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These Awards Require Some Sincere, Non-partisan Self-Reflection

[ 0 ] December 12, 2006 |

Although I had been intending to ignore the passel of right-wingers with one actual moderate that comprised the Weblog Awards’ “best centrist blog” category, I must shift course and heartily endorse Ezra’s endorsement. Vote early, vote often!

…the fine folks at Unfogged also endorse The Moderate Voice.

One Variable Not to Consider

[ 0 ] December 12, 2006 |

I acknowledge that there are good reasons not to support Al Gore in the ’08 primaries, and the question is looking increasingly moot anyway. I would like to think, however, that one question–how much weight should be put on the fact that the media hates Gore–has now been answered. Given that our beloved vacuous media Heathers have now taken to discussing such troubling issues as Obama’s terrorist-loving middle and last names and his authoritarian-loving suits, I think that the weight put on this factor should be roughly “nothing.” I mean, again, let’s consider this from MoDo:

There were already a few top Democrats scoffing at the idea that a man whose surname sounded like a Middle East terrorist could get elected president. Now it turns out that his middle name sounds like a Middle East dictator. So with one moniker, he evokes both maniacal villains of the Bush administration. And to top it off, as Jennifer Senior noted in New York magazine, Barack rhymes with Iraq.

A classic, right down to the unnamed and probably apocryphal “a few top Democrats.” I mean, seriously, do you think there’s any way of appeasing people who will write stuff like this? Trying to come up with a candidate immune from such attacks is just a waste of everyone’s time.

Misogynists Of The Day

[ 0 ] December 12, 2006 |

Dr. Mrs. Ole Perfesser and commenters.

What I enjoy most is the men who, if women who start thinking that they have the right to deny sex if they don’t feel like it and similar crazy feminist guff don’t shape up, they’ll…stop dating them! (“Rather, as Cadmus noted, we’ll just refuse to get married, buy flowers, remember birthdays, ask single women out for a date, etc.”) These would seem to be people who have no familiarity with the concept of “leverage.” I can imagine the conversation:

Dr. Mrs. OP commenter: Hey, hot stuff, want to come back to my place to service my sexual whims without your consent and wait on me hand and foot?

Unfortunate Woman: Fuck off. What the hell makes you think I’d want to date a moron who threatens to hit me with his large-print Star Wars novelizations when he’s not asserting unlimited dominion over my body anyway?

DRMOPC: That’s it–I’m not going out with you anymore. How do you like them apples?

UW: Oh, yeah, that’s…devastating. Here’s a complimentary one-way plane ticket to Vladivostok, just to make sure I won’t be tempted.

If she wanted to help her readers, Dr. Helen would start offering free mirrors.

On the NYC Trans-Fat Ban

[ 0 ] December 11, 2006 |

I discuss, and (support it) here, and Ezra joins the discussion here. Having slept on it, I think that, if anything, I was too qualified. I was sort of making the same mistake that some liberals who were more ambivalent about the war than they should have been–because some supporters of the bill (as well as its opponents) are using the bill to push asceticism and their aesthetic disdain for fat people is really neither here nor there. What matters is whether a slippery slope, and I think Saletan is wrong to think that such bans will extend to saturated fats. I mean, does he think that cities will ban butter? Bacon? Chicken sold with skin on it? Salmon? The more I think about it, the sillier the slippery slope argument seems in this case.

This is clearly a good law–it bans an unhealthy practice in ways that will have no impact on important individual freedoms (although it may have some impact on companies poisioning their customers for profit.) I would also urge people to remember the predictions of catastrophe for restaurants and bars in light of the ban on indoor smoking, which didn’t happen.

The Brownest Shirt Awards

[ 0 ] December 11, 2006 |

There’s plenty of amusement here–starting with the fact that Mickey Kaus gets significant support for “favorite left-of-center (sic) blogger, while Andrew Sullivan finishes second in the “most annoying left-of-center (sic) blogger” competition. But the fact that MyBikeRidePicturesoftheSkyMuslimHatred.com won “best blog overall” with Our Blessed Lady of the Concentration Camps second tells you most of what you need to know.

Speaking of silly intarweb awards, check out what Wizbang considers to be a centrist blog. What a hoot!

Here We Go!

[ 0 ] December 10, 2006 |

An A-List reactionary blogger comes out for Pinochet. The identity of the idiot in question will not be terribly surprising.

