I agree with Julia and Lindsay; the Rude Pundit’s debut at the Fringe Festival easily lived up to expectations. Those who can’t make the show can enjoy some Rude Pundit classics, such as his essays about Bill O’Reilly, Bernard Kerik and (my personal favorite) Republican innovations in separation-of-powers theory. (Warning: posts may contain descriptions of people committing moral suicide that should only be discussed by fops in white suits who did their best writing during the Johnson administration.)
Author Page for Scott Lemieux
Whether you find OxBlog worthwhile or not, I guess, depends largely on whether you find David Adesnik’s apparently sincere belief that the contemporary Republican Party is controlled by principled Burkeans charming or pathetic. Kevin Drum finds a post that reminds me why I generally fall in the latter camp:
You might say that when it comes to Intelligent Design, I prefer a Darwinian approach. Let the better theory survive. In fact, I’m even willing to let local school boards in Pennsylvania and Kansas mandate that I.D. get a fair hearing in the classroom. Let the kids read books and essays by Michael Behe and William Dembski, alongside criticism of their work. (After all, getting kids to read books about anything would be an important accomplishment for many of our public schools.)
Some of the kids who read these books will be persuaded by what they read. I’m guessing that most of them won’t. And that might even be besides the point, since the moment any of these kids steps onto a college campus they will be thoroughly indoctrinated by Darwin’s heirs. (I was. I don’t regret it.)
But here’s the real silver lining for all of those liberals who are concerned about Christian fundamentalism invading our schools in the guise of Intelligent Design. If conservatives are serious about “teaching the controversy”, then perhaps they will also be willing to teach the controversy when it comes to liberal add-ons to the public school curriculum, such as birth control and homosexuality.
When it comes to education, I like to think of myself as a true liberal: let the kids sample everything, instead of waging culture wars designed to deny them access to controversial ideas.
As Kevin says, the boldfaced passage is self-refuting in the classic Adesnik manner; the idea that political operatives are (either in theory or practice) committed to rigorous consistency in their jufiscatory rhetoric is transparently ridiculous. Another problem, though, is that he seems to think that the liberal position in the “birth control controversy” is analogous to a wingnut belief in Intelligent Design. This, of course, turns the truth on its head. There is, in fact, overwhelming evidence that the rational sex education preferred by liberals is more successful at reducing teen pregnancies and STDs than “abstinence-only” programs, the latter of which aren’t even successful at promoting abstinence, and as a bonus tend to be generously larded with nonsensical claims. It is the conservative position on birth control that requires educators to ignore the evidence.
Most importantly, though, Adesnik’s claim that teaching both science and non-science in science classes represents the “liberal” position is a vulgar misreading of the theoretical tradition he claims to represent. It would be different if the state was trying to suppress Michael Behe’s writings, but you will search On Liberty in vain for a claim that principles of free speech require educators to teach robust scientific theories and crackpot pseudo-science as being equivalent. To say that the state should not declare winners in competitions of ideas doesn’t mean that all ideas are equally valid, and there’s nothing “liberal” about requiring biology teachers to teach creationism, any more than it would be “liberal” for American government professors to be forced to teach that there’s debate about whether Congress is unicameral or bicameral.
Megan McArdle claims, based entirely on personal anecdotes: “[I]nstilling fear for a woman’s physical safety–the definition of terrorism–did not seem to me to be one of [Operation Rescue's] goals.” Whatever McArdle personally experienced, however, there was a significant threat of violence against abortion clinics:
“Violence was extensive at the clinics at the time of the Bray decision. An estimated 50% of clinics were experiencing severe forms of violence including death threats, stalking, chemical attacks,arsonss, bomb threats, invasions, and blockades,” said Smeal.
Â”Violence continued at clinics until the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act was enacted in 1994, which provided clinics with a federal tool to combat violent perpetrators who were crossing state lines and local jurisdictions,” Smeal continued.
