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Archive for March, 2010

John Nolte is outraged on behalf of topless women everywhere.

[ 44 ] March 23, 2010 |

It goes without saying that John Nolte will write something like this:

Annually we are showered with Leftist films created by morally superior beings who lecture us on human rights, civil rights, feminism, lookism, racism and any other “ism” they can conceive, when in real life they’re the very worst in all of these departments.

He honestly believes that because some people on the left are sexist or racist, everyone on the right is morally superior despite, you know, supporting policies designed to protect the interests of white males. In this case, his ire is raised by a New York Post article about the casting call for the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie:

The filmmakers sent out a casting call last week seeking “beautiful female fit models. Must be 5ft7in-5ft8in, size 4 or 6, no bigger or smaller. Age 18-25. Must have a lean dancer body. Must have real breasts. Do not submit if you have implants.” And they warn that there’ll be a “show and tell” day. To make sure LA talent scouts don’t get caught in a “booby trap,” potential lassies will have to undergo a Hollywood-style jiggle-your-jugs test and jog for judges.

Nolte is outraged on behalf of surgically-enhanced women everywhere:

This isn’t some sleazy porn peddler in the valley doing this, this is…Disney. DISNEY is going to subject and exploit young women desperate to be stars to the indignity of a booby ”show and tell.” DISNEY is going to have them jog in place for producers and casting agents in order to keep score of the bounciness of their breasts.

Not only is this a case of discrimination against women whose only crime was undergoing a dangerous surgical procedure in order to enhance their appeal to sexists like Nolte, it involves a particularly dehumanizing “booby ‘show and tell'” in which woman will be asked to “jog in place for producers and casting agents in order to keep score of the bounciness of their breasts.” How does he know this? It says so right in the actual, unexpurgated casting call:

Must be 5’7-5’8, Size four or six – no bigger or smaller. Age 18 to 25. Must have a lean dancer body. Must have real breasts. Do not submit if you have implants. This is a show and tell of costumes with the director and the producers. Plan on an entire day of trying on clothes and being photographed.

Sticklers might insist that the prepositional phrase “of costumes” modifies “show and tell,” and that there’s nothing in the casting call about actresses being asked to “jog in place” so producers and casting agents can “keep score of the bounciness of their breasts.” Since it’s not in the casting call, where did this idea of a “booby ‘show and tell'” in which a parade of topless women jiggle only what the good Lord gave them come from? Where else?

The imagination of John Nolte.

The man can’t even defend hypothetical women without undressing them in his mind. This isn’t to say the casting call isn’t sexist, because like most items relating to Hollywood and the female form, it clearly is. The point here, as usual, is that conservatives who like to think of themselves as morally superior to liberals when it comes to racial or gender equality always reveal themselves to be purveyors of the very ills they decry. In this respect, Nolte is no different than affirmative action opponents who offer, as proof that we live in a post-racial society, the fact that there’s a nigger in the White House.


Defining Tyranny Down

[ 31 ] March 23, 2010 |

Henry’s give ’em enough rope approach to this remarkable McArdle post is a sound one. As an alternative, I’ll try isolating a couple particularly instructive sentences:

One cannot help but admire Nancy Pelosi’s skill as a legislator. But it’s also pretty worrying. Are we now in a world where there is absolutely no recourse to the tyranny of the majority?

So, to review, a party won an election, including a convincing popular vote win by the president and solid majorities in both houses of the legislature. It attempted to pass a central plank of its platform, a very moderate health care reform package. Its passage was still in doubt a few hours before the final vote, and the bill’s opponents (and wets among the bill’s eventual supporters) were able to further water down the bill and extract some repugnant compromises. And this is evidence of…the tyranny of the majority? If I understand the underlying democratic theory* correctly, no matter how many veto points you have, if a policy that Megan McArdle doesn’t like can somehow pass, there aren’t enough.

*Especially coming from a libertarian, I’m not going to take the subsequent ad hoc embrace of plebiscitary democracy seriously — does McArdle now believe that Congress is obligated to pass the very popular public option? I will note, however, that even on its own terms the argument is probably wrong. At a minimum, one has to take account of the fact that a significant portion of the narrow anti-bill plurality opposed the bill from the left. Once confronted with an up-or-down vote between the bill and the status quo, it is very likely that most of these opponents would ultimately vote yes — as happened in Congress.

And then, we have this:

We’re not a parliamentary democracy, and we don’t have the mechanisms, like votes of no confidence, that parliamentary democracies use to provide a check on their politicians. The check that we have is that politicians care what the voters think.

