Subscribe via RSS Feed

Author Page for Scott Lemieux

rss feed

Great Moments in the Passive Voice

[ 0 ] January 9, 2007 |

The hapless Joe Klein tries to get himself out of the massive hole he’s dug for himself by claiming that “Just because [dirty, smelly hippies who agree with me for what I assume without a shred of evidence to be the wrong reasons are] right about Iraq, and about this escalation, it doesn’t mean they won’t be blamed by the public if the result of an American withdrawal is lethal chaos in the region and $200 per barrel oil.” Matt has the obvious response, which is that if this happens it will be largely because clowns like Joe Klein focus the blame for the war’s failure on everybody but the people who conceived, executed, and supported it. The other thing to add is that it’s not the Iraq War’s contemporary opponents, but Joe Klein, who insists on wedging everything into the framework of Vietnam. Yes, opposition to the Vietnam War was in many respects even more unpopular than the war itself–but the situations aren’t remotely comparable. There are no urban or campus riots, for example. There’s no reason to think that the same thing will happen. (And as Ana Marie Cox points out, it’s still not clear what Klein is arguing. Does this mean that liberals shouldn’t oppose the war? That only Joe Klein can? That the Weather Undergound shouldn’t provide the keynote speaker for the 2008 Democratic convention? God, this is an asinine argument.)

C’est Au Revoir, Pas Adieu, J’espere

[ 0 ] January 9, 2007 |

A titan departs the liberal blogosphere. What’s worst about it is that it will reduce the amount of blogging on the most pressing issue of the day–NHL hockey–to, er, me alone…

…I should also mention that he did weigh in on the crucial Charlie Watts question before hanging it up. (I also thought it was Mandel who played the solo on “Hand of Fate” for some reason…)

Also: The Detroit Lions Are Terrible, and Carrot Top Isn’t Funny

[ 0 ] January 8, 2007 |

Here’s a surprise:

Families earning more than $1 million a year saw their federal tax rates drop more sharply than any group in the country as a result of President Bush’s tax cuts, according to a new Congressional study.

The study, by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, also shows that tax rates for middle-income earners edged up in 2004, the most recent year for which data was available, while rates for people at the very top continued to decline.

It’s almost enough to make me lose faith in the intellectual integrity of Glenn Reynolds.

The Meaningless of the Term "Politically Correct," Part Eleventy-Billion

[ 0 ] January 8, 2007 |

Charlotte Allen using a Young Americans for Freedom list of college courses it doesn’t like to churn out a quick, lame, and uninformed op-ed is a well-worn and extremely tired routine. (Michael Berube‘s new book does a great job with the genre, especially the use of course titles without any discussion of actual course content.) I thought this was kind of a nice contribution to the well-worn genre, though:

At Duke, you can take “American Dreams/American Realities” (No. 11), a history course on American myths such as “a city on a hill.”

So much for Ronald Reagan.

See, Ronald Reagan was saying that the United States is literally a city on a hill, and anyone who questions it as if it was a metaphor has no business indoctrinating tender young minds! (I also enjoyed her description of a course on “Cyberfeminism” as being about the discovery that “women use computers.”)

But what I really enjoy about the column is that Allen–while arguing that universities shouldn’t offer any courses with titles that make prissy, anti-intellectual reactionaries uncomfortable, irrespective of their content–while touting their description as “politically correct.” Needless to say, the person who thinks speech she doesn’t like should be excluded before the fact in this case is Charlotte Allen, not professors who think that race, gender, or class might in some way be relevant to the study of the arts and humanities.

Farcical Self-Parody: End-of-Term Hypothetical

[ 0 ] January 8, 2007 |

Let’s say you’re a prominent blogger with a well-known shtick of alternating boot-licking Republican hackery with claims that anyone who disagrees with you about anything is excessively “partisan” (usually as a substitute for substantive engagement.) Let’s say that someone making mild fun of said persona posts under your name in a comment section, while linking to their own website in the hyperlink so that nobody with an IQ over 75 (which, admittedly, probably excludes large parts of your regular readership) could think it was actually you posting. You’d just laugh it off, right?

