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Make It Stop.

[ 0 ] June 21, 2007 |

Amazingly, the appalling Scottsboro Boys/Duke analogy has reared its ugly head again in the pages of the nation’s most prestigious clearinghouse for irrational wingnuttery, with (natch) a hearty heh-indeed from the blogosphere’s ditto. Let us summarize some of the key reasons why this analogy is grossly inappropriate:

  • The unjustly accused young men in the Scottsboro case were effectively denied legal counsel, provided at the last minute with a single lawyer unfamiliar with Alabama criminal procedure and who had every incentive not to put on more than a token defense. The unjustly accused young men in the Duke case were able to afford good lawyers.
  • Most of the first group were sentenced to death after what was essentially a formalized lynching. The second group were released before trial.
  • Even after their first convictions were overturned, most of the Scottsboro boys were given more show trials, and served between 5-20 years in prison. I think you can see the difference here.

There is, in short, absolutely no basis for comparison here. The injustices involved in these two cases are different not merely in degree but in kind. Some members of the Duke faculty behaved irresponsibly (in the kind of way that in America doesn’t necessarily stop you from getting your own cable news show), but not only does Gordon have no substantiation for his claim that the rush to judgment was “racist,” but rather more importantly they don’t have the power to sentence people to death. And as Blue Texan notes, what’s especially odious is the implication that privileged white men at Duke are in a situation in any way analogous to blacks in the apartheid south, an exceptionally offensive implication even by the standards of the Politics of Resentment.

The Goggles! The Earplugs! They Do Nothing!

[ 0 ] June 20, 2007 |

Ye gods. I guess this is the “nuclear option” in all future YouTube wars…by the way, who is the other singer in the video?

…Apparently this was widely linked a while ago. But clearly it’s more relevant than ever!

The Guardians of Our Liberty!

[ 0 ] June 20, 2007 |

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

To those who demand competent acting, I say “Vaffanculo!”

I, for one, am happy that an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court is taking jurisprudential lessons from sixth-rate torture porn. What’s doubly scary is that he at least seems to favor jury nullification in torture cases rather than simply ceding unlimited arbitrary power to the executive, which I believe puts him well to the left of the current Republican Party…

The Fabled Goodridge Backlash

[ 0 ] June 20, 2007 |

I have an article up at TAP about the recent rejection of an anti-gay constitutional amendment in Massachusetts and its implications for claims that using litigation is a counterproductive strategy. I also discuss the extent to which normative attacks on Goodridge rarely come from any kind of coherent democratic theory. At times like this, it’s especially useful to strip away too-clever-by-well-more-than-half “contrarian” arguments and explain what’s actually happening:

Despite the attempts of contrarian pundits to muddy the waters, what happened in Massachusetts is simple, and a straightforward win for equality and justice. Under American constitutionalism, for better or worse, the judiciary scrutinizes legislative enactments to ensure their compliance with state and/or federal constitutions. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reached a decision that did not contradict the text or purpose of the relevant provisions of the state constitution, and as far as I know nobody has argued that the decision was inconsistent with principles previously expressed by the Court’s majority. While contestable, in other words, the court’s holding was hardly an illegitimate “usurpation” of democratic prerogatives. Since the court’s decision, same-sex marriage rights have grown more popular in the state, and supporters of equality have fared better at the ballot box than opponents. Less than five years later, opponents of same-sex marriage were unable to scrounge up even the bare 25 percent of the vote necessary to permit a vote on an amendment to go forward, and polls suggested that the referendum would lose in any case.

And while you’re there, check out Kay Steiger’s article about strategies for overriding Ledbetter.

Bloomberg and Libertarianism

[ 0 ] June 20, 2007 |

Matt notes that libertarians may be irrationally unsympathetic to Michael Bloomberg because of his support for relatively trivial nanny state regulations like public smoking and trans fat bans. (As an aside, it’s worth pointing out that public smoking bans have a serious non nanny-state, if not quite libertarian, justification: even I’m libertarian enough to oppose smoking bans to protect the health of smokers or patrons, but they’re defensible insofar as they protect the health of workers.) However, there is a serious reason libertarians should be skeptical of Bloomberg: the appalling string of arbitrary detentions with no serious justification during the 2004 GOP convention. With Giuliani (in my view) effectively out of the race, it’s conceivable that Bloomberg’s stance on crucial issue of lawful constraints on executive power could be worse than even the GOP nominee.

People Who Will Not Be the 2008 GOP Nominee: A Reminder

[ 0 ] June 20, 2007 |

Odd as it seems to think that Mitt Romney should be considered the prohibitive frontrunner, with Fred Thompson the only other candidate with a non-remote chance…what can I tell you, it doesn’t seem right, but the process of elimination doesn’t lie.

Credit Where Credit Etc.

[ 0 ] June 20, 2007 |

Good line from Ross Douthat:

That would be the same Mary Matalin, of course, whose fingerprints have been all over three of the biggest right-wing fiascos of the last twenty years: George H.W. Bush’s 1992 Presidential campaign, Dick Cheney’s Vice-Presidency, and Threshold Books’ fall catalogue.