Unless there’s some nuance I’m missing, someone who is paid a very healthy sum to write about politics for a living has asserted that parliamentary democracies have more checks on majority rule than the Madisonian separation-of-powers system. I can only respond that McArdle may wish to investigate how often majority governments in Canada or the UK have been felled by no-confidence motions. Or if that’s too much work, perhaps she may want to consider how likely it is that any members of the Democratic majority who voted for the bill would vote to remove Barack Obama from office…

Multi-Million Dollar Job Offers For Failed Executives Apparently Finite

[ 2 ] March 23, 2010 |

You will be shocked to learn that highly implausible claims that executives who simultaneously knew nothing about the actions that destroyed their companies and have irreplacable expertise would flee en masse if not given as much taxpayer money as they saw fit turn out to be false:

For months, Wall Street banks and the troubled automakers feverishly protested that their top executives would flee if they were not lavishly rewarded for their talents. New data, however, suggests the departures were more of a trickle than a flood.

Of the 104 senior executives whose pay was set by the federal pay regulator in the last two years, 88 executives, or nearly 85 percent, are still with the companies even though their pay was drastically cut back, according to people briefed on the government data.

The relative stability, at least within the executive suite, suggests that a soft job market, corporate loyalty and personal pride helped deter the feared management exodus at the companies hardest hit by the pay rules.

UN: Dirty Water Kills More Humans Than War

[ 2 ] March 23, 2010 |

And by this I assume the report means all wars, not just inter-state wars, considering that the number for the latter is getting so small in historical terms that nearly everything is riskier.

According to the report — titled “Sick Water?” — 90 percent of wastewater discharged daily in developing countries is untreated, contributing to the deaths of some 2.2 million people a year from diarrheal diseases caused by unsafe drinking water and poor hygiene. At least 1.8 million children younger than 5 die every year from water-related diseases, the report says.
But with proper management, the report notes, “wastewater can be an essential resource for supporting livelihoods.”

The report was released yesterday to coincide with World Water Day.

More from CNN.

Full report here.

My Summer of Akira

[ 23 ] March 23, 2010 |

At the beginning of the summer of 1998, I bought a computer. There was some problem with the credit card swipe, and they had to run it twice. Two days later, while attempting to use the card to buy some books, I discovered that I had, in fact, been charged twice for the computer. This was a problem, so I called my credit card company and complained. Instead of removing just one of the charges, they removed both.

It happened that the crappy U-district apartment I was living in that summer had lured us in with a “12 for the price of 11” deal; thus, no rent for August. We had paid first and last when moving in, so no rent for July. My roommates had essentially moved out; one was living with his girlfriend, and the other had bailed on the lease when another, nicer apartment became available. I didn’t have a ton of money; this was at the end of my first year of graduate school. But then I didn’t have very much in the way of expenses, either.

It would be wrong to say that I developed a “strategy”. I fully expected that the merchant or the credit card company would correct their error in short order, and the charge would go back on my card. However, I began notionally to live off the money I had allocated for the purchase of the computer. I canceled the cable, and began patronizing Scarecrow Video; for non-Seattleites, Scarecrow is one of the largest video stores on the West Coast. It was four blocks from my apartment. The Kurosawa collection at Scarecrow represented the central front in my summer strategy. I had seen a few minutes of Dreams on one cable channel or another, and decided that I should check out the rest of the catalogue. That summer, I watched Rashomon, and Seven Samurai, and Ikiru, and Red Beard, and Sanjuro, and Yojimbo, and The Idiot, Throne of Blood, the Lower Depths, Hidden Fortress, High and Low, Do’des Kaden, Dersu Uzala, Kagemusha, Ran, and Dreams. I became familiar with his stable of actors, most notably Toshiro Mifune and Takeshi Shimura. My favorite, I think, was Ikiru; something about seeing Takeshi Shimura on the swing in the playground just made me happy. I watched a lot of other films as well, but didn’t concentrate on any director to the same extent as Kurosawa.

I regard it as one of the best-spent summers of my life. In that spirit, let’s take moment to honor the 100th birthday of Emperor Kurosawa:

Let’s Be Clear…

[ 7 ] March 23, 2010 |

EMP advocacy is about one thing, and only one thing: Missile defense. This is why EMP advocates conjure up nonsensical scenarios about 95% of the American population dying in a year from a stolen warhead on top of a stolen Scud on top of a barge in the Atlantic; in that scenario, missile defense is the only thing that saves us. Vastly more realistic scenarios of nuclear terrorism (and it’s worth noting that the genre itself is pretty unrealistic) like harbor attacks or small plane attacks don’t justify missile defense, and therefore are not worthy of consideration. EMP should be seen for what it is; the latest strategy adopted by missile defense advocates.

Couldn’t he at least have mentioned the greatness of Richard Nixon?

[ 25 ] March 23, 2010 |

I’m not sure how Ben Stein’s understanding of Constitutional law compares with his understanding of science or the convolutions of the market, but he certainly has a flair for atom-splitting hyperbole. But Stein — who’d beaten the curve on the Obama-Hitler comparisons back in July 2008 — watched the dolchstoss on the House floor last night and wandered strangely off-message.

This is not how the U.S. government is supposed to work. This is how a South American junta does its work with a puppet legislature and a supreme Caudillo above law. This is, tragically, Barack Obama’s America. It took a mere 14 months to get us from the government of Jefferson to the government of Trujillo.

