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[ 0 ] April 17, 2007 |

Glenn Reynolds: “If Bush and Cheney were really evil, they’d both resign and stick the Democrats with a Pelosi Presidency for the next two years. The Democratic Party would never recover.” After all, Congress is less popular than Bush.

v. reality: “So people like the Democratic congress better than they like the Republican one. 44/54 is also considerably better than the 35/62 approve/disapprove split Bush gets. Indeed, fully 49 percent of respondents say they strongly disapprove “of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president” — Bush Derangement Syndrome has gone mainstream. Nancy Pelosi, however, is much more popular than either Bush or Congress generically — earning a 53/35 approve/disapprove split. Ever since she became the top House Democrat, the DC press corps has been insisting that Pelosi is an unpopular figure whose bad for the Democrats. This because she’s the most robustly liberal person we’ve seen in high elected office in over ten years. The evidence, however, doesn’t bare this theory out. In the spring of 1995, Newt Gingrich’s approval numbers were in the thirties.”

Heh. Indeed!

Selective Outrage

[ 0 ] April 16, 2007 |

To follow up on Matt and Atrios, Radley Balko asks his readers if they’ve heard of James Giles. Giles, like the three men in the Duke rape case, was falsely accused of rape. Unlike the Duke men, however, he didn’t have the money to hire top-flight legal counsel and didn’t benefit from attracting opportunistic attention from powerful conservative statists with a strong commitment to opposing “political correctness.” As a result, Giles “served 10 years in prison, as well as an additional 14 years on probation and as a registered sex offender” before being exonerated by DNA evidence. Despite having faced much more dire consequences, Giles’ case has attracted a fraction of the attention.

The point is not that the Duke case was not an injustice, or that it didn’t merit attention. Privileged white guys also deserve equal treatment under the law, and prosecutorial abuse is always bad. But despite the attempts of people like Walter Olson to draw grossly inappropriate analogies between these defendants and the Scottsboro boys, it’s also worth noting that there are cases of prosecutorial abuse that, because they happen to people with fewer resources and less social status, have much worse consequences and yet somehow fail to interest many people screaming about the Duke case because there’s no chance to rail against left-wing academics. It would be nice if the people upset about the Duke case will start contributing to the ACLU, supporting increased funding for public defenders offices, loosening recent restrictions on habeas suits, looking carefully at the drug war, etc. But I’m not holding my breath.

[Also at TAPPED.]

Man Out of Time

[ 0 ] April 16, 2007 |

Why? I don’t bear any animosity towards Kerry, and I don’t think his campaign was quite the disaster it’s sometimes portrayed as, but, really, give it up.

The Abstinence-only Fraud

[ 0 ] April 16, 2007 |

You may have heard the shocking news that state-funded moralizing adults telling teenagers not to have sex do not, in fact, prevent teenagers from having sex. Interestingly, several states–not all of them liberal and coastal–have started to turn down the abjectly useless federal funding they’re being offered:

In an emerging revolt against abstinence-only sex education, states are turning down millions of dollars in federal grants, unwilling to accept White House dictates that the money be used for classes focused almost exclusively on teaching chastity.

In Ohio, Gov. Ted Strickland said that regardless of the state’s sluggish economic picture, he simply did not see the point in taking part in the controversial State Abstinence Education Grant program anymore.

Five other states — Wisconsin, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Montana and New Jersey — already have dropped the program or plan to do so by year’s end. The program is managed by a unit of the U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services.

And, really, what possible reason is there to take the money, when it can’t be used for any useful purpose, and might take up time from students actually learning something of value? I also enjoyed this quote from an administration hack:

“This report confirms that these interventions are not like vaccines,” said Harry Wilson, associate commissioner of the Family and Youth Services Bureau at the federal Administration for Children and Families. “You can’t expect one dose in middle school, or a small dose, to be protective all throughout the youth’s high school career.”

The fact that all evidence demonstrates that these programs–contrary to the repeated assertions of the administration–are a complete waste of time and money just shows that we need to put more time and resources behind them! Ah, fiscal conservatism.

The Origins of A Great Parody

[ 0 ] April 15, 2007 |

If the hypnotic appeal of Sandy Belle won’t be spoiled by some old-fashioned journalism, Garance gets to the bottom of it.

Meanwhile, moving on to unintentional parody I should note that the Right Brothers have a new album for your online listening pleasure. I suggest skipping “I’m In Love With Ann Coulter” and move on to the one which literally consists of nothing but listing “liberals we can’t stand.” Which includes Lindsey Graham (to Bush dead-enders, apparently even nominal opposition to torture is unacceptable) and John McCain. Have they been offered a Pajamas Media gig yet? Or at least been hired as writers for the 1/2 Hour News Hour?

From the "Comment Would be Superfluous" Files

[ 0 ] April 14, 2007 |

[Via Apostropher.]

Dimensions of Corruption

[ 0 ] April 13, 2007 |

Obviously, Paul Wolfowitz’s personal corruption is both bad in itself and undermines the anti-corruption principles he’s purportedly trying to bring to the World Bank. As John Cassidy’s recent profile informs us, however, there’s another major example of his rather selective application of anti-corruption principles. First, there’s his hiring of Bush administration cronies who weren’t involved in the formal search process to crucial positions. And although he’s cut off aid to several corrupt governments, his pet invasion project is for some reason exempt from such treatment:

In building up the World Bank’s presence in Iraq, Wolfowitz is hoping that it is not too late to improve the situation there. “The bank’s role, I am happy to talk about,” he said. “Actually, in a certain sense, it tells you that there is a lot to be worked with if security can be established. This is a country whose biggest problem is how to manage tens of millions of dollars of annual revenues. I wish most of our clients had that problem.” I asked him how he could simultaneously argue that the bank should stop lending to corrupt countries and become more involved in Iraq, which now trails only Haiti in some rankings of the most corrupt countries on earth. “It’s a problem to work on,” Wolfowitz said. “I get inaccurately characterized on this governance issue as saying the bank should disengage. To the contrary, the basic point of the anti-corruption strategy is that we have to find ways to engage in countries with problems. In Iraq, there are certainly a lot of people who want to improve the system, who actually look to the World Bank as an ally in doing so.”

