Jonathan Tobin begins the deification of martyr Naomi Schaefer Riley.
In saying this, Riley was blunt but transgressed no rules of journalism other than the need not to offend powerful constituencies. But for those devoted to the promotion of this sector of academia, for Riley to have pointed out that the emperor has no clothes is an unforgivable offense that must be punished by branding her as a racist who must be banished from the pages of the magazine. The only “standard” that Riley did not live up to in this post was the obligation to say what many on the left want to hear. Contrary to McMillen, the betrayal here was not on the part of the Chronicle for having published Riley, but in firing her in order to appease an unreasoning pack of academic jackals howling for the blood of anyone with the temerity to point out their shortcomings.
The Academic Jackals wouldn’t be a bad name for a band.
In case you want to know who the ALEC staffers are and, say, want to follow their Twitter feeds/harass them for being evil, this guide is for you.
…Jamelle has more. The basic con Brooks is running for the Ryan budget is that because Ryan refuses to specify the specific cuts that would flow from his plan for upper class tax cuts and increased defense spending, it’s not fair for anyone to point out anything that would need to be cut. It’s a nice scam.
…I figured the primary purpose of the column was to give Charles something to write about on a slow news Friday, and voila:
Considering that Ryan’s “budget” — which is unworthy of the name, but that’s another fight for another day — depends on mathematic designed by Bighorn sheep, it seems only fair to let the president speculate on his own basis what will happen if we allow the zombie-eyed granny-starving to proceed. What we do know is that Paul Ryan, in his deepest political soul, where he is a teenage boy having a Penthouse Forum moment with Dagny Taggart, doesn’t believe that financial aid, medical research, and early-childhood education are legitimate functions of the national government. It seems safe to assume, although Ryan doesn’t have the moral backbone to admit it publicly, that all of these programs would fare less well under his idea of government.
I forgot to mention — Bobo cites the fact-chucking of the most useless organization in the known universe about Medicare as authoritative. Really.
Adam Litpak had a good article noting that Verrilli’s oral argument appealed to Kennedy with the freedom-enhancing qualities of the Affordable Care Act. This motivated Ann Althouse, who didn’t seem to even understand the argument, to respond like a member of their junior high school’s Ayn Rand club participating as their team’s third-stringers at the forensics meet:
“Liberty” is a high abstraction. What is it about the liberty of compulsion to buy an expensive health insurance policy that Justice Kennedy is supposed to find appealing? Just because someone loves liberty doesn’t mean they’re going to love everything you slap a “liberty” label on!
Obviously, as a complacent reactionary who benefits from the security of taxpayer-funded health insurance Althouse can’t grasp why universal health care might be freedom-enhancing, but it’s not at all complicated:
- First of all, Althouse seems to assume that everyone who is uninsured wouldn’t want affordable insurance if they could get it, as if many people don’t have health insurance because of pre-existing conditions or because it’s not affordable for ordinary workers under the status quo.
- Once we move past this silly assumption, it’s not difficult to see the point the SG was making. Universal health care has freedom-enhancing properties in a lot of ways: it allows you to move, or engage in entrepreneurial activities, without losing the employer-based coverage that is the only practical means of obtaining insurance for those who aren’t poor or extremely wealthy. Mobility, particularly in American constitutionalism, has always been a treasured liberty. Bankruptcy is, to put it mildly, detrimental to liberty in all kinds of ways. Beyond that, whether you want to call the security that comes from health coverage freedom-enhancing is a matter of taste, but this security is certainly more valuable to most people that the “freedom” of knowing that you can be bankrupted by an accident or unforeseen illness.
- The even bigger problem here is that the rugged individualists who go without health insurance are not making a “choice” to be free of state constraint and state-provided benefits. They are, in fact, making a choice to stick the taxpayers with the bill if they have a medical emergency. Even a moderately sophisticated libertarian understands that the “freedom” to free ride is no freedom at all. Perhaps Althouse, like the judicial idol she defended so feebly, would prefer a libertarian dystopia in which people who aren’t lucky enough to have taxpayer-funded health insurance are just left to die from accidents or treatable illnesses. But whatever they would like the policy baseline to be, what matters both for public policy and for the question of whether the mandate is a necessary and proper part of a concededly constitutional regulatory framework is what the policy baseline under federal, state, and common law actually is. Kennedy actually showed some signs of understanding this, one of the few bright spots to come from the three days of depressingly inept work by he and his Republican colleagues.
Even if the ACA narrowly survives, David Frum is in for a rude awakening:
Even though the Solicitor General reportedly choked today, that doesn’t change the fact that the conservatives on the Court have spent most of their intellectual lives railing against judicial activism.
Well, this is technically true; conservatives on the court (and much more so off the court) do spend a lot of time railing against “judicial activism.” What the conservatives on the Court absolutely don’t do is oppose “judicial activism” in practice. And in this case, Scalia is virtually certain to vote to strike the law down.
