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Tag: "hacktacular"

Welcome To My Life, Taboo

[ 59 ] May 5, 2010 |

Although Brian Leiter beat me to it, this David Bernstein post is such a remarkable piece of work that I can’t resist piling on.    Angry about the possibility that someone might be criticized (with, properly in my view, no other consequences as far as I can tell) for expressing racist views, he provides a list of people that are not “taboo” in American universities despite their having done bad things or expressed political views that David Bernstein disagrees with.   It’s not surprising that Walt and Mearshimer pop up, but it’s not clear what the point is; like the HLS emailer they’ve been subject to some harsh criticism (some of it, in my view, justified) and haven’t suffered any employment consequences — so what?    But it gets much better — in his list of six examples of how left-wingers can say anything they want, he manages to cite one example where a professor was denied tenure for his political views, and another example where a professor was fired for apparently legitimate reasons, but through a process put in motion only after he had expressed unpopular political views.

In an attempt to skate over this inadvertently convincing demolition of his own argument, Bernstein concedes in nicely Orwellian phrasing that Finklestein and Churchill “don’t teach at elite universities,” but asserts that this doesn’t matter because they  “have plenty of defenders and apologists at such universities.”    This argument is both dumb in principle (I dunno about you, but I’d have to say losing your job trumps having hypothetical “defenders” at unamed “universities”) and fails even on its own terms (who, exactly, has defended Churchill’s comments, as opposed to his right to say them?)    You may wonder at this point if Bernstein applies this ad hoc “losing your job is no big deal” standard to History’s Greatest Martyr, Saint Larry Summers.    Well, you won’t be surprised by the answer.   And the last time I looked, neither Churchill nor Finklestein occupied powerful, highly-compensated positions in the United States government…


Hackery, Thy Name Is Michael Barone

[ 24 ] April 13, 2010 |

Michael Barone essays some constitutional “analysis,” which is touted by various wingers* who also don’t know anything about constitutional law, except that the framers intended the Constitution to enact the 2008 platform of the Texas Republican Party.     And it’s even worse than this setup suggests:

I would expect an Obama nominee to decline to answer. But Republicans may not take such a response as meekly as they did when Ginsberg [sic] declined to answer dozens of questions back in 1993. They might press harder, as they did in 2009 when they prompted Sotomayor to declare, to the dismay of some liberal law professors, that she would only interpret the Constitution and the law, not make new law. Just raising the health care mandate issue helps Republicans given the great and apparently growing unpopularity of the Democrats’ legislation.

Republican Senators were able to force Sonia Sotomayor to mouth some of the same vacuous tautologies as Samuel Alito and John Roberts. Victory! Uncited: the “liberal law professors” who were allegedly dismayed because Sotomayor said she would “interpret the Constitution.”

But we’re getting to the really dumb stuff:

Another set of questions could prove embarrassing for Democrats who have lauded Griswold v. Connecticut and Roe v. Wade for creating a right to privacy that includes contraception and abortion. “How can the freedom to make such choices with your doctor be protected and not freedom to choose a hip replacement or a Caesarean section?” asks former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey in The Wall Street Journal. “Either your body is protected from government interference or it’s not.”

Generally, it’s a bad idea to rely on the unfounded assertions of one of the most relentless liars in American public life, and this is no exception. First of all, nothing in Griswold and Roe suggests an absolutely unlimited right to do anything involving one’s body. But this is beside the point, of course, because nothing in the health care bill prevents anyone from getting a hip replacement or Caserean section if they choose to obtain one and can find a willing provider. But yes, asking the next Supreme Court nominee about the contradiction between a non-existent constitutional right first adduced in the landmark opinion My Fevered Imagination v. Strawman and a non-existent legislative provision sure will make the nominee look stupid and uncomfortable. I hope Jeff Sessions takes the bait.

McCaughey also notes that in 2006 the Supreme Court in Gonzales v. Oregon ruled that the federal government couldn’t set standards for doctors to administer lethal drugs to terminally ill patients under Oregon’s death with dignity act. So does the Constitution empower the feds to regulate non-lethal drugs in contravention of other state laws?

McCaughey seems never to tell the truth, even by accident. If (unlike, one suspects, Barone) you actually read the Court’s holding, you’ll see that it’s a statutory interpretation case, not a constitutional case: the Court didn’t say that the federal government couldn’t preempt state laws concerning lethal drugs, it said that it didn’t give the Attorney General that authority.   Absolutely nothing in the Court’s opinion suggests that Congress couldn’t give the Attorney General that power if it chose to do so, and it is clear from a ruling issued the year before case that such a law would be upheld.