You can see data from 1991 in my post below; sometime this weekend I’ll add up the data for a mutli-year period. But violence against abortion clinics was not just a rare “isolated incident,” and threats of violence were widespread until the federal government finally intervened. To argue that the threat of violence played no signifcant role in the widespread attacks on abortion clinics in this time period is absurd. Which makes the superb Mark Kleiman post McArdle was responding to incontrovertibly accurate (and important):
But that brief had political as well as legal meanings. Operation Rescue was then engaged in a violent, and largely successful, attempt to deny access to abortion to as many women as possible by closing down the clinics. The attorneys general of Virginia and New York both filed amici arguing that their states lacked the capacity to fight off Operation Rescue’s efforts.
The Solicitor General’s office was under no obligation to file an amicus in a civil lawsuit. Ask yourself whether the SG’s office would have intervened similarly in a case involving violent protesters against U.S. support of the Contras, or Earth First, or the Animal Liberation Front, or Al Sharpton’s shake-down crew, whatever the legal merits. No, I don’t think so either.
If the Bush I Administration had in fact opposed anti-abortion violence and merely doubted that the anti-Klan law could properly be made to apply, it could have offered legislation making interference with the clinics a federal matter; such legislation was in fact passed under the Clinton Administration. But of course the administration did no such thing.
By arguing that the most successful terrorist campaign waged in this country since the days of the Klan was a matter for state and local jurisdiction (an echo, of course, of the argument offered against federal anti-lynching legislation in the 1930s and 1940s), Roberts and the rest of the Bush I crew was in effect backing the terrorists against their victims. That’s not “excusing” violence, but it’s not exactly opposing, either.
This is exactly right. And it’s this context that the NARAL ad–whatever the problems in the execution–was quite properly trying to make clear. And it’s not as if Roberts was arguing for a narrow interpretation of the 1871 CRA out of some sort of principled civil libertarianism. If this were about Earth First!, Roberts wouldn’t have submitted a brief on their behalf, and nobody at Instapundit would be desperately making excuses for him if he did. (Indidentally, Kleiman is also right that NARAL was mistaken to say that Roberts was “excusing” violence. That’s too strong.) And state governments were submitting briefs saying that they needed federal intervention to deal with the problem.
McArdle also believes that comparing OR to the Klan is “grotesque.” But while they are different in degree, they aren’t different in kind. The Klan and groups like OR are both groups dedicated to using illegal methods, including violence, to deprive people of their constitutional rights. A group needn’t be as powerful as the Klan, or use violence as often, to fall in the same category.
(See more links about clinic violence at Bitch, Ph.D.)
Ugh. Not the grossest thing I’ve seen watching a ballgame; the list has to start with Moises Alou ripping up his ankle at Busch Stadium. But this was scary.
The other thing to note about this is that it’s pleasantly unusual (although not in this particular case) to be in a city where they actually televise weekday afternoon games. In Seattle Fox Sports preferred running reruns of the 1991 Manitoba regional curling championships instead of what was at the time the highest-rated major league team.
As if trying to top his argument that a case litigated by John Edwards in which a five-year old girl was disemboweled by a drain that was known to be faulty should be dismissed as a “jacuzzi case,” smarmy wingnut Tucker Carlson argued that the French government’s bombing of the Rainbow Warrior–which left one innocent person dead and put countless others at risk–was “a bold and good thing to do.” One wonders if he would feel that it was innocent “vandalism” if someone bombed his house.
In a gratifying case of democracy working, however, his walking-punchline show made its 11 PM debut with a pitiful 157,000 viewers on Monday. (For perspective, an O’Reilly rerun at the same time got 1.2 million, a Lou Dobbs rerun 452,000, and something called “Deutsch” on CNBC at 10 201,000. The Daily Show gets about 1.4 million.) But the good news is that when his show gets cancelled he’ll have a job waiting for him at FactCheck; he’s very well-qualified to write stories about how blowing up abortion clincs is a form of nonviolent protest…
…more backstory from Lindsay.
Now that it’s fairly clear that the Braves will, once again, win their division, I think it’s becoming increasingly clear that the answer to this 2002 question is “yes.” As James notes, the only other serious candidate is McCarthy, and it’s pretty clear that McCarthy had more talent to work with. (Although, really, I think the question was settled last year when he won 96 games with a rotation of Thomson, Wright, Ortiz, Hampton, and Byrd. Wright, the ace, had last started in 2002, when he racked up a nifty 15.71 ERA before getting hurt, and has gone on to New York and racked up a nifty 9.15 ERA before getting hurt.) Before the season, did anybody think that the 2004 Braves were a 96-win team? Or that the 2003 Braves would be a 101-win team? And there are still people who deny that he’s even that good. It’s just ridiculous–at some point the proof of the pudding has to be in the eating. The only question about him is where exactly he ranks among the greatest managers of all time.
