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Come Vote For The Party of Forced Pregnancy, Ladies!

[ 0 ] August 31, 2007 |

Kimblerley A. Strassel argues that the majority of women who vote Democratic are out there for the Republican plucking. What, might you ask, is the strategy? Well, apparently women no longer care about such trivial “70s” issues as whether they will be discriminated against in the workplace or whether the state will force them to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term (and certainly it’s not like either of these are live issues that could turn on recent Supreme Court appointments or anything!) No, what’s really important to women — although we’re not treated to anything as gauche as evidence — is…tax cuts for the wealthy. Finally, a Republican with the courage to propose something new!

Most married women are second-earners. That means their income is added to that of their husband’s, and thus taxed at his highest marginal rate. So the married woman working as a secretary keeps less of her paycheck than the single woman who does the exact same job. This is the ultimate in “inequality,” yet Democrats constantly promote the very tax code that punishes married working women. In some cases, the tax burdens and child-care expenses for second-earners are so burdensome they can’t afford a career. But when was the last time a Republican pointed out that Ms. Clinton was helping to keep ladies in the kitchen?

So let me get that straight. As a political strategy, the Republicans should appeal to an already Republican group (affluent married women) by proposing a policy that will do absolutely nothing to help an expanding group that is for obvious reasons fleeing the GOP in droves (single women.) I’d also be interested in seeing a defense of the proposition that treating the income of male and female earners in a marriage equally is the “ultimate in inequality” while pay discrimination is trivial. And then there’s the “burdensome” problem of “child-care expenses.” How is the state going to address this problem while forgoing substantial amounts of revenue by treating the income of married people exactly like single people? Look, it’s Halley’s Comet! And, finally, apparently Republicans appeal to contemporary women by simply assuming that men will be the primary breadwinner and women are secondary workers responsible for the childrearing.

I think this strategy needs some work.

Adventures In Rank Idiocy

[ 0 ] August 30, 2007 |

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“You ask for a miracle, I give you…Charlie Manuel.”

Granted, I’ve never understood the intentional walk fetish of so many managers. But they don’t get much stupider than walking 1)the best base stealer in baseball to 2)load the bases with 3)the go-ahead run to bring up 4)a good singles hitter who’s almost impossible to double up 5)followed by two of the best hitters in the league 6)with a pitcher with no command on the mound and 7)the beyond-washed-up Jose Table as your next option out of the bullpen. But since he seems to have established that absolutely nothing can get him fired, it’s hard to blame Manuel.

If I were a Phillies fan I would be spitting blood right now, but given the Phillies’ taste in managers it’s not clear who his replacement will be. Is Bill Virdon still alive? Doc Edwards? John McNamara?

…of course, given than Burrell continues to slug 4.000 against the Mets it’s not like the game is actually over…

…I’m not sure he had a better option, but bringing in a dead-armed Wagner for 2 doesn’t exactly look like a strategic masterstroke in its own right…

With A Barely Audible Whimper

[ 0 ] August 30, 2007 |

Since I was hard on the Tribe earlier this month, I should note that the Red Sox have had three chances to knock out the Yankees this year, and each time they have generously prevented the Yankees from reaching the canvas and poured them a cup of Bigelow Green Tea. Admittedly, nothing in this series was quite as pathetic as having the chance for a sweep handed to you on a silver platter and proceeding to make the hapless Kei Igawa look like Lefty Grove, but pretty feeble stuff. Speaking of feeble, I was at least hoping the Mariners might get a token day in the wildcard slot in September….

Social Conservatism For Thee…

[ 0 ] August 30, 2007 |

Matt says:

A reasonable politics of “family values” needs to contain some penalties for heterosexuals with anti-family behavior (see, e.g., Dick Vitter, Rudy Giuliani) and support for gays with pro-family behavior. What they have right now is just loathing of gay people masquerading as defense of the traditional family.

This is true, but there’s another angle to it as well. Republican social conservatism, at least as instantiated as state policy, is about imposing burdens on other people to make oneself feel virtuous. Bans on abortion don’t seriously obstruct the ability of the affluent women Republicans represent to obtain safe abortions. Large homes in the suburbs are very unlikely to be subject to no-knock searches. And so on. These policies are basically a free pass for the Republican elites who advocate them, appoint judges who uphold them, etc.

