Subscribe via RSS Feed

Author Page for Scott Lemieux

rss feed

Suckered By Specter

[ 0 ] September 3, 2007 |

While this certainly doesn’t let Dianne Feinstein off the hook for casting the decisive vote to let Southern-Fried Alito Leslie Southwick onto the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, Christy Hardin Smith argues that Judiciary Committee Chair Pat Leahy could have preempted the nomination from coming to a vote. He failed to do so as part of a gentleman’s agreement with Arlen Specter and then let the Republicans browbeat Feinstein into focusing on Southwick’s personal qualities rather than his judicial record (also, you’ll remember, the strategy with Alito: “He likes baseball! He’s nice to his grandmother! He doesn’t raise his voice! How could he be the doctrinaire conservative that his judicial record makes clear that he is?”) Depressing stuff.

State Subsidy Libertarianism

[ 0 ] September 3, 2007 |

Great stuff from Mark Schmitt about the massive-state-subsidies-for-me-but-not-for-thee rural western version of small-government conservatism and self-reliance, from Larry Craig’s likely replacement:

A year ago, Risch was the acting governor of Idaho. He told this newspaper’s Oliver Burkeman how he viewed the victims of Katrina:

“Here in Idaho, we couldn’t understand how people could sit around on the kerbs waiting for the federal government to come and do something. We had a dam break in 1976, but we didn’t whine about it. We got out our backhoes and we rebuilt the roads and replanted the fields and got on with our lives. That’s the culture here. Not waiting for the federal government to bring you drinking water. In Idaho there would have been entrepreneurs selling the drinking water.”

Taken on its own terms, this is a cruel and unsympathetic statement, assuming that the deeply impoverished people of a city that had washed away could and should have just taken care of themselves. But if you look at what Risch was talking about, it’s truly astonishing.

The dam that broke in 1976 was the Teton dam, built on the Snake River just a few months earlier, at a cost of $100m. (That’s worth almost $500m today.) Built not by entrepreneurs, but by the federal government’s bureau of reclamation. It was built at the political insistence of a few millionaire ranchers and potato-growers, whose political allies had persuaded the government to build a series of dams that transformed a desert into some of the richest and wettest agricultural land in the country. And it was built despite predictions that it would fail.

And when it did fail, it was not the self-sufficient entrepreneurs of Idaho who “rebuilt the roads and replanted the fields.” It was, once again, the federal government. According to the government’s official history of the incident, federal agencies quickly rebuilt all the irrigation systems, and paid more than $850 million in claims to about 15,000 people who had lost property in the flood.

This, not Larry Craig’s awkwardly closeted sexuality, is the hypocrisy that matters. This hypocrisy consists not in a failure to reconcile public and private life, but in two public positions that are in absolute contradiction to one another: The belief that people must make it on their own, with no “whining” and no help from government, coexisting with a staggering, slavish dependence on government – and the federal government, and thus taxpayers of the rest of America, in particular.

Indeed. Cf. also “States’ rights and the Tennessee Valley Authority.”

Catastrophe Keeps Us Out of the Playoffs

[ 0 ] September 3, 2007 |

Admittedly, you always had to make Little Orphan Annie look like a cynic to think that the Mariners would make the playoffs, but still, even I didn’t expect a collapse of quite this immediacy and magnitude. And things figure to get worse before they get better.

Note to self: Pedro “Better Than Koufax” Martinez is coming back today; put it on, and then lock the remote away somewhere to protect against any twisted desire you might have to turn to the Yankees/Mariners game…

…wow, no commercials between the half-inning so you can watch Pedro’s warmup tosses! Cool. Nice thing to own your own network, I guess…

just as I have predicted all along! All hail King Felix! Yankees are the suxxor!!!111ONE11!! When it comes to signing Roger Clemens I can only agree with Suzyn Waldman!

