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

LATE NOTES ON FEDERALISM AND JIM CROW.

LATE NOTES ON FEDERALISM AND JIM CROW. I'm very late in wading into the Jim Crow/federalism debate , but a couple of points I haven't seen anyone else make yet: Eugene Volokh is right that the "federalism permitted Jim Crow, and hence it's bad" argument is fallacious. Just as no constitutional theory can consistently prevent normatively odious outcomes when they have substantial political support, there is no institutional arrangement that can always produce outcomes than one considers to be normatively desirable. (If asked to design a new American constitution, I would unquestionably choose a Parliamentary model with a very powerful federal government; but while I strongly believe that this would produce more congenial political outcomes from my perspective in the long run, it would also have produced much worse outcomes from my perspective than the current Madisionian framework did in 2002-6.) However, I don't think this is the real problem with "states' rights" and Jim Crow. The...

WHEN DID RULINGS OF THE MASSACHUSETTS COURTS BECOME NATIONALLY BINDING?

WHEN DID RULINGS OF THE MASSACHUSETTS COURTS BECOME NATIONALLY BINDING? Mickey Kaus has the latest iteration of the countermobilization myth: Even in a highly Republican town like Plano, in other words, the religious objection to gay marriage isn't the crucial objection. Fear that moral entropy will envelop your family's children is the crucial objection. I don't see how that fear is addressed theologically. I would think it has to be addressed practically, over time, by repeat demonstration . But time is one thing a rights-oriented, judicial route to gay marriage doesn't allow. I've been through the extensive theoretical and empirical problems with the claim that litigation is a more divisive means of achieving social change than legislation many times, so I won't repeat them in detail here. But leaving aside the fact that last year Kaus was using anecdotes from Plano on the assumption that it was a bastion of cultural liberal elitism, what's remarkable about the argument is that the...

WE CAN"T AFFORD...

WE CAN"T AFFORD NOT TO HAVE UNIVERSAL HEATHCARE : To follow up on Atrios and Ezra , let me carry the stats in this Times article one step further. Let's use their figures to extrapolate government health care spending per capita: United States $2745 France $2464 Canada $2215 Again, our system doesn't just spend far more money than France's much better system and Canada's heavily flawed but still better system, but more government money. And as Krugman says today: Part of the answer is that our fragmented system has much higher administrative costs than the straightforward government insurance systems prevalent in the rest of the advanced world. As Anna Bernasek pointed out in yesterday�s New York Times, besides the overhead of private insurance companies, �there�s an enormous amount of paperwork required of American doctors and hospitals that simply doesn�t exist in countries like Canada or Britain.� In addition, insurers often refuse to pay for preventive care, even though such care...

WHAT'S NOT THE MATTER WITH KANSAS

WHAT'S NOT THE MATTER WITH KANSAS : Freshly re-elected governor Kathleen Sebelius has some gratifying parting shots for Kansas's outgoing Underwear Drawer Monitor Phil Kline : Gov. Kathleen Sebelius today criticized Attorney General Phill Kline�s actions in his abortion investigation into George Tiller. �The story just continues to get stranger and stranger,� Sebelius said in response to questions from reporters. On Wednesday, a state district judge rejected for the second time an attempt by Kline to file charges against Tiller, a Wichita doctor who performs abortions. Kline, an abortion opponent, said he would appoint Don McKinney, also an anti-abortion advocate, as a special prosecutor to take over the case before he leaves office Jan. 8. Asked if she thought Kline�s actions were appropriate, Sebelius said, �I think what the judge found is that he did not follow the law, he did not abide by the steps that needed to be taken. He looked at it twice, and to me that�s not appropriate to...

WHY ARE WE LISTENING TO THIS MAN?

WHY ARE WE LISTENING TO THIS MAN? In pointing us to this remarkable construction of ice cream castles in the air and destruction of strawmen by Frederick Kagan and Kenneth Pollack at AEI, Yglesias asks : "Whether the Kagan-Pollack meeting of the minds enhances Kagan's credibility or detracts from Pollack's I'll leave as an exercise to the reader." My question: what credibility on Iraq could Pollack possibly have left to lose at this point? As Matt says, Pollack's remarks consist of a very convincing explanation of why the inevitable chaos in Iraq is going to be a disaster with considerable regional spillover, which constitutes excellent evidence for the foolishness and hubris of the war's advocates but is neither here not there in terms of demonstrating the viability of avoiding such an outcome. Pollack's conclusion, however, sums up the evasiveness and blame-shifting of the pro-war dead-enders effectively: At the end of the day, walking away from Iraq or even trying to contain it...

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