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Game 7

[ 0 ] October 19, 2006 |

Is Oliver “Clothesoff” Perez (3-13, 6.55 E.R.A.) having the worst season of any pitcher ever to start a seventh game? Not that I think Randolph is wrong–Perez had a 139 ERA+ just 2 years ago, and in an all-hands-on-deck game it makes sense to start the pitcher with the highest upside, since nobody’s going to let a pitcher stay out there and get hammered.

Still, this is the one upside to the fact that I will be stuck giving an undoubtedly epochal lecture about Congress during the initial innings today…

…Rob Neyer, the man responsible for my first writing gig on the internets but nonetheless a fine man and writer, confirms that Perez is the worst game 7 starter evah. (“There are 94 pitchers in the study. Perez won three games this season, which places him 94th on the list. His winning percentage this season was .188, which is 94th on the list. His career winning percentage is .411, which is 94th on the list. His career ERA is 4.67, which is 93rd on the list.”)

By the way, is Tony LaRussa, Super Genius (TM) hitting the beyond-shot Edmonds cleanup again? I certainly hope so…

…or, hey, Juan Encarnacion hitting cleanup, even better!

…regrettable to see Wright strike out on that 5-0 pitch.

my sentiments exactly. Well, a classic game, congrats to the Cardinals, and all that. And because of my professional responsibilities, I’ve only had one whisky.

“Oh Krusty, you can be so cruel when you’re sober.”
“I’ll fix that!”

"And When Christopher Walken Died In My Arms, I Knew I Could Never Oppose A Senseless War Again."

[ 0 ] October 19, 2006 |

There are obviously a lot of signs that Senator Man-On-Dog’s remaining tenure can be measured in weeks, but I’d have to say that “citing Michael Cimino movies as evidence” has to rank near the top. Next: George Allen cites Year of the Dragon to justify his positions on race relations.

Lying for Misogyny

[ 0 ] October 19, 2006 |

The forced pregnancy lobby in South Dakota really is a piece of work. It’s becoming less common to to see campaign ads have outright lies in them (rather than just being cleverly misleading.) The claim that the bill has a health exemption is the most bald-faced (and telling: even in South Dakota, they don’t think a more principled abortion bill could get majority support) lie, but ema points out the claim about “96% of abortions” being for birth control is also nonsense:

Sen. Napoli asserts that, if voters allow the women of SD to make their own medical decisions when it comes to pregnancy termination they are actually voting for…abortion as a means of birth control.

The South Dakota Department of Health, Office of Data, Statistics, and Vital Records (.pdf) report contains no data on birth control use in women obtaining an abortion in SD (a glaring omission, in my opinion). Unless Sen. Napoli is privy to information not available to the South Dakota Department of Health, Office of Data, Statistics, and Vital Records, his statement to the voters of SD that they are actually voting for…abortion as a means of birth control is a lie mistruth.

An aside. The official statistics do contain some data–percentage of patients reporting that they had no previous spontaneous/induced abortion–that might shed some light on birth control use in women having an abortion in SD. [Since we're going to look at the available evidence and make some assumptions, the best we can do is come up with an informed guess.]

From the report, we note that the majority of patients–86.1%/75.9%–reported that they had no previous spontaneous/induced abortions. Now, assuming that these patients were sexually active, and that the reason they had no history of abortion is because they either 1) didn’t become pregnant because they were using birth control, or 2) did become pregnant (planned or unplanned) and decided to continue the pregnancy, there is no evidence that women in South Dakota are using abortion as a form of birth control.

If Sen. Napoli has any data to the contrary, I invite him to present his evidence and defend his claim. I will be happy to provide the forum, and will publish his defense in full.

Yeah, I think she’ll be waiting for a while on that…

Our Responsibility

[ 0 ] October 19, 2006 |

Riverbend reflects on the Lancet study:

The responses were typical- war supporters said the number was nonsense because, of course, who would want to admit that an action they so heartily supported led to the deaths of 600,000 people (even if they were just crazy Iraqis…)? Admitting a number like that would be the equivalent of admitting they had endorsed, say, a tsunami, or an earthquake with a magnitude of 9 on the Richter scale, or the occupation of a developing country by a ruthless superpower… oh wait- that one actually happened. Is the number really that preposterous? Thousands of Iraqis are dying every month- that is undeniable. And yes, they are dying as a direct result of the war and occupation (very few of them are actually dying of bliss, as war-supporters and Puppets would have you believe).

For American politicians and military personnel, playing dumb and talking about numbers of bodies in morgues and official statistics, etc, seems to be the latest tactic. But as any Iraqi knows, not every death is being reported. As for getting reliable numbers from the Ministry of Health or any other official Iraqi institution, that’s about as probable as getting a coherent, grammatically correct sentence from George Bush- especially after the ministry was banned from giving out correct mortality numbers. So far, the only Iraqis I know pretending this number is outrageous are either out-of-touch Iraqis abroad who supported the war, or Iraqis inside of the country who are directly benefiting from the occupation ($) and likely living in the Green Zone.

