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The Constitution Matters Until it Doesn’t

[ 0 ] July 11, 2008 |

Senator John McCain might not actually be technically eligible to be President.

But it’s only a little thing called the Constitution. Which is only, it seems, important to the GOP when you can use it as a sword to restrict people’s rights or expand those of corporations.

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A Thousand Times Yes

[ 19 ] July 11, 2008 |

I can’t agree with this strongly enough:

I keep hearing that Nutsgate is a “Sister Souljah moment” for Obama. Frankly, it’s annoying me. First – it’s not a Sister Souljah moment at all. Second – I’m sick of that term. It’s time to retire the Sister Souljah label altogether. It’s inaccurate, and even borderline racist.

Right. How often is the object of a “Sister Souljah” moment a powerful white person? And are Republicans ever required to have “Siser Souljah” moments?

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Fanfare For the Common Woman

[ 15 ] July 11, 2008 |

Via Jesse Auguste, the late Clinton campaign’s turn to reactionary populism has produced a hilarious denouement courtesy of inevitably moronic PUMAs. A Clinton fundraiser claims on (natch) Fox News:

This is a hard decision for me personally because, frankly, I don’t like [Obama]. I feel like he is an elitist. I feel like he has not given me reason to trust him.

The fundraiser’s identity?

Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild

OK, well maybe she’s a black sheep Rothschild down on her luck?

Sitting down with her on a recent afternoon in the new pad–an 18th-floor duplex in River House that was previously owned by Carter Burden and Libet Johnson–it’s hard to begrudge her the excess of good fortune, thanks to her affability and occasional self-deprecations. (The Chateau Lafitte she pours–“the family wine,” as she calls it–and the heaping bowl of beluga don’t hurt, either.)

Jeez, and I thought turning Crown Royal into an uber-populist beverage was bad…anyway, if McCain starts serving Waygu beef and truffles with Cheval Blanc on the Straight Talk Express I’m sure that will turn into a populist meal too. Maybe Lady Lynn can whip something up for him…

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Where Are All The Women Bloggers?

[ 22 ] July 11, 2008 |

Here, for instance.

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[ 11 ] July 10, 2008 |

With my vacation to the Midwest at last complete, it’s time to face the immense despair that usually accompanies my return home. For starters, I’m furious that Jesse Helms decided to surrender the carbon while I was nowhere near a computer. I neglected to include Helms in the erstwhile Worst American Birthday series; he certainly deserved the dishonor, if for no other reason than because he seeped from the womb on the very day that Charles Strite of Stillwater, Minnesota, received a patent for his pop-up electric toaster.

If I actually believed in hell, I’d envy the spit-jack who earned the duty of gently turning Helms’ carcass for eternity.

Meantime, I’ll have to content myself with mildly admiring this guy:

L.F. Eason III gave up the only job he’d ever had rather than lower a flag this week to honor former U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms.

Eason, a 29-year veteran of the state Department of Agriculture, instructed his staff at a small Raleigh lab not to fly the U.S. or N.C. flags at half staff Monday as called for in a directive to all state agencies by Gov. Mike Easley.

When a superior ordered the lab to follow the directive, Eason decided to retire rather than pay tribute to Helms.

I suppose there’s an argument to be made that only an idiot would allow the mouldering remains of Jesse Helms to force him into an unplanned, early retirement. But since I don’t place much value on raising or lowering the flag on anyone’s behalf, that’s to be expected. Flying it half-mast and upside-down might have been a decent compromise, though.

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Are You Tough Enough?

[ 32 ] July 10, 2008 |

No. (I suppose this could work with other entries from the Maurice Starr oeuvre: “Step 2! There’s so much we can do! To capitulate to Bush and expand arbitrary executive power!”)

See Greenwald, CHS, and the ACLU. And all due credit to Clinton.

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Just Say No To Crack

[ 43 ] July 10, 2008 |

In light of Flint’s attempt –and I mean, you can understand the priority, what with all of the city’s economic and serious quality-of-life problems a thing of the past and — to make particular diversion from white-bourgeois dress a criminal offense, I am immediately reminded of Holbo’s legendary essay on David Frum:

Even if you are the sort of person who feels deeply offended by funny, ethnic clothes (we’re off the deep end) – even if you think it is anything like your business to dictate fashion sense to everyone around you (we’re so off the deep end) – how could you possibly think it was so important as all that? And yet immediately we are off and running about after the bourgeois virtues, all dying out: thrift, diligence, prudence, sobriety, fidelity, and orderliness. I won’’t bother to quote. Why can I not exhibit all these virtues beneath and/or behind a beard, kente cloth and/or keffiyeh? Frum seems to find it too obvious to bear arguing that the trick is impossible. (Yet he can’’t actually think that.) Does Frum seriously believe there are no shrewd, sober businessmen in those parts of the world where businessmen wear beards and keffiyehs and kente cloths? (Obviously he doesn’’t. That’’s crazy.) So what does he think? I think he just has a powerful feeling that: things ought to be a certain way. And if they are that way, everything will be all right.

Bearded Guy: I like my beard.

Frum: You should shave it.

BG: Why?

Frum: Because it should have been the case that you were too afraid to grow it.

BG: But I wasn’’t.

Frum: But you should have been.

BG: Why?

Frum: Because you are wrecking the culture.

BG: Why?

Frum: Because the culture will decay and then the economy will fall apart and we’’ll all be poor.

BG: Because of my beard?

Frum: Just think about it. Our economy depends on a healthy culture.

BG: But you don’’t even care about the economy. You said you don’’t.

Frum: I wish you hadn’’t mentioned that.