Once More Back to the Well

[ 0 ] September 2, 2007 |

I was just about to write a post noting that virtually every commenter to this post ignored the actual point of the post and simply returned to argue again and again the peripheral question of whether the police had the formal legal authority to make the request, and noticed that aimai largely beat me to the punch:

This thread seems to me to be interestingly off point for scott’s actual post which was not a criticism of Craig’s arrest (or applause for it) but simply a straightforward amplification of something that female posters have been posting here which is that this kind of stuff happens to women *all the time* and we are not expected or encouraged to demand police protection from guys seeking consensual sex from us–even if the solicitation interferes with our use of public space. Its fascinating to me that the usual suspects (the very posters who got most hysterical about the “threat” to them personally of being solicited for sex by a gay man, mostly just skipped over Scott’s basic point to continue wrestling the sex-in-bathrooms-wrong point.

No one contends that private sex acts in shared public spaces is wrong, possibly uncomfortable, and kind of selfish–that’s what all privatization of public spaces is and it really doesn’t matter whether it is a single smoker taking over an entire restaurant with his cigar smoke or a sexually active couple taking over a library table in a public library. So much we can all agree on.

But the actual solicitation for sexual contact? That not only shouldn’t be illegal *its not illegal*. Things have to go way past “hey babe, wanna do it” before the police usually get involved. And men robustly defend their right to dominate public space with cat calls, winks, lears, and hey babe’s *when they imagine their own rights would be infringed by some other cultural/legal regime that would penalize that* and they routinely *call for more enforcement an dpunishment* when they imagine the women in their lives are subjected to the harrassment.

Its just a double or even quadruple standard in which the gender of the participants, the nature of the public space, the timing of the event, the desirability (race, gender, religion) of the harrasser *all* come into play.In fact its not possible to come up with a single acceptable “rule” about public solicitation fr sex and its badness. You would actually need some kind of spreadsheet which could be read up or down, across or sideways, to predict whether a given act would create discomfort in a given guy if it hypothetically happened.

This is correct. Two more points:

  • Nowhere have I said that I’m especially sorry about Craig’s political fate. To reiterate, the double standards that stigmatize homosexual set and make the constant sexualization of women irrespective of context are ones that Craig has largely devoted his political life to upholding. It is also true, however, that these double standards are wrong, and the vast majority of gay men subject to harassment and women subject to public harassment considerably worse than anything Craig did on a routine basis have nothing to do with creating these social norms. So I also don’t see much taking much pleasure in his downfall. So now Idaho will have a Senator probably without the double life and equally odious political positions. So now what? What are progressives supposed to be celebrating here?
  • The other major counter-argument of the thread was reliance on the frail tautology that Craig was possibly signaling a willingness to engage in illegal activity and hence violating the law that therefore all analogies with the treatment of women are null. Obviously, the idea that double standards should be beyond criticism as long as they’re reflected in the writing or application of laws is too silly to even merit a substantial rebuttal. But as for the idea that Craig was being treated equitably, two words: David Vitter. Moreover, it’s not just that he’s been permitted to remain in the Senate; he hasn’t been arrested although he’s guilty of criminal behavior that is usually a more serious offense on the books and at least arguably involves economic exploitation while Craig was engaged in purely consensual and non-commercial behavior. And it’s not as if Vitter’s exemption was the result of a de facto decriminalization, which would be fine with me; the people who provided him with the illegal sex work certainly aren’t exempted from punishment. The comparative political and legal treatment of Craig and Vitter makes the attempt to assess the former’s situation in an entirely decontextualized manner makes no sense.

See also Hilzoy.

Craig and Gender Double Standards

[ 0 ] September 1, 2007 |

A couple of our commenters made this point well, too, but this post very effectively expresses my puzzlement over various male commenters who seemed to think that having a foot tapped and hand rubbed on the side of a bathroom stall to signal sexual desire is a completely unconscionable act mandating immediate police intervention:

What I find more astonishing is the definition of “disorderly conduct.” By this reckoning, ten years and thirty pounds ago, I had disorderly conduct foisted upon me approximately…let’s see…15,923 times.

Per week.
Give or take.

But, even if they’re unwanted advances, that’s the natural order of things, right? Whereas men have to be protected from the unwanted advances of men at all costs (why? because they’re worried they just might succumb to a particularly persuasive piece of foot telegraphy?).

