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Sunday Night Linkage

[ 0 ] January 28, 2007 |
  • Aspazia has a very good and very important post about some of the hidden costs of being a female faculty member.
  • A Kos Diarist gets on the selective but brilliant Sebelius-for-veep bandwagon. (Via–who else?–Ezra.)
  • Wanker of the Week: Dr. Mrs. Ole Perfesser.
  • Runners-up: The Ole Perfesser (see also. Oh, yeah, and this. Well, let’s be frank–everything he posted this week) and La Althouse.
  • Speaking of which, someone should tell Linda Hirshman that Ann Althouse and Maureen Dowd cannot be generalized to the entire female electorate. (And some ask her to explain Joe Klein and Howard Fineman.)
  • Lindsay: “It’s as if Fashion and Style is metastasizing throughout the paper.” Yes. Yes, it is.
  • The Talking Dog interviews journalist Stephen Grey. Grey: “Well, certainly for those who witness it– the victims and the perpetrators or witnesses in the room– torture is clearly in no way a banal business. What struck me is the comment of an American military officer: he said that if we need to torture, we should do it ourselves and not hand the dirty work over to others– that is the coward’s way out. It is certainly striking how we can shut our eyes to what is being done in our name, and hide behind legal language and techicalities, indeed, to try to pretend that we are not torturing, when everyone really knows that we are. If you shove someone’s head under water and make them believe they are going to die by drowning– as a one former CIA officer described it to me– there is no question that this is real torture.”
  • Mimi Smartypants sez that “I read the much-reviewed The Year of Magical Thinking and found it sort of blah.” This makes me feel less guilty–I have to admit that I couldn’t get through the first page of the Times magazine excerpt, had no interest in reading it after the 75 or so rave reviews published by that same paper, have no interest in seeing the play, etc. Maybe I’m just too frivolous to deal with death or something, but I dunno, sympathetic as Didion is I just didn’t see it turned into compelling art. There must be something I don’t get; I rarely make it to the end of her much-lauded NYRB political articles either.


[ 0 ] January 28, 2007 |


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

(Via Bob Geiger.)

For a non-photographic discussion of sweaty media sexism, see J. Goodrich.

The Clinton Rules: A Case Study

[ 0 ] January 27, 2007 |

Atrios details the case of Wayne Dumond–a convicted rapist who was released under heavy pressure from governor and likely Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, and subsequently raped and murdered at least one and probably two women. As Atrios says, this wouldn’t necessarily be a massive black stain on Huckabee’s record–as long as we don’t keep everyone in jail forever, such tragedies are inevitable–except that the pressure in this case came from paranoid fantasizing about The Clenis. I was particularly amazed to see this article in the Voice, which is very representative of writing about Clinton “scandals”:

DuMond had been accused of raping a Clinton cousin in 1984 and was hog-tied and castrated before he even went to trial.

He used to be enraged about it, especially when the cracker sheriff, who was a pal of the rape victim’s father, scooped up DuMond’s balls, put them in a jar, and showed them off.

“They were mine. Those were my testicles,” DuMond told a sickened courtroom in 1988. “He didn’t have no right to take them and he didn’t have no right to show them around and he didn’t have no right to flush them down the toilet.”

This is yet another Clinton saga of genitalia that fell into the wrong hands.

Ha-ha! See, Bill Clinton got a blow job, so clearly he was somehow responsible for reprehensible vigilante tactics (spruced up with an unsubstantiated story from a convicted violent felon taken at face value) used against a rapist. This kind of idiocy, though, is basically how most stories about phony Clinton pseudo-scandals from Whitewater on down proceeded: find some distant (or imagined) Clinton relationship to someone who knew someone who did something bad in Arkansas, find some lurid details, and suggest that one or both Clintons were behind everything without any actual evidence or causal logic. (See, for example, the stories about Mena discussed in the country’s most prominent conservative op-ed pages.) And while many of these stories had their origin with GOP operatives and wingnut hacks, they also spread throughout the media, including ostensibly lefty alt-weeklies and the mainstream press. The Whitewater non-scandal was pushed obsessively by the New York Times, and MSNBC would happily invite you on to discuss your unsubstantiated claims that Bill Clinton personally killed several people. About the Clintons, you can say anything based on nothing in the most prestigious media forums.

John Amato has some suggestions for Tim Russert.

