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Bloomberg and Libertarianism

[ 0 ] June 20, 2007 |

Matt notes that libertarians may be irrationally unsympathetic to Michael Bloomberg because of his support for relatively trivial nanny state regulations like public smoking and trans fat bans. (As an aside, it’s worth pointing out that public smoking bans have a serious non nanny-state, if not quite libertarian, justification: even I’m libertarian enough to oppose smoking bans to protect the health of smokers or patrons, but they’re defensible insofar as they protect the health of workers.) However, there is a serious reason libertarians should be skeptical of Bloomberg: the appalling string of arbitrary detentions with no serious justification during the 2004 GOP convention. With Giuliani (in my view) effectively out of the race, it’s conceivable that Bloomberg’s stance on crucial issue of lawful constraints on executive power could be worse than even the GOP nominee.

People Who Will Not Be the 2008 GOP Nominee: A Reminder

[ 0 ] June 20, 2007 |

Odd as it seems to think that Mitt Romney should be considered the prohibitive frontrunner, with Fred Thompson the only other candidate with a non-remote chance…what can I tell you, it doesn’t seem right, but the process of elimination doesn’t lie.

Credit Where Credit Etc.

[ 0 ] June 20, 2007 |

Good line from Ross Douthat:

That would be the same Mary Matalin, of course, whose fingerprints have been all over three of the biggest right-wing fiascos of the last twenty years: George H.W. Bush’s 1992 Presidential campaign, Dick Cheney’s Vice-Presidency, and Threshold Books’ fall catalogue.

On the latter point, some K-Lo, submitted without (much) comment:

I just did a quick flip through a Simon & Schuster catalog for the fall. Mary Matalin’s Threshold imprint looks to be really taking off. How can you not be excited by the upcoming John Bolton Surrender Is Not an Option (Amen!)? She’s also got a Lynne Cheney autobiography (our next First Lady!), What’s the Matter with California?, and a book by the Duke lacrosse coach — subtitled: The Untold Story of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case and the Lives It Shattered. One can’t help to be glad that she’s in the book business.

Oh. Goody! I guess Liberal Fascism was a little too highbrow to make the cut…

In Which I Briefly Succumb To Dowdism

[ 0 ] June 19, 2007 |

I try to remain focused on substance here, but I am also puzzled about why someone running for President would analogize themselves to an (albeit fictional) mob family. And, of course, Cox is correct that the punchline is even more horrific; embodying a mass murder and his enabler is one thing, but choosing the song of History’s Greatest Monster is well beyond the pale of human decency. I’m afraid I’m going to have to, er, continue to not support her primary campaign. (Via MY.)

Shorter Verbatim Ann Althouse: “Now, the script says onion rings, because that’s what the Sopranos were eating in that final scene, but I doubt if any blogger will disagree with my assertion that, coming from Bill Clinton, the “O” of an onion ring is a vagina symbol. Hillary says no to that, driving the symbolism home. She’s “looking out” all right, vigilant over her husband, denying him the sustenance he craves. What does she have for him?” I really hope that she wasn’t kidding with the “no blogger will disagree” bit. A consuming obsession with Bill Clinton’s sex life is merely banal among American conservatives, and with Althouse more than well-established in any case, but the assumption that it’s universal is special.

Thomas: Not Scalia’s Sock Puppet

[ 1 ] June 19, 2007 |

The Supreme Court held this week that securities underwriting should not be subject to antitrust law. (Try to control your excitement please.) If I understand correctly from contacts who are actual experts in the field, what’s important about this case is not so much the outcome as the dicta, in which the Court rails against the ability of juries to apply antitrust law. Being a Breyer opinion it’s almost entirely a policy argument, and he argues that it is unwise to apply antitrust law to securities because of “the difficulty of drawing a complex, sinuous line separating securities-permitted from securities-forbidden conduct [and] the need for securities-related expertise to draw that line.”

At any rate, of interest to non-specialists is that while the rest of the Court’s current coalition of moderate Democrats, Rockefeller Republicans, and standard-issue Federalist Society reactionaries joined the opinion, Clarence Thomas dissented. Rather than making (dubious) assumptions about that capacities of juries, Thomas actually focused on the statute, noting that “the Securities Act and the Securities Exchange Act contain broad saving clauses that preserve rights and remedies existing outside of the securities laws.” Which, again, demonstrates that claims that Thomas are merely Scalia’s sockpuppet are very, very mistaken. In many respects he’s the most reactionary member of the Court, but he’s also much more consistent and principled than the other conservatives, and he’s not just a pro-business hack. (The work of Souter and Breyer on these recent securities cases, conversely, reminds us that what’s considered a “liberal” on the current Court is rather different than a Warren Court-era liberal.)

Speaking of which, in an example of successful marketing I’ve picked up the new book about Thomas. I’ll have commentary when I’ve read it.

Principles For Me, But Not For Thee

[ 0 ] June 19, 2007 |

Mitt Romney edition.

Stop Stealing My Excuses!

[ 0 ] June 19, 2007 |

Friend of Scott: Hmm, maybe a movie this weekend. What’s your cell #?

SL: I don’t have one.

FOS: What? Are you blowing me off?

SL: No! I really don’t have one.

FOS: What a pain in the ass! Let me guess — you’re a bitter crank who takes a certain perverse pleasure in not having a cell phone, even if it makes spontaneous organizing impossible.

