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Princip, Terrorism, and Criminal Justice

[ 69 ] June 28, 2014 |

100 years ago today, Gavrilo Princip (a member of a Serbian terrorist organization) shot and killed the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the thrones of Austria-Hungary.  Princip also killed the Archduke’s wife, Sophie.

After his arrest (which was, according to onlookers, brutal), Gavrilo Princip and his co-conspirators were given a trial in a civilian court, with access to defense counsel.  The trial began less than four months after the assassination, and lasted two weeks. As he was a minor (just short of 20) at the time of the assassination, Princip was sentenced to the maximum allowable punishment, 20 years at hard labor. Five of his older co-conspirators were sentenced to death, with three of the five eventually executed by hanging.

Reputedly, the conspirators were subjected to solitary confinement once per year, on June 28.  Princip himself contracted tuberculosis in prison, and died in April 1918.

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Too Soon?

[ 171 ] June 27, 2014 |

C’mon, guys:

Marking the eve of the centennial of the beginning of World War I in their own way, Bosnian Serbs on Friday unveiled a monument in their part of Sarajevo to the man who ignited the war by assassinating the Austro-Hungarian crown prince on June 28, 1914.

Kinda making Christopher Clark’s “It’s mostly the Serbs fault” point for him…

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Latin America on the Pacific

[ 3 ] June 27, 2014 |

Latest at the Diplomat involves a brief tour of the fleets of Latin America:

Nevertheless, Latin American navies face the same problems as many other global navies: protection of legitimate commerce, management of drug and human trafficking, and even occasional piracy. Were U.S. naval hegemony to wane, the Latin American navies might have to take up a greater part of the maritime burden. Some signs suggest that the Pacific coast navies have become increasingly integrated into the Pacific maritime system. Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Mexico participated in the 2012 RIMPAC exercises, and each of the four is expected to participate again in 2014.

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The Worst Slippery Slope Argument Ever Made By Anyone Not Antonin Scalia

[ 241 ] June 27, 2014 |

The policy successes of the ACA has led to plenty of evasive maneuvers. Still, I think Kevin Williamson might have the very silliest:

Let’s assume that the Bay Area partisans are correct in their high estimation of the metropolis. What might we do with that information? Why not pass a law requiring everybody in the United States to live there? As with the Affordable Care Act’s approach to health insurance, we wouldn’t be forcing an inferior product on people; we’d be forcing them to drop their second-rate cities for something better. Sorry, Cleveland — you can’t keep your crappy city, so deal with it. There would be some great economies of scale at work, and there are well-known economic benefits associated with population density, which we’d have in spades with a population of 300 million. (Though if we define the Bay Area broadly, we’d still have a lower population density than Manhattan, on average.) We could drop altogether thousands and thousands of redundancies — of school districts, police departments, fire departments, planning and zoning codes, tax laws, city councils. The rest of the country could be turned into farmland or left to revert to wilderness. Think of the efficiency we could achieve.

One could point out the many differences between cities and health insurance markets — starting with the fact that every other liberal democracy in the world manages to provide decent minimum standard of health care to all while maintaining a healthy diversity of urban and rural living areas — but, really, why bother? The whole “you know how to build roads and police departments and sewer systems better than the gubmit so why should you pay taxes argument” is so stale and asinine rebuttal is superfluous.

I am, however, offended that having made a dumb cliched argument he didn’t go all the way:

Once we’ve decided where everybody should live, we can move on to the question of what they should eat.


Perhaps that’s not the way to go. We might consider the USDA’s thinking here, or the economic case for the “cheapest, most nutritious, most bountiful food in human history,” that being the McDonald’s double cheeseburger.

No, no, no, no. Everyone knows that when those USDA bureaucrats get their way Americans will be faced with the existential terror of bring forced to eat broccoli. It has already been established by the kind of people who believe that everyone having access to a doctor will crush the human spirit itself that if the federal government can address the free rider problem in health care insurance markets, nothing can stop it from addressing the, er, free rider problem in broccoli markets. What is the free rider problem in broccoli markets? Glad you asked! Uh…look, its Zombie Mancur Olson!