On the latter point, some K-Lo, submitted without (much) comment:

I just did a quick flip through a Simon & Schuster catalog for the fall. Mary Matalin’s Threshold imprint looks to be really taking off. How can you not be excited by the upcoming John Bolton Surrender Is Not an Option (Amen!)? She’s also got a Lynne Cheney autobiography (our next First Lady!), What’s the Matter with California?, and a book by the Duke lacrosse coach — subtitled: The Untold Story of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case and the Lives It Shattered. One can’t help to be glad that she’s in the book business.

Oh. Goody! I guess Liberal Fascism was a little too highbrow to make the cut…

In Which I Briefly Succumb To Dowdism

[ 0 ] June 19, 2007 |

I try to remain focused on substance here, but I am also puzzled about why someone running for President would analogize themselves to an (albeit fictional) mob family. And, of course, Cox is correct that the punchline is even more horrific; embodying a mass murder and his enabler is one thing, but choosing the song of History’s Greatest Monster is well beyond the pale of human decency. I’m afraid I’m going to have to, er, continue to not support her primary campaign. (Via MY.)

Shorter Verbatim Ann Althouse: “Now, the script says onion rings, because that’s what the Sopranos were eating in that final scene, but I doubt if any blogger will disagree with my assertion that, coming from Bill Clinton, the “O” of an onion ring is a vagina symbol. Hillary says no to that, driving the symbolism home. She’s “looking out” all right, vigilant over her husband, denying him the sustenance he craves. What does she have for him?” I really hope that she wasn’t kidding with the “no blogger will disagree” bit. A consuming obsession with Bill Clinton’s sex life is merely banal among American conservatives, and with Althouse more than well-established in any case, but the assumption that it’s universal is special.

Thomas: Not Scalia’s Sock Puppet

[ 1 ] June 19, 2007 |

The Supreme Court held this week that securities underwriting should not be subject to antitrust law. (Try to control your excitement please.) If I understand correctly from contacts who are actual experts in the field, what’s important about this case is not so much the outcome as the dicta, in which the Court rails against the ability of juries to apply antitrust law. Being a Breyer opinion it’s almost entirely a policy argument, and he argues that it is unwise to apply antitrust law to securities because of “the difficulty of drawing a complex, sinuous line separating securities-permitted from securities-forbidden conduct [and] the need for securities-related expertise to draw that line.”

At any rate, of interest to non-specialists is that while the rest of the Court’s current coalition of moderate Democrats, Rockefeller Republicans, and standard-issue Federalist Society reactionaries joined the opinion, Clarence Thomas dissented. Rather than making (dubious) assumptions about that capacities of juries, Thomas actually focused on the statute, noting that “the Securities Act and the Securities Exchange Act contain broad saving clauses that preserve rights and remedies existing outside of the securities laws.” Which, again, demonstrates that claims that Thomas are merely Scalia’s sockpuppet are very, very mistaken. In many respects he’s the most reactionary member of the Court, but he’s also much more consistent and principled than the other conservatives, and he’s not just a pro-business hack. (The work of Souter and Breyer on these recent securities cases, conversely, reminds us that what’s considered a “liberal” on the current Court is rather different than a Warren Court-era liberal.)

Speaking of which, in an example of successful marketing I’ve picked up the new book about Thomas. I’ll have commentary when I’ve read it.

Principles For Me, But Not For Thee

[ 0 ] June 19, 2007 |

Mitt Romney edition.

Stop Stealing My Excuses!

[ 0 ] June 19, 2007 |

Friend of Scott: Hmm, maybe a movie this weekend. What’s your cell #?

SL: I don’t have one.

FOS: What? Are you blowing me off?

SL: No! I really don’t have one.

FOS: What a pain in the ass! Let me guess — you’re a bitter crank who takes a certain perverse pleasure in not having a cell phone, even if it makes spontaneous organizing impossible.

SL: Er, no. I have very sound, principled reasons for not having one, which I would be happy to elaborate. Oh, look at the time — I think Yankeeography: Andy Stankiewicz comes on in an hour, I’d hate to miss that!

FOS: Don’t change the subject! Anyway, what about the i-Phone? Isn’t that like the coolest thing ever?

SL: I guess. But isn’t the battery life, like, 30 seconds? You’d be trying to call me to say that, on second thought, you’ll take a pass on the “Outtakes From the Films of Robert Bresson” festival, and it would be dead! I don’t think that solves anything!

FOS: Well, that was the initial report. But it turns out that the battery life will permit 8 hours of talking and 6 hours on the intarweb. So you have to get one!

SL: I, er, but don’t they, ah, cause brain cancer or something? Hey, look, someone pushing a baby carriage! Who would have thought you’d see that in Park Slope?


But Hating Youself is Healthy

[ 0 ] June 18, 2007 |

Vanessa provides yet another example of the countless benefits derived from stigmatizing the weight of young women, which is about health, not aesthetics, oh yeah:

…a new trend has been developing among young diabetic girls who are skipping or reducing their insulin injections as a means of losing weight.

“Diabulimia” is apparently on the rise, and is extremely dangerous not only obviously because of the severe weight loss often involved with having an eating disorder, but the risks of a decrease in insulin, including blindness, damage to the kidneys and limbs, and could eventually result in a coma and/or death.

I hope this particular pathology will be limited, but the prevalence of anorexia in itself enough to dismiss claims that stigmatizing weight is about health.

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