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Socialist of the Day

[ 2 ] October 23, 2008 |

John McCain. After all, a free market tax scheme would try to tax all types of income relatively equally and trust the market to distribute resources. But McCain wants to “pick winners and losers” and benefit investors as opposed to people who earn money through wages or salaries. Oh, the humanity!

And, of course, proposing a capital gains tax cut as a remedy to…a collapsing stock market makes it a super-brilliant idea.

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Requiem For An Academic

[ 13 ] October 22, 2008 |

Deposed Canadian Liberal leader was indeed a good and able man, but was pretty clearly unsuited to the job as a party leader, as his whining about garden-variety opposition attacks during the campaign makes clear. I wish he had succeeded but he certainly didn’t.

Now we have to hope that torture apologist and “dirty hippies made me support the Iraq fiasco” jagoff Michael Ignatieff doesn’t take over…

The Wages of Being Thankfully Wrong

[ 0 ] October 22, 2008 |

As some readers may remember, I have a friendly wager with frequent commenter Howard about whether the Yankees will make the playoffs and win the AL East. Thankfully, my affirmative wagers were wrong! Hence, according to my promise, I have donated $50 to the No On Prop 8 campaign. The importance of not allowing an initiative to nullify marriage rights for same-sex couples can scarcely be overstated, and this is looking like a close race, so it’s a cause worthy of your consideration.

And showing some flexibility since Howard is a jazz fan who’s been kind enough to enrich my own too-small collection several times, I’ve donated the other $50 to the highly anticipated recording project of the Secret Society. Darcy is a virtual and meatspace friend who has drawn deservedly fulsome praise from Ben Ratliff among others. In addition, my original proposed honoree, Planned Parenthood, won’t get stiffed — I’ll give to them this Christmas.

Readers should feel free, as Howard has, to match any donations of their choosing. Hmm, and maybe someone should make a reverse-hedge World Series bet with Atrios?

The "Impartiality" of Originalist Judging: A Video Representation

[ 36 ] October 21, 2008 |

Starring Wilbur Hackett as Antonin Scalia.

Bonus footage: a new movie about Bush v. Gore, featuring Nelson Emerson as the Republican Party and Denis Morel as Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.

The Originalist Dodge

[ 0 ] October 21, 2008 |

Clarence Thomas makes a typical argument in favor of originalism:

Let me put it this way; there are really only two ways to interpret the Constitution — try to discern as best we can what the framers intended or make it up…To be sure, even the most conscientious effort to adhere to the original intent of the framers of our Constitution is flawed, as all methodologies and human institutions are; but at least originalism has the advantage of being legitimate and, I might add, impartial.

The choice between “originalism” and “nihilism” is a silly, false one; even to most realists, not all constitutional arguments are equally plausible. The idea that originalism is “impartial” is equally indefensible, not least because “originalism” rarely produces determinate outcomes when applied to concrete cases (and in the rare cases where “originalism” cannot produce a plausible conservative outcome on cases Thomas strongly cares about, he’ll simply ignore the evidence anyway.)

This formulation is important, however, because unless the choice is “originalism or nothing” originalism has no chance to become a widely acceptable method. If there are multiple defensible interpretive methods, originalists would have to explain why it’s normatively attractive to bind 21st century Americans to 18th century constitutional norms, a claim most people (including, when you actually get down to cases, most originalists — like the “faint-hearted” Antonin Scalia, not to mention most of the founders themselves) will reject. Rather, originalism fails on both counts: it’s not normatively appealing, and it doesn’t constrain judicial discretion more than other theories of constitutional interpretation. Thomas doesn’t address these arguments so much as make assertions that dodge the crucial questions.

PUMAs…

[ 8 ] October 21, 2008 |

are like unicorns. Why this surprises anybody I can’t tell you. I mean, Lady de Rothschild isn’t leading a populist revolt in favor of more upper-class tax cuts in the Democratic party, I’m shocked!