So why do people still want to deny him credit? The legitimate reason, I guess, is post-season play. And it’s not an unfair point; if you want to say that overall this puts him below a McCarthy or McGraw I can’t really argue. It’s worth nothing, though, that Cox is over .500 lifetime in the post-season (65-63), so his winning only one World Series is largely a result of the fact that he has more rounds of playoffs than guys like McCarthy had. The other reason is that many people believe that the credit should primarily go to Leo Mazonne. I don’t mean to deny that Mazonne is an excellent pitching coach and deserves a lot of credit. But Cox also built up an excellent pitching staff in Toronto from out of nothing without Mazonne, and Dave Stieb–the best pitcher in the American league during Cox’s tenure from 1982-5–collapsed after Williams took over in 1986 and was never the same after. (And, of course, Cox deserves credit for selecting Mazonne in the first place; picking coaches is an important part of a manager’s job.)
One final point. I agree that–granting that these questions are basically beyond empirical evidence–Cox doesn’t seem to be a very good in-game tactician in the post-season. It’s also true, I think, that people vastly overrate the importance of in-game tactics. Let’s take his most famous blunder, taking his left-handed platoon players out of the game when Howser pulled Saberhagen after the 3rd inning of game 7 in the 1985 ALCS. This was, indeed, a stupid move. It’s also true that the Blue Jays lost 6-2. The difference between Mullinks/Oliver and Iorg/Johnson is not, to put it mildly, 4 runs a game (especially since Liebrandt threw 5 1/3 innings.) This blunder was basically irrelevant to the outcome; the Blue Jays lost because Stieb didn’t have his best stuff and Sundberg got a flyball into a swirling wind at the right time. A short post-season series involves a lot of luck, and Cox’s disappointing record in post-season play is much less important than his exceptional record in the regular season.
[UPDATE: Since the MLB link no longer works, here's a lengthy quote from the original article:]
Chris Hammond, anybody? A year ago, the Braves’ left-hander could have auctioned his services on Ebay without attracting flies. He hadn’t had a winning record since 1995, or, worse yet, an opposition batting average below .300. This year, in 63 games, he had an ERA starting with a goose egg.
Which raises a difficult and serious question: Is Bobby Cox the greatest manager who has ever lived? I think he may be. I am mindful of Cox’s less-than-brilliant record in postseason play, which got even less brilliant last week. With Cox facing Barry Bonds, somebody had to get the postseason monkey off their back, because there just weren’t enough monkeys to go around.
Cox hasn’t had a world of success in the postseason, but he has had worlds of fun in the 162-game run. I would argue that, looking only at the regular-season schedule, Cox has been the most successful manager ever. He won 101 games this year and everybody yawned and went back to sleep, because he does that all the time. But if you go back to this spring, fully half of the preseason pundits were predicting that this would be the year the Braves’ run ran out. It didn’t; Cox took another team that could have collapsed, and had another successful season.
Cox made his Major League managerial debut with the Braves in 1978. After leaving to manage Toronto for four years in the early ’80s, he returned to the Braves organization as general manager in 1985. In 1990 Cox returned to the Braves’ dugout for good.
Cox has yet to manage a team that has had a disappointing regular season, dating back to his Major League debut in 1978. Do you have any concept of how amazing that is? Every year, a third of the teams in the Major Leagues are going to have disappointing seasons. To dodge that bullet every year for five years is very, very difficult. To dodge it every year for 10 years is almost impossible. Two decades? That is impossible, isn’t it?
Nobody else in Major League history can match that, except possibly Joe McCarthy, and McCarthy was managing Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio and Hack Wilson and Rogers Hornsby.
