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The Third Estate
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Why No One Will Annoy Me Today

Monday, April 30, 2007
The sun is shining, the birds are singing, I'm taking a half day, and Brazen Hussy is back!

All is right with my corner of the world :)
Posted by Arbitrista @ 10:31 AM

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Experience Matters

Thursday, April 26, 2007
It seemed very clear to me that experience in high-profile political debates matters. I thought Edwards was extremely poised in this debate and that Obama was very hesitant early (although he warmed up over time). Overall I thought Edwards did the best job, getting in very subtle jabs while moving smoothly from point to point. But then Edwards is the only one who has run for President before, so I'm surprised. So in my opinion: advantage Edwards. But of course only 9 people were probably watching the thing. It's the media's perception, related to reality or not, that will determine how this debate is perceived tomorrow.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 8:30 PM

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Finally Some Substance

Williams asked about the recent Supreme Court decision on so-called "partial birth" abortion, pointing out that polls show most Americans support the ruling. While Obama, Edwards, and Biden defended the right to choose, I wonder why they didn't give the obvious response: If the American people knew that this decision gave NO exception for the health of the mother, they wouldn't support the ruling. How hard is that?

And it was funny to watch the only recently pro-choice Dennis Kucinich say he would appoint Judges who shared his values. That's what I'm afraid of!
Posted by Arbitrista @ 7:36 PM

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Mike Gravel Is A Wild Man

He's making Denis Kucinich look moderate. Williams is loving it.

More horserace questions from our distinguished moderator.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 7:30 PM

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I Guess This Is Live-Blogging

Brian Williams' questions are all gotcha questions all the time. Absolutely positively no substance whatsoever. Hillary on her war vote, Barack & hedge funds, Joe Biden on whether Harry Reid was wrong to say Iraq was lost, John Edwards' haircuts, blah blah blah. No health care, education, national security, etc. There's still another hour to go, but I'm not hopeful.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 7:24 PM

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Journalists Can Be Pretty Darned Ignorant

So everybody's talking about the outrageous stuff that David Broder said today about Harry Reid. But I just want to add some additional evidence of the mainstream media's gross incompetence.

I'm killing time before the Democratic Presidential Debate watching the talking heads, and Tom Brokaw just made the slanderous statement that Lloyd Bentsen never knew John Kennedy. Many of you may remember that Bentsen humiliated Dan Quayle in the 1988 Vice Presidential debate, telling Quayle (who was claiming he was as experienced as JFK) that "Your no Jack Kennedy." According to his "research team" Brokaw says that they can't find any evidence that Bentsen and Kennedy knew each other.

Hmm. Wikipedia says that Bentsen was in the U.S. House between 1949 and 1955. John Kennedy was in the House between 1947 and 1953. Gee, how in the world would 2 junior congressmen from the same party during overlapping periods ever know each other?

No wonder they believe everything Karl Rove tells them.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 6:51 PM

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Entirely New Forms Of Torture

Wednesday, April 25, 2007
I just spent the entire day giving tests to 6 year olds. Now I like kids as much as the next person, but 30 of them? For hours and hours? And their teachers, who are not so infrequently possessed by the devil (not that I blame them)?

I originally planned to go home and work on my dissertation tonight. Instead, I think I might work on a bottle of scotch.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 3:30 PM

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A Black Lining

Monday, April 23, 2007
Sure I'm glad the Democrats are raising so much money, but has it occurred to anyone else that this just means that the bad guys are trying to buy our party?

P.S. Cooking is hard. How in the world do people time dishes to finish at the same time?
Posted by Arbitrista @ 8:19 PM

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Another Take On Gun Rights

Friday, April 20, 2007
If this guy has his way, all gun laws will be stricken from the books.

I ask you, whatever happened to my right to live in community without guns?

I'm certainly not saying that we should ban guns. I'm just saying that there's nothing wrong with letting communities decide how strictly they want to regulate guns. Towns in rural Georgia will vote to have them, and New York City will vote not to. What's wrong with that? Why do some people insist that they be able to carry an Uzi wherever they go?
Posted by Arbitrista @ 3:47 PM

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A Legislative Response

I can't remember where I read it (probably the Politico), but Anthony Weiner from New York is planning to introduce an amendment to the federal law banning "partial birth abortions" that would carve out an exception for the health of the mother. This is exactly the right thing to do, both morally and politically.