That’s an impressive day’s hackery!

*As a commenter notes, the “winger” label does not seem fair as applied to Zandar — he seems to be more of a centrist type .   My apologies.

The “Some Legislator Somewhere” Gambit

[ 9 ] March 15, 2010 |

You may be wondering where the “Obama is coming for your salt!” idea comes from.    (Other than pure derangement, I mean.)   Apparently, it’s a product of one of the oldest gambits in the hack’s playbook: “forgetting” that in the American system of government any individual legislator can introduce legislation, and then citing isolated proposals with no support as representative of something.  

Falling for some rube-running by a local Fox affiliate, Col. Mustard lets us in on the great salt-banning conspiracy.   Let us examine an exhaustive list of the powerful figures behind this inexorable legislative freight train:

…a Democratic New York Assemblyman

But don’t kid yourself: the fact that one assemblyman proposed an idiotic law that has as much chance of passing as Rush Limbaugh has of being the Green Party’s candidate for president in 2012 means that the federal government is about to ban salt. It’s a very slippery slope! Why, we don’t even have Obamacare yet, and I hear rumors that there’s an large, well-funded movement dedicated to having government bureaucrats force women to carry pregnancies to term…


[ 0 ] February 24, 2010 |

Col. Mustard, among many others, accuses Democrats of being hypocrites for planning to use the majority rules votes that govern pretty much every other legislature in the world to pass health care reform in the Senate. This kind of procedural tu quoque is useless even if accurate because it almost always cuts both ways. Which makes it especially pathetic that the charges are simply false even on their own terms; since Democrats aren’t planning to use the “nuclear option,” but rather a banal procedural tool more often used by Republicans, they’ve got nothing. Sad.

Stop the Presses!

[ 0 ] February 20, 2010 |

Apparently, defense lawyers may have represented people accused of crimes. This is truly shocking in its own right, but here’s something more shocking: they’re being permitted to work in the Obama administration! Oh the humanity!

I suppose it’s difficult for anything else to be the dumbest winger faux-scandal of the week given the assertions that anti-communist books about communism being in the White House library prove that Michelle Obama is a Maoist, but York sure has given it an Olympic-caliber effort.

"We’ve plenty of hearsay and conjecture. Those are kinds of evidence."

[ 0 ] February 16, 2010 |

Ann Althouse wishes to emphasize that, while Glenn Reynolds based his assumption that Amy Bishop is a left-wing radical on a single RateMyProfessor comment, her own evidence is absolutely airtight:

LGM expends much effort trying to make it look as though the only source for Bishop’s politics was some student review on RateMyProfessors. But — I’ve already linked to this — here’s the Boston Herald:

A family source said Bishop… was a far-left political extremist who was “obsessed” with President Obama to the point of being off-putting

Well, I can understand why Althouse is proud of citing two whole pieces of what can charitably be called “evidence.” After all, she once wrote an op-ed asserting that Sam Alito was a moderate who deserved liberal support that had no evidence at all. But it should be obvious that this anonymous quote is scarcely better evidence of Bishop’s politics than isolated RateMyProfesors comments. I know “family sources” who consider my partner a radical leftist because she eats vegetables other than iceberg lettuce and drives a Subaru; without knowing who the family source is or how well he/she knows Bishop the quote isn’t reliable evidence of anything. Moreover, the quote is self-refuting — a radical leftist obsessed with Barack Obama? It’s better evidence that the “family source” considers anybody to the left of Jim DeMint a “far-left political extremist” than that Bishop had radical politics.

Of course, even if this highly unconvincing “evidence” was accurate, it doesn’t really matter, as Althouse leaves the other Scott’s central point untouched. Scott Roeder’s murder was explicitly and admittedly political in purpose, while Bishop’s homicides seem to have resulted from an apolitical personal grievance. To argue that the MSM is biased because they’re not treating these cases the same way is idiotic.

Joementum 2: Electric Boogaloo

[ 0 ] February 15, 2010 |

Obviously, the idea that Evan Bayh has any chance of winning a national Democratic primary is funny stuff (or pathetic, when the person making the argument is actually paid to write about politics; it’s funnier coming from hapless amateurs.) But I especially enjoyed this from Lane’s tribute to Bayh:

For months now, Bayh has been screaming at the top of his voice that the party needs to reorient toward a more popular, centrist agenda — one that emphasizes jobs and fiscal responsibility over health care and cap and trade. Neither the White House nor the Senate leadership has given him the response he wanted.

