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A Strange Case For Kaine

[ 13 ] August 1, 2008 |

For most of the reasons cited by Dylan Mathews, I wouldn’t be happy if Obama chose Tim Kaine as his running mate. Still, I can least imagine an argument on his behalf: he could win Virginia for the Dems, a major blow to McCain, and his more conservative positions are unlikely to affect the way Obama governs. I reject the argument because I don’t think there’s good evidence that Vice Presidential nominees have a significant positive influence on voting behavior, so running mates should be primarily be chosen on the merits (on which Sebelius is clearly preferable to Kaine.) But I could at least find this argument intelligible.

Micheal Sean Winters, on the other hand, seems to argue that Kaine’s reactionary positions on reproductive freedom are a feature, not a bug. His argument is rife with the kind of illogic endemic to claims that the path to Democratic victory is selling out women. Most importantly, it’s far from clear how many potential Democratic voters will be affected by critiques of Sebelius from a priest “who has been published in the conservative Catholic journal First Things, a magazine that often mimics White House talking points more faithfully than it follows the teachings of the Catholic Church.” But since these attacks on Sebelius for being pro-choice didn’t stop her from being elected in one of the most conservative states in the country, it’s hard to imagine they could significantly impact a national race, and Winters provides no evidence otherwise.

Even more importantly, while implying that Democrats should choose Kaine over Sebelius to chase voters unlikely to vote for the Dems in any case, he completely ignores the costs to such a strategy. Democrats also need votes, donations, and activism from their pro-choice base, who would be (properly) dismayed by a selection of Kaine. And given Obama’s path to the Democtratic nomination, this seems like an especially bad year to stick a thumb in the eye of women and effectively declare reproductive freedom a second-class issue. Once you consider the potential costs alongside the (highly dubious) benefits, the argument for Kaine cannot be sustained.

There are other reasonable choices, but if it comes down to the two red-state governors, Sebelius is far and away the superior option.

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Did a shark attack Brangelina’s twins?

[ 28 ] August 1, 2008 |

Because looking around the major news sites on the intertubes it’s rather amazing how relatively little attention this story is getting.

And not to go all Truther or anything but that sure was a convenient suicide.

In all seriousness I’ve never understood how the anthrax story managed to go so completely down the collective memory hole. The (non)coverage of its apparent and extremely disturbing resolution is just an extension of that.

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What Silver Said

[ 30 ] August 1, 2008 |

This is exactly right. Both the 4-year gap between elections and recent realignments mean that it’s easy to come up with arguments of the “No Democrat has won the White House without states x, y and z in decades!” variety, but virtually none of them have any real predictive value.

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Laugh of the Day

[ 22 ] July 31, 2008 |

The audacity of hope:

Stevens’ lawyer had requested that the trial be held as soon as possible because Stevens is up for re-election in November.

“I want to make a request if at all possible that the trial be in October so that he can clear his name before the general elections,” said the attorney, Brendan Sullivan, adding light-heartedly that it was the first time he had ever asked for a speedy trial.

He also proposed moving the trial to Alaska because a majority of the witnesses are there and the events in question took place there.

And because an Alaskan jury, Stevens assumes, would be as likely to convict him as a jury in Maycomb, Alabama, would be to acquit Tom Robinson.

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[ 19 ] July 31, 2008 |

…apparently a Dodger. Seems like the Sox will still get Bay; at a glance seems like an OK return for the Bucs, although I’m not sure what Moss’s upside is.

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D.C. Circuit District: No "Absolute Immunity."

[ 5 ] July 31, 2008 |

Lederman: “It is an extraordinarily thorough, scholarly and thoughtful opinion — surely one of the best opinions ever written on questions relating to executive/congressional disputes. It is also, IMHO, correct on the merits, of virtually all of the many legal questions it discusses. It is important not only for its holding on the immunity question, but also for its holding and analysis on congressional standing, and for its unequivocal rejection (pp. 39-41) of one of the Administration’s principal arguments with respect to all of these privilege disputes in the U.S. Attorney matter — the notion that because the subject matter of the investigations is presidential removal of the U.S. Attorneys, Congress has no legitimate oversight function at all. The court quite correctly rejects this view.”

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Must . . . not . . . blog . . . about . . .

[ 22 ] July 31, 2008 |

Resistance is Futile.

