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Archive for June, 2008

Homeownership As Ideology

[ 65 ] June 23, 2008 |

Like Jon Cohn, I think that Krugman is dead on today. In particular, capping the mortgage deduction — extremely regressive while doing little to advance any useful public goal — at the lowest politically viable level is a no-brainer, although a gradual implementation to prevent major shocks to the market would presumably be necessary.

You Are Here

[ 18 ] June 23, 2008 |


Via CT, here’s a map of the “the 297 most visible and influential [political] websites and blogs.” Of course any cutoff point would be purely arbitrary anyway, but I still wonder who #298, 299, and 300 might have been….

The closeup of the conservative political blogosphere is pictured here:

President Bush Thinks Your Baby Is Better Without You

[ 0 ] June 23, 2008 |

Seriously.

Congress is well on its way to approving four week of paid parental leave for federal employees upon the birth or adoption of a child or to care for a foster child. But guess what? Bush is threatening to veto it, calling it a “costly, unnecessary, new paid leave entitlement.”

Here’s more on the bill (which the House has approved):

Under the measure, employees would be able to continue to use accrued vacation days as part of their parental leave. The bill also would make it easier to use sick leave to care for a child by eliminating the current requirement to demonstrate medical need. The Office of Personnel Management would have the discretion to grant an additional four weeks of paid leave. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the legislation would cost about $105 per federal employee annually.

Sounds like a common sense policy to me, even despite its cost. The White House and OMB don’t think so because they think sick time is enough. But if you’ve been sick and you have a baby, you’re screwed. Ah, the compassionate nature of our conservatives.

George Carlin, 1937-2008.

[ 3 ] June 23, 2008 |

R.I.P.

Caving

[ 40 ] June 23, 2008 |

In a general sense, I agree that sometimes people can get a little sloppy about blaming “the Democrats” for the enactment of policies or nomination confirmations opposed by most Democrats in Congress. Pace Ralph Nader, it’s pretty silly to use (for example) the passage of a tax bill that only 12 Dem Sentaors and 28 House Dems supported and that a Democratic president would have vetoed to argue that there’s no difference between Democrats and Republicans.

On the FISA bill, though, I can’t really object if people want to say the Democrats caved. It’s true that plenty of Dems did oppose it, and in this sense the party is better. On the other hand, the House leadership supported it, the party’s de facto leader supported it, and its very prominent runner-up hasn’t done anything about it either. This wansn’t a vote made possible by the malapportionment of and/or lax party disciple in the Senate or the collaboration of a small minority of Blue Dogs. The passage of the awful FISA bill is a failure of the Democratic Party. It was all too “bipartisan.”

Bye Bye Black

[ 4 ] June 23, 2008 |

Hmm, this doesn’t seem promising for the chances of disgraced reactionary media magnate Conrad Black’s appeal succeeding:

When Andrew Frey, Lord Black’s lawyer, tried to explain how prosecutors misapplied a legal theory known as honest services, Judge Posner said bluntly that the evidence in the case dealt with “a pretty naked fraud.” During a discussion about the obstruction of justice charge, which involves Lord Black removing boxes from his Toronto office in 2005, Judge Posner called Lord Black’s actions “bizarre” and took Mr. Frey to task for arguing that the material had already been reviewed by prosecutors.

[..]

Judge Posner shot back that he could not understand how the payments could be both management fees and payments not to compete. “To be paid not to do something in the future is not a management fee,” he said. He also questioned why the payments went to Lord Black, Mr. Boultbee and Mr. Atkinson individually instead of to their private company, Ravelston Corp. Ltd., which had been Hollinger’s practice in the past. “Where is the credit on the books to account for the management fees?” he asked.

In fairness, he had to know he was in trouble when he drew a rabid Trotskyite like Posner… [via Pithlord.]

Not Again

[ 16 ] June 23, 2008 |

Andrew Roberts in The Telegraph brushes the dust bunnies off the weak and overused Truman analogy to explain once again why the Bush administration — which has been a perfectly evident disgrace to anyone not toting around a paper bag and several jars of rubber cement — will someday be viewed as a triumph of democracy, whiskey and sexy. The analogy is stupidly familiar by this point, relying almost entirely on the observation that while Truman left office in a deep pit of unpopularity, he established a foreign policy framework that would eventually bear the United States aloft to victory in the cold war.

