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[ 0 ] November 8, 2006 |

CNN calls Montana for Tester.

Back to the Clown Show

[ 0 ] November 8, 2006 |

The defeat of South Dakota’s abortion ban is evidently good news on the merits, and will also hopefully put to rest the ideas that abortion criminalization necessarily represents popular majorities. Even in one of the most conservative states, an even minimally consistent (and the South Dakota legislation still flinched when it came to applying legal sanctions to women who were purportedly guilty of a serious crime) pro-life position is a political loser even in on of the most conservative states in the country.

What this means, alas, is a return to silly, unprincipled abortion regulation that attempts to roll back abortion access through the back door. Appropriately enough, today the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Gonzales cases, which concern the constitutionality of federal legislation banning so-called “partial birth” abortions. Nothing represents the extent to which the American “pro-life” movement is reduced to empty symbolism and intellectual dishonesty than these ridiculous laws. I will have a longer piece about this in the near future, but in the meantime Judge Posner explained the nature of the laws well in his dissent in Hope Clinic v. Doyle:

The wave of “partial birth” abortion statutes that broke over the nation after a description of the D & X procedure was publicized–does not exhibit the legislative process at its best, whatever one thinks of abortion rights. Whipped up by activists who wanted to dramatize the ugliness of abortions and deter physicians from performing them, the public support for the laws was also based–as is implicit in Judge Manion’s defense of the laws– on sheer ignorance of the medical realities of late-term abortion. The uninformed thought the D & X procedure gratuitously cruel, akin to infanticide; they didn’t realize that the only difference between it and the methods of late-term abortion that are conceded all round to be constitutionally privileged is which way the fetus’s feet are pointing. Opposition to the bills that became these laws was at first muted not only by ignorance of the character of a late-term abortion but also by the fact that few women are likely to be affected by the laws. Circumstances conspired, as it were, to produce a set of laws that can fairly be described as irrational. [my emphasis; cites removed.]

The bad news is that this ludicrously arbitrary legislation–which doesn’t protect fetal life even in theory, although it may force women to use procedures that are less safe–is almost certain to be upheld by the Supreme Court, which may well lead to the gutting of Roe‘s health exemption. The difference is Alito replacing O’Connor, which should emphasize both the importance of the two outstanding Senate seats and the election in 2008.

And It Wasn’t Even K-Lo

[ 0 ] November 8, 2006 |

Shorter Verbatim Hugh Hewitt: “Senator Santorum is now available for a seat on the SCOTUS should one become available.”

I think this is the definition of a situation in which commentary is superfluous.

Open Thread The Second

[ 0 ] November 8, 2006 |

A Dem House–expected, but even six months ago I wouldn’t have predicted it. Great news, and with VA heading to recount the Senate is very much in play. (Bill Kristol has claimed that most outstanding votes in MO are in St. Louis and Kansas City, and Talent’s lead has steadily narrowed. Looks like +5 at worst.)

And as It points out, the South Dakota abortion law has been defeated. And Ezra makes a great point–I think all analogies of Karl Rove to Mark Hanna are officially null.

this is exactly right. Webb should declare victory tonight. The most crucial aspect of Florida 2000 wasn’t the litigation but the perception that Gore was trying to “steal” Bush’s “victory.” Admittedly, I somehow doubt that the media will keep telling Allen to get over it, but Webb has to take the initiative here.

…”The Votes Are In And We Won.” Attaboy, Jim!

…Hayworth done.

Classic predictive work from Hugh Hewitt’s lickspittle.

…McCaskill claims victory!

Party Like It’s 1964!

[ 0 ] November 7, 2006 |

Woo-hoo! With 0% of precincts reporting, Harold Ford jumps out to a commanding 700 vote lead! It’s a landslide!

Earlier this week I was lamenting having to teach at 8:25 tonight, but it’s probably for the best to let results collect for an hour so I’m not checking obsessively for virtually meaningless data. Plus, it’s my American Government class and I have interweb capability in class, so should be fun…

I declare this an Election Open Thread. Play Nice! And if things start going sour, you’d better be packing whiskey.

…I will feel a lot better if Missouri started tightening up a bit.

…Crazy Curt Weldon goes down–Atrios will be happy.

…Sherwood the Choker and Nancy Johnson also go down.

…Sweeney goes down! Yay upstate.

…Looks like Dem takeover of the House is official (sound the bugles.) Time to turn to Fox…ah, Hume seems to be whining about Virginia not being called yet…

…at worst, looks like a recount in VA.

…Webb takes the lead, as intrepid commneter MJD called.

Well, One of These Arguments Is Embarrassing

[ 0 ] November 7, 2006 |

The sad decline of Michael Kinsley continues with this bit of vacuous contrarianism, which has been understandably picked up by jingoist Republican bloggers like Glenn “more rubble, less trouble” Reynolds. According to Kinsley, the statements about Iraq in the Democratic platform are an “embarrassment”:

For national security in general, the Democrats’ plan is so according-to-type that you cringe with embarrassment: It’s mostly about new cash benefits for veterans. Regarding Iraq specifically, the Democrats’ plan has two parts. First, they want Iraqis to take on “primary responsibility for securing and governing their country.” Then they want “responsible redeployment” (great euphemism) of American forces.

Older readers may recognize this formula. It’s Vietnamization — the Nixon-Kissinger plan for extracting us from a previous mistake. But Vietnamization was not a plan for victory. It was a plan for what was called “peace with honor” and is now known as “defeat.”