Yes this whole saga is super annoying, what with Chris Mortensen’s hourly reports from his location inside Favre’s ass, but I’m getting intrigued by the game theory aspects.

My understanding is that the Packers don’t have to pay Favre anything if they release him once he’s reinstated. So why would they offer him millions to stay retired? The answer seems to be because they think it would really hurt them for Favre to sign with somebody like Minnesota. But if Favre is still that valuable (and he was really good last year after some mediocre seasons) why not spend those millions to have him be your starter for another year? Because Aaron Rodgers would demand a trade? But Rodgers has no leverage as far as I can see. Yeah you would like to keep the guy you want to be your future QB happy, ideally, but there’s no ideal solution at this point. Why not just take Favre back?

Another option would be to trade him to somebody in the AFC. But that’s tricky because everybody realizes Green Bay is in a bind, so nobody wants to give them anything to bail them out, plus if they release Favre somebody could sign him for considerably less than what’s left on his current contract I suppose.

In any case unless you’re a Mongolian goat herder you’ll be finding out how this saga ends whether you want to or not.

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Well, It’s A Start…

[ 0 ] July 31, 2008 |

Kate Klonick notes that the ayes have it:

The House Judiciary Committee has just voted to hold Karl Rove in contempt for failing to respond to a subpoena to face questioning from the Committee on the prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.

The final vote was 20 ayes and 14 nays. With Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) voting “absolutely, 100% aye.”

Rejecting the ad hoc legal doctrine of “absolute immunity” would seem to be the minimum the Committee can do, but it’s an advance from nothing…

More on the bogus Siegelman prosecution here and here.

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[ 6 ] July 31, 2008 |

I, for one, hope McCain takes this advice

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Triumph of the Race-Baiters

[ 21 ] July 31, 2008 |

The new McCain ad is indeed remarkably disgusting.

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It is a very detestable, grotesque argument that has never been made with so little evidence or reason.

[ 0 ] July 31, 2008 |

I don’t have much to add to this appropriately purple reaction to Herr Pantload’s latest trip to the Diaper Genie. I will, however, draw attention to Goldberg’s atrocious implication that John Carlos and Tommie Smith are somehow responsible for the massacre of Israeli wrestlers and their coaches at the ’72 Munich Games:

China is using the Olympics to paper over the brutality of its repressive regime, just as Hitler did in 1936. In 1972, Palestinian terrorists — grateful for 1968’s lesson in the propaganda value of Olympics media attention — slaughtered Israeli athletes. Nations are political entities, so you can’t take the politics out of national rivalries.

And you can’t take the doughnuts out of Jonah Goldberg’s hands, lest he jam them back into his pants again.

But seriously. That just might be the most abject stream of fuckuppery ever to appear under the Doughboy’s byline.

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Libertarians: Sometimes Right

[ 32 ] July 31, 2008 |

To push the points made by Matt further, [update: and to disagree with Ezra], I have to say that libertarians are right about regulations banning further fast food restaurants in South Los Angeles. First of all, I object to the ends of the legislation, because I don’t think for the most part it’s the job of government to make basic health/pleasure tradeoffs involving food for its citizens. This isn’t to say that I’m a strict libertarian. I have no objection at all to NYC-type regulations requiring restaurants to inform customers about the nutritional content of their food: allowing customers to make informed choices is a necessary and desirable function of the state (and I would think that even a sophisticated libertarian should see these regulations as acceptable.) I also support the recent bans on trans fat bans in New York and L.A. because they represent a substantial benefit for public health while having a trivial effect on consumer choice (indeed, in most cases using alternative fats will make food not only healthier but better.) But these goals are going to far; I don’t think suppressing the market for fast food like this makes much sense.

But even if I thought that the end was a legitimate function of government, as Ezra says there’s the additional problem that it’s not clear if the policy has any chance of accomplishing its ends. It would be nice if a lot of Burger Kings and Carl’s Jrs. got replaced by cheap, high-quality, low-margin grocery stores, and it would also be nice if I had points on The Dark Knight‘s gross, and the policy in question is equally as likely to accomplish both. And there’s no magical health or even taste advantages that derive from having sitdown service; I’d rather have a Wendy’s near me than an Applebee’s or Denny’s. Suppressing one type of business in the hope that a better one will spring up in its place is not a plan, and the food policies that encourage fast food chains over good indpenedent restaurants and good food stores need to be addressed at the federal level.

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