Is there anything more pathetic than someone whining about excessive “Bush hated” based on generalizations derived from nameless individuals at apocryphal-sounding dinner parties…in 2007? This column has been written so many times that there must be a template you can use by now. Well, you could use the occasion to return to your feeble defense of Bush v. Gore. Most embarrassingly, Berkowitz claims that it was “Al Gore who shifted the election controversy to the courts,” when of course the first lawsuit was filed by Bush, who challenged Gore’s first attempt to seek the recounts he was unequivocally entitled to under Florida law. And, needless to say, he has yet to explain how the recount that gave the election to Bush — which was conducted under even more arbitrary standards that the one the Supreme Court reviewed Bush v. Gore — was any more consistent with the equal protection clause. Really, he should give it up, especially if he wants to accuse other people of distorting issues for partisan reasons.
Author Page for Scott Lemieux
"This Woman Claims To Be A Feminist, But She Seems More Interested In Apologizing For Radical Opponents of Women’s Rights."
Professor Althouse approvingly links to some winger interviewing Kathleen Willey, who asks people to look at what Hillary Clinton “has done to me.” Needless to say, Althouse omits the fact that one of the things that Willey believes Clinton to have done to her is to have her husband killed. Admittedly, to Althouse the fact that Willey is fabricating lunatic conspiracy theories about the Clintons probably adds to her credibility, but to people capable of a modicum of rationality where the Clintons are concerned this may serve as a reminder that one reason why feminist groups may not have given Willey the level of support she deemed appropriate is because her story was utterly lacking in credibility. Willey also trots out this classic routine:
The feminists, NOW, they’re all about one issue: abortion. They’re not talking about women’s rights, being an advocate for women, or equality in the work place. Those aren’t issues anymore. It’s abortion, plain and simple.
Indeed; for example, NOW completely ignored the major employment discrimination case that ruled in favor of companies engaging in rank discrimination (thanks to the decisive vote of Althouse’s beloved Justice Alito) that came down this term! And refused to try do anything about it! The claim is also transparently wrong in another way. NOW and other feminist groups came out strongly against Bob Packwood, a strong pro-choicer who opposed Bork on the grounds that he would vote to overturn Roe, because there was actual credible evidence that he had repeatedly sexually harassed members of his staff.
At any rate, it’s obvious that while Bill Clinton has engaged in personal behavior that is potentially objectionable on feminist grounds he’s certainly never done anything remotely bad enough to justify supporting alternatives who are vastly worse on women’s rights in policy terms. And while Hillary Clinton overall would be no higher than fourth if I was ranking the potential Democratic candidates in order of overall preference, it is overwhelmingly likely that if elected her administration would do more to advance women’s rights than any previous one — this is one of her strongest selling points. When you’re reduced to citing Kathleen Willey against this (and are a Rudy Giuliani lickspittle selectively claiming that how a candidate treats the women in his or her personal life is of overriding importance), it’s pretty clear that you don’t have a serious rebuttal to this.
I have just arrived in not-as-cold-as-it-might-be Canada for a wedding; I will not be absent over the next week but blogging will be more sporadic. Fortunately, bean has seamlessly fit into the Dowd-bashing role. (Hopefully this won’t be a Wally Pipp situation…)
…Admittedly, even Dowd’s gigantic narcissism-to-achievement ratio pales next to that of Camille Paglia.
According to an FBI investigation, most of the September 16 Blackwater killings were unjustified:
Federal agents investigating the Sept. 16 episode in which Blackwater security personnel shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians have found that at least 14 of the shootings were unjustified and violated deadly-force rules in effect for security contractors in Iraq, according to civilian and military officials briefed on the case.
The F.B.I. investigation into the shootings in Baghdad is still under way, but the findings, which indicate that the company’s employees recklessly used lethal force, are already under review by the Justice Department.
But whether there’s any legal redress is highly questionable:
Prosecutors have yet to decide whether to seek indictments, and some officials have expressed pessimism that adequate criminal laws exist to enable them to charge any Blackwater employee with criminal wrongdoing. Spokesmen for the Justice Department and the F.B.I. declined to discuss the matter.
The case could be one of the first thorny issues to be decided by Michael B. Mukasey, who was sworn in as attorney general last week. He may be faced with a decision to turn down a prosecution on legal grounds at a time when a furor has erupted in Congress about the administration’s failure to hold security contractors accountable for their misdeeds.
Let freedom ring!
Idaho Republicans try to use public policy not only to trap women in marriages they want out of but to encourage them to stay at home where they belong. Which is indeed in character with their refusal to regulate day care because, of course, quality day care might provide a disincentive against women staying barefoot and pregnant! Ugh.