The chaos and lack of proper facilities is resulting in people being buried without a trip to the morgue or the hospital. During American military attacks on cities like Samarra and Fallujah, victims were buried in their gardens or in mass graves in football fields. Or has that been forgotten already?

Billmon has more.

But What Does Mary Rosh Think?

[ 0 ] October 18, 2006 |

The Wall Street Journal had decided to turn the question of the scientific value of the recent Lancet study over to…former Hair Club For Growth uber-hack Stephen Moore. Stephen Moore. Yes, that Stephen Moore. Who’s next up, Tim Blair?

Whoops–as noted by Matt in comments, it’s actually a different hack named Stephen Moore. My apologies.

The Outing Kabuki

[ 0 ] October 18, 2006 |

I have a new post at TAPPED up about the ludicrous fake outrage surrounding the outing of Larry Craig. See also Mona, Glenn, and Pam. Shakes defends outing in limited circumstances.

…I see that Patterico endorses the Captain’s nonsensical point that outing Craig is a “personal and degrading attack.” Just to be clear, people who think that saying someone is gay is a “personal attack” and “degrading” are trying to portray themselves as the real defenders of gay rights. What a joke this is.

…and, of course, Althouse. (Shorter Althouse: “it’s appalling that during elections people discuss people’s sex lives rather than the real issues. Now let’s get back to discussing Bill Clinton’s socks.”)

"Hands" Against America

[ 0 ] October 18, 2006 |

For those of you weren’t aware of what this new ad is copying, note the original Jesse Helms ad above. Except that the new one seems to be for people who think that the racism in the Helms ad was a little too subtle. (The other nice touch in the new ad is the “bilingual only” job sign–what, having more skills makes you more likely to get a job? What’s the world coming to!) Admittedly, when you have accomplishments like single-handedly refusing to allow the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to be integrated to your discredit, you can be a little less explicit…

…see also Belle.

The War of Strategic Deferrals

[ 0 ] October 17, 2006 |

An interesting article by Warren Richey about whether the Supremes will “trim” the appalling Military Commissions Act. My guess, as Richey suggests, is that the Court will do pretty much nothing–Kennedy invited Congress to act, and it did. These kinds of interactions between courts and legislatures have long been a hobbyhorse of mine, and I was happy to see the always-excellent Dahlia Lithwick tackle the subject recently in the WaPo:

Congress gives in to the temptation of passing bills that are of questionable constitutionality because it’s easy and convenient. Political expediency seems to trump constitutional principle. The elected branches need never defy the popular will if the courts are available to do so instead. And those members of Congress who insist that the courts should stay out of Congress’s business should recognize Congress for the enabler it has become. It’s a two-way street: The courts work with what Congress sends them and sometimes Congress purposely sends them unconstitutional legislation, because it is politically expedient to do so.

That’s why lawmakers who know that legislation to ban flag burning violates the First Amendment regularly trot it out anyway. It is an easy way to mollify voters, while letting some other branch grapple with what the Constitution requires. As a bonus, lawmakers then can blame the courts for usurping the will of the electorate, turning an ordinary political pander into an Olympic-worthy double-pander.

When people focus on the democratic problems with judicial review, they generally speak about the courts “usurping” democratic majorities. This isn’t terribly useful: courts tend to go along with public opinion and fairly reliably reflect the median opinions of governing elites, American political institutions are majoritarian in neither theory nor practice, and courts can rarely win serious long-term power struggles with the political branches. The bigger problem is the extent to which judicial review can lead to the diffusion of responsibility that is already a serious problem in a separation-of-powers system. Using the courts as a crutch to propose and sometimes pass clearly unconstitutional legislation breed disrespect for important constitutional values. In addition, using the courts to defuse difficult issues often fails. Sometimes, as with slavery and Dred Scott, the Congressional majority gets the ruling it was looking for, but subsequent blunders by elected politicians destroy the coalition anyway. In other cases–and this is the risk of deferral–the courts unpredictably. George W. Bush signed campaign finance legislation he apparently considered unconstitutional, probably with the assumption that the Supreme Court would strike down significant elements–but it didn’t.

Alas, this legislation is very likely going to fall into the latter category. If Arlen Specter and other Fraud Caucusers really thought the Court was going to save them from themselves, given the Court’s general deference on “national security” issues and the signals sent by Kennedy’s median opinion, I think they’re deluding themselves.

Gary Farber has more.

Panty Sniffing: Losing Its Electoral Cachet

[ 0 ] October 17, 2006 |

Via Matt Weiner, it looks like the fine folks of Kansas are about to tell Phil “He’s What’s the Matter With Kansas” Kline that his “services” shall no longer be required. Look for “Phil Kline Is Making Sense” to premiere on MSNBC in February.

Pessimism

[ 0 ] October 17, 2006 |

I think there’s a lot of truth to what Matt says here. All I would add is that in the House, where the Democrats have the best shot, the structural advantages of incumbents are particularly formidable, and a slight downtick in the general climate could create all kinds of problems. And in the Senate, where essentially everything has to break right the GOP’s huge money advantage is particularly important; it would be hard to imagine the Republicans not able to save at least one of Allen and Corker.

