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A Battle Deferred

[ 0 ] June 7, 2007 |

The Juidicary Committee has postponed its vote on Leslie Soutwick, which would seem to be good news. Emily Bazelon explains why the Committee should reject the Mississippi version of Alito:

But other data show that Judge Southwick’s answer fits with his larger record. He has a pattern of voting against workers and the injured and in favor of corporations. According to the advocacy group Alliance for Justice, Southwick voted “against the injured party and in favor of business interests” in 160 of 180 cases that gave rise to a dissent and that involved employment law and injury-based suits for damages. When one judge on a panel dissents in a case, there’s an argument it could come out either way, which makes these cases a good measure of how a judge thinks when he’s got some legal leeway. In such cases, Judge Southwick almost never favors the rights of workers or people who’ve suffered discrimination or been harmed by a shoddy product.

You know how many more of these kinds of judges 5CA needs? None. What’s the argument against voting against him? “Apparently that if the Republicans get Southwick, they’ll remember when the next Democratic president asks their support for his judicial nominees.” Yeah, that sounds like a great deal. If you’re the kind of person who would lend the keys to your new Porsche to a stranger on parole for Grand Theft Auto.

In addition to this, kudos to Leahy and company for passing on a bill to restore habeas corpus rights. Yes to habeas corpus, no (or at least not yet) to Southern-fried Robert Borks; I believe this is “elections have consequences” in a good sense.

Another Day at ETS…

[ 0 ] June 7, 2007 |

ETS humor:

And ETS architecture:


[ 0 ] June 7, 2007 |

Jim Clark, the thug who oversaw the racist gulag of Selma for more than a decade, went toe-up yesterday in an Alabama nursing home. Clark was best remembered for the nationally-televised police riot that took place in early March 1965, when civil rights activists attempted to march from Selma to the capital in Montgomery in support of federal voting rights legislation. As the marchers crossed the Edmund Pettis Bridge on their way out of town, Clark’s Dallas County sheriffs joined a phalanx of state troopers who clubbed and gassed everyone who wasn’t wearing a badge. Clark would later insist that no one had actually beaten the activists; instead, he claimed, they had all fallen down simultaneously.

Though Clark could often be seen wearing a button that boasted “Never” — a word that neatly summarized his views on black voting rights — he was thrown from office the following year, when newly-registered black voters bade him farewell from public life.

A man who represented a less evolved era of white supremacy, Jim Clark’s spirit endures nevertheless.

. . . in comments, nolo reminds us that Clark later served time for scheming to import and sell dope from his mobile home . . .


[ 0 ] June 7, 2007 |

This is Rob’s department, but since he’s away I’ll note that the idea that Stephen Walt had an undistinguished academic career prior to his LRB article (which I happen to think is not his finest hour) is crazy. He’s a major international relations scholar; I have only a couple of seminars in the field and I’m very familiar with his work. Certainly, I have to agree with Matt that his career strikes me as one of considerably greater distinction than, say, using your wife’s money to purchase a magazine and running it in a way that substantially reduces its quality while hemorrhaging circulation.

…Rob weighs in.

What’s New is Old….

[ 0 ] June 7, 2007 |

I have an article up at TAP about the latest verbal brawl between the US and Russia over the proposed missile defense bases in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Whoops, I Did It Again!

[ 0 ] June 7, 2007 |

An absolute must-read piece by Eric Boehlert on “journalist” Jeff Gerth and the “reporting” that ended up with a President being impeached. His primary strategy is to blame many of the countless errors in his allegations about the Whitewater non-scandal on his colleagues, throwing the editors who inexplicably defended him under the bus. How about the crucial claim that Bill Clinton protected James McDougal’s S&L from being shut down? Funny story:

Yet reading Her Way, which details Whitewater at great length, there is no reference to Bassett Schaffer, and there is no reference to the allegation that the Arkansas regulator turned a blind eye to Madison’s woes in order to help out Clinton’s savings and loan chum. The entire premise of the Times’ early Whitewater reporting has simply disappeared.

Why? Because Gerth’s reporting on Bassett Schaffer was categorically false. Arkansas regulators had no authority to independently shut down failing, federally insured savings and loans. That task was up to the federal regulators, who, during the mid-1980s, were excruciatingly slow in acting against teetering savings and loans nationwide. More important, Bassett Schaffer, cast by the Times as a hack who did Clinton’s bidding, had written urgent letters to federal regulators beseeching them to take action against McDougal’s savings and loan, which they eventually did. (In 1997, McDougal was convicted of 18 counts of fraud and conspiracy stemming from bad loans made by Madison in the late 1980s. The charges were unrelated to Whitewater.)

What’s absolutely extraordinary is that Bassett Schaffer detailed all the pertinent background information for Gerth in a 20-page memo prior to the publication of Gerth’s accusatory articles. Gerth and the newspaper simply chose to ignore the inconvenient truth.

What’s even more amazing is that Gerth, having ginned up an entirely phony pseudo-scandal with massive historical consequences, was allowed to remain in the employ of the New York Times to help ruin somebody else’s life with his ineptitude. And has now been given a contract to write a heavily promoted book about a subject he has a rather extensive history of getting wrong. How can anybody take anything Gerth says seriously? And why is he still being given a major platform? It would be a better use of corporate money for Paris Hilton to get another record deal, and she may well be capable of doing more competent reporting about the Clintons.

The Pussification of the [British] Male

[ 0 ] June 6, 2007 |

Kim Du Toit’s Bryan Preston’s loins are not happy:

The West seems to be trying to kill off its warrior culture, one stupid bureaucratic decision at a time.
In killer heels and little else, they have a definite deadly charm.

But the risque images of women that have decorated warplanes since the First World War have been scrubbed out.

The Ministry of Defence has decreed they could offend the RAF’s female personnel.