As a number of bloggers have noted, the U.S. Sentencing Commission will be hearing testimony today about whether their new guidelines reducing the gross and arbitrary disparity between sentences for crack and powdered cocaine should be applied retroactively. Sentencing Law and Policy points to this WaPO story, noting that upwards of 90% of those affected by the change would be black, while only 6% are white. Hopefully the Commission will act to address this injustice for those who have already been affected. Jeralyn Merritt concludes with this argument:
Reducing the crack penalties is just the beginning. A renewed fight to get Congress to change mandatory minimum sentences based on drug quantity alone must come next. Perhaps with the internet’s ability to spread the word, it will come, before all those serving life sentences die in prison of old age and can still benefit from it.
Evidently, the War on (Some Classes of People Who Use Some) Drugs — expensive, ineffective, and where civil liberties go to die — is in need of serious reform. One thing I’ve wondered is how politically damaging opposing at least its most draconian aspects would be at this point. Hopefully some popular incumbents with a conscience will allow us to find out sooner rather than later, although there’s a very long way to go. It’s very important, however, for drug laws to be applied more equitably if headway in reforming them is going to be viable.
Following up on the fine post of his colleague, Bob Herbert tees off (implicitly) on David Brooks’s attempts to whitewash Reagan’s awful record on civil rights and use of rhetorical code to appeal to the white supremacists whose votes were crucial to the post-CRA partisan realignment:
Reagan was the first presidential candidate ever to appear at the fair, and he knew exactly what he was doing when he told that crowd, “I believe in states’ rights.”
Reagan apologists have every right to be ashamed of that appearance by their hero, but they have no right to change the meaning of it, which was unmistakable. Commentators have been trying of late to put this appearance by Reagan into a racially benign context.
That won’t wash. Reagan may have been blessed with a Hollywood smile and an avuncular delivery, but he was elbow deep in the same old race-baiting Southern strategy of Goldwater and Nixon.
Everybody watching the 1980 campaign knew what Reagan was signaling at the fair. Whites and blacks, Democrats and Republicans — they all knew. The news media knew. The race haters and the people appalled by racial hatred knew. And Reagan knew.
He was tapping out the code. It was understood that when politicians started chirping about “states’ rights” to white people in places like Neshoba County they were saying that when it comes down to you and the blacks, we’re with you.
And Reagan meant it. He was opposed to the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was the same year that Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney were slaughtered. As president, he actually tried to weaken the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He opposed a national holiday for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He tried to get rid of the federal ban on tax exemptions for private schools that practiced racial discrimination. And in 1988, he vetoed a bill to expand the reach of federal civil rights legislation.
Congress overrode the veto.
Reagan also vetoed the imposition of sanctions on the apartheid regime in South Africa. Congress overrode that veto, too.
Throughout his career, Reagan was wrong, insensitive and mean-spirited on civil rights and other issues important to black people. There is no way for the scribes of today to clean up that dismal record.
Indeed. Similarly, I’m sure it’s an amazing coinky-dink that the lone dissenter in Bob Jones v. United States thought as a Supreme Court clerk that “Plessy v. Ferguson was right and should be re-affirmed,” served as a polling booth goon, opposed civil rights at the federal, state, and local level, etc.
…and this, of course, is also a critical point.
It’s appropriate that Al MacInnis is being inducted into the Hall of Fame on the same day as Mark Messier; as a contemporary of Ray Bourque and Chris Chelios, he was always destined to be overshadowed. But he’s always been a personal favorite, not just because he was the greatest player on the Only Championship Team I Will Ever Root For but because he was a neighbor for a bit; I used to see his wife jog by all the time. My jersey is still a MacInnis #2; I suppose I need to update it, but I’ve never been compelled to.
Since bean will kill me otherwise, I’ll also reluctantly acknowledge that magnificent bastard Messier. And of course the formidable Scott Stevens; that’s an amazing crop.
Matt provides some useful quotes taking on Paul Berman’s attempt to claim that he was contemporaneously against the Iraq War. Perhaps even more instructive is this one from another post in the Slate symposium. After conceding that mistakes were made by the leaders of the war, he turns to another enemy:
But some of the blame falls as well on the anti-Bush naifs who pretend not to hear when anyone speaks about the larger reasons and goals—the people who pretend that WMD and non-existent conspiracies were the only reasons for war and pretend that the only serious goals were the arrests of a couple of men, or the achieving of a magical utopia tomorrow, and pretend that if war has still not ended, we have gotten nowhere at all. It’s all too true that better leaders could have made better plans, and the French and the Germans and the United Nations could help even now, if only they would. But it ought not to be so hard to see that, even so, the prospects of the totalitarian movement are looking a lot less healthy today than they did on Sept. 10, 2001 and the prospects of Muslim liberalism are looking up, somewhat.
