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Yoo: "Judicial Imperialists" Oppose Arbitrary Detention! The Horror!

[ 14 ] June 17, 2008 |

Well, it’s certainly reassuring to see that the author of transparently ridiculous arguments on behalf of an unlimited right for the executive to arbitrarily detain and torture individuals at its pleasure is very agitated about Boumediene


Dog & Pony Show

[ 13 ] June 17, 2008 |

This is about right.

I can certainly understand firing Randolph last month; the team (after a historic choke) has underachieved on balance this year, although this is at least as much on the GM (I’m not sure what a manager can do when presented with no corner outfielders who hit well enough to be a good utility infielder, for example.) But to fly him out to the west coast for a day and fire him after a win? In the dead of night? And after a week in which the team actually played well but was undermined by am exploding closer and asleep-at-the-switch third base coach (who managed to survive the coaching purge?) To hire the bench coach with a similar personality and similar credentials you could have hired at any time? What a farce.

Pathetic Whiner of the Day

[ 0 ] June 17, 2008 |

Hank Steinbrenner. Actually, I think baseball also needs to revise its antiquated rules and ban stolen bases, just like intramural softball, so that poor widdle Posada doesn’t get a boo-boo having to throw! Waaaaaaaaaah! Sniff.

Djw’s Long Regional Nightmare Is Over

[ 24 ] June 16, 2008 |

Bill Bavasi mercifully fired. It makes sense; charitably assuming that the Mariners may try to find a major league manager at some point this season, you want a new GM to do the search.

Of course, the post title isn’t strictly accurate until we find out who option B is. Given the general philosphy of Lincoln and Armstrong, I’m thinking the Ms will follow the path of the 1985 Indians and try to assemble a whole committee of idiots Real Baseball Men with ghastly track records. Maybe Chuck LeMar will supervise Dave Littlefield and Jim Duquette, and at their first press conference they can announce the signings of Matt Morris and Victor Zambrano.

…in other news, looks like Wang is out for the regular season.

Thinking About Boumediene

[ 0 ] June 16, 2008 |

I have an article up at TAP about some of the implications of last week’s Supreme Court landmark. One important thing is that progressives shouldn’t cede the national security component of the argument:

The first section of Justice Scalia’s dissent contains a screed that seems more likely to have come from an O’Reilly Factor transcript than from a Supreme Court opinion in a landmark case. “The game of bait-and-switch that today’s opinion plays upon the Nation’s Commander in Chief,” Scalia asserts, “will make the war harder on us. It will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed.” Although unconvincing as legal analysis, Scalia’s demagoguery does make clear the political problem faced by progressives.


For this reason, it is important for progressives not to approach arguments like Scalia’s from a defensive crouch. In particular, there is no reason for progressives to accept the argument that there is a zero-sum tradeoff between reasonable protections of civil liberties and national security. Especially when one considers opportunity costs, there is, in fact, little security value in arbitrarily detaining people against whom the government lacks evidence. As Stephen Holmes has argued in his book The Matador’s Cape: America’s Reckless Response to Terror, the Bush administration’s aggrandizements of executive power (and Congress’ unwillingness to properly exercise its restraining and oversight functions) have undermined national security rather than preserved it. Long-term arbitrary detentions are bad for both civil liberties and the security of the American public, and it’s crucial for liberals not to concede the latter half of the equation.

Consider these types of revelations. In a world of limited resources, arbitrary detention doesn’t present a tradeoff between national security and civil liberties; it’s bad for both.

Liberal Democracy: Does Not Require Libertarianism

[ 55 ] June 16, 2008 |

Ogged, riffing on Adam Liptak’s article about the United States as a (recent) outlier on free speech:

It’s dogma in the US that if you give up a strong commitment to the right of free speech, you’re well on the way to tyranny, but we have now several countries with a softer commitment to it and, frankly, we’ve come a lot closer to tyranny lately than they have. So what are the prudential or slippery slope arguments in favor of the American conception of free speech that take into account the experience of these other countries?

I am also inclined to prefer post-Brandenburg libertarian American doctrines on free speech. (At least in most areas; on campaign finance, I think other democracies have struck a balance more consistent with democratic values.) But the answer here, I think, is that marginal differences in free speech laws in democratic states really aren’t a road to tyranny. I think this is a subset of a larger fallacy: the conflation of rights, or even constitutional rights, with the strong judicial enforcement of rights against other political actors. Again, I’m inclined to prefer some form of judicial review on balance, but it’s hard to argue that the United States has a better human rights record than the U.K., New Zealand, Canada pre-1982, etc. The reductionist way of stating the problem is that in a county with strong democratic norms judicial review isn’t necessary to protect tyranny, and in a country without such norms judicial review won’t stop tyranny. (Mark Tushnet’s latest book is good on this.)