Anyway, NRO readers are supposed to pretend that having bad cheeseburgers with no exotic condiments like so-called “Dijon mustard” for every meal would be awesome, so the argument fails on its own terms. I ask you — would Jonah Goldberg make such a rookie mistake?

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Women Who Obtain Abortions Don’t Expect To Be Treated Like A Fool No More

[ 48 ] June 27, 2014 |

I was impressed with Obvious Child.

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This Day in Labor History: June 27, 1905

[ 123 ] June 27, 2014 |

On June 27, 1905, at a convention in Chicago, the Industrial Workers of the World was founded. The IWW would play a major role in the industrial warfare of the early twentieth century, scare the employer class, and capture the imaginations of late 20th century and early 21st century radicals.

The IWW had many roots. Socialists and anarchists looked to form a broad-based labor organization. The Western Federation of Miners, a radical union with strongholds in the Rocky Mountains, wanted to expand their form of industrial unionism nationwide. Radicals of various stripes came to Chicago in late June to form this union. Among them was WFM leader Big Bill Haywood, who would become the union’s leader, although it was always a decentralized organization, especially when compared to both the American Federation of Labor and its constituent unions that were quite top-down, even in this era. Eugene Debs, former head of the American Railway Union and socialist candidate for president attended. The legendary matron saint of the United Mine Workers, Mary “Mother” Jones was there. Socialist leader Daniel DeLeon played a major role. Lucy Parsons, leading anarchist, African-American pioneer in American radicalism, and widow of one of the Haymarket martyrs attended. Haywood was the clear leader of this motley crew. The radical western miner stated the goal of the IWW was to form “a working class movement that shall have for its purpose the emancipation of the working class from the slave bondage of capitalism.”

While most of the people at the convention were independent operators, representatives of small groups, or famous radicals, the most important constituency was the Western Federation of Miners, who had faced significant repression from mine owners throughout the Rockies and who had found out firsthand how bad the AFL was with industrial solidarity. The radicals controlling the WFM realized that only industrial unionism could fight the aggressive and repressive tactics of American corporations, which included martial law and the murder of union organizers. The WFM formed after the 1892 Coeur d’Alene strike, brutally repressed by the mine companies. This led to the belief among radical miners that only organizing throughout the West could bring the mine companies to heel. Taking this idea nationwide was the next logical step in 1905. In 1902, it named Haywood its Secretary-Treasurer, aligning it with the Socialist Party.

The IWW called for direct action, putting power in workers’ hands to make their own battle against capitalism. Ultimately, for many this might mean full workers’ control over the means of production or revolution, although in 1905 this was less clear. While Wobbly organizing could be pragmatic and its ideology flexible depending on the campaign (my own interpretation after a long time studying Wobblies in the Pacific Northwest forests is that they were really quite opportunistic and thus frequently contradicted themselves over time, a situation exacerbated by the union’s decentralized nature and multiplicity of voices), it became most known for its version of anarcho-syndicalism where workers would win power not through violent revolution but a general strike that would ground the economy to a halt and allow them to take over. Yet the IWW never defined itself as an anarcho-syndicalist organization, rather focusing on the One Big Union concept that focused on democratic control over the union rather than ideology. I’d argue that historians have overstated the importance of Wobbly ideology and understated the importance of pragmatic action; there is a significantly above zero chance this is the topic of my third book.

Outside of ideology, the IWW filled a necessary void in the American labor movement. Since the decline of the Knights of Labor, the American Federation of Labor had come to define American unionism. The AFL genuinely represented the workers of its affiliate unions, but those workers saw themselves as working-class elites, white, male, Anglo-Saxons. They were uncomfortable with the changing American workforce (and larger society) that included millions of immigrants, women, children, African-Americans, and Asians. They also longed for an era of skilled labor in a society where mass production had taken over. This meant that the AFL and its constituent unions had little interest in organizing most American workers. Outside of a belief or lack thereof in radical Wobbly ideology, there was a huge demand for organization by millions of workers. The IWW had its limitations, but did more than anyone else to provide an avenue for American workers to attempt to improve their lives.

The IWW directly rejected craft unionism at its founding convention, noting:

The directory of unions of Chicago shows in 1903 a total of 56 different unions in the packing houses, divided up still more in 14 different national trades unions of the American Federation of Labor.