It really is quite remarkable to use Nixon and Kissinger to attack Pelosi–is Kinsley actually claiming that Vietnam would have turned out better if we had kept more troops there longer? Is this supposed to be a serious argument? Kinsley doesn’t design to share with us what a non-embarrassing plan would look like, but merely implies that a pullout is likely to be followed by bad consequences in Iraq. Which is true enough. But since things are getting worse, simply staying–particularly since Bush has made it clear that his strategy will be to keep trying the same failed approach and magically hope that it will make things better instead of worse (and a pony!)–does absolutely nothing to prevent this “defeat.” If Kinsley is saying that we should try to change things by greatly increasing our commitment of troops, this would be irresponsible for three reasons: 1)it’s exceptionally unlikely to work at this late date, 2)the troops don’t exist, and 3)the people actually in charge of executing the war don’t want to do anything differently even if it were possible.

The real Nixon/Kissinger analogy here, of course, is that the Bush administration is going to do everything possible to blame other people rather than the people actually responsible for the Iraq fiasco. Kinsley demonstrates that any number of Sensible Centrists (TM) will be happy to do so, making the specious argument that if the Democrats don’t develop a plan (about which Kinsley, needless to say, has absolutely nothing useful to contribute) to salvage the unsalvageable then a bad outcome in Iraq is somehow their fault. Whatever its demerits, the Democratic platform is infinitely more honest and less embarrassing than Kinsley’s Nixonian critique. It’s the least bad option for a situation they didn’t create.

Or, of course, there’s the least charitable (but probably, alas, most accurate) reading: that Kinsley completely agrees with the Democratic Party, but thinks that the Democratic platform should say “if elected, we will immediately cut and run to ensure that the United States will lose the Iraq War.” I would prefer to think that he can’t possibly be arguing that parties have a responsibility to frame substantive policies in terms so politically unpalatable they could never be elected to enact these policies, but if he is, well…I think it’s self-refuting.

Drum notes the same silliness elsewhere in the article.

Reasons For Optimism?

[ 0 ] November 7, 2006 |

My predictions for the election outcome are up at TAPPED. You’ll see that, despite a fairly generous appraisal of the Democrats’ chances in the Senate, I was skeptical of Webb’s chances. For whatever it’s worth, a recent poll shows Webb ahead. And Sabato has the Dems +6 in the Senate and +29 in the House. I certainly hope that’s about right, but I still can’t quite see everything breaking that well.

Meanwhile, Roxanne provides about 3,000 reasons to hope for a repudiation of the Party of Torture tomorrow.

Amanda speak, you listen.

"More Rubble, Less Trouble."

[ 0 ] November 7, 2006 |

Glenn Reynolds is a “racist.” This isn’t my judgment, mind you, but the judgment of the Libertarian Jacksonian Whig himself.

The Party Left Me

[ 0 ] November 7, 2006 |

Is there a more irritating genre of political commentary than that of yoosta-bees? That is, generally ill-informed dilettantes who can’t keep talking about their banal move to the right as they get older and richer (preferably with lots of references to apocryphal cocktail parties) as if it portended some kind of new politics? After 9/11 their ranks grew to an appalling extent (cf. the pathetic Pajamas Media), and the upcoming elections are likely to be their Waterloo, as their once-fashionable bedwetting imperialism is rejected by the electorate. But they haven’t given up yet, alas. Roy Edroso finds quintessential “I used to consider myself a Democrat, but thanks to 9/11, I’m outraged by Chappaquiddick” Democrat Orson Scott Card yet again making an Instapundit-tabbed claim that he has no choice to abandon the Democratic Party because it hasn’t moved quite far enough to the right to accommodate his extremely reactionary views on most domestic and foreign policy issues. This has caused me to reconsider my longtime Republican loyalty, and I hereby endorse Roy’s equally painful reaction to Card’s declaration of himself as a “Tony Blair Democrat”:

I’d really like to vote for a Republican someday. But how can I, with the current batch of greedy, stupid Republicans? They are not at all like the real Republicans with whom I grew up — men like John Lindsay and “Fightin’ Bob” La Follette.

Today, I consider myself a Nelson Mandela Republican. By which I mean, until the Republican party returns to its roots and embraces abortion rights, national health insurance, legalization of drugs, gay marriage, and doubling the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts, I will by God vote for the Democrats, difficult as that is for an old GOP loyalist such as myself.

It was hard for me too, but sometimes you just have to do the courageous thing.

Well, Actually, I Guess Racism Is The First Refuge Of A Scoundrel

[ 0 ] November 6, 2006 |

Kind of depressing that upstate Republicans can’t make it quite as subtle as Republicans in Tennessee…

Failures of Rationality

[ 1 ] November 6, 2006 |

Speaking of local coffee shops, my part of the neighborhood exists at a confluence of large Croatian, Arab, and Greek communities, and a happy consequence of this is the existence of many European-style coffee shops that offer excellent coffee and good food with unusually large amounts of seating by NYC standards in close proximity to my house. One disadvantage, however, is that without exception all of them play shitty Eurodisco at ear-splitting volumes all the time. Why? It seems to me there are two reasons people go to coffee shops:

  • To talk with friends.
  • To work/read.

Both of these, it seems to me, are greatly impeded by the loud music thing. What’s depressing is that will occasionally chase me to the Starbucks–apparently soulless corporate suits at least understand that music in such contexts is for background.

What’s At Stake

[ 0 ] November 6, 2006 |

As if to confirm John’s fears about a potential constitutional crisis, the Vice President has announced that in all likelihood he will simply flout Congressional subpoenas. I’ll say this: better a major constitutional struggle than a Congress that, in the face of an administration that openly and proudly pronounces itself above the law, simply doesn’t give a damn.

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