So if I understand the argument here, Berman is saying that 1)the war has, on balance, been a good thing (the prospects of the totalitarian movement are looking a lot less healthy), 2)the administration did in some measure support Berman’s strategic goals and anti-war liberals simply refuse to acknowledge this, and 3)to the extent that the war, while still good, has been less good than expected the fault lies largely with liberals who, unlike Berman, fail to see the value in the war. (As is often the case with Berman’s arguments about Iraq, the causal chain here seems to be missing a few links; if more liberals had foolishly supported the Iraq war or at least attributed better motives to the Bush administration, this would have done what exactly to facilitate a stable liberal democracy in Iraq?) And then there’s concluding sentence: “In Iraq as in Afghanistan, a liberal war is going on—liberal in the philosophical sense, meaning liberty.” If Berman was opposed to the war and thought it was going badly, this argument is…strange. Either Berman supported the war, or for a brief period in 2004 repudiated liberal interventionism.
The other thing to say is that I think it’s entirely possible that many members of the Bush administration did in some measure share Berman’s conviction that stateless Islamic terrorists, different Islamic dictatorships, and secular dictatorships were all part of a common “Islamic totalitarianism” that posed an existential threat comparable to the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany. Since this underlying theory is both transparently erroneous and neither here nor there in terms of the Bush administration’s ability to create a liberal state ex nihilo in Iraq, I don’t find this terribly comforting.
Matt says he’s reading this book defending Eisenhower’s record on race. I haven’t read it, so maybe it makes the case. But I would be skeptical on several fronts that the book would need to be overcome:
- I think there is, in fact, good reason to believe that Eisenhower’s appointment of Warren was not a result of a steadfast commitment to civil rights. Eisenhower, after all, promised Governor Warren an appointment after he agreed to deliver California’s delegates to him at the convention, and the fact that he was made Chief was just a fluke created by Fred Vinson’s sudden death (the first indication Felix Frankfurter ever had that there is a God); I think the patronage factor was more important. And while Warren was certainly a liberal Republican, I’m not sure that there was a strong basis for believing in 1952 that a prime author of the internment of Japanese citizens was especially progressive on race in particular. The appointment of Brennan, similarly, was almost certainly about appealing to the Catholic vote. To see these appointments as being about Eisenhower’s commitment to civil rights is to project the currents ways in which presidents select Supreme Court justices onto a previous era.
- Although I accept the limitations of rhetoric in re: a comparison with JFK’s all-hat-no-cattle approach to civil rights, Eisenhower hanging the Supreme Court out to dry after Brown actually matters. Rhetoric is, after all, part of a president’s job. Nor, as far as I can tell, was his lukewarm-at-best reaction to desegregation inconsistent with his privately expressed thoughts on the matter. The fact that he informed Warren that southerners were not bad people, just concerned lest their “sweet little girls be seated alongside some big black bucks” also makes me question his staunch commitment to civil rights, and Nichols seems to concede that he wasn’t especially progressive in his personal views. (The “black bucks” phrasing is also relevant to Reagan’s rhetoric on the subject.)
- The favorable comparison with Truman seems especially strange. Given that Truman actually desegregated the armed forces while Eisenhower testified against integration in Congress, to primarily credit the latter strikes me as bizarre. Under Truman, the federal government also started aggressively favoring civil rights in the federal courts by filing amicus briefs.
- It is true, as Nichols repeated in his NYT op-ed, that LBJ watered down civil rights legislation in 1957 (and given that it was that or nothing, he was right to do so.) On the other hand, as Robert Caro points out (pp.918-9) Ike was himself unfamiliar with key provisions of his own bill, and in private correspondence said that some of its provisions were “too broad” (while reiterating his skepticism about Brown and his lack of objections to the glacial pace of desegregation.) In fairness, I am willing to believe that, like a lot of moderates, Eisenhower became more sympathetic to civil rights after Little Rock.
- In the description, it says that Nichols “attributes Lyndon Johnson’s actions to his presidential ambitions.” This may be true, but it is also entirely irrelevant to anything. If were evaluating presidents on their records — as Nichols would like — LBJ’s is so vastly better than Ike’s that the comparison is ridiculous. Whatever motivated him — and it’s clearly silly to reduce it to any one factor — LBJ did more for civil rights than every other president of the century combined while Ike’s record was highly unimpressive.
None of this is to say that Eisenhower was especially bad for a public official of his era; he was more of a squish than an active opponent of civil rights. But it’s also true that on the crucial question of Brown, Ike hid under the covers and whimpered until violent resistance forced his hand. And while I might agree that he and JFK differed more on rhetoric than results — although I think the rhetoric is more important than he allows — to favorably compare Eisenhower with Johnson on civil rights borders on the obscene.
I’m also glad that they reminded us about Giuliani canceling a press conference because the family wasn’t wealthy enough to be a Potemkin front for the upper-upper class tax cut he was advocating…