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Happy Carbonara Day!

[ 16 ] November 27, 2014 |

Obligatory Calvin Trillin link, supplemented by a Kosher version. But whether you have turkey or choose something that tastes good instead, happy Thanksgiving!

Also, I’ll have more on this later this weekend, but hopefully this is a literal but not figurative #slatepitch.

Let’s Try To Be As Wrong On As Many Levels At Once As Possible!

[ 41 ] November 26, 2014 |

Shorter Verbatim Kathleen Parker: “Whatever the truth about Cosby, due process has been the victim of what Clarence Thomas once called a high-tech lynching.”

If you think that this was preceded with a specious comparison of the Cosby case with the demonstrations in Ferguson, I’m sad to say you’re right.  As always, any explanation of how drawing the obvious conclusion that it’s massively unlikely that every one of the nearly 20 women accusing Cosby of sexual assault is lying violates Cosby’s “due process” rights is omitted.

The Canadian Cosby

[ 18 ] November 26, 2014 |

Charged with four counts of sexual assault.

Ghomsehi’s behavior after getting fired — and, for that matter, during the process of getting fired — reminds me of an early episode of Law & Order.  Olivet is sexually assaulted by her gynecologist.  The jury finds her molester guilty but the verdict is thrown out by the judge.  In response, Stone makes sure the local networks are informed that the supremely arrogant and creepy doctor will be giving a speech after his acquittal.  The next day, multiple women filed complaints against him.  Real life isn’t that neat, of course.  But I have to think that Ghomeshi’s self-righteous Facebook post and less-than-frivolous lawsuit had the opposite of their intended effect and encouraged some women to come forward.

Was Passing the Affordable Care Act A Mistake? (SPOILER: No.)

[ 96 ] November 26, 2014 |

Chuck Schumer is reiterating his argument that Democrats should have done some unspecified things for the “middle class” rather than the Affordable Care Act. I’ve discussed this genre of argument before, and Brian Beutler does a good job on this round. But to summarize what should be obvious:

  • The Affordable Care Act is almost certainly the most important progressive legislation passed by Congress since the Johnson administration.  It will save many lives, alleviate a great deal of suffering. prevent many people from the crushing anxiety of massive debt and bankruptcy.  This puts a huge burden of proof on the Emmanuel/Frank/Schumer position.  If I’m going to give this up, I’d better be getting a lot in exchange for it.
  • This goes triple, because Truman failed to enact comprehensive health care reform and LBJ failed and Clinton failed.  An opportunity to pass it was not going to come along again for a long time.
  • One of the hypothetical proposed benefits cannot be retaining control of the House in 2010.  Maybe there was an alternative legislative strategy that could have saved the Democrats a few seats.  There were no legislative strategies that could have saved the Democrats 50 seats.
  • We should note at this point that given the delay in seating Franken, Ted Kennedy’s illness, and the Martha Coakley Experience I, the Democrats had a filibuster-proof supermajority for exactly 60 days while the Senate was in session in 2009-10.  Congressional Republicans had an explicit strategy of denying Obama any major achievement. There was not going to be another big stimulus passed during this period.  There was not going to be a wide array of legislation passed during this period.  Josh Blackman’s assertion that “the President could have done immigration, climate change, and so many other goals” during this very narrow window is quite clearly false.
  • And on the only one of these issues that could possibly compare to the ACA in terms of importance — climate change — the narrow supermajority window was beside the point.  I don’t know how anyone could look at Mary Landrieu desperately trying to get Senate approval of Keystone while drawing dead in a runoff election and think that she was ever going to vote for cap-and-trade.  And even if you can somehow get her vote you would have needed Robert Byrd and Mark Pryor and Ben Nelson. You would have needed the two Democratic senators each from North Dakota and Montana.    Unless there was a button Obama could have pushed that would transform Congress into a unicameral legislature with representation-by-population that didn’t massively overrepresent rural and/or conservative and/or fossil-fuel dependent states, cap-and-trade was Not Happening.  The choice was not between the ACA and cap-and-trade.  The choice was the ACA or nothing remotely as important.

The point of winning elections is to do stuff.  The point of winning elections if you’re a Democrat is to do stuff that will protect the most vulnerable members of society and remedy the worst inequities.  Getting the ACA passed fulfills these bedrock goals far better than any plausible alternative course of action.

…Dean Baker has more. As does Paul Waldman.  And, most importantly and eloquently, Nancy Pelosi.  “”We come here to do a job, not keep a job. There are more than 14 million reasons why that’s wrong.”  Just so.

But A Full-Employment Plan For Canadian Lawyers Is Not In the Cards

[ 7 ] November 26, 2014 |

The most frivolous lawsuit not filed by Orly Taitz in known human history has been dropped. Not only is Ghomeshi not getting one thin dime from the CBC, he’s out nearly 20 grand to cover their costs.

A Ham Sandwich, But Not a Police Officer

[ 139 ] November 25, 2014 |

Jon Cohn’s assessment of the grand jury’s refusal to indict Darren Wilson is very useful. It’s hard to imagine a prosecutor essentially tanking his case for the grand jury in another type of killing, and this also explains why McCulloch sounded more like a defense attorney than a prosecutor at a press conference.

This would be a good time to read Radley Balko on Ferguson if you haven’t already.