From the point of view of sound policy, it would dramatically improve the law and undo a great deal of the damage the Supreme Court decision has done. In fact I would go so far to say it would vitiate the law and send a signal to the Court that there is no longer an anti-choice Congress in power. The law could even be expanded to say that no state law can restrict abortion rights to the detriment of the mother's health. Since the Court has already federalized abortion policy, this would slow state attempts to limit abortion rights.

This amendment would also have important political benefits. It would concentrate public opinion on the issue and alter the terms of the debate. I don't think the anti-choicers are really interested in arguing that women's health is of no concern - they'd be in a Schiavo-type minority position. And putting this amendment on the agenda would force the Republicans running for President to address the issue - which can only help the Democrats. Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney would either have to favor the amendment (hurting them among the conservative base) or support it and open themselves up to the charge of flip-flopping. The same calculus holds true for "moderate" Republicans in Congress.

Frankly I think this strategy makes a lot more rhetorical and substantive sense that the whole "reducing the number of abortions" stuff that seems to give away far too much to the other side.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 6:28 AM

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National Anti-Woman Day

Wednesday, April 18, 2007
So I'm at home sick at the moment, and hadn't really felt like blogging. Then I made the mistake of looking at the NYT and learning the Supreme Court has overturned Roe vs. Wade. While the decision does not explicitly nullify Roe, by upholding the so-called "Partial Birth Abortion Ban" the Court has signaled its willingness to permit restrictions on abortion with no consideration for the life or health of the mother. You heard me right - the federal law our distinguished Court has deigned to approve is without an any exception for the well-being of the mother. This law clearly establishes women's 2nd-class status, reducing them to mere baby-making machines.

We can expect a wave of legislation at the state level levying a host of restrictions on reproductive rights. And with this decision, we have every reason to believe this Court will uphold those laws. Yet one more travesty to lay at the feet of George Bush.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 5:18 PM

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Speaking Of

Monday, April 16, 2007
via CQ Politics:

Legislation that would give Puerto Rico a chance to become the 51st state or an independent nation is poised to move within the next few weeks in the House with support from senior members of both parties, including Democrat Nick J. Rahall II of West Virginia and Republican Don Young of Alaska.

Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., says he’s ready to push a similar measure in the Senate....

The House measure (HR 900) would allow Puerto Rico to hold a vote during the 111th Congress on whether to end its territorial status. A later vote would be held to determine statehood or independence.

If it became a state, Puerto Rico’s delegation would include two senators and up to six House seats, based on its population.


Mmmmm. Tasty House seats. Yummy Senate seats.

Which is why the Republicans will probably filibuster it.

But seriously folks, the ambiguity of this situation is just bothersome. Puerto Rico should either go its own way or become a state. Enough procrastination already.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 1:08 PM

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Sometimes Constitutions Are Nuisanceful.

U.S. citizens have a right to political representation.
U.S. citizens live in the District of Columbia.
D.C. has no meaningful representation in the US Congress.
Therefore, U.S. citizens are being deprived of their rights.

As logic, it's pretty good. Unfortunately, the Constitution isn't always terribly concerned with logic. It states quite clearly that the House seats will be allocated among states. D.C. is not a state, and therefore can't have a seat in the House.

I'm all for giving the people who live in D.C. voting rights, by a simple act of Congress isn't going to get you there. I doubt a constitutional amendment would pass (2 more Democratic senators = Republican opposition), so the best option might be to cede most of the district back to Maryland.

After all, the goal is to get political representation, isn't it? Who cares what the method is?
Posted by Arbitrista @ 1:00 PM

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What Is Wrong With White People?

I mean, how can 41% of them really think George Bush is doing a good job? (via Atrios)
Posted by Arbitrista @ 11:23 AM

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Woe To Me

Sunday, April 15, 2007
Brazen Hussy is gone on a research trip and won't be back for several weeks. :(

I miss her already.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 9:12 AM

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I Think Our Candidates Are Just Fine, Thank You

Thursday, April 12, 2007
Okay, this is just silly. From the Hotline:

The new Hotline/Diageo poll has a generic Democratic presidential candidate beating a generic republican presidential candidate by 18. 18. Yet (see last week’s Time mag poll) our alleged top tier candidates all lose in hypothetical match ups to real Republican candidates. That is, Senators clinton and obama are more than 20 points less desirable to voters than an imaginary Democrat. our “top tier” candidates may be the only Democrats in existence who can’t win in 08.