If you argue Bobby’s case to any of his critics, they’ll tell you that Cox has had great talent to work with. Yeah, right; Keith Lockhart’s a Hall of Famer. Cox has had some good players — nobody has 20 straight successful seasons without a little help from his players — but if you compare the talent that Cox has had to, let us say, the Detroit Tigers of the 1980s, or the Seattle Mariners of the 1990s, Cox is a comparative pauper. Sparky Anderson’s second basemen were Joe Morgan and Lou Whitaker; Cox’s have been Glenn Hubbard, Damaso Garcia, Jeff Treadway, Mark Lemke and Lockhart. Sparky’s catchers were Johnny Bench and Lance Parrish; Cox’s catchers have been Ernie Whitt, Pat Borders, Biff Pocoroba, Bruce Benedict, Greg Olson and Javy Lopez.
Sure, Cox has had Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine and Chipper Jones. He has also had more than his share of Rafael Belliards and Mike Mordecais and Kent Merckers. Cox had three .300 hitters this year, two of whom were Gary Sheffield and Matt Franco. Everybody’s had their shot at managing Sheffield, and a year ago, who wanted Franco? My point is, even you have talent, you don’t have a good year every year. Casey Stengel didn’t. Joe Torre hasn’t. Tony La Russa hasn’t, Walter Alston didn’t.
Cox has — and that puts him, at least in my book, at the head of the list.
As previously mentioned, NARAL did a convincing job of demolishing this typically atrocious FactCheck.org article. One claim made by the hack who wrote it, however, is offensive on so many levels it demands further attention: the argument that Operation Rescue’s methods “mirrored the non-violent tactics used earlier by civil-rights activists.”
- Contrary to FactChuck, violence was not merely “threatened” by radical anti-abortion activists. Members of the group in question in this case were involved in bombings and other extreme acts of violence, and women were injured by Operation Rescue blockades. (Conversely, Martin Luther King never bombed a Klan meeting. Fred Shuttlesworth didn’t shoot George Wallace with a high-powered rifle. Nor did civil rights leaders condone such acts.)
- Even if we write off the violence as aberrational, to compare the tactics of OR to those of the civil rights movement is empirically wrong and morally and politically reprehensible. Sit-ins were not trying to prevent other people from eating; they were trying to compel restaurants to provide African-Americans with the same service they were providing everyone else. Non-violent resistance on behalf of voting rights did not try to stop white people from voting. (This is not to say, of course, that groups like OR do not use any tactics comparable to the civil rights movement, but these tactics are completely irrelevant to Bray. To borrow Amanda’s language, OR can wave all the bloody fetuses and hand out all the pamphlets they want; nobody questions that.)
- Perhaps most importantly, civil rights activists had positive law on their side. While it was true that civil rights activists were often charged with trespassing, violating injunctions, and the like, these actions by the state were almost always unconstitutional. (And, by this I don’t merely mean that I think they were unconstitutional, but that the United States Supreme Court thought they were unconstitutional.) While Randall Terry may sincerely believe that a fetus is a human life and that this justifies a variety of illegal activity, this belief (unlike equal protection and voting rights) is not inscribed anywhere in American law. OR and its ilk, therefore, are more comparable to the Klan than to the civil rights movement. They use illegal means to achieve illegal ends.
What a disgrace that FactCheck would publish this garbage. Further reading: Bader and Bind-Widdle, Targets of Hatred : Anti-Abortion Terrorism.
…from the above-mentioned book, here’s some data. In 1991, the year Bray was decided, there were 2 cases of murder or attempted murder of abortion providers, 9 bombings/arsons (or attempted bombings/arsons), 83 cases of invasions, assault and battery, vandalism, death threats burglary or stalking, and 3,885 arrests at blockades. To take one example, by the end of a seven-week Operation Rescue operation in Wichita that summer, “police had arrested 1,734 people for 2,657 acts of trespassing, resisting arrest and violating injunctions against blockading.” But, you might ask if you’re a FactCheck hack, couldn’t this be because they were the victim of trumped-up charges like the civil rights groups Operation Rescue and its fellow travellers are so similar to? Er, no. In fact, Mayor Bob Knight “did nothing to curtail their activities,” and governor of Kansas Joan Finney spoke at an OR rally. Think about that–with the tacit or explicit support of the two most powerful relevant political officials, OR members were still subject to well more than a thousand arrests. I think you can see the scope of the threat they posed, and that OR apologists like FactCheck are completely full of shit.
