Scott Lemieux

Scott Lemieux is an assistant professor of political science at the College of Saint Rose. He contributes to the blogs Lawyers, Guns, and Money and Vox Pop.

Recent Articles

THE "PORKBUSTERS" DODGE.

THE "PORKBUSTERS" DODGE. Ramesh Ponnuru has an excellent critique of the "Porkbusters" crusade, noting that it "places an enormous amount of political energy in the service of trivial goals." As he points out, even the modest reductions in federal spending actually being claimed are largely illusory: ...most of the time, getting rid of earmarks saves taxpayers no money. A lot of people who cheer on the porkbusters are under the impression that cutting a dollar of earmarks will yield a dollar of budget savings. In most cases, however, "earmarks" are congressional directives that federal agencies spend some of their allotted money in a specified way. If the money isn't earmarked, the agency is free to spend it as it sees fit. Federal spending stays at exactly the same level. Those porkbusters who understand this point have, alas, not gone out of their way to dispel popular confusion. [...] The third limit on how much the porkbusters can achieve is that earmarks are a small part of the...

THE ARGUMENT FROM TRADITION.

THE ARGUMENT FROM TRADITION. Thers take on the first half of the Scalia quote approvingly cited by Ann Althouse . I'd like to deal with the second: "What Shakespeare is to the high school English student," Scalia said, "the society's accepted constitutional traditions are to the prudent jurist. "He does not judge them, but is judged by them. The very test of the validity of his analytic formulas -- his rules -- is whether, when applied to traditional situations, they yield the results that American society has traditionally accepted." The real heart of Scalia's jurisprudence isn't "originalism" or "textualism" but his belief in "traditions" he attributes to (and often projects onto) "the people." As he argued in U.S. v. Virginia -- the case in which the Court, with Scalia as the lone dissenter, ruled that Virignia's exclusion of women from a particular form of education was unconstitutional -- "[w]hatever abstract tests we may choose to devise, they cannot supersede -- and indeed...

TORTURIN' RUDY.

TORTURIN' RUDY. I'm not sure what's more depressing about yesterday's debate -- the current forerunner enthusiastically and unequivocally supporting torture , or how well it went over in the audience. Obviously, Giuliani 's authoritarianism is going to become more and more manifest because it's his only possible route to victory. I still think that when Rudy goes to the GOP primary markets to realize his soul he'll find what he needs he just doesn't have --his competitors will be able to offer pointless wars and arbitrary executive power without being dragged down by a rational position on the abortion issue--but certainly the dynamic he's going to bring to the race is going to be bad for the country and (I hope) for the Republican Party. On the other hand, I think the Sexiest Torturer Alive 's proposal (already K-Lo -approved !) to "double Gitmo" has considerably more merit to it. Oh, he doesn't mean that it should be doubled to accommodate all the Bush administration officials and...

THE FECKLESSNESS OF CHRISTINA HOFF SOMMERS.

THE FECKLESSNESS OF CHRISTINA HOFF SOMMERS. Garance , Matt and zuzu have already amply demonstrated the bad faith, distortions, and selective evidence of the latest manifestation of Christina Hoff Sommers 's feeble "American feminists don't care about the suppression of Islamic women" routine. And, of course, American feminists are in a no-win situation. One might have thought that Katha Pollitt -- who writes a great deal about the suppression of Islamic women and is a columnist for the largest-circulation liberal political magazine -- might have merited Sommers's attention, although of course she didn't. But you may recall Ana Marie Cox 's regrettable review of Pollitt's latest book , in which Cox sighed that Pollitt was "fixated" on women's rights in the Middle East. You can't win. In addition, I thought J. Goodrich also made a good point in comments : Sommers is a a very fascinating example of someone who has not herself written a long book about the situation of women in Islamic...

HAWKS STICKING THEIR HEADS IN THE SAND (OF IRAQ).

HAWKS STICKING THEIR HEADS IN THE SAND (OF IRAQ). Ezra reminds us of one of the more bizarre manifestations of pro- Bush 's-war liberalism, Paul Berman 's attempt to fit Islamic terrorism seamlessly into the WWII and/or Cold War models of conflict, as a fight waged against totalitarianism. A year later, sometime TAP contributor Stephen Holmes offered the definitive rebuttal of this argument in his elegy for "the 1990s liberal hawk, by no means destined to survive the blast furnace of Iraq." Particularly important, looking forward, is Holmes' point that conflating Islamic terrorism with Nazism and Stalinism is not merely a bad analogy (for one thing, these movements controlled actual states with powerful militaries, a rather crucial distinction). Such a framework does not reflect tough-mindedness but rather is a comforting narrative intended to make the problems faced by liberal democracies in the 21st century appear more tractable: His analogies, first of all, are tendentious to an...

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