Given the constant, daily harassment women endure (come on now, don’t tune out; stay with me, here) — harassment that makes us compress our daily activities into daylight hours, that circumscribes where we go, who we go with, and even what we wear; intrusive harassment, ruin-your-day, make-you-feel-powerless/angry/depressed harassment — the overzealous prosecution of the toe-tapper really pisses me off. It’s like those sophomore discussions one has of human trafficking, in which someone invariably says “but what about the men?”, and then the rest of the discussion, in some form or another, is overwhelmingly preoccupied with those minority cases. Heaven forfend we don’t keep men front and center, even if it makes lousy Bayesians of us all.

Look: if there’d been groping, a physical risk, or even just a persistent advance in the face of a single “no” (which doesn’t seem to have ever been uttered), I’d be supportive regardless of the gender base-rates involved. But “he tapped his foot and looked at me funny”? Please! Men! Grow a pair!

Indeed; I’ll also add that as far as Craig knew the advance was not unwanted but invited, which makes the case particularly problematic (although I don’t know if it rises to the standard of entrapment under Minnesota law.) The rest of the post is sound analysis, too. [Via Prettier Than Napoleon via Catherine Andrews.]

UPDATE: Further thoughts here.

When Bad Economics Occur To Bloodthirsty Dictators

[ 0 ] September 1, 2007 |

And the inevitably failed price controls in Zimbabwe are succeeded by…price controls. I’m not sure it’s possible for the situation to get more depressing, but it’s an incredible catastrophe getting worse.

Best, Editor. Ever.

[ 0 ] September 1, 2007 |

Congratulations to blog pioneer, friend of LGM, and edit makin’ person Patrick Nielsen Hayden for winning the Best Editor in the Known Universe award!

Endangered Species Sighting

[ 0 ] August 31, 2007 |

We have a sighting of that increasingly rare beast, the principled, internally consistent pro-lifer! In response to an Anna Quindlen column that produced the usual outpouring of comically transparent illogic and evasion from anti-choicers, Matt Abbott is willing to actually apply his principles with some measure of consistency:

That said, I do believe, in some cases, the abortion-seeking woman is indeed the perpetrator. She knows very well what she’s doing. She’s not coerced by anyone. Perhaps she’s even going against the wishes of her loved ones. This is the woman who should be treated as a criminal – if not a murderer, then an accessory to murder.

What would be an appropriate prison sentence for such a woman?

Fifteen years-to-life sounds reasonable, no? Of course, one would have to take into account all the circumstances in a particular situation, and it wouldn’t be an easy task. But it could be done.

Admittedly, there’s still a little evasion, as he prefaces this by saying that “[n]ot all abortion-seeking women are perpetrators.” But still, that’s quite different from (in the more typical fashion of the American forced pregnancy lobby) simply assuming a priori that all women who obtain abortions are helpless victims. Moreover, few feminists would deny that some individual women are coerced into abortions, and in addition to safe, legal abortion part of what reproductive freedom should entail is ensuring that women who want to continue their pregnancies have the resources to do so. So while Abbott is very, very wrong, his position is at least worthy of some measure of respect.

Meanwhile, Dana points us to an even rarer animal: the pro-lifer who actually considers how abortion laws work in practice. The novelist Anne Rice, despite being a Catholic opposed to abortion, is endorsing Hillary Clinton because criminalizing abortion doesn’t actually work. This may seem like a rationalization or contradiction, but it’s actually a completely coherent position. Clinton’s set of policies, Rice correctly notes, will actually lead to fewer abortions than the illegal abortion-reactionary gender relations-irrational sex ed-threadbare safety net policies favored by most American “pro-lifers.” (Cf. Canada and Western Europe vs. Latin America.) A similar argument was made in book form by Mark Graber, who’s a reverse John Hart Ely: a pro-lifer who thinks Roe v. Wade was correctly decided. When you look at the inevitably sporadic and arbitrary application of abortion laws, it actually makes perfect sense.

Come Vote For The Party of Forced Pregnancy, Ladies!

[ 0 ] August 31, 2007 |

Kimblerley A. Strassel argues that the majority of women who vote Democratic are out there for the Republican plucking. What, might you ask, is the strategy? Well, apparently women no longer care about such trivial “70s” issues as whether they will be discriminated against in the workplace or whether the state will force them to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term (and certainly it’s not like either of these are live issues that could turn on recent Supreme Court appointments or anything!) No, what’s really important to women — although we’re not treated to anything as gauche as evidence — is…tax cuts for the wealthy. Finally, a Republican with the courage to propose something new!