And this is why gay-baiting is such a useful Republican tactic, even for the many closet tolerants among GOP elites. To put it mildly, it’s not obvious why gay marriage is a greater threat to family stability and “traditional values” than, say, no-fault divorce. But there’s not going to be a constitutional amendment to ban no-fault divorce introduced in Congress or serious attempts to get rid of it in most states — somehow, social conservatism always loses most of its appeal when restrictions on your liberties and privileges, rather than those of a stigmatized minority, are involved.

Hack of the Day

[ 0 ] August 30, 2007 |

David Ignatius.

Selective Opposition to Animal Cruelty?

[ 3 ] August 29, 2007 |

I actually think that Tia, responding to a criticism of people using the outrage about Michael Vick to criticize factory farming processes, makes a reasonable point here:

Without reading them, but with familiarity with the line of argument, I think all those op-eds are actually…a recognition that we make arbitrary distinctions about what animals’ pain matters, and an effort to make the case for non-arbitrary distinctions that have a basis in something other than totally culture-dependent taboos. I, too, find silly the spectacle of someone who is not in any discernible way opposed to factory farming practices fulminating about dogfighting, and there’s just as much a cultural diversity argument against a prohibition of dogfighting as there is against a prohibition of any kind of law against animal cruelty. It’s much easier to justify encroachments into someone else’s cultural practices if they’re based on some kind of gesture towards a coherent ethical scheme; “factory farmed meat for me, but no dogfighting for thee” strikes me as the most baseless sort of imperialism. You could make an argument that the spectacle of dogfighting is brutalizing to people, and so it should be banned not because of animal suffering, but because of its effect on the participants. I might agree about its likely effects, but I don’t necessarily think that’s the proper province of law to regulate; I don’t generally favor laws designed to protect people from seeing bad things and thinking bad thoughts.

As someone willing to eat bald eagle omelets garnished with panda veal, I must admit that I don’t really have a serious principled response to this. I don’t think think there’s any ethical compulsion to forego meat altogether (health is another question); the production of vegetables, wheat, etc. in our society generally involves the destruction of animal life too. Eating meat humanely raised and killed perfectly defensible. But I have to admit I don’t actually adhere to that kind of meat-eating. And since I consume the products of factory-farmed meat, I’m not sure that selective moral outrage at Michael Vick is particularly justifiable.

There are, I think, some colorable substantive distinctions; in particular, Vick’s actions (not just the dogfighting but the additional torture-killing of the dogs) represents a sadism for its own sake that factory farming doesn’t, and hence it’s reasonable for the law to treat them differently. But is this distinction enough to justify significant federal jail time for Vick in a country where factory farming is not only legal but subsidized? Seems like a hard case to make. Can eaters of mass-produced meat (or, even more so, people who see nothing wrong with mass-produced meat) justify intense outrage at Vick? It’s hard to rationally justify, I think. A little humility is on order for those of us with bad faith eating practices.

When He’s Smart, He’s Dumb

[ 0 ] August 29, 2007 |

As the Mariners jump out to yet another early deficit, I note that one strange thing about Bill Bavasi is that it’s very possible that the smartest thing he did this offseason — letting Gil Meche walk — is very likely to cost the Mariners a playoff spot. Not only because Meche has been very good, but his replacements make one long for the pitching stylings of James “The Fire Next Start” Baldwin. Admittedly, in retrospect optimistic Royals fans like Rany Jazayerli had a point; his uptick in K rates, combined with the fact that he was a talented pitcher with some innings under his belt meant that this wasn’t completely unforeseeable. But that made him a good short-term gamble, not worth a long-term contract for good money. Bavasi did the right thing; it failed. What can you do? (Alas, his stupid moves worked out more predictably. Well, Vidro’s actually been OK, but Broussard/Jones could have been similarly valuable for less money.)