What a horrible example of an army divided against itself in the face of a strong combination of employers

Such a critique of craft unionism would continue among industrial unionists for decades.

The IWW got off to a pretty rocky start as many of the founding figures peeled off in the inevitable infighting and destructive focus on personalities that has always plagued the American Left and continues to do so today. By 1908, the Western Federation of Miners had left their national project behind as moderates gained control over that union and returned to the Rockies. Daniel DeLeon was expelled, trying briefly to operate an alternative One Big Union from Detroit. The reformist socialists split with the revolutionary socialists in 1906. Some of the radicals believed the union’s political goal should have focused on mobilizing a working-class vote; others felt American democracy worthless for workers to take part in. Yet the IWW slowly gained credibility with real workers, with it leading a silver mine strike in Goldfied, Nevada in 1906 and sawmill worker strike in Portland in 1907; the latter made the AFL realize what a real threat the Wobblies could be and it worked with employers to bust the strike. in 1908, the IWW reorganized and became a tighter organization, dedicated explicitly to organizing the industrial masses into the One Big Union and focusing on direct worker action to take control of the means of production.

Over the next 15 years, the IWW would go on to be involved in many of the era’s most important and famous labor conflicts, including at Paterson and Lawrence. Organizers like Frank Little and Joe Hill would be murdered. Police and corporations would take extra legal action against them at Bisbee and Everett. When they fought back, such at Centralia and Wheatland, they would be railroaded into prison and even lynched. The Red Scare made the IWW largely irrelevant by the 1920s, but part of that was also the Bolshevik Revolution. The success of a leftist movement overseas meant that most radicals became communists in the 1920s and 1930s and the IWW was an irrelevant rump of just a few workers scattered here and there.

The literature on the IWW is tremendously large. For an overview, I still recommend Melvyn Dubofsky’s 1969 book (there are more recent editions and an abridged edition as well) We Shall Be All, in no small part because too many writers for the IWW are openly cheerleading for them, even the professional historians, and Dubofsky does a good job of maintaining a more even treatment of their failures and successes.

This is the 111th post in this series. Previous posts are archived here.

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Today in Stupid

[ 237 ] June 26, 2014 |

Today’s winner in stupid punditry goes to Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry for his piece about Vox and “the intellectual stagnation of the left.” I’m not even going to address the idea that Vox is somehow on the left, which it is only if our definition of left is “slightly left of center.” For conservatives who don’t pay attention to the actual left, it’s all pretty much the same. But what’s the problem with the modern left? We are so out of touch with our boring old ideas:

Meanwhile, two things are particularly striking about the current Democratic agenda. The first is that it’s so tired. Raising the minimum wage, raising taxes on high earners, tightening environmental regulation — these are all ideas from the ’60s. The second is that nobody on the left seems to be aware of it.

Oh, those liberals and their tired ideas like wages and the environment. BORING!!! The cool kids are totally into the extra fresh ideas of Herbert Hoover’s economic model, Gilded Age taxation structures, and belching smokestacks. And look, the conservative writers Gobry talks of as counter to the boring old Democrats are very, very forward looking:

A flurry of innovative young writers like Yuval Levin, Reihan Salam, Ross Douthat, Tim Carney, and Avik Roy put out fresh, 21st-century ideas on everything from tax reform to health care to social mobility to poverty to curtailing the power of Big Business. Many of these ideas are now compiled in a seminal new book. And many of these ideas have been adopted by the most prominent GOP politicians and presidential candidates. Only with the right leader will the GOP truly embrace what’s been called reform conservatism, but it’s clear that the GOP is becoming the party of ideas again.

Totally the party of all the ideas! There’s Ross Douthat, longing for projecting his imagined view of 1950s gender and sexual relations onto the American people! And Reihan Salam promoting a permanent occupation of Iraq! Why, I bet these writers in this seminal book new also promote such cutting-edge ideas as busting teacher unions, destroying the social welfare net, expanding dirty energy production, and bombing nations of brown people! Why, I wonder if these groundbreaking ideas might, just maybe, promote the interests of the rich? These are ideas never before thought of in American history! I for one feel the left is permanently doomed by these brazen new models of thought. Thomas Kuhn wrote The Structure of Scientific Revolutions precisely to describe this level of brilliance and insight! We will never be the same!