Most married women are second-earners. That means their income is added to that of their husband’s, and thus taxed at his highest marginal rate. So the married woman working as a secretary keeps less of her paycheck than the single woman who does the exact same job. This is the ultimate in “inequality,” yet Democrats constantly promote the very tax code that punishes married working women. In some cases, the tax burdens and child-care expenses for second-earners are so burdensome they can’t afford a career. But when was the last time a Republican pointed out that Ms. Clinton was helping to keep ladies in the kitchen?

So let me get that straight. As a political strategy, the Republicans should appeal to an already Republican group (affluent married women) by proposing a policy that will do absolutely nothing to help an expanding group that is for obvious reasons fleeing the GOP in droves (single women.) I’d also be interested in seeing a defense of the proposition that treating the income of male and female earners in a marriage equally is the “ultimate in inequality” while pay discrimination is trivial. And then there’s the “burdensome” problem of “child-care expenses.” How is the state going to address this problem while forgoing substantial amounts of revenue by treating the income of married people exactly like single people? Look, it’s Halley’s Comet! And, finally, apparently Republicans appeal to contemporary women by simply assuming that men will be the primary breadwinner and women are secondary workers responsible for the childrearing.

I think this strategy needs some work.

Adventures In Rank Idiocy

[ 0 ] August 30, 2007 |

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

“You ask for a miracle, I give you…Charlie Manuel.”

Granted, I’ve never understood the intentional walk fetish of so many managers. But they don’t get much stupider than walking 1)the best base stealer in baseball to 2)load the bases with 3)the go-ahead run to bring up 4)a good singles hitter who’s almost impossible to double up 5)followed by two of the best hitters in the league 6)with a pitcher with no command on the mound and 7)the beyond-washed-up Jose Table as your next option out of the bullpen. But since he seems to have established that absolutely nothing can get him fired, it’s hard to blame Manuel.

If I were a Phillies fan I would be spitting blood right now, but given the Phillies’ taste in managers it’s not clear who his replacement will be. Is Bill Virdon still alive? Doc Edwards? John McNamara?

…of course, given than Burrell continues to slug 4.000 against the Mets it’s not like the game is actually over…

…I’m not sure he had a better option, but bringing in a dead-armed Wagner for 2 doesn’t exactly look like a strategic masterstroke in its own right…

With A Barely Audible Whimper

[ 0 ] August 30, 2007 |

Since I was hard on the Tribe earlier this month, I should note that the Red Sox have had three chances to knock out the Yankees this year, and each time they have generously prevented the Yankees from reaching the canvas and poured them a cup of Bigelow Green Tea. Admittedly, nothing in this series was quite as pathetic as having the chance for a sweep handed to you on a silver platter and proceeding to make the hapless Kei Igawa look like Lefty Grove, but pretty feeble stuff. Speaking of feeble, I was at least hoping the Mariners might get a token day in the wildcard slot in September….

Social Conservatism For Thee…

[ 0 ] August 30, 2007 |

Matt says:

A reasonable politics of “family values” needs to contain some penalties for heterosexuals with anti-family behavior (see, e.g., Dick Vitter, Rudy Giuliani) and support for gays with pro-family behavior. What they have right now is just loathing of gay people masquerading as defense of the traditional family.

This is true, but there’s another angle to it as well. Republican social conservatism, at least as instantiated as state policy, is about imposing burdens on other people to make oneself feel virtuous. Bans on abortion don’t seriously obstruct the ability of the affluent women Republicans represent to obtain safe abortions. Large homes in the suburbs are very unlikely to be subject to no-knock searches. And so on. These policies are basically a free pass for the Republican elites who advocate them, appoint judges who uphold them, etc.

And this is why gay-baiting is such a useful Republican tactic, even for the many closet tolerants among GOP elites. To put it mildly, it’s not obvious why gay marriage is a greater threat to family stability and “traditional values” than, say, no-fault divorce. But there’s not going to be a constitutional amendment to ban no-fault divorce introduced in Congress or serious attempts to get rid of it in most states — somehow, social conservatism always loses most of its appeal when restrictions on your liberties and privileges, rather than those of a stigmatized minority, are involved.

Page 559 of 762« First...102030...557558559560561...570580590...Last »