Subscribe via RSS Feed

Author Page for Scott Lemieux

rss feed

That Explains It

[ 0 ] September 25, 2008 |

The preening debate cancellation nonsense seems to have a clear objective — burying Sarah Palin for as long as possible. I guess you can’t argue with the logic in a way, although McCain is trying to cover his mistake by making an even worse one, his trademark.

Although not if you ask Bill Clinton — I have to agree that all of his future public statements should be followed up by Chris Rock. Contrary to media myth, Hillary Clinton has reacted to her loss with equanimity and has fought for the party, but her husband’s post-convention behavior has been an absolute disgrace.


Personal to Mr. Wright

[ 5 ] September 25, 2008 |

If they’re going to pitch around you, take the goddamned walk. I know you’re been trained to think as an “RBI man” but flailing at a pitch a foot and a half outside and striking out rather than having Beltran up with the bases loaded and none out isn’t helping the team.

In addition, watching Ryan Church’s current attempts to impersonate a major league hitter — which are about as credible as Sarah Palin’s attempts to impersonate someone who could be president — reminds me that the turning point of the season may well have been sending Church on two cross-country flights immediately after he suffered his second concussion in three months.

Great Moments In Hackery

[ 9 ] September 24, 2008 |

This reminds me of perhaps my very favorite Saint Greenspan moment: his solemn admonition to Congress that if we didn’t pass a massive package of upper-class tax cuts we’d…pay down the national debt too quickly. Yes, what a plausible scenario that was, and how awful it would have been if in the worst-case scenario we could have taken the massive amounts of money we’re wasting on interest payments and used it for tax cuts or needed government programs…

Let Them All Talk

[ 0 ] September 23, 2008 |

I agree that as long as the plan that passes is acceptable, the fact that Republicans will run against Dems for passing it isn’t a big deal. (Just as they shouldn’t even consider Bush’s “give me $700 billion to arbitrarily dispense” plan irrespective of the politics.) The additional thing to add is that if the election is focused on the economy McCain is going to get massacred, so if this is the big Republican strategy I’m not exactly cowering in terror.

Funny Because True Dept.

[ 10 ] September 23, 2008 |


Prop 8 And the Status Quo

[ 20 ] September 22, 2008 |

Opposition to the California Proposition seeking to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry and restore them to second-class citizenship continues to grow, with 55% planning to vote no and just 38% support (a very bad position for an initiative.) [HT: Roger Ailes.] Why, I’m beginning to wonder if predictions that the California courts will hand the state to McCain may not pan out!

I’ve long wondered how opponents of same-sex marriage will manage to portray a grant of rights favored by California’s elected legislature, its elected governor, and its tyrants in black robes elected courts, and the public in a referendum will be portrayed as “undemocratic.” The answer, based on the article, seems to be that it will entail whining about the description of the initiative’s purpose in the summary language: Brown wanted an accurate description, while supporters wanted a vague one. It is true, of course, that the wording of initiatives and their summaries can affect vote totals. But, of course, this is true of any initiative; and precisely for this reason an initiative isn’t some completely accurate measure of a transcendent Popular Will. And this includes the initiative that created the unconstitutional same-sex marriage ban in the first place. The current status quo and the wording of an initiative matter; it’s just these background factors are considered natural when they support traditional exclusionary policies.

The almost certain failure of Prop 8 further suggests that claims that the California courts will instigate a backlash because they overturned the “popular will” remain highly questionable. The “popular will” isn’t static and there’s no entirely reliable way of measuring it, but if Prop 8 supporters want to complain about that remember that it’s equally applicable of initiatives they previously supported too.

Let Them Draw The Line Here

[ 9 ] September 22, 2008 |

Look, if Republicans want to go to the mat for executives who think that they deserve multi-million dollar payouts for running venerable, profitable companies completely into the ground — “It’s the unassailable product of the Free Market! Now how about that $700 billion in taxpayer money to buy our worthless assets? Gimme Gimme Gimme!” — by all means let them. I know what side I want to be on politically…

In addition, conditional restrictions on executive pay aren’t simply about punishing inept executives who get massive compensation based on an insulated, mutual-backscratching system largely insulated from market forces. Rather, the most important problem with a bailout — even if there’s a plan that, unlike the one Paulson wants, is defensible — is the moral hazard problem. Setting a precedent that, if your firm is big enough, you can expect profits to be yours but major losses to be public is obviously problematic. If executives have to worry that coming to the government Tiffany cup and ivory backscratcher in hand will cost them their golden parachutes, it provides some incentives to act more responsibly.


[ 13 ] September 22, 2008 |

Like Sheehan, I didn’t see it coming, but Tampa making the playoffs in a brutally tough division is one of the most remarkable baseball stories of the decade. Congrats to ’em, and it will be fun to see how they do in the payoffs. (I wish they hadn’t sent their 2007 bullpen to Queens, though.)

