Archive

  • THE CASE AGAINST...

    THE CASE AGAINST READER MAIL. In response to the proposition that people should sometimes "make some decisions which are different from the ones dictated by narrow self-interest in a social context deeply shaped by the enduring legacy of sexism," reader J.R. remarks that my views are "simply fascism with a velvet glove." But I wrote them in a blog post, making it "hard fascism with a Microsoft face" in a velvet glove , which is really bad. Seriously, to coin a phrase, everyone needs to stop being such wankers about this. People make judgments about the prudential or ethical merits of others' life choices all the time -- that's not "fascism," it's functioning in human society. --Matthew Yglesias
  • BODY POLITICS. The...

    BODY POLITICS. The July/August print issue of the Prospect has a three-article package on abortion politics that is now available online, and worth a look. Helena Silverstein and Wayne Fishman assess the Supreme Court's swing voter on abortion, Anthony Kennedy , while Allison Stevens reports on a crucial shortcoming in the choice movement's strategy. Finally, Scott Lemieux of Lawyers, Guns, and Money fame does us all the service of delivering -- at long last -- a comprehensive riposte to the scores of contrarian arguments proffered by "pro-choicers" about how women and Democrats might be better off if Roe was overturned. Lemieux makes the definitive counter-counter-intuitive anti-anti- Roe case here , and it's well worth a read. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • EMERGENT MEME WATCH....

    EMERGENT MEME WATCH. Joe Scarborough is a real problem for my channel-flipping habit. Every time I happen across his program, I pause, figuring I've found Friends , only to realize that someone gave Chandler a rightwing talkshow. It's no mere resemblance -- the two look precisely identical . It's such a shame, I never figured Chandler the Republican type. Anyway, that's all digression. Yesterday, Chandler/Scarborough hosted a global warming segment with John Stossel , who was arguing that worries over global warming are not, in fact, about the logistical issues that will make Bangladesh unlivable, but about a deep-seated hatred of capitalism. Yes, if you're worried about global warming, you're a commie. But Stossel is something of a laughingstock anyway, so I didn't take the segment very seriously. Jonah Goldberg , though, has changed my mind, offering up nearly the same argument over at The Corner. Jonah's formulation is less accusatory (you're not necessarily a Communist) and more...
  • NEVER SACRIFICE? I...

    NEVER SACRIFICE? I don't really want to spend all day on this, but Jonah Goldberg 's posted and endorsed an email on Linda Hirshman that makes the bizarre claims that her arguments are "fantastically illiberal" because "Hardly anyone in our deeply liberal society argues that we should sacrifice our desires to a greater good � the churches do, ever so timidly, but that's about it." Come on, now. For one thing, we're not living in a libertarian utopia. We're all subject to any number of legal regulations on the pursuit of our desires enacted in the name of some greater good. So many that I don't think I should need to enumerate them. Besides regulatory efforts, we're all beset by any number of efforts to use moral suasion to get people to check their desires in pursuit of larger social goals. I cursed at a Wizards playoff game and earned a dirty look from a father sitting in front of me with his young daughter. People ask me to contribute to charity. Religious groups tell teenagers not...
  • THE DAILY SHOW...

    THE DAILY SHOW REVISITED . I awoke this morning to a gleeful Lee Siegel post trumpeting a new study that shows, just as Siegel predicted, that exposure to The Daily Show turns viewers off of politics. "Jon Stewart's show," Siegel wrote, "is destroying democracy as we know it." Only it isn't. Siegel got his information from a woefully incomplete Washington Post column on the subject, whose author either didn't read the paper he purported to explain or didn't understand it. The actual findings were that Stewart's show increases cynicism towards politics, but included no data showing that heightened cynicism decreases participation (indeed, I'd expect it wouldn't). Determined to get to the bottom of this, I employed a variant of the secret reporter tactic of PUTDP (Picking Up The Damn Phone) and sent John Morris , one of the study's authors, an e-mail. Here was his reply: Bloggers and the mainstream media have overstated our findings greatly. Our study does not argue that Jon Stewart is...
  • THAT WAS THEN....

