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Serious Political Journamalism

[ 0 ] June 6, 2007 |

I suppose it’s not exactly shocking that the internet’s premier source for political haircut news would uncritically endorse the “look–boobies!!!!” story about an entirely banal group photo (with an egregious mischaracterization of the book written by the woman being demeaned in the bargain!) Still, what I don’t understand is if they’re going to uncritically endorse Althouse’s crackpot interpretations, why not go all the way? How about a good conspiracy theory about the Clenis (TM), perhaps something about how Jessica was a plant meant to throw investigators who were about to arrest Clinton for his role in the slaying of Vince Foster off the scent? Or perhaps a sidebar asking why Hillary Clinton would endorse a site that’s “clearly” about particular sexual practices? Some creativity, please! (Christ, I hope they don’t take this as a challenge.)

…see the video of Jessica on Colbert here.

Peremptory Challanges

[ 0 ] June 5, 2007 |

I reiterate my opposition here.

Bush’s Idea of a Fair Judge

[ 0 ] June 5, 2007 |

Via Matt, an excellent summary of the record of Leslie Southwick, the latest Bush Circuit Court nominee whose primary qualification is a slavish devotion to business interests. Particularly remarkable is the case of Richmond v. Mississippi Dep’t of Human Services, in which the Court of Appeals of Mississippi (in an opinion joined by Southwick) upheld the state’s decision to overrule the Department of Human Services’s decision to fire an employee who used a racial slur against another employee. The state’s decision is subject to review, and cannot be “arbitrary or capricious.” So what were the findings that justified overriding the decision of DHS? As the dissent notes, here was the argument:

(1) DHS overreacted;

(2) the remark was made in an open meeting with an atmosphere of give and take;

(3) the term “good ole nigger” was not a racial slur;

(4) calling Varrie Richmond a “good ole nigger” was equivalent to calling her “teacher’s pet.”

Arguing that these justifications for overriding the DHS’ decision to fire the employee strain credulity is the least that can be said. (“Teacher’s pet?”) They were, however, good enough for Southwick, despite his typical position that employers should normally have the virtually unlimited discretion to fire employees. Southwick is not good enough for a seat on the federal circuit courts, and the Democrats should not consider even letting him out of committee. Although Supreme Court appointments get the vast bulk of the attention, other federal appointments matter a great deal, and the more appointments Bush gets to make the more ambiguous Supreme Court precedents that will be applied by judges who make John Roberts look like Thurgood Marshall.

States’ Rights!

[ 0 ] June 4, 2007 |

Welcome to Crazy Nino’s House of Federalism! We guarantee that any characterization of facts by a state court, even if it’s so tendentious or transparently false that even a conservative darling circuit court judge can see through it, will be accepted!* Don’t worry about pesky Constitutional rights–make up whatever crap you need to and string ‘em up!

*Note: guarantee void if it may prevent a Republican President from being elected.

It’s Alright Mr. Kennedy, My Uterus Is Only Bleeding

[ 0 ] June 4, 2007 |

Marty Lederman points us to an interesting WaPo article, in which a few members of America’s tiny minority of serious, principled “pro-lifers” have come to see that “Partial Birth” bans are silly, irrational laws whose primary purpose is to separate money from their wallets and funnel it to the Republican Party. Focus on the Family, however, maintains that the bans do have an upside: the law does increase the “danger of internal bleeding from a perforated uterus.” If you don’t believe me that most of the American forced pregnancy lobby cares a great deal more about punishing women for sexual choices they don’t approve of than protecting fetal life, well, I say we take their word for it.

And, again, this explains the sexism in Kennedy’s opinion; you take it away, and the legislation has no connection with a legitimate state interest at all. As you can see, most anti-choicers (despite the bad faith Congressional findings that 2+2=171) don’t really think that these bans on a safer procedure protect women’s physical health. They simply believe that women can’t be trusted to make judgments about their own lives, and if this causes some women to be seriously injured that’s a feature, not a bug. It’s almost impossible to overstate how disgusting this legislation is, and how deeply entwined outright misogyny is with the American “pro-life” movement.

Off the Canvas

[ 0 ] June 4, 2007 |

The Red Sox, I suppose did the job they needed to do for themselves; they’re still pretty much in command of the division. But although mitigated by Saturday’s enjoyable victory–with Pasta Diving turning in such a wretched defensive performance that (after some hilarious straining: “Lowell got in his eyes! And then the moons of Saturn!”) even McCarver had to stop making excuses–with respect to the more important question of knocking the Yankees out of the playoffs they failed once again. The Yankees are only 7 out of the wildcard, and they’re certainly capable of making that up. You can’t say they’re favored–the Tigers and Indians are both pretty good–but they have a very serious chance. I still think they’ll score the most runs in the league, their rotation will be OK, and Rivera’s clearly back. (A lot of the undue optimism about the Yankees seems to revolve around Slappy’s alleged lack of clutchiosity and Jetertude, which as we saw once again last night are regrettably unfounded.) Although I like the Red Sox more as a team, it must be said that the Angels did their job while the Red Sox have now let them hang around by losing 4 out of 6 when they were down.

Having said that, I was probably wrong about the Red Sox not winning the division and certainly wrong about them not signing Damon. I still don’t like Crisp at all as an offensive player–he’s a singles hitter with no plate discipline–but he’s not only been better than Damon in the field but actually good period, and if the Red Sox sign Jones or Ichiro! they’ll obviously win the gamble easily. But the Yankees will be in the playoff hunt in September.