Well, now I’m completely confused. I thought Jefferson had been unpersoned. I also thought the passage of this bill meant we were all going to be sodomized by the Four Socialist Horsemen of the ACORNocalypse, or that in the very least we could look forward to a slow ride down the slope toward involuntary hypothermia studies, experimental malaria vaccinations and anesthesia-free surgery.

But Trujillo? Really? I mean, he was a corrupt, illiberal motherfucker so far as it goes, but I would assume conservatives would at least applaud El Jefe‘s pathological anti-communism and border security policies. Then again, I guess I just don’t understand conservatives anymore.

DoJ Opens Rulemaking on Prison Rape

[ 23 ] March 22, 2010 |


On March 10, 2010, the Department of Justice opened a 60-day public comment period on national standards addressing sexual abuse in detention. Released last June by a bipartisan federal commission, these common-sense measures have the potential to help end sexual abuse in detention. But the standards are opposed by some powerful corrections leaders. These officials argue that it is too expensive to stop prisoner rape, and they seem to have a great deal of influaence over the Department of Justice.

As I’ve argued before, this is an important one for progressives to weigh in on.
A 2001 Human Rights Watch report showed an epidemic of prison rape in the US; and the final report of Congress’s Congressional National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, released last June, found that nearly 60,000 inmates have suffered sexual abuse in US prisons. It also showed that more prisoners are abused by staff than by other inmates, and that gender minorities are at the greatest risk.

NPREC’s original recommendations were that 5% of federal funding for prisons be contingent on states’ reduction in incidence rates in accordance with standards now being drafted by the Attorney General. I haven’t yet read which provisions made it into the proposed rule, but I would argue that 5% may be much too low a penalty to check such well-entrenched abuse; and at any rate the federal government will also need to consider providing resources for states to implement the standards, which would involve a significant overhauling of prison culture.

When you contact Attorney General Holder with your thoughts, refer to Docket No. OAG-131.

You can try out our latest 70-272 and 70-693 training courses to get flying success in final 70-573 & 70-690 exams; F50-531 is also very useful tool.

The Pro-Choice Position Is Principled

[ 12 ] March 22, 2010 |

Black and Cole make a point that can’t be made often enough: the pro-choice position is a principled moral position, reflecting important moral values. Women’s equality and freedom are real moral values. And it cuts the other way too — people who want to criminalize abortion are generally simply assumed to be acting based on High Moral Principles, no matter that the most common bundle of views advanced by actually existing American opponents of safe, legal abortion access have a strong tendency to be a complete shambles.

What’s Left?

[ 4 ] March 22, 2010 |

So, that was a grim bit of business; how is it possible that my champion is still alive, and yet I’m in the 13th percentile? M. Strausz’s Fort Worth Barnstormers hold a significant lead on the strength of the Michigan State victory and three surviving Final Four teams (really, Mike; you had Wisconsin in the East?), but my money is on either K. Adams’ kgadams 1 or P. Smith’s The Fighting Jim Bunnings (which is the best name by far of any entry).

Asked And Answered

[ 21 ] March 22, 2010 |

Col. Mustard poses what he considers a difficult question:

What if Barack Obama were not President, and Democrats did not control Congress. Would liberals be so willing to give the federal government this sweeping power?

Yes. In fact, if the next Republican president wants to make policy even more “oppressive” and advocates a health care system closer to those in the world’s other liberal democracies — i.e. one that provides universal coverage for far less money with similar or better results — I’d be thrilled.

For the longer answer to this kindergarten pseudo-libertarianism, see Ezra:

…people do not “celebrate” the freedom to not be able to afford lifesaving medical care. They don’t want the freedom to weigh whether to pay rent or take their feverish child to the emergency room. They don’t like the freedom to lose their job and then be told by insurers that they’re ineligible for coverage because they were born with a heart arrhythmia.

As someone who grew up under the oppressive yoke of a single payer system, I know from experience that “free market” health care would, for all but plutocrats, represent a very substantial loss of freedom. The real freedom that comes from knowing that you won’t be bankrupted by illness, or that you can switch jobs or start a business or train for a new career without worrying about losing access to health care, is vastly more important than the meaningless “freedom” to live with (or die from) illness if you can’t obtain medical care. Under the new health care legislation, most Americans will be less free in ways that count than their counterparts in other liberal democracies, but more free than they would be under the status quo, let alone Saint Reagan’s dream of a world where the elderly and indigent died from preventable illnesses to keep marginal tax rates low.

Oh, right, we don’t have to look outside the country — I invite Republicans who believe that government-provided insurance is tyrannical to be consistent with their principles and make a case that citizens should throw off the oppressive chains of Medicare. Oddly, I heard very little of that from even the craziest House Republicans…

If Only!

[ 4 ] March 21, 2010 |

Some Republican just claimed that the health care bill would be the most “massively pro-abortion bill since Roe v. Wade.” I suspect here that the “stupid or lying” question is, as usual, answered by saying that it’s a little from column A…

I never thought they could make Stupak look good.

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