Leaving aside the feigned shock about the fact that the Democratic leadership was unenthusiastic about adopting the agenda of the second-most conservative Democratic senator, you have to enjoy the idea that the “popular” strategy for the Democrats would apparently be a “jobs” program…of the “fiscally disciplined” kind adopted by Herbert Hoover and Martin Van Buren. If Congress actually adopted Bayh’s ideas, his choice to run or not would be moot, given that his chances of winning would be roughly zero given the state of the economy…

Hack of the Day

[ 0 ] February 14, 2010 |

Glenn Reynolds.

it’s a twofer! In context, taking an isolated assertion at ratemyprofessor that Bishop is a “socialist” at face value and then implying that it’s somehow relevant to her multiple homicides is probably worse that falling for another global denialist hoax, but it’s close…

Dumbest Crayon Scribblings At Fred Hiatt’s Place Today

[ 0 ] February 2, 2010 |

Richard Cohen. The fact that a plausible list of the worst WaPo columnists could be compiled an not include him remains amazing; as Paul says, it’s like a mirror image of the 1975 Reds.

You Disagree With Tony Kennedy (When He Reaches a Conservative Result), You Oppose the Rule of Law

[ 0 ] January 29, 2010 |

Paul and I have compiled some examples of conservative academics arguing that Obama needs to be sent to Sally Quinn Reeducation Camp or something for disagreeing with an innovative constitutional doctrine just announced by a bare majority of the Court. At the time, though, I missed an even funnier argument, namely William Jacobson’s assertion that by criticizing the Court, Obama was threatening the rule of law itself:

The attack on the Supreme Court exposes the intolerance of this President. The politician who campaigned and allegedly champions the rule of law actually has very little use for the rule of law when it does not advance his political agenda.

This is an…interesting argument. Let’s examine some other examples of prominent public officials who, in disagreeing with decisions announced by the Supreme Court, therefore oppose the rule of law:

  • “The 10th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade is a good time for us to pause and reflect. Our nationwide policy of abortion-on-demand through all nine months of pregnancy [sic] was neither voted for by our people nor enacted by our legislators — not a single state had such unrestricted abortion [sic] before the Supreme Court decreed it to be national policy in 1973. But the consequences of this judicial decision are now obvious: since 1973, more than 15 million unborn children have had their lives snuffed out by legalized abortions. That is over ten times the number of Americans lost in all our nation’s wars…Make no mistake, abortion-on-demand is not a right granted by the Constitution.” —Saint Ronald Reagan, 1983
  • After a day of consideration, the McCain Campaign has decided to come out hard against yesterday’s 5 to 4 decision to grant more rights to court review for enemy combatants held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. “The United States Supreme Court yesterday rendered a decision which I think is one of the worst decisions in the history of this country,” McCain said. He went on to quote from Justice Roberts dissent in the case, rail against “unaccountable judges,” and say that the courts are about to be clogged with cases from detainees.”

The 2008 election was contested between two candidates who oppose the rule of law — shocking! Anyway, I could go on, but since I assume that even Jacobson himself doesn’t believe in this ridiculous definition of the “rule of law” cataloging further examples would be redundant.

For further comedy, in attempting to claim that Obama’s public disagreement with 5 of the Court’s 9 members was “unprecedented,” Col. Mustard uncritically quotes someone asserting that “[e]ven President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had a lot of grievances with the Court, never mentioned it in any of his State of the Union messages.” This might strike you as implausible in the extreme. Well, I happen to have FDR’s 1937 State of the Union Address right here, and…

Seems About Right

[ 0 ] January 26, 2010 |

Remember Laurie Mylroie? The sometime collaborator of Respected Journamalist Judy Miller whose meticulous scholarship has demonstrated that Saddam Hussein was responsible for such events as 9/11, the Oklahoma City bombings, and Aaron Small going 11-0 with the 2005 Yankees? Now guess who the Bush administration turned to when they needed an, ahem, expert analysis of Al Qaeda.

I’m very happy these people are no longer in power…

The Antithesis Of Sensible

[ 0 ] January 11, 2010 |

To expand on Matt’s point about this otherwise disturbingly excellent Peter Beinart column, it’s not merely that Stuart Taylor isn’t “normally sensible”; it’s that he exemplifies egregious double standards with respect to racial classifications. His long-standing, full-throated defense of racial profiling has always coexisted alongside the belief that even the mildest forms of affirmative action are immense injustices.

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