One thing that the oral arguments in this case should accomplish is to make clear that when the Academy of the Overrated opens Scalia will get in on the first ballot. The performance of both Scalia and Alito throughout the oral arguments was an embarrassment — a succession of cranky and ignorant right-wing policy pronouncements and irrelevant hypotheticals with no pretense of engaging with the case law. Scalia’s attempt to invent a category of legislation that could be “necessary” but not “proper” — apparently because there might be alternative legislation that would be closer to the policy preferences Scalia got from listening to a third-rate winger talk show — was particularly special. If the Court wants to overrule McCulloch v. Maryland it really should do so explicitly…
UPDATE: ”On Tuesday, [Scalia] pursued the absurd “broccoli” analogy to the point where he sounded like a micro-rated evening-drive talk-show host from a dust-clotted station in southern Oklahoma.”
Shorter Differently phrased Glenn Reynolds: “As the blogosphere’s preeminent gun nut, I’ve been strangely silent about the Martin killing. However, I want to make it clear that this is good for Republicans, because it will remind people that the president is black and, also, there are protests by other black people. Actual vigilante killings of unarmed black people not doing anything illegal are nothing to worry about, but DNC chairman Louis Farrakhan tweeting that people getting away with murder may lead to more violence is beyond the pale of human decency.
Oh yeah, and in my trademark passive-aggressive manner I’ll make clear that I do in fact believe Zimmerman’s ludicrously implausible story.”
…via Mark F. in comments,
shorter verbatim Hindrocket: “This case has nothing to do with race. Racialists cite Zimmerman’s muttering of the phrase “f****** coons” while on the phone with 911 as evidence of racism. Others have interpreted that phrase differently, but to me, the one time I listened to it, it sounded like “f****** coons.” But so what? It is not illegal to say “f****** coons.” So if a racist slur isn’t illegal, it ceases to become racist! Fascinating.
…Pierce: “Well I certainly don’t feel calm and measured, and it’s not because my kids “could have been Trayvon.” No, they could not have. My kids are white. They lived in the suburbs. They could wear their pants anyway they liked. They could have worn hoodies to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, and nobody would have looked askance at them, let alone blown them away with a handgun.”
The Homer Simpson school of logic finds another Republican adherent, in this case an apologist for racist vigilante killings of people who aren’t even guilty of anything.
Apropos to my related point, I submit these metaphorical 2×4 blows on behalf of the exoneration of said racist murderers without comment.
It’s rare that I would look to the New York Times for a decent critique of American news reporting, but this is pretty good:
When 24-hour news channels debuted, we wondered how they’d fill up the time. Now we have an answer. Just consider the life-changing stories that appeared during the last week:
Boost Your Odds of Winning the Lottery (CNNMoney, which has now taken down the video because it didn’t meet the network’s “consistently high standards.” Or might it have been because of Felix Salmon’s withering commentary?)
Keeping Wine in the Family (Fox Business)
Buy Foreclosures with Your I.R.A. (CNBC)
Clearly I’ve been doing it wrong for years. Instead of focusing on boring things like saving enough, being broadly diversified and keeping fees low, I should have been touting the virtues of buying foreclosures with the money in my I.R.A., or even better, buying lottery tickets, right?
It is difficult to imagine a more responsible piece of journalism than featuring a story on how to increase your chances to win the lottery….
Having heard that a certain blogger seems to think that Stanley Fish is a representative figure of the American left [to be clear, it's G*oldst*ein, not Maha, who's making this mistake] I can’t resist quoting Terry Eagleton again:
It is one of the minor symptoms of the mental decline of the United States that Stanley Fish is thought to be on the Left. By some of his compatriots, anyway, and no doubt by himself. In a nation so politically addled that ‘liberal’ can mean ‘state interventionist’ and ‘libertarianism’ letting the poor die on the streets, this is perhaps not wholly unpredictable.
Stanley Fish, lawyer* and literary critic, is in truth about as left-wing as Donald Trump. Indeed, he is the Donald Trump of American academia, a brash, noisy entrepreneur of the intellect who pushes his ideas in the conceptual marketplace with all the fervour with which others peddle second-hand Hoovers. Unlike today’s corporate executive, however, who has scrupulously acquired the rhetoric of consensus and multiculturalism, Fish is an old-style, free-booting captain of industry who has no intention of clasping both of your hands earnestly in his and asking whether you feel comfortable with being fired.
I think Barbara also gets the Maher/Limbaugh question right. Maher and Limbaugh’s remarks are equivalent in the sense that they both constitute objectionably sexist ways of characterizing women, and Maher should not be considered exempt from criticism because he’s part of “our team.” But the remarks are not equivalent both because Limbaugh’s sexist attack on Fluke was not a single badly-chosen word but sustained and repeated for several days, and they’re especially not equivalent in the sense that Limbaugh is a figure of far greater influence than Maher is.
On Fish, see also Holbo.
*As Paul notes in comments, Eagleton is wrong about this; Fish isn’t a lawyer or even someone with a law degree, just someone who figured out that you can make a lot more money teaching in law schools. For that matter, it’s not particularly “addled” for liberals to be state interventionists unless you think libertarian views of freedom are correct, but that’s a discussion for another time…