We are the Liberal Blog From Hollywood
L.A.'s Premier Post Facility

L.A.'s Premier Post Facility

Photographer in L.A.

Hot Pics & Gossip.

Archive for May 6th, 2008

Suffolk Poll: Clinton Leads in Indiana

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 6th, 2008 4:39 am by HL

Suffolk Poll: Clinton Leads in Indiana
A new Suffolk University poll in Indiana finds Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama, 49% to 43%, among likely voters.

Said pollster David Paleologos: “It’s no slam-dunk, but Hillary Clinton is poised to win the Hoosier state, provided there aren’t some critical turnovers late. Although the margin appears to be single digits at this point, the outcome will hinge on high turnouts in Marion and Lake counties, which are crucial for Obama.”


First Monday: SCOTUS, The Rule Of Law, And Judging Character

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 6th, 2008 4:38 am by HL

First Monday: SCOTUS, The Rule Of Law, And Judging Character
This chat was billed by my friends at the Alliance for Justice as an analysis of Justice Scalia’s recent public commentary, along with some comments about the balance of the current Supreme Court. I’m more interested in the latter than I am in talking about Justice Scalia in particular, and I’m especially interested in a conversation about what we can do to avert further deterioration in the direction the Court

[Please welcome Prof. Peter Edelman of the Georgetown Law Center for today’s edition of our First Monday series, in conjunction with Alliance for Justice. As always, please stay on topic and be polite, and take any off-topic discussion to the prior thread. thanks! — CHS]

This chat was billed by my friends at the Alliance for Justice as an analysis of Justice Scalia’s recent public commentary, along with some comments about the balance of the current Supreme Court. I’m more interested in the latter than I am in talking about Justice Scalia in particular, and I’m especially interested in a conversation about what we can do to avert further deterioration in the direction the Court is taking.

Justice Scalia is a brilliant, somewhat charming, self-styledly prickly, apparently nice-to-his-friends-and-family man. Some people find all of this interesting. It’s not. The main point about Justice Scalia is that he is an almost-down-the-line conservative verging-on-radical judge who is one vote away from being one among five of the most powerful people (as a bloc) in America.

He writes beautifully, tossing off sarcastic and acerbic bon mots that, rather ironically, tend to distract from his mission to rewrite large parts of the Constitution as its meaning has developed over the past 200-plus years. We need to keep our eyes on his mission.

Justice Scalia purports to be on an archeological expedition – perhaps more precisely, he purports to have concluded his dig and to have found out what the framers of the Constitution intended. His “discoveries” divide roughly into two parts – purported knowledge about the original intent behind the parts of the Constitution where there are words that cover such matters as speech and religion, and purported knowledge, again derived from original intent, about matters where the Court has found constitutional protection for rights that are not “enumerated,” as the jargon goes. As things have evolved, most of these so-called unenumerated rights have found a textual home in the word “liberty” in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Justice Scalia thinks almost all of that is hogwash.

Justice Scalia tells interviewers that because he’s really a sweetie-pie moderate he wouldn’t go back and overrule all of the erroneous decisions that dozens of his misguided forbears put into the United States Reports. Unlike his truly radical brother, Justice Clarence Thomas, he’s only after some of the really bad ones, like Roe v. Wade. And of course he’s not above inventing new rights when it suits him, as he did in Bush v. Gore.

One has to skirt over a lot of messy stuff to be such a stout-hearted originalist. Whose intent, for example? The writers? Do we know what they each had in mind? Justice Scalia has excoriated those who think they can find meaning in statutory words by divining the purposes of those who did the legislating. His view about the Constitution seems at odds with that. How about the voters in each state – the people whose votes ratified the Constitution? Does he know what they had in mind? Apparently, although it may differ from state to state, and is perhaps different from what was on the minds of the drafters.

And even at the time, there were people – Chief Justice John Marshall is the outstanding example – who said this was to be a document for the ages. Never forget that this is a Constitution we are expounding, we were enjoined.