You may have also heard that Clemens was scratched today with a “fatigued groin.” Rumors that he was following the Slappy Tour of Manhattan are unconfirmed at press time.

Not That!

[ 0 ] June 3, 2007 |

Shorter Verbatim Rudy Giuliani: “[Letting Bush's upper class tax cuts expire] would be an astounding, staggering tax increase. She wants to go back to the 1990s.”

What a nightmare that would be!

A preview of the 2008 Republican platform is here.

Tragedy

[ 0 ] June 2, 2007 |

Steve Gilliard has passed away. It seems inconceivable to me, and he will be missed sorely by all who knew him. Condolences to his friends and family, who provided such staunch support throughout his illness.

…Jane has a remarkably eloquent tribute.

Julia, TPNH, and the Talking Dog remember. Jill offers a reader’s perspective. Kevin has a terrific post with a comprehensive roundup of links.

Fortunately, It’s An Easy Job

[ 0 ] June 2, 2007 |

Marcy: “you’ve got to feel sorry for Mike Allen and the Politico. He’s not going to be the same reporter without his best source.” Indeed. Of course, when your job is to be a stenographer rather than journalist, you just have to wait for the next flack to be appointed and you’re back in the game…

Michael Kay Whore Watch

[ 0 ] June 2, 2007 |

With things already looking bad, I had to keep turning away from yesterday’s Sox/Yankees fiasco because Kay wouldn’t shut up about poor Slappy and how he’s being unfairly criticized. I even think that the play in question, while bush league, wasn’t quite as heinous as many others do. (I’m much more upset about Proctor intentionally skulling the Greek God of Walks.) But then I turn back in the eight inning, and Kay is not only still pissing and moaning about it, but ups the ante by claiming that Slappy has been “vilified”…while players who used steroids get a complete pass! As Singleton–someone who actually belongs in a major league broadcast booth–gently tried to point out, the moralistic hysteria about players accused of using steroids could scarcely be higher (cf. any time Barry Bonds steps to the plate), but Kay was adamant. If not sure if it’s quite as pathetic as Bubba Crosby: Fastest Man In Baseball!, but it’s up there. Having to listen to this is almost enough to make the pending Fox broadcast today tolerable. Almost.

I also note that Fox is buying ads for its feeble “comedy” The 1/2 Hour News Hour on Al-Yankeezera. Hey, they know their market: the Yankees are certainly a team for Republicans, and Michael Kay is about as aesthetically distinguished in his field as Joel Surnow is in his…

Federalism, Madison, and the 21st Century

[ 0 ] June 1, 2007 |

Matt has one obvious rejoinder to David Brooks’s pean to the mediocre character actor and undistinguished one-term+ Senator who seems to be the GOP’s New Fresh Hope for ’08. So instead I’ll take issue with Brooks praising Thompson because “[h]e’s going back to Madison and Jefferson and the decentralized federalism of the founders, at least as channeled through Goldwater.” My first response is, how on earth could it be an ipso good thing to go back to a conception of federalism designed for a predominantly agrarian 18th century society? You really need a make a further argument here. So let’s try that.

Advocates of a strong “federalism” are fond of discussing Madison’s argument that federalism is a “double security” for liberty. Unless you place a higher value on such freedoms as the right to ship goods made with child labor than I do, however, it’s not clear how well this has worked in American history. Much more prescient was Madison’s insight in Federalist #10 that smaller, homogeneous polities are much more likely to oppress minorities than larger, heterogeneous polities. Goldwater’s slightly updated beliefs about federalism have, for good reason, been utterly discredited. I suppose it’s nice in a narrow way that Goldwater opposed the Civil Rights Act on principled federalist grounds (unlike the vast, vast majority of the CRA’s opponents, who opposed desegregation at the federal, state and local level, whether it was done be legislatures or courts, etc.) But the effect of his principle was…to oppose the Civil Rights Act, which can be seen as a net positive for freedom only under the most blinkered and formal conception of what freedom means. Similarly, very few people value the “freedom” gained by prohibiting the federal government from providing guaranteed pensions. And so on.

Given this history, it’s telling that Brooks manages to avoid explaining exactly what powers he wants devolved to the states and speaks entirely in terms of pleasant abstractions. Presumably, to Brooks this doesn’t include entirely dismantling the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Act and the New Deal regulatory state, but this just demonstrates once again that arguments about “federalism” don’t do any real work in most arguments. Saying that something should be “left to the states” is normally just another way of saying you don’t think a federally protected right or federal government power is very important. There are a few seriously principled “federalists,” but logically applying their beliefs wouldn’t fly in 1964 (let alone 2008), and for very good reason. Minority rights need federal protection, and the regulation of a complex, interdependent 21st century economy requires federal regulation.

The Court After the Bush Remodeling

[ 0 ] June 1, 2007 |

Simon Lazarus and Rochelle Bobroff have more on Alito in the wake of his casting the decisive vote in the awful Ledbetter decision:

In the meantime, they can expect more opinions in this vein from the Roberts Court. Justice Alito’s solicitude for employers is not new. Before joining the Supreme Court in February 2006, as an appellate judge on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, he repeatedly pressed legal theories or factual interpretations, usually in dissent, designed to keep juries from hearing employment discrimination claims. In one such case, the majority opinion observed that his position “would immunize an employer” even if he or she were motivated by “conscious racial bias.” In another, the majority noted that if his approach represented the law, “few if any [discrimination] cases would survive.”

And, needless to say, this couldn’t have been more predictable. But he stretches the law to slavishly restrict discrimination claims in a non-acerbic manner, and he likes baseball, so he’s really a moderate!