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Easily Dismissable Whining of the Day

[ 33 ] May 16, 2008 |

Sounds like the new HBO movie about the 2000 recount got it right, which understandably has displeased the embalmed corpse the Gore campaign chose to oversee its strategy:

Warren Christopher, the former secretary of state who served as the public face of the Gore team in the early days of the recount effort, said this week that he believed the film, “Recount,” was “pure fiction” in its portrayal of him as a weak strategist unprepared to stand up to the aggressive tactics of James A. Baker III, the former secretary of state who was the chief Republican adviser.

Baker helpfully adds that “I don’t think I was as ruthless as the movie portrays me, and I know he was not as wimpish as it makes him appear.” Well, I’m convinced!

Admittedly, perhaps Christopher absolutely getting his clock cleaned by Baker in his public actions and statements doesn’t reflect the passionate intensity he brought behind the scenes. I know how I’m betting! But, at any rate, it’s the public failures that matter, and it’s good that the film seems not to shy away from that.


Re-Raising MoDo

[ 16 ] May 16, 2008 |

Shorter Verbatim Camille Paglia: “I for one have renewed questions about the 1993 suicide of Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster, Hillary’s former law partner and longtime friend, whose files were purged by Hillary’s staff before they could be examined for evidence.”

Heckuva job, Salon!

The Political Impact of Same-sex Marriage Rulings

[ 17 ] May 15, 2008 |

David Weigel says that “Politically, I suppose this is bad news for the Democrats, but not nearly as much as in 2004. For one, it’s not coming out of a candidate’s home state.” Tom Maguire, meanwhile, asserts that the California Supreme Court may have done the GOP a “favor.” As I’ve been through before, though, while I know I’m supposed to see 2004 results in which Bush underperformed structural models as proof of Karl Rove’s strategic super-genius the allegedly large effects of gay and lesbian marriage on the 2004 election have been greatly overstated. And needless to say, predictions about how the New Jersey court’s ruling were supposed to have a major impact on the 2006 elections will vanish down the memory hole.

I don’t really find this surprising. People overstate the extent to which people vote on social issues, and people who get outraged by decisions permitting gays and lesbians in other states to get married are overwhelmingly likely to be Republican voters anyway. I don’t think that the decision today will have any significant impact on the 2008 elections. It may increase turnout in California, but since the state isn’t in play it doesn’t really matter.

On a final point, Weigel over optimistically says that “John McCain voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment: He can’t demagogue this, and he won’t.” Yeah, just like how his alleged “federalist” opposition to Roe stops him from supporting every piece of federal abortion legislation to come down the pike. I don’t know what McCain will do but I am sure that an alleged commitment to “federalist” principles won’t stop him from doing anything.

California Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

[ 0 ] May 15, 2008 |

The California Supreme Court, six of whose seven members are Republicans, has ruled that the exclusion of same-sex couples from the legal benefits is unconstitutional (pdf). The opinion isn’t lucidly formatted but if I count the votes correctly it was a 4-3 decision [confirmed here.]

After finding that marriage is a fundamental right (a premise that should be uncontroversial), the majority holds that the policy cannot survive strict scrutiny: “the purpose underlying differential treatment of opposite-sex and same sex couples…cannot properly be viewed as a compelling state interest for the purposes of the equal protection clause, or as necessary to serve such an interest.” The narrow tailoring argument is I think where the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage benefits really runs into constitutional problems; it is hard to argue that there are state interests in marriage that cannot be advanced in any other way but to exclude same-sex couples. I will have more on the text later, but if I read it correctly the court seems to require, like the Massachusetts court ultimately did, that reserving the label “marriage” for different-sex marriages is unconstitutional.

I’ll have more on the decision later, but a few points should be made at the outset:

  • First, claims that the decision that the court “usurped” the legislature should be undermined by the fact that the legislature passed legislation recognizing same-sex marriage, but had the legislation vetoed by the governor, who urged the court to resolve the issue.
  • Second, you will read claims that the decision will spark a massive backlash; keep in mind that the same people made the same argument about judicial decisions in Massachusetts and New Jersey and were mostly wrong.
  • Finally, Kevin Drum notes that there will almost certainly be a vote in the issue in the November; hopefully a majority of citizens will not vote to repeal the rights of some California citizens.

another good excerpt from K-Drum. Sullivan excerpts the court’s explanation for why strict scrutiny should apply.

A Gideon v. Wainwright For Forensics?

[ 0 ] May 15, 2008 |

Balko makes the case.

Good Advice!

