Subscribe via RSS Feed

Author Page for Scott Lemieux

rss feed

Abrupt

[ 0 ] June 10, 2007 |

Let the interpretations begin…

I’m simultaneously gratified and disappointed that Chase didn’t provide for a neat, unambiguous ending.

…actually, I’m going to declare the ending sequence brilliant.

Wait ’til Next Year!

[ 0 ] June 10, 2007 |

Renewable in perpetuity.

You Say Patriarchy, I Say Equality (With Bonus Quiz!)

[ 0 ] June 10, 2007 |

Shorter Ann Althouse: “What’s the deal with you flighty “pro-sex” feminists? First, you believe that patriarchal repression of female sexuality is bad. Then you object if someone engages in creepy sniggering about your body when you appear dressed appropriately at a political event and attacks you with erroneous descriptions of your website and lunatic, insulting conspiracy theories. Make up your minds!”

Bonus contrarian silliness: Althouse approvingly cites this allegedly “debunking” argument by Mickey Kaus: “Murray reminds me of those radical feminists who insist that their reasons for censoring pornography are completely different from Pat Robertson’s. No they’re not.”

You’d think that as a MacKinnonite radical Althouse would understand this, but yes, they really are. Catharine MacKinnon and Donald Wildmon really don’t want to censor pornography for the same reasons, and often don’t even favor the same remedies. Both of their conclusions are, I believe, mistaken–I don’t believe that state suppression of sexually explicit material is desirable on policy grounds or consistent with the First Amendment properly understood–but to argue that there’s no normative difference between wanting to ban sexually explicit material to uphold traditional (and patriarchal) sexual mores and wanting to create a civil remedy in cases where pornography has demonstrably harmed women is absurd.

Here, as an educational service, is a quick quiz. One of those quotes is from Catherine MacKinnon’s Feminism Unmodified, another from Robert Bork’s Slouching Towards Gomorrah. See if you can spot the difference!

  • “Pornography turns sex inequality into sexuality and turns male dominance into sex difference…Thus does pornography, cloaked in the essence of nature and the index of freedom, turn the inequality between women and men into those twin icons of male supremacy, sex and speech, and a practice of sex discrimination into a legal entitlement. Confronting pornography through civil rights law–meaning, with a concrete intention of actually doing something about the damage pornography does to women’s safety and status–has somewhat illuminated the social meaning of state power.”
  • “Sooner of later censorship is going to have to be considered as popular culture continues plunging to ever more sickening lows…It is possible to argue for censorship…on the ground that in a republican form of government where the people rule, it is crucial that the character of the citizenry not be debased…Can there be any doubt that as pornography and depictions of violence become increasingly popular and increasingly accessible, attitudes about marriage, fidelity, divorce, obligations to children, the use of force, and permissible public behavior and language will change?…It would be better, I think, to drop the word “feminism” because the movement no longer has a constructive role to play; its work is done. There are no artificial barriers left to women’s achievement.”

Tough one, eh? Everyone else is dismissed. For Althouse and Kaus, Bork is the second set of quotes. You’re welcome!

Fear the Domino Effect!

[ 0 ] June 10, 2007 |

Just as warbloggers and other apologists predicted, Middle East dictators walk with shaky knees! Democracy, whiskey, sexy! And surely the installation of an Islamist quasi-state under indefenite American occupation will make liberal democracy look even better throughout the region!

Starry-Eyed

[ 0 ] June 9, 2007 |

As a follow-up to Digby’s follow-up of Marcy, I recommend Bork’s Human Events tribute to Ken Starr, “Man of the Year”:

That is not because he has .achieved celebrity or, more accurately, had celebrity thrust upon him. Others, including some not very savory personages, have rated more column inches and television coverage than Starr, but no one has exemplified old-fashioned republican virtue in the pursuit of civic duty than he.

Bill Clinton may or may not be removed from office, but, if he is not, that will in no way diminish Starr’s performance. The destruction of the President was never Starr’s objective or the measure of his success.

Stop it, you’re killing me. Unless Bork means “Republican” in the large-R sense.

Though reliably on the conservative wing of the court, which meant that he tried to follow the law and minimize the role that inevitably a judge’s personal outlook plays in decisionmaking…

Hah, that’s rich. This is pure comedy gold, really. I could go on to talk about how Bork considered Starr insufficiently zealous, and how uneasily this sits next to his attacks Patrick Fitzgerald, but I trust this speaks for itself…

Tort Reform For Thee, But Not For Me

[ 0 ] June 8, 2007 |

Robert Bork edition.

UPDATE: In fairness, he’s probably just riveted by the sociological significance of it all…

…more on the merits here.

Hardly Working

[ 0 ] June 8, 2007 |

In addition to basic ignorance of basic facts about Iraq, in the most recent debate Mitt Romney defended his flip-flop on don’t ask don’t tell, arguing that “It’s been the policy now in the military for what, 10, 15 years, and it seems to be working. And I agree with what Mayor Giuliani said: that this is not the time to put in place a major change, a social experiment, in the middle of a war going on.” What does he mean by “working?” Apparently, firing an extremely scarce Arabic translator because he’s gay, even though he didn’t publicly tell about his sexuality. So, if you think that if an effective policy is one that prioritizes bigotry over national security, I would urge you to vote Republican in ’08.

