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Archive for January, 2012

“A Single, Hazy Event”

[ 41 ] January 28, 2012 |

Let’s just say that I’m not optimistic that Posnanski’s Paterno book will be what it should be.


A Rising Republican Star

[ 65 ] January 27, 2012 |

Looks like the Republican Party has another state politician sure to appeal to the wingunttia masses. This time it’s in North Carolina, where state Rep. Larry Pittman is calling for the return of public hangings:

“We need to make the death penalty a real deterrent again by actually carrying it out. Every appeal that can be made should have to be made at one time, not in a serial manner,” Pittman wrote in the email. “If murderers (and I would include abortionists, rapists, and kidnappers, as well) are actually executed, it will at least have the deterrent effect upon them. For my money, we should go back to public hangings, which would be more of a deterrent to others, as well.”

Abortionists, rapists, and kidnappers.

Sounds like a rising Republican star to me!

Another defeat for liberal fascism

[ 26 ] January 27, 2012 |

The Jane Addams Hull House Association is closing today. This is depressing for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is the loss of a connection to one of the progressive movement’s greatest landmarks. The original Hull House complex was absorbed by the University of Illinois-Chicago and turned into a museum about 40 years ago, but the Association carried on the work begun by Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr in 1889, serving tens of thousands of poor Chicagoans who will now have to rely on the over-strained resources offered by the city’s remaining social service agencies.

Surely Newt Gingrich has some miraculous plan to lift Chicago’s destitute from the cavern of their self-inflicted misery — perhaps by putting their children to work as custodians on our new moon base, where they’ll be forbidden to speak the language of the ghetto — but I’m eager to hear Ron Paul’s important philosophical musings on the need to expose the poor to the moral hazards of the welfare state. Perhaps they’ll pick up a copy of Atlas Shrugged at the library and join him in his crusade to blow up the Federal Reserve.

Meanwhile, in the time I’ve spent this morning reading the news and perusing Addams’ Twenty Years at Hull House, Willard Romney’s money has metastasized by an additional $5000 — roughly a quarter of what a family of four earns in a year at the federal poverty level.

Fucking hell.

Everybody’s in show biz

[ 10 ] January 27, 2012 |

Email from a reader (published with permission of the author):

This email will seem to you like the least surprising thing in the world, which makes it ever more tragic. Read more…

“I feel eventually you would care enough about me…that I could live with that.”

[ 10 ] January 27, 2012 |

I love Jon Chait’s Mitt Romney/Ace Rothstein analogy.   The problem for the conservative base is that their competing suitors can’t even rise to the level of a card shark, a golf hustler, and/or a pimp from Beverly Hills. Rick Perry was like the juiced-in slots manager. (“You have got me there. Old Rick is as useless as tits on a boar.”) Newt, even after he sorta decided to run for president 6 weeks or so before the Iowa primary, is more like Morry from GoodFellas, a pain in the ass who was useful in some previous roles but becomes intolerable as he gets more ambitious. (“I’d do anything for you!” “Except stop busting my balls.”) I think Newt just asked the Republican establishment whether the diner they’re heading to has danish…

Kindly Old Ron Paul

[ 293 ] January 27, 2012 |

Of course he was fully aware of and approved of the content of his racist newsletters:

But people close to Paul’s operations said he was deeply involved in the company that produced the newsletters, Ron Paul & Associates, and closely monitored its operations, signing off on articles and speaking to staff members virtually every day.

“It was his newsletter, and it was under his name, so he always got to see the final product. . . . He would proof it,’’ said Renae Hathway, a former secretary in Paul’s company and a supporter of the Texas congressman.

But, in fairness, surely we need the essential civil liberties voice of someone who believes that the Bill of Rights shouldn’t constrain state governments.

As a coda, I also recommend this segment of Pollitt’s debate with Greenwald.  It’s true in some sense that Obama vs. Paul would be a “lesser of two evils” contest. But this is a trivial truth indeed — every national election in American history has been a “lesser of two evils” contest.   LBJ escalated a particularly disastrous war and lied repeatedly about it, FDR sent people to concentration camps based on their race and signed off on extremely stingy social welfare legislation that systematically discriminated against African-Americans, Lincoln was a white supremacist who didn’t believe the federal government had the authority to interfere with slavery in the states, etc. etc.   Obama over Paul is at least as easy as LBJ over Goldwater or FDR over Landon, and to think that progressives could be genuinely conflicted over whether to prefer a moderate Democratic president to a guy who wants to restore the Articles of Confederation is absurd.

Can’t We Find the Good in Slavery?

[ 44 ] January 27, 2012 |

I’m not saying that any of you didn’t already understand the deep-seated racism in Tea Party members. But if you needed any additional evidence, please see the legislative goals of the Tennessee Tea Party, which includes outrage over history classes teaching that the Founding Fathers owned slaves and that slavery was bad.

