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Author Page for Scott Lemieux

rss feed’s Guide To Defending Apartheid

[ 0 ] January 31, 2007 |

Via Thers, I see that Paul J. Cella and Maximos–RedStaters who articulate Strom Thurmond’s political views in prose that suggests that they think Josh Trevino could use a little more pomposity–have put forward a “reactionary catechism.” Apparently, one central feature is that Jim Crow was a just social order:

¶ A healthy polity will have a majority population and culture; contemporary orthodoxy on diversity tends towards anarchy and strife.

¶ The right of a community to maintain its identity, autonomy, and independence is among the first principles of a free polity.


¶ Tradition and custom need not constantly explain or justify themselves as practice or policy. The presumption is in their favor. To drag them before the bar of a rigid rationalism is profound impiety.

¶ Men, and societies of men, are ultimately more apt to maintain loyalties among those who are like them. This is natural and not to be either deplored or extirpated, but rather disciplined by civic virtue.


¶ Indiscriminate blending of cultures is thus undesirable, and more often than not an at least implicit act of aggression against the existing majority culture.


¶ Voting is not a right but a privilege. Its abuse is rampant, and to contain it is a valid object of public policy. More damaging to a republic than corrupt politicians are corrupt voters.


¶ The American traditions of federalism, states’ rights, and localism deserve the deepest respect and cultivation: for in them is the truest protection of liberty.

Loverly. It’s not just that these principles would logically require defending apartheid against the federal government’s attempts to enforce the Constitution–although they certainly would–but that these were the arguments that were used. I guess the precise reference isn’t Strom Thurmond, but Bill Buckley circa 1957

I look forward to RedState’s endorsement of Joe Biden.

Mythical Spit

[ 0 ] January 31, 2007 |

Jack Shafer has a terrific piece debunking the myth (recently seen in Newsweek) that Vietnam vets were routinely spit on:

In researching the book, Lembcke found no news accounts or even claims from the late 1960s or early 1970s of vets getting spat at. He did, however, uncovered ample news stories about anti-war protesters receiving the saliva shower from anti-anti-war types.

Then, starting around 1980, members of the Vietnam War generation began sharing the tales, which Lembcke calls “urban myths.” As with most urban myths, the details of the spat-upon vets vary slightly from telling to telling, while the basic story remains the same. The protester almost always ambushes the soldier in an airport (not uncommonly the San Francisco airport), after he’s just flown back to the states from Asia. The soiled soldier either slinks away or does nothing.

"My Third-grader Gets it Right. Why Can’t You, You Prick?"

[ 0 ] January 30, 2007 |

Via a commenter chez Yglesias, a classic from August J. Pollack.

Why Inequality Matters

[ 0 ] January 30, 2007 |

Sam beat me to it, but I’d also like to recommend this piece by Brad Plumer:

The statistics on inequality are well known and–setting aside Reynolds’s dissent–present a clear picture. Between 1979 and 2004, the richest 1 percent of Americans saw their after-tax incomes triple, while those of the middle fifth grew by only 21 percent and those of the poorest fifth barely budged, according to Congressional Budget Office data. By the late ’90s, the richest 1 percent of American households held one-third of all wealth in the U.S. economy, and took in 14 percent of the national income–a greater share than at just about any point since the Great Depression.

In politics, this all matters a great deal. Larry Bartels of Princeton has recently studied the voting record of the Senate between 1989 and 1994–a time, note, when Democrats controlled Congress. He found that senators were very responsive to the preferences of the upper third of the income spectrum, somewhat less attentive to the middle third, and completely dismissive of the policy preferences of the poorest third. In one striking example, Bartels discovered that senators were likely to vote for a minimum wage increase only when their wealthier constituents favored it–the views of those directly affected by the hike had “no discernible impact.”

Nor is this pattern limited to domestic policy. Lawrence Jacobs of the University of Minnesota and Benjamin Page of Northwestern have found that the foreign policy views of the executive and legislative branches are primarily influenced by business leaders, policy experts–whose think tanks are often funded by businesses–and, to a lesser extent, organized labor. Jacobs and Page found that the views of the broader public have essentially zero impact on the government when it comes to tariffs, treaties, diplomacy, or military action.

And another problem is that the system becomes largely self-perpetuating. The most important means of redressing the problem (given current First Amendment law) is robust public financing of campaigns–but the pre-existing structural inequalities essentially make this virtually impossible.

The Stupidity, It Runs Down Gullets Like Rain After A Dry Spell

[ 1 ] January 30, 2007 |

When I hear that someone has combined perhaps the two most annoying contemporary American ideologies–gun nuttery and communitarianism –for some reason I’m reminded of Billy Martin telling a fellow manager that if he ever saw Martin put Shooty Babbit (who was apparently to playing second base as Reynolds is to political analysis) in the A’s lineup “I want you to shooty me.”

Also, how can someone call himself both a “communitarian” and “libertarian”? That’s almost as incoherent and silly as calling yourself a “libertarian Jacksonian Whig.” Oh wait…

…thinking of “libertarian communitarianism” reminds me of John Holbo’s classic discussion of David Frum. I guess you can reconcile the two via “dark satanic Millian liberalism”–i.e. that capitalism is good only insofar as it reliably produces cowering conformists.

How Somebody So Well-Regarded Was Oh So Wrong

[ 0 ] January 30, 2007 |

Sawicky rounds up some analysis of Milton Friedman.

Cootie Patrol

[ 0 ] January 29, 2007 |

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Echidne inducts Andrew Sullivan.

Ongoing Reports From the Death Of Satire

[ 0 ] January 29, 2007 |

J. Goodrich: “Of course [Joe] Klein is not alone with these feelings. Joan Walsh at Salon points out that other commentators were also relieved to finally find someone that matched their idea of a manly Democrat…Cooties are scary. And girls have them.”

Andrew Sullivan and Howard Fineman, this week on the Chris Matthews Show (“Millionaire Pundit Values on a Cable Access Budget!”):

SULLIVAN (1/28/07): I think she’s been a very sensible senator. I think—find it hard to disagree with her on the war. But when I see her again, all me—all the cootie-vibes resurrect themselves. I’m sorry—

PANEL: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

HOWARD FINEMAN: That’s a technical term!

SULLIVAN: I must represent a lot of people. I actually find her positions appealing in many ways. I just can’t stand her.

Somebody may also wish to inform Linda Hirshman that all of the people in question who vote junior-high personality impressions over policy in fact have penises.

[Also at TAPPED.]

Slightly Delayed Karma!

[ 0 ] January 29, 2007 |

So if someone had tapes of themselves having sex released to the general public because their idiot partner forgot to pay her storage bill, well, you might feel some sympathy for this person. If the person is question is “Girls Gone Wild” asshole-in-chief Joe Francis, however, I’d say not so much.
(More on Francis’ legendary respect for privacy and personal dignity here and here.)

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 |


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(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.