The premise is debatable enough; even if we concede that containment policy in Europe accomplished what it was supposed to, containment policy in the so-called developing world — Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa — was nothing short of disastrous, for reasons that scarcely require description. Truman bears less responsibility for this fact than his numerous successors, but post-cold war wingnut triumphalism — which is partly responsible for the Truman myth invoked by Bush and his few remaining believers — requires a massive national amnesia on this point. The Korean War, which factored highly in Truman’s miserable approval ratings, froze US-Chinese relations for over two decades; helped to lock the nation into the awful monotony of ever-rising defense budgets; and provided the rationale for American commitments to the defense of French Indochina. Moreover, the American failure to forcefully roll back communism in North Korea encouraged Eisenhower and Kennedy to pursue covert operations that seemed less obviously risky than inconclusive and bloody police actions.

Still, it also bears mentioning that unlike Bush, Truman left office with a string of foreign policy accomplishments — the European Recovery (Marshall) Program, the formation of NATO, the creation of the United Nations, the Berlin Airlift – whose successes were widely acknowledged at the time. It takes an epic fit of optimism to argue — as Roberts does — that

once the decades have put the stirring events of those years into their proper historical context, four great facts will emerge that will place Bush in a far better light than he currently enjoys.

The overthrow and execution of a foul tyrant, Saddam Hussein; the liberation of the Afghan people from the Taliban; the smashing of the terrorist networks of al-Qa’eda in that country and elsewhere and, finally, the protection of the American people from any further atrocities on US soil since 9/11, is a legacy of which to be proud. . .

Every clause in that last paragraph is filled with a seam-bursting load of horseshit. Which is, I suppose, as proper an epitaph as one might imagine for a presidency that has brought otherwise sane people to miss Nixon.

"Moral" Refusal Clauses: Coming Soon to an Ambulance Near You

Pharmacists refusing to stock or dole out birth control or emergency contraception is, sadly, nothing new.

But it’s now gone one step further: According to a Kos contributor, a certain small segment of ambulance drivers/EMTs are refusing to transport women to the emergency room for medically necessary abortions.

Which of course means that women who will die if they don’t get to the hospital — and fast — are not getting the hospital, and certainly not fast. Nice to know that women’s lives count oh so much.

Dumber than Dowd

[ 27 ] June 22, 2008 |

The box of wine showed up on her doorstep earlier than usual today, and Ann Althouse is already coughing up her soul to Maureen Dowd:

But, really, the complaints you hear about Michelle Obama are not about sex, drugs, and rock and roll. They’re about patriotism and racism.

Is it really the case that the French would shrug it off if Bruni’s lyrics were “God damn France” and a rant against the nonwhite French? The Obama campaign has to respond to the interpretation of things Michelle Obama has said — “for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country” — and rumors about what she is purported to have said — “whitey” — or condoned — Jeremiah Wright’s “God damn America.”

It makes no sense to suggest that we could just be more like the French. Imagine how the French would react if Bruni’s songs had racist and anti-patriotic lines that were exactly strong as those sex and drugs lines.

The possibility that there might be a French version of Ann Althouse — disgorging inanities from a cafe sidewalk, posting slanty photos of a wedge of cheese she discovered in her fridge, speculating at interminable length about the meaning of an untouched eclair on Sarkozy’s dessert tray — causes me great anxiety about the state of French civilization. Although we have no evidence that such a cocatrice exists, we would be foolish to avoid having a frank discussion about it. Because if there were a French version of Ann Althouse, it would be significant because [insert 45 paragraphs of Neo-neoconian hallucination here].

Crackpot Hack of the Day

[ 5 ] June 22, 2008 |

Maureen Dowd. (See also.)

We’re # 2876 #4456!

[ 0 ] June 22, 2008 |

Although perhaps owing to anti-French sentiments after 9/11, we’re down 1580 since 1990. We remain just ahead of “Hecht” and “Dong.” djw’s surname is the most common, coming in in the top 200. All LGM surnames in the top 5,000 are on the decline — read into that what you will…

[Via Movering.]

Nino’s Urban Legend

[ 0 ] June 21, 2008 |

The problem with apparently including cut-and-pasted segments from Sean Hannity transcripts to introduce your Supreme Court dissenting opinions is that your demagoguery may turn out to have a certain lack of factual basis.

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