We talked to Tea Party leader Hal Rounds Wednesday. He described the way slavery is taught now as race-baiting. When asked if kids are walking out of school thinking our founding fathers were evil, he said “(The kids) are being taught (the Founding Fathers) were hypocrites and slave owners and part of the teachings about slavery was that it was inherently cruel.”

Rounds first petitioned the state for the changes last year and is continuing the fight now.

We asked if you can seperate slavery in our country from the centuries old struggle for racial equality, Rounds believes you can adding “White people were whipped to.”



[ 35 ] January 27, 2012 |

Appropriate given Wolf Blitzer’s increasingly embarrassing existence on CNN, watch him score what might be the lowest score ever on Celebrity Jeopardy.

Also, Andy Richter is a beast. Not that this is surprising.

Equality Does Not Depend On Biology

[ 148 ] January 26, 2012 |

Cynthia Nixon’s recent comments are very wise:

Regarding her late-in-life sexual orientation switch, the “Sex and the City” star said:

I gave a speech recently, an empowerment speech to a gay audience, and it included the line ‘I’ve been straight and I’ve been gay, and gay is better.’ And they tried to get me to change it, because they said it implies that homosexuality can be a choice. And for me, it is a choice. I understand that for many people it’s not, but for me it’s a choice, and you don’t get to define my gayness for me.

Writer Alex Witchel reports that “her face was red and her arms were waving” as she continued, “It seems we’re just ceding this point to bigots who are demanding it, and I don’t think that they should define the terms of the debate,” Nixon said. “I also feel like people think I was walking around in a cloud and didn’t realize I was gay, which I find really offensive.”

Nixon may think her comments are “politically incorrect,” but they also represent what should be the clear progressive position. Obviously, people’s attractions are driven to a greater or lesser extent by biological factors, and also obviously people have agency. The precise ratios, however, are completely irrelevant to political questions about LBGT rights. The issue is not just whether the means proponents of legally subordinating gay and lesbian use will “work”; it’s that the ends are reprehensible, because there is in fact nothing wrong with being gay or lesbian. It os a profound violation of human dignity for the state to police consensual behavior among results irrespective of to what extent one’s behavior is driven by biology or agency. It is fundamentally wrong and undemocratic for the state to prevent a same-sex couple from marrying on the same terms as an opposite-sex couple regardless of whether the couple is exclusively attracted to members of the same sex, chose their partner from a number of plausible same-sex or opposite-sex partners, or for that matter is asexual but wants to codify a long-term companionship. To put too much emphasis on the biological roots of sexuality, as Nixon says, concedes way too much.

This Is All Because Dana Milbank Didn’t Sit Down And Tell Him to Cut the Bullshit

[ 11 ] January 26, 2012 |

Shorter Verbatim Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE): Contraception “is unrelated to the basic needs of health care.”

Foreign Entanglements Episode Two

[ 1 ] January 26, 2012 |

Matt Duss vs. Daveed Gartentstein-Ross. Here they discuss the SOTU:

Matt talks with Daveed Gartenstein-Ross about foreign policy in the State of the Union. Will America miss the boat on the Arab Spring? Is Obama’s triumphalism over Al Qaeda premature? Also, the simmering crisis in the Strait of Hormuz and Daveed’s foreign policy trends to watch over the next decade.

See here for links to the video and audio RSS feeds, as well as the video and audio podcasts.

How White Are You?

[ 314 ] January 26, 2012 |

It’s hard not to be bouncing off the ceiling for the chance to make fun of Charles Murray’s new book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010. I really need a comedy fix right now and this could be the funniest book of the year. The only problem with Murray is that he’s really hard to parody since he’s routinely kicking parody’s decaying corpse. Example one is this excerpt from Murray’s book, where he provides what is essentially a whiteness quiz. This is great stuff:

12. Choose one. Who is Jimmie Johnson? Or: Have you ever purchased Avon products?
13. Have you or your spouse ever bought a pickup truck?
14. During the last year, have you ever purchased domestic mass-market beer to stock your own fridge?
15. During the last five years, have you or your spouse gone fishing?
16. How many times in the last year have you eaten at one of the following restaurant chains? Applebee’s, Waffle House, Denny’s,IHOP, Chili’s, Outback Steakhouse, Ruby Tuesday, T.G.I. Fri-day’s, Ponderosa Steakhouse.

Of course, Murray is conflating whiteness with heteronormativity and political conservatism. The writers of this blog certainly aren’t real whites, except maybe for Farley since he probably does eat at Chili’s. A non-fishing professor who thinks NASCAR is dumb and drives a small car is the wrong kind of white and therefore doesn’t count. After all, I’d probably let my daughter have sex with a black man and we know Murray’s uncomfortable with that. This is almost on a play on the Stuff White People Like blog that was big a couple of years ago. In both, there are lots of white people but only certainly kinds of whites count. Whereas for that blog, the writer was making gentle fun of a certain kind of white person, Murray actually takes this seriously.

This book is going to be a rich text.

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