You switch from generic candidates to real candidates, and you're somehow surprised that there's a change? Is he aware that there is no such candidate as Governor Generic? Once you put real candidates into the mix, the political balance of forces changes appreciably. Duh.

I could quibble and say that there are plenty of other polls out there in which Clinton, Edwards, and Obama perform better. But what we are really talking about is Giuliani and McCain's ability to compete even while the Republican party is so unpopular. Their ability to do so has nothing to do with the weaknesses of the Democratic candidates, and everything to do with McCain and Giuliani's images as "different kinds of Republicans." Note that Romney, who is so little known that he is a de facto generic candidate, gets crushed by the Democratic frontrunners. If the problem were bad Democratic candidates, Romney would be doing a lot better.

Now I don't happen to think that Giuliani will win the nomination, or that McCain in a general election would be able to preserve his hold on Independents. But I will say that if the Republicans nominate a candidate who is a conventional conservative, and we are still in Iraq come next November, that candidate will get crushed by almost any Democrat.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 10:20 AM

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I TOLD YOU SO!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Sometimes it's smarter to rent than buy. Which I've been saying for several years to the point of annoying everyone I talk to (well they're the ones insisting we talk about real estate!). I'm shocked that I only blogged about it once, actually.

After all the times homeowners have condescended to Brazen and I, it's wonderful to be vindicated. Ah, the glee when I read this:

It’s now clear that people who chose renting over buying in the last two years made the right move. In much of the country, including large parts of the Northeast, California, Florida and the Southwest, recent home buyers have faced higher monthly costs than renters and have lost money on their investment in the meantime. It’s almost as if they have thrown money away, an insult once reserved for renters.

Yes, we know.

Where's my address book? I need to call my relatives and gloat.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 6:36 AM

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A Note On Polls

Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Repeat after me. I will not read polls. I will not read polls. I will not read polls.

Okay, okay, I do read polls, but only when there's nothing else to look at. The fact is that polling about the 2008 Presidential race is completely, totally, and hopelessly irrelevant. While there is a surprising degree of attention being given to the race, the first real contest, Iowa, isn't for 9 months. Babies being conceived at this moment (all right....) will be breathing air when the caucuses are held. People holding forth about who the "frontrunner" is or who is "struggling" are talking jive. Even the state polls aren't measuring anything but name recognition, and maybe the general sense voters have about the parties and state of the country now (not 9 months from now).

The only conceivable import of the polls is their effect on fundraising, but as the first quarter shows all the principal candidates look to have plenty of cash. On the Democratic side, all 3 major candidates are going to have plenty of money to compete in the early primaries. It is probable that the top Republicans will be sufficiently funded as well. Ipso facto, the polls don't matter so much. It's like when people living in Queens got excited that the Mets were three games ahead after...three games. Whoop-de-frickin'-doo.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 3:36 PM

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Happy Bunny Day!

Monday, April 09, 2007
No I'm not wishing all of you a happy bunny day - that would be silly, since it was yesterday. I was referring to the fact that I and Brazen Hussy had a happy bunny day. This weekend we visited with Repressed Librarian & Comebacknikki. We drank boring, ate chofolocate, and mocked Mushroom Houses. If you don't understand what I'm talking about, it's because you weren't there. Poor you.

Okay I think I have my cooler than thou out of my system. Right now I'm working the front desk at work because the secretary is out. I don't have much access to any of my work, but that's fine since my big project is done and my boss is out for the week. I plan on working on my dissertation in a little while, but maybe I'll spend part of the day leaving comments for my fellow bloggers.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 10:08 AM

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Pelosi Is Right

Friday, April 06, 2007
In the wake of Nancy Pelosi's visit to Syria, many on the right are claiming that the Democratic Speaker is illegitimately poaching on the President's preserve: the conduct of foreign policy. CSPAN is even having a debate on whether Presidents have a monopoly on foreign affairs.