I hope Silver’s current electoral college predictions turn out as well as his projection of contention for Tampa…


[ 11 ] September 21, 2008 |


Who imagined that the great opportunity for joint progressive and libertarian advocacy and activism would end up being economic? But that’s where we are. This loathsome bailout plan is a slap in the face to anyone who believes in either free-market principles or social justice.

Indeed. “$700 billion of taxpayer money for your own piece of Glengarry Highlands Big Shitpile” should bring out the libertarian in anyone…

Say No To Unconstrained Executive Branch Handouts To Big Business

[ 0 ] September 20, 2008 |

I’m convinced.

…see also. Or here. Or here. The proposal in current form is a joke.

False Equivalences

[ 16 ] September 19, 2008 |

As one would expect, Stuart Taylor’s article about the campaigns is a masterpiece of false equivalence, using such tricks as balancing lies and smears from John McCain’s campaign with stupid articles in the New York Times that the Obama campaign had nothing to do with. He also somehow gets through an article about campaign lies without mentioning McCain and Palin’s constantly repeated howlers about the “bridge to nowhere.” He approvingly cites Byron York’s defense of the McCain campaign’s claim that Obama “wanted to teach kindergartners about sex” while failing to notice that the “age-appropriate” proviso completely destroys York’s argument. But I especially enjoyed this one:

McCain also deserves criticism for the ugly culture-warring epitomized at the Republican convention by Rudy Giuliani’s keynote speech and sneers about Obama’s stint as a community organizer. But who started the culture-warring? Democratic talking heads and pols–although not Obama–heaped disdain on Palin’s social class, religion, and anti-abortion values from the moment that McCain plucked her from obscurity.

First of all, it’s a big country so I don’t want to say that there are no isolated examples of “Democratic talking heads and pols” disparaging Palin’s “social class” or “religion,” but Taylor really needs to provide evidence that such attacks were made with any frequency by people with any influence. Rather, this strawman has is used by Republican hacks precisely to insulate Palin from any substantive criticism. Which brings us to the next point — Taylor also arguing that it’s not legitimate to criticize Palin’s “anti-abortion values.” Palin is in favor of using state coercion to force women to carry pregnancies to term, and as president would have the power to appoint judges who would allow state governments and the federal government to do that. Since when is it beyond the bounds of acceptable discourse to discuss these views?

And, of course, there’s an even more risible argument — the idea that “culture war” attacks started with unamed attacks on poor Sarah Palin. Yes, no Republican operative or McCain campaign flack would ever dream of attacking Obama as an arugula-eating urban elitist who can’t bowl if some blog commenter somewhere hadn’t said something dumb about Palin’s family.

An Argument About Nothing

[ 16 ] September 19, 2008 |

On the issue of the citation of foreign law in United States Supreme Court opinions, I think this is the key passage in Adam Liptak’s recent article:

The controversy over the citation of foreign law in American courts is freighted with misconceptions. One is that the practice is somehow new or unusual. The other is that to cite such a decision is to be bound by it.

Even conservative scholars acknowledge that American judges have long cited decisions by foreign courts in their rulings. “The Supreme Court has been doing it for basically all of our history, and with some degree of gusto,” said Steven G. Calabresi, a law professor at Northwestern and a founder of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group. Professor Calabresi said he generally opposed the citation of foreign law in constitutional cases.

Judicial citation or discussion of a foreign ruling does not, moreover, convert it into binding precedent.

So, first of all, the practice has been a banal one going back to at least the Marshall Court. And even more importantly — as even several of the conservatives working themselves into a foaming-at-the-mouth outrage about this banal practice seem to concede in the course of the article — the idea that references to foreign legal precedents actually affect Supreme Court holdings in any significant way is exceptionally implausible. Nobody’s vote in Roper would have changed if there was a norm against referring to the law in other nations. So who cares? In a nice article unfortunately not available for free online, Mark Tushnet correctly notes that this silly controversy is about the culture wars, not about law.

I think it’s also worth addressing this:

At their confirmation hearings, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. indicated that they were opposed to the citation of foreign law in constitutional cases. Chief Justice Roberts noted that foreign judges were not accountable to the American people and said that allowing the use of foreign precedent expanded judicial discretion.

“Foreign law, you can find anything you want,” Chief Justice Roberts said. “Looking at foreign law for support is like looking out over a crowd and picking out your friends.”

This argument (borrowed from Scalia) has the obvious problem that it’s equally applicable to any data source or method of interpretation. Certainly, it’s true of originalism: between the multiplicity of historical sources and the ability to define constitutional principles at different levels of abstraction a judge can virtually always identify friends which confirm her ex ante preferences, and in those rare occasions where this isn’t possible Scalia et al. will just ignore the evidence anyway. Scalia’s agrument that courts shouldn’t refer to legislative history has the same problems. Of course, legislative history can be misleading, but since this is true of any source of evidence it’s not clear why it’s useful to rely on a smaller number of potentially misleading sources of evidence.

Page 558 of 837« First...102030...556557558559560...570580590...Last »