…Abby draws our attention to Blue Mass. Group’s critique of the ad. I don’t really agree–for reasons I’ve explained in comments, to the extent that the critique is valid it is, I think, more a criticism of modern political advertising than anything specific to the NARAL ad itself. But David’s critique is a reasonable one.
Apologist for racism and enthusiastic supporter of stripping people of property and liberty without due process or individualized suspicion based on their ethnicity Michelle Malkin touts this genuinely loathsome op-ed by Manuel Miranda. (Yes, that’s the same grossly unethical Manuel Miranda who hacked into Democratic computer files, now a wingnut hero, which tells you all you need to know about conservatives like Malkin.) NARAL’s ad notes that Roberts filed an amicus brief on behalf of Operation Rescue, arguing that they had the right to obstruct access to abortion clinics despite language in the Civil Rights Act of 1871 that makes conspiracies to deprive people of their rights illegal. The Court, regrettably, accepted Roberts’ argument that the statute should be interpreted much more narrowly than its language would suggest; for reasons very ably stated by Sandra Day O’Connor, I believe this decision was wrong. (Miranda’s objection aside, Operation Rescue and the Klan are both conspiracies that use violence to prevent particular classes of people from exercising their constitutional rights.) But reasonable people can disagree about whether the statute should apply–there’s a more serious problem. Here’s how Miranda frames the issue:
As a deputy solicitor general in the first Bush administration, Mr. Roberts filed a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that the Civil Rights Act of 1871, enacted to protect blacks from the Ku Klux Klan, did not prohibit peaceful pro-life demonstrators from standing outside of abortion clinics. [My emphasis]
Miranda is, of course, lying. If the groups in question were simply engaged in peaceful protest, they would be protected by the First Amendment. But this isn’t what they were doing: rather, they were trying to physically obstruct access to abortion clinics. Notably, they didn’t even claim that their actions were protected by the First Amendment. As Stevens noted in his dissent:
Pursuant to their overall conspiracy, petitioners have repeatedly engaged in “rescue” operations that violate local law and harm innocent women. Petitioners trespass on clinic property and physically block access to the clinic,preventing patients, as well as physicians and medical staff, from entering the clinic to render or receive medical or counseling services. Uncontradicted trial testimony demonstrates that petitioners’ conduct created a “substantial risk that existing or prospective patients may suffer physical or mental harm.” Petitioners make no claim that their conduct is a legitimate form of protected expression.
Petitioners’ intent to engage in repeated violations of law is not contested. They trespass on private property, interfere with the ability of patients to obtain medical and counseling services, and incite others to engage in similar unlawful activity. They also engage in malicious conduct, such as defacing clinic signs, damaging clinic property, and strewing nails in clinic parking lots and on nearby public streets. This unlawful conduct is “vital to [petitioners']avowed purposes and goals.” They show no signs of abandoning their chosen method for advancing their goals.
So, to summarize, Roberts filed an amicus brief arguing for an extremely narrow construction of a broadly worded statute in order to protect a group that used various illegal actions up to and including violence to prevent women from exercising their constitutional rights. NARAL’s ad is tough but fair.
While we’re on the subject of Miranda, I know it’s hard to believe but his op-ed actually gets worse. He trots out the old canard that “Roe v. Wade is not just the source of a right; it’s a business license for abortion clinics.” Obviously, the idea that people support reproductive rights so that a few doctors can engage in a not-especially-remunerative medical practice is abject nonsense on its face. But if it we take it seriously, it is of course conservatives–who (unlike NARAL) oppose policies such as rational sex education, accessible contraception, and child welfare that make abortion rates much lower in other democracies with similarly liberal abortion laws–who are increasing the profits of abortion clinics.
UPDATE: NARAL responds to FactChuck.
