Roger Ebert, Ben Stein, and the culture war

Ever since Will posted about Roger Ebert earlier I’ve been reading Ebert’s blog (which is fantastic) and came across this explanation of why he never formally reviewed the Ben Stein mockumentary (er, documentary) Expelled.  For those of you who don’t know the premise of that film, it’s basically Stein’s extremely dishonest propaganda exposé on Intelligent Design.  Here’s…

Taxes: Where Political and Constitutional Expediency Collide

I’ve been out of pocket from the political realm for a week and a half, but President Obama’s claim that a health insurance mandate is not a tax strikes me as marginally good politics and absolutely terrible lawyering.  I think Jason Kuznicki (also here) and by extension Will, are absolutely, 100% correct that an individual mandate…

The Manhattan Declaration

Well, this is the trajectory of the modern Christian right.  Its leaders have signed this declaration, further entwining religion and politics, and further entrenching the culture wars in the useless “us against them” language that has proved so ineffective for so long. I prefer the Nicene Creed, myself. But we’d have to be naive or…

That Horse? It Left the Stable Long Ago. We Called Him Seabiscuit

David Rivkin and Lee Casey take to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to claim that any individual insurance mandate would “likely” fail to pass Constitutional muster under even a modern understanding of Constitutional law and the commerce clause.  Whatever my thoughts on the value of an individual mandate, this is a shoddy piece of legal commentary…

Let’s Review

Attorney General Eric Holder has announced a preliminary investigation into abusive interrogation tactics. This investigation was recommended by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility. The scope of the investigation is limited to people who ignored the Bush Administration’s own guidelines for interrogating captives. David Broder still thinks this is too much. Broder’s unique brand…

Was it worth it?

As I understand it, nobody suggests that torture is an ideal policy option. Most people who defend the Bush Administration argue that the unique threat of international terrorism justifies the use of certain otherwise-reprehensible techniques. I’m frankly appalled by this crude utilitarian calculus, but I can at least understand the logic (and surface appeal) of…

Correctly Political: Wealth Care, a Historical Note

~by jfxgillis Okay. So here’s the thing about the health care industry in the USA, especially the insurance sector. It stinks. Everyone knows it. Everyone feels it. We pay more for what we get, and we get less for what we pay for, than virtually any other developed country by any systemic measure. Even people with gold-plated…

How I would have written Scalia’s dissent

Troy Davis, originally convicted of murdering an off-duty cop under questionable circumstances, will now have his case reviewed by order of the Supreme Court. Justice Scalia dissented, however, and his opinion isn’t exactly a model of human empathy: “This court,” Scalia pointed out, “has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted…

Slippery Slopes

Andrew Sullivan’s dissection of one Boston cop’s overtly racist response to the Gates arrest is worth reading in full, but this part caught my eye: And the more you read, the more you realize how deep the Bush-Cheney legacy runs and how the torture and ‘enemy combatant’ state, celebrated nightly on Fox, easily seeps into…

This is your justification?

National Review‘s best argument for “enhanced interrogation” now hinges on the threat posed by . . . Jose Padilla? So we’ve gone from defending torture on the grounds of a ticking time bomb scenario to defending torture on the grounds that a mentally incapacitated prisoner whose ties to Al Qaeda were systematically exaggerated poses a…

Judging is Hard

A fairly banal observation, I know, but one worth revisiting in light of the the latest Supreme Court appointment. Here’s a telling paragraph from Jeffrey Toobin’s excellent profile of Chief Justice John Roberts: Roberts’s solicitude for the President and the military extends to lower-profile cases as well. In Winter v. National Resources Defense Council, the…

Ah, Abortion

~by sidereal When I’m asked for my opinion on abortion (or when I give it unprompted) I have to decide how long a conversation I want to have.  If I want it over with, I use the crude political vernacular and say I’m a ‘progressive pro-lifer’.  If I don’t mind exploring the issue a little…

Doubling Down

There seems to be quite the fooferaw over responding to the Tiller murder developing between several bloggers that I respect: Publius and Hilzoy at ObsidianWings, and Megan McArdle.  A quick summary:  Agreeing with an Ezra Klein post in essence calling (correctly) the murder an act of political terrorism, Hilzoy wrote that Congress should respond to the murder…

Justifying Abortion

This fascinating paper on abortion has probably been circulating for some time, but this is the first time I’ve had a chance to read it. A brief note about the author’s hypotheticals: I suspect the pro-life response to many of these scenarios would be similar to torture opponents’ rejoinder to the ticking time bomb: “Yes,…

not nearly enough

From hilzoy: “I am strongly pro-choice, but I think it is perfectly possible to be opposed to abortion on principled grounds, and I think that it would be an enormous mistake to conflate all people who are opposed to abortions with either Dr. Tiller’s killer or the likes of Operation Rescue. That said, large elements…

continuity and the culture of death

1 a: the quality that distinguishes a vital and functional being from a dead body b: a principle or force that is considered to underlie the distinctive quality of animate beings c: an organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction ~the definition of Life, from the Merriam Webster dictionary…

Larison on Sotomayor

Daniel Larison has put together some excellent thoughts on the current leading objections to Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the SCOTUS.  I have my differences with Larison’s preferred jurisprudence, but he does a far better job than most explaining why the current primary objections to Sotomayor make exceedingly little sense from a conservative standpoint.  Larison’s explanation…

The Difficult Cloudy Middle of Abortion

By Dan Summers — I enjoyed Chris’s recent post about Obama’s commencement speech at Notre Dame.  With his indulgence, I will take his metaphor about side roads and interstates, and modify it for my own purposes.  Traveling through his post, I was distracted by the following exit sign, and from it I turned to the…

Torture vs. Steroids

A cogent point from the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Mark Madsen: When the congressional hearing of Jose Canseco vs. other MLB players created questions about steroid use, Congress acted quickly and decisively and spent the next several years with multiple Congressional hearings related to this important issue. I remember watching impassioned speeches by senators and Congresspeople talking…