[ 3 ] May 15, 2008 |

I sure hope the GOP listens to Ed Morrissey:

Did the House GOP caucus take a hard line on pork-barrel spending or adopt policies to cut federal spending? No. Republican voters and conservative pundits begged the House and Senate caucuses to make dramatic breaks with the previous six years and adopt real conservative policies of fiscal responsibility and federalism. What did they do? They offered to stop earmarking only if Democrats followed suit, a deal everyone knew would never take place. Instead of appointing one single anti-pork activist to the House Appropriations Committee in Jeff Flake, they appointed Joe Bonner, a good Congressman but a well-known earmarker, and mostly because Flake’s anti-pork crusade irritates his colleagues.

I agree this is a great idea. Making clear that upper-class tax cuts and perpetual trillion-dollar war mean serious cuts to programs that people like: definitely something the GOP should campaign on, and vigorously. Don’t kid yourself, the public is just as concerned with earmarks as conservative bloggers, follows decisions about who should head the Appropriations Committee very closely and in particular you have to think that ensuring that members of Congress can’t bring back any funding to their districts will help them enormously in re-election battles. I also have to strongly recommend that the GOP structure its appeal to the phone booth where all of the principled supporters of “federalism” are currently meeting. I suggest that they start by repealing the “Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act,” which I’m sure will be strongly supported by the anti-choicers deeply committed to “returning abortion to the states.” This is pure gold!


[ 0 ] May 14, 2008 |

NARAL and John Edwards come out for Obama. The former’s explanation here. It obviously makes sense; Obama and Clinton have indistinguishable records on reproductive rights, McCain has an extremely bad record, and Obama will be the nominee, so it’s a pretty obvious move. NARAL has made some shaky decisions (*Lieberman*, cough), but this one is good.

…More from Ann Friedman.

Crude Stereotypes: Not Progressive

[ 60 ] May 14, 2008 |

Reading some comment threads about the now-meaningless WV primary, I feel compelled to quote the GOS:

To all you Obama supporters tempted to belittle or insult West Virginia, just remember how annoying it has been when the Clinton camp has done that to Obama states like Idaho and Utah and Mississippi. A 50-state strategy means just that. You don’t go around insulting states.

Speaking of Mississippi, this is indeed encouraging news.

The Vote Fraud Fraud: Citzenship Requirements Edition

[ 0 ] May 14, 2008 |

The Times:

The Missouri legislature is, as Ian Urbina reported in The Times on Monday, on the verge of passing an amendment to the State Constitution that would require proof of citizenship from anyone registering to vote. In addition to the Missouri amendment, which would require voter approval, Florida, Kansas, South Carolina and other states are considering similar rules.

There is no evidence that voting by noncitizens is a significant problem. Illegal immigrants do their best to remain in the shadows, to avoid attracting government attention and risking deportation. It is hard to imagine that many would walk into a polling place, in the presence of challengers and police, and try to cast a ballot.

There is, however, ample evidence that a requirement of proof of citizenship will keep many eligible voters from voting. Many people do not have birth certificates or other acceptable proof of citizenship, and for some people, that proof is not available. One Missouri voter, Lillie Lewis, said at a news conference last week that officials in Mississippi, where she was born, told her they had no record of her birth.

This would seem to have the possibility to disenfranchise substantially more people than the Indiana law, with just as little connection to an actual problem.

The Hillary Metaphors

[ 0 ] May 13, 2008 |

Good one from Pollak.

Safe to Return to Supporting "Tort Reform"

[ 0 ] May 13, 2008 |

Bork settles frivolous lawsuit.

GOP: Party of the Working Class?

[ 14 ] May 13, 2008 |

Via Roy Edroso, Ross Douthat claims that “the GOP is now a working-class party.” The linked article, as you might suspect, does little to actually substantiate the claim as it is riddled with obvious errors, such as ignoring the fact that donations need to be a minimum level to be reported, not accounting for the fact that Democrats have substantially more donations in total, etc. The key strategy, though, is to define “working class” by a series of arbitrarily chosen professions rather than by income, which is crucial. After all, when it comes to actual support at the ballot box Republican support consistently increases as income level does, and this has been the case since 1972.

Douthat anticipates the objection, saying that he’s using “class defined by education and culture more than income, just to be clear; there are plenty of skilled craftsmen who make more money than teachers and journalists and academics.” But while I can understand not wanting to reduce “class” solely to income, to count people with well-above-median incomes as “working class” is to distort the term beyond its usual meaning. Even more problematically, to define class by “culture” is just a straightforward tautology. I concede that if one defines people with reactionary cultural views as “working class” this makes the GOP much more working class, but obviously this isn’t a very useful definition.

I’ll have more to see about Larry Bartels’s fine new book later, but this also seems like a good time to mention his finding that people with high incomes are more likely to vote on cultural issues than people with lower incomes.

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