Anti-Roe "Contrarianism": Still Wrong

[ 0 ] January 26, 2007 |

As anyone with a passing familiarity with the nation’s op-ed pages or center-left political publications is aware, there is a cottage industry of affluent white men in liberal urban centers asserting that reproductive freedom would be much better off if states and Congress had the unlimited power to regulate abortion. Since such “contrarian” arguments have the unfortunate drawback of being baldly erroneous, a second cottage industry has emerged: trying to restate these arguments in terms that might be defensible to someone who actually cares about reproductive freedom and knows what they’re talking about. I recently pointed out that if one were to use the same empirical standards for evaluating Roe v. Wade that Ben Wittes does for his beloved Bush v. Gore, you will find that far from having a “legitimacy problem” Roe is broadly popular. In comments, Alon Levy argues that this is misleading:

Just asking about Roe in general yields big majorities for. Asking concrete questions about when and for which reasons abortion should be available regularly yields responses that are significantly more restrictive than what Roe permits.

Questions that ignore Roe but instead ask about whether abortion should be “subject to greater restrictions than it is now” regularly get large majorities for greater restrictions.

This is true enough as far as it goes–public opinion on abortion is more contradictory and ambivalent than general polls on Roe reflect. (However, how these ambivalences cut depend on what information is provided; questions like “The Supreme Court has held that states can regulate abortion in almost any way they see fit short of a ban–is this too restrictive?” or “Ben Wittes and William Saletan argue that rich women in urban centers should be able to get abortions for any reason, and poor women in many states should not be able to obtain abortions for any reason but the life of the mother. Do you agree?” would yield rather less favorable answers for pro-criminalization and “centrist” positions than the questions Alon cites.) The problem is that this is precisely the opposite of what Wittes argues. Wittes, you’ll remember, believes that public opinion is enormously supportive of abortion rights (which, combined with his bizarrely naive conception of how legislative power functions, produces his ludicrously Pollyanish predictions about a world without Roe) but is very hostile to Roe. This is simply false. Moreover, given that Wittes is committed to the (farcical) claim that public opposition to Roe stems from people’s careful consideration of its legal craftsmanship, he’s not really in a position to argue that many people don’t even understand its holding (although, myself, I have no doubt that this is true.) Wittes’ famous article is simply nonsense all the way down, and as the double standard he employs when discussing the conservative decisions he likes makes clear his commitment to taking the Republican side in legal and political disputes is considerably strongly than his nominal commitment to reproductive freedom.


[ 0 ] January 26, 2007 |

Another excellent article about the Wilson case, with a useful comparison with other cases of consensual sexual relations with minors that received much lighter sentences:

But wait. It gets worse. At the same time that Wilson was being sentenced to 10 years in prison, down the hall in the courthouse, a 27-year-old high school teacher got a slap on the wrist (probation, 90 days in jail, not prison) for having sexual intercourse with an 16-year-old male student.

Now you tell me: which act represented a greater breach of trust and societal expectations? Which act has the greater potential for harm?

The District Attorney — who makes the decision on how to handle cases: which ones to prosecute, which to drop — charged Wilson with rape and aggravated child molestation. The jury found Wilson not guilty of the rape charge.

According to the jury forewoman, the jury did not know that by convicting Wilson of the aggravated child molestation charge that they had just sentenced him to a mandatory 10 years in prison. “People were screaming, crying, beating against the walls,” she recalls. “I just went limp. They had to help me to a chair.”

Yet right down the hall, Alexander High School English teacher Kari McCarley was standing trial for “carrying on a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old male student.” She was married, with children. This wasn’t a one-time sexual encounter. Her sentence? Three years probation and 90 days in jail.

Part of the problem was the poorly drafted statute; a prosecutor should have never even had the ability to pursue a mandatory 10-year sentence in this case. But there can be no serious question that the prosecutor grossly abused his discretion. I also agree with TChris that the classification (and the application of the statute) should have raised serious due process issues.

Millions of McCarthyite Smears Now Living Will Never Die

[ 0 ] January 25, 2007 |

Glenn “More Genocide, Less Trouble” Reynolds, 11/11/03: “The real problem with the Iraq war is that it’s (1) waged by a Republican President; and (2) obviously in the United States’ national interest. To some people, those characteristics are enough to brand it evil.”

Jonah Goldberg, 1/25/07: “The 11th Commandment for liberals seems to be, “Thou shalt not intervene out of self-interest.” Intervening in civil wars for humanitarian reasons is OK, but meddling for national security reasons is not.”

