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Opponents of Civil Rights and Their Cowardly Abetters

[ 183 ] March 7, 2014 |

Debo Adegbile, Obama’s pick to head the Civil Rights Division, was rejected by the Senate, (ostensibly) because he assisted in a successful appeal in a death penalty case:

In other words, the extraordinary stupid arguments that Republican Senators raised about Abu-Jamal shouldn’t be allowed to conceal their real agenda: kneecapping federal efforts to do things like protect voting rights, address police brutality, oppose employment discrimination. The Republican rejection of Adegbile is of a piece with a broader anti-civil rights agenda, such as their ongoing efforts to suppress the vote of racial minorities and the poor and a bare majority of the Supreme Court gutting the Voting Rights Act based on incoherent arguments with no basis in the text of the Constitution.

So Republican opposition to Adegbile was, while reprehensible, easily explicable. But Democrats control the Senate, and nominees like Adegbile can no longer be filibustered—he lost on a straight up-or-down vote. So it’s worth directing particular ire at the 7 Democratic senators who joined the Republican war on civil rights.


Senate Republicans are going to do anything they can to inhibit federal civil rights enforcement, up to and including cynical, demagogic campaigns against dedicated public servants. But for 7 Democrats to join the mob is an act of cowardice contrary to the values that the head of the Civil Rights Division is supposed to uphold. To reject the a nominee to head the Civil Rights division because … of his successful support for civil rights is a cruel irony indeed.

Read the whole thing and weep tears of rage. Then read Serwer and Lithwick.

The Perils and Promise of Political Science Oversimplifications

[ 182 ] March 6, 2014 |

The rather epic fail by a regular at the top of this thread is amusing, but I actually think there’s an important lesson to be extracted from the wreckage. Political science blogs have had the salutary effect of convincing some politically aware readers — either directly or indirectly through some journalists who have been introduced to the evidence — that in presidential elections the media has tended to overrate the importance of campaign minutia and underrate the importance of fundamental factors like the state of the economy and incumbency. If you were forced to reduce presidential elections to a single factor, you’d certainly choose

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“economic fundamentals” rather than Politico-style emphasis on campaign trivia and long-forgotten minor political squabbles.

There is a danger here, however, of an oversimplified conventional wisdom that goes too far in the other direction. Johnathan Bernstein sums it up very effectively here:

So, again: there are campaign effects and fundamentals. Campaign effects themselves include various things — issue positions, ads, the candidates, GOTV and other mobilization efforts, and more. Fundamentals include political context stuff and performance stuff, of which the economy has turned out to date to be by far the biggest. The overall finding has been that fundamentals matter more than campaign effects, but that campaign effects are real — but given that overall campaign effects are of limited (but real!) importance, it’s going to be very hard for any specific campaign action, an ad or a debate quip or an issue, to do all that much.

In an election like 2008, the “fundamentals determine elections” shorthand works well enough at least in accounting for the result; given minimal competence by the Obama campaign McCain was drawing dead no matter what tactics he chose. But in a closer election, campaigns certainly do matter. And the 2000 election is an excellent case in point. The fundamentals favored Gore — less than you might expect, as voters gave him less credit than they would an actual incumbent president, but enough that ceteris paribus Gore would have won by a margin that the combined efforts of Katherine Harris, Antonin Scalia, and Ralph Nader could not have outweighed. But all things weren’t equal, because campaigns are not entirely irrelevant. The perception of the electorate that Bush was closer to the center than Gore mostly negated Gore’s edge in fundamentals, producing an election close enough that a bunch of factors that would normally be irrelevant to the outcome — media coverage, the Supreme Court, third party vanity campaigns — ended up swinging the result.

I would say something similar, incidentally, about political science and the Supreme Court. I’m glad that the attitudinal model is getting attention from journalists, because if the public was going to absorb one oversimplification about the Supreme Court I’d much rather it be “Ruth Bader Ginsburg votes the way she does because she’s a liberal Democrat, and John Roberts votes the way he does because he’s a conservative Republican” than “Supreme Court justices merely apply the law, humble umpires just calling balls and strikes.” But the reality is more complex than either simplification, and sometimes these complexities become relevant to the most interesting and important cases.

More on Elections and the Direction of the Democratic Party

[ 239 ] March 6, 2014 |

Several commenters have noted Adolph Reed’s response to critics of his Harper‘s cover story, which is worth reading. Near the top of the article, he makes an important refinement to his argument:

There’s a vast gulf between “elections don’t matter” and “shut up and lineup behind this season’s Democrat.”