Meanwhile, L, G & M has an exciting reverse hedge wager! Frequent commenter Howard has agreed to donate $50 in my name to Planned Parenthood when the Yankees make the playoffs. If several Yankees stars are killed in an attempt to sell drugs to Alfred Molina that goes horribly wrong tomorrow, Howard will be able to contribute a couple guest posts celebrating his !&*( Yankees during the post-season, and in addition I will of course make the donation myself. (Actually, I think this blog may already have a closet Yankees fan among its authorship, although she or, er, he has kept quiet about it.) Of course, if anyone wants to match…

…could the Mariers piss away a few more baserunners? They’re in danger of scoring another run at some point!

More on Craig and the Law

[ 0 ] August 28, 2007 |

GFR has more details, concluding that under Minnesota law that signaling someone in a public place that you’d be interested in engaging in consensual lewdness is not, in fact, illegal. (To be clear, nobody is denying that if he was actually engaging in sexual relations in a public place the state could legitimately intervene, but as far as I can tell nobody’s claiming that he did that.)

And, of course, nor should such behavior be criminalized, with inevitably arbitrary enforcement being one obvious reason. I mean, do you seriously think that a law that essentially banned making creepy passes at someone in public places would be routinely enforced against heterosexual men hitting on women? Not bloody likely. There’s a reason why in Bowers v. Hardwick, the Supreme Court when evaluating a statute that 1)said absolutely nothing about gender or sexual orientation and 2)ostensibly banned sexual behaviors that heterosexuals routinely engage in framed the legal question as whether “the Constitution confers a fundamental right upon homosexuals to engage in sodomy” and (as Blackmun pointed out) displayed an “almost obsessive focus on homosexual activity.”

Another point from Garance:

But, again, I can find nothing in Minnesota state law that makes asking someone to hook up with you a crime, rather than a civil tort (as in sexual harassment law) regardless of the circumstances.

Why, then, do police continue to act as though it is? Because of the long and only-recently ended practice of firm legal discrimination against gay people. Until 2001, consensual sodomy was a crime in Minnesota, meaning that it was only six years ago that gay people in that state stopped being treated by the letter of the law as, quite literally, outlaws and criminals.

Meanwhile, in Idaho, the state Sen. Larry Craig has represented in Congress since 1981, consensual sodomy was a felony punishable as a “crime against nature” by five years to life in prison until 2003, when the Supreme Court ruled in Lawrence v. Texas that a similar statute in Texas was unconstitutional, thus striking down the state’s law. From 1996 until then, the state sex offender registry was written so as to add those convincted of even consensual sodomy to the sex offender rolls for life.

Right. Relatedly, Greenwald reminds us of one of my favorite ever manifestations of Instapunditry, in which Reynolds solemnley informed us that he was voting for the Republican in the Tennessee Senate race because…an obscure activist outed an Idaho politician who wasn’t up for re-election. (As I said at the time. “it would be considerably more embarrassing if he were telling the truth than if he was lying.”) At any rate, whatever one feels about outing it’s fairly obvious that Craig has nothing to complain about. To assert that a claim of privacy should entirely shield acts that you believe should be prevented by state coercion backed up with substantial criminal penalties is absurd.

…yet more from Yglesias, replying to a point that I’ve seen a lot in comments: “Weisberg & Plotz are also making sense here. The idea that the real crime was the peering into the cop’s stall doesn’t make sense. The cop was in the bathroom specifically to try to arrest cruisers. He arrested Craig not after the alleged peeping, but after this foot-tap-signal business.”

Partisan Homophobia

[ 0 ] August 28, 2007 |

Yglesias and Balko are right that pretty much any substantive defense of the proposition that what Vitter did is less serious than what Craig did comes down to “pure homophobia.” Indeed, discussing the Craig scandal at all poses a bit of a dilemma; I don’t have much sympathy for him, given his relentlessly anti-gay voting record, but it seems pretty clear to me the arrest of Craig wasn’t justifiable.