The Incredible Vanishing "Voter Fraud"

[ 10 ] October 21, 2008 |

Of course. But the point of the whole exercise was to get another apocryphal example of “voter fraud” out there for Republican vote suppressers to use as a pretext, so in that sense every claim is successful…

"Our Greatest Vulnerability is that We’re Complete Morons Willing to Spend Unlimited Amounts of Time Developing Insane Theories About Trivia" Part II

[ 5 ] October 20, 2008 |

Remember that exclusive “African Press International” story? Where Michelle Obama was supposed to have given a Hate Whitey interview to a press organization manifested in a cheap-looking wordpress site? Fortunately, it’s all been explained:


The circle was completed by Jammie Wearing Fool, who suggested that the API report may be “a clever bit of astroturfing by the Obama camp trying to dupe people into running with bogus information.” (Why would they bother?)

Yes. That must be it. Although I can’t argue with the proposition that right blogosphere is very, very easily duped.

Meanwhile, for bonus fun we can also see the Corner going back to the anonymous letter writer/apocryphal cab driver or cocktail party with sneering liberals genre. Always stick with the classics! Combining the two is even better…

I Would Like to Think This is Stating the Obvious, But…

[ 6 ] October 19, 2008 |

“Income taxes” are a subset of the category of “taxes,” but the former category does not in fact fully encompass the latter. Republicans like to pretend that you can’t give a tax cut to people who don’t pay federal income taxes because this conveniently ignores the regressive taxes that constitute a much higher percentage of the ordinary person’s tax burdens. This is greatly aided by hack journalists who let this ridiculous bait-and-switch pass without comment.

Amateur Night

[ 24 ] October 19, 2008 |

Fox’s MLB coverage is so abysmal that it inclines me to some charity towards TBS — fewer nose hair and E-list celebrity shots, less Tim McCarver, you have to give them that — but what a dog and pony show. Pre-empting the first inning for “Dick Clark’s Funniest Home Celebrity Bloopers” probably isn’t going to help them get the ratings they need to attract a second outside advertiser to permit them to cut the anti-smoking and mediocre impression ads show down to 80 a game or so.

Tonight’s game will be fascinating if TBS will deign to show it.

We’re Going to Talk About the White, That’s What We’re Going to Do

[ 15 ] October 19, 2008 |

I suppose it’s not news that to Republicans “real” America is white America, but it’s probably useful to have a candidate on a Republican presidential ticket be so explicit about it.

It’s very appropriate that this weekend would see yet another piece about Obama chasing white votes from Matt Bai. The print edition is headlined “Can Obama Close the Deal With Those White Guys,” thereby borrowing the both the exceptionally irritating “close the deal” buzzphrase and the arbitrary division of the electorate into groups with white people somehow being more important from the Clinton campaign. Apparently, Obama’s majority coalition won’t be quite majority enough if it doesn’t get whiter. But as both Clinton and McCain have or will soon demonstrate, white votes really don’t count more.

Of course, the problem goes beyond any one writer and editor. There’s nothing wrong, in isolation and in theory, with a lengthy article about attracting particular groups of voters per se (although I could do without such features as conflating “working class” voters with “rural whites.”) The bigger problem is the obsessive focus on white male voters in particular. The real issue is that the Times would publish an interminable article about, say, John McCain trying to appeal to single women and pointing out that the GOP is doomed among this demographic until they repudiate their extremely unpopular anti-Roe position when there’s a blizzard in hell.

Lackey

[ 8 ] October 18, 2008 |

Spackerman on Fred Barnes:

Fred Barnes might be the only reporter who’s actually stupider and less coherent than Sarah Palin. Longtime New Republic staffers would reminisce around the office about how Barnes, a former TNRer, used to rewrite GOP press releases with minimal revisions. It’s actually easy to pity Barnes, as he lacks a basic self-respect. After all, the guy wrote a fawning Bush biography after Bush nicknamed him “Barney,” which is what Bush calls his dog.

That’s all background to establish a general principle. While I see in theory the logic of sending a borderline-retarded journalist to lionize a particularly vapid politician, with Barnes, you’re just going to end up accidentally running something that reveals Palin’s basic unfitness for public life.

I always wonder — does anyone take the guy seriously? Even to preach to the choir, the preacher needs a modicum of credibility. Although I suppose the very existence (and editorship) of the magazine he answers for answers the question.

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