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OhMyGod, Gagne With A Spoon

[ 0 ] August 17, 2007 |

Speaking of bad trades — although in this case, of course, only ex post facto — the Gagne trade in turning into a catastrophe of Slocumbesque proportions (on the receiving end, at least.) Several teams must be happy that they didn’t “win” that particular bidding war right now…

Centrist Abortion Regulations: They Don’t Work

[ 0 ] August 17, 2007 |

I have a review of Helena Silverstein’s new study of judicial bypass provisions in parental involvement statutes up at TAP. My bottom line:

The particularly salient lesson to draw from Silverstein’s book is that it’s important to ask whether abortion regulations actually accomplish anything, even on their own terms. “Basing a policy that regulates the right to abortion on confidence that the law stands outside of politics and free of bureaucratic red tape,” writes Silverstein, “is a mistake fraught with consequences for those whom the right ostensibly protects.”

Support for these laws is often more about the assumption that compromise on abortion is inherently desirable rather than arguments about what benefits will come from the legislation. Is there any evidence, for example, that the lack of abortion regulation makes the decisions of Canadian women less responsible? Whatever their merits in the abstract, in practice “centrist” abortion regulations do little but put up obstacles in the path of the most vulnerable women while not accomplishing any useful objective. Parental involvement laws — which are largely superfluous for young women in good family situations and potentially dangerous for young women in bad situations — are a case in point, especially since the safeguards intended to protect the latter don’t work. Silverstein makes a careful, meticulous, and ultimately powerful case that even those who support the ends of parental involvement laws should reject them in practice.

Most abortion regulations that represent the compromise beloved by so many pundits are bad laws, for two different reasons. The first is that the regulations usually have no rational connection to the asserted state interest: statutes that allegedly advance goals such as “not using abortion at birth control” or “only allowing abortions that William Saletan thinks are appropriate” in fact obstruct some classes of women from obtaining abortions irrespective of the circumstances and do little to stop other classes of women from obtaining abortions irrespective of the circumstances. With parental involvement laws, there is at least a connection between the policy and the asserted interest, and the problem becomes that the policies just don’t actually achieve the results.

Making A Bad Policy Worse

[ 0 ] August 17, 2007 |

A great article by Erwin Chemerinsky about the latest appalling cutback on habeas corpus rights. The odious Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act gave a one-year time limit to file a habeas petition in federal court. The limit could be cut down even further to six months, but only if the state provided lawyers for a federal appeal. You can probably see the classic Republican bait-and-switch coming:

When it reauthorized the Patriot Act last year, Congress added a little-noticed provision that lets the attorney general, rather than federal judges, decide whether states are complying with the 1996 law. No one paid much attention, until now.

Gonzales, it has been widely reported, is about to certify California and other states as being in compliance with the 1996 law, in essence just giving them the six-month statute of limitations. But these states have done nothing that this law requires. Everywhere but Arizona, death row inmates still have to pay for their attorneys (unlikely), get pro bono representation (difficult) or represent themselves (unwise). Any “certification” is a lie.

Those who favor the shorter statute of limitations are frustrated by the long delays before executions are carried out. But Gonzales’ move is not about preventing delays; at most, it speeds things up by six months. It is about preventing some inmates from having a habeas corpus petition heard at all.

Gonzales continues to exemplify the remarkable Van Halen trend in the AGs office, where somehow things started with John Ashcroft and yet have gotten much worse. The other lesson, of course, is that as is often the case the Patriot Act contained a number of provisions that had nothing whatsoever to do with fighting terrorism but were simply longstanding reactionary-statist proposals warmed over and repackaged under a more appealing label.

Bad Deals

[ 0 ] August 17, 2007 |

Carlos Guillen coming to town and making Derek Jeter the third best shortstop in yesterday’s game reminds me that The Left recently had a post about bad trades. Evidently, Bill Bavasi has provided us with many classics of the genre, but while you might think that Rafael Soriano-for-Horacio Ramirez would be tough to top, Carlos Guillen-for-Ramon “The Worst Regular on the Worst Team of the last 40 Years” Santiago-so you can sign the moldering corpse of Rich Aurillia seems very likely to stand as the worst trade of the decade. As an Astros fan, however, I’m surprised that Norbiz hasn’t been made aware of Spec Richardson’s world-historical Nixon administration run, which involved giving away Joe Morgan, Mike Cuellar, and John Mayberry.

