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The Purse and the Sword

[ 0 ] January 10, 2007 |

Marty Lederman argues (correctly) that the Constitution plainly gives Congress the formal powers to prevent the senseless escalation of the Iraq conflict. Matt brings up another question: would the courts actually provide a remedy if Bush simply decided to ignore a Congressional enactment preventing the escalation? Unfortunately, history strongly suggests that the courts would defer to the President. The most obvious recent example is Vietnam, when William O. Douglas spent years trying to convince his colleagues that the escalation of the war was illegal. By the early 70s, there were probably several justices who thought this argument was defensible as a legal matter, and certainly a majority of justices were opposed to the war (at least before Harlan and Black were replaced by Nixon appointees.) But Douglas couldn’t even persuade his Brethren to grant cert, and surely one reason for this is that if they had told Nixon to bring back the troops, and he refused, there was nothing the Court could have done. And such strategic deference has an extensive history–as many of you know, in the first case in which the Court struck down an act of Congress, Chief Justice John Marshall carefully structured the decision so that the Court did not issue a writ that Jefferson and Madison certainly would have ignored.

The Supreme Court has not, of course, been uniformly deferential to the executive in wartime–but cases where the courts have acted haven’t involved withdrawing troops in the field. Regrettably, if Bush wanted to defy the will of Congress with respect to his proposed escalation, there is unlikely to be a judicial remedy in the offing. If a Court that had the four last great liberal justices on it refused to act during Vietnam, there’s almost no chance of this happening today.

…Atrios is right, however, that Congress can send an important political message even if it can’t stop Bush from continuing the fiasco.

[Also at TAPPED.]

"When there is nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire."

[ 0 ] January 10, 2007 |

Above: Pajamas Media (#5)

I urge you to read Eric Boehlert’s meticulous decimation of the fake AP scandal, which does a particularly good job of nailing down the evasive goalpost-shifting now going on. My only objection is the title; I don’t think Malkin’s credibility could have died when it was stillborn, and then it was dug up and killed again just to make sure.

Meanwhile, Dennis the Peasant presents XFL Media’s incredible scoop about people giving speeches today having died 5 days ago in the form of a movie script.


[ 0 ] January 9, 2007 |

Running errands and fighting a cold yesterday, I forgot to comment on this Ryan Lizza thumbsucker. But Lizardbreath, Ann Friedman, and Tracy Clark-Flory dismantle the argument with great effectiveness.

Meanwhile, to save me yet another post Jill deals with the idiotic idea of putting BMI stats on report cards. Leaving aside the fact that it seems to rest on the bizarre assumption that people won’t be made aware of the fact that they’re fat, that the BMI is an almost wholly worthless measure, that at a young age even the correlation between body type and health habits is extremely loose (and will result in a particularly high number of false negatives), and that the implicit cost-benefit analysis involved is insane, it’s still a bad idea. Lindsay has more.

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.