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 DREAMLIFE OF DEAD-ENDERS.

THE DREAMLIFE OF DEAD-ENDERS. Via K. Drum , I see that Jonah Goldberg (just like Josh Trevino ) asserts that Bush is superior to his critics because at least he's "forthrightly trying to win a war." Kevin deals with the first problem with Goldberg's argument, which is claiming contradictions in the Democratic position that don't exist . But, in addition, it should be noted that in absence of any viable plan to achieve his goals, the credit due to Bush for thinking it would be desirable to win is absolutely nil. If your local battered women's shelter phones to say that they could provide beds for everyone with a $200 donation, and you decide to take the money and spend it on a Joel Schumacher DVD box set instead, you don't get any extra moral credit because you think that it would be really nice if the shelter had enough beds. The disagreement between Bush and his critics is not over whether "winning" (whatever this even means -- people making this argument generally keep the contours...

THEY WERE AGAINST SOMETHING AFTER THEY WERE FOR SOMETHING ENTIRELY DIFFERENT!

THEY WERE AGAINST SOMETHING AFTER THEY WERE FOR SOMETHING ENTIRELY DIFFERENT! Glenn Reynolds approvingly links to this silly post by the Anchoress (while calling John Kerry a flip-flopper for--like Bush--supporting one funding plan and not another, ha ha, that never gets tired!). Noam Scheiber (discussing a similar use of this sophistry by Rich Lowry ) has already dealt with the idea that if you supported some number of additional troops at some previous historical juncture, it's hypocritical to oppose the specific plan put forward by Bush: Alas, there are a couple of conditions that must obtain before Lowry's point will hold water: 1.) It is only possible -- both practically and theoretically -- to expand the U.S. presence in Iraq by a one-off addition of 20,000 troops. So, for example, if we have 140,000 troops in Iraq, and someone says "more troops," then the only way to interpret their suggestion is: "add 20,000 troops." Or if we have 10,000 troops in Iraq and someone says "more...

THE PURSE AND THE SWORD.

THE PURSE AND THE SWORD. Marty Lederman argues (correctly) that the Constitution plainly gives Congress the formal powers to prevent the senseless escalation of the Iraq conflict. Matt brings up another question: would the courts actually provide a remedy if Bush simply decided to ignore a Congressional enactment preventing the escalation? Unfortunately, history strongly suggests that the courts would defer to the president. The most obvious recent example is Vietnam, when William O. Douglas spent years trying to convince his colleagues that the escalation of the war was illegal. By the early '70s, there were probably several justices who thought this argument was defensible as a legal matter, and certainly a majority of justices were opposed to the war (at least before Harlan and Black were replaced by Nixon appointees.) But Douglas couldn't even persuade his Brethren to grant cert, and surely one reason for this is that if they had told Nixon to bring back the troops, and he refused...

"ALL ABOUT VANITY":

"ALL ABOUT VANITY": Following up on yesterday's post, Greg has the definitive takedown of Joe Klein 's infinitely irritating "OK, liberals may be right, but since they become wrong if you attribute the motives I just made up out of whole cloth to them, really I'm right and they're not" shtick. (As Jon Chait pointed out last year, Klein isn't so much a political writer as a bad theater critic; policy is always less important to him than silly, tautological personality impressions, which makes his audacity in calling Paul Krugman a "dilettante" all the more remarkable.) Greg ends his post with the following challenge: Back up your arguments with facts and evidence. Produce one example of someone whose comments betray the fact that they're tacitly rooting for American failure. Quote this person. Explain why this person's quotes should be interpreted that way. If you manage to get that far, then maybe consider finding a second example, and even a third. That doesn't sound all that hard,...

THE FORGOTTEN TERRORISM:

THE FORGOTTEN TERRORISM: Garry Wills 's fine recent New York Review of Books article about the Bush administration's systematic evisceration of the separation of church and state recalls this important story: After his nomination but before his confirmation, Ashcroft promised to put an end to the task force set up by Attorney General Janet Reno to deal with violence against abortion clinics -- evangelicals oppose the very idea of hate crimes. The outcry of liberals against Ashcroft's promise made him back off from it during his confirmation hearings. In 2001, there was a spike in violence against the clinics -- 790 incidents, as opposed to 209 the year before. That was because the anthrax alarms that year gave abortion opponents the idea of sending threatening powders to the clinics -- 554 packets were sent. Nonetheless, Ashcroft refused for a long time to send marshals to quell the epidemic. And although this has also been largely forgotten, the fake anthrax attacks were mild...

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