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

PAGING WILLIAM SALETAN.

PAGING WILLIAM SALETAN. Shockingly enough, the " pro-life case for contraception" continues to fail dismally among actual pro-lifers , as the Missouri legislature (with the strong support of Missouri pro-life, natch) voted down restoring funding for contraception because "it would have amounted to an endorsement of promiscuous lifestyles." Which will mean more unwanted pregnancies and -- as a comparison of abortion rates in the United States with countries that permit both access to abortion and birth control will demonstrate -- more abortions. But what matters is that somebody will be able send a message about how evil the banal sexual behavior of consenting adults that one doesn't approve of is! I often talk about the flagrant inconsistency of American "pro-life" groups. But, in fairness, they are perfectly consistent about one thing: if they have a choice between reducing abortion rates and regulating female sexuality, they'll take the latter, as reliably as Carrot Top is unfunny...

THE INEVITABILITY INCREASING...

THE INEVITABILITY INCREASING LIKELIHOOD OF ROMNEY. Last week, in the wake of Giuliani 's decision to effectively end his candidacy, I speculated about who was going to replace him as the front runner. Given his fundraising and the fact that he would seem to be more appealing to both moderates and conservatives than the other remaining major candidate, Romney seemed to be far and away the favorite. This was particularly true since Romney's recent conversion to reactionary cultural positions was going to look better than Giuliani's outright repudiation of them. The problem with my theory was that his actual popularity among Republican primary voters wasn't strong. Well, that seems to be turning around in the crucial Iowa primary, and my guess continues to be that this trend will continue. I also agree with Matt that this is not necessarily irrational. Primary voters, indeed, are smart not to commit the George Wallace fallacy by trying to figure out what politicians "really think." What...

THE PORKBUSTERS PROBLEM.

THE PORKBUSTERS PROBLEM. Jane Galt brings up a reasonable point with respect to the anti-"Porkbusters" position taken by a cross-ideological set of bloggers ( including me ) last week: But seriously, while this is true on some level, isn't porkbusters still a good idea? There are other reasons to want to cut pork, besides being worried about the budget deficit. Pork may well have a big dragging effect on the economy by the distortions it introduces. And more than that, it's morally distasteful that senators and congressmen spend so much time -- time we pay them for -- trying to grab fistfuls of cash out of the public trough before the other pigs can get at it. The people pushing porkbusters may not succeed in paying for the Iraq war, but surely they're still doing God's work? I would have a few points in response. First, I don't think that Galt really adequately addresses Ramseh Ponnuru 's core point that the porkbuster folks use "enormous amount of political energy in the service of...

PATHETICALLY LIKE A MARTYR.

PATHETICALLY LIKE A MARTYR. Hilzoy offers the best summary for Paul Wolfowitz 's ignominious departure from the World Bank that I've seen so far: A few suggestions for his successor: (1) If you don't want to resign under a cloud, don't create one. (2) If you think people are out to get you, don't hand them ammunition. (3) If you are worried about your reputation, remember that it is not enhanced by clinging so tightly to your job that when you are finally dragged away, you leave claw marks. (4) Insisting that the Bank "clear your name" is pointless. Everyone knows that the nice things people say in order to get rid of someone they despise mean nothing. If you insist that they say such things, all that will happen is that people will be reminded that adults should not throw temper tantrums in public. Moreover, your willingness to put something this petty and stupid above the needs of an institution whose aim is to eliminate poverty will destroy any tattered remnants of your reputation...

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...

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