Even leaving aside the “Democrats are unpatriotic” crap…yeah, sacrificing the lives of more than 3,000 troops and a trillion dollars to install a more terrorist friendly “state” in Iraq: now that’s using your formidable judgment to advance the national interest!


[ 0 ] January 25, 2007 |

ESPN has a good article about the appalling case of Genarlow Wilson. One thing puzzles me about the dodging responsibility game described here:

It’s frustrating work. No one involved believes Wilson should be in jail for 10 years.

The prosecutors don’t.

The Supreme Court doesn’t.

The legislature doesn’t.

The 15-year-old “victim” doesn’t.

The forewoman of the jury doesn’t.

Privately, even prison officials don’t.

Yet no one will do anything to free him, passing responsibility around like a hot potato.

Notice anything missing? It seems to me that the governor could simply end this gross injustice by issuing a pardon. [I am mistaken: see update.] While in some cases like the use of pardons is problematic because it’s such a capricious process, here the use of the pardon would correct an obviously arbitrary sentence. (I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that consensual oral sex among teenagers is not a highly unusual activity in the state of Georgia, and very rarely lands people in the clinker.) Retroactively amending legislation actually seems like an inferior remedy. At any rate, Wilson remains in jail because of Sonny Perdue’s callous indifference about a tragic injustice, and it seems to be that this should be a political issue.

…A commenter answers my question: apparently the pardon power in Georgia doesn’t rest with the governor.

Also, Matt makes a good point in comments:

Well, it’s clear that “the prosecutors don’t” is true in the way that “George W. Bush wants to cut the deficit” is true; the DA says he doesn’t want him to spend 10 years in prison, and he has the means to free him, but he won’t do it. Though he says that if Wilson grovels a bit he might think about it. But his view is that it serves him right for insisting on a jury trial.

Good Question

[ 0 ] January 25, 2007 |


I wonder if Jon Chait and others concerned about Wesley Clark’s alleged anti-semitism feel it’s a problem that one of America’s leading political magazines is owned and operated by a man whose political opinions appear to be primarily driven by bigotry against Arabs and Muslims; keep your eyes on The Plank for a response.

Yeah, keep lookin’. If they’re going to publish “The Spine,” I’m not sure why they don’t go all the way and bring in Charles Johnson

Benjamin Wittes Explained

[ 0 ] January 24, 2007 |

Standard of legitimacy #1: “Since its inception Roe has had a deep legitimacy problem, stemming from its weakness as a legal opinion.”

Standard of legitimacy #2: “Consider finally the prediction that Bush v. Gore would gravely damage President Bush’s and the Court’s own legitimacy. That claim is subject to empirical testing. And the tests prove it false–that is, if legitimacy is regarded as a function of public opinion.”

Indeed. And Wittes’ claims about Roe are also “subject to empirical testing,” and one will find that Roe is in fact supported by 2-to-1 majorities (which is why Democratic candidates for President explicitly say they will appoint pro-Roe candidates while Republican candidates obfuscate about “strict constructionists.”) At any rate, the fact that he considers Roe indefensible but considers Bush v. Gore a perfectly reasonable application of doctrine by conservative justices (I particularly enjoyed the section where he and Berkowitz–attempting to defend the completely indefensible remedy–make not argument except to cite the Court’s own risibly disingenuous “deference” to a state court three justices were otherwise analogizing to Jim Crow nullifiers, although of course the Florida court had never held that the taking advantage of the “safe harbor” provision should pre-empt a constitutional recount) tells you all you need to know about Wittes. Being a straight-up conservative hack is fine if that’s what you want to be, but why the New Republic is hiring this man to provide legal analysis I can’t tell you.

Republic Party Jagoff of the Day, Scientific Illiterate Division

[ 0 ] January 24, 2007 |

Kantian Nihilist Chris Muir.

Republic Party Jagoff of the Day

[ 0 ] January 24, 2007 |

President George W. Bush.

I’m In Ur Think Tank Supporting Ur Opponents’ Policeez II: The Heretic

[ 0 ] January 23, 2007 |

Having Benjamin “legalizing abortion was a disaster for abortion rights” Wittes as a scholar at Brookings would be like having Kenneth Pollack and Michael O’Hanlon as foreign policy scholars at Brookings. Oh, wait

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