Or, alternatively, you could complain about it in the comment section, complain about it in an email, complain about it in a post on your own blog (with a link to the original comment carefully excluded so nobody can see how foolish your complaint is), and then append an update in which you complain that the “blogger in question, instead of answering my email or being at all decent about it, has indicated strong support for the imposter commenter and thinks the whole thing is just funny, including my objection.” If you did this, you would be (almost) beyond parody.

"A strange mix of the anodyne, the obvious, and the risible."

[ 0 ] January 7, 2007 |

I’m always up for some Strunk & White bashing. [Via U.O.]

Nice Hold, Pretty Boy!

[ 0 ] January 6, 2007 |

One reason I like football somewhat less than hockey or baseball is that I’ve never been a really big fan of any team. This playoff game, however, is my Maximum Rooting Interest–the team I’d most like to win the Super Bowl against the time I’d least like to win it. So I would have advised you to bet the mortgage on Dallas before I got on the plane if I had time, but I’m happy that I was probably wrong…good that the ref had the balls to overturn that ridiculous spot too.

…Yesh! Although given the quality of Seattle’s secondary I wasn’t counting on anything until the Hail Mary actually hit the turf…

…and a beating-Dallas doubleheader is certainly a nice digestif. As I’ve said countless times, who needs Jarome Iginla when you have the immortal Byron Ritchie?


[ 0 ] January 6, 2007 |

The Ole Perfesser is still implying that we haven’t initiated regime change in Iran because of their secret trove of nuclear weapons. Because if the Iraq War proves anything, it’s that there’s no possible downside to razing a government and baselessly hoping that a stable pro-American government with a liberal constitution written and enforced by ponies will emerge in its place. There’s no other explanation except for that secret weapons stash nobody but Glenn Reynolds has heard of.

The most popular “warblog,” ladies and gentlemen!

[Via Greenwald.]

UPDATE: Hacktacular!


[ 0 ] January 5, 2007 |

Yglesias [lighlty edited]:

The article comes to me via Martin Peretz, whose status as a cosignatory of the [Euston] Manifesto proudly demonstrates what a hollow farce it is to present the document as some kind of left position.

What’s really irritating about the column–besides trying to pretend that the Lubriderm Manifesto means anything to any audience outisde its small collection of signatories at this late date–is the fact that Cohen calls people who have been consistently saying the same things about the Iraq War since the idea was being floated (and have been conistently right where Cohen and his friends have been diastrously wrong in virtually every respect) “hindsighters.” I do not think that word means what he thinks it means.

Out On The Road, You’re Willie Loman and You’re Tom Joad, Vladimir and Estragon, Kerouac, Genghis Kahn

[ 0 ] January 5, 2007 |

Light posting from me will continue for a couple of days as my vacation wraps up; it has involved more success at acquiring hockey tickets than anticipated, with more predictable compelling friends away from family responsibilities and taking advantage of the big new kitchen. Tonight involved a dinner engagement, followed by some winning ugly, which nonetheless made me happy, because it’s the last time I’ll see the Flames in Jeebus knows how long and I’m still pissed off at Florida for that ridiculous Luongo/Bertuzzi trade. Less intermittent posting should resume after the weekend.

The Rehnquist Files

[ 0 ] January 4, 2007 |

The FBI files on the late Chief Justice contain some interesting information. For example, on his pooling booth goonery and his confirmation hearings with bonus John Bolton material:

In July 1986, when President Ronald Reagan nominated Rehnquist to be chief justice, the Justice Department asked the FBI to interview witnesses who were preparing to testify that Rehnquist had intimidated minority voters as a Republican Party official in Arizona in the early 1960s. According to a memo in the Rehnquist file, an unnamed FBI official cautioned that the department “should be sensitive to the possibility that Democrats could charge the Republicans of misusing the FBI and intimidating the Democrats’ witnesses.” But then-Assistant Attorney General John Bolton — who more recently served as ambassador to the United Nations — signed off on the request and said he would “accept responsibility should concerns be raised about the role of the FBI.” It is unclear whether the FBI ever interviewed the witnesses.