Officials admitted they had no record of any complaints from the 5,400 women in the RAF…

Commanders decided the images were sexist and insisted there was no place for them in the modern armed forces.

There was also concern that they could cause offence in a muslim country where until 2001 all women were forced to wear the head-to-toe burkha in public.

Well, there’s your solution, mates: Put the nose-art ladies in burkhas . Of course [y]ou’ll have to put your female military personnel in burkas too eventually…and your fashion models…and your wives and daughters…

Oh, for the love of — Yeah, if there’s anything that’s ruining war for everyone, it’s all the goddamned bureaucratic decisions passed down by lady boys in suits.

On a related note, is it just me or is there almost nothing quite so grating as a conversation that invokes with favor the phrase “warrior culture?” I hate to break the news to Preston and the rest of the keyboard commandos, but there’s nothing essential to a genuine “warrior culture” that would hinge on the presence or absence of half-naked cartoon characters etched in supine poses to the side of a fucking airplane. Frat-boy culture, perhaps, but not “warrior culture.”

I wonder, too, which “warrior culture” the West is supposed to resemble. Mongol? Viking? Jedi?

Oh, right. I forgot.

God, what a silly anachronism.

Shoot Me Now

[ 0 ] June 6, 2007 |

I’m not sure what’s more embarrassing–Politico chief political columnist Roger Simon ignoring Romney’s basic ignorance (or rank dishonesty) about a massively important issue, or skipping that boring stuff to discuss how he “has shoulders you could land a 737 on.” I think you can see why they would write a fawning profile of Ann Althouse. More from Digby.

More than a year left. Ye gods. [HT: Atrios]

Evaluating congressional leadership

[ 0 ] June 6, 2007 |

There’s been an active and instructive comment thread in Rob’s post below (which I largely agree with). I think Rob and his interlocutors were often talking past each other, but I think a particular point of Rob’s (in comments) leads to an important thought experiment for progressive Democrats and allies who are frustrated with the apparent inability or unwillingness of Democratic leadership to take steps to end the war:

I disagree with the assessment that denouncing the Democratic Party in general, and Reid and Pelosi in particular is a sensible way of characterizing the situation.

This strikes me as one of Rob’s most important points here. Let’s do a thought experiment–assume that before they began to push for the initial timetable/benchmark funding package, R/P knew that while they might be able to cobble together a bare majority willing to pass some version of this bill, they also knew that they probably couldn’t sustain that majority in the face of a Bush veto. It seems perfectly plausible to me that they likely had this knowledge.

Now, for those condemning the Democrats in general or congressional leadership in particular for commiting a political blunder, it’s important to explain what you think Reid and Pelosi should have done. How many of you seriously think you wouldn’t have been critical of Reid and Pelosi had they not bothered to try to put together a serious funding? It’s hard for me to see us giving them a collective pass for not even bothering to try.

Our media environment is such that Democrats are going to be portrayed as weak, craven and unprincipled by our national political press no matter what they do. It seems obvious to me that we do ourselves no favors when adopting positions that require we vigorously condemn our party no matter what path they take. If there’s some politically brilliant and feasible third path the Democratic leadership should have taken, I’d love to hear it, but it’s not at all obvious to me that such a path exists.

Another Daytona Morning…

[ 0 ] June 6, 2007 |

To give some context and explanation, djw and I are again grading ETS Advanced Placement exams. We have been moved this year from Fort Collins to Daytona Beach, a shift that I remain displeased with. The food isn’t as good, there’s less to do except for drinkin’ (although, really, that’s enough), and there are a variety of other mild inconveniences. The ocean is quite nice, though.


[ 0 ] June 6, 2007 |

Steve Gillard’s Times obituary. (Via Shakes.)

Discrimination Double Standards

[ 0 ] June 6, 2007 |

Speaking of Judge Southwick and peremptory challenges, this is interesting. Apparently he (along with a majority of his colleagues in Mississippi) is sometimes sympathetic to claims of racial discrimination. If they’re made by a white person:

Judge Southwick has participated in numerous cases involving challenges to the racial makeup of a jury under Batson v. Kentucky, in which the United States Supreme Court held that peremptory challenges to jurors cannot be used in a racially discriminatory manner. In 59 of the 70 Batson cases reviewed for this report, the defendants challenged their convictions on the ground that the prosecution had used peremptory challenges to strike African- American jurors. Judge Southwick, voting with a majority of the Court in every case, voted to uphold the convictions in all but five of these cases.

In 10 of these 70 Batson cases, the defendants challenged their convictions on the ground that the prosecution had unfairly prevented them from using their peremptory challenges to exclude white jurors (in one case the juror whom defendant sought to strike was Asian American). Defendants, with Judge Southwick again joining the majority of the Court in every case, lost all ten of these challenges. In the final case, the defendant challenged his conviction on both grounds and lost on both grounds, with Judge Southwick again in the majority.

In other words, Judge Southwick and a majority of the judges on the Court of Appeals routinely rebuffed allegations of prosecutorial racism against African Americans in jury selection while upholding allegations of anti-white discrimination levied against defendants.

Again, the point here is not that Southwick is racist in his personal beliefs; I have no idea if he is. As the previous Chief Justice made clear, you can be consistently hostile to civil rights without being a bigot, and the public positions matter more than subjective beliefs. Obviously, there are probably other elements of reactionary statist judging involved here: one set of discrimination claims would benefit defendants, and one would benefit the state. And, depressingly, it is also true that creating standards that make it virtually impossible for black defendants to prove racial discrimination doesn’t make Southwick unique; it makes him an all-too-common reactionary, the kind of judge George W. Bush held up as his model (and appointed to the Supreme Court when he had the chance.) That’s the point. We don’t need more of them on the federal courts.

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