…Toobin:

But the goal of criminal law is to be fair—to treat similarly situated people similarly—as well as to reach just results. McCulloch gave Wilson’s case special treatment. He turned it over to the grand jury, a rarity itself, and then used the investigation as a document dump, an approach that is virtually without precedent in the law of Missouri or anywhere else. Buried underneath every scrap of evidence McCulloch could find, the grand jury threw up its hands and said that a crime could not be proved. This is the opposite of the customary ham-sandwich approach, in which the jurors are explicitly steered to the prosecutor’s preferred conclusion. Some might suggest that all cases should be treated the way McCulloch handled Wilson before the grand jury, with a full-fledged mini-trial of all the incriminating and exculpatory evidence presented at this preliminary stage. Of course, the cost of such an approach, in both time and money, would be prohibitive, and there is no guarantee that the ultimate resolutions of most cases would be any more just. In any event, reserving this kind of special treatment for white police officers charged with killing black suspects cannot be an appropriate resolution.

“You have to hand it to the old bastard, he’s highly original.”

[ 53 ] November 25, 2014 |

The Republican Party has an exciting new health care plan out. Against all odds, it involves throwing millions of people off their health insurance so the affluent get more tax breaks. And most people with pre-existing conditions are out of luck. Oh, and tort reform and plenty of it! It is the Party of Ideas (TM), you know.

Why, I’m beginning to think that the Affordable Care Act isn’t really a “Republican” policy initiative…

You Forgot Bolton!

[ 114 ] November 24, 2014 |

Security policy HOT TAKES from Max Boot:

The immediate question is whether Obama will be able to stomach a stronger personality in the secretary of defense job–someone like Bob Gates or Leon Panetta. If so, Michele Flournoy or Ash Carter, both of whom served at the Pentagon earlier in the Obama administration, could fill the job description. But if Obama were truly intent on a radical break with some of his failed policies he would opt for a true outsider like Joe Lieberman or David Petraeus or John Lehman.

I dunno, I think I preferred the Boot who was a poor man’s Mark Levin to the one who’s a poor man’s Charles Krauthammer…

“Barry didn’t bring corruption to D.C. He changed who benefited from it.”

[ 12 ] November 24, 2014 |

A very good summary of the career of the late Marion Barry by Adam Serwer. One of many telling details:

Johnson resisted that impulse and appointed Walter Washington, who was easily defeated by Marion Barry in the city’s second elections in 1978. Rep. John McMillan, the Dixiecrat who chaired the House Committee on the District of Columbia until 1973, sent Washington a truckload of watermelons to “celebrate” his receipt of Washington’s first city budget. McMillan “treated the city as if it were his plantation and turned the District Building into a fiefdom for his own patronage jobs,” applying “applied taxes to construction projects at the behest of the white business community,” Jaffe and Sherwood wrote.

That Term “Due Process,” I Do Not Think…

[ 174 ] November 24, 2014 |

A Bill Cosby HOT TAKE:

But just because we don’t live in that utopia, we don’t then get the right to trash our venerable tradition of due process and simply eliminate the protections against false accusations or faulty memories.

Exposing anyone to a lifetime of liability because we feel sorry for a woman who says she was ashamed to tell that sordid tale of date rape, or a man who only found the courage to admit he’d been sexually violated in the sacristy 30 years after the fact, is as fundamentally un-American as you can get.

This is just 100% pure nonsense. Nobody is arguing that Bil Cosby is not entitled to due process rights. There is no “statute of limitations” on when people can discuss the bad behavior of others. Obviously, accusations of bad behavior may or may not be credible, but given the number of accuser in this case (some of whom made the complaints formally and contemporaneously), the point is essentially moot here. The chances that all of these women are lying are infinitesimal.

Flowers attempts to address this:

I’ve studied the claims of the women who say they were drugged by Cosby and then raped, and they all seem to follow a pattern: the women were either interns or mentored by the actor, went to his room to discuss some project, had a drink (or several) and then woke up after he’d allegedly attacked them.

They sound so similar that I’m reminded of the McMartin preschool case where children were coached to tell the sordid tales of being raped by their teachers. That story, which never gets the attention it deserves, turned out to be false. Lives were destroyed by opportunistic psychologists, parents who were naive enough to believe them, and a flock of media vultures who fed on the carcass of manipulation and lies.

Other than the notable lack of coaching, criminal prosecution, and children, the Cosby case and the McMartin case are exactly the same! The comparison is not merely specious but offensive and insulting. What evidence is there that these women are being “coached?” By who? The fact that their independent stories are similar is being used to impeach their credibility is, however, very special.

Rebecca Rose deals with similar arguments being made by Richard Stellar so I don’t have to.

Immigration Concern Trolling 2: Paul Ryan’s Empty Threats Edition

[ 30 ] November 22, 2014 |

Shorter Paul Ryan: The unprecedented tyranny of Emperor Obama issuing an unquestionably legal order as a term-limited elected official will prevent Congress passing upper-class tax cuts!

In addition to the obvious, Ryan’s response also highlights the silliness of #Grubergate, where the charge of “deception” revolves largely around CBO scoring. Ryan wants the CBO to use supply-side “dynamic scoring” to show tax cuts having magical stimulative effects they do not, in fact, have. Why, I’m almost beginning to think that a party that funded two rounds of upper-class tax cuts, two major wars, and a extremely inefficient Medicare expansion entirely through debt does not really care about the integrity of the CBO process!

BENGHAZI!!!!!!!!!!

[ 42 ] November 21, 2014 |

Looks like the revelation of the truth that Saul Alinsky was covering up for Hillary Clinton will have to wait for the next Gruber video.

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