For the record, I don’t argue for backing third party candidacies, which as a rule are quixotic by definition, and I agree with Goldberg that in any given election it’s overwhelmingly likely to be true that the only realistic choice is to vote for whichever Democrat is running. So her beef on that score is with someone else, not me.

At this point I think we’re mostly in agreement on tactics. I should say, though, that I think Reed’s implication that he was being misread are somewhat unfair. Consider this from the original essay:

Even those who consider themselves to the Democrats’ left are infected with electoralitis. Each election now becomes a moment of life-or-death urgency that precludes dissent or even reflection. For liberals, there is only one option in an election year, and that is to elect, at whatever cost, whichever Democrat is running. This modus operandi has tethered what remains of the left to a Democratic Party that has long since renounced its commitment to any sort of redistributive vision and imposes a willed amnesia on political debate. True, the last Democrat was really unsatisfying, but this one is better; true, the last Republican didn’t bring destruction on the universe, but this one certainly will. And, of course, each of the “pivotal” Supreme Court justices is four years older than he or she was the last time.

It’s absolutely true that Reed does not explicitly endorse third-party campaigns in the article. But the “there is only one option” language strongly suggests that those to the left of the median Democrat should consider doing something else than vote “for whichever Democrat is running.” If it doesn’t mean that, I’m not sure what it does mean. I don’t think it’s unfair for readers of the article to draw the clear inference from this argument, particularly in the context of an argument about how the Democrats keep getting worse and worse. But, at any rate, since he seems to have repudiated this implication the point is moot.

There remain a couple points of disagreement. First, we can return to “dealbreakers” logic:

My vote for Nader in 2000, by the way, stemmed mainly from the right-tilting campaign Gore ran, which was embodied in his selection of reactionary tool Joe Lieberman as his running mate. (And I’m still proud to say that I’ve never voted for Lieberman for anything.)

First of all, I simply don’t agree that Gore ran a “right-tilting” campaign. It was a significant more populist campaign than Clinton or Dukakis ran, and more to the point 43% of the electorate saw Al Gore as “too liberal” (versus only 34% of the electorate saw Bush as “too conservative.”) Had Gore run any further left, Florida’s electoral system and vote suppression, the Supreme Court, and Nader all would have been moot because Bush wouldn’t have needed any of them. As for the Lieberman point, well certainly Lieberman was terrible even pre-Iraq. And while I understand Gore’s logic — it’s an essentially ceremonial position, and selecting Lieberman caused pretty much the only truce in the media’s two-year War on Gore, history teaches us that selecting someone who isn’t fit to be president to chase trivial-at-bets electoral advantages is a bad risk. Gore made a poor choice. Having said that, the vice presidential selection is a particularly strange choice of dealbreaker. FDR’s first vice president, a segregationist and anti-labor reactionary, makes Lieberman look like Paul Wellstone — does anyone think FDR was unworthy of liberal support? It’s also not, ah, clear to me that getting Dick Cheney as vice president to avoid Joe Lieberman is a good tradeoff.

Leaving aside the realm to tactics to return to the meat of Reed’s argument, I remain unconvinced. Here, I think, is an argument that reflects the key point of my disagreement with Reed’s analysis:

But we haven’t been able to win anything that a left would want in a long time, longer than most of the Nation‘s ideal readers can remember.

Leaving aside things like DADT repeal, the Ledbetter Act, and the DOJ’s increased action on issues like police brutality and voting rights — none of which are trivial — if comprehensive health care reform that includes a massive, historic expansion of Medicaid isn’t something that “a left would want,” well…I guess we have a very fundamental disagreement about the left should want. This is exactly why the “ACA was a Republican proposal” fallacy is so pernicious — an issue that demonstrates a massive gulf in the priorities between the parties has been used to blur them, in a way that both diminishes the importance of the most important social policy legislation since the Johnson administration and is far, far too kind to the Republican Party.

It’s true that while the ACA is not “neoliberal” it’s also not a total liberal victory; it reflects a compromise between progressives and conservative Democrats. But if the fact that it’s not a total victory is enough to take it out of the left’s win column, none of the New Deal counts either. Forced compromises to achieve progressive goals is far from something new under the sun; until we get a parliamentary system apportioned by population liberal social policy is going to require buying off vested interests, and this isn’t a problem clever tactics or increased labor density will solve.

And so I still don’t buy Reed’s argument that the Democratic Party’s “center has moved steadily rightward since Ronald Reagan’s presidency.” It’s instructive that in the response most of his examples of Democratic perfidy come from the Clinton administration, and one of the two prominent examples from the Obama era is a case where Reid and Pelosi stopped something from happening. On education policy, granted, Reed is on more solid ground, but if the argument is that Obama/Reid/Pelosi is supposed to make me nostalgic for Carter/Byrd/O’Neill, I’m going to have to continue to demur.

Hot Tip: Short Microsoft

[ 54 ] March 6, 2014 |

If they decide to create a Mount Rushmore for failing upwards, one slot is already filled:

In the biggest shuffling of Microsoft’s executive ranks since the company’s new chief executive, Satya Nadella, took over, Mark Penn, the former aide to the Clinton family, is becoming the company’s chief strategy officer.

While your typical grifter consultant might continue to get gigs by sticking to campaigns in conditions favorable enough that nobody can screw it up (like Clinton in 1996), Penn continues to get gigs despite screwing up the campaign of a huge frontrunner eleven ways from Sunday. Which shouldn’t have been surprising, since Penn has always been a complete and utter fraud. Nor was his first major campaign for Microsoft impressive. But there’s always a market for people who will pretend that “data” tells powerful people what they want to hear.

The Majoritarian Difficulty: Same-Sex Marriage Edition

[ 152 ] March 5, 2014 |

Good news all around:

Half of all Americans believe that gay men and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll in which a large majority also said businesses should not be able to deny serving gays for religious reasons.

Fifty percent say the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection gives gays the right to marry, while 41 percent say it does not.

Beyond the constitutional questions, a record-high 59 percent say they support same-sex marriage, while 34 percent are opposed, the widest margin tracked in Post-ABC polling.

The boldfaced part is particularly encouraging; Damon Linker’s concern trolling notwithstanding, using embarrassingly specious “religious freedom” arguments as a pretext to continue the longstanding conservative war on civil rights doesn’t appear to be fooling anybody. But here’s one reason they’re riding this dead Thurmond so hard:

According to a new survey by the Public Religion Research Institute, only 41 percent of Americans oppose allowing same-sex couples to marry. But that same 41 percent has a highly skewed perception of where the rest of the country stands: nearly two-thirds of same-sex marriage opponents erroneously think most Americans agree with them. And only two in 10 same-sex marriage opponents realize that the majority of Americans support marriage equality.

Schiavo II: Electric Boogaloo. Only in 2004, I think the media was much more likely to take conservative overestimation of their own support at

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face value.

Revisiting the Dealbreaker Fallacy

[ 295 ] March 5, 2014 |

During the last election season, djw wrote a superb post about the illogic of using “dealbreakers” rather than a holistic evaluation of candidates. At least two commenters in a thread yesterday inadvertently demonstrate why the approach makes no sense in the course of defending it.  Lets start with Ethan Gach, who describes my position as “voting for Democrats unconditionally will lead, over the long term, to better liberal outcomes” while his position involves “making support conditional upon the pursuit of certain key policies,” because “you can’t change the party “you have” while you’re continuing to stand by and support it.”  In these short sentences rest of lot of errors and bad ideas:

  • Obviously, nobody is saying that support for Democrats should be “unconditional.”  There have been occasions in American history where partisan coalitions were very loose, and who to support would depend on how you prioritize particular issues.  In our current partisan configuration, however, wherever you are on the political spectrum between democratic socialist and moderate liberal Republicans are much worse than the Democrats on many major issues and better on literally none.  I understand this makes analysis more boring than some might like, but refusing to adopt a strategy that would make things worse in many respects, with the costs concentrated on the most vulnerable, in order to (ineffectually) advance “Arbitrary Pet Issue X” is not the same as “unconditional support.”
  • And, of course, voting for the better candidate in the general election will not in itself lead to more liberal outcomes, or at least to outcomes as liberal as they could be.  Fortunately, politics goes not begin and end with general elections — things like primaries and activist pressure can exert influence much more effectively than withdrawing support from Democratic general election candidates, an all-downside no-upside strategy that’s crapped out disastrously twice in the last dozen presidential elections with no successes to point to.
  • One reason the threaten-to-hold-your-breath-until-you-get-the-shiny-toy approach doesn’t work is that to have any chance of being effective there has to be substantial collective agreement on which “key issues” to prioritize.  Individual messages are worth nothing.   And at that point, you might discover that many fellow liberals do not, say, think that DRONES! are a more important issue than health care or reproductive freedom or anti-poverty programs, even before we get to the fact that walking away from Democrats in the general election over DRONES! wouldn’t even lead to any improvement on that specific issue while making things much worse on many dimensions liberals care about.  Political coalitions don’t work based on ultimatums.
  • As if to illustrate, one dealbreaker that Gach suggests is a “bigger stimulus package consisting of less tax cuts.”  The obvious problem here is that Obama’s proposal was both bigger and much better-distributed than the one the Senate passed with one vote to spare.  Should liberals abandon the Democratic Party if Obama is unable to get the Republicans and conservative Democrats who all had vetoes over the bill to abandon their preference for a smaller, more tax-cut heavy stimulus, having the leadership to bully lantern the Overton Window, details later?  And, by the way, why are Susan Collins and Arlen Specter circa early 2009 supposed to care if a subset of liberals announce a Dramatic Exit from the Democratic coalition?  What’s the theory for how that’s supposed to work?  The White House-centrism of these analyses isn’t accidental and is another reason why they’re bad.
  • And finally, as I said in comments, if believe that “you can’t change the party “you have” while you’re continuing to stand by and support it” you’ll have to explain either 1)what third party to the right of the Republicans or mass conservative exodus from the polls has handed an election to the Democrats since 1972, or 2)why you think Republicans have drifted well to to the left since 1972.  Because if it’s impossible to change a coalition from within it, one of these must be true.

Now, let’s turn to Dilan Esper, who has what he thinks is a gotcha: “I wonder if Goldberg would vote for a pro-lifer if the Democrats nominated one. Centrist, mainstream Democrats speak from a position of privilege on this issue. The party respects their red lines. In contrast, the party pisses on pacifists, protectionists, communists, and other parts of the left. The people whose red lines get respected has no right to lecture the people whose red lines do not as to how to vote.”  This argument fares no better:

  • Both Goldberg and I, in fact, support Democrats who don’t fully embrace our opinions on abortion.  I can’t speak for Goldberg, but I was certainly under no illusion that unified Democratic control of the federal government would lead to, say, a repeal of the Hyde Amendment.  I haven’t suggested I’d walk away from the Democrats forever if they don’t replace Harry Reid as majority leader over his support for the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, or argued that Democrats should reject the ACA over the Stupak amendment.
  • It’s true that Democrats won’t have a presidential candidate who is in favor of overruling Roe v. Wade.  But this is because this is the national majority position.  If support for abortion rights was as unpopular as pacifism or communism, I sure as hell would have to support candidates who rejected my position.   Supporters of civil rights had to endure a Democratic coalition saturated with segregationists throughout the New Deal era, and they didn’t get to 1964 by walking away.
  • And there are plenty of issues on which the Democratic Party doesn’t (or didn’t) respect what would be my “red lines” if I embraced that foolish way of thinking about politics: the war on (some classes of people who use some) drugs, the prosecution of torturers, the escalation in Afghanistan, and until very recently LBGT rights, for starters.
  • The previous point reflects the fallacy that runs throughout Esper’s arguments: the utterly erroneous assumption that the underlying disagreement is ideological rather than tactical.  As Erik puts it, “it makes no sense to say that leftists have this political strategy and liberals have that political strategy.”  Matt Stoller, a plain-vanilla left-liberal who was a big fan of the right-of-Obama Howard Dean, doesn’t embrace nihilism because of the purity of his commitments but because he’s a poseur.  There are plenty of people to my left who understand tactical voting; there were plenty of centrists in 2000 who were dedicated Gush-Borists.  Indeed, one need look no farther than Esper himself, who is to the right of anyone on the LGM masthead on domestic policy but has never met a heighten-the-contradictions argument he doesn’t like.  This argument is, at bottom, wholly unjustified self-congratulation that fails to comprehend the nature of the disagreement.

On a final point, I’d note that there’s never been a viable candidate for president who someone who thought in terms of “dealbreakers” could reasonably support.  (What has Obama done that’s worse than Vietnam or FDR’s civil rights record? And those are the best presidents of the last century. And don’t get me started on Lincoln’s rejection of abolitionism.)  Which is another way of noting that the “dealbreaker” way of approaching electoral politics is puerile and useless.

Restarting the War On Poverty

[ 197 ] March 4, 2014 |

Konczal on a Worthwhile Democratic Initiative:

Tuesday morning, President Obama put the final piece of his inequality agenda on the table. In releasing his 2015 budget, he calls for an additional $60 billion dollars in anti-poverty spending by expanding the earned income tax credit (EITC) for those without children, as well as making it eligible to younger and older workers. The earned income tax credit is a program that boosts the wages of low-income workers, particularly those with children, through the tax code. This expansion will benefit 7.7 million workers already getting the EITC, and allow an additional 5.8 million workers to take advantage of the program.

With this proposal, President Obama has a full anti-inequality agenda. In turning to inequality as the generational challenge of our times, President Obama has emphasized three sets of problems. The first is runaway incomes at the top, which he has used to justify the need for financial regulations as well as higher taxes on the rich. The second is stagnating incomes in the middle, which health care reform is meant to challenge. And the last is economic insecurity at the bottom, which he’s focused on with a higher minimum wage, expanded Medicaid access, and now an expanded earned income tax credit.

It’s certainly a good start. Konzcal also does a good job contrasting the approach to the Republican War on the Poor.

However! I have good news — major congressional Republicans have spent years asserting support for expanding the EITC. Granted, this is not entirely good news — I’m dismayed that Obama is adopting the Republican anti-poverty agenda just like he adopted longstanding Republican health care priorities like “massive Medicaid expansion” and “much heavier health insurance regulations.” But if we’re willing to forgive him for being a worse sellout than Flip Your Wig, at least this means legislation substantially expanding the EITC should sail through Congress before summer. After all, the idea that this Republican support for EITC expansion could merely be a strategic decoy would be one-dimensional tic-tac-toe eleventy-trillion dimensional chess of such unfathomable complexity Niccolo Machiavelli could never have even begun to imagine such a thing. Hopefully Obama already has the pen picked out.

…as a commenter notes, while not directly about poverty killing the carried-interest loophole, which is in the budget, would be an excellent idea. Extra-special DOA in the House, but an excellent idea.

Everything Is Like Slavery Except Slavery

[ 401 ] March 4, 2014 |

I’m outraged by these Hollywood liberals. Not only have they refused to make a movie about how Martin Luther King was the foremost 20th century proponent of slavery, the movies they do make refuse to acknowledge that what the abolitionist conspiracy referred to as “slavery” wasn’t really as bad as all that.

The Historical Roots of the “Civil Rights = Slavery” Argument

[ 82 ] March 4, 2014 |

Above right: still the most influential Republican thinker on civil rights

I’ll have more to say about Samuel Bagenstos’s brilliant essay about legal arguments against civil rights have transformed across American history. To start, though, I’d like to highlight this, about how the argument that requiring public accommodations to treat customers on equal terms is the equivalent of slavery has long been used by white supremacists:

Other times, the arguments against Title II were framed in terms of the Thirteenth Amendment. The argument was not the one we might have expected from the Civil Rights Cases—that discrimination in public accommodations was not a badge and incident of slavery that Congress had Thirteenth Amendment power to target. Instead, it was the rather stunning argument that prohibiting businesses from discriminating on the basis of race conscripted the business owners into involuntary servitude. Strom Thurmond made this argument in his separate views attached to the Senate Report on the proposed Civil Rights Act. Senator Thurmond described the Thirteenth Amendment as “an insurmountable constitutional barrier” to Title II, because, by forcing businesses to serve customers their owners desired not to, the bill would impose “involuntary servitude” on them. As Christopher Schmidt explains, “in the early 1960s, this unusual Thirteenth Amendment argument figured prominently in the debate over the appropriate line between antidiscrimination policy and personal liberties.”

Terrible reactionary arguments never die; they just get recycled to justify different forms of illegitimate privilege.

“If You Want to Send A Message, Use Western Union”

[ 419 ] March 4, 2014 |

In her fine recent piece, Michelle Goldberg makes a point about electoral nihilism I’ve never seen put so well:

But here’s the thing: arguments for ignoring electoral realities, for backing some quixotic third-party candidate or imagining that leftists can sway the system through ultimatums, are based on precisely this fantasy. Movements lead politicians, not the other way around, and simply deciding that the politicians we have aren’t good enough won’t will a movement into being. A left that absented itself from the dirty work of electing a president would be indulging in the very reflex Reed decries: trying to send a message to those in power rather than contending for power itself.

The right understands this; it has simultaneously, over decades, systematically taken over the GOP from the bottom up, built a huge network of interlocking intellectual, legal and political institutions and mobilized every four years to try to elect a Republican president.

Precisely right.

One curious thing about the Reed essay is that we don’t have to discuss the merits of electoral nihilism in the abstract — only a little more than a decade ago we saw a segment of the left declare war on the Democratic Party, assure supporters that there was no meaningful difference between the parties, and attract just enough support to produce catastrophe for the world. Reed’s attempt to deal with this obvious rebuttal was…not one of the stronger points of his essay:

This modus operandi has tethered what remains of the left to a Democratic Party that has long since renounced its commitment to any sort of redistributive vision and imposes a willed amnesia on political debate. True, the last Democrat was really unsatisfying, but this one is better; true, the last Republican didn’t bring destruction on the universe, but this one certainly will. And, of course, each of the “pivotal” Supreme Court justices is four years older than he or she was the last time.

I didn’t really understand at the time how anyone could have thought that a candidate who governed to the right of the Texas legislature, running with the Republican congressional coalition of 2000 on this platform, could have been seen as a harmless moderate not really different than Al Gore. But, OK, the candidate’s father was a fairly moderate Republican, Clinton was a fairly conservative Democrat — I can sort of reconstruct this peculiar blend of cynicism and wishful thinking however strongly I disagreed with it. But to continue making the argument after 8 years of George W. Bush? “Hundreds of thousands dead all over the world, arbitrary torture, two massive upper-class tax cuts, Sam Alito and John Roberts, letting New Orleans die, Janice Rogers Brown and Priscilla Owen, John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales, total economic collapse — that compassionate conservative really didn’t work out too badly in the end!” If you think that was a price worth paying to send an ineffectual message to the Democrats, I just have to conclude that the premise is an unfalsifiable matter of faith.

“I made you, I can break you”

[ 51 ] March 3, 2014 |

The Self-Styled Siren on Kim Novak:

So let’s say — just as a hypothetical for-instance — you are an 81-year-old star whose last movie was in 1991 and who hasn’t been to the Oscars in many a long year. Not that you were ever nominated for one in the first place; you were, after all, a sex symbol for most of your career. As the evening approaches, the anxiety sets in. Harsh lights, you think. High-definition cameras. And a public that remembers you chiefly as the ice goddess whose beauty once drove James Stewart to the brink of madness.

And even back then, when you were 25 years old, you worried constantly that no matter how you looked, it wasn’t good enough.

So a few weeks before the ceremony, you go to a doctor, and he says, “Relax honey. I have just the thing to make you fresh and dewy for the cameras.”

And you go to the Oscars, so nervous you clutch your fellow presenter’s hand. And the next day, you wake up to a bunch of cheap goddamn shots about your face.

Nice system we got here, isn’t it.

No wonder Kim Novak, like Tippi Hedren, Doris Day and Brigitte Bardot, has long said she’d much rather spend her time with animals.

+1, as the cool kids who frequent blog comment sections might say. And do read the whole thing.

…see also.

Today In “Civil Rights Are Slavery”

[ 412 ] March 3, 2014 |

Shorter verbatim Tammy Bruce: “If we are able to coerce someone, via the threat of lawsuit and personal destruction, to provide a service, how is that not slavery? If we insist that you must violate your faith specifically in that slavish action, how is that not abject tyranny?”

Actually, Bruce seems to be doing Erick Erickson one better here: not only are requirements that public accommodations serve people on equal terms tantamount to slavery, she seems to be arguing that private boycotts are tantamount to slavery. I guess the idea is that when you’re already up to your waist in derp you might as well just go ahead and submerge yourself entirely.

I hope that the “basic civil rights protections are slavery” meme becomes a prominent feature of the Republican celebrations of the imaginary Martin Luther King who was totally a Reaganite before his time that recur every January. And it’s not that Republicans oppose civil rights; they just support the Jesse Helms version, and I’m sure if Helms were alive today he’d enthusiastically agree that civil rights statutes are like slavery and denying arbitrary individual exemptions to generally applicable laws is the essence of tyranny.

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