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The "Liberal" Republican Candidate!

[ 5 ] December 8, 2007 |

Mike Huckabee favored quarantining people with AIDS…in 1992. But he doesn’t favor tax cuts even if they would involve ignoring court orders, so clearly he’s some sort of free-thinking anarchist!

Baseball’s Own Hugh Hewitt

[ 0 ] December 7, 2007 |

Mr. Kenny Williams:

Reacting Wednesday to the blockbuster deal that sent power-hitting third baseman Miguel Cabrera and former All-Star left-hander Dontrelle Willis from the Florida Marlins to the Detroit Tigers — wrecking the Sox’ latest offseason plans — Williams said: ‘‘All this has done is put the Tigers in a better position to contend with us.”

Yes, contend with you. I’m sure you believe that!

Apparently, Williams is also the prime candidate to be the idiot who takes Juan Pierre off the Dodgers’ hands; that seems about right. Which reminds me, it really should be noted that the much-maligned-by-anti-Beane-nitwits Paul Depodesta was about a hundred times better as a GM than Ned Coletti, although in fairness the Mets never would have had their incredible stretch run this year without Paul LoDuca’s incredible clutchiosity and leadertude. And you could never wina World Series with a character like J.D. Drew on your team. Advantage: Bill Plaschke!

The Objectively Great Mitt Romney’s Objectively Great War On Constitutional Values

[ 0 ] December 7, 2007 |

I’m not sure — objectively! — that Yglesias or Cole fully understand the extent to which — objectively! — Mitt Romney’s speech was without question the greatest in the history of American political discourse. When even a dispassionate analyst like Hugh Hewitt can — objectively! — see the greatness of Romney’s attack on the non-religious and staunch opposition to the secular polity established by the Constitution, backed up by such brilliant analysts as Sean Hannity and Michael Medved, I can only conclude that only the most embarrassing hack could fail to see Mitt Romney as the greatest orator in the history of mankind. Objectively!

Destroying Torture Tapes

[ 17 ] December 7, 2007 |

The CIA deliberately destroyed tapes of two of its “severe interrogations.” The First Rule of the Bush administration: it can always get worse. Marty Lederman correctly calls out Jay Rockefeller, who at the very least has been sitting on this information since 2006, for yet again shedding crocodile tears after failing to do anything when it mattered. Marcy Wheeler, among other good points, notes that this will be the first major test for Mukasey, “a clear case of obstruction of justice involving Goss and a bunch of other people.” We’ll see if there’s been any progress from the Gonzales regime soon enough…

"A National Joke"

[ 7 ] December 7, 2007 |

I haven’t always agreed with Murray Chass’s analysis of labor issues, but he’s been doing great stuff about the exclusion of Marvin Miller from the Hall of Fame, this time by a committee stacked with Lords of the Realm after he was becoming to close to being elected under the old system. And, adding insult to injury Bowie Kuhn, the dimwitted reactionary who (thankfully) lost one battle after another in his attempt to make sure that players continued to receive grossly below-market salaries, was elected:

The National Baseball Hall of Fame has become a national joke. Its latest electoral contrivance elected three former executives to the Hall yesterday, none named Marvin Miller. Making the committee’s decision even worse, one of the three is named Bowie Kuhn.

For any committee of 12 supposedly knowledgeable baseball people to elect Kuhn, Barney Dreyfuss and Walter O’Malley and not Miller defies reasonable and logical explanation.

Of the three men elected by this newfangled panel, O’Malley deserves the honor because by moving his Brooklyn Dodgers to Los Angeles 50 years ago, a move for which he is still reviled in Brooklyn, he opened the entire country to baseball. The new geography made a significant impact on Major League Baseball.

Few men, if any, however, made as significant an impact as Miller on Major League Baseball. You don’t have to like what he did to recognize that impact. The game today is what it is in great part because of what Miller did as executive director of the players union from 1966 through 1983.

That only 3 of the 12 voters on the new executives committee acknowledged his contribution, and voted for him, is a sad commentary on the committee members and the Hall’s board of directors, which concocted the committee.

The committee was weighted heavily in favor of management candidates. Seven of the 12 members were or are management figures, owners and executives. If ever a system was created for the failure of one man, this was it.

“They are not a jury of my peers,” Miller observed last week, “but a jury of my antagonists.”

This would seem to be payback by people who should know better. Miller wrecked the owners’ cushy setup as lords and masters of the players and they would show him. I didn’t think Miller would get the nine votes necessary for election, but I thought he could come close. I could never have imagined that only three members would vote for him. As a member of the writers’ wing of the Hall of Fame but a nonvoter because The New York Times doesn’t allow its employees to vote, I am embarrassed for the Hall and everyone connected to it. Jane Forbes Clark, the chairman, and Dale Petroskey, the president, should especially feel embarrassed for what has occurred.

