, which will surely be a consolation to the disenfranchised.

*As Jacob Levy noted on the tweeter, this is a misuse of the word, a misusage I particularly regret in the context of discussing the Roberts Court and voting rights.

A Movement For Everyone: Alcoholics, the Unemployable, Angry Loners…

[ 259 ] October 20, 2014 |

and now come the grifters. It’s just amazing how important an issue ethics in gaming journalism* has gotten!

*Note: underlying “scandal” unlikely to contain any actual evidence even of unethical journalistic behaviors, although it might involve interminable screeds about how someone you don’t know allegedly cheated on someone you don’t know, and the next person to coherently explain why anyone else should give a rat’s ass will be the first.

“There Are Too Many Federal Regulations Nowadays. Please Eliminate Many At Random. I Am Not A Crackpot.”

[ 9 ] October 20, 2014 |

Janice Rogers Brown strikes again.

Today In the Party of Lincoln Becoming the Party of Calhoun

[ 27 ] October 20, 2014 |

The Supreme Court has allowed Texas conduct its midterm elections with a patently unconstitutional election statute:

The fact that Texas’ law is unconstitutional twice over — both by being racially discriminatory and imposing a direct cost on voting — is not a coincidence. Even after racial discrimination in voting was made illegal by the Fifteenth Amendment, for nearly a century states were able to use formally race-neutral measures like poll taxes and literacy tests to disenfranchise minority voters. The Texas law is very much part of this long and ignoble tradition.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s decisions in 2013 and 2014 allowing the Texas law to go into effect are part of another long and ignoble tradition: the Supreme Court collaborating with state governments to suppress the vote rather than protecting minorities against discrimination. As long as Republican nominees control the Supreme Court, this problem is likely to get worse before it gets better.

MLB’s Disgrace

[ 33 ] October 20, 2014 |

The winner-take-all economy:

The LumberKings, named for the millionaire timber barons who once ran this town, are the Class-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, who, like every other major-league team, pay their A-level minor leaguers roughly $6,300 for the five-month season — about two-thirds what Jose Bautista makes per inning.

Players in the NBA’s affiliated minor leagues make three to five times as much, while the NHL’s unionized minor leaguers can earn even more, with greater benefits to boot. (The NFL doesn’t have an affiliated minor league.)

Minor-league baseball players regularly work 60- to 70-hour weeks with only two or three days off a month, but they get no overtime pay. They receive only a $25 meal per diem — no salary — for the mandatory four to six weeks of spring training. Same goes for any instructional leagues they may be required to attend when their 140-game schedule ends.

Players are required to pay $5 per day in clubhouse dues for each home game

A handful of players receive six-figure signing bonuses in their first year, but many sign for $5,000 or less. So most players earn less than the federal U.S. poverty line, which in 2014 is an annual income of $11,670 for a single-person household.

Another consequence of the unfree minors…

Dear Massachusetts Democrats

[ 88 ] October 19, 2014 |

There are too many Martha Coakleys being nominated for high-profile electoral positions nowadays. Please stop nominating one. I am not a crackpot.

Donner Party Conservatism

[ 94 ] October 19, 2014 |

Corey Robin:

And here we come to Ground Zero of conservative commitment. The conservative believes in excellence, as Douthat says, but it is a vision of excellence defined as and dependent on “overcoming.” It’s a vision that abhors the easy path of acceptance, of tolerating human frailty and need, not because that path is wrong but because it is easy.  Or, to put it differently, it’s wrong precisely because it is easy. And though that vision often claims Aristotle as its inspiration, its true sources are Nietzschean.

The conservative believes the excellent person is a kind of mountain climber, a moral athlete who is constantly overcoming or trying to overcome his limits, pushing himself ever higher and higher.  When it comes to sex, he’s not unlike the Foucauldian transgressor, that sexual athlete of novelty and experiment: but where Foucault believes that taboos against sex are all too easily reached (that’s why, if we are to attain the peaks of experience, we have to move beyond those limits), the conservative’s remain out of reach. The value of a rule lies in its difficulty and potential unattainability, the ardor of the struggle it imposes upon us. We might call this ethic the ardor of adversity.*

Very much so, yes. And it gives us another opportunity to revisit Holbo’s classic David Frum essay:

“Contemporary conservatives still value that old American character. William Bennett in his lectures reads admiringly from an account of the Donner party written by a survivor that tells the story in spare, stoic style. He puts the letter down and asks incredulously, “Where did those people go?” But if you believe that early Americans possessed a fortitude that present-day Americans lack, and if you think the loss is an important one, then you have to think hard about why that fortitude disappeared. Merely exhorting Americans to show more fortitude is going to have about as much effect on them as a lecture from the student council president on school spirit. Reorganizing the method by which they select and finance their schools won’t do it either, and neither will the line-item veto, or discharge petitions, or entrusting Congress with the power to deny individual NEA grants, or court decisions strinking down any and all acts of politically correct tyranny emanating from the offices of America’s deans of students – worthwhile though each and every one of those things may be. It is socials that form character, as another conservative hero, Alexis de Tocqueville, demonstrated, and if our characters are now less virtuous than formerly, we must identify in what way our social conditions have changed in order to understand why.

Of course there have been hundreds of such changes – never mind since the Donner party’s day, just since 1945 … But the expansion of government is the only one we can do anything about.

All of these changes have had the same effect: the emancipation of the individual appetite from restrictions imposed on it by limited resources, or religious dread, or community disapproval, or the risk of disease or personal catastophe.” (p. 202-3)

Words fail me; links not much better. The Donner party? Where did all these people go? Into each other, to a dismaying extent. A passage from one of those moving, stoical diary entries:

“…Mrs. Murphy said here yesterday that [she] thought she would commence on Milt and eat him. I don’t think she has done so yet, [but] it is distresing. The Donno[r]s told the California folks that they [would] commence to eat the dead people 4 days ago, if they did not succeed in finding their cattle then under ten or twelve feet of snow & did not know the spot or near it, I suppose they have [cannibalized] …ere this time.”

The stoical endurance of the Donner party in the face of almost unimaginable suffering is indeed moving. The perseverance of the survivors is a lasting testament to the endurance of the human spirit. (On the other hand, the deaths of all who stoically refused to cannibalize their fellows might be deemed an equal, perhaps a greater testament.) But it is by no means obvious – some further demonstration would seem in order – that lawmakers and formulators of public policy should therefore make concerted efforts to emulate the Donner’s dire circumstances. What will the bumper-stickers say? “It’s the economy, stupid! We need to bury it under ten to twelve feet of snow so that we will be forced to cannibalize the dead and generally be objects of moral edification to future generations.”

I think we are beginning to see why Frum feels that his philosophy may be a loser come election time. I think the Donner party – who, be it noted, set out seeking economic prosperity in the West, not snow and starvation – would not vote Republican on the strength of William Bennett’s comfortable edification at the spectacle of their abject misery. (“Let’s start with the fat one over there in the corner, playing the slots. We can eat off him for a week. See how he likes it.”)

To put what is surely rather an obvious point yet another way: if the Donner party is really what you want, the policy riddle (how to reproduce these conditions, since the Donner party was not political, per se?) already has an answer: Stalinism.

…Warren Terra in comments:

I had heard the term “Donner Party Conservatism” before, but it had never occurred to me that it reflected actual sentiments from a famous Conservative Thought Leader in praise of the Donner party – I assumed it was just an insult hurled at the party that professes to represent some sort of Conservative ideals, and that in reality so well recapitulates the experience of the Donner Party.

Think of it: a bunch of god-fearing but frankly ignorant buffoons were sold promises of wealth and opportunity if only they’d pledge themselves to a grand venture. They were then taken advantage of by profiteers who badly outfitted them for the undertaking, and were literally misguided, as in sent along the wrong path, at the wrong time. When they became trapped, the few survivors made it by eating their own; others more principled or more circumspect did not – or were perhaps slain to be food. It’s like the George W Bush administration, plus literal cannibalism. It is, in short, what the Conservatives deliver, but not what they claim to seek. Except, apparently, Bill Bennett.

The War on (Some Classes of People Who Use Some) Drugs, Two Questions

[ 158 ] October 17, 2014 |
  • Does anyone think Joe Biden’s son belongs in prison?
  • Irrespective of your answer to #1, he’s not going to be sent to prison. So why should anybody for doing the same thing?

…travel day, missed that Atrios beat me to the point I later originated.

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