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The Supreme Court and the Buffer Zone

[ 102 ] June 26, 2014 |

As with the EPA ruling earlier in the week, I’d say that at least it could have been a lot worse.

Elsewhere, see Sarah Posner on “sidewalk counselors,” Simon Waxman on ditto, and Dahlia Lithwick notes (implicitly reubtting the silly first section of the Scalia concurrence) the massive buffer zone around the Supreme Court.

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Canning and Scalia’s Law Office History

[ 71 ] June 26, 2014 |

For reasons I’ve discussed at length, I don’t agree with the majority’s judgment in NLRB v. Canning. However, I am happy that thanks to Kennedy the Court didn’t quite go full metal wingnut.

On the latter point, I have a piece up at the Guardian about Scalia’s concurrence. For the reasons cited, the idea that the text of the Constitution “unambiguously” forbids intrasession appointments is unserious. It’s not true on its face, and carries with it the additional problem of requiring the belief than many presidents, attorneys general, and — perhaps most importantly — Senate leaders have advanced a reading of the Constitution that is not merely mistaken but irrational.

So what this comes down to is the question of historical practice, and on this point Breyer simply demolishes Scalia. It’s not just that intrasession appointments have been common since the Andrew Johnson administration. Worse for Scalia’s argument, as Breyer demonstrates, is that prior to the Civil War Senate sessions were comparatively short on the one hand and intrasession recesses for all intents and purposes didn’t exist on the other. What we can infer about what Madison, Monroe, Jackson et al. thought about intrasession recess appointments from the fact that they didn’t make any, in other words, is nothing. That they didn’t make intrasession recess appointments is about as relevant as the fact that they didn’t make statutes available in PDF form. The increasing ubiquity of intrasession recess appointments is based on factors, such as modern party politics and air travel, that the founding generation didn’t anticipate. To try to to figure out how they would have evaluated intrasession recess appointments in a contemporary context is a pointless exercise.

And so I come back to this point — even if Scalia’s originalist arguments were as persuasive as he thinks they are, you can’t apply “originalist” arguments in isolation to one facet of the 21st century political system. The framers may not have anticipated intrasession appointments, but they presumably didn’t foresee modern partisan obstruction or the serial rejection of presidential nominees either. Originalism-for-me-but-not-for-thee can’t work even if we could discern a meaningful “original meaning,” which we generally can’t.

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Meet the New New South, Same as the Old New South

[ 85 ] June 26, 2014 |

I’m not sure that I’m quite as pessimistic as labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein about the early 21st century South. But he’s certainly right about the attempt to reinstitute white supremacy.

We used to call it the “New South.” That was the era after Reconstruction and before the Civil Rights laws — when the states of the old Confederacy seemed most determined to preserve a social and economic order that encouraged low-wage industrialization as they fought to maintain Jim Crow.

What was then distinctive about the South had almost as much to do with economic inequality as racial segregation. Between roughly 1877 and 1965, the region was marked by low-wages, little government, short lives and lousy health — not just for African-Americans but for white workers and farmers.

The Civil Rights revolution and the rise of an economically dynamic Sun Belt in the 1970s and ‘80s seemed to end that oppressive and insular era. The Research Triangle in North Carolina, for example, has more in common with California’s Silicon Valley than with Rust Belt manufacturing. The distinctive American region known as the South had truly begun to vanish.

This is the thesis of economic historian Gavin Wright’s new book on the economic consequences of the civil rights revolution, Sharing the Prize. Ending segregation, Wright argues, improved the economic and social status of both white and black workers The South became far less distinctive as wages and government-provided benefits increased to roughly the national level.

But the New South has returned with a vengeance, led by a ruling white caste now putting in place policies likely to create a vast economic and social gap between most Southern states and those in the North, upper Midwest and Pacific region. As in the late 19th century, the Southern elite appears to believe that the only way their region can persuade companies to relocate there is by taking the low road: keeping wages down and social benefits skimpy. They seem to regard any trade union as the vanguard of a Northern army of occupation.

