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Election Picks

[ 0 ] November 3, 2008 |

Just for fun, I guess it’s time to make some election calls:

  • President: Obama 326, McCain 212 (Obama gets all Kerry states + NM, CO, NV, OH, VA, IA, NC)
  • Senate: Dems +7
  • House Dems +31
  • Regardless of the outcome, Mickey Kaus will claim that voters really prefer divided government, and their top priorities are draconian immigration policies and busting teacher’s unions.

Somehow, I feel most confident in that last one…

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The GOP Didn’t Always Pulled Out, But It Never Aplogized

[ 7 ] November 3, 2008 |

Nice to see that the GOP is abandoning most of its efforts to retain/take House seats in New York State. Even better, they wasted a lot of money here before doing so. This includes normally solidly Republican Staten Island; whatever the morality of his various actions, the country does owe Vito Fossella one big favor…

The Folly of "Fetal Rights" Initiatives

[ 0 ] November 2, 2008 |

Sarah Wildman explains.

It should also be noted that Colorado’s ridiculous Prop 48 — which would give constitutional rights to a zygote — is favored by John McCain and is also extremely unpopular. Nonetheless, I somehow doubt that after McCain loses both Colorado and the election we’re going to get a series of thinkpieces about the GOP needs to abandon their unpopular positions on abortion if they want to win. Although it must be conceded that failing to pick Tim Kaine was a devastating blow to the Democrats’ chances this year…

The "Town Hall" Pre-Emptive Whine

[ 18 ] November 2, 2008 |

I believe that this crap was also a centerpiece of McCain’s SNL appearance yesterday. Of course, the idea that McCain had to run a dishonest campaign centered around inane trivia because Obama wouldn’t agree to the precise debate schedule he requested has always been risible on its face. But it’s particularly hilarious to see The Dean swallow the whining given that 1)there was a town hall debate, 2)McCain performed abysmally, and 3)as Steve says, the McCain campaign continued to be centered around idiotic guilt-by-distant-association smears and the claim that a 39% marginal tax rate McCain supported less than a decade ago is “socialism” while 36% is “America first” after the magic of the town hall debate happened. If this “stop hitting yourself” argument seems plausible to you, it’s probably a sign that your op-ed slot needs to be turned over to someone capable of basic reasoning.

Homophobia is Not A Means of Advancing Gay and Lesbian Rights

[ 41 ] November 1, 2008 |

To echo what Rob (and Henry) have said, it’s worth drawing a distinction here. Reasonable people can argue about “outing” in the sense of, say, a newspaper publishing reliable information that a politician with rabidly anti-gay views is in fact gay or lesbian. While I agree with Rob that I don’t have a lot of sympathy for a politician who wants to make the consensual sexual choices of adults a major political and public policy issue and then gets outed, I’m not really crazy about even this. Homophobic positions are equally bad on the merits whether they’re advanced by heterosexuals or not, and a cursory examination of justifications for discussing various irrelevant aspects of the lives of public officials will show that “hypocrisy” justifications tend to become pretty weak tea — it gets so that anybody who’s ever appeared in public with their spouse is completely fair game. Basically, I would say that I probably wouldn’t publish such information in most cases and don’t think it’s really relevant to anything, but there’s at least a fair argument to be made in such cases.

But the anti-McConnell ad is another matter entirely, completely beyond any reasonable justification. The salient fact is that the ad is disgustingly homophobic. It’s just directly trying to mobilize anti-gay sentiment against McConnell, which is beyond any progressive pale. Fighting bigotry with bigotry isn’t a defensible position, and of course the ad isn’t even trying to do the former. Nobody should want to unseat McConnell this way.

Studs Terkel

[ 7 ] November 1, 2008 |

R.I.P.