So while I think a strong argument can be made on behalf of American norms with respect to free speech, the idea that slightly more restrictive laws are a slippery slope to authoritarianism is not one of them.

Ya Think?

[ 0 ] June 15, 2008 |

The punchline to this Times article about Giuliani’s fundraising-for-personal-debt-relief racket is so strange that it makes me wonder if the banality is actually deadpan humor:

Political analysts say that Mr. Giuliani’s once prolific fund-raising abilities have been hampered by several factors. Perhaps most significant is the fact that Mr. Giuliani neither holds a position in government nor is a candidate for public office. Both qualities are attractive to donors who are looking for access to government.

I tell ya, it’s good that we have such razor-sharp political analysts to reach such counter-intuitive conclusions! Similarly, I have found my fundraising efforts hampered by the fact that I’m not pursuing and, in some cases, am constitutionally ineligible to hold political office, and I’ve wondered why that is. As a “political analyst” myself, let me present a hypothetical phone call that may explain the puzzle of why Giuliani’s fundraising has declined:

RUDY!: “Hi, I’m doing some fundraising.”

GOP FAT CAT: “For what?”

R!: [Pause] “Look, just give me ten grand! These bills don’t pay themselves!”


R!: “Hello?”


Hmm, I think I’m beginning to see the problem here.

Against Richardson

[ 31 ] June 14, 2008 |

Agreed (see also here.) I stopped taking Richardson’s candidacy seriously when he endorsed a dissenter in Roe and Miranda (and the writer of the majority opinion in Bowers) as his model Supreme Court justice, and there’s plenty more where that came from. He would make a good secretary of state, but VP (and hence possibly president) isn’t the job for him.

The Trot Of Desperation

[ 13 ] June 14, 2008 |

If 2004 comes back, I’m sure he’ll be very effective. And between him and Moises the Mets should have at least 20% of their remaining LF games covered.

Actually, all snark aside the frightening thing is that it’s not a bad move. He may be able to get on base, which is an improvement over the Mets’ current corner OF options, as none of them provide any offense at all and only Chavez can even play the outfield. I just hope that Troy O’Leary is keeping limber and in touch with his agent.

I also note that the Metropolitans have pulled into a tie with the mighty Pirates. Weiner’s hearing footsteps! I tell ya, that race is going down to the wire…

Was Kozinski Smeared?

[ 0 ] June 13, 2008 |

Lawrence Lessig makes a convincing case.

Clinton or a Man?

[ 28 ] June 13, 2008 |

Evaluating some arguments for and against Sebellius as a VP choice, Ezra discusses a strange argument I’ve always wondered about:

Then, on the con side, we get an argument that’s been peeking out on the corners of the debate: Sebelius is a women who is not Hillary Clinton. “With Clinton now formally gone from the race,” writes Cilizza, “her most fervent female supporters have taken up the cause of putting her on the ticket as the vice president. To snub Clinton in favor of another woman — Sebelius — would be a slight that many women might not be able to reconcile themselves to.”

A slight? This argument is popping up a lot, being reported as a pro-Clinton talking point by everyone from Chric Cilizza to Howard Fineman. These are good reporters, so I trust there’s some truth to it. But it’s loathsome. When Clinton endorsed Obama, she said that, “from now on, it will be unremarkable for a woman to win primary state victories unremarkable to have a woman in a close race to be our nominee, unremarkable to think that a woman can be the president of the United States.” It was a powerful line, and a tremendous sentiment. And it’s being undercut by some of her supporters.

Insofar as Clinton’s campaign was a trailblazing, historic candidacy, it’s because it consciously sought to ease the way for those who would come after Clinton. By proving a woman could be commander-in-chief, by proving a woman could win primary states, by proving a women could out-campaign the guys, the idea was that the barrier would not be so high for future women who wished to run. Clinton’s example would normalize women in national politics. That is the precise opposite of preserving the idea that it’s a rare and unique thing for women to compete in national politics, and only one woman has the capability or credibility to do so.

On the merits, the idea that is would be some kind of slap in the face to women for Obama to pick any woman but Clinton is certainly ridiculous. So perhaps this is a pundit’s fallacy, but I also doubt that this would actually be a problem for a significant number of voters, especially as acceptance about Clinton’s narrow defeat sets in. And of that small subgroup, some are presumably part of the “it will really show the sexists in the media if Antonin Scalia is the median vote on the Supreme Court, the global gag rule isn’t repealed, etc. etc.” crowd, which will find some reason to be offended by any Obama pick and aren’t really worth considering.

Certainly, it seems pretty clear to me that picking Webb (or, worse, an anti-choicer, although Strickland is apparently out of the running…) has a much higher chance of alienating women…

Misogynist Wanker of the Day

[ 34 ] June 13, 2008 |

Rick Sutcliffe.

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