The True Casualty Of War

[ 0 ] June 8, 2007 |

Is, according to Fouad Ajami, Scooter Libby. Even for the WSJ editorial page, this is something. Fortunately, if this war has taught us anything, it’s to not take Ajami seriously; this just draws a line under it. As AL says, “Libby isn’t a fallen soldier. He’s a convicted felon. There’s an enormous difference.”

A Battle Deferred

[ 0 ] June 7, 2007 |

The Juidicary Committee has postponed its vote on Leslie Soutwick, which would seem to be good news. Emily Bazelon explains why the Committee should reject the Mississippi version of Alito:

But other data show that Judge Southwick’s answer fits with his larger record. He has a pattern of voting against workers and the injured and in favor of corporations. According to the advocacy group Alliance for Justice, Southwick voted “against the injured party and in favor of business interests” in 160 of 180 cases that gave rise to a dissent and that involved employment law and injury-based suits for damages. When one judge on a panel dissents in a case, there’s an argument it could come out either way, which makes these cases a good measure of how a judge thinks when he’s got some legal leeway. In such cases, Judge Southwick almost never favors the rights of workers or people who’ve suffered discrimination or been harmed by a shoddy product.

You know how many more of these kinds of judges 5CA needs? None. What’s the argument against voting against him? “Apparently that if the Republicans get Southwick, they’ll remember when the next Democratic president asks their support for his judicial nominees.” Yeah, that sounds like a great deal. If you’re the kind of person who would lend the keys to your new Porsche to a stranger on parole for Grand Theft Auto.

In addition to this, kudos to Leahy and company for passing on a bill to restore habeas corpus rights. Yes to habeas corpus, no (or at least not yet) to Southern-fried Robert Borks; I believe this is “elections have consequences” in a good sense.

Distinction

[ 0 ] June 7, 2007 |

This is Rob’s department, but since he’s away I’ll note that the idea that Stephen Walt had an undistinguished academic career prior to his LRB article (which I happen to think is not his finest hour) is crazy. He’s a major international relations scholar; I have only a couple of seminars in the field and I’m very familiar with his work. Certainly, I have to agree with Matt that his career strikes me as one of considerably greater distinction than, say, using your wife’s money to purchase a magazine and running it in a way that substantially reduces its quality while hemorrhaging circulation.

…Rob weighs in.

Whoops, I Did It Again!

[ 0 ] June 7, 2007 |

An absolute must-read piece by Eric Boehlert on “journalist” Jeff Gerth and the “reporting” that ended up with a President being impeached. His primary strategy is to blame many of the countless errors in his allegations about the Whitewater non-scandal on his colleagues, throwing the editors who inexplicably defended him under the bus. How about the crucial claim that Bill Clinton protected James McDougal’s S&L from being shut down? Funny story:

Yet reading Her Way, which details Whitewater at great length, there is no reference to Bassett Schaffer, and there is no reference to the allegation that the Arkansas regulator turned a blind eye to Madison’s woes in order to help out Clinton’s savings and loan chum. The entire premise of the Times’ early Whitewater reporting has simply disappeared.

Why? Because Gerth’s reporting on Bassett Schaffer was categorically false. Arkansas regulators had no authority to independently shut down failing, federally insured savings and loans. That task was up to the federal regulators, who, during the mid-1980s, were excruciatingly slow in acting against teetering savings and loans nationwide. More important, Bassett Schaffer, cast by the Times as a hack who did Clinton’s bidding, had written urgent letters to federal regulators beseeching them to take action against McDougal’s savings and loan, which they eventually did. (In 1997, McDougal was convicted of 18 counts of fraud and conspiracy stemming from bad loans made by Madison in the late 1980s. The charges were unrelated to Whitewater.)

What’s absolutely extraordinary is that Bassett Schaffer detailed all the pertinent background information for Gerth in a 20-page memo prior to the publication of Gerth’s accusatory articles. Gerth and the newspaper simply chose to ignore the inconvenient truth.

What’s even more amazing is that Gerth, having ginned up an entirely phony pseudo-scandal with massive historical consequences, was allowed to remain in the employ of the New York Times to help ruin somebody else’s life with his ineptitude. And has now been given a contract to write a heavily promoted book about a subject he has a rather extensive history of getting wrong. How can anybody take anything Gerth says seriously? And why is he still being given a major platform? It would be a better use of corporate money for Paris Hilton to get another record deal, and she may well be capable of doing more competent reporting about the Clintons.

Shoot Me Now

[ 0 ] June 6, 2007 |

I’m not sure what’s more embarrassing–Politico chief political columnist Roger Simon ignoring Romney’s basic ignorance (or rank dishonesty) about a massively important issue, or skipping that boring stuff to discuss how he “has shoulders you could land a 737 on.” I think you can see why they would write a fawning profile of Ann Althouse. More from Digby.

More than a year left. Ye gods. [HT: Atrios]