Court watchers will be more aware of his painkiller dependence in general, if not every detail. It does strike me that this is relevant information for a confirmation hearing:

The FBI’s 1986 report on Rehnquist’s drug dependence was not released at the time of his confirmation, though some Democratic senators wanted it made public. But it is in Rehnquist’s now-public file, and it contains new details about his behavior during his weeklong hospital stay in December 1981. One physician whose name is blocked out told the FBI that Rehnquist expressed “bizarre ideas and outrageous thoughts. He imagined, for example, that there was a CIA plot against him.”

The doctor said Rehnquist “had also gone to the lobby in his pajamas in order to try to escape.” The doctor said Rehnquist’s delirium was consistent with him suddenly stopping his apparent daily dose of 1400 milligrams of the drug — nearly three times higher than the 500-milligram maximum recommended by physicians. The doctor said, “Any physician who prescribed it was practicing very bad medicine, bordering on malpractice.”

In fairness, being all hopped up on goofballs would at least explain his Bush v. Gore concurrence, although I don’t know what excuse Scalia and Thomas have for joining it…

Late Notes On Federalism and Jim Crow

[ 0 ] January 4, 2007 |

I’m very late in wading into the Jim Crow/federalism debate, but a couple of points I haven’t seen anyone else make yet:

  • Volokh is right that the “federalism permitted Jim Crow, and hence it’s bad” argument is fallacious. Just as no constitutional theory can consistently prevent normatively odious outcomes when they have substantial political support, there is no institutional arrangement that can always produce outcomes than one considers to be normatively desirable. (If asked to design a new American constitution, I would unquestionably choose a Parliamentary model with a very powerful federal government; but while I strongly believe that this would produce more congenial political outcomes from my perspective in the long run, it would also have produced much worse outcomes from my perspective than the current Madisionian framework in 2002-6.) However, I don’t think this is the real problem with “states’ rights” and Jim Crow. The bigger problem is that the slavery and Jim Crow eras demonstrate that most people who invoke federalism don’t actually care about it. From the Louisiana Purchase to the Fugitive Slave Act to the Tennessee Valley Authority, political actors who used “states’ rights” to defend slavery and apartheid had no problem with expansive (and, in many cases, constitutionally shaky) constructions of federal power so long as they were consistent with their substantive preferences. Similarly, while there were some rare exceptions (such as Barry Goldwater), most people who opposed Brown and the Civil Rights Act also opposed desegregation at the state and local level; it was a substantive preference for apartheid, not a commitment to federalism, that motivated George Wallace to invoke the 10th Amendment. To borrow Roy’s line about libertarians, people willing to routinely subvert strongly-held political commitments in favor of particular conceptions of federal/state power relations are as rare of Pieces of the True Cross.
  • As much as I hate to agree to side with Ann Althouse over a blogger I respect, I couldn’t disagree with Radley Balko’s assertion that “were it not for state-mandated segregation, the private sector would have integrated on its own” more strongly. Most Jim Crow laws were largely symbolic codifications of existing practices; they ratified a social order rather than creating it. Aggressively enforced civil rights legislation was crucial to crushing apartheid because 1)within this social order, economic incentives for private actors compelled toward segregation rather than desegregation and 2)as a result, outside of a few urban centers blacks who challenged the status quo were likely to lose employment, housing and/or credit (in addition to the always-present threat of private terrorism.) To believe that Jim Crow would have withered away absent any state intervention is implausible in the extreme.

[Also at TAPPED.]

  • Switch to our mobile site