Anyone who argues that the President has total control over foreign policy simply doesn't know what he or she is talking about. The Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war, and the Senate specifically the right to confirm ambassadors and approve treaties. Doesn't that sound like foreign policy to you?

This is all of a piece with a long-running confusion about the separation of powers. Many people believe that separation of powers requires that there be an absolute separation between executive, legislative, and judicial powers. But checks and balances requires that those powers be shared if there are going to be such checks. The President's veto is a legislative power, for example.

But the real danger is the conflation of executive powers with federative and prerogative powers. Foreign policy and war are NOT executive powers - they are federative, according to Montesquieu and Locke (the 2 chief influences on the founders). Executive powers simply have to do with enforcing federal law. Foreign policy and war are entirely different - those powers are explicitly shared among all 3 branches.

This is no nice philosophical distinction. To give the President unfettered authority over the nation's diplomacy is to invest him with dangerous powers, powers that don't belong to any person. Assuming you'd like to live in a democracy, of course.

When I hear callers say "it's not my place to question the President" - as I just heard one did - I can only those are not the words of a citizen, but a subject. It's trite to say, but Presidents are not kings. In the country we don't have rulers - but public servants. It's our job to question. And it's their job to listen to us.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 7:02 AM

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Just Because You Have a Ph.D......

Thursday, April 05, 2007
...doesn't mean you can read. No offense to those of you out there who have gotten their Ph.D.'s. God knows I don't have one yet. But when I'm watching CSPAN and this professor is claiming that George Washington was a serious intellect on the grounds of the depth of the Farewell Address, well, I'm just amazed. Anyone who's read about the writing of the Farewell Address knows that James Madison wrote the first draft of it (when Washington considered retiring) and Alexander Hamilton wrote the final draft four years later (when he finally did retire). It's hard to claim that someone is an intellectual heavyweight when he doesn't write his own stuff. Do you homework before spouting off, dude.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 8:58 PM

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Fair Is Fair

Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Okay, maybe Avril Lavigne is a little punk.

In an interview in Salon, Lavigne was asked how she feels about being accused of not being a real punk, to which to she replies:

Well, first of all, I don't give a fuck what anyone says.


Now that is definitely punk.

Dammit.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 6:46 AM

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Heil Rudy

Okay, clearly Rudy Giuliani is not fit to be a voter, much less an elected official. The guy really is trying to out-Nixon Nixon. I think that Democrats should hammer Rudy with this stuff, but Glenn Greenwald thinks that it will help. In fact, according to Glenn, Rudy's contempt for Democracy is his ticket to the nomination.

Unlike most political analysts, Glenn Greenwald believes that Giuliani is a serious threat to win the Republican nomination. Greenwald's theory is that since the Republican party is fundamentally authoritarian, Giuliani (as the most authoritarian candidate), has an opportunity to overcome his personal and policy handicaps and become the Republican nominee. Essentially, the tribalism of the Republican party, their hatred of liberals and muslims, their need for a "daddy figure," all make them willing to support somebody like Rudy.

Glenn is a smart guy and I generally agree with a large percentage of what he writes, but I think his scenario is a bit far-fetched. The portion of the Republican base which is the most authoritarian - social conservatives - are also the ones who are most concerned with abortion, gun control, and gay rights. Those voters are likely to support the Daddy figure, but only if that candidate first passes their litmus test on issues - which Rudy clearly can't do. This is not to say that these are truly policy-oriented voters (are there any of those?), only that unlike most voters they have a few policy issues that determine whether or not they are going to give a candidate serious consideration. Rudy's current poll numbers are, I think, a mirage. Right now voters are a) unaware of Rudy's policy positions, and b) aren't focused on those issues. Perhaps the social issues simply won't be a factor during the Republican primaries and Rudy will get a free ride - but I doubt it.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 6:19 AM

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Scary Stuff

Monday, April 02, 2007
My wife Dr. Brazen Hussy had some very strange and alarming symptoms of illness today. We ended up spending the morning shuttling between doctor's offices. Thankfully she's feeling better now. Unfortunately she's using that as a excuse to work some more!

Sometimes I really don't understand her. :)
Posted by Arbitrista @ 2:40 PM

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