It is good that Dick Williams was selected; more on that later. Stephen Brunt has more on Miller.

The Boumediene Oral Argument

[ 6 ] December 6, 2007 |

Unfortunately, other professional responsibilities have prevented me from reading the full transcripts yet, so I’ve only heard the highlights so far (I’ll have more when I read them in full.) Marty Lederman found both advocates brilliant (as did TAP’s Phoebe Connelly, who was in attendance) and seems optimistic about the result. Linda Greenhouse also says that the case will turn on how far Kennedy is willing to go (implying that he will join the judgment of the Court’s four more liberal members but may — in his typical fashion — try to narrow the reasoning.) I don’t differ from the conventional wisdom here; the most likely outcome seems to be a Kennedy opinion (or an opinion designed to attract Kennedy’s vote) holding that Congress doesn’t need to provide full access to ordinary federal courts to satisfy the habeas requirement but does need to supply better procedures than it did in its most recent bill. Orin Kerr, however, argues that because Kennedy was uncharacteristically silent it’s hard to make a prediction, and argues that the Court may just send the case back to the lower courts after making it clear that “that there is a Constitutional right to habeas jurisdiction for the Guantanamo detainees.” Dodging the key questions in that why wouldn’t surprise me either, although in light of the Court’s previous decision such a clarification seems unnecessary.

…As Roger points out in comments, audio of the oral argument is also available online.

Depressing Hockey News (With Bonus Feminism!)

[ 14 ] December 6, 2007 |

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

“I was only following orders!”

According to court documents, the contract on Steve Moore, leading to Todd Bertuzzi’s near homicide, was put out by fellow scumbag Marc Crawford, backing up what many had long assumed. I don’t think this provides the slightest exoneration for Bertuzzi — he wasn’t told to sucker-punch Moore in the head, and a player could even have chosen to interpret Crawford as ordering a hard but clean and legal hit (such as, say, Moore’s hit on Naslund.) But it’s clear that the disgraceful circus was also created in large measure by Crawford.

Elsewhere, the charity created by the wives of the Ottawa Senators is donating a third of its proceeds to “crisis pregnancy” centers. As Stacey May points out, fans who purchase charity raffle tickets (I’ve certainly contributed to similar things) reasonably expect their money to go to innocuous charities, not to organizations distributing forced pregnancy propaganda. No wonder the Senators have lost seven straight!

“See You On The Links, Marc!”

Classics In the History of Wingnuttery

[ 9 ] December 6, 2007 |

With respect to Mike Huckabee agitating for the release of serial rapist and future murderer Wayne DuMond because of pressure from anti-Clinton conspiracy nuts, a commenter chez Yglesias helpfully points us to a reprint of a 1996 Steve Dunleavy column about the horrible injustices perpetrated on the poor, poor, pitiful serial rapist by Bill Clinton. You see, one of the rape victims “is Bill Clinton’s cousin. And her mother worked as part of Clinton’s inner circle when he was governor.” Well, I’m convinced! (According to Gene Lyons, the DuMond’s defenders were also wrong to take DuMond’s claim that he was castrated by intruders as face value.)

Duncan, who has been on this for a while, had another example here, this time with Dunleavy claiming that Clinton’s “worst crime” was…putting a serial rapist in jail. (Worse even that an obscure money-losing land deal or getting a blowjob? That’s hard to believe!) He also reminds us that not all anti-Clinton wingnuttery was on the right, pointing to this Village Voice article.

Even if you lived through this recent era, it’s hard to believe it happened. And if Clinton is the nominee in ’08, progressives had better be aware of what kind of stuff is going to come out of the woodwork and be prepared to deal with it.

Defining Liberalism Down

[ 0 ] December 5, 2007 |

Dave Weigel claims — plausibly — that Huckabee has gotten soft coverage because reporters like him. He also claims — rather less plausibly — that this is because of Huckabee’s “liberalism.” I guess this is the flipside of arguments that George Bush’s statism makes him a liberal (as opposed to the statist conservative he actually is), but it’s a strange assertion. Unless anybody who doesn’t believe that tax cuts are the appropriate response to every conceivable fiscal situation is a liberal, then fiscally Huckabee governed as a moderate conservative (in the context of a strongly Democratic legislature), and he’s campaigning as a right-wing crank on fiscal matters by making a regressive, unworkable national sales tax his centerpiece. In addition, of course, liberals tend not to believe that abortion is a “holocaust,” support amending the Constitution to make gays and lesbians second-class citizens, etc. He may not be the first choice of the powerful Donald Luskin wing of the GOP, but he’s not a liberal in any sense.