So giving aid to corrupt governments is bad…unless they tell you they really want to get better! Somehow I suspect that the huge personal stake Wolfowitz had in justifying the disastrous war he had such a large responsibility for is the more important factor here.

Take Violent Threats Seriously

[ 0 ] April 13, 2007 |

One would think that the trite point above requires little elaboration, but apparently there is some controversy about the matter. Professor B, Jessica, Echidne, zuzu, Sara, Amanda, Lindsay, and Melissa (among others) explain. To distill two key arguments:

  • Worrying about some sort of Blogger Code of Ethics is, at best, a silly waste of time. Even if it’s not being conceived in the same comically transparent bad faith as the Online Integritude project, a charter of vague principles with no enforcement mechanisms will do nothing to stop the already-illegal acts of bad people.
  • What happened to Kathy Sierra is extremely serious, and it’s remarkable (in a bad way) that the most prominent progressive blogger would poo-poo it, and also ignore the extent to which women in our social and political context are considerably more vulnerable to stalking and sexual violence.

I suppose it should also be noted that having Kos stand in for the whole class of “liberal men” is gold-plated hackery on a par with saying that because one woman repeatedly uses creepy misogynist sniggering about a young woman’s body to promote her blog and strongly supports the appointment of radical opponents of women’s rights to the Supreme Court, no woman really takes feminism seriously. Kos speaks for himself, and only himself.

What Digby Said

[ 0 ] April 13, 2007 |

This post compels me to steal Atrios’ bit.

Chicago Celebrity Sightings

[ 0 ] April 13, 2007 |

I was rather annoyed, while eating dinner in my hotel’s retaurant, that they sat a party at the table next to me well after what I was told was the closing time, which I had hurried to make. As tuxedo- and fancy dress-clad people slowly trickled in, however, I recongized Dennis Farina. And then Joe Mantegna — now there’s a Chicago celebrity — asked me for one of my empty chairs. And then Chazz Palminteri asked me for another chair. I have no idea what the event was, but that was pretty cool.


[ 0 ] April 12, 2007 |

Awful, and getting worse. But John McCain can briefly walk around a market with air cover and 100 troops, so the surge is working wonderfully!

The Vote Fraud Fraud, Pt. III: The 2000 Election

[ 2 ] April 11, 2007 |

As indicated below, I will be conferencing in Chicago this week and lecturing in Kentucky next week, so will be popping in only sporadically. The good news is that the familiar LizardBreath of Unfogged and a new face, Bean of the terrific (and stylishly designed) a Bird and a Bottle will be here for all your blogging needs, in addition to our regular cast. In the meantime, lest the issue of our voting system seem too abstract, I will quote from Jack Balkin and Sandy Levinson’s 2001 Virginia Law Review Article, “Understanding the Constitutional Revolution“:

[Bush] and the political party that he leads seized power through the confluence of two important events that would have caused widespread outrage and produced vigorous objections from neutral observers if they had occurred in a third world country. [

The first is the disenfranchisement of black voters in Florida in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Concerned about alleged voter fraud in the 1997 Miami mayoral election, Florida state officials hired Database Technologies, a private firm with Republican connections, to purge the voter rolls of suspected felons. "Suspected," it turned out, is the key word, because a substantial number of the purged voters turned out to be guilty of nothing more than the crime of being African-American. Although Database Technologies repeatedly warned that their methods would produce many false positives, Florida officials insisted on eliminating large numbers of suspected felons from the rolls and leaving it to county supervisors and individual voters to correct any inaccuracies. Clay Roberts, director of the state's division of elections, explained that "the decision was made to do the match in such a way as not to be terribly strict on the name." Indeed, the list was so inclusive that one county election supervisor found that she was on it.

It is estimated that at least fifteen percent of the purge list statewide was inaccurate, and well over half of these voters were black. When these unsuspecting voters arrived at their precincts on November in order to exercise their "fundamental political right" to the franchise, they were turned away. Any protests were effectively silenced by the bureaucratic machinery of Florida law. As the U.S. Civil Rights Commission put it, "perhaps the most dramatic undercount in Florida's election was the nonexistent ballots of countless unknown eligible voters, who were turned away, or wrongfully purged from the voter registration rolls by various procedures and practices and were prevented from exercising the franchise." Those voters, wrongfully excluded from the rolls, were almost certainly more than enough to overcome George W. Bush's 537 vote margin in Florida. In addition, many African-Americans who did vote nevertheless had their ballots spoiled and thus left uncounted because they lived in counties with antiquated and unreliable voting equipment. The Civil Rights Commission estimated that black voters were nine times more likely to have their votes rejected than white voters.

Because a violation of the federal Voting Rights Act, even if conclusively proved, does not give rise to a right to a new presidential election, the story of black disenfranchisement was not effectively covered in the American mass media during the December 2000 struggle over the Florida election. [cites omitted]

It’s almost impossible to overstate how much this matters.