Meanwhile, there was the time I was furious at Dan Duquette for trading Delino DeShields for Pedro Martinez. In retrospect, this may not have been entirely fair.

Not Making The Case

[ 0 ] August 17, 2007 |

My favorite part of the VDH rant that d. links below:

First is fiscal sanity. For most Americans piling up debt is as much an emotional and spiritual crisis as it is an economic one. [Most Americans? Evidence? –ed.] An indebted America makes all of us feel collectively lousy—weak, dependent, and self-indulgent. Who likes to be lectured by the Chinese, Germans, or Japanese that we are spendthrifts? Tax cuts are great and really did bring in more gross revenue, but who cares if we still spent far more than we took in? The first four years of this administration did more to discredit the sound policy of tax cuts that any other: had they just kept spending rises to the level of inflation, the ensuing surpluses would have proved that budgets can be balanced through the stimulation of less taxation.

The thing is, I think there is considerable value in reading the classics. But when the lessons you draw from them include laughably incorrect supply-side crackpottery, you’re not a very effective spokesman for the position. I particularly like the apparent assumption that large federal spending increases have no effect on federal revenues, a hack classic.

Max Roach, 1924-2007

[ 0 ] August 17, 2007 |

Remarkably, Sonny Rollins’s sublime “St. Thomas” came up on my I-Tunes shuffle about 10 minutes before that I read that the incomparable drummer who played on the track had passed away. R.I.P.

Darcy has more.

"A Hell Exists On Earth? Yes. I Won’t Live In It."

[ 0 ] August 16, 2007 |

I suppose it’s my job to report on such things, but seeing that Robin Givhan and the extremely desperate homeless person’s Robin Givhan are discussing Camille Paglia discussing Hillary Clinton’s decolletage, all I can say as that I’ll get to it just as soon as I watch every film in the oeuvres of Michael Bay and Tom Shadyac 10 times followed by a 24-hour loop of Yankeeography: Derek Jeter.

Sometimes, You Have To Return to the Classics

[ 0 ] August 16, 2007 |

Fourteen-star general Ralph “Blood N’ Guts” Peters actually dusts off the “our inability to prevent massive gas truck suicide bombings that kill hundreds of people proves that…Al Qaeda is in its last throes and we’re winning” routine. And merits an approving link and quote, of course, from the most popular conservative blogger. These people really have no dignity. Or shame.

You Have The Right To Never Be Let Alone

[ 0 ] August 16, 2007 |

I’m not sure why Gary is so worried that a broad array of federal and local officials will have access to satellite survey data with virtually no safeguards in place. After all, if the blogosphere is to be believed even “classical liberalism” now requires that branches of the government be self-policing and statements of state officials be taken at face value. So what’s the problem?


[ 0 ] August 16, 2007 |

It’s funny because it’s true!

Creeping Originalism

[ 0 ] August 16, 2007 |

It’s bad enough that we’re saddled with “originalism” as a theory of constitutional interpretation. But it takes Fred Hiatt & Co. to advance the argument that Congress should be bound by the “original intent” of past laws. What the hell?

Mark Tushnet argued in The New Constitutional Order that the key domestic norm of post-Great Society American constitutionalism was not so much “government can’t solve any problems” as “government can’t solve any more problems.” This would seem to be the reductio ad absurdum of this — Congress gets one crack at the civil rights apple, and if they want to adapt to new problems made clear by the bad judicial decisions of (WaPo-approved) justices, too bad! Bizarre.

The Death Penalty: Arbitrary in Application

[ 1 ] August 15, 2007 |

Texas is about to execute someone for a murder he did not commit and was only peripherally involved with. During every discussion of the death penalty around here, at least one commenter will recount an anecdote of an especially horrible crime committed by someone who was executed, which would be relevant if the states systematically limited the death penalty to very worst crimes, but of course it does no such thing. Foster deserves some jail time, and carries some measure of moral and legal responsibility for the killing he didn’t commit, plan, or intend, but he obviously doesn’t deserve to be executed even if you support the death penalty.

On the other hand, I’m sure getting Fredo Gonzales involved in state death penalty prosecutions will make the system much more fair. In case you had any illusions that reducing the habeas power of federal courts was about “states’ rights…”

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