The Unserious Huckabee

[ 26 ] December 5, 2007 |

A couple of things:

  • Melissa McEwan makes a good point with respect to Huckabee wanting to have it both ways when it comes to religion and politics. You can’t not only repeatedly stress your background as a preacher and your religious values and muse about teaching the non-science of “intelligent design” in public science classes and then complain when people ask about the latter.
  • Both Yglesias and some commenters here are advancing the claim that Huckabee’s surge should be seen as evidence that Huckabee is a serious contender for the nomination. I still think the original bank-shot conventional wisdom — that Huckabee could inflict serious damage on Romney but not actually win — remains correct. In the course of explaining why claims that someone is “peaking too early” don’t make much sense and distinguishing between Obama and Huckabee, Publius makes the key point. As Huckabee’s apparently not having heard about N.I.E report on Iran or understanding its implications makes clear, he just doesn’t have the campaign infrastructure for a serious bid. After Iowa and New Hampshire Huckabee’s exceptional retail campaigning skills become virtually irrelevant, and he just doesn’t have the organization to take advantage of an early victory. Even worse, the fact that the Hair Club For Growth and other pro-business factions within the party are strongly opposed to him means that not only is he not going to get the resources to quickly build an organization, but whoever emerges as his strongest opponent will be lavishly funded. I suppose the race remains too fluid to completely rule out anybody who can win Iowa, but I still rank Huckabee a distant fifth among GOP candidates in terms of their chances of winning the nomination.

McCain is the New Kerry?

[ 0 ] December 4, 2007 |

“I’m waiting for pro-life voters to remember this guy named John McCain,” says Yglesias. Relatedly, Tom Schaller lays out the case that McCain could be the Republican Kerry, the guy who slips up the middle when the frontrunner implodes.

There are a couple things to be said for this. In terms of his opportunity, there’s no serious question; Romney is in a considerably more shaky position than Dean was at a similar time, and Guiliani and Thompson both have obvious problems. And logically, I agree that McCain (assuming that Huckabee can’t win) seems like the best choice for ordinary social conservatives; my opinions about that aren’t terribly relevant, of course, but actual social conservative Ramesh Ponnuru makes a persuasive case. The problem, however, is that — especially after what McCain said about various cultural conservative leaders in 2000 and for a couple years after — McCain is disliked by a lot of people within his own party, who (rightly or wrongly) seem to see him as a Republican Lieberman. And this is the biggest difference with Kerry. Nobody in the Democratic Party had any particular issue with him; he was ideally positioned as the plain vanilla liberal to take advantage after Dean’s campaign was mortally wounded in Iowa. McCain really isn’t in the same position. He has a lot of important enemies within the party.

Admittedly, I also thought Kerry was dead in 2003. And with Huckabee unacceptable to the most powerful faction in the GOP and Thompson seemingly campaigning from a hammock, there’s really no Kerry-equivalent plain vanilla conservative who’s both 1)a strong candidate and 2)lacks strong opposition. But I still think a McCain win is a real longshot, and I think Romney can survive losing in Iowa.

Injustice and Felony Murder

[ 20 ] December 4, 2007 |

Via Plumer, Adam Liptak discusses the case of a 20-year-old in Florida serving life without parole for lending some friends his car. What’s particularly useful in the article is that Liptak makes clear how unusual it is for the U.S. to have retained the concept of felony murder that holds accomplices equally responsible for murders committed by others regardless of their intentions:

Most scholars trace the doctrine, which is an aspect of the felony murder rule, to English common law, but Parliament abolished it in 1957. The felony murder rule, which has many variations, generally broadens murder liability for participants in violent felonies in two ways. An unintended killing during a felony is considered murder under the rule. So is, as Mr. Holle learned, a killing by an accomplice.

India and other common law countries have followed England in abolishing the doctrine. In 1990, the Canadian Supreme Court did away with felony murder liability for accomplices, saying it violated “the principle that punishment must be proportionate to the moral blameworthiness of the offender.”

Countries outside the common law tradition agree. “The view in Europe,” said James Q. Whitman, a professor of comparative law at Yale, “is that we hold people responsible for their own acts and not the acts of others.”

The point here is not that Holle is entirely innocent, but it seems far more appropriate to sentence him as an accomplice before the fact than as a murderer. (And when combined with another distinctive feature of the United States compared to other legal regimes — maintaining the death penalty — the potential for injustice is even more severe.)

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