Think about the words “equal protection.” Meant to cover women. Funny how we didn’t discover that was true until the 1960s. Well, he might reply, plain meaning. Okay. How about why “equal protection,” which was meant to protect African-Americans, turns out to ban legally mandated segregation of children in schools, when there was a widespread understanding at the time of the 14th Amendment’s ratification that school segregation was acceptable. What’s the original intent? Specific or general? You’d have to say it was general, in order to conclude that the Court could decide Brown as it did without amending the Constitution. Writing on a different aspect of the 14th Amendment, Justice Scalia has insisted that the level of protection accorded by the constitutional language must be at the “most specific level at which a relevant tradition . . . can be identified.”

Oh well, consistency is for little minds.

One could go on and on. Is Scalia an apostle of judicial restraint? One recalls his concurrence in Webster, an important pre-Casey abortion case, where – even though the case did not need to call Roe itself into question – he called for reaching out to overrule Roe, asking why the Court should “needlessly . . . prolong this Court’s self-awarded sovereignty” in the area of abortion.

So much for Justice Scalia, for the moment anyway.

The real question is the danger we are in as a nation. Whatever some people thought, it is now clear that Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito are on the same mission as Justices Scalia and Thomas: to rewrite the Constitution and take it back anywhere from 40 to 70 to 100 to 200-plus years, depending on the Justice and depending on the area of the law.

We are hanging by a thread. It has a name – Justice Kennedy. Justice Kennedy is what remains of the center on the Court. Even with Justice O’Connor there were many troubling 5-4 decisions, especially in the areas of federalism, criminal justice, and corporate power. Justice Kennedy votes with the more liberal members of the Court now and again, and has done so in a few extremely important cases. If Justice Scalia gets one more fully reliable ally, the course of American history will change.

Yet the American people seem unaware of – or not to care about – the danger. Of course – at least from a progressive point of view – the Supreme Court has never been a particularly salient issue, at least not since the 1930s. Conservatives seem more successful in making a politics out of what they call “activist” judges (never mind that it was a conservative Court that overturned a long list of federal statutes in the 1990s). Those who would uphold individual rights and liberties and curb untrammeled Presidential power are on the whole ineffective in stirring public concern.

My questions are why and does anyone have any idea of what to do about it? I’m happy to chat about Justice Scalia and the current Court during today’s session, but what I’m really interested in are your ideas about how to inject the looming dangers to our rights and liberties into the current electoral conversation.


Not Good At Math

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 6th, 2008 4:37 am by HL

Not Good At Math

I was never good at math, but it seems Ezra Klein is worse. Ezra gets it completely wrong on the popular vote:

[Clinton]’s far behind in the popular vote. If you add Florida, where neither campaigned, she’s still 300,000 votes behind. If you cheat and add Michigan, where Obama wasn’t on the ballot, and you give him the “uncommitted” voters (as some Clintonites have suggested), she’s still 188,000 votes behind. If you do all of that, and then Clinton wins every remaining contest by 10 points, according to Rick Hertzberg’s calculations, she’ll still be 160,000 votes behind.

(Emphasis supplied.) So Ezra’s “math” says that if Clinton wins the last 10 contests by 10 points she only makes up 28,000 votes? Say what? But it gets worse.

Ezra continues:

[These totals] doesn’t even include Obama’s caucusgoers, who aren’t in the straight popular votes tally.

Actually it does, as anyone familiar with the RCP tallies would know. Indeed, these totals reflect the improper inclusion of the Washington caucus numbers instead of the Washington primary result, which inflates Obama’s lead by 50,000 votes.

It is not likely, imo, that Clinton will catch up in the popular vote, by my metric, which includes all caucus result where a primary result is not available, Florida and assigns uncommitteds to Obama. But that remains to be seen. Clinton could very well do so. I say let’s count the votes. But more importantly, I say stop believing Left bloggers, who seem to have no respect for the facts.


Capacity

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 6th, 2008 4:36 am by HL

Capacity
Just to make clear earlier what I meant about the gas tax and being at capacity, here’s our friend the supply/demand curve.

The markets for oil and gas aren’t the same, but this graph can provide a representation of both.

Basically over the flat horizontal part of the supply curve (S), increases in demand (represented by rightward shifts of the demand curve, reflecting a greater quantity demanded at any given price) lead to an increase in quantity supplied by oil firms or gas refineries without much increase in the price. This is because they’re operating at levels such that they can pull a bit more oil out of the ground, or refine a bit more oil into gas, without any significant increase in cost.