In the specific case of Hewitt, though, there’s probably a more important factor: Louisiana’s governor is a Democrat, and Idaho’s is a Republican. Craig resigning would mean a Republican incumbent going into the 2008 election; Vitter resigning would mean another Democratic Senator. So no conservative pundit should get credit for standing on principle for demanding that Craig resign, and that goes triple if they haven’t made the same call for Vitter (who actually violated the law, although he did so in a more heterosexual way that will help to earn forgiveness from conservatives.)

At Least He Hasn’t Compared Libby to the Scottsboro Boys. Yet.

[ 0 ] August 28, 2007 |

It’s not exactly news that the very reactionary but relatively sane Robert Bork who wrote The Antitrust Paradox has vanished forever, but just for a reminder a commenter points us to these ravings:

More recently, we have witnessed the disgraceful performance of Patrick Fitzgerald, who, knowing from day one who had leaked the name of Valerie Plame and that no crime had been committed [er, no–ed.], not only continued his “investigation” but persuaded those with knowledge of the truth to remain silent. The upshot was press and public suspicion of the president and of Karl Rove for months on end. Moreover, Fitzgerald is responsible for the blatant miscarriage of justice in the conviction of Scooter Libby, whose scandal amounted to recollecting a phone conversation differently from Tim Russert, a feat reminiscent of Mike Nifong’s less successful adventures in prosecutorial abuse.

Yes–he’s really comparing Patrick Fitzgerald to Mike Nifong. (Omitted: what evidence Fitzgerald hid from the defense, the evidence that Libby was innocent, etc.) All this makes Bork’s rousing pean to the genuinely unsuccessful, abusive and unethical work of Ken Starr all the more amusing. Oh, speaking of which, it gets better:

At a time when the administration, the press, and the public should be focused on Iraq, Iran, and the worldwide struggle against jihadists, we will instead be preoccupied with furious partisan battles over essentially irrelevant questions.

Yes, leaving aside that it’s not “irrelevant” when the administration violates federal law, it’s amazing to hear Robert Bork complaining about the country ignoring substantive issues to focus on a “partisan” impeachment battle based on utter trivia. Why, an investigation of Bush might even lead to a former federal judge writing a piece for a highly partisan magazine urging his impeachment! (My favorite line: “calling what took place in the Oval Office “dalliance” falls just short of calling World War II a ‘dustup.'” Oh.) I’ll conclude with this observation from the highly principled intellectual giant:

Lying under oath strikes at the heart of our system of justice and the rule of law. It does not matter in the least what the perjury is about.

Unless Republicans do it, of course.

Place Your Bets!

[ 0 ] August 27, 2007 |

In the wake of the sad, sad news that Alberto Gonzales will be resigning, inevitably the speculation will begin about what appalling choice Bush will put forward, secure in the knowledge that several Democratic Senators can be counted to abdicate their responsibilities. The odds are as follows:

  • Michael Chertoff: 5-1.
  • Michael Brown: 4-1.
  • Hugh Hewitt: 10-1.
  • Robert H. Bork: 8-1. (HT: MJD.)
  • Charles Colson: 15-1.
  • Oliver North: 12-1.
  • Vote Fraud Fraud pioneer Jeff Sessions: 7-1.
  • Paul Wolfowitz: 8-1.
  • Scooter Libby: 10-1.
  • John Yoo: 3-1.
  • The mummified corpse of Augusto Pinochet: 2-1.

Over/under for Democratic votes on all candidates starts at 5…

…my most glaring omissions so far: Ken Starr, Ed Meese, and Rick Santorum.

Surrender, Surrender, And Give The Constitution Away

[ 0 ] August 27, 2007 |

On a more substantive note, I think this scenario is all too plausible:

…my best guess is that Bush will go out of his way to pick somebody fairly controversial — someone whose confirmation liberals will find outrageous — and then start loudly and immediately declaring that each hour’s delay in confirming his nominee is putting thousands of lives at risk. The hope would be to generate one of these situations where all the Republicans plus maybe a dozen Democrats vote to confirm, and then progressives spend the next month arguing with themselves over it, and even the Democrats who reliable agree to surrender on anything terror-related get criticized in fall ’08 for being soft on terror.

Moreover, I’m not sure why Bush wouldn’t try to do that. Tom Tomorrow’s parable is relevant here.

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