Conservative Domination of the Federal Courts

[ 5 ] October 31, 2008 |

As a welcome companion to Steven Calabresi’s silly ranting about how — horrors! — Barack Obama may completely transform the federal courts (if a whole bunch of relatively young judges retire en masse, of course, Charlie Savage brings some data about the extent to which Bush has transformed the federal courts. Democrats control exactly…one of the 13 federal circuit courts (with 2 being evenly split), and overall Republican appointees represent a whopping 62% of the federal circuit courts. Moreover, these numbers probably understate the reactionary tilt of the federal courts; recent Republican presidents have tended to be much more committed to appointing strong conservatives than Democratic presidents have been to appointing strong liberals.

In his first term, Obama will just be attempting to restore balance to the courts. And what they would look like after a couple more Republican terms is something I don’t even want to contemplate. And I hope that Obama will look beyond the cautious moderates he seems attracted to for some appointments.

Revisting Roe’s Status

[ 0 ] October 31, 2008 |

Kay Steiger has an excellent article about how vulnerable Roe is under the current Supreme Court, which quotes yours truly. The bottom line for me remains that the argument that Roe‘s overturn is imminent depends on the belief that Kennedy has changed, and I just don’t think there’s any evidence that he has. To add a couple of points:

  • Leaving aside the question of how “political” we can expect the Court to be, I don’t understand why a politically savvy court would wait until Democrats hostile to their views controlled every branch of the federal government to overturn Roe. I don’t see how it becomes any better for the GOP to overturn Roe explicitly in 2010 than it is now. If anything, a politically savvy Court would have seen 2008 as a likely Democatic year anyway and gotten it over with if it wanted to do it.
  • The idea that Roe would be explicitly overturned also ignores the extent to which Alito and Roberts have gone out of their way to nominally “uphold” precedents they’re not seriously applying. If they’re not willing to explicitly overturn precedents that almost nobody in the general public cares about, they’re certainly not going to be anxious to do so on a high-salience issue where such an outcome would be very unpopular.

None of this is to say that I’m sanguine about women’s access to abortion in this country. It’s important to remember how much damage can be done to abortion access without Roe being overturned. And if a court gets more Republican appointments, that’s a different matter entirely. But the Court as currently configured isn’t going to explicitly announce the overruling of Roe v. Wade.

How Can We Forget You if You Won’t Go Away?

[ 28 ] October 31, 2008 |

Shorter Verbatim Bob Kerrey: “Obama understands that to succeed, he must make peace with John McCain just as he has done with Hillary Clinton. When this historic election concludes, I expect the two to sit down, without precondition, and negotiate an agenda of reform.”

Admittedly, I’m not opposed to any such discussion that begins (and ends) with Obama saying “Here’s my offer: nothing. Not even the fee for the gaming license, which I would appreciate if you would sell one of your 13 houses to put up personally.” Students who have watched Kerrey perfect the the all-too-active art of concern trolling will not be surprised to learn, however, that the “reforms” Kerrey seems to have in mind involve Obama agreeing to implement Republican fiscal policies using feeble Republican talking points…

A Simulation

[ 0 ] October 31, 2008 |

We may never get to see the lost Farley/Goldfarb tapes, although I’ve heard rumors of a bootleg annotated by Greil Marcus turning up at Bleeker Street Records. But I assume the missing footage went a little something like this.

A Brief Note

[ 0 ] October 31, 2008 |

Based on personal and other anecdotal experience, I would have to say that SuperShuttle is pretty much the worst thing ever. If I understand correctly, the deal is that you add about four hours on to your travel time to save about six bucks (or, in New York, pay significantly more for something that actually takes significantly longer than public transportation to most places.) I’m permanently inclined to pass…

Easy Answers To Questions Asked By People Inexplicably Entertaining Desperate Hackery

[ 8 ] October 31, 2008 |

John Dickerson:

The McCain campaign is unusually upbeat. Does it have reason to be?


No.
This has been…

In addition to which, since when is it “unusual” for presidential campaigns to be “upbeat?” What do you expect a spin doctor to say? “John, we’re completely screwed. We’d sign for Dukakis’ electoral college tally right now.” These guys are paid to be upbeat.

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