    THAT WAS THEN. So I woke up in the middle of the night and flicked on TCM. And there was The Shoes of the Fisherman , the 1968 Michael Anderson -lensed (as they say in Variety ) adaptation of the famous Morris West novel about the ascension of the first Eastern European Pope. I was transfixed. I remember both novel and film being much discussed in my house when I was a kid, although I don�t really remember anyone�s opinions. I think I recall my late, beloved Aunt Vicky , who was the devout Catholic among our extended clan, speaking of it approvingly. Which is interesting for the following reasons. TSOTF struck me as having, very clearly, a liberal message -- a subtle piece of propaganda that was pro-Catholic (reverent attitude toward the ceremonies of the Church) but that must have been, at the time, egging its audience to embrace Vatican II and change in general. Pope Kiril I, played with a certain appealingly leaden steadiness by Anthony Quinn , announces at his investiture (forgive...
  • JUST SAY NO....

    JUST SAY NO. This is what Peggy Noonan wrote today on a website sponsored by one of America's most influential publications: "Bush The Younger would breastfeed the military if he could." This is one of those moments in which I love to imagine how the editing process at a place like OpinionJournal works: "Jesus, Bill, I told you to hide the damn mushrooms." Feed your head, Peg-o-my-heart. One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small. Ask Rush if you don't believe me. --Charles P. Pierce
  • SCOTUS STANDS UP....

    SCOTUS STANDS UP. I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised by the Supreme Court's ruling in the Hamdan case. Ordinarily, the Court is very deferential to executive assertions of national security authority and then turns around and changes its mind years after the fact. Note also that conservative "strict constructionists" continue to believe that the Bill of Rights secretly doesn't apply . . . when the President says it doesn't. Meanwhile, it's always worth recalling the administration's underlying legal theory about Gitmo. This holds that U.S. law doesn't apply there because it's in Cuba. But Cuba doesn't actually get to have sovereign control over the area either, because if it did we'd have to leave as per their request. So, basically, it's a legal null zone where you can just do whatever. This is the kind of thing you expect a seven year-old to come up with when forced to explain why he should be allowed to have dessert even though he hasn't finished his peas yet. --Matthew Yglesias
  • LONG HOURS, HIGH...

    LONG HOURS, HIGH PAY? Greg Mankiw points out a new study showing that, in 2002, the top income quintile was twice as likely to work long hours as the bottom quintile. "That is," he writes, "wages and hours worked went from being negatively correlated to being positively correlated. This may be an important piece of the puzzle of rising income inequality." Possibly so. Of course, the bottom quintile are low-wage workers in jobs that rarely pay benefits and often keep employees in a sort of part-time twilight so they don't qualify for health care -- that may be a piece of the puzzle as well. Also interesting, however, is recent research by Tom Hertz of American University who found that "[h]ouseholds whose adult members all worked more than 40 hours per week for two years in a row were more upwardly mobile in 1990-91 and 1997-98 than households who worked fewer hours. Yet this was not true in 2003-04, suggesting that people who work long hours on a consistent basis no longer appear to...
  • DICK MORRIS IS...

    DICK MORRIS IS RIGHT!! He has this column in The Hill saying that Lieberman should forego the Democratic primary entirely and just run as an Independent, and that if he did so, he would win �overwhelmingly.� Alas, I�m afraid that I suspect this is entirely correct. Consider: First, voter enrollment in Connecticut looks like this (PDF; scroll down to page 12 of 14 for totals). You have roughly 700,000 Democrats, 450,000 Republicans, and 930,000 �unaffiliateds� (i.e., independents). Second, think about turnout in a dead-of-August Democratic primary (it�s August 8). Let�s be generous and assume a primary turnout of 25 percent. That�s 175,000 voters. Let�s say Lamont beats Lieberman 55 to 45. That�s 96,250 votes. That�s not a huge base on which to build for a general election that will probably include 1 million voters (the total state enrollment is 2 million; assume general election turnout of 50 percent or so). Assume also a fairly weak Republican, as seems to be the case -- a bloke...

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