But these are both capital intensive industries, and oil requires exploration and discovery as well, so the capacity to keep cranking out product at the same or similar cost is limited. At some point, as the demand curve continues shifting to the right (remember this is the world market, so with more and more Chinese consuming…), we reach the a point where the curve tilts upwards. Over some range, more oil/gas capacity can be provided without costs going too much: perhaps increased 3rd shifts or shifting focus of refineries, or tapping known but more costly oil wells, but at some point you hit capacity. There is no more oil to be pumped out of the ground at any price, at least over the short run, and US oil refineries can’t crank out an extra gallon at any cost. At that point, continued increases in demand simply raise the price without resulting in any additional quantity supplied. Prices go up to equate supply and demand, while output and consumption remain the same.

I won’t do the full lecture on tax incidence (who actually pays a tax, buyer or seller, when it’s levied on a transaction), but it depends on the shape of the supply/demand curves. And when we’re in the verticalish region of the supply curve, any sales tax levied is almost entirely paid by the seller. Increasing the gas tax cuts into profits without increasing the price consumers pay (though causing them to consume less). Decreasing the gas tax increases profits without decreasing the price consumers pay (though leading them to consume more).

And this has been your Econ 101 lecture of the day!


Executions Resume Today, Death Penalty Still Cruel and Unusual

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 6th, 2008 4:35 am by HL

Executions Resume Today, Death Penalty Still Cruel and Unusual
Barring a last-minute stay of execution, death row prisoner William Lynd will be murdered by the state of Georgia tonight.

A Nuclear Energy Renaissance Wouldn’t Solve Our Problems, But It Would Rip Us Off
Talk of a nuclear renaissance is a dangerous distraction from the real changes we need to make to wean ourselves off oil.


Hillary Camp Hits Obama Over Private Assertion To Teamsters

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 6th, 2008 4:34 am by HL

Hillary Camp Hits Obama Over Private Assertion To Teamsters
With less than 48 hours to go before the polls close in North Carolina and Indiana, the Hillary campaign has opened up a new front against Obama — this one concerning a private assertion that the Illinois Senator made to…


Late Breakers

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 6th, 2008 4:33 am by HL

Late Breakers
I’m not so sure it’s a positive, but the pattern is there. From TPM Reader SS … H- makes an interesting point regarding the lack of variance in the polls–namely that each poll with approximately 43% of the voters who…


Stream Seder

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 6th, 2008 4:32 am by HL

Stream Seder

Sam Seder and Marc Maron are sharing Air America hosting duties from 3-6 PM ET this week (Sam’s on right now). In addition to contacting Air America directly and signing the petition, strong streaming numbers will also help the effort to get Sam back on the daily Air America schedule. Click here to stream Air America.


Both sides rest at Rezko trial

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 6th, 2008 4:31 am by HL

Both sides rest at Rezko trial
Less than two hours after prosecutors rested their case Monday in political fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko’s fraud trial, defense attorneys did the same without calling a single witness…


Washington U. to honor anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly.

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 6th, 2008 4:30 am by HL

Washington U. to honor anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly.
Washington University in St. Louis has announced that it will award right-wing activist Phyllis Schlafly an honorary degree at its upcoming graduation ceremony. Schlafly is well-known for her outspoken belief that women should be homemakers and her opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment for women. The university, however, lauded her as a “leader“: Schlafly, a […]

Washington University in St. Louis has announced that it will award right-wing activist Phyllis Schlafly an honorary degree at its upcoming graduation ceremony. Schlafly is well-known for her outspoken belief that women should be homemakers and her opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment for women. The university, however, lauded her as a “leader“:

schlafly.jpg Schlafly, a native St. Louisan and two-time Washington University graduate, has been a national leader of the conservative movement since the 1964 publication of her book, “A Choice Not An Echo.” … In 1972, she started a national pro-family volunteer organization and led a successful 10-year battle against the Equal Rights Amendment. She continues as president of the group, now known as the Eagle Forum.

Named one of the 100 most important women of the 20th century by Ladies Home Journal and one of the 10 most admired women in the world by Good Housekeeping, she is a well-known advocate for the role of a full-time homemaker.

Women “are too emotional to handle intellectual or scientific debate,” Schlafly once said. She has also described sex education as “in-home sales parties for abortions.” So far, 960 people have joined the Facebook group opposing the award.

(HT: Kathy’s G-Spot)