Lichtenstein concludes:

This is, however, not just a product of racial fears and resentments. Instead it appears to reflect an increasingly inbreed Southern hostility to the exercise of economic regulatory power on virtually any level. As in the 19th century, many in the South, including a considerable proportion of the white working-class, have been persuaded that the federal government is their enemy.

As in the New South era, Southern whites, both elite and plebian, have adopted an insular and defensive posture toward the rest of the nation and toward newcomers in their own region. Echoing the Jim Crow election laws promulgated by Southern states at the turn of the 20th century, the new wave of 21st century voting restrictions promise to sharply curb the Southern franchise, white, black, and brown.

The new New South rejects not only the cosmopolitanism of a multiracial, religiously pluralist society, but the legitimacy of government, both federal and state, that seeks to ameliorate the poverty and inequality that has been a hallmark of Southern distinctiveness for more than two centuries.

The Civil War has yet to be won.

My relative optimism has to do with demographics. As it becomes politically more and more difficult to thrive as a white supremacist, as Latinos become an ever-larger part of the southern population, and as the people become more worldly, threatening conservatives with the moral decay watching soccer causes and the like, these politics, at least around race, become harder to sustain. Into that gap can come voter suppression and other tools of white supremacy, but unless the Supreme Court is willing to overturn the Voting Rights Act entirely, which is not impossible given who makes up the court in 2014, this seems like a loser’s game in the long haul. On the other hand, the attack on unions as monsters can easily transcend its southern rhetoric as agents of northern occupation and morph into a general hatred of workers uniting for higher wages, better working conditions, and a voice on the job. With Obama’s own former appointees leading some of these charges, that seems almost likely, if depressing.

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Conserative White Male Resentment of the Day

[ 447 ] June 26, 2014 |


All those liberals driving Priuses make big strong tough American white men feel threatened
. So they typically have to bully others.

In small towns across America, manly men are customizing their jacked-up diesel trucks to intentionally emit giant plumes of toxic smoke every time they rev their engines. They call it “rollin’ coal,” and it’s something they do for fun.

An entire subculture has emerged on the Internet surrounding this soot-spewing pastime—where self-declared rednecks gather on Facebook pages (16,000 collective followers) Tumblers and Instagram (156,714 posts) to share photos and videos of their Dodge Rams and GM Silverados purposefully poisoning the sky. As one of their memes reads: “Roll, roll, rollin’ coal, let the hybrid see. A big black cloud. Exhaust that’s loud. Watch the city boy flee.”

Aside from being macho, the rollin’ coal culture is also a renegade one. Kids make a point of blowing smoke back at pedestrians, in addition to cop cars and rice burners (Japanese-made sedans), which can make it dangerously difficult to see out of the windshield. Diesel soot can also be a great road rage weapon should some wimpy looking Honda Civic ever piss you off. “If someone makes you mad, you can just roll coal, and it makes you feel better sometimes,” says Ryan, a high school senior who works at the diesel garage with Robbie. “The other day I did it to this kid who was driving a Mustang with his windows down, and it was awesome.”


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Hot Felons and “Fat, Ugly” Girls

[ 183 ] June 26, 2014 |

Have you heard about Jeremy Meeks, the “hot felon?” Well, meet Jeremy Meeks: he’s a felon and he’s undeniably hot. And apparently, even in this day and age, that makes him more worthy your of time, attention and adulation. Hey, he’s hot–who cares if there are non-hot people rotting away in prison?

What do you “hot felon”-lovers know about this guy, Jeremy Meeks, anyway? He could be a murderer. For all you know, he could watch “Two and Half Men” unironically. For all you know, he can often be overheard saying “That Ben Shapiro guy? He’s on to something.” You don’t know. But you’ve glommed on to him because he’s hot. Mind you, I wouldn’t care if you glommed on to him for a different reason…like because maybe you have concerns about our criminal justice system and the way it treats men of color. But that’s not the reason you glommed on. You glommed on because he has dreamy blue eyes. Gross.

Which brings me to real reason for this post: Melissa McEwan has written an incredibly poignant entry about being called “fat” and “ugly” damn near all her life. And about how she’s internalized that. More importantly, she’s written an entry about how anyone, no matter how “fat” or “ugly” s/he is, deserves to be visible and deserves to be treated with the same kindness you’d show a hot felon.


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