BG: But I did.

Frum: Look, if you shave the beard, everything will be better.

BG: You’’re a moonbat.

Frum: It’’s all related to foreign policy and wheelchair access in public school, in ways that would take a long time to explain.

BG: Get away from me!

Frum: Look. Just shave your beard!

Given that the humidity has been sufficiently high and consistent to warp my floorboards, I’m just happy that Althouse left town before she could get an anti-shorts ordinance rammed through the city council…

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A Test

[ 11 ] July 10, 2008 |

If ads prominently featuring McCain declaring that Social Security is a “disgrace” aren’t plastered over the airwaves — with special emphasis on Florida and Pennsylvania — the Democrats genuinely deserve to lose.

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"Maureen Goes To Fantasy Camp? Her Whole Life Is A Fantasy Camp."

[ 9 ] July 10, 2008 |

Shorter Verbatim MoDo: “Fictionalizing historical figures is fine. Fantasies about public figures are inevitable.”

Unlike (it seems) Somerby, I don’t see the slightest problem with Sittenfeld using Laura Bush to write a roman a clef. I can’t say it sounds especially promising, but the idea will rise and fall with the quality of the work. Fiction writers aren’t under any obligation to stick to facts about historical figures.

When fantasy narratives become the basis for large numbers of columns on the nation’s most prominent op-ed pages, however, and the writers who push these fantasy narratives with disastrous consequences continue forever in their sinecures, that’s a rather different matter.

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Holy Land Trivia of the Day

[ 55 ] July 10, 2008 |

What’s wrong with this sandwich?

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Liberals and the Courts

[ 22 ] July 9, 2008 |

Dahlia Lithwick has some interesting thoughts about why liberals tend to be much less focused on the courts than conservatives. I think she’s right that the (often nominal) upholding of Warren Court precedents has made liberals more complacent about the direction of the Court than its actual record justifies. This also, I think, helps to explain why the Roberts/Alito “minimalist” strategy of gutting and refusing to seriously apply liberal precedents is worse for progressives than the Alito/Thomas position that when the Court overturns precedents it ought to do so explicitly.

One thing to add is that, as Sandy Levinson notes with respect to David Broder’s bizarre claim that Anthony Kennedy is more powerful than Nancy Pelosi, in some ways the lower priority liberal voters place on the courts is actually more rational. This isn’t to say that the courts aren’t important, or that liberals wouldn’t benefit from putting more pressure on presidents and Senators in judicial appointments. It’s also important for liberals to be better informed that what the courts do matters in areas far beyond abortion. But it’s also worth keeping in mind that when it comes to health care reform, the courts are pretty much the last potentially countermajoritarian institutional veto point that progressives need to worry about.

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At Crazy George’s, EVERYTHING MUST GO!!!!

[ 0 ] July 9, 2008 |

Dan Nexon has a good post about the frenzy of dealmaking that the Bush administration is pursuing in an effort to “lock in” policy preferences before the transition to a new administration. Unfortunately, the rest of the world is aware that the United States holds Presidential elections every four years, that Barack Obama is currently the favorite, and that even if John McCain wins his administration will like be 10-15% less incompetent than that of his predecessor.

Jeff Lewis notes three negotiations on which the President’s “lame duckitude” is having an impact:

  • India is seeking to cement its nuclear relationship with the United States. Under the assumption that Bush’s successor might actually have a non-proliferation policy, the Indian government is risking fractures within its governing coalition in order to nail down an agreement with the US (and the IAEA) now, rather than in six months.
  • Poland is trying to shake down the Bush administration for extra cash and goodies. While the Czechs have been happy to play ball, the Poles are apparently banking that Bush’s fear of an Obama presidency will make America more generous. I’m guessing that they’re right; Obama hasn’t evinced any excitement about missile defense, and after all the trouble that Bush has gone to on this question he almost certainly wants to leave with a robust agreement in hand.
  • Iran is trying to put off any major diplomatic activity until after the election. I doubt this will matter much, since I still don’t see either a US or an Israeli attack on Iran in the cards, and I doubt that either Obama or McCain (in spite of the former’s professed willingness to meet with the Iranian leadership) will be flexible on the Iranian nuclear program. The elections also won’t slow multilateral efforts to push Iran towards more nuclear transparency.

Nexon concentrates on a fourth, which is Iraq. Matt Duss has some good reasons to take the Iraqi skepticism over the SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) seriously, including the apparent support of Sistani for a full American withdrawal. At the same time, I’m inclined to agree with Dan that Maliki really wants a more favorable agreement with the United States, which will perhaps include a timetable but will certainly preserve a tight military relationship between the two countries. The reason for this is obvious; Maliki’s military control over his country is tenuous, and Iraq is utterly incapable of protecting its borders. Still, I suspect that Maliki could get a pretty good deal on military cooperation from Obama, and I suspect that Maliki knows that such a deal is available; as such, he’s willing to play hardball with Crazy George.

Long story short, in a number of areas the Bush administration is going to be pushing (and being pushed) for deals while at a disadvantageous bargaining position. In one case (the Indian) the other side is just as desperate as Bush is, but in the others the lame duck situation is going to damage our standing. Now, as it happens I think that the Bush administration’s foreign policy goals tend to be insane and destructive, and as such I’m hoping that we don’t come to an agreement with India, Poland, or Iraq before (hopefully) the beginning of an Obama administration. Nevertheless, Jeff Lewis make the excellent point that lame duckitude sans obvious successor, while in some ways enabling an administration to pursue the policies it wants, can be a severe handicap in some diplomatic negotiations.

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