SL: Er, no. I have very sound, principled reasons for not having one, which I would be happy to elaborate. Oh, look at the time — I think Yankeeography: Andy Stankiewicz comes on in an hour, I’d hate to miss that!

FOS: Don’t change the subject! Anyway, what about the i-Phone? Isn’t that like the coolest thing ever?

SL: I guess. But isn’t the battery life, like, 30 seconds? You’d be trying to call me to say that, on second thought, you’ll take a pass on the “Outtakes From the Films of Robert Bresson” festival, and it would be dead! I don’t think that solves anything!

FOS: Well, that was the initial report. But it turns out that the battery life will permit 8 hours of talking and 6 hours on the intarweb. So you have to get one!

SL: I, er, but don’t they, ah, cause brain cancer or something? Hey, look, someone pushing a baby carriage! Who would have thought you’d see that in Park Slope?

[exeunt.]

But Hating Youself is Healthy

[ 0 ] June 18, 2007 |

Vanessa provides yet another example of the countless benefits derived from stigmatizing the weight of young women, which is about health, not aesthetics, oh yeah:

…a new trend has been developing among young diabetic girls who are skipping or reducing their insulin injections as a means of losing weight.

“Diabulimia” is apparently on the rise, and is extremely dangerous not only obviously because of the severe weight loss often involved with having an eating disorder, but the risks of a decrease in insulin, including blindness, damage to the kidneys and limbs, and could eventually result in a coma and/or death.

I hope this particular pathology will be limited, but the prevalence of anorexia in itself enough to dismiss claims that stigmatizing weight is about health.

The Problem With Marty

[ 0 ] June 18, 2007 |

Alterman is on the case:

It is a sad but true fact of American political life that liberals rarely exercise so much influence as when they happen to be endorsing conservative causes, and this temptation has proven consistently irresistible to Peretz and his magazine. TNR under Peretz has been a vehicle that proved extremely helpful to Ronald Reagan’s wars in Central America and George Bush’s war in Iraq. It provided seminal service to Newt Gingrich’s and William Kristol’s efforts to kill the Clinton plan for universal health care and offered intellectual legitimacy to Charles Murray’s efforts to portray black people as intellectually inferior to whites. As for liberal causes, however … well, not so much.

And in addition to this, there’s the stable of legal writers who think we need to burn Roe in order to save reproductive freedom for affluent urban women or something.

New Blood

[ 0 ] June 18, 2007 |

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

“Aw, if they hire a woman we won’t be able to spit on the floor.”
“And we can’t take off our pants when it gets real hot.”
“And we won’t be able to pee in the drinking fountain…Er, I mean, not… you know, if we wanted to… not that I ever did…”

It was recently brought to our attention by the Department of Justice that Lawyers, Guns, and Money does not employ a single woman. We were congratulated and offered a Medal of Freedom and free attendance at a Federalist Society banquet featuring Sam Alito and Bob Bork. Despite the temptation, the staff at L, G & M decided that it’s about time to we hired a woman, and some of this blog’s most fervent admirers have complained about the lack of lawyers as well. To address all of the first problem and large parts of the second, we’re pleased to announce that our recent guest blogger Bean (of A Bird and a Bottle) will be joining us full time. Bean has just finished 2L at an Elite New York Law School. Some of her interests–in feminism, constitutional law, and pop culture, for example–will be familiar. And she will also bring added depth and expertise to issues like The War on (Some Classes of People Who Use Some) Drugs and criminal justice, which we don’t cover as much as I would like, as well as some interests of her own. And most importantly (although I swear I didn’t know this until after she got the gig), she’s a hockey fan. Welcome her to our community!

Judicial Discretion and Mandatory Minimum Sentences

[ 0 ] June 17, 2007 |

Marcy Wheeler points us to this story about the administration’s call for mandatory minimum sentences in light of a Supreme Court ruling that federal sentencing guidelines are merely advisory. (This will be tested in an upcoming Supreme Court case where a judge’s decision to ignore a the minimum sentence suggested in a drug case was overruled on appeal.)

Where drug cases are concerned, I think it’s important to keep a couple issues distinct. Restricting judicial discretion, per se, is not necessarily a bad thing. Sentencing discretion given to judges must balance its good points (the ability for careful consideration of particularized circumstances) with the bad points (the potential for arbitrary justice in which the severity of sentences turns not on case facts but on the luck of the docket and the identity and status of the defendant.) For this reason, it’s dangerous to conflate drug law reform and increased judicial discretion. Allowing judges to refuse to apply draconian minimum sentences for drug possession is, I suppose, better than requiring them in all cases, but it’s not a very effective remedy for the underlying injustice. The defendants lucky enough to get this consideration are more likely than not to have better-than-typical lawyers able to negotiate better deals, and people with these lawyers are likely to be wealthier and whiter than the typical person convicted on drug charges. The fundamental problem with harsh mandatory minimum sentences for drug possession isn’t that they restrict judicial discretion, it’s that they’re bad laws, period, accomplishing not much of anything worthwhile at immense expense. Giving a few lucky people a nearly random pass doesn’t really address the underlying problem.

Conservertarianism, Ladies And Gentlemen!

[ 0 ] June 17, 2007 |

Shorter Ace O. Spades, Heterosexual, as linked by nonpartisan libertarian Glenn Reynolds: “Gay men aren’t actually men.”