The slightly more optimistic look is that taking the House and picking up seats in the Senate–particularly given the distribution of seats that was up this year–would be a major improvement, and that still seems the most likely outcome. And in the Senate, every pickup matters a lot if even if you don’t win, especially for threatening filibusters.

The reverse-hedge point is true too, of course, but I still say Mets in 6 with Glavine now starting on full rest…

James Joyner says that “neither side has any real reason to be confident at this point.” Seems about right.

Who Cares What Anthony Would Do?

[ 0 ] October 16, 2006 |

Amanda Marcotte calls our attention to this excellent piece by Stacy Schiff, who debunks claims that Susan B. Anthony was a supporter of abortion bans. I find it particularly interesting because Anthony was able to ask questions about whether abortion bans actually accomplish anything even if you agree with the end of inhibiting abortions, a distinction which eludes most contemporary opponents of abortion rights.

Still, there’s another question here: what difference would it make if Anthony had supported abortion laws? With respect to Lincoln, Mark Graber recently pointed out:


Many American political and constitutional arguments have something close to the following structure. 1) The following political action/constitutional understanding is wise, benevolent, and prudent. 2) Abraham Lincoln must have favored that political action/constitutional understanding because Abraham Lincoln was a wise, benevolent, and prudent leader. 3) We ought to adopt that policy because Abraham Lincoln favored that policy. I take it that premise 1) does all the work in this argument and that 2) and 3) are just window dressing, accoutrements of American political rhetoric.


The conclusion is obviously correct, as the example of Anthony further demonstrates. Will a single pro-lifer change their position even if made aware that Anthony really didn’t agree with them? I rather doubt it. Would hearing that Anthony supported abortion laws 150 years ago convince a pro-choicer that state-coerced pregnancy is a good idea? It certainly shouldn’t. We see this through 20th century political leaders as well. The greatest progressive president from the standpoint of domestic policy was Lyndon Johnson, who also presided over the Vietnam catastrophe. His only serious contender for the title, FDR, not only put people in concentration camps based on their race but was in general probably indifferent about civil rights above and beyond his debts to the segregationists in the Democratic coalition. Even the best public figures, for various reasons, get things horribly wrong, and using the accomplishments to provide an independent justification for the mistakes is silly. Even if Anthony had opposed legal abortion (in a context in which abortion was an extremely dangerous procedure, women were second-class legal citizens and third-class economic citizens, etc. etc.), that wouldn’t be a good reason to support abortion laws now, any more than Lincoln justifies political corruption or FDR justifies racist internment policies or LBJ justifies disastrous wars. Invoking beloved political figures may be useful rhetoric, but as an argument on the merits it’s neither here nor there.

Why?

[ 0 ] October 15, 2006 |

Pithlord attempts to answer the unanswerable question of how people can believe that abortion is a serious criminal offense, but that the person most responsible for the act should be entirely exempt from legal sanctions. He claims that everyone, in some circumstances, believes these three premises:

*X is wrong.

*X should be legally suppressed.

*Not everyone involved in X should be subject to criminal sanction.

In the abstract, I suppose this is true; there may be reasons for specific sanctions to apply to some individual rather than others. But this is just the beginning of an argument; that such distinctions are logically possible doesn’t justify them in any particular case. And here there are all kinds of problems. To begin with, his analogy to illegal immigration is quite problematic. Leaving aside whether people think that illegal immigrants should be entirely exempt from legal sanctions–how many people believe that?–in matters concerning economic regulation in the post-Lochner era our laws in many respects (correctly) assume that employers have vastly more leverage than employees, and hence the law accepts distinctions that correct for this power differential. In areas of criminal law more analogous to abortion–which, if it is criminalized, represents a violent act–I think you’d be very hard-pressed to find a similar exemption; I certainly can’t think of one. And I, for one, do not think that the relationship between doctors and women is analogous to relationships between employers and employees.

Which brings us to the bigger problem. First of all, my claim that abortion opponents make anachronistic assumptions about the agency of women was not just a matter of formal logic; as we saw in the South Dakota task force, pro-lifers make these claims explicitly, and when the laws that exempted women from punishment were first enacted such assumptions were pervasive. And even more importantly, Pithlord conspicuously fails to identify a reason why women should be excluded from abortion statutes. If there a lot of “prudential and moral reasons” for exempting women from punishment that don’t involve reactionary assumptions about women, well, let’s hear ‘em. With respect to illegal immigration, it’s not at all difficult–most importantly, under current economic conditions it’s impossible to control the supply of immigrants, making sanctions that focus on employers much more necessary. Abortion laws that didn’t punish women, conversely, were extremely ineffective. Moreover–and I have yet to have any pro-lifer come up with any response for this–given the technological advances the ability of women to perform self-abortions would be much greater than it was in 1970, and yet such abortions would be entirely excluded. Why? As far as I can tell, the prudential reasons (at least those that don’t involve political prudence, which just restate the problem in a different form) are weak, and the moral reasons for the distinction are non-existent. At any rate, the burden of proof is clearly on those who would justify treating women who get abortions differently than most people who commit acts of violence, and if there are reasons that don’t involve sexist assumptions they would seem to be one of the best-kept secrets in our political discourse.

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