This is a rather brilliant post and I won’t try to summarize it, but I was struck by the way Matt plainly stated something that is obvious and yet rarely mentioned:
Truman, FDR, and Churchill lived in what was, despite Grand Theft Auto, an almost unimaginably more brutal era than our own. A time when the “good” side in a war could be composed of a global empire and a apartheid quasi-democracy working in alliance with Joseph Stalin. And they really were the good side, because the enemy was just that bad. And not just almost absolutely malign, but (unlike, say, your latter-day sub-Saharan genocidaires) genuinely threatening and capable.
I’m as prone to despair in this time of reaction as anybody, but occasionally it’s worth remembering just how much worse things were just a couple of generations ago. Even limiting it to this country, American progressives should take pride in what they have accomplished and how durable these accomplishments have been in the face of fierce opposition at every step as we fight to preserve and expand them in the future.
Michael Lind argues, once again, that the salvation of the Democratic Party lies, in a remarkable coincidence, on it adopting the political positions of Michael Lind. This leads to the empirical and logical defects that are common to the genre: he cites general polls about the labels people use identify themselves (but make no distinction between cultural and economic conservatism) but avoids polls about specific issues (a wise move if you’re trying to argue that the Democratic position on abortion is unpopular.) Then there’s this:
The populist voters aren’t stupid. Twice they were burned by Carter and Clinton, who pretended to be social conservative economic liberals only until they won election and then revealed the Democratic Party in its true colors as a social liberal party in which disagreement about abortion is banned but disagreement about free trade is acceptable.
So let’s get this straight. Democrats can’t win because “populists” don’t like Democratic positions on abortion (odd, since the Democratic position on abortion is far more popular than the Republican one. Lind also has an interesting definition of “banned,” which apparently means that “you can only be the most powerful Democrat in Congress if you oppose abortion rights”.) Populists were burned by Clinton. The electorate was so upset about it that in 1996 Clinton won by 8 points, and in 2000 they voted for Al Gore by a margin of a half million votes. So, as usual, Lind’s attempt to project his views onto the electorate as a whole fail. This isn’t to say that becoming more conservative on some issues may not help the Dems. But 1)Lind doesn’t provide the necessary evidence, and 2)conflating issues like abortion (where the Democratic position is popular) and gay rights (where it isn’t, although it’s becoming more so) is useless.
Michael Totten, another l’electorate, c’est moi “centrist,” cites Lind and manages to make an argument that’s even worse:
As far as I’m concerned, social liberalism is the best thing the Democratic Party has going for it. They should keep that and drop the pacifism and isolationism instead. They”’ll get a lot more votes next time around if they do. Plenty of socially liberal people voted for George W. Bush on national security grounds. Some of us would go home again if we could.
So the first move here is to claim–again without evidence–that the Democratic Party would be well-served by adopting Michael Totten’s (rather than Michael Lind’s) positions on all cultural issues. He simply assumes that the electorate shares his policy beliefs. But then he has to explain why his support for Bush doesn’t undermine his claim to be nominally pro-choice and pro-gay rights, so he invents out of whole cloth a Democratic policy of “pacifism and isolationism.” (Omitted: citation of a single Democrat with any influence in the party who is a pacifist or isolationist, let alone any evidence of a general policy.) This is a new twist on the pundit’s fallacy: start with an a priori preference for the Republican candidate, proceed by just making stuff up and attributing it to the Democratic Party, and then triumphantly announce that if the Democratic Party abandons positions it never held in the first place you’ll “come home” again. Really, Totten is the master of this field; Lind might as well pack up and go home.
Benjamin Greenberg has an excellent post on John Roberts and Republican attempts to gut the VRA.
The importance of federal enforcement of these rules cannot be overstated. When LBJ pushed the first post-Reconstruction civil rights bill through the Senate, the bill was gutted not so much by removing substantive rights as by requiring that violations of voting rights be prosecuted by local jury trials, essentially making the act unenforceable. What made the 1965 Civil Rights Act so important was that it have the federal government the necessary powers to enforce 15th Amendment rights that states had been openly nullifying for several decades. But, to repeat what I said recently, these powers only matter of administrations are willing to use them. This history is also instructive because it’s a roadmap of what to expect when the VRA comes up for renewal. The strategy will be to reduce the ability of the federal government to enforce voting rights provisions. It’s important to be aware that this has the almost the= same effect as just repealing the bill altogether. Voting rights without federal remedies will be toothless.