…and Jonah Goldberg sniffs at those who think that “it is always wrong to censor, to oppress, to torture etc.” (I guess the “etc.” is overthrowing democratically elected governments to replace them with brutal military dictatorships.) Via Yglesias–and just to be clear if anyone clicks through his links, we haven’t sold this domain to Charles Johnson. Yet.

A Rare Occasion When I Am Proud Of My Hobby

[ 0 ] December 10, 2006 |

I was quite gratified to see the results of the Google Search for “Antonin Scalia greatest living justice.”

*Something* Good Has To Come Out Of This Thing

[ 0 ] December 10, 2006 |

So, what have been the funniest wingnut reactions to the ISG? Mark Steyn is always a good place to start. When wondering why a reactionary hack with no discernible knowledge of any relevant issues is lauded as a great sage by so many other hacks, I am often told of his allegedly sparkling pose and biting wit:

Well, the ISG — the Illustrious Seniors’ Group — has released its 79-point plan. How unprecedented is it? Well, it seems Iraq is to come under something called the “Iraq International Support Group.” If only Neville Chamberlain had thought to propose a “support group” for Czechoslovakia, he might still be in office. Or guest-hosting for Oprah.

But, alas, such flashes of originality are few and far between in what’s otherwise a testament to conventional wisdom.

Hardee-har-har. Personally, I would allow at least two paragraphs between complaints about “originality” and the six trillionth comparison of people who don’t think that turning Iraq into an anarchic training ground for anti-American terrorism at an immense human and financial cost is an effective way of fighting anti-American terrorism with Neville Chamberlain, but that’s just me.

For the honorable mention, we have to turn to the nation’s self-appointed moral tutor, Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Bill Bennett:


And conservative commentator William Bennett vented in volcanic fashion. “In all my time in Washington I’ve never seen such smugness, arrogance, or such insufferable moral superiority,” Bennett wrote in a posting on the National Review Web site. “Self-congratulatory. Full of itself. Horrible.”

Yep, that is the very same guy who filled up countless hours on the teevee and wrote a book lecturing the American public for its unwillingness to support a rabidly partisan drive to impeach a president president for getting a blowjob (among an endless parade of other episodes of pompous gasbaggery) accusing other people of “insufferable moral superiority.” Perhaps the next edition of Buy This Recycled Crap My Research Assistant Threw Together, Billy Needs Another Weekend At The Bellagio The Book of Virtues will feature Britney Spears’ lecture about the importance of public modesty.

I’m sure there are other worthy candidates, but in all candor this competition has long been over. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Forty-Two Star General Ralph “Blood N’ Guts” Peters:

The difference is that Pilate just wanted to wash his hands of an annoyance, while [James] Baker would wash his hands in the blood of our troops.

Hey, give him this: he’s funnier than Mark Steyn.

Tramp the Dirt Down

[ 0 ] December 10, 2006 |

Randy Paul helpfully supplements the NYT‘s list of important dates in the life of the late Augusto Pinochet:

  • September 1974: Has DINA, his secret police organization plant a bomb in the car of General Carlos Prats, his predecessor in Buenos Aires. The bomb kills General Prats and his wife, Sofia. Debris from the explosion is found on the ninth floor of a building across the street.
  • October 1975: Has DINA, through Italian fascist terrorist Stefano Della Chiae, attempt to murder Christian Democrat politician and regime opponent, Bernardo Leighton in Rome Italy. Leighton and his wife survive, but live in constant pain for the rest of their lives.
  • September 1976: Has DINA blow up the car of Orlando Letelier in Washington, DC, killing Letelier and his American assistant, Ronni Moffitt.
  • November 1978: The bodies of fifteen men who were “disappeared” are found in an abandoned limestone mine in Lonquen.
  • June 1990: The bodies of 19 men who disappeared in the 1970′s are discovered in a mass grave in Pisagua.
  • September 1991: The bodies of 127 victims of Pinochet’s regime are found buried secretly, two to a grave in some cases. Pinochet responds to television reporters by praising the economy of burying two to a grave.

As Randy says, Satan’s probably getting more than he bargained for…

Deathly Quiet

[ 0 ] December 9, 2006 |

Sullivan:

But let me say this in defense of Althouse. She is at least conceding that the shameful treatment of Padilla is worth discussing. And her defense of the sadism is about as plausible as it will ever get. She sees there is an important principle here – something we once knew as habeas corpus. Here you have a U.S. citizen detained on American soil, kept without charges for 3 and a half years, accused of plotting a dirty bomb attack (an accusation never substantiated in any way), tortured until he may be mentally incapable of standing trial … and the conservative blogosphere is completely, utterly silent. Habeas corpus disappears not with a bang, and not even with a whimper, but with deathly quiet. Well, we know what American conservatism now stands for. You can see the visual above.

IndeedOuchDisturbingBecauseIt’sTrue, with two caveats: 1)I’m not sure that coming up with quarter-assed justifications of torture is better than ignoring it (Althouse, as she always does, is using these quibbles to evade the fundamental issues, just like liberal hawks and Iraq) and 2)in fairness, the conservative blogosphere does have at least a couple of proud Schmittians, including a major member of the “Republican Daily Kos.”

Jeffrey Rosen: Center-right Crit at TNR

[ 0 ] December 8, 2006 |

I have a post at TAPPED about Jeffrey Rosen’s touting of John Roberts’s would-be “centrist” justification for upholding “partial-birth” abortion legislation that should clearly struck down based on the current law. A couple more points that I couldn’t fit in to a post that was already too long.

The article contains, first of all, a classic example of TNR pox-on-both-housesism:

Breyer is not the only justice who runs the risk of betraying his principles. If Justice Clarence Thomas decides to uphold the partial-birth abortion ban, abandoning his usual skepticism of federal regulations, he, too, would look opportunistic. By the same token, conservative defenders of the ban, such as former Attorney General Edwin Meese, are urging the Court to construe Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce very broadly, even though they take the opposite position in cases involving civil rights and environmental regulations; liberal groups are similarly hypocritical.

Needless to say, Rosen declines to name any of the “liberal groups” urging that the Supreme Court strike the law on Commerce Clause grounds. Perhaps there are some examples, although I’m not aware of any, but such arguments certainly didn’t play more than a trivial role in litigation seeking to overturn the statute. Or maybe he’s referring to Breyer’s unwillingness to defer to congressional fact-finding, but while Breyer can certainly be hacktacular I hardly think it’s inconsistent to refuse to defer to Congressional assertions that 2+2=74. Moreover, I’m not sure how Rosen can attack Breyer on this count. The Rosen/Roberts position–that rather than accept congressional findings of fact and the policy choices Congress deliberately made, the Supreme Court should just go ahead and read a very narrow health exemption into the statute based on its own reading of the data–is considerably more unprincipled and incoherent. If the findings of “fact” adduced by Congress cannot justify the legislation, then Breyer’s remedy–to strike the statute and let Congress craft an appropriate health exemption if it so chooses–is the obviously correct one.

The other odd thing about this article is its strange brew of moth-eaten 50s-era vulgar pluralism and crude normative legal realism. As many of you know, The New Republic has generally been (literally) a citadel of the Frankurter-Bickel variant of “legal process” theory, and Rosen used to invoke this school constantly. To put it crudely, legal process had two crucial components. The first part is its claim that what makes courts distinctive is that they have to identify legal principles, apply them in subsequent cases, and give a plausible account of what they’re doing. Rosen seems to have entirely abandoned this prong of the theory (unless he can invoke it to oppose Roe itself.) Indeed, what’s most remarkable about Rosen is the extent to which he’s stopped worrying and learned to love the jurisprudence of Sandra Day O’Connor. His argument in this article–in which he urges the court to adopt his preferred policy outcome without even the pretense that it represents a plausible reading of the Constitution or the Court’s precedents–is the kind of preening, transparently unprincipled difference-splitting that gives “minimalism” a bad name.

The part of legal process theory that he does remained attached to is the idea that the courts can manage (if not end) social conflicts and produce stability by deciding difficult issues the right way and saying the right things about them. (Who knew that Rosen’s only objection to Casey‘s justly-mocked call for “the contending sides of a national controversy to end their national division by accepting a common mandate rooted in the Constitution” was that the Court didn’t allow quite enough poor women to be denied abortions and women be burdened with health risks for no reason to hit the sweet spot.) As Digby so brilliantly pointed out today, the idea that anti-choicers will be satisfied with a few bones thrown in their direction is sheer fantasy. The court’s decision in this case will not affect the extent to which the abortion issue is controversial–the only thing at stake is the reproductive freedom of the most vulnerable women in society. To sacrifice the latter in the hope that a pony farm will grown on ice cream castles in the air is as silly as Felix Frankfurter thinking he could convince Southerners to accept desegreagtion if he were permitted to craft judicial opinions in just the right way.

Hillary, Non

[ 0 ] December 8, 2006 |

Thank Jeebus that I don’t think she can actually win the Democratic primary